10 Horror Movies With Low Rotten Tomatoes Scores That Are Actually Great
People periodically debate whether the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes is a good thing for movies or just harmless consumer advice, with many prominent filmmakers calling it damaging to the business overall. One thing that we all know deep down is that the majority of critics don’t always get it right and it can lead to some great movies being seriously underseen because of a bad reputation that they never shake or a lack of enthusiasm from the movie community.
We always try to do our part to rectify those mistakes so here’s ten horror movies with low Rotten Tomatoes scores that are actually great.
10 The Faculty
Robert Rodriguez’s riff on the Body Snatchers alien invasion movie, set in an Ohio highschool, is an original teen monster movie that takes itself just the right amount of serious. Not too little, but definitely not too much.
As the title suggests, the school’s faculty – steadily taken over by brain controlling space slugs – are the big bad monsters of the movie, even when they’re behaving normally. Rodriguez spins a fun anti-authority teen drive-in movie for the grunge era with a sly – but not cynical – edge.
9 Saturn 3
Saturn 3 began life under the direction of Star Wars’ production designer, John Barry, before being taken over by the director of Singin’ in the Rain, Stanley Donen, and the end result is every bit as weird as you’d think. Harvey Keitel plays the psychotic villain harassing Farrah Fawcett (and wrestling a naked Kirk Douglas) but his famous Brooklyn accent is dubbed over with another actor’s voice, adding to the movie’s profound surrealness.
Barry’s striking production design and Donen’s love of vivid colors crash together spectacularly in this bizarre, dreamlike, horror movie about sexual envy and a psycho-killer robot that looks like the Pixar lamp took steroids from Hell.
Gabe Ibáñez’s psychological horror movie follows Elena Anaya’s desperate mother looking for answers in the disappearance of her young son on the island of El Hierro. It’s a slow burn that has to rely on the emotionality of its landscapes and Anaya’s performance, neither coming up short. Alejandro Martínez’s subtly gorgeous cinematography also perfectly captures the pessimism of the characters and the haunting nature of their situations.
Hierro may not be as romantically opulent as the famous contemporary Spanish horror movies from shared producer Álvaro Augustín but it has real staying power for fans of bleak cinematic moods.
Caught somewhere between Ringu and Hausu, Akihiro Higuchi’s adaptation of Junji Ito’s manga of the same name is an eccentric stepping stone between both the tones of horror and comedy and the styles of live-action cinema and animation.
With a movie like Uzumaki, describing the plot feels a little pointless. It chronicles an unexplainable incident of a small Japanese town caught under an increasingly hypnotic fascination with spirals. Their reality quickly dissolving into a waking nightmare of grotesque suicides and transformations. It’s exuberant, uncanny and very creative. You can have a lot of fun watching Uzumaki provided that you don’t go into it expecting answers.
6 Prince of Darkness
The middle child of John Carpenter’s Apocalypse trilogy is the least appreciated of the bunch. But it bears mentioning that all of the trilogy’s entries are great and none of them were critically appreciated on their release. (Not even the now cult classic The Thing.)
Carpenter returns to his siege movie roots with Prince of Darkness, in which a small group of university scientists and students come face to face with the actual antiChrist. It’s full of dread, foreboding and director’s famous practicality. Make sure to also check out the similarly underappreciated final chapter, In the Mouth of Madness, if you haven’t already.
5 The Cell
The directorial debut of visually distinct director Tarsem Singh is a lot for the eyes to take in without ever feeling like too much. Howard Shore’s peculiar and cacophonous score, likewise, is the right kind of excessive.
Its Inception-like story – about Jenifer Lopez’s dream-hopping psychotherapist going inside the subconscious of a comatose serial killer – is never really as smart as the movie looks. But you’re so completely enveloped by the beautifully terrifying art direction that you scarcely notice.
4 Two Evil Eyes
A 2-for1 deal from horror movie icons George Romero and Dario Argento. Two Evil Eyes is a feature-length film made of two hour-long segments. Each an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe stories. Romero’s being a straight adaptation of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” and Argento’s being a composite of a number of ideas from Poe’s most famous works.
The reteaming of Romero and Argento, after writing the iconic Dawn of the Dead together just over a decade prior, is really all the selling point it needs but the addition of gore VFX guru Tom Savini is a macabre cherry on top.
3 The Neon Demon
Nicholas Winding Refn’s salute to bad taste is a tongue-in-cheek arthouse experience that plays out like a more devout remake of Dario Argento’s seminal horror movie Suspiria. Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote and Abby Lee’s fashion world stalwarts coming off like three witches in a bedtime fable with Elle Fanning’s corruptible innocent.
Refn makes no apologies for his vision of an audio/visual journey into the ugly side of beauty. Cliff Martinez’s hypnotic score and Natasha Braier’s spellbinding cinematography make it a spectacle that you can’t keep your eyes off of, even when you don’t want to look.
2 Beyond the Black Rainbow
Panos Cosmatos’ self-funded trip into retro psychedelica is a unique experience. A young girl is imprisoned within a New Age cult’s laboratory in this sci-fi throwback to slower, moodier, classics like George Lucas’ THX 1138.
Cosmatos claims that the idea for the movie came from looking at the VHS cover art for forbidden horror movies when he was a kid and it’s an easy story to believe. Beyond the Black Rainbow’s evocation of the past isn’t a cheap gimmick. The production design, grand psychedelic rock music and perfectly grainy 35mm cinematography are painstakingly constructed to create a movie that truly could pass as a lost gem from the 1980s.
1 A Cure for Wellness
Gore Verbinski’s story of a mysterious sanitarium with monstrous secrets feels as truly out there as a sizably budgeted studio movie ever can. The Pirates of the Caribbean director’s usual themes of water and insanity are injected with a delirious cocktail of Italian pulp horror and classic Hollywood monster movie madness in a story that feels like the origins of a supervillain.
Its overlying plot is, sadly, a little unsatisfyingly laid out in the first act. But its underlying subtext of writhing social anxieties, and Bojan Bazelli’s beautiful cinematography make it a movie that you can delve deeper and deeper into over the course of numerous viewings.