Okay horror fans, here is a challenge for you. I'll give you 5 movies from a specific year and you tell me in the poll at the bottom how many you've seen. If you haven't seen them all, well.... I guess you have a homework assignment for the week, then don't you? After all, the goal is to be well-rounded horror fans, right? I'll have some movies that might seem a bit obvious, but I'll try to steer clear from the more well-known movies. In fact, I'll say upfront that this isn't necessarily a list of good movies, just a list of somewhat obscure movies that you may not have seen.
1. Cannibal Holocaust
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Writer: Gianfranco Clerici
Stars: Robert Kerman, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen
Ah, the original video nasty. This is no longer an obscure movie thanks to the internet age, but I find it interesting how many people who call themselves horror fans still haven't seen this movie. Now, I am sure it is not everybody's cup of tea, but I still think it's something that should be experienced at least once. One thing is for sure, it's hard to be indifferent about this movie. You will likely love it or hate it and it seems that a visceral response is almost guaranteed.
Considered one of the first films of the "found footage" variety, Cannibal Holocaust was banned outright in many countries and director Ruggero Deodato even found himself defending the film in court - due to the fact that authorities suspected a true snuff film. Containing many real scenes of animal cruelty and death, this one is sure to bring forth some strong emotions from many. Even if you hate it, you must watch it at least once.... just to say you did.
2. Motel Hell
Director: Kevin Connor
Writers: Robert Jaffe, Steven-Charles Jaffe
Stars: Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons
This is an interesting little cult movie that truly isn't half bad. There's no iconic slasher at large or dream-stalking demon to contend with, there's just Farmer Vincent. And by the photo above, you can see that Farmer Vincent employs some different farming techniques than the average Joe. The secret of his smoked meats are the talk of the county and like ol' Farmer Vincent says... "It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent's fritters."
This slasher parody is really a pretty fun movie. Unique in concept and full of lively characters, it should at minimum keep you entertained for its short 101 minute run time. Watching Farmer Vincent's flippant attitude towards something as disgusting as cannibalism is just downright fun horror.
3. Terror Train
Director: Roger Spottiswoode
Writer: T.Y. Drake
Stars: Ben Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hart Bochner
Hot off the heals of Halloween (1978), The Fog and Prom Night (also both released in 1980), Jamie Lee Curtis' fourth horror installment is a bit lesser known. The title kind of gives this one away, so obviously the terror takes place on a train where a group of college kids are attending a "moving and shaking" New Year's Eve party. Little do they know that a prank they pulled a few years earlier will come back to haunt them.
This is really a pretty underrated slasher movie and I am not sure why so few people have heard of it. If you are a fan of Halloween or Friday the 13th, then chances are good that you'll enjoy this movie. There is nothing groundbreaking to be found here, but just a fun 80's flick and who doesn't want to see the original Scream Queen in action one more time?
4. City of the Living Dead (Paura nella città dei morti viventi)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Writers: Lucio Fulci, Dardano Sacchetti
Stars: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo
This is the first film in famed Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci's "Gates of Hell" trilogy (along with The Beyond and House by the Cemetery). I think The Beyond tends to get more of the credit as the finest of this series, but I quite enjoyed City of the Living Dead. Fulci has a unique style that doesn't suit everyone and in most cases, the only versions that exist are English dubbed over an English/Italian mix of dialogue. That can be somewhat off-putting for those not used to foreign films, but I beg you to give this one a try. The story revolves around a reporter and a psychic trying to close the gates of hell that have been opened by a priest committing suicide.
Known for his scenes of extreme gore, Fulci's bread and butter were always his creepy, grotesque effects. Many fans consider him lesser to other Italian directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento, but I have always tended to look at him as a different director stylistically. While some consider his penchant for gore nothing more than cheap stunts without substance, I consider this simply to be his trademark. In my opinion, this movie is definitely worth a view, and if for nothing else, to see if the rest of the trilogy would be of interest.
5. Zombie Holocaust (Zombi Holocaust)
Director: Marino Girolami
Writers: Fabrizio De Angelis, Romano Scandariato
Stars: Ian McCulloch, Alexandra Delli Colli, Sherry Buchanan
Unintentionally, here is the second Italian horror movie on this list. This one is probably the most obscure as well. This movie is what the love child of Cannibal Holocaust and the Italian movie Zombi would look like. An expedition in search of an ancient cannibal god in the East Indies finds trouble and ends up being hunted by both cannibals and zombies. In the end though, it's much more of a cannibal flick than a zombie flick and depending on how much you enjoyed the cannibal craze of the early 80's, you may or may not feel like you've already seen this one.
Let's get this straight, this is low-budget Italian horror here, so if you're looking for good production quality, you might want to temper your expectations. Depending on the copy, it's going to have much of the low quality dubbing as well. If you can push that aside, it's a pretty gory movie and has some fun visual scenes. It's tough to "promote" this movie, because it's not all that unique to many other movies of the early 80's, but why not give it a try?
Okay, so there is your assignment. How many have you already seen?