10 Overlooked Recent Horror Movie Gems

“I Sell the Dead” (Glass Eye Pix)

When it comes to my Halloween season viewing, I often fall back on the vintage stuff: Hammer favorites, Universal monster classics, the Val Lewton cycle, or any previously unseen golden oldies that catch my eye.

But despite the plague of “found footage” cheapies and an endless streak of inferior remakes and sequels, there have been some very good recent horror movies. It’s just that many of the best have gone virtually unnoticed except by the most insatiable horror fanatics. And I know for that diehard crowd, much of this list might not seem so overlooked. So, while I certainly do want to hear about that grainy $5,000 stalker film from Uruguay you found in a black market video shop, understand my definition of “overlooked” isn’t quite that obscure.

The list was restricted to films released over the last five years or so, just to have some sort of cutoff. There are other movies from the same period (like Trick ‘r TreatHouse of the Devil and Splice) that also should have received a wider release or more media attention, but those films have found a very devoted cult following. The films below have some fans, but continue to fly way too far under the radar for my liking. 

Five of the ten films are debut features, so maybe there’s something to be said for new chefs contributing to the horror stew. The rankings are a bit meaningless considering how different the films are, but the hierarchy is simply those I felt were the most essential viewing. 

Oh … and Happy Halloween!

I Sell the Dead (2009): A fantastic debut feature, Glenn McQuaid’s joyful throwback to genre traditions is horror-comedy of the highest order. Getting convincing period detail on a very low budget, McQuaid also brings filmmaking verve to every scene. And it’s a darn funny film too, with great hammy performances by Larry Fessenden and Ron Perlman and a reactive comic role to treasure from Dominic Monaghan in the lead. If you grew up with Hammer horror films on TV and grisly EC Comics reprints, I Sell the Dead will seem letter-perfect. It never played in a Chicago theater, which is a goddamned shame, as this was made to see with an audience.