We all have our Halloween favorites. From Halloween to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Trick r’ Treat to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we come running back to these classics like a seasonal delicious candy treat.
Here at Nightmare on Film Street we love an underdog—that lost classic that deserves to be unearthed and given a second lease on life. So, if you are tired of the ol’ faithfuls and looking to reanimate your tired traditional watch list, here are the Top 10 Underrated Halloween Horror films for your consideration.
10. ParaNorman (2012)
So, you’ve watched The Nightmare Before Christmas for the seventeenth time, and you’re looking for something new in the family-friendly “horror” department. Well, look no further than ParaNorman. ParaNorman offers enough scares, laughs, and fun to please horror fans young and old. ParaNorman also has a heartwarming message of “be nice to everyone”. This underrated treat deserves to be added to everyone’s holiday watch list.
9. May (2002)
May, starring Angela Bettis (Toolbox Murders), is one part Carrie and one part Frankenstein, and is one hundred percent guaranteed that you likely won’t forget the film any time soon after viewing. With a finale that I dare not spoil here taking place on Halloween, it’s the perfect underrated bizarre romp for your Holiday watch list.
8. Once Bitten (1985)
Once Bitten surprisingly released two weeks after Halloween in 1985 despite the film’s plot being based around Halloween. It’s most noticed now for featuring a young Jim Carrey as the young virgin the Vampire Countess needs to feed on before Halloween. Don’t let the cheesy 80’s plot stop you from checking out this underrated horror-comedy classic.
7. Idle Hands (1999)
Stoner teen Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa) wakes up one Halloween morning to discover that both of his parents are now headless Halloween decorations. He discovers that his right hand has a blood-thirsty mind of its own and is hell-bent on wreaking havoc whether he likes it or not. With an equal amount of laughs, gore, and a Halloween setting, Idle Hands is a perfect underrated gem for the holiday season.
6. The Midnight Hour (1985)
One of my all-favorite forgotten gems, The Midnight Hour originally debuted on ABC in 1985. Since it’s debut, the film has gone in-and-out of printmaking it not nearly as well known as it deserves. High school friends unwittingly raise the dead on Halloween night when they steal Halloween costumes from the local museum. With zombies that look like they belong in the Thriller video, this fun film will entertain horror fans who are looking for some light fun during the holiday season.
5. The Houses October Built (2014)
Coming after the found-footage craze, The House October Built doesn’t get the praise it deserves. Despite being popular enough to spawn a sequel, it is rarely seen on Halloween watchlists. “When five friends go looking for an authentic Halloween fright, it quickly becomes clear that the Haunt has come to them.” The House October Built has a slow-building pace that plays on your expectations of what’s coming next and, in true found-footage style, it features a WTF ending. If you are missing some found-footage in your Halloween watchlist, give this underrated Halloween treat a watch.
4. Pet Sematary Two (1992)
I can feel the eye role, and the instant thought of “How did Pet Sematary Two make any top 10 list?” If you look at Mary Lambert’s second trip to the Pet Sematary as a sequel to the original film, you will definitely be disappointed. However, if you look at this as a batshit crazy over the top Halloween zombie movie, you will have an absolute blast with this film. Featuring a murder and resurrection on Halloween night and a bonkers performance by Clancy Brown, it’s time to let this underrated Halloween film rise from the grave.
3. Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
Like The Midnight Hour (1985) Dark Night of the Scarecrow is another underrated made-for-television horror classic that reminds us that Network TV used to be much cooler. In a small Southern town, mentality challenged Bubba Ritter finds himself wrongfully accused of assault and then murdered. Bubba returns in the form of a scarecrow—the same disguise he was wearing at the time of his murder—to exact revenge on those who wronged him from beyond the grave. The network television rating may make the kills tame by today’s standards, but the content of Dark Night of the Scarecrow will stick with you long after your initial viewing. Featuring great performances, inventive kills, and even a Halloween party, Dark Night of the Scarecrow is the true definition of underrated horror classic, and should be essential viewing for all slasher fans.
2. Trick or Treat (1986)
Nope, not the one with little Sam making his way across town on All Hallows Eve. Trick or Treat from 1986 is a heavy metal horror classic that, sadly, not enough people know about. Eddie, a bullied teenage boy, is devastated after the death of his heavy metal idol, Sammi Curr. After receiving a lost Sammi Curr demo, Eddie begins exacting revenge on his tormentors. But as Halloween approaches, he discovers that Sammi plans on making one helluva comeback. With a fantastic soundtrack and fun cameos, Trick or Treat may be difficult to find (it’s currently out of print) but it’s worth tacking down, making Trick or Treat the prefect rare find for your Halloween playlist.
1. Lady in White (1988)
Do you love ghost stories? If yes, then look no further than this underrated classic from 1988. Frank sees the ghost of a young girl while locked in a school closet during Halloween 1962. He also witnesses the man who murdered her. Shortly after having this vision, Frank is stalked by the killer and soon uncovers the house of the mysterious Lady in White. Lady in White is one of my all-time favorite ghost stories. It features an intriguing mystery and plenty of scares. For me, Lady In White is the perfect underrated horror gem; a ghost story that’s deserves to be on everyone’s Halloween watch list.