Truthfully, I’m never very good at coming up with these kinds of lists. I always feel like I’m forgetting something and, to be honest, it’s very possible that if I put this list together tomorrow or next week all the titles would be completely different. And what is an underrated movie in this day and age, anyway? A few movies that I thought of and love for various reasons, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE STEPFATHER and DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE, seem too well known by now to go on such a list so I didn’t include them. Whether I’m wrong or right, I have no idea. So instead of calling this a list of my most underrated horror movies, let’s just call this a list of films which I admire for various reasons—they’ve either fallen through the cracks or have been stranded outside the mainstream somewhere and are therefore invisible to the likes of most people as well as the sort of thing covered by Entertainment Weekly. But if somebody I know wanted me to show them something they may not seen before, or even bee aware of, right now these films are a few that would come to mind, horror films (or at least close to what would be called horror films) that really deserve to be better known than they are.
HORROR EXPRESS (1973) dir. Eugenio Martin
PSYCHO III (1986) dir. Anthony Perkins
It’s not the most earth-shattering list, I admit that. The fact that I’ve included several from the early 70s either says something of my own limitations as a moviegoer or it just says something about the kind of filmmaking style that has the potential to genuinely interest and unnerve me. But in each of these films I can point to something that I love, something that I get a genuine cinematic charge out of, whether I’m reminded of the spontaneous applause that burst from the opening weekend Westwood audience during the single greatest moment of BODY SNATCHERS, the amazingly twisted nature of PSYCHO III which is genuinely surprising when looking at it now, the J&B drenched giallo sleaze of BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA that I kind of love as well as the overriding dread that is maintained throughout PRINCE OF DARKNESS, a very good John Carpenter film that has been slightly forgotten amidst the deserved praise of HALLOWEEN and THE THING. And it makes me think how unfair it is that something as undeniably transgressive as THE STENDHAL SYNDROME has gotten lumped in with Dario Argento’s other, lesser work from the past two decades and how it deserves much more than that. Mostly I suppose the twisted nature of these titles remind me why I love films. Are they underrated, overrated or rated just fine? I’m not sure. But, for me, they deserve to be better known than they are.