Five Obscure Horror Films to Scare You This Halloween

Unlike with other film genres, horror isn’t confined by any specific styles or archetypes, with classics ranging from raunchy comedies, intense family dramas, controversial political critiques, and even mumblecore. While many may judge a horror film’s worth by it’s number of scares, the genre has far more variety to offer. If you’re interested in dipping your toes into the world of the bizarre this Halloween, then this list might just be for you! All reviews will be spoiler free, however some of these films deal with sensitive topics and imagery so I would suggest looking at the website Does the Dog Die for comprehensive content warnings before viewing. Make sure to click on the titles if you want to see the trailers for each film!

  1. 1. Raw (2016)

    Following sixteen year old Justine as she traverses her first year of veterinarian school, French Filmmaker Julia Ducournau’s directorial debut presents a blood curdling take on the coming of age story. Justine - who was raised a strict vegetarian - is forced eat a raw rabbit kidney during a school hazing. This seemingly harmless act, however, awakens a new side to Justine - one with a disturbed desire. Not for the faint of heart (or the weak-stomached), Raw is an incredibly fresh addition to the horror genre. It has great terrifying moments, well-written characters, and stunning cinematography. This is the most classic genre horror on the list, so if you want a movie to get your blood pumping on Halloween night, this is the one for you.

  2. 2. The Thing (1982)

    Perhaps uncomfortably timely during the Coronavirus pandemic, John Carpenter’s 80’s cult classic follows a group of Antarctic researchers trapped at their base camp as a shapeshifting creature attacks and kills the crew one by one. Possessing the ability to perfectly resemble any living being, this Thing hides in plain sight amongst the researchers, leaving the men with no way of knowing who is infected and who can still be trusted. Sound familiar? The Thing is classic 80’s horror with incredible practical effects and an unforgettable score. It’s just a great time. If you can handle your gore and want a horror-thriller that’ll keep you gripping the edge of your seat, definitely go check this one out.

  3. 3. Possession (1981)

    Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession is perhaps one of the most bizarre, unnatural, depraved things I have ever seen. It is a chaotic wreck filled with sickening yet unbearably mezermising horror.  It is a film whose plot you will probably never fully understand, as it swings erratically between genres. It is at once a heartbreaking marital story, an anti-Berlin wall political critique, a spy thriller, an auto-biographical work, and a gruesome gore horror. Possession is your worst nightmare, and I loved every minute of it. The story follows husband and wife Mark and Anna, as they go through a tumultuous separation. As the events unfold and Mark attempts to compile information on Anna’s secret lovers, a twisted tale of mental disarray, supernatural cruelty, and horror begins to unfold. If you choose to watch this one all I can say is: strap in.

  4. Considered a seminal work in Swedish cinema, The Phantom Carriage follows the story of a drunkard named David who dies on New Year’s Eve to find that he is fated to drive Death’s carriage for the ensuing year. Together with the current driver of the carriage, David is forced to reassess his past actions and accept the severity of all the damaging things he has done during his lifetime. While I understand that the idea of watching a black-and-white, silent, foreign-language horror film for Halloween may sound a bit unappetizing, The Phantom Carriage remains a truly incredible cinematic work. With flawless special effects that remain convincing even in our modern CGI-cinema landscape, inventive color-design through film tinting, great performances, and a mesmerizing score, The Phantom Carriage feels breathtakingly modern for a cinematic work that is 99 years old. Plus, the film is in the public domain which means it’s free (and legal) to watch on YouTube!

  5. 5. House (1977) (*flashing lights warning for trailer*)

    Perhaps one of the funniest horrors I’ve ever seen, House is a Japanese surrealist comedy by Nobuhiko Obayashi that follows a sixteen year old girl as she ventures to her Aunt’s house for a summer holiday with her six schoolmates. However, upon their arrival the girls come to the startling realization that the Aunt’s house is haunted, and hijinks ensue. House will be one of the most unique horror films you’ll have ever seen, I guarantee you. It is a genre-bending, fantastical fever pitch that is unlike any other film I have personally seen before. If you’re in the mood for something darkly funny with some great genuine scares this Halloween, then Nobuhiko Obayashi has you covered.

All films mentioned are available on DVD for free from the University of St Andrews Library as well as on most streaming services