"The Possession," the new Sam Raimi-produced horror flick coming out this weekend, looks pretty solid. Then again, the same thing could have been said of "The Apparition" before audiences found out they could find more scares in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
Horror movies are often boom or bust, and at $10 a ticket, it's an expensive gamble. So, in case this latest exorcism chiller falls on its pea-soup vomiting face, here are five underrated horror films that you can watch in the comfort of your own home (probably with the lights on).
This terrifying 2005 British horror saga about a posse of female friends on a caving trip hits almost every phobia a person could have. If you're afraid of the dark, most of the film takes place in a pitch-black cave with only flashlights and glow sticks to light the way. Claustrophobic? Try to watch a scene in which the women squeeze through a shudder-inducingly tight tunnel. There's even a gnarly leg fracture for squeamish viewers.
And that's all before the cave-dwelling, bloodthirsty crawlers show up.
Between the creepy creatures and gore (it's most known for a sequence involving a massive blood pool), there's plenty to be afraid of in Neil Marshall's cult horror classic. What makes the film really stick, however, is the tense psychological conflict between our heroines. As they journey further into the cave, the women's bond becomes strained as secrets and sad pasts come to the surface. It's viscerally and mentally chilling, especially if you watch it with the far superior original ending.
The premise of "Inside" is one of the most disturbing concepts to hit the screen. The 2007 French horror film follows one night with a very pregnant young woman who is being terrorized by a mysterious guest who wants just one thing: her unborn baby. And she plans to take it by force.
Many people reading that synopsis are probably incensed, disturbed and will avoid "Inside" for the rest of their movie-watching lives. Considering its graphic violence, as well as the tragic and horrifically similar crime that occurred in Milwaukee less than a year ago, that's a very understandable reaction. If you can stomach the premise, though, "Inside" is a terrifying horror film that will have you hiding behind you chair in fear.
It's not just the gore. Directors Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury create a dread-filled, tension-soaked atmosphere for a maternal battle so intense, it makes Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton's iconic mothers look like characters out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
The right mask can take a horror movie villain from creepy to legendary. Jason has the hockey mask, Michael Myers has the William Shatner mask and Leatherface has, well, the leather face. 2008's "The Strangers" may not be up to the level of those horror classics, but it's got some great, creepy masks. It also helps that the whole movie is pretty spine chilling as well.
The film is an old-school horror flick about two doll-masked women and a bag-headed man tormenting an already on-edge couple. "The Strangers" isn't about big gory set pieces. Instead, it's all about pure tension as the three intruders haunt our lead characters. The best parts are when the attackers quietly appear in the background of a scene, calmly watching the couple come apart. It's the all-too-real horror of someone watching you, and you'd never know.
As the "Scream" and "Scary Movie" series have taught us, horror movies have their share of overused tropes. One of the most popular clichÃ©s is the use of creepy kids (bonus points if they have long black hair). "The Orphanage," a 2007 Spanish ghost tale produced by the ridiculously imaginative Guillermo del Toro, has plenty of spooky children scattered throughout its story, but it never once feels tired. Instead, the kids are used in some great set piece moments (a chilling and tense game of "red light, green light" for instance). They're just one part of the film's beautifully gothic atmosphere that manages to be scary, tense and at the end surprisingly touching.
Who says a horror movie has to be scary? 2010's "Piranha 3D" has almost no scary moments in it besides a couple of cheap jump scares. Director Alexandre Aja's ("The Hills Have Eyes" remake) campy horror comedy is so delightfully absurd, so goofily gory and so aware of its ridiculousness that it turns into 90 minutes of bloody fun.
The set-up, filled with winking cameos (including "Jaws'" Richard Dreyfuss and the perpetually frazzled Christopher Lloyd) and gratuitous nudity, is giddily entertaining. Then, when the murderous fish show up and the gore finally starts flying, "Piranha 3D" becomes bloody, gleeful insanity. Ving Rhames takes a propeller to a school of piranha. Jerry O'Connell's sleazy "Girls Gone Wild"-esque videographer gets offed in the most gloriously gross way possible. One character just ... disappears from the movie, but who cares? It's a B-movie made to A-plus perfection, like Nicolas Cage's "The Wicker Man" if it was supposed to be hilarious.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published May 21, 2013
According to Hollywood movies, Las Vegas is either the greatest place on Earth or the worst place on Earth and everything that's wrong with America. I've never been to Vegas so I couldn't really say from first-hand experience what I think of Sin City, but I have seen several movies featuring the legendary town. So it's almost like I've been there. Kind of. Barely. Anyways, in honor of "The Hangover Part III," here are five of the most memorable films featuring the city that truly never sleeps.
Published May 17, 2013
With all of that in place, it would seem the sequel's phasers would be all set to stun. But something's off. There's a sequence where the starship Enterprise is flying at warp speed when a big, clunky-looking vessel comes up from behind and nudges it off its exhilarating track. That's pretty much "Star Trek Into Darkness" in a nutshell, except replace the big, clumsy vessel with a big, clumsy story.
Published May 15, 2013
Michael Viers is a horror movie junkie, but his upcoming project, "Love You Still," is less boogeyman and more "Old Man and the Sea." The most shocking part, however, is that the story - a tale of an old fisherman reflecting back on his life - comes courtesy of a junior in high school. It may seem like a strange combination, but for Milwaukee Film and their Collaborative Cinema educational program, it's just another exciting year of locally-bred film and hopefully a sign of more to come.
Published May 14, 2013
After four years, several all-nighters and an embarrassing amount of ramen, Hot Pockets and Dr. Pepper for dinner, I - alongside thousands of others across the country - am finally making the triumphant walk across the graduation stage from childhood to adulthood, snagging a diploma along the way. If I ever get nostalgic for the university lifestyle, however, I can pop in one of these great college movies.
Published May 10, 2013
Now there's Baz Luhrmann's rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," done up as the big, loud extravagant 3-D summer blockbuster I doubt Fitzgerald had in mind when he wrote his time-honored critique of the vapid lifestyles of the rich and the growing emptiness of the American dream. The end result feels a bit too much like one of Gatsby's parties: a whole lot of razzle dazzle with a hollow emotional core.
Published May 8, 2013
Funny or Die and Old Milwaukee are bringing stand-up comedians Matt Braunger and Johnny Pemberton to Turner Hall tomorrow night. Braunger is most known for his reoccurring role as Gene on NBC's "Up All Night" and his Comedy Central special "Shovel Fighter." Pemberton appeared in "21 Jump Street" and "The Watch," and currently stars as Mason on ABC's new sitcom "Family Tools." We got a chance to talk with the duo of comedians about the tour, memories of Milwaukee and messing with random people on the road.
Published May 7, 2013
"Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann is the latest to attempt to cash in on classic literature with his slick, shiny 3-D rendition of "The Great Gatsby," coming out Friday. Before we see how Luhrmann's second attempt at working with legendary source material goes, let's take a peek at five other films that boldly attempted to abolish the phrase, "the book is always better than the movie," out of audience's minds.
Published May 3, 2013
The first question I had walking out of "The Avengers" last summer was, "How freaking awesome was that?" The second question - a bit more difficult to answer - was, "How is any comic book superhero movie ever going to be able to compete with that?" Pretty easily, as it turns out. "Iron Man 3" may not fly as high as its star-studded combo platter predecessor, but it still makes for a great start to the summer.
Published May 2, 2013
While one of the biggest studio films of the year will be announcing the yearly stampede of other, equally massive studio features on Friday, UWM and its film department will head in the other direction with the 13th Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, starting this Friday and running through the rest of the weekend.
Published May 1, 2013
"Pain and Gain" is the Michael Bay-iest movie Michael Bay has ever made. A large portion of readers, weary of Bay's signature bloated, "explosions are awesome KABOOM!," go-big-or-go-home brand, likely just read that last sentence and shuddered in fear. But here's the twist: It turns out "Pain and Gain" is a roided-out freak-child of a film that's a lot of bizarre fun.