As Halloween approaches like a masked man with a bloodied cleaver, the Telegraph’s critics have come up with an excellent list of the 31 scariest movie scenes.
However, with horror being such an underground genre, there are a number of movies that, although existing below the popular radar, are still capable of terrifying, impressing and enthralling. Here are some less-well-known gems to hunt out for a dark, scary Halloween night in front of the telly.
At the forefront of the Japanese horror resurgence at the beginning of the millennium, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s masterful Kairo was mostly overlooked in favour of the more traditional scares in The Ring, Dark Water, Audition, The Grudge etc.
Less a horror film and more a meditation on loneliness and isolation it nevertheless contains a number of scenes to chill the blood. The “wobbly woman” walking towards the camera is one of the most terrifying moments ever put on film.
Alexa takes best friend Maria to visit her parent’s remote farm, where they encounter unimaginable horror, torture and death.
Okay, the final twist in the French thriller may be a step too far but, for the most part, this tale of survival against a relentless foe really does live up to its name. The girl trying to erase any evidence of her presence from the upstairs bedroom as the killer slowly climbs towards her is “shout-at-the-telly” nerve-racking.
Be warned, though. It is not for the faint-hearted.
Night of the Demon
Dana Andrews plays a psychologist who wishes to expose the leader of a satanic cult. However, things don’t go quite to plan, when he may, or may not, have had a curse placed on him, summoning a ferocious demon to kill him.
This fantastic game of cat and mouse between the sceptic and the “supposed” Satanist is a master class in suspense, musical direction and atmospheric lighting. The chase sequence through the woods at night borders on poetic.
Note: director Jacques Tourneur wanted to make his film without showing the demon, thus leaving the audience to question whether it had existed at all. The studio, however, had other, more commercial ideas.
Obviously not as well-known as its older, revered brother, this is nonetheless a flawed masterpiece. Studio meddling demanded an explosive, “fire and brimstone” finale, but before that, the film demonstrated a remarkable restraint and contains possibly the most audacious shock sequence ever.
A stationary four-minute shot of a dark hospital corridor has nurses, doctors and security guards performing their mundane duties. A nurse hears a noise, investigates. It’s nothing we return to the static corridor shot. And then, just at the point where you are getting bored, the camera rushes forward and leaves you with an image that will stay with you forever.
The Devil’s Rejects
A relentless examination of the depths of human depravity, the sequel to “The House of 1000 Corpses” removes all of the camp shocks of the original, and transforms it into lean, 70s-styled survival horror story.
As the film lurches its bloody and violent way towards a nihilistic conclusion, it becomes increasingly difficult to find the dividing line between good and evil. In fact, it becomes hard to find any good at all.
An underrated modern classic.
Complete Italian zombie madness starring Rupert Everett as the titular gravedigger whose residents, for no apparent reason, start to spontaneously reanimate. Instead of panicking, he just accepts this as part of his job, resignedly opening his front door armed with a pistol. However, then he falls in love…
Featuring a remarkable performance from Everett, this questions the nature of existence and the delicate balance between life and death at the same time a showering the screen with gore and heaving breasts.
Much, much better than Suspiria. David Hemmings is a musician who witnesses a bloody murder and then teams up with a reporter to find the killer, who is desperate to silence the duo. Savage, bloody and elegant, it delivers original, terrifying shocks and audaciously reveals the killer’s identity in the first five minutes.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer
Okay, so it’s not strictly a horror movie. In fact, it is closer to documentary as it follows the mundane, impoverished day-to-day lives of Henry and Otis as they work, argue and kill. A monumental performance by Michael Rooker as the implacable Henry, and the most deadpan ending imaginable, make this one of the best films of the 1980s.