This Is A List, Because They Matter: Raul’s Top Ten Indie Horror Picks Of 2016
This is meant to serve as a combination of the best and my favorite indie horror films from 2016. I wanted to really focus on the low budget and possibly unrecognized independent films from the year that deserve some love and attention. So I will not be including The Greasy Strangler, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, SiREN, The Love Witch, The Eyes of My Mother, or Fear, Inc. They are all excellent movies that deserve recognition, but they each had slightly larger budgets or had far better promotion than the ones that I have selected.
10. The Mind’s Eye - Directed by Joe Begos
Meant to be an unofficial sequel to David Cronenberg’s Scanners, this is a loving tribute to the early 1980’s works of Brian DePalma and David Cronenberg that were visceral and featured body horror. It is highly entertaining, fast-paced, and wildly delivers on action and over the top death scenes and gore. The electronic score by Steve Moore is absolutely incredible and is very reminiscent of the 1980’s and various motion pictures from that era that featured similar music.
9. The Barn - Directed by Justin M. Seaman
Set on Halloween in 1989, this is another nostalgic trip that transports you back to those wonderful days of VHS rentals and low budget shot-on-video (SOV) productions. Everything about it completely oozes the era and the genre of the time period, easily being able to pass itself off as a movie that was psychically made in 1989. It follows the typical teen slasher and occult tropes of the 1980’s, while delivering over 30 kills, gallons of blood, and several outstanding kill sequences. The score from Rocky Gray is brilliant and it is the ultimate 1980’s horror soundtrack, blending a mostly synthesized score with a mixture of heavy metal songs.
8. Atroz - Directed by Lex Ortega
By far the darkest film on this list in terms of tone, it lays claim as being the most graphic and goriest movie ever to be made in Mexico. This found footage style picture definitely lives up to that assertion, joining the dark and gruesome likes of Cannibal Holocaust, Martyrs, A Serbian Film, Wolf Creek, Martyrs, and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Likely to be labeled torture porn, it contains every type of sick and twisted scenario imaginable and completely pushes the level of man’s depravity. Similar to Henry, these scenes and events help paint a three dimensional characterization of the sociopathic individual in this picture, and explain how physical and psychological events can shape the lust for murder.
7. Observance - Directed by Joseph Sims-Dennett
This is an excellent example of how a low budget Australian movie produced on a credit card balance of $10,000 can outclass the larger financed suspense and horror motion pictures. It mixes elements that are similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and Roman Polanski’s The Tenant and Repulsion, along with The Ring and The Shining. Themes of losing control, paranoia, and psychosis when left in isolation are focused on, mixing psychological horror with beautiful picture quality and some striking scenic. There is virtually no score, instead relying on the use of natural sounds in order to add to the mood and create scares. The production quality is excellent especially considering the small amount of money that was used to get this put together.
6. Dreaming Purple Neon - Directed by Todd Sheets
The lowest budgeted movie on this list at $3,500 packs an incredible amount of punch for its production value, spraying gallons of blood all over the place. It is everything that you would love about a grindhouse or exploitation film, harkening back to the days of excessive nudity, blood, and gore. The low budget trip down exploitation lane channels found memories of the 1970’s, grindhouse cinema, blaxploitation and occult subgenres, offering up a veritable microbudget masterpiece of extreme weirdness, insanity, and gore. It’s weird, gross, and chock full of crazy monsters and is both finely directed and acted despite the extremely low budget.
5. Beyond the Gates - Directed by Jackson Stewart
This 1980’s inspired occult horror film is equal parts Hellraiser, Jumanji, Lucio Fulci’s The Gate, and Evil Dead. The end result is an absolutely insane homage to an era of VHS, board games, video nasties, and over the top violence, delivering on entertainment and holy shit moments. This passion project has an excellent main cast that includes original scream queen Barbara Crampton and delivers a wild final twenty minutes that are filled with freaky moments and wildly violent gore effects.
4. Good Tidings - Directed by Stuart W. Bedford
One of two Christmas themed horror productions to make the list, this is a serious British take on the slasher subgenre. It could be best described as the Die Hard version of a Santa slasher flick that adds a Brit touch to the horror subgenre, packing a serious punch and providing another annual horror film that’s worth viewing during the holidays. Instead of one bad Santa, we are treated to three maniacs hunting people down. The main stars end up being the three psychopathic Santas known as Moe, Larry, and Curly, who stand above and beyond all of the other characters. It contains some brilliant camera shots and that make for some interesting imagery, an incredible and haunting score, a high body count, and some wonderfully devious kill sequences.
3. Night of Something Strange - Directed by Jonathan Straiton
This was unequivocally hands down the weirdest picture of the year, a totally hilarious gross out horror comedy that pushes the boundaries as far as they possible can go and then goes even further. It is reminiscent of the total insanity that comes with anything produced by Troma, Full Moon Features, and Japanese motion pictures like Calamari Wrestler and The Machine Girl. The story combination of teens and an STD spread zombie like virus produces some of the funniest and most disgusting moments of 2016, with loads of gore, effects, and comedic dialogue.
2. Head - Directed by Jon Bristol
I shouldn’t have to say anything more than this is a puppet slasher film. That alone should make you want to instantly go watch this. If not, then there is something wrong with you. Head is a true masterpiece in puppetry slasher cinema, a wonderful blend of grindhouse violence, nudity, and campy humor. While it may be the first in this new and hopefully growing subgenre, it is reminiscent of Meet the Feebles and Team America in terms of adult oriented entertainment through the art of puppetry. It's funny and also brings everything that you would typically expect in a slasher flick, delivering heaps of puppet gore, nudity, spraying blood, and enough crazy shit to satiate viewers.
1. All Through the House - Directed by Todd Nunes
If I made a regular horror list, this would still be number one on that list as well. This was hands down my favorite horror film of the year, mainstream or independent. It is a wonderful mix of creepy weird and oddly dark comedic situations that contains obvious nods to 1980’s horror films such as The Burning, Friday the 13th, and Silent Night, Bloody Night. It has to be considered the must see independent horror movie of the year, delivering a dose of hilarity, beautiful babes, a high body count, and a bloody good time. The Santa killer is excellent and is the type of character that makes a horror picture memorable, with a mask that is brilliant and scary. It has a high body count and the blood keeps flowing throughout, with each kill being distinctive and superb in its own way. It’s oddly and dementedly comedic and very R-rated, containing enough cool scares and WTF crazy moments to please horror fans and make this a modern cult classic.