The spookiest holiday of the year is fast approaching, and so is the inevitable inundation of predictable slasher movies. Whilst the likes of Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street are classics in their own right, those kinds of storylines can become monotonous during the horror movie binge at this beloved time of year.
We have therefore composed a list of 10 alternative horror movies (plus some further honourable mentions) for those of you who like to get stuck in to your own fright night marathons; it includes forgotten gems, new releases and everything in between.
Whilst the contents of this list may not be mindblowing for a true horror movie connoisseur, for those horror fans looking for something new, refreshing and genuinely good in this saturated genre, we reckon it’s a good place to start…
Black Christmas (1974)
The original slasher movie which spawned a painful remake, Black Christmas is a cult classic with a timeless feel that still unsettles to this day. This film went above and beyond what other films of its time thought was controversial. It is creepy, unnerving, gory and completely original. Starring some familiar faces such as Olivia Hussey and Margot Kidder, Black Christmas follows the residents of a sorority house as they prepare for the holiday period. As they start to receive strange telephone calls from a mystery man, the horror unfolds and one of the sisters goes missing. What unfolds from then is increasingly tense and unforgiving, and certainly stays with you after the credits roll.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
Less horror, more comedic genius, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil is a classic film from the Netflix archives – one which you may have stumbled upon in the early hours of the morning, surprised to find that it is actually quite good and bloody funny (no pun intended).
Tucker and Dale are two innocent rednecks on their way to go fix up their newly acquired holiday home – a cabin in the woods. On their way, they find a group of college students, also on their way to the same woods for a getaway. Tucker and Dale then continue to find themselves in ludicrous situations which cause the students to believe that they are murderers and have kidnapped one of their own – cue one hilarious scene involving a chainsaw and a beehive.
This film really delves into the classic horror movie tropes and gives ridiculous but somehow plausible explanations for these, thus transforming the genre on its head and into comedy gold.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
It seems that everyone is jumping on the Stephen King adaptation bandwagon at the moment, but luckily for us there is definitely more good than bad. Most people spent the past couple of months talking about the release of IT, and as great as that movie is, Netflix recently came out with something even better.
Gerald’s Game is a trip back to classic horror, omitting the reliance on jump scares and focusing solely on the building of an unsettling atmosphere and forcing the audience to question the reality of the protagonist. It follows a middle aged couple, Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) and Jessie (Carla Gugino), who decide to take a trip to save their marriage and spice up their sex life. When in the middle of a questionable role playing game with Jessie handcuffed to the bed, Gerald unexpectedly dies and Jessie is left to her demise, handcuffed and trapped in a room with her husband’s dead body.
It is unique and unsettling and contains one of the most disgusting scenes of the year. Gerald’s Game is a must if you want something a bit different this Halloween.
Grave Encounters (2011)
Grave Encounters was one of the many found-footage movies of the late 00’s/early ‘10s inspired by the success of Paranormal Activity back in 2007 – the first truly successful movie of the sub-genre since Blair Witch Project in the ‘90s.
What starts as a cheesy and low budget ghost hunting show quickly turns into a mind-bending jump fest which remains unpredictable to first time viewers. It plays on the sensationalism of these popular TV shows, the presenters thinking of situations to create scares for the show, paying off locals to say they have seen ghosts and the eccentric medium even admitting he is a fraud.
Set in an abandoned mental asylum, the presenters and crew are locked in for the night to capture footage for their episode. Strange happenings begin to occur and what follows is an original but terrifying fight to escape the horrors which surround them.
Containing classic jump scares (perhaps some where the anticipation is worse than the scare itself), it is a definite watch for any horror fan.
No horror movie list is complete without the inclusion of an over the top ‘80s movie, so outlandish and cartoon-like, that it goes beyond what you think horror should be. Re-Animator is an absolute classic from the decade, and though it might be one of the most well-loved horror movies ever, it is still often omitted from standard Halloween watch lists.
Set on campus of a medical school, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is obsessed with finding the key to bringing the dead back to life, and will stop at nothing until he succeeds. With obvious inspiration drawn from Frankenstein and Night of the Living Dead, it is a gore-fest that is so ridiculous it is unmissable. Don’t mistake it for a “so bad it’s good” movie; it is a great movie, but is of its time, and a classic nevertheless.
It is fun to watch, and has a great score, making it one of the most memorable horror movies ever made.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Something else which cannot be left out of a Halloween watch list is a monster movie, and what may now be considered a forgotten gem from the new millennium- which is in fact a classic teenage ‘coming of age’ film.
Ginger Snaps is one of the better modern werewolf movies and really taps into the feminist ideology behind the myth that we may not have previously thought about – it throws it right in your face, actually.
It follows the macabre obsessed sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, as they come to terms with womanhood and Ginger’s newly acquired bloodlust. Set in the backdrop of a high school at Halloween, it is a must-see teen flick which is gruesome right to the core. Following the standard high school movie tropes, it was and remains a fresh new take on the then saturated genre, and gives a classic monster narrative a new setting.
Possibly the most divisive movie on this list, Cube is a low budget, cult classic of independent horror cinema with a truly original concept. The story revolves around a group of strangers who wake up in a cubic room, which they soon discover is surrounded by, and linked to, potentially hundreds of other cubes, each containing puzzles and traps which they must progress through in order to escape. Movies with premises such as these are often as much horror films as they are sociological studies – put different people in a room together, and inevitably sparks will fly.
So – why is a movie that we’ve called divisive being included on this list? Well, whilst we love the concept and plot of this film, the acting leaves a lot to be desired. It may contribute to its cult status, but the acting is, honestly, pretty awful (sorry!) – we think it adds to the enjoyment of the movie if you’re in a ‘so bad it’s good’ mood, but if you can look past the lacking performances to the incredible concept and mysterious storyline, then we couldn’t recommend it more.
The Witch: A New England Folk Tale (2015)
Halloween wouldn’t exist without folklore, and therefore this modern gothic masterpiece about witchcraft and possession in 1600’s America is a must for this list. This isn’t your typical horror movie – it is an extremely slow moving film (packed into a fairly short run time) but is completely worth your while, trust us.
It moves in the same vain as classic movies such as Don’t Look Now – you know something is wrong, but you aren’t quite sure what it is, and whether the protagonist (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is reliable or not is questioned throughout the film.
Set in New England in the 1630s, when the presence of witchcraft and the occult was a very much real and present danger, The Witch follows one family in particular as their children start to undergo dramatic changes in their behaviour and well-being.
It is a dark and foreboding re-telling of a classic horror storyline, and brings most modern horror movies down on their knees. It treats the audience with intelligence; this is real horror, not just jump scare after jump scare, or predictable character arcs. This is definitely something a bit different and it won’t be for everyone, but a film which will retain its status for years to come.
Evil Dead (2013)
We know what you’re thinking – why put a remake of a horror classic on a list like this? Why not the original?
Well, for starters, this is an ALTERNATIVE horror movie list – we’re trying to expand our horizons a little. The original Evil Dead is a classic, and will be forever; nobody is doubting it. Secondly, the 2013 version of the film is undeniably one of the better remakes to be released in the last 10 years, a rarity in an industry that can feel like nothing but do overs sometimes.
Furthermore, it is a much darker take on the storyline, with much more disturbing imagery and violence than the original could have ever imagined. Throw in different characters (instead of botching an updated ‘Ash’) and you have yourselves a well-deserved remake.
This time round, we see a group heading to a remote cabin in the woods to detox their friend from her drug addiction. After discovering the Book of the Dead and unknowingly summoning the evil from within it, the group insist that the strange goings on are as a result of her going cold turkey. With the extremely limited use of CGI effects, the gore is incredibly realistic and quite difficult to watch, making this new version of Evil Dead a go-to for horror fans who seek that much needed gore fest on Halloween.
Made on a shoestring budget and shot over a meagre two week period thanks to Lowe being heavily pregnant in real life, Prevenge is a revenge-slasher movie following Ruth who, after the avoidable death of her husband, seeks to avenge him by killing off the ones responsible one by one – all whilst seven months pregnant.
With its unmistakable British humour, solid soundtrack, and numerous cameos from plenty of unexpected stars, Prevenge is definitely on track to becoming a future cult classic. For fans of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The Mighty Boosh, the same bizarre humour is present and is definitely for the people who like things a little bit weird.
There you have it! Our list of horror movie recommendations if you’re sick of the sight of Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger on Halloween. We hope you take the time to delve into something new and experience some new scares along the way.
We’ve also included below some further honourable mentions which didn’t quite make the cut, but deserve a watch nonetheless.
The Void (2017)
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
You’re Next (2013)
From Beyond (1986)
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
Train to Busan (2016)
Yelling at your screen? Can’t believe we’ve missed your fave? Let us know what you’ll be watching this Halloween down in the comments!