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by James Hiler
October 29, 2013 10:20 AM
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Happy Halloween! Here Are 10 Indies That Changed the Face of Horror

"The Texas Chain Saw Massacre"

Horror films have long been a mainstay on the independent film scene. Considering the relatively inexpensive production costs and devoted fan-base that promises returns for financiers, countless filmmakers have taken the plunge and painted the screen red with blood. Many of these filmmakers, with their unique visions of the low-budget horror troupes, end up altering the genre itself and changing the direction of cinema. Below, just in time for Halloween, are 10 horrors that changed the game. (This is by no means a comprehensive list of every horror film that has made a dent on indie cinema. Please include your own picks in the comment section below.) Click on film title for more info.

"Nosferatu" (1922)
Despite a few tactful changes to naming the undead, "Nosferatu" was deemed the unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and was doomed to be destroyed. However, a print of the film emerged and was duplicated, saving this German expressionistic horror. As you watch the film below, notice how Max Schreck's Count Orlok eyes never seem to blink which adds even more to his unnerving performance. 

"Night of the Living Dead" (1968)
The Godfather of today's cultural craze for all things zombie, "Night of the Living Dead" actually never once referenced these creeping ghouls as zombies. These flesh eaters were actually the result of nuclear radiation which is just one of the many Cold War and cultural critiques laid out in this film. "Night of the Living Dead" is worth watching if only to first see all the troupes of the zombie genre picture as they are first established by  legendary horror director George A. Romero.

"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)
Though initially banned in several countries, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is now considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. The film which follows a group of teens as they eventually fall prey to an impossibly terrifying family of cannibals and the hulking screaming monster that is Leatherface, is a prime example of 1970s exploitative cinema. The truly shocking feature of this film however is the difference between the amount of blood on screen and how much you think is there.

"Suspiria" (1977)
Despite blood red making a prominent mark in this Italian horror, director Dario Argento makes all his colors vibrant in this 1977 classic. Drastic lighting and a near perfect soundtrack breathe a nightmarish quality into "Suspiria" that is ultimately enthralling and terrifying.

"Halloween" (1978)
"Halloween" helped define the art of the slasher film. Departing from the screaming monsters and crazed killers, John Carpenter's Michael Myers is slow moving, unemotional, and effective. With a featureless white mask (the painted mask of William Shatner), the audience is able to project anything they want on this single murderous force. However, the true genius of "Halloween" is the use of point of view shots that puts Myers' mask on the audience and the knife in their hand.


  • Steve Warren | October 30, 2013 12:19 PMReply

    Tropes, not troupes (and phenomenon, not phenonema)

  • Peter | October 29, 2013 11:16 PMReply

    I think it is an excellent list! I agree with all of them, though I cannot cast judgment on SAW, never watched it. I wonder if the original House on Haunted Hill might not also be considered?

  • Chucky&Bucky | October 29, 2013 5:27 PMReply

    How is Universal Studio's Shaun Of The Dead an indie?

  • Focus Features | October 29, 2013 8:00 PM

    It was released in the US by FOCUS FEATURES.

  • Jeff | October 29, 2013 2:52 PMReply

    @Tim- Seven is not an indie film.
    And Twitch of the Dead Nerve (aka Bay of Blood) is certainly one of the best and most influential horror films of all time, but without Halloween's spurring the slasher deluge of the late '70s/early '80s most americans would have never seen it.
    Flavorwire just posted a piece on slashers, actually:

  • Tim | October 29, 2013 2:12 PMReply

    I would replace Saw with Seven. "Sophisticated Horror", maybe?

  • Brian | October 29, 2013 5:33 PM

    I don't know about Seven... Seven is more of a Mystery, Crime and Suspense. Saw is has a lot of seven in its self.. but almost all the victims pain and suffering are on screen, but no real gore is on screen if you look closely in the movie. in Seven, all the murders are almost completely off screen.. if you look closely, Seven seems to have gore on the dead bodies.. Seven is more of a thriller.. Saw is like a thriller gone wrong, to the point were its not about logic, but about emotion. horror is more about Emotion then logic.. Thrillers are more about logic then Emotion... I think this is right.. You can make an argument or a comparison... but it gets kind of tricky...

  • viki | October 29, 2013 12:57 PMReply

    "Carnival Of Souls" should take the place of "Blair Witch".

  • Christopher | October 29, 2013 11:59 AMReply

    Many people cite "Shaun of the Dead" but I'm still partial to "Braindead" AKA "Dead/Alive" by Peter Jackson.

  • Margin | October 29, 2013 11:13 AMReply

    Bay Of Blood - the movie that changed giallo into slashers and inspired Friday the 13th and every slasher movie

    Black Christmas - the first slasher pic and inspiration for Halloween

  • earl roy | October 29, 2013 10:56 AMReply

    Carnival Of Souls ...the original.

  • Missy | October 29, 2013 10:46 AMReply

    Good list!

  • Assburgers | October 29, 2013 10:26 AMReply

    Great Article