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5 Unexpectedly Great Horror Movies

PoppaScotch 39 Comments

When we hear about a new horror film coming down the pipeline, there are a lot of factors that come into play that fuel our expectations. Casting, crew selection, synopses, and on set photos all add layers to the expectations that we have before a film is released. Some films never live up to the impossible standards that we hold them up to leading to their release date. Then again, some films get unleashed upon the general public when the expectations are low or almost nonexistent. These films go on to surpass expectations and in reality turn out to be much better films than they have any business being.

The Devil’s Rejects (Dir: Rob Zombie – 2005)

Odds Against: The Devil’s Rejects was the follow up to the 2003 Rob Zombie film House of 1000 Corpses which made next to nothing at the box office after sitting on the shelf for several years. While it definitely did find itself a cult audience on video, everyone expected more of the same cartoonesque violence and surrealist plotline with the sequel called the Devil’s Rejects.

How it Exceeded Expectations: Not only was The Devil’s Rejects one of the best horror films released in its decade, but I would put it in the top tier of horror films released in the last 25 years. Who would have known that the sequel to a borderline experimental horror film would become such a deep and layered satire of the United States after September 11th? Most of you reading this article have probably seen the film, but for some strange reason if you haven’t yet then stop reading this and watch this movie now.

5 Unexpectedly Great Horror Movies

The Crazies (Dir: Breck Eisner – 2010)

Odds Against: The Crazies is a remake of a George Romero film that hasn’t really aged too well. It was an essential part of George Romero’s filmmaking career and I can’t help but assume that it was what creatively led to George Romero making Dawn of the Dead. The remake news came across the wire and we all assumed that it was a cash in on the remake craze that we would all ignore and then forget.

How it Exceeded Expectations: It’s important to realize that even though the market has been flooded with horrible remakes in the last 15 years, there have been a handful of really good remakes. The Crazies was one of the recent remakes that not only surpassed the original, but also ended up being a great horror film. Taking the topic of a viral invasion completely seriously, a portrait of the human condition during crisis was captured all the way to its horrifying end. It’s a difficult film to watch whenever a situation of neighbors against neighbors comes along that makes you question what you would do to the people you know should your back be against the wall.

5 Unexpectedly Great Horror Movies

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (Dir: Scott Glosserman – 2006)

Odds Against: Falling graciously off the festival circuit, Behind the Mask got rave reviews but didn’t get much of anything as far as a theatrical release. With no marketing with its video release, it got lost on the shelves of video rental stores and almost entirely ignored by the casual horror fan.

How it exceeded Expectations: Low budget faux documentary style films aren’t exactly uncommon, but in order to stand out from the pack, you have to take a unique road to success. Behind the Mask did exactly that taking you into the mind of a serial killer who approaches the subject like it’s a 9-5 job. What seals the deal is the fact that when the documentary crew stops rolling, the film transforms into a legitimate horror film. It’s fun, entertaining, and out of nowhere, it will scare the pants off of you.

5 Unexpectedly Great Horror Movies

Pontypool (Dir: Bruce McDonald – 2008)

Odds Against: Pontypool was very much a similar situation as Behind the Mask, however it did receive a bigger theatrical release over the entire US and Canada. The only problem here was that there was no money put in to marketing the film to the point where I actually saw it on the big board in the theaters and said to myself “Pontypool? What the hell is that?” I write about horror movies and I had never heard of it. (Hey, I know I suck and I don’t need your help.)

How it Exceeded Expectations: there are many single location films that are completely outstanding, however when attempted with a small budget don’t normally fare too well due to lack of acting talent. However, Pontypool was led by an amazing performance by Stephen McHattie as a radio DJ stuck in the studio as a massive populous goes insane in the world around him. Using sound, on site reports, and some amazing acting this movie absolutely knocks it out of the park and should be seen by everyone.

5 Unexpectedly Great Horror Movies

Carriers (Dirs: David Pastor, Alex Pastor – 2009)

Odds Against: Carriers was a film with no big name actors (Pre Star Trek Chris Pine), a very sad story, and a close enough plot to the world renowned success of Zombieland. Zombieland and Carriers were both road movies across a apocalypse raged America
and without a doubt, Zombieland was much more accessible (and also a good film) while Carriers got pushed to the side because it just wasn’t happy enough.

How it Exceeded Expectations: Carriers is not a happy film in the least bit. We follow four young people as they desperately try to make it to the coast and away from the virus that is spreading through and ravaging the nation. As the film goes on, characters that we have come to care about start doing things that really don’t portray them in the best of light in the name of survival. The performances are all great, and much like The Crazies, it shows you a side of human nature that we all hope we never have to see in real life.

5 Unexpectedly Great Horror Movies

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39 Comments

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      1. Jeff McMahon August 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        Hmmm, I thought both The Crazies and Behind the Mask were pretty boring and lame. Behind the Mask especially took a good idea and managed to pretty much botch it through a combination of terrible mismatches of tone and over-referenciality.

        • Jim VanBebber November 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

          Behind The Mask was one of the best most original slasher movies of all time! In a world of shitty remakes and unoriginality this movie gave me hope that horror is still alive and well. You need to watch it again my friend. Cannot wait until the sequel. Hail Leslie Vernon!

      2. Jeff McMahon August 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        Hmmm, I thought both The Crazies and Behind the Mask were pretty boring and lame. Behind the Mask especially took a good idea and managed to pretty much botch it through a combination of terrible mismatches of tone and over-referenciality.

      3. caja88 August 12, 2011 at 11:46 pm

        I agree with your choices. Although i probably would of put “SPLINTER” in the mix.

        • HorrorMovies August 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm

          Agree on Splinter.. fantastic film.

      4. Googopqp August 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm

        Haven’t seen Carriers, but Devil’s Rejects is amazing and The Crazies was definitely a surprise goody! Good list!

        • HorrorMovies August 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm

          Carriers is fantastic you really need to see it.

        • DanofDarkness August 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm

          I’ll second the rec on Carriers. Great little horror flick with a great script and equally great acting.

      5. unsean August 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

        I didn’t think too much of “Carriers,” though thought that “The Crazies” was definitely a remake that worked, which surprised me since it came by way of Breck Eisner (son of Michael Eisner, former head of Disney).

        I have been trying to find “Pontypool.”  It was supposed to be in my Netflix queue, but never managed to turn up.

      6. Mistressofhorror August 17, 2011 at 3:06 am

        I have to agree with all these choices !!  great list !

      7. pinkzombieprincess August 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm

        Pontypool and Behind the mask are both amazing! I cannot wait for BTM2..I am excited to see what Leslie has in store next! I also loved the rest of your choices but I was very very happy to see these 2 on here. Great Article :)

      8. Sweet 'n' Tender August 21, 2011 at 12:22 am

        I agree with all of them except, “Behind the Mask”… that movie was just as dumb as it was awful. That one’s a joke, right? lol

      9. Ron Nocella August 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm

        Yea, I have to agree with both Jeff McMahon and Sweet ‘n’ Tender about Behind the Mask. I was really excited, after first hearing about the film, to see it. The story was original and unsettling but the delivery of that story was piss poor and beyond boring. Not to mention, I wanted to punch every single one of the characters square in the throat.

        The Crazies and The Devils Rejects were great films. Havent yet seen Pontypool or Carriers but Ill check em out. I just hope they arent as shitty as Behind the Mask.

      10. Bobby Canipe August 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm

        I liked Behind the Mask, personally. I am going to find Pontypool RIGHT NOW. sounds awesome.

        • DanofDarkness August 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm

          Pontypool is really great. Actually, given the one-location setting, and the atmosphere and tension they were able to create, I dare say it’s an exceptional film. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

      11. Money_Talks September 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

        Ponypool is one of my top ten of the decade. The only other film recently that had the same WTF that was AWESOME! impact was I saw the Devil…great list man, I agree wholeheartedly

      12. Diana Novoa August 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm

        I Agree with the choices for this list; however, I would add Th Signal (2007), because I didn’t expected anything and it completely blew my mind. It was horrifying to the very bone, funny and had an interesting plot. Watch it, watch it now!!

      13. Rafizan September 30, 2013 at 4:11 am

        From the list, I saw THE CRAZIES and CARRIERS in theaters and owned a DVD copy of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES. Loved all of them. I wanted to see BEHIND THE MASK and PONTYPOOL so bad…

      14. Jelle Smeets November 14, 2013 at 2:03 am

        Saw all of them and I agree with the comments! They’re not bad at all, The devil’s Rejects and The Crazies are my favourites…

      15. Scott Karoff November 14, 2013 at 2:05 am

        Slimm Guerrero

      16. Amy Sh November 14, 2013 at 2:08 am

        Am I the only person who really disliked Pontypool?

        • Melissa Garhart
          Melissa Garhart November 14, 2013 at 5:58 am

          Aww, I loved that movie, it’s cool. Not castigating you for your opinion or anything, live and let live and all that.

        • David Roberts
          David Roberts November 14, 2013 at 8:34 am

          No your not, although the acting was excellent the story wasn’t, i also disliked this film it was very disappointing :(

        • Horror-Movies.ca
          Horror-Movies.ca November 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm

          I was surprised how much I enjoyed Pontypool but I do get that its not going to be everyones cup of tea

        • Ryan November 15, 2013 at 12:47 am

          I agree Amy. It was average at best for me, but that’s the great thing about horror movies. One person can love it and the next hate it lol

      17. Johnny Ringo November 14, 2013 at 2:15 am

        Devils Rejects suxed ass! Rob Zombie is the worst film maker since Ed Wood. Leslie Vernon however, was a remarkable film.

      18. Holly Cormier November 14, 2013 at 2:21 am

        hay! alright!! finally someone who knows a good horror flick when they see one! right on!

      19. Holly Cormier November 14, 2013 at 2:22 am

        by the way , you should have seen the list FearNet just posted. HAHAHAHAHA horrible

      20. Andrew November 14, 2013 at 3:12 am

        I would have swapped The Devil’s Rejects for Splinter, but that’s not to say that I didn’t like The Devil’s Rejects. Having been a big fan of House of 1000 Corpses, I assumed TDR was going to be very good. I didn’t know anything about Splinter and was really happy with how awesome it turned out to be. Also, I was blown away by Pontypool. I watched it late one night, after reading the premise and assuming it was going to be a weird/cheesy kind of zombie movie, only to find it a really well done and unique concept. Good list!

      21. John W November 14, 2013 at 3:17 am

        I would add The Poughkeepsie Tapes, which is available on You Tube.
        The movie is a blend of found footage and faux documentary about a serial killer who leaves behind a cache of vhs tapes documenting his crimes.

      22. Benjamin Dotson November 14, 2013 at 5:09 am

        i own and like all 5 of these.

      23. Von Funkenstaubenzauberhof November 14, 2013 at 9:11 am

        Pontypool was so good, but then … it completely went off the rails.

      24. Tiago November 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

        Great article, enjoyed reading it.
        House of a 1.000 corpses was great. I enjoyed it even before the release of The Devil’s Rejects. I really enjoy the art direction of that movie and the Manson family based characters were a blast.
        About The Devil’s Rejects, I really have never seen it as a social commentary on the post 9/11. The movie is clearly set in the 70′s… I don’t think the Fireflys represents terrorism, but terror itself.
        Thanks.

      25. Erin Van Horn November 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

        I was surprised by Behind the Mask. It was so much better than what I thought it was gonna be.

      26. Heidi November 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm

        The Devils Rejects ! Seriously that movie is by far one of the worst movies ever made, the worst being House of 1000 Corpses !

        • Jim VanBebber November 14, 2013 at 1:45 pm

          The worst movie ever made was directed by Rob Zombie but it was not TDR, it was Halloween 2. That movie was an abortion, abomination, and a straight kick to John Carpenter’s nuts.

      27. Natasha Willard November 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm

        I was expecting to hate Pontypool. I usually don’t believe movies live up to hype, and I watched it after the cult following formed. I’m glad I did. It wasn’t perfect, but it was beautiful and haunting. I know it could have been better, maybe that’s why some were disappointed. But even so, it’s exactly what it needed to be.

      28. tony c November 17, 2013 at 11:53 pm

        Thought it was a great list except Pontypool. Just never got into it. Watched it twice and still no fan…

      29. Mark C November 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm

        What about Dark Skies, it is actually a really good film