Good morning, friends. I’ve come to your breakfast table today only to say, “WHAT’S THAT BEHIND YOU??” 

Ha! Scared you. Go change your pants and then come back to talk to me about horror movies, because this year, we’re skipping past the classics and taking a look at some of the lesser known stuff. 

You know the classics.

You got your “Halloween,” which somehow manages to be the seasonal classic in spite of the 30-year-old actresses playing teenagers and some questionable acting. Frankly, I think it’s the music that makes this movie as great as it is. Don’t watch the sequels, though. I mean, any of them. They don’t exist. According to me. 

You got your “Blair Witch Project,” which shouldn’t be scary but is. You got “The Omen,” “Night of the Living Dead,” and “The Changeling,” which is terribly underappreciated, And you got your “Amityville Horror,” the original; never EVER the remake. This movie (the original, mind you) is the reason I’m so deathly afraid of flies, pigs in closets and passageways to Hell. 

For me, though, “The Exorcist” is still the very tip of the horror movie pyramid, and don’t you go trying to change my mind about that, neither. I seldom watch this one anymore because every time I do, I lay awake all night worrying that my bed is going to start bouncing across the floor. Who needs it? 

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There are some cheesy movies, like “The Conjuring” that manage to be scary, and there are movies which are more unsettling than horrifying but still a fine Halloween experience. I’m looking at you, “The Sixth Sense.” 

There are movies that are listed as horror but aren’t. “Misery” a horror movie? I don’t think so, bro. That’s a basic drama and possibly a romance (I’m pretty sure James Caan was keen on Kathy Bates in spite of all the . . . you know, hobbling.) “Jaws” a horror movie? Naw. That’s a male bonding flick at heart. 

There are even horror movies that rhyme, including “The Ring,” “The Thing” and “The HaunTING,” which is just darn fun. 

But look, I could sit here all day and name all the classic horror movies you should or shouldn’t watch, but by gory, there are a zillion lists like that all over the web and I don’t want to be predictable.

This year, instead of watching the classics I usually do, I’ve been taking a chance on some more obscure movies in order to get my sleep-with-the-lights-on thrills. You end up watching a lot of flops this way (I want back the roughly 10 hours I spent watching “Lights Out,” for instance) but here and there, you land a gem and by gum, you gotta sleep in the car because the house is too scary. 

I mean, not me. Some guy I know. 

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Let’s start with “Hereditary,” which isn’t really new or obscure, but which is newish to me, so just shut about it. 

The first time I watched this one, I swore it was the most unnerving since “The Exorcist,” which is saying a lot. I don’t want to provide too many spoilers (the butler kills EVERYONE!) but there’s one scene where a tormented teenage boy is sitting up in his bed in the dead of night, and when your eyes finally adjust to the darkness, you see … Well, let’s just say that kid is going to have mommy issues the rest of his life. Or would, if the butler hadn’t killed him. 

“Incident in a Ghostland”: This one could easily be at the top of the list. A very intense movie. I judge by the number of times I found myself yelling at the screen: Yelling things like “Get out of the house!” “Leave her alone, you fiend!” and “Oh, my God, did I just wet myself?” Not for the squeamish this one. I TOLD you the ice cream truck was bad news!

“As Above, So Below”: A group of young folk go exploring unknown sections of the catacombs of Paris. The best way to describe this one is “Indiana Jones” meets “Dante’s Inferno.” It’s a wild ride filled with some pretty unnerving concepts and images. Since I saw this flick, I’ve completely given up spelunking in Paris.  

“The Deep House”: A couple explores a haunted house that sits on the bottom of a lake. Sounds stupid, right? Hold the phone there, bub. This one combines the vulnerability of being underwater with the vulnerability of being surrounded by dead people with bad intentions. I found it seriously scary, to the point where I don’t want to be around water or dead people anymore. 

“Spring”: Here we have a troubled young lad falling in love with a 2,000-year-old lass in Italy. If I’m going to watch a romance movie, let it be this kind. Very cool flick. 

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“The Ruins”: A group of young people go exploring a Mayan ruin in Mexico. Why are young people so dumb, anyway? This a seriously good flick. When I was done watching it, I threw out all of my wife’s houseplants. You’ll understand later. 

“The Descent”: A group of young women go spelunking in an unexplored cave in Appalachia. The spelunking alone is terrifying, if you happen to have a touch of claustrophobia. They didn’t even need to bring in subterranean monsters but — what do you know? There are subterranean monsters. Be sure to check out the alternate endings on YouTube. 

“Don’t Listen”: Who knew? Move into a fancy Spanish manor where witches were burned during the Inquisition and you might have problems. Big problems. If you can overlook (overhear?) some questionable dubbing, there are some truly chilling moments in this one. I’ve given up basements and I mean like, forever. YOU go down and get the potatoes. 

“The Dark and the Wicked”: Family drama and a dying old man at an old country farmhouse. This is one of those that you thoroughly enjoy, but when it’s done, you ask: What was the point of all that? I still don’t know, and yet I liked the movie. Made me give up siblings entirely. Well, this movie and that time my stupid brother made me eat a pollywog.  

“Dark Water”: both the original and remake. I know I warned you off remakes earlier, but hear me out. Both of these are quality movies. A struggling young mother with a young daughter in a leaky apartment. Plus ghosts, probably. I don’t want to say too much. 

“Vivarium”: A young couple (I don’t even need to describe them as stupid anymore — it goes without saying) find themselves in a strange, uninhabited town from which they cannot escape. It’s awesome in a “Twilight Zone” kind of way. 

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“Honeymoon”: A young couple retreat to a wilderness cabin to begin their new marriage. It was really a terrible idea going there. Next time, look for a Ramada, dumb young folk. After seeing this one, I gave up romance completely. 

“Ouija: Origin of Evil”: I know what you’re thinking. Sounds cheesy, right? Yet another movie about a Ouija board doesn’t have a ghost of a chance to be any good? Oh, but give this one a chance. Some serious spooks in here and just one hell of a good performance by a fine young actress (you’ll get that joke later, too). I finished this one at 3 in the morning and promptly gave up board games, basements, kid sisters, dolls, kitchen tables, sewing needles, candles and plaid skirts forever. I mean it, too. I’m done!

“A Classic Horror Movie”: After a car wreck, a group of people find themselves in the wilderness of Italy with only a strange house and a bunch of weird pagans running around and doing weird things. A bit like “Midsommar,” this one, but with a better twist and fewer human sacrifices. 

“Midsommar”: A group of young people (you know the kind) travel to Sweden to celebrate midsummer with … you guessed it! A bunch of weirdos. Some truly disturbing stuff here. Some of it seems gratuitous, sure. Still cool, though. 

“The Wailing”: Korean filmmakers put out some damn fine movies. This is one. 

“St. Maude”: A young lady (presumably stupid) who fancies she’s a bona fide saint. Check out the very last scene to find out if she’s right. The final one second of this movie is just brilliant. 

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“Death Ship”: A ship out in the middle of the ocean and haunted by Nazis. And George Kennedy, for some reason. 

I’ve got more, but I’ll wrap it up there so you don’t get too skeered. It’s a pretty solid list and if you watch even half these flicks, your brain will to turn to mush like mine and we’ll never have to talk about serious stuff again. 

Happy Halloween, freaks. 

When he’s not shaking under his blankets in the glow of the television, Mark LaFlamme covers the crime beat for the Sun Journal, and can be reached at [email protected]

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