Three Of The Best Horror Movies Featuring Psycho Killers That You Probably Haven’t Seen
Review of three films that flew under the radar for many, including ‘Tenebrae.’
If you’re looking for the best horror movies or slashers, and you feel you may have seen them all, there are a few titles that you may have missed. While some of the horror movies listed below were initially met with mixed reviews, they have since been regarded as some of the best entries in the genre. All of the titles are classics, and they have all stood the test of time. The horror movies listed below are currently available on popular VOD platforms and on Shudder.
Alone in the Dark
This 1982 underrated classic should definitely not be confused with the appalling 2005 horror movie of the same name starring Tara Reid. Alone in the Dark is about four clinically insane killers who escape an asylum during a city-wide blackout. During the blackout, they stalk their psychiatrist at his home, and the doctor will have to resort to drastic measures if he wants to keep his family alive.
If that storyline isn’t enough to grab you, the fact that this picture stars Jack Palance (Sudden Fear), Martin Landau (Without Warning), and Donald Pleasence (Halloween) should be enough to tempt any horror fan to click “play.” For newer fans of the horror genre, this is proof that home-invasion movies are not a modern idea, and this one is a better entry than most recent films in the subgenre.
Given the year and that era of horror movies, there are definitely cheesy moments, but that’s an ingredient enjoyed by many fans, and it provides some needed comic relief among all the tense moments. But charming camp aside, Alone in the Dark certainly delivers suspense and some solid, creepy scares. It’s very surreal to watch the three legendary actors on-screen together in a horror flick, and that’s one of the many reasons this is a very rewatchable selection.
Tenebrae (Also known as Tenebre)
With titles like Suspiria, Deep Red, and Inferno, Dario Argento is known as a master of giallo cinema, and Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”) is one of his top features. IMDb provides the premise for one of the best horror movies from Dario Argento.
“Tenebrae follows a writer who arrives to Rome only to find somebody is using his novels as the inspiration (and, occasionally, the means) of committing murder. As the death toll mounts the police are ever baffled, and the writer becomes more closely linked to the case than is comfortable.”
This 1982 classic wasn’t distributed in the U.S. until 1984; it was heavily censored, released under the moniker Unsane, and it was absolutely abysmal. It was eventually released in the fully restored version under the title Tenebrae, and it didn’t take long before it was considered one of the best horror movies of the early ’80s by those who saw it. Unfortunately, this seems to be a title that flew under the radar for many.
You’ll get all the familiar Argento themes in this one: explicit sexuality, visually stunning shots, pulsating scores, psycho killers, intricate twists, genuine suspense, and of course, copious amounts of violence and gore that provide several shocking, unnerving scenes. Avid fans of horror movies are likely to enjoy the picture’s co-star, John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Black Christmas).
If there is a complaint to be had, it’s that not all of the actors deliver solid performances. Genre fans are used to this, however, as this is par for the course with many of the horror movies from that epoch and of Dario’s movies. If you’re a fan of the filmmaker or of slasher movies, this is a must-watch.
Alice, Sweet Alice
This horror flick was originally titled Communion but was changed to Alice, Sweet Alice so that people wouldn’t think it was a religious movie, and then it was changed again to Holy Terror, and yet again back to the badass title we all love today. Luckily, the movie has more continuity than the film’s name. Directed and co-written by Alfred Sole, the film stars Linda Miller (Catherine Spages), Paula E. Sheppard (Alice Spages), and a very young and nearly unrecognizable Brooke Shields (Karen Spages) in her second feature-length film.
Letterboxd provides the premise for one of the most disturbing horror movies from 1976.
“Alice is a withdrawn 12-year-old who lives with her mother and her younger sister, Karen, who gets most of the attention from her mother, leaving Alice out of the spotlight. But when Karen is found brutally murdered in a church, suspicions start to turn toward Alice. But could a 12-year-old girl really be capable of such savagery?”
If you’re a longtime horror fan that remembers the days of surfing VHS tapes at your local video rental store, chances are, if you haven’t seen this often-overlooked gem you’ve heard of it. After Brooke Shields skyrocketed to fame, this was touted as a movie starring the actor, but she really isn’t in it for all that long. But no worries, the convincing performances of Miller and Sheppard makes this another rewatchable entry.
If you’re a fan of late ’70s horror movies, then you should thoroughly enjoy this one. This is a thinking person’s slasher film that’s filled with plenty of unsettling scenes, and the killer’s mask is enough to give anyone chills. With its essence and use of colors, this could be described as an American version of the giallo subgenre. With plenty of disturbing themes, make no mistake about it, this horror film is not for the faint of heart.
This feature moves along at a nice pace, and the real terror and intrigue starts about 30 minutes in. The movie provides a solid mystery as viewers will likely be guessing if the young girl is the culprit behind the series of bloody murders. For the most part, the performances are solid, and the Psycho-like score adds a creepy tone for sure. If there’s a downside to this film, it’s that there are little redeeming characters to root for, though it could be argued that that’s part of the symbolism and meaning of the film.
The ending builds to a nice climax that will likely leave viewers wanting to revisit the picture soon. Both audiences and critics alike praised the film, and decades later, it’s still considered one of the best horror movies that flew under the radar.
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