My book, Regional Horror Films, 1958-1990, is entering the final stages of layout and production, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be available by this Halloween. In the meantime, I thought I'd try to present a preview of the types of films featured in the book by presenting my completely arbitrary list of the Top 100 Regional Horror Films of All Time.
I initially thought I'd make a list of the best regional horrors, but I quickly realized that by focusing on quality I'd be leaving out some important (but crappy) films. Instead, what I'm presenting here is list of the best, the most well-known, and most influential regional horror flicks. This is the bottom 50, and I'll be working my way up to the top 10 as we get closer to Halloween. I had to weigh notoriety against quality, in many cases, which is why you'll see some pretty bad films outranking better films as we get further into the list; on the other hand, I put some very good (but lesser known) films in the top 25. The descriptions below are brief, but as we get into the higher rankings I plan to spend more time explaining why the films are important, so expect longer entries.
Please feel free to post comments and send me feedback on the list; I'm curious to see what films you think belong in the top 10, and how they match up to my picks.
100. Blood Cult (Oklahoma, 1985): Not the first shot-on-video horror film, nor the best. But it was the biggest, and it launched a hundred (probably a thousand) even worse imitators.
99. Blood Sucking Freaks (New York, 1976): Joel M. Reed's offensive masterpiece (?).
98. Driller Killer (New York, 1979): Abel Ferrara's shrill (and often dull) tale of urban insanity made the UK "Video Nasties" list.
97. Satan's Children (Florida, 1975): Simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic, and one of the most peculiar of the Florida films (which is saying something).
96. Flesh Feast (Florida, 1970): Maggots, Hitler and Veronica Lake collide in the Florida heat.
95. Killing Spree (Florida, 1987): Follow-up to Tim Ritter's Truth or Dare? starring the unforgettable Asbestos Felt.
94. Mars Needs Women (Texas, 1967): Possibly the most poetically direct movie title in history.
93. The Wizard of Gore (Illinois, 1970): H.G. Lewis goes all cerebral and meta on us. Montag!
92. Zaat (Florida, 1973): A good, old-fashioned monster movie that suffered from multiple title changes and underhanded distribution.
91. Blood Sisters (New York, 1987): You can best describe Roberta Findlay's approach to horror films as "satisfyingly disinterested."
90. Zontar the Thing from Venus (Texas, 1966): Larry Buchanan's most beloved sci-fi flick was embraced by the Church of the Subgenius.
89. The Alpha Incident (Wisconsin, 1978): A talky sci-fi drama that, nonetheless, may be Bill Rebane's finest film.
88. The Dead Next Door (Ohio, 1988): The most expensive Super 8 movie ever made, probably.
87. Don't Go in the Woods (Utah, 1981): Especially if you happen to be in a wheelchair.
86. Redeemer! Son of Satan (Virginia, 1978): A confounding early slasher film with religious undertones and a freaky marionette.
85. Don't Go in the House (New York, 1979): Troubling early slasher film that in many ways serves as a precursor to the better-known Maniac.
84. I Eat Your Skin (Florida, 1964): Underrated film that lays the groundwork for a number of later Italian zombie flicks.
83. Beyond Dream's Door (Ohio, 1989): Intriguing early work from low-budget director Jay Woelfel.
82. Invasion of the Blood Farmers (New York, 1972): Don't eat before you see it, and you'll have nothing to lose!
81. The Giant Spider Invasion (Wisconsin, 1975): One big spider (and a bunch of little ones) arrive from space to eat Wisconsin.
80. Blood Stalkers (Florida, 1976): More than just a Bigfoot movie, more than just a killer hillbilly flick; the finale will leave you speechless and exhausted.
79. Chillers (West Virginia, 1988): Enjoyable horror anthology with genuine Appalachian accents on display.
78. Liquid Sky (New York, 1982): Arthouse sci-fi that features the only other film appearance of Alice, Sweet Alice star Paula Sheppard.
77. Keep My Grave Open (Texas, 1976): A minor, but still satisfying, entry from Texas stylist S.F. Brownrigg.
76. Blood Suckers from Outer Space (Texas, 1984): A low-budget horror/comedy that's actually funny.
75. Midnight (Pennsylvania, 1982): Rough-around-the-edges rural cult flick that provided a surprising amount of inspiration for Rob Zombie's House of 1,000 Corpses.
74. The Flesh Eaters (New York, 1964): Never trust a Nazi marine biologist.
73. Last House on Dead End Street (New York, 1977): Brutal, downbeat curio from Roger Michael Watkins.
72. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (New York, 1964): A holiday tradition in some quarters.
71. Night of Bloody Horror (Louisiana, 1969): Sleazy psychological horror starring a young Gerald McRaney. You can practically smell New Orleans.
70. Abby (Kentucky, 1974): More than just an Exorcist knock-off, this marked director William Girdler's transition producing regional curiosities to much more elaborate productions.
69. Lurkers (New York, 1988): Not Roberta Findlay's best film, but probably her best horror film.
68. The Killer Shrews (Texas, 1959): They're giant. They're poisonous. They're really dogs in creepy costumes.
67. The Psychotronic Man (Illinois, 1978): Guerilla filmmaking at its finest on the streets of Chicago.
66. The Ghastly Ones (New York, 1968): Andy Milligan's first color horror film.
65. The Demon Lover (Michigan, 1977): Only slightly eclipsed by the making-of documentary that was filmed during production.
64. The Mutilator (North Carolina, 1985): This Carolina-lensed slasher favorite may have the snappiest theme song in the entire horror genre.
63. Black Devil Doll from Hell (Illinois, 1984): Shot-on-video possessed dummy yarn that stands as one of the most unique films ever released commercially.
62. Stanley (Florida, 1972): Easily William Grefe's most fully realized horror feature.
61. The Brain that Wouldn't Die (New York, 1962): Seedy monster madness from the cracked imagination of Rex Carlton.
60. Alien Dead (Florida, 1980): Fred Olen Ray meets Buster Crabbe.
59. Girls Nite Out (New Jersey, 1984): Not exactly a slasher classic, but it has Hal Holbrook and a great soundtrack.
58. Last Rights (New Jersey, 1980): Director Dominic Paris presents an amusing take on the vampire myth. He later directed one of my favorite compilation tapes, Filmhouse Fever.
57. The Alien Factor (Maryland, 1978): Debut feature from the late, great Don Dohler.
56. The Children (Massachusetts, 1980): Radioactive kids who hug you to death. Seriously.
55. Deadtime Stories (Connecticut, 1986): A horror anthology custom-made for Scott Valentine fans.
54. The Nesting (New York, 1981): A stab at the mainstream by adult filmmaker Armand Weston, and a final film appearance for Gloria Grahame.
53. Fear No Evil (New York, 1981): Debut feature of Frank LaLoggia. It also has a fantastic soundtrack.
52. Creature from Black Lake (Louisiana, 1976): Bigfoot on the bayou.
51. Impulse (Florida, 1974): Low-rent psycho cinema raised to the level of high art by the Tony Crechales script and a tour-de-force performance by William Shatner.
The Dead Next Door is a blog about regional or "backyard" horror and science fiction films made from the late 1950s to the earlyl 1990s (and beyond). These films were released during the peak years of independent film production, created by a motley crew of seasoned pros, gifted amateurs, and enthusiastic genre fans, along with dozens of eccentric dreamers -- doctors, lawyers, insurance salesmen, publishers, commercial filmmakers, TV production crews and moonlighting pornographers -- all looking for their big break or a fast buck or both.