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Looking for a different horror flick this year?

Film professor Spencer Parsons shares a list of lesser-known scary movies sure to have you looking over your shoulder
lesser-known horror movies
In “Mad Love” (1935), a demented doctor grafts the hands of a murderer on to a concert pianist's wrists.

Horror films have the unique ability to tap into our deepest fears. Perhaps you hear the whisper of a voice on the other end of a phone call while you are at home alone, or there’s a mysterious noise coming from the basement or attic, or you awake from a crazy dream about a creepy guy with knives as fingers only to find him under your bed.

Titles like “Nightmare on Elm Street,”  “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” “The Exorcist,” “Halloween” or “It” may come to mind as must-see horror this time of year, but Spencer Parsons, associate professor in the School of Communication and head of production in department of radio/tv/film, suggests a few other films you might not have heard of.

In “The Brood” (1979), a man tries to uncover a psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife amidst a series of murders.

“While the films on my list aren’t exactly deep cuts, I prefer to advocate for the work that could use more attention,” Parsons said. “I prefer to not rank my list because movies are not a sport and offer different pleasures from each other.”

Parsons revealed to Northwestern Now several horror films that are important to him this Halloween season. 

The list is in chronological order from cinema’s early sound era all the way to present day.

Mad Love” (1935)
In Paris, a demented surgeon’s obsession with a British actress leads him to secretly replace her concert-pianist husband’s mangled hands with those of a guillotined murderer with a gift for knife-throwing.

The Hitch-Hiker ” (1953)
Two fishermen pick up a psychopathic escaped convict who tells them that he intends to murder them when the ride is over.

Martin (1977)
A young man, who believes himself to be a vampire, goes to live with his elderly and hostile cousin in a small Pennsylvania town where he tries to redeem his blood-craving urges.

The Brood (1979)
A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist’s therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife amidst a series of brutal murders.

The People Under the Stairs (1991)
Two adults and a juvenile break into a house occupied by a brother and sister and their stolen children.  There, they must fight for their lives.

Outer Space (1999)
In this short film, surrounded by eerie, palpable darkness, an unsuspecting young woman enters an ill-lit house in the dead of night. As the door closes behind her, a vague but pervading sense of menace hovers over the place.

Trouble Every Day (2001)
Two American newlyweds in Paris experience a love so strong, it almost devours them.

Creepy (2016)
Takakura is a former detective who receives a request from an ex-colleague to examine a missing family case that occurred six years earlier. Things go berserk after Takakura learns of a secret about that family.

I Blame Society (2020)
A struggling filmmaker realizes that the skill set to make a movie is the same to commit the perfect murder.