Yo, Kindertrauma pals! It’s been some time since I last wrote about underrated horror flicks (I submitted 3 picks HERE a few years ago), but your recent Labor Day list inspired me and got me thinking about some horror movies that just don’t get the love they deserve. As always, I completely understand that it’s all in the eye of the beholder, and you might clutch your pearls at some of these being described as “underrated”, but, in the end, it’s just one simple horror fan’s opinion. Now, let’s grab a rusty, blood-stained garden spade and dig in!
Boogeyman 2 (2007)
I totally get why people dislike the first one; it’s boring, not scary IN THE LEAST, and has absolutely nothing special to offer. The second one, on the other hand, was a huge surprise for me. It made its arrival direct-to-DVD with little fanfare in 2007, and, as I recall, has nothing really to do with the first film. Perhaps zero expectations helped with this, or perhaps I just love Renee O’Connor (yep, she who played Gabrielle in the sorely missed Xena TV series), but I found this to be a blast. It basically plays like an old-school slasher where patients walk around a mental hospital and get picked off in gruesome ways. It’s all rather simple, and I LOVE simplicity when it comes to these movies. It also has Tobin Bell of Saw fame playing a creep-tastic psychiatrist.
Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997)
Not sure if “underrated” is the correct term to use here, honestly. Perhaps it’s just not as well-known in horror circles. Either way, this hauntingly beautiful yet gruesome take on the familiar story brings the horror in quite heavy doses. Let’s be honest here, the original Brothers Grimm tale is pretty horrific, and certainly nothing like the popular Disney version. Sigourney Weaver is chilling as the evil stepmother, and the dark themes from the fairy tale are all intact. Also, did I mention how stunning this film looks? It’s a purdy one, that’s for sure.
Dead Silence (2007)
This might shock you, but I actually prefer this over director James Wan’s more popular films, such as Insidious or The Conjuring. I can’t say that it’s super scary, but pretty much any movie with creepy dolls or ventriloquist dummies gets an automatic pass from me. And I make NO APOLOGIES for that. The visuals in this thing are insane, especially that ending! Again, it very well might be a case of style over substance, but I simply can’t help it. Gotta call it as I see it, and I love what I see here. Also, let’s give it up to Donnie Wahlberg, an always welcome (at least by me) presence in these genre films.
This slasher came out right as the late ‘90s teen horror fad was dying out (see below for more on that). Clearly, judging by how this film was received, most people were perfectly fine with that. I’m pretty sure even I recall finding the whole thing a little “eh” when I first saw it in theaters. I was also in high school at the time, so what the hell did I know? Viewing it years later, I have a newfound appreciation. It’s actually a pretty cool slasher, very old-school by design, and I absolutely love the killer’s mask. Remember how I mentioned I love simplicity in horror films? I also have a weakness when it comes to slashers. Horror films were moving away from slashers during this period and towards those with more supernatural elements and Asian horror remakes. We also had a glut of those movies where the killer ended up being a figment of the protagonist’s psyche, or some such psychobabble. When all is said and done, all I really want is an actual, flesh-and-blood killer with a decent motive. Too much to ask?
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Disturbing Behavior (1998), and Urban Legend (1998)
OK, OK, I know… I’m cheating here and I don’t care. In my opinion, these 3 films, among others, get unfairly criticized and lumped in with the various Scream knock-offs of the mid-to-late ‘90s. Well, I think they’re great. Horror fans tend to snub their noses at horror flicks from this time period, but I have mostly fond memories. IKWYDLS and Urban Legend are pretty straightforward slashers with memorable villains and decent kills, while Disturbing Behavior has a more teen-thriller vibe with some science fiction elements for good measure. Another positive for me with these flicks: they all have plots that remind me of those R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike teen horror novels that were so popular back in the day.
I don’t mind if you judge me. Perhaps one day I will look back at this list and judge myself. But for now, I think I’m going to go dust off my copy of Urban Legend and get lost in a time when all we needed to enjoy a horror flick was a killer in a parka with a sharp axe and a fixation with Tara Reid. Rock on, fellow horror fans!
~ Matthew A.