night killer - Non aprite quella porta 3 1989- poster

Painting The Town Red: 10 Must-Watch Italian Horror Films That Aren’t Giallos

There comes a time in every horror fanatic’s life when they delve deep into the bloody waters of Italian Horror. This is a more elevated subgenre. There is more excess, there is more lunacy, and there are a lot of elements that do not make sense – but that’s the beauty of it. Italian auteurs took the American horror genre and turned it upside down. They made it their own, with smaller budgets, homemade practical FX, and all the hilarious dubbing we could ever ask for.

What are some of the best Italian horror films that aren’t Giallos? It was a tough job, but I think I did it! Today it’s all about murderous sea creatures, cannibalistic killers, sleazy deaths, pus-splattering demons, and the purely bizarre. This was a hard list to put together, and this is subjective. Go get your favorite whisky, sit down, relax and let’s bask in 10 of the best Italian horror films, which aren’t Giallos.


10. Caltiki: The Immortal Monster (1959)

Caltiki The Immortal Monster 1959 poster

Archaeologists decide to take all the gold and riches from a sacrificial pool that, unbeknown to them, wakes up a monster lurking in the depths of said pool… WHAT COULD GO WRONG? If you love old black and white horror, with noticeably fake sets, that feel as if you are watching a B-Grade Universal Monster film, then this is the film for you. What this film lacks in substance, it more than makes up for with its effort and creativity.


9. The Last Shark (1981)

the last shark - great white - squale 1981 vhs cover

This film is a Jaws remake you never knew you needed. It is a blatant rip-off, and a fun one at that. The Last Shark is what you get when you have a fraction of the budget that Jaws had and the lack of resources to create a believable-looking shark. Despite its many flaws and blatant plagiarism of the original, you cannot help but love it for what it is; a low-budget, fun and entertaining homage.


8. The Night Killer (1990)

night killer - Non aprite quella porta 3 1989- poster

Lordy, this one is a doozy. The Night Killer is one of the most ridiculous films to ever grace the screen, but they used it to their advantage. There is so much more room for a film to grow when it is 100% self-aware of what it is. Also, it’s worth watching it just to see the killer stalking its prey while wearing one of the most hilarious and chucklesome masks ever.


7. Night Train Murders (1975)


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Night Train Murders 1975 poster

How would you feel about watching a film, that makes you feel like a despicable voyeur for even laying your eyes on it? If you are completely at ease with that, let me suggest The Night Train Murders. This is a film that isn’t only sleazy, intense and pure exploitation. It will also make you question your faith in humanity. Night Train Murders isn’t a fun watch, but sometimes we need to be exposed to films to not only broaden our film scope but are also that harsh hit on our senses.


6. Nightmare Beach (1989)

Nightmare Beach (1989)

Do not attend Spring Break if you are a douchebag, in a biker gang, or a Peeping Tom, because you are dead meat. No one is safe in Nightmare Beach, and that is what should be respected; a killer who holds no prejudices about who he kills. Everyone is fair game. It’s fun, slick, violent and a fast-paced romp, I guarantee you will be fired up once you are done watching this.


5. City of the Living Dead (1980)

The gates of hell are officially open, and boy does it get grisly. The kills combine the perfect sound and practical FX, that will be sure to make your stomach churn. City of the Living Dead is a well-thought-out film with a solid story, that has characters you genuinely care about – which can be rare with films of this ilk.


4. Contamination (1980)

Contamination 1980 - blue underground - dvd cover
Credit: Blue Underground

If gory yet creative Italian Sci-fi Horror is more your speed, you need to check out Contamination. The concept of gelatinous goo that can explode when you come into physical contact with it is not only a unique story to tell, but it is a wild ride to jump on. It’s also a fresh perspective on the genre that makes it stand out from the crowd.


3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

cannibal holocaust vhs cover

Notorious. Violent. Brutal. Cannibal Holocaust is nothing short of perfect. It’s sensory overload with the violence, the grime, and the despicable nature in which our characters are portrayed. Despite the filth and barbarity, there is a tale of morality in there, and that is the glue that holds this film together. You will need a cold, sobering shower after this one.


2. Demons (1985)

demons 1985 horizontal poster

When it comes to Italian horror, this will be one of the wildest films you will ever see. From the moment we see pus popping from the first victim’s face, the madness does not stop. Demons has some of the best practical FX you will see in any horror film, and once you finish watching it, you will be searching far and wide for other films like this.


1. Anthropophagus: The Grim Reaper (1980)

Anthropophagus 1980 the grim reaper vhs scaled

Holy cow is this film savage! There isn’t a complex story in this film. If anything the story does happen to take a back seat to the gore that we see. A lot of the time that can hurt a film, but it doesn’t hurt Anthropophagus. The film does cross that line and it does push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. But it does that by bringing something that could be considered fresh and unseen to the genre at the point of its initial release. Anthropophagous isn’t carrying inhibitions to its approach, it is completely free; that is how you know you have an influential trailblazer on your hands


What’s your favorite Italian Horror movie? Let us know over on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror delivered straight to your inbox by joining the Neighbourhood Watch Newsletter.


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Demons (1985)
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