Now, I know that most of you older connoisseurs of carnage have probably seen most or all of these, but you haven't seen them in a while and need to watch them again. I realize that there have been plenty of obscure jems released in the past ten years or so, but I'm trying to include those little known films that weren't big money-makers or blockbusters in any way.
These are movies that have stood the test of time and are now revered as classics and required viewing. Most of them are small budget flicks, relying on story telling and atmosphere in lieu of special effects and gratuitous gore. Did I nail it? Did I miss your favorite? Sound off below!
Descriptions and most trivia courtesy of IMDB
#10.) The Changeling (1980)
It was the perfect family vacation for composer John Russell and his family when a freak automobile accident claims the lives of his wife and daughter. Consumed by grief, John, at the request of friends, rents an old turn of the century house. Mammoth in size, the house seems all the room that John needs to write music and reflect. He does not realize that he is not alone in the house. He shares it with the spirit of a murdered child who has homed in on John's despair and uses him to uncover decades of silence and deceit. With the help of Claire Norman, the one who aided John in procuring the house, they race to find the answers and soon learn that a devious and very powerful man guards them.
Interesting fact: The movie is based on events which supposedly took place at Henry Treat Rogers Mansion in Denver, Colorado, whilst writer Russell Hunter was living there during the 1960s. The Chessman Park neighborhood in the movie is a reference to Cheesman Park in Denver, where the original haunting transpired.
#9.) Gates of Hell / City of The Dead (1980)
In the small New England town of Dunwich, a priest commits suicide by hanging himself in the church cemetery which somehow opens the gates of hell allowing the dead to rise. Peter, a New York City reporter, teams up with a young psychic, named Mary, to travel to the town where they team up with another couple, psychiatrist Jerry and patient Sandra, to find a way to close the gates before All Saints Day or the dead all over the world will rise up and kill the living.
When theatrically released in the United States in 1983, the original title was 'Twilight of the Dead.' Due to the fact that both the title and poster art were derivative of Dawn of the Dead, United Film Distribution Company filed a cease and desist order against Motion Picture Marketing. Posters and prints of the movie bearing the title 'Twilight of the Dead' were pulled, altered and sent back out with the new title 'The Gates of Hell'.
#8.) Phantasm (1979)
Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink the to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.
Interesting fact: The mansion used for the exterior shots of the mausoleum was also seen in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, and also the 1976 horror film Burnt Offerings.
#7.) Lifeforce (1985)
A space shuttle mission investigating Halley's Comet brings back a malevolent race of space vampires who transform most of London's population into zombies. The only survivor of the expedition and British authorities attempt to capture a mysterious but beautiful alien woman who appears responsible.
John Gielgud was replaced by Patrick Stewart. According to some biographies of Gielgud, he departed the production because of a disagreement over his salary.
#6.) When a Stranger Calls (1979)
High school student Jill Johnson is traumatized over an evening of babysitting by a caller who repeatedly asks, "Have you checked the children lately?" After notifying the police, Jill is told that the calls are coming from inside the house...
Interesting fact: The voice of disturbed killer Curt Duncan on the phone was that of Donald Pleasence, even though the character was played by Tony Beckley
#5.) From Beyond (1986)
Scientists create a resonator to stimulate the pineal gland (sixth sense), and open up a door to a parallel (and hostile) universe. Based on a story by H. P. Lovecraft.
Interesting fact: Dr. Pretorious's character is named after Dr. Septimus Pretorius, Henry Frankenstein's former teacher, who seduces Henry to the dark side.
#4.) Carnival of Souls (1962)
Mary Henry is enjoying the day by riding around in a car with two friends. When challenged to a drag, the women accept, but are forced off of a bridge. It appears that all are drowned, until Mary, quite some time later, amazingly emerges from the river. After recovering, Mary accepts a job in a new town as a church organist, only to be dogged by a mysterious phantom figure that seems to reside in an old run-down pavilion. It is here that Mary must confront the personal demons of her spiritual insouciance.
Interesting fact: Upon release in 1962 the film was a failure in the box office, but its subsequent airings on late night television helped to gain it a strong cult following. The film resurfaced in 1989 when it was fully restored and given a more proper release in New York. Today it is regarded as a landmark in psychological horror.
#3.)Tourist Trap (1979)
Teenagers come across a shut-in psychopath with telekinetic powers. He proceeds to use these powers to slay them one by one as well as animate the various mannequins he uses to keep himself company.
Interesting fact: Stephen King praised the film in his book Danse Macabre, especially its frightful opening scene.
#2) The Sentinel (1977)
A fashion model moves into a house inhabited (on the top floor) by a blind priest. She begins having strange physical problems, has trouble sleeping at night, and has some nasty flashbacks of her attempted suicide. She complains to the real estate agent of the noise caused by her strange neighbors, but finds out that the house is only occupied by the priest and herself, and ultimately discovers that she has been put in the house for a reason.
Interesting fact: the "souls of the damned" following Burgess Meredith in one of the final scenes were people with real physical deformities.
#1.) Suspiria (1977)
In a stormy night, the American dancer Suzy Bannion arrives in Freiburg coming from New York to join a famous and expensive ballet school for a three years training. On the next morning, she is informed by the direction of the school that a student she met leaving the place on the previous night was violently murdered and the police is investigating the crime. She becomes friend of another student, Sara, and she realizes that the house is indeed a coven of evil witches.
Interesting fact: Director Dario Argento composed the creepy music with the band Goblin and played it at full blast on set to unnerve the actors and elicit a truly scared performance.