Fed up with Friday the 13th? Had it up to here with Halloween? Is the thought of revisiting Candyman sending you crazy? Then you might want to take a step back from the usual crop of ‘classic’ horror movies, to try something different.
What I mean by that, is if you are have already worked your way through the gold standard of horror (aka the milestone pictures), why not take a look at the films which are worthy of a silver or bronze award? I’m talking side-lined sequels, cult classics, and forgotten films – those underrated gems which form the backbone of the genre.
From Alligator and Psycho II, to The Omen III and Scream 4, there are plenty of horror movies which never make the top spot, but are still bloody good pictures. Sure, they’re not considered the crème de la crème of horror, but they are worthy of your time.
So, if you want to expand your ‘watch list’ to include the movies other lists fail to mention, keep reading. Below you will discover 50 underrated horror movies, that are frighteningly good.
End of Days (1999)
First up is End of Days – a pre-millennium horror movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. End of Days mixes action with the supernatural, to present an explosive picture which sees everyone’s favourite Austrian oak battle the Devil for the fate of the world.
Peter Hyams directs, while the cast includes Robin Tunney, Rod Steiger, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier, and Miriam Margolyes. Gabriel Byrne takes on the role of Satan.
Await Further Instructions (2018)
Up next is Await Further Instructions – a claustrophobic horror-thriller, about a family who become trapped in their home by an unseen force. Directed by Johnny Kevorkian, and starring Sam Gittins and David Bradley, this British movie ramps up the tension and turns up the heat, as unpleasantries and family squabbles take centre-stage.
Psycho II (1983)
The next movie on this list is Psycho II, the belated follow-up to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960s masterpiece, Psycho. Directed by Richard Franklin, the film picks up the story in real-time, with Norman Bates released from a mental institute, following the horrific events of the previous instalment.
Anthony Perkins reprises the role of Norman, while his co-stars include Meg Tilly, and Vera Miles. Sure, the original film may be one of the best horror movies of all-time, casting a long shadow over the genre, but don’t discount this sequel.
Psycho III (1986)
And speaking of sequels worth giving a go, make room for Psycho III too. Perkins not only returns to the role of Norman Bates for a third time, he also directs this entry, which sees Norman wrestling with his inner ‘mother’, leading to more death on the doorstep of his dusty motel.
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
In Poltergeist II, Carol Anne and the rest of the Freeling family find themselves under attack by paranormal forces, including a sinister preacher. Brian Gibson directs, Heather O’Rourke, Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Zelda Rubinstein return, while Julian Beck takes on the role of the creepy Reverend Kane.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Something a little light-hearted now, via a comedy about a high school girl who discovers she is the latest in a long line of vampire slayers. Directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui and starring Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a fun, ‘90s romp, which is very different to the famous television show it spawned, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
With previous attempts to stop Damien Thorn’s rise to power being scuppered in The Omen and The Omen II, the Antichrist has finally grown into adulthood and to a terrifying new position as US Ambassador to the UK. Here he uses his power and influence to try and claim his birth right, while putting the fate of the world in the balance.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
After moving into the old Thompson home on Elm Street, teenager Jesse Walsh begins to experience worrying nightmares about Freddy Krueger. This leads to the emergence of the sinister killer, who returns for another round of terror.
Jack Sholder directs this often-maligned sequel, which gets overshadowed by Part 1 & Part 3, even though it is an interesting and refreshing entry in the Elm Street saga. The LGBTQ+ subtext also makes it an important slice of queer cinema.
Final Destination 2 (2003)
In Final Destination 2, Death stalks another group of teenagers resulting in yet more over-the-top carnage and chaos. Ali Larter and Michael Landes feature in this highly enjoyable sequel, which balances horror and a touch of comedy.
The Deep House (2021)
James Jagger and Camille Rowe star in this supernatural horror about a young couple who explore an abandoned mansion, which is submerged under water. But while the building has long been abandoned by the living, it’s not completely devoid of paranormal activity, resulting in some spooky encounters.
Based on the French/Swiss graphic novel, Sandcastle, M. Night Shyamalan’s horror-thriller, Old, tells the story of a group of strangers who find themselves aging rapidly, when they visit a secluded beach. The movie stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Alex Wolff, and Embeth Davidtz.
Daft, bonkers, and incredibly fun, Alligator is a sci-fi creature feature about a baby alligator that increases in size to become a monster. The movie – directed by Lewis Teague – depicts what happens when the reptile terrorises citizens in Chicago, causing devastation in its wake.
Packed with plenty of bite, Wyrmwood (aka Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead) is an Australian action horror from Kiah Roache-Turner. The movie tells the story of a mechanic and his survival against hordes of zombies.
The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
Vincent Pérez, Thomas Jane, and Iggy Pop star in this follow up to 1994’s The Crow. The movie centres around a murdered mechanic, who returns from beyond the grave to exact revenge against those responsible for his death.
Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)
Directed by John De Bello, and boasting an early role for George Clooney, Return of the Killer Tomatoes is a brilliantly bizarre horror spoof about a mad scientist and his quest to create a humanoid tomato army. The movie is loaded with satirical humour, and is best enjoyed with tongue firmly plated in cheek.
Predator 2 (1990)
Danny Glover takes on the extra-terrestrial hunter in this action horror from Stephen Hopkins. The film is set ten years after the events of its predecessor, with the action transported to the ‘urban jungle’ of Los Angeles.
The Craft: Legacy (2020)
In this sequel-cum-reboot of The Craft (1996), a group of teenagers dabble in witchcraft with supernatural consequences. Cailee Spaeny, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, and Gideon Adlon star, while David Duchovny and Fairuza Balk pop up in small roles.
Scream 4 (2011)
Ghostface returns in this oft-overlooked, but thoroughly enjoyable entry in the Scream franchise. As with previous entries, it is a guessing game regarding the identity of the killer(s), but don’t worry, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette are all on hand to help solve the mystery.
The Thing (2011)
Positioned as a reboot-cum-prequel to 1982’s The Thing, this sci-fi horror from Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton. Similar to the previous instalment, the film focuses on a team of scientists who become the unwitting victims of a parasitic alien in Antarctica.
Curse of Chucky (2013)
In Curse of Chucky, it’s back-to-basics horror, as Chucky starts stalking a new victim in this delightful slasher-thriller. The Chucky franchise has a number of fan-favourite entries, so it’s easy to overlook this one, but Curse of Chucky is well worth your time.
When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
Featuring a nerve-shredding opening sequence, guaranteed to have audiences checking and rechecking the locks on their front doors, When a Stranger Calls Back is a thoroughly good horror-thriller from Fred Walton. The movie is a sequel Walton’s 1979 thriller, When a Stranger Calls, and features roles for Carol Kane and Charles Durning – two stars from the original movie.
Saw II (2005)
In this dark and twisted sequel to 2004’s Saw, a group of ex-convicts find themselves at the mercy of the Jigsaw killer. Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, and Tobin Bell star in what is a deliciously wicked follow-up to the horror classic.
Annabelle: Creation (2017)
The origin of the creepy Annabelle doll is explored in this rather enjoyable supernatural chiller starring Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto. The movie depicts the early years of Annabelle, and her connection to a toy maker and his wife.
Next up is a raucous horror comedy about a group of college students who find themselves under attack from a swarm of zombie beavers. The movie is played for laughs, lampooning some of the dafter aspects of creature features, and is ideal for those who like some fun with their frights!
Jaws 2 (1978)
Amity Island finds itself in the firing line once again, when another great white shark terrorises the tourist hotspot. As before, it is up to Police Chief Martin Brody – as played by Roy Scheider – to step in and rid the town of this deadly killer.
The Shallows (2016)
Another shark horror, only this time featuring Blake Lively. The Shallows tells the story of a surfer who becomes the target of a great white.
Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)
Following on from the events of the first movie, Tremors 2: Aftershocks centres around Earl Bassett as he has another encounter with monsters. But this time around, the creatures have evolved into land-based monsters, rather than subterranean beasts.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
In Tucker & Dale vs. Evil horror clichés get turned upside down when two likeable and well-meaning guys get mistaken for murderers. Hilarity ensues, with Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine playing the titular pair.
Office Uprising (2018)
Another horror comedy and this time one focusing on a group of office workers who turn into raving nutcases, after they consume a new (and troublesome) energy drink. Brenton Thwaites plays the reluctant hero of the tale, while Zachary Levi, Alan Ritchson, and Karan Soni appear amongst the cast.
In Devil tensions mount and accusations fly, when five strangers get trapped inside an elevator. Strange and worrying things happen to the group, with no one quite sure who is behind their troubles.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Taking a more comedic approach than its predecessor, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a black comedy slasher movie from director Tobe Hooper. The film focuses on a radio host who becomes the unwitting victim of Leatherface.
Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood (1996)
Despite not reaching the same heights as 1995’s Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Bordello of Blood is still an enjoyable romp from everyone’s favourite Crypt Keeper. The movie – which stars Dennis Miller, Erika Eleniak and Corey Feldman – tells the story of a bordello run by vampires, and the unlikely heroes who team up to take it down.
Filmed entirely on an iPhone 7 Plus, Unsane is a psychological horror from Steven Soderbergh. The film follows a young woman who finds herself confined to a mental institute, after she becomes targeted by a stalker.
The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
Written and directed by James DeMonaco, The Purge: Anarchy is the second instalment in the popular Purge horror series, but the first to expand the scope of the movies. While the original film largely focused on one location, this film plays out across the city of LA, as people take to the streets and commit unspeakable acts of violence.
Resident Evil (2002)
Loosely based on the video game series of the same name, Resident Evil is a sci-fi horror movie, about the outbreak of a deadly virus at a secret facility. The film stars Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez, with Paul W. S. Anderson on directing duties.
Deep Rising (1998)
In this action horror romp from writer/director Stephen Sommers, Treat Williams and Famke Janssen fight for survival aboard a cruise ship, which comes under attack from mysterious creatures. Not to be taken too seriously, this movie’s tagline, ‘full scream ahead’, should tell you all you need to know about the tone of the film.
In a change of pace for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the action-orientated actor tries his hand at serious drama in this post-apocalyptic horror about a father taking care of his daughter… who is slowly transforming into a zombie. The movie is packed with some great performances, with Schwarzenegger on fine form.
Return of the Living Dead: Part II (1988)
As if the title wasn’t already an indication, the living dead return for this zombie comedy horror. Daft, gross, and occasionally humorous, Return of the Living Dead: Part II is an ‘80s horror not to be taken seriously, but still to be enjoyed.
Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
And continuing with the Return of the Living Dead films for the third movie in the series, which feels somewhat removed from the previous instalments, yet still brings the fun. Once again, zombies are flung at the screen, bringing blood and gore in equal measure.
Martin Freeman leads this post-apocalyptic drama about a father carrying the most precious cargo of all to safety – his infant child. The pair are living in a world where a virus has turned the population into zombies, resulting in Freeman doing his level best to keep his child alive.
The Village (2004)
Part horror, part drama-thriller, The Village is M. Night Shyamalan’s twisty-turny period piece, about the residents of a village, who live in fear of creatures that live in the woods. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Sigourney Weaver.
Dracula Untold (2014)
Luke Evans takes on the part of Dracula for this reworking of the classic character. Gary Shore directs, while the support cast includes Dominic Cooper and Charles Dance.
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, Paranormal Activity 3 is a found footage horror movie which largely takes place in 1988. The film acts as a prequel to the previous films and focuses on two sisters, who find themselves at the centre of some intense paranormal activity.
The Amityville Horror (2005)
In this remake of the 1979 movie of the same name, Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George are placed at the centre of some strange and supernatural events, when they move into a haunted house. Andrew Douglas directs.
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
A complete change of pace now, with a spooky family film starring everyone’s favourite cartoon canine. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is horror-lite at best, but it’s a lot of fun and contains various nods to the original animated show.
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween is a great movie, which perfectly blends (mild) horror with family viewing. This delightfully dark sequel is ideal for younger horror fans, or those who simply want something a little lighter than the majority of the films on this list.
Child’s Play (2019)
In this gloriously fun slasher from Lars Klevberg, a high-tech doll called Chucky goes on a killing spree. Aubrey Plaza and Gabriel Bateman are amongst the cast, while Mark Hamill provides the voice of Chucky.
From Hell (2001)
Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, From Hell is a horror thriller inspired by the Jack the Ripper murders. The movie – directed by The Hughes Brothers – stars Johnny Depp and Heather Graham.
Red Dragon (2002)
Red Dragon is a psychological horror-thriller, starring Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton. The film tells the story of FBI agent Will Graham, and his interactions with the devilishly evil, Hannibal Lecter.
Red Dragon is often overshadowed by Manhunter (1986), Silence of the Lambs (1991), and Hannibal (2001), but it is a solid entry in the Hannibal Lecter saga.
Dead End (2003)
And finally, in Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa’s horror-thriller, Dead End, a dysfunctional family find themselves subjected to a nightmarish car journey on Christmas Eve. No matter how hard they try, they can’t ever seem to arrive at their destination, leading to a bumpy ride to say the least.
Above are the details of 50 underrated horror movies, but to save you having to scroll back up, here are the names of all the films in one handy list:
- End of Days (1999)
- Await Further Instructions (2018)
- Psycho II (1983)
- Psycho III (1986)
- Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
- Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985)
- Final Destination 2 (2003)
- The Deep House (2021)
- Old (2021)
- Alligator (1980)
- Wyrmwood (2014)
- The Crow: City of Angels (1996)
- Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)
- Predator 2 (1990)
- The Craft: Legacy (2020)
- Scream 4 (2011)
- The Thing (2011)
- Curse of Chucky (2013)
- When a Stranger Calls Back (1993)
- Saw II (2005)
- Annabelle: Creation (2017)
- Zombeavers (2014)
- Jaws 2 (1978)
- The Shallows (2016)
- Tremors 2: Aftershocks (1996)
- Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010)
- Office Uprising (2018)
- Devil (2010)
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
- Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of Blood (1996)
- Unsane (2018)
- The Purge: Anarchy (2014)
- Resident Evil (2002)
- Deep Rising (1998)
- Maggie (2015)
- Return of the Living Dead: Part II (1988)
- Return of the Living Dead III (1993)
- Cargo (2017)
- The Village (2004)
- Dracula Untold (2014)
- Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
- The Amityville Horror (2005)
- Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
- Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
- Child’s Play (2019)
- From Hell (2001)
- Red Dragon (2002)
- Dead End (2003)
Thank you for stopping by It’s A Stampede! to read this post about the best underrated horror movies – I hope it has given you plenty of new movies to watch. For more from the horror genre, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.