Adding to your best Halloween horror movies list is an endless exercise in frustration; here are five greats you've missed

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      If the sadists at AccuWeather are to be believed, the rain which started today continues all this weekend, and it’s going to be kind of ugly. You know what that means–it's the official kickoff to days and days of black nights, dead leaves, and the symbolic arrival of the greatest season not named Christmas: Halloween.

      The best way to get into the spirit of things, besides busting out the midnight-black nail polish, coal-black lipstick, coffin-black hair-dye, black-earth clothes, and midnight-black John Fluevog footwear? And then cuing up an October Mayhem playlist top-loaded with the Misfits, Bauhaus, Dead Man’s Bones, Portishead, and Skinny Puppy?

      Easy–two straight weeks of horror movies, preferably at least tangentially to the season of the witch. Which is to say that The Thing, The Shining, and Dead Snow are all out because they are too wintery. But "Hell yeah" to The Return of the Living Dead, for no other reason than the line “I know you’re here, because I can smell your brains.” And The Evil Dead, which still gives you nightmares every time you play “Guess Which Card I’m Holding?” in a backwoods cabin with a reel-to-reel tape recorder being the primary source of sonic entertainment. And Phantasm, because it’s like having a flu-fever dream that seems to last for three days.

      Here’s the thing: you’ve seen all the above classics horror movies somewhere in the neighbourhood of 666 times, which is why you spend the first three hours of every October movie night scouring Rotten Tomatoes, The Scary Meter, and the collected musings of Joe Bob Briggs for something new to dig into.

      Need something you’ve never seen, and quite possibly have never even heard of? Check out these five horror-film obscurities. And don’t forget the mini-chocolate bars.


      Here’s the main thing you need to know before settling in: there will be blood. Not just the occasional squirt, jet, fountain, or arterial spray—but instead enough to fill a goddamn Olympic swimming pool. Known as Rumah Dara overseas, Macabre plays like an Indonesian version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, except with a little less southern barbecue and 10 times more splatter. Following a night of getting loaded at a neon-lit bar and then drinking and driving to the airport, a group of friends find a woman wandering on a back road. After giving her a ride to a house in the middle of nowhere, things began to get weird.

      Co-directors the Mo Brothers clearly have a favourite colour and it’s deep-crimson-red; whether unleashed by chainsaws, knives, hair pins, or assault rifles, the blood flows in endless crimson rivers, every scene somehow more over the top than the one that’s come before it. In other words, this might be the all-time favourite film of everyone on the GWAR tour bus, not to mention every sunlight-averse character in Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.

      Dead & Buried

      Atmosphere is everything in this sleeper written by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, best known as the team responsible for 1979’s timeless Alien. Built around the premise than few places on Earth are scarier than Smalltown America, Dead & Buried focuses on the coastal community of Potters Bluff, where tourists are more than welcome for all the wrong reasons.

      With one foot in the world of EC Comics, and the other in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, the film has special effects from the great Stan Winston, and a look indebted to the gloriously grainy ’70s—making it perfect for a future drive-in double bill with Thanksgiving, which we’re still waiting for Eli Roth to bring across the finish line. As far as the plot goes, the less known the better. Let’s leave it at this from the trailer: “In Potters Bluff, when you die, expect the unexpected.”

      Willow Creek

      Like camping, especially those weekends where you hike into the middle of nowhere with nothing but a tent, six packets of freeze-dried food, and one of those silver tin blankets that somehow cost you $129 at Mountain Equipment Co-op? There’s inarguably a scary side to the experience, the big one being that all that’s separating you from the great outdoors is a thin layer of fabric and an Exped Winterlite -15 Down Sleeping Bag (which, even more astonishing that the silver tin blanket, somehow coast you $1,079.95 at Mountain Equipment Co-op.)

      Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait (yes, that Bobcat Goldthwait), Willow Creek starts out as a Blair Witch Project-style documentary, with a young and insanely photogenic couple in search of the sasquatch famously captured in Patterson–Gimlin film of 1967. After interviewing the none-to-friendly folk in Willow Creek (aka the Bigfoot Capital of the world), it’s off to Six Rivers National Forest, where things are idyllic and super-natural at first. And then gradually scary enough to make you realize theres a good reason people want more than a thin layer of fabric and an Exped Winterlite -15 Down Sleeping Bag between them and the world when they go to sleep at night. Here’s the thing about tenting: it can be goddamn scary, especially when you need to take a leak in the pitch dark at three in the morning. Understated yet completely tension-packed Willow Creek drives that fact home that it’s doubly terrifying in sasquatch country. Even if you have a WOOX AX1 camp axe (that somehow cost you $239.95 at Mountain Equipment Co-op. 

      Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

      Low-budget horror films in the ’70s seemed to cleave a couple of ways: grimy, dark and slow-burn evil (Burnt Offerings, The Sentinel), or unapologetically weird, winkingly creepy, and druggily dreamy (Phantasm, House). File Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things under the latter, preferably after you’ve taken two hits on the bong and settled in with a cup of mushroom tea and two tabs of Black Sunshine.

      Canadiana buffs will know Bob Clark as the director behind not only the epically stupid smash Porky’s, but also the classic A Christmas Story and the considerably less feel-good (but still pretty great) Black ChristmasChildren Shouldn’t Play Things falls under the umbrella of “whatever they were smoking, I don’t want any of it.” A theatre troupe headed up by riot-fop director Alan lands on a deserted island off the Florida coast and then begins, well, playing with dead things, dragging a cake-white corpse named Orville Dunworth into an abandoned cabin and using him as a DIY-production prop. And usinghim as a way to reanimate every other corpse on the island, which is home to a double-dry-iced cemetery filled with the bodies of extra-insanse criminals.

      Amateurish? Totally—Children Shouldn’t Play Things was shot in two weeks for just $50,000, the cast made of up friends of Clark from college. Effective? Yes, with the most amazing thing being that the members of Alan’s theatre troupe—nicknamed “children”—don’t kill him for being not only creepy, hyper-affected, moody, and overly-dramatic, but also riotously annoying (especially if you’re stoned on the bong, mushroom tea, and military-grade LSD).

      Sleepaway Camp

      Good God, where to start with the mega-warped brilliance? Take a summer camp where everyone seems to be perpetually angry, bullying is an official activity, and the kids swear like truck drivers with Tourette’s. Then add the idea that sex between perverted senior citizens and teenage counselors is normal—that somehow being the least-crazy part of the whole package.

      There’s a good reason why Sleepaway Camp has become a cult-classic in the purest sense of the word. The acting is appalling to the point where it’s almost mindblowing. The killing scenes are set up with lines like “I gotta take a wicked dump”. And the fantasy sequences will leave you feeling like you’re on the world’s weirdest drugs, even if you’re more straight edge than Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye. When it’s all over, you’ll want to immediately watch it again because processing it all the first time is mission impossible—that only starting with the epically bizarro opening words “In fond memory of Mom, a doer.”