A Very Phoenix Halloween: 5 Scary Movies for Halloween You've Probably Never Heard Of

So you're looking for scary a movie to watch on Halloween. Maybe you're not a huge horror buff, so you Google "Scary Halloween Movies," and you get a thousand lists of the best horror movies ever. They're all the same: The Exorcist, Friday the 13th, Psycho, Halloween, Silence of the Lambs, and so on. Borrrr-ing. You already knows these movies are scary - everyone does -  and these lists are a pointless waste of your valuable terror time.

Don't worry, I'm here to help.  As a horror maniac, I feel it is my duty to pry your eyes open with a pair of rusty fishhooks and show you some fright fests you've probably never heard of. Don't even try to blink.

The Burning (1981)
The Burning tells the story of Cropsy, a nasty, drunk summer camp caretaker who is accidentally burned beyond recognition and returns five years later to exact his revenge on a bunch of horny teenagers.  You've seen this film before - it's called Friday the 13th.  But what makes The Burning special is the amazing FX work by Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead and Friday the 13th), some great scares, lots of nudity featuring people that haven't had any plastic surgery, and Seinfeld's Jason Alexander in his film debut (he's supposed to be 15-ish, and looks about 25).  It's cheesy and uneven at times, but that only adds to the fun - and when it delivers, it really delivers. Get some friends, some beer, dim the lights, and prepare for the bloodbath.

Ils (Them) (2007)
If you want a film that will scare the crap out of you, then Ils is perfect.  It's a simple home invasion story told in long, drawn-out scenes with unbearable amounts of tension.  Minimal sound effects and music and gorgeous, eerie cinematography draw you in and intensify the suspense.  The most impressive element of Ils is that it creates such exquisite terror with no gore at all.  Who needs it when you're already shitting your pants?

Brain Damage (1988)
Aylmer is one of the most unique characters in horror: a charismatic drug dealer that gives people the best high imaginable and then manipulates his mindless, tripping customers to bring him juicy plump brains.  Oh, and did I mention that Aylmer is a slimy three-foot tall disembodied brain creature with an overly cute Disney-esque face, an immensely charming smile, and a beautiful singing voice?  This ultra-low budget movie is just as creative and unique as he is.  Fun, sleaze, tragedy, and utterly disgusting gore - this movie has it all!  Just make sure to finish eating before you press play.

Night of the Creeps (1986)
Aliens, brain-slugs, zombies, shotguns, flamethrowers, murderous corpses, co-eds, Rusty from European Vacation - do I have your attention yet?  Night of the Creeps blends all of this and much more in an immensely entertaining b-movie that takes the very best from numerous sub-genres of horror and sci-fi.  A lesser film would collapse under so many different genre elements, but Night of the Creeps keeps all of its influences in perfect balance.  It's hysterical, tense, gory, and even moving - and I haven't even mentioned Tom Atkins, who plays an larger-than-life hero with some of the coolest one-liners you'll see in a horror film.

In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

Since you already know Halloween (and have probably seen it) you might have heard of John Carpenter, the film's legendary director.  Perhaps you've even seen a few of his other movies: The Thing (the original one), Escape from New York, or Big Trouble in Little China.  But I'd bet a machete to the back of my head that you've never seen Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness, one of the most mind-bending horror flicks around.  The film is about a horror writer named Sutter Cane (*cough* Stephen King *cough*) whose writing makes people go, well, apeshit axe-happy crazy.  The narrative twists and turns back in on itself like a mobius strip, and it's an exhilarating trip.

I hope I've been able to help you.  If you need me again, don't hesitate to call. I'll be lurking in the shadows on your back porch.


READ: Gore tours, haunted houses, and burlesque babes -- the complete Boston Phoenix guide to winning at Halloween


Michael Neel is the co-creator of anthology-horror-film Drive-In Horrorshow and animated web series Infinite Santa 8000. He can be reached at

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