UNDERRATED HORROR MOVIES THAT AREN'T UNDERRATED: A HALLOWEEN LIST
(Posted: 30 October 2015)

Let’s face it, if there’s one word movie fans love to use it’s underrated. Even though it’s impossible to define a movie being underrated, or overrated, simply because subjectivity cannot be measured. However, if you go to any genre-based website it is almost a guarantee that they’ll have a “most underrated horror movies” list on their site somewhere. Hell, there are even list-based websites that’ll have half a dozen “underrated movies” lists. Even though a movie’s worth is subjective, that doesn’t stop movie fans, especially horror fans, from throwing the word underrated around all willy-nilly like. Some people are so goddamn out of control with their use of the word that you’ll even see movies like “The Evil Dead” or “Return of the Living Dead” show up on these lists. It’s maddening.

This obnoxious trend forced us at Film Bizarro to ask ourselves, “If the same titles are mentioned on everyone’s underrated horror movies list, can they still be considered underrated?” Of course the obvious answer is no, they cannot. And in true grumpy Film Bizarro fashion, we put together a list of nine movies that we saw mentioned most often as being underrated to give our opinion them and why they are anything but underrated.

So, here in no particular order are nine underrated horror movies that aren't underrated…


SLITHER (2006)
Director: James Gunn

I've always loved "Slither". James Gunn is exactly my type of filmmaker so I soak up all of his directorial work. While I always enjoyed his work with Troma, "Slither" was him doing exactly his own style of horror and it was glorious. It walked a fine line between gruesome body horror and comedy, and it has references to many great classics in fun, smaller ways. Back when the movie came out I remember it wasn't very popular and horror fans were mostly mad that it was a rip-off of "Night of the Creeps", something which I never cared to argue about - mostly because it was quickly denied by the director who I believe hadn't even seen that movie. He had seen the wonderful "Shivers", however, and that's where the inspiration came from. So yes, when "Slither" came out it wasn't beloved. But now, a decade later, this is a movie that has finally found its place with horror fans. It's not what I would call underrated now. If the definition of underrated is that most people give the movie a rating below what it deserves, and a strange body horror comedy like "Slither" has 6.5/10 on IMDb, then I don't feel like it is underrated. Like me, the majority of people actually gave it a 7 in that rating scale. That's pretty fucking decent rating when #200-250 of IMDbs top rated movies have 8/10! If you want a slimey sci-fi horror/comedy with Michael Rooker in one of his creepiest roles yet, then this should be perfect.

 

SESSION 9 (2001)
Director: Brad Anderson

Late one night in the early '00s I was zapping through the channels and I was met with the opening credits of what seemed like a decent time to spend my night. To my surprise, this movie blew me away. It's a very captivating supernatural/psychological horror movie that doesn't rely on effects, with one of the creepier asylums as its setting (asylums are not really scary in movies, but this one works!). After this night, I tried to watch it every time it was airing on that channel up until they took it off the schedule. A few years later I bought it on DVD. This movie is great (despite some acting by David Caruso). But it's not really underrated or overlooked anymore. This is one of the most common titles on "underrated horror movies" lists and I'm not having it. Sure it didn't make a fuss when it came out but it has since then grew into a beloved horror movie and I don't understand why it keeps popping up on these lists. You probably haven't seen it if you don't watch a lot of horror, but most (if not all) of these sites are actually aiming towards horror fans. Try to Google "Session 9 underrated". You'll see that it's the "the most underrated movie of all times", "criminally underrated", "severely underrated", an "underrated post millennium horror movie", "truly underrated" and "a very underrated cult classic"! Is it underrated if everyone writing about horror seems to have seen it and think it's underrated? It's a good movie though. Watch it on Halloween!

 

THE EXORCIST III (1990)
Director: William Peter Blatty

I know what you’re saying. “You’re a bunch of hypocrites for having this on here since you had ’The Exorcist 3’ on your ‘A 90s Halloween’ list!” First of all, fuck you for talking to us like that. Secondly, on our previous list we mention the movie’s substantial popularity. Yes, “The Exorcist 3” is a great movie that should be loved and adored — which it is. And that’s exactly why it’s not underrated. Sure, it’s one of those movies that had to build its popularity over time but it’s pretty far from being underrated. The movie receives praise and acknowledgement for being a sequel that rivals the original film in terms of quality. The performances from George C. Scott and Brad Dourif are also highly praised. Not to mention the famous 'hallway' scene has made numerous lists as being one of the most terrifying scenes in a horror movie. I can’t even find a reason to give my own opinion on "The Exorcist 3" because everyone knows the movie and just about everyone loves it. At the very least, there are far fewer people who dislike the movie than there who do. Even though “The Exorcist 3” will never be able to escape from the shadow cast by its predecessor, “The Exorcist”, it has still managed to find its own (large) fan base.

 

BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON (2006)
Director: Scott Glosserman

We're all horror fans here, right? We like the classics and we can all agree that modern slashers are bland after the "Scream" incident in the '90s and beyond. But can we all also agree that "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" is not underrated? I believe most people liked this movie when it came out, and horror fans all over the internet discussed it to pieces. It was a rare, unique twist on slasher movies and it was what we needed at the time to care about the subgenre again. There are a lot of people who haven't seen the movie, but that's not the same as underrated. "Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon" is a movie made by, and for, horror fans and it doesn't need to reach outside of that circle. It's filled with slasher tropes that constantly gets twisted on their heads or are intentionally used. These things wouldn't matter to someone who doesn't care about slashers. That's why horror fans have seen this movie and they like it a lot, but romantic drama aficionados have not. This simply means that those who have seen it give it a good rating, so it's not underrated. Are we on the same page here?

 

FRAILTY (2001)
Director: Bill Paxton

When I think of “Frailty” I think of this great blend of psychological and metaphysical horror that managed to capture the elusive “intelligent horror” label. Let’s face it, at the time of the release of “Frailty” in 2001, horror movies were in a slum. The genre was still recovering from the backlash of the late-‘90s slasher-wave that made everyone thoroughly sick of horror movies. And while “Session 9” came out the same year, “Frailty” was a movie that brought respectability back to genre. Not only did genre fans absolutely love it, but it was critically well received too (Roger Ebert gave it 4-stars and said it was “one of the year’s best”). Unfortunately the box office numbers didn’t back it up, but there weren’t many people who didn’t love it and talk about its amazingly well crafted and intelligent story. With its budget size, and the fact that it had theatrical distribution, it’s hard to consider “Frailty” an indie movie but that's exactly what it was. The only name that the movie had to it was its director, and horror-alumni, Bill Paxton, which was enough to generate a great deal of hype at the time of its release. “Frailty” was highly anticipated, well received, and continues to hold onto a substantial cult following. That's a pretty amazing feat for an indie movie. So when I think of all the things that the movie is, underrated is simply not one them.

 

YOU'RE NEXT (2013)
Director: Adam Wingard

I don't have a strong stance on claims that "You're Next" is underrated, but yet again I can only bring up the fact that the movie is mentioned on a shit ton of "underrated horror movies" lists. That should be enough. Why do people listen to the box office when they decide if horror movies are popular or not? Most horror fans will sit in their couch to watch movies because we fucking hate people. Don't look at the box office to decide if a horror movie is underrated or not, because it doesn't mean anything. I'd say that "You're Next" is one of the most popular horror movies of 2013 among horror fans. It's obvious that people love reading these "underrated horror movies" lists, but I wish more effort were put into making them. "You're Next" is a good movie. I liked it a lot more than I expected to. If you haven't seen it, then by all means you should go watch it, but there is no way you've heard mostly bad things about it before. It's another movie that throws the subgenre tropes for a spin, and while it certainly doesn't amaze, I had a good time with it.

 

THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009)
Director: Ti West

2009 was a rough year in terms of horror movies; remakes and zombie movies were picking up steam but overall it was hodgepodge of different lukewarm genre titles being released. Then, suddenly, there was this quirky little independent movie that came out that blew everyone away in both the indie and mainstream scene. That movie was “The House of the Devil”. People love it or they hate it for it being a slow-boiling movie that’s driven by a tense but quiet atmosphere. None the less, “The House of the Devil” made Ti West a household name because there hadn’t been anything like it to come out in some time. Considering Ti West’s entire career is hinged on this movie, can it be considered underrated? Not only did it make Ti West popular, but it was also one of the first movies to kick off the ‘80s nostalgia craze. And it even made VHS tapes become a thing again. Yes, there is a rather loud group that’s quick to tell you that “The House of the Devil” is one of the worst horror movies to ever be made (gotta love that hyperbole). However, there is an equally loud group that’s willing to tell you that it’s the best, and in hindsight, seeing everything that the movie made popular, it’s hard to call “House of the Devil” underrated.

 

INSIDE (2007)
Director: Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo

There is not one single movie that was part of the new-wave of French gory horror movies which came out during the mid-noughties that could be considered underrated. Not a one. Every French horror flick that was released during that time was embraced with open arms by salivating horror fans world wide. “Inside” was not only well received, but it was one of the most popular titles next to “Martyrs” and “Haute Tension”. And for a movie that was nothing but an utter bloodbath, it wasn’t half bad. Great level of tension, well produced, some great cinematography, and of course, the ridiculous amounts of gore. “Inside” was and is still loved by genre fans but it became notorious for being upsetting due to the violence happening to a pregnant woman. Something that has caused “Inside” to be frequently be mentioned in “most disturbing” or “you can only watch these movies once” kind of lists. While the popularity for “Inside” has died down — which happens when a movie is a one-trick pony — that doesn’t suddenly make it underrated. Especially when fans love to label it as one of the most disturbing movies of all time (yes, it has received that label numerous times).

 

HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH (1982)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

We get it. "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" is a movie that a fair amount of people have dismissed over the years because it's not about Michael Myers stalking Haddonfield. On first glance I would absolutely say that this movie has gotten treated unfairly and is underrated. But then I remember that everyone has a blog, and every blog has a list of "underrated horror movies", and every list of "underrated horror movies" features "Halloween III: Season of the Witch". This is the movie that surely must have created the term "it would have been loved if it wasn't called .....", going by how often this is said. This is the point in this list where most of you will turn on me and point towards IMDb (which I earlier used to state that another movie was appropriately rated). Yes, the third installment of "Halloween" doesn't have a fantastic rating there. Want to know why? People have had hissy fits and given it a 1 because it wasn't "Halloween". No one seriously thinks that this movie deserves a 1/10 rating, so that makes the rating invalid. I spend a lot of time on the internet reading people's opinions on horror movies. "Halloween III: Season of the Witch" isn't underrated just because you grew up with a friend who disliked it for the lack of Michael Myers. Stop listening to those people. Their opinions don't matter as they won't give an honest rating, because they don't understand that the "Halloween" series was originally intended to be independent stories happening on Halloween.

 

Okay. Okay. Put down your pitchforks and torches, horror fans. We’re not attacking your beloved movies — in fact, we enjoy and love just about every movie we mentioned ourselves. That’s not what this is about. What this is about is the misuse of the word underrated and how people need to stop and realize something very simple: just because you like a movie doesn’t mean it’s underrated. Also, just because you hate something doesn’t make it overrated either. So if we can work together and come to an understanding, we can put an end to awful repetitive lists and the continued butchering of modern language. And maybe, just maybe, we can learn how to stop worrying about what unnecessary labels to use and love movies again.

Happy Halloween, everyone!





 

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