Horror movies are a genre that often gets overlooked when it comes to classic films. But there’s no denying the appeal of horror classics, and there’s an abundance of underrated gems out there waiting to be discovered.
In this article, we’ll reveal must-watch horror classics that you may not have heard of before – but trust us, they’re worth checking out! From slasher flicks to creepy thrillers, these underappreciated horrors will satisfy fans looking for something new.
So if you’re ready to dive into some lesser-known terror tales, look no further than our list of 25 most underrated horror films you need to watch!
One of the most underappreciated horror comedies ever made, Parents is set in a 1950s California suburb where a young boy named Michael (Bryan Madorsky) senses that something is not quite right with his family. His mother, Lily (Mary Beth Hurt), is the perfect 1950s housewife, while his dad, Nick (Randy Quaid), works at a mortuary. They live a comfortable life, but Michael begins to suspect his parents are cannibalistic murderers when his father starts bringing home enormous cuts of meat every night.
The film builds on its slow-burning tension throughout its runtime until its chilling finale leaves you feeling uneasy for days afterward.
Messiah of Evil (1973)
An overlooked zombie movie, Messiah of Evil follows an artist named Arletty (Marianna Hill), who is looking for her father after he disappears without a trace. She discovers his last known whereabouts were in the mysterious village of Point Dune, which seems to have its own secrets and strange inhabitants.
As she attempts to uncover what happened to him, she finds herself slowly becoming part of a cult-like group with intentions darker than she could ever imagine. The suspense builds as Arletty tries to piece together her father’s fate while facing off against flesh-eating zombies.
With twisted imagery and an eerie atmosphere throughout, Messiah of Evil proves it deserves more recognition among horror fans. Be warned though – once you start watching it won’t let go until the very end!
The Sentinel (1977)
This horror thriller is directed by Michael Winner and stars Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, Ava Gardner, and Burgess Meredith. In the movie, a young woman moves into an apartment where the tenants are bizarre and something evil lingers. As strange occurrences start to happen in the building and its inhabitants begin showing signs of demonic possession, she must solve the mystery before it is too late.
The Sentinel combines elements from traditional haunted house stories with psychological suspense. Its use of eerie dream sequences creates an atmosphere that builds tension throughout the film until its shocking conclusion.
With an all-star cast and an engaging storyline, The Sentinel is sure to keep you captivated every step of the way – making it one of those underrated horror movies that truly deserve more recognition.
Black Christmas (1974)
Directed by Bob Clark, the slasher flick follows a group of sorority sisters who receive threatening phone calls from a disturbed individual over the holiday season. The main character, Jess Bradford (Olivia Hussey), takes on the role of sleuth and attempts to figure out who is behind these sinister messages before something bad happens. Soon, Barb’s friend Claire (Lynne Griffin) goes missing from the sorority house, and a local adolescent girl is murdered, leading the girls to suspect a serial killer is on the loose. But no one realizes just how near the culprit is
The movie does an incredible job at creating suspense as it slowly reveals more about the killer’s identity and motives. The great performances of the cast paired with the film’s creepy atmosphere are sure to make you feel genuine dread while watching this cult classic.
Wild Zero (1999)
Wild Zero is a 1999 Japanese horror-comedy about an up-and-coming rock band called Guitar Wolf who finds themselves in the middle of a zombie outbreak and what appears to be an alien invasion. The film follows the band as they fend off hordes of zombies, aliens, and other monsters while trying to save their fans from certain doom.
It has all the elements you expect from a cult classic: wild action sequences, outrageous special effects, goofy humor, and some truly bizarre plot twists. All things considered, Wild Zero is one of those underrated horror movies you definitely don’t want to miss out on!
The Addiction (1995)
Directed by Abel Ferrara, this vampire movie tells the story of a Ph.D. student who’s turned into a vampire after being attacked in an alleyway late one night. She then has to grapple with her newfound powers and cravings for blood while trying to keep up with her studies.
The film expertly blends elements of horror, drama, and philosophy – providing audiences with plenty to think about long after they’ve watched it. One interesting aspect of The Addiction is its focus on addiction itself. It uses vampirism as a metaphor for addiction and shows how difficult it can be to break free from such destructive habits.
Lead stars Christopher Walken and Lili Taylor delivered strong performances, which helped make this movie even more gripping. All in all, the film is definitely worth watching if you’re looking for something different from your average horror flick.
Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)
This horror classic follows an ex-convict who must protect a powerful ancient relic known as The Key. The movie’s plot involves demonic creatures hunting down our hero to take possession of The Key and unleash hell upon Earth. With his resourcefulness and wit, it’s up to him to stop them before it’s too late.
Writer-director Mike Flanagan, who is known for his works in Doctor Sleep and Midnight Mass, described Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight as “scary, funny, smart and delightfully gory.” He also praised the astounding performances of Billy Zane and Jada Pinkett Smith in the movie and even expressed interest in making a sequel to it. “The final scene is legitimately sublime and teases an epic ripe for further installments … hell, I want to make a sequel to this movie. This film was ahead of its time,” he told the Los Angeles Times.
Prince of Darkness (1987)
John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness is an underrated horror movie that should be on everyone’s must-watch list. The film starts with a priest (Donald Pleasence) who finds an otherworldly vial filled with slime in a church cellar. Scared of what the slime actually is, he brings it to a circle of top scholars and scientists, who eventually discover that the strange liquid is the essence of Satan. The slime then starts to seep out, turning some of the academics into zombie-like killers. As the possessed battle the survivors, student Kelly (Susan Blanchard) is infected by a large quantity of the liquid and becomes Satan personified.
The movie has some truly chilling moments and the special effects look impressive even in today’s standards. If you’re looking for something different than your typical horror flick or creature feature, then Prince of Darkness is definitely worth considering.
Directed by Bernard Rose, this British movie follows the story of Anna (Charlotte Burke), a lonely young girl who begins to inhabit the world that she draws in her sketchbook. When she creates a boy on paper, she later meets the same child, Marc (Elliott Spiers), in her dream realm. Things take a creepy turn when Anna draws her absentee father (Ben Cross), and he appears in her world as a menacing figure out to get her.
The movie doesn’t rely on jump scares to give a spine-chilling experience to the viewers, instead, it makes creative use of its spooky sets, eerie music, and heavy storyline to really convey a sense of dread throughout.
Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)
Directed by Amando de Ossorio, this Spanish film follows surviving knights from the Crusades as they rise from their tombs to terrorize rural Portugal. Commit sacrifices for the human blood they consume for eternal life, the titular blind dead have no eyes and rely on sound to find their victims, making them both eerie and unpredictable foes.
In addition to its interesting premise, the movie builds tension slowly but steadily until viewers reach a climax filled with suspenseful action sequences. The film also features strong religious imagery for added layers of depth and creepiness. This combination of horror elements makes Tombs of the Blind Dead a truly unique viewing experience that shouldn’t be missed!
Tourist Trap (1979)
It’s hard to believe that Tourist Trap, the classic 1979 horror film directed by David Schmoeller, is considered by many as one of the underrated horror films. Because of its unique blend of slasher movie tropes and surreal visual effects, this thriller is sure to surprise even the most jaded horror fans.
The story follows a group of teenage friends as they find themselves stranded at an eerie roadside attraction run by a strange man whose sinister secrets come with deadly consequences. The cast gives excellent performances as they make their way through increasingly creepy scenarios while trying to figure out what exactly is going on in the mysterious tourist trap. From the menacing killer mannequins to the suspenseful score, everything comes together perfectly to create an atmosphere of dread that lingers long after viewing.
The House by the Cemetery (1981)
Undoubtedly, one of the most acclaimed and yet underrated horror films is Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery. This iconic Italian Giallo film utilizes a unique blend of themes to explore the idea of fear in an unorthodox way.
Set within the confines of a New England home that has been abandoned for decades, the movie centers on a doctor and his family who just moved into the property. Soon after settling in, the doctor begins receiving warnings from a mysterious girl to get out of the house.
The film masterfully blends psychological horror and supernatural terror elements together to create a sense of dread throughout each frame. With its suspenseful atmosphere, surreal cinematography, and unsettling soundtrack – all combined with some truly gruesome set pieces – it’s not hard to see why this underrated horror film deserves more recognition.
Session 9 (2001)
Directed by Brad Anderson, the movie follows an asbestos abatement crew as they enter an abandoned mental hospital to clean up and clear out the building. As their work progresses, tensions between members of the team begin to rise, leading to paranoia and suspicion about what might be lurking within the walls.
With its incredibly tense atmosphere and slow-burn style of storytelling, Session 9 allows viewers to become fully immersed in this world of dread before any true terror begins. The cast, which includes David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, and Paul Guilfoyle, among many others, also delivered great acting performances, which significantly contributed to the movie’s realistic feel.
Coherence revolves around eight friends at a dinner party who experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing comet. As reality begins to unravel around them, they find themselves trapped in an infinite loop of alternate universes – some similar yet distorted, others completely unrecognizable – which leads to increasing levels of paranoia within the group.
The film makes clever use of its low budget with minimalistic visuals and effective lighting to create suspense without relying heavily on jump scares or special effects. But what really stands out most about Coherence is its exploration of quantum mechanics; using real science rather than magic or mysticism to explain why things are happening to these characters. Introducing such complex concepts into the story raises interesting questions while leaving much of what transpires open-ended for viewers to interpret and contemplate afterward.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
This underrated horror film follows a troubled young woman (Emma Roberts) who embarks on a mysterious journey to an isolated Catholic boarding school where two students (Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton) left alone during winter break by their parents face a sinister threat from an unseen evil force.
Chilling performances from Roberts and Kiernan Shipka coupled with an unsettling musical score make for an unforgettable viewing experience. This mystery horror flick builds suspense throughout its runtime until it reaches a climax so powerful it will leave you shaken long after the credits roll.
Burnt Offerings (1976)
One of the underrated horror films of the 1970s, Burnt Offerings follows couple Ben (Oliver Reed) and Marian Rolf (Karen Black) who can’t believe how cheap the rent is at their giant Victorian summer home. But, over time, they begin to sense that there’s something peculiar about the place. Marian becomes strangely obsessed with keeping house, Ben finds himself prone to unusual bursts of anger, and his aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davis) becomes withdrawn, then mysteriously dies.
The tension builds slowly throughout this movie which makes it all the more effective. The film also succeeds at blending elements of traditional gothic horror with modern fears; creating a unique viewing experience that will leave you feeling unsettled and captivated at the same time. One of the most terrifying scenes in the movie is a dream sequence featuring a limo driver. Without spoiling it, critics described the scene as “one of the most fever-dreamish, perturbing visuals” in the history of the horror genre.
In a Glass Cage (1986)
One of the most underrated horror movies that need to be seen by fans of the genre is Agustí Villaronga’s In a Glass Cage.
In the film, years after committing atrocities as a torturer of interned children during the Holocaust, Nazi doctor and certified pedophile Klaus (Günter Meisner) continues to murder little boys. After a gruesomely botched suicide attempt leaves Klaus imprisoned in an iron lung, he gives up his sickening pastime. But when a mysterious young man named Angelo (David Sust) arrives at his home claiming to be a nurse, Klaus happily hires the boy as his new attendant — a decision he soon regrets.
The movie takes viewers through a psychological journey of fear and suspense, while also exploring themes such as guilt, revenge, power dynamics, and morality. The film’s haunting cinematography creates an oppressive atmosphere throughout the film which contributes to its overall intensity. There are also some truly disturbing scenes that will stay with you long after watching the film. All these elements make In a Glass Cage one of those rare gems that can leave you thinking about it days after watching it – something any true horror fan should experience at least once.
Man Bites Dog (1992)
Man Bites Dog is a Belgian black comedy crime film that has gone largely unnoticed but deserves to be recognized. It follows a crew of filmmakers following a serial killer and recording his horrific crimes for a documentary they are producing. The filmmakers are dispassionate observers at first, but they eventually find themselves increasingly caught up in their subject’s nihilistic violence, eventually becoming accomplices.
The film itself serves as a commentary on media desensitization by showing how the filmmakers become numb to their subject’s immoral acts. The juxtaposition between its darkly comic elements and the film’s more serious undertones makes it one of the most unique horror movies out there. And by delving into themes like violence, morality, and exploitation, this horror film manages to capture some truly haunting images that will stay with you long after viewing.
Joy Ride (2001)
This horror film centers on college freshman Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) who embarks on a cross-country road trip to pick up the girl of his dreams, Venna (Leelee Sobieski). But Lewis’ romantic hopes hit a detour when he stops on the way to rescue his older brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), who goads him into playing a practical joke on a lonely trucker, over a CB radio. Now, that trucker, an unseen and terrifying force known only by his CB handle, Rusty Nail (Ted Levine), wants the last laugh and revenge.
The movie is full of suspenseful moments as our protagonists try their best to outrun Rusty Nail. While there are plenty of jump scares throughout the film, what really makes Joyride stand out is its clever use of psychological elements that leave viewers guessing until the very end about who is actually behind all this chaos.
For filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella), Joy Ride is a “touchstone” that belongs right up where popular horror franchises like Halloween, Elm Street, and Scream are. The trio told the Los Angeles Times that the movie is “packed with thrills, scares, humor, and heart.”
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
This horror movie follows a woman named Jessica (Zohra Lampert) who moves into a rural Connecticut farmhouse with her husband (Barton Heyman) and their close friend (Kevin O’Connor) in hopes to return to the kind of life she had before her nervous breakdown. Soon after, she finds a mysterious girl living there who may or may not be a vampire. Jessica’s terror and paranoia resurface as evil forces surround her, making her wonder whether the visions are real or she is slipping back into madness.
The movie has all the elements you’d expect from a classic horror story – suspenseful music, strange noises in the night, and creepy locals – but what makes this one special is its psychological focus on mental illness. It doesn’t rely heavily on jump scares or gore; instead, it uses subtle visual cues to draw viewers into its unsettling atmosphere.
The performances are also noteworthy: Zohra Lampert as Jessica and Barton Heyman as Duncan create complex characters whose conflict drives the narrative forward. Even after almost 50 years since its release, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death still holds up remarkably well today due its strong visuals and memorable characters. So if you’re looking for some quality vintage horror movies, this flick should definitely be part of your list.
Anguish follows teen friends Patty (Talia Paul) and Linda (Clara Pastor) who head to a theater to watch the latest slasher movie, Mommy. In the movie within the movie, the titular deranged matriarch (Zelda Rubinstein) uses telepathic powers to send her middle-aged son (Michael Lerner) on a killing spree, stealing other people’s eyeballs and giving them to her. Unfortunately for the girls, while the on-screen killer nabs victims in the film, a deranged Mommy fan (Ángel Jovè) creeps through the film’s audience and reenacts the movie’s murders in real-time.
Anguish was overlooked upon its release due to its low budget. It, however, has since been praised for its inventive use of creepy visuals and effective use of sound. The film has also been commended for its offbeat story and unique atmosphere.
Eaten Alive (1976)
Set in the swamps of Louisiana, this horror film follows Judd, a disfigured psychotic motel owner, who, upon learning that one of his guests is a prostitute, promptly impales her with a pitchfork and tosses her to the crocodile that stalks the nearby waters. This is the start of his series of murders and when the crocodile’s belly begins to bulge with victims, outsiders begin to poke around the motel, but Judd simply sees them as more treats for his pet.
Eaten Alive is an underrated horror flick due to its unique take on the classic horror genre. The film is both a psychological and physical horror that tackles themes of insanity and revenge. The film is often overlooked in favor of more popular slasher films of the time, but it still has a cult following due to its unique blend of suspense, terror, and dark humor.
I Drink Your Blood (1970)
I Drink Your Blood is a horror film about a group of hippies who become exposed to rabies after eating meat pies contaminated with the blood of a rabid cultist. The movie follows the hippies as they become increasingly unhinged and violent, eventually leading to a bloody showdown between the cult and the residents of a local small town.
Although its low-budget special effects, over-the-top violence, and exploitation-style story were not well-received by mainstream audiences, the film has since become a cult classic, with its campy, darkly comedic tone and gruesome violence earning it a devoted following. It has also been recognized as an early example of a splatter film, a subgenre of horror that focuses on extreme gore and violence.
The Funhouse (1981)
The Funhouse is an underrated horror film about a group of teenagers who spend the night in a carnival funhouse and are stalked by a man in a Frankenstein mask.
Although the movie was not met with so much fanfare when it was first released, more recent reviews of the film praised its strong cast, its compelling story, and its unique blend of horror and comedy elements. It also features some impressive visuals, including a memorable carousel scene and a climactic chase through a hall of mirrors.
The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, this 2008 film follows the story of photographer Leon Kauffman (Bradley Cooper), who stumbles upon a series of brutal killings on the New York City subway late at night. He soon discovers that a serial killer dubbed Mahogany (Vinnie Jones) is behind these murders and begins following him around in order to uncover the truth. Leon eventually learns that Mahogany is part of an underground cult whose members hunt humans for food – and he’s next on their list!
The movie features great performances from its cast, intense suspenseful moments, and some truly terrifying scenes. Despite its critical acclaim, The Midnight Meat Train failed to gain mainstream success due to its limited release. However, if you’re looking for a spooky flick with plenty of gore and thrills, then this should be your go-to choice.