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10 Underseen Horror Anthologies You Should Watch!

10 Underseen Horror Anthologies You Should Watch!

Horror anthologies have long been a mainstay in the genre, and in the recent years has seen a bit of a revival. The recent successes of the V/H/S series, ABCs of Death, Southbound, and even this year’s XX has kick started a trend of sci-fi/horror anthologies on the small screen as well, with news of multiple anthology series in the works by AMC arriving just last week. While the last time horror anthologies peaked in popularity was the ‘80s with hits like Creepshow, Creepshow 2, and Cat’s Eye, the truth is that they’ve always been around. Some have just slipped under the radar.  Here are 10 horror anthologies that have fallen through the cracks, but are worth seeking out:


Nightmares (1983)

Nightmares 1983

Originally made for network television, intending to be a pilot for an anthology series for NBC, it instead became a theatrical feature for Universal. While its network television roots mean a distinct lack of gore, the stories make up for that. There are a lot of notable actors in the anthology as well, from Emilio Estevez as the hardcore gamer fighting for his life in “The Bishop of Battle,” to Lance Henriksen’s priest struggling both with his faith and a demonic black Chevy in the desert in “The Benediction,” each segment is grounded with talented leads. While some of the effects are dated, particularly in “Night of the Rat,” the stories are well done and entertaining enough to overlook this. For those that prefer urban legend based segments and anthologies without a wraparound, this is for you.


Tale of Tales (2015)

Tale of Tales

Based on the Pentamerone, a collection of 17th-century Italian fairytales, Tale of Tales is an anthology of fairy tales in the darkest sense. It also doesn’t play like a traditional anthology, as all segments are fragmented and intertwined until it briefly converges at the end. Stories of a king who feeds blood to his pet flea until it grows monstrous, to a princess kept prisoner by an ogre, to the queen so desperate for a child that she’s willing to eat the heart of a giant water dragon, each story is filled with blood and sorrow. As with most old fairy tales, these are not tales of sweet happiness, but gruesome tragedies. It’s a polished, well-shot film lead by a star-studded cast, and yet it’s often overlooked.


Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night 1945

This classic British horror anthology came about at a time when few horror films were produced and remains highly influential in the genre to this day. The clever wraparound sees an architect meeting guests at a country home, and despite having never met them, he can predict events in the house before it happens. To assuage his increasing anxiety over this, each guest tells their own tales of the strange and supernatural, leading to each of the five segments. The most memorable of which is the final sequence featuring the creepy Ventriloquist’s Dummy. Dead of Night marks the rare instance where the wraparound segment holds the most gut punch ending, and has been the direct inspiration behind a lot of more recent films like 2009’s Triangle.


The Dark Tapes (2017)

The Dark Tapes

I know, I know, found footage isn’t exactly enticing these days. Which is probably why this anthology isn’t as well-known as it should be. A micro-budget affair that interlocks four tales of terror, this anthology works well because it nails its atmosphere. Writer/director Michael McQuown often lulls the viewer into expecting more of the same from the found-footage sub-genre before cleverly subverting much of its tropes.  The constant shake-up of the found footage formula is fun enough, but there’s a lot of dread and tension throughout that keeps your attention. Granted, as with most anthologies, not every segment sticks its landing, and the final segment before the wraparound concludes proves to be the weakest. Even still, there’s a lot of surprises to be found here, which makes the upcoming prequel/sequel something to look forward to.


Body Bags (1993)

Body Bags

Originally intended to become a series like HBO’s Tales From the Crypt, Showtime opted not to pick up the series shortly after filming of the pilot film began. It’s a shame because this anthology, directed by John Carpenter and Tope Hooper, is a treasure trove of Easter eggs and cameos for horror fans. Set in a morgue, a creepy coroner (played by Carpenter himself) introduces the three segments. The first segment, “The Gas Station,” takes place at an all-night gas station near Haddonfield, Illinois and boasts appearances by horror legends Wes Craven and Sam Raimi. Even the American Werewolf himself, David Naughton, plays a role in this segment. Look for special effects wizard and The Walking Dead director Greg Nicotero in the segment, “Hair,” and spot trailblazer Roger Corman in the final sequel, “The Eye.” Cameos aside, each segment is so entertaining that they stand on their own. It’s a shame this never became the series that was intended.


Campfire Tales (1997)

Campfire Tales

Direct-to-video films often get a bad rap in terms of quality, but sometimes a rare gem is overlooked as a result. Such is the case with Campfire Tales, an anthology New Line Cinema dumped onto VHS. As the title suggests, the wraparound features a group of teens telling each other urban legends around a campfire.  The stories are familiar, “People Can Lick Too,” “The Hook,” “The Honeymoon,” and “The Locket,” yet they’re well done and the cast is likable. These are characters you root for, even if you know where these urban legends are headed. While not the most innovative, this anthology still delivers on tension and fun.


4BIA (2008)

4Bia

Ignore the not so great title; this Thai horror anthology is far more deserving of a larger audience. Comprised of four horror directors; two of which are behind the extremely creepy and well-loved Shutter and Alone. Even the weakest segment in this anthology is still a huge success in comparison to most anthologies.  Each director brings their own style and flavor, with “In the Middle” offering a crowd-pleasing sense of humor to camping in the woods tale of terror to “Happiness” bringing a claustrophobic creep fest. From veteran horror directors to up and coming talent, 4BIA reminds us that Thailand is a leader in Asian horror and it shouldn’t be missed.


Phobia 2 (2009)

Phobia 2

The sequel to 4Bia is bigger and better in every way. Upping the ante to include 5 directors instead of 4 (therefore also dropping the terrible title), this sequel became a smash hit in Thailand and currently sits at number 3 in terms of highest grossing Thai horror films. Comprised of segments directed by horror vets, including the return of Banjong Pisanthanakun and Visute Poolvoralaks (Alone, Shutter), this horror film works as both a solid sequel and a stellar anthology. Light on gore but high on scares, there’s also an underlying theme of karma running through its segments.


Deadtime Stories (1986)

Deadtime Stories

Ok, this anthology can’t be described as good, but it is a lot of B-movie fun. The wraparound sees the worst uncle in movie history telling his nephew three bedtime stories, all of which are warped versions of fairy tales. He clearly isn’t a fan of kids, but his nephew keeps reporting a monster in the closet and won’t go to sleep. Tales of killer witches, Little Red Riding Hood and her stalking werewolf, and an urban take on The Three Bears starring Oscar winner Melissa Leo as Mama Baer in one of her very first film roles. There’s a lot of well-done practical effects, but this anthology is far more interested in biting humor than horror. Fans of ‘80s B-horror will enjoy this romp, just don’t expect greatness.


Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993)

Necronomicon Book of the Dead

Sporting a prosthetic chin reminiscent of Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Combs plays H.P. Lovecraft in the wraparound story that sees the prolific horror writer copying stories from the Necronomicon in the middle of an old library guarded by monks. Each copied story plays out on screen, a trio of Lovecraftian tales of horror and gore, each one progressively weirder than the preceding tale. While some of the camera work and dialogue feels like a made for cable movie, the special effects are top notch and what really elevates this anthology above most. Hardcore Lovecraft purists might take issue with the way these tales play out, but those who love oozing gore and fantastic creature effects should not skip this one. Necronomicon: Book of the Dead is a very fun anthology that often goes unnoticed.

Which horror anthology do you wish more people would see?



COMMENTS

81 Comments
  • Any streaming service have these?

    • Shudder has Deadtime Stories. That’s the only one I know off the top of my head.

    • Jeff Eastwood

      I found Deadtime Stories on Dailymotion but it’s a pretty low-quality copy.

  • Mark

    I remember liking After midnight, though watched it ones when I was younger as I remember it had her from nightmare 3 in it, not scary but a decent watch

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0096769/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

  • I’d like to add Grim Prairie Tales to this as well. Brad Dourif and James Earl Jones, plus *that* story. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If you saw the first episode of American Gods, you’ll see a very familiar sequence in Grim Prairie Tales.

    • ButtaCheez

      Wait a minute…you’re not talking about THAT *that* story are you??!!!

    • oh_riginal

      THAT scene was amazing. Only thing I remember about the movie, to be honest. Seeing her walk off at the end., all knocked up… wow.

    • Jeff Eastwood

      Thanks for recommending this one. Just found it on YT =^)

    • Dagon Cleo Macready

      When I saw this article, GPT was the first movie that came to mind. Western + horror (+ anthology, no less!) can be tricky to pull off, but they managed. It’s also one of those movies that brings me back to good ol’ VHS days – I don’t think it ever made it to dvd, though there’s a pretty lo-fi version floating around on YT.
      And yes, *that* story – blew my 12 year old mind.

  • Alanmac

    I’m a fan of 80’s horror and thought Deadtime Stories sucked.

    • Hugh Manatey

      That’s because it did suck. No amount of good practical SPFX makes up for a bad anthology. The perverted dad was really off putting, too.

  • Hank_Scorpio

    I loved Nightmares. Lance Henriksen is awesome in everything he’s in

  • Cool!

  • Andrew

    the dark tapes is awful.

    • The chicken man

      Rough but enjoyable, in my opinion.

  • MaryMaria

    Excellent list, thanks!

  • Tetra-Gramaton-Cleric

    Seriously, no mention of Southbound?

    Easily one of the best anthologies in recent memory.

    • Second sentence in the first paragraph…

      • Simon Allen

        Or overrated crapfest is an option .

        • Completely agree. I didn’t see the appeal or understand the love for that one. Glad it’s not just me.

        • Tetra-Gramaton-Cleric

          To each their own. I think it’s one of the best anthology films out there, especially considering the tiny budget.

      • Tetra-Gramaton-Cleric

        Yep, missed that.

        The film flew pretty heavily under the radar though. I can’t even get a Bluray copy here in the States.

        Didn’t strike me as “successful” in the least.

    • Hugh Manatey

      It was disjointed as hell, and the SPFX were questionable. But I’ve seen worse in the VHS franchise.

  • Darren Kerr

    Never heard of 4bia or 4bia 2…but I’m certainly intrigued enough to go check them out.

    • Honest

      Phobia 2 was better, I thought, and actually starts out with the weakest tale and gets better with each one, with the last being my favorite.

      • Darren Kerr

        I watched the first last night.
        Stories were good, but the CGI was dire.
        I’m going to check the 2nd out tonight.

  • Lady Bathory

    I’ve come to really enjoy these horror anthologies (although I was so sad that XX was such a mess) and I’m definitely going to check some of those listed out! Tale of Tales is a fantastic film, btw…

    • Darren Kerr

      Tale of Tales most certainly is.

    • The chicken man

      XX was awesome. You crazy.

      • Pf Mahan

        feminist bullshit is what it was and lame

        • The chicken man

          Maybe some women hating issues? 🙂

      • Lady Bathory

        Sadly, I found it really disappointing. I was so excited about having female directors and female main protagonists but the 4 short films were not enjoyable in the least (in my opinion, if you liked it, good).
        And the director of the second short (The b-day party) actually said in an interview that she doesn’t like horror and just made a comedy segment. I find that very disrespectful to the genre and its fans.

        • The chicken man

          So you didn’t like The Box segment? One of the best shorts ever constructed in my opinion.

          • Lady Bathory

            I admit that The Box was the best of the four segments…by far! But the other three kind of ruined it again. And even The Box had a lot of wasted potential, especially atmosphere-wise.

          • The chicken man

            Oh well, to each their own.:)

          • Hugh Manatey

            The Box was the only tolerable one, but three horrible stories do not make for a good anthology.

      • Hugh Manatey

        That was garbage.

    • Justin Anthony

      I thought the only good segment was the first on”XX”, other than that it sucked ass majorly

  • Monkeymanbob

    I’d like to throw in the Amicus movies too. They vary in quality, like most anthologies, but they have a certain “Britishness” about them. Towards the end the production values and scripts began to suffer, but if you wish to be a completest.
    Movies presented in chronological order.

    Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors
    Torture Garden
    The House That Dripped Blood
    Tales from the Crypt
    Asylum
    The Vault of Horror
    From Beyond the Grave
    The Monster Club

    And just in case anyone hasn’t seen or heard of it, then you have to see Trick or Trick (hey there’s a chance someone here hasn’t seen it)

    In regards to Dead of Night. Watch this with a girlfriend a numbers of years ago and she laughed at the very dated effects (1st story I think) and thought the whole thing was lame. Of all the horror movies we had watched this was the only one that she woke in the middle of night crying about (though she did get freaked out by one of the stories in Asylum by Amicus)

    • Jeff Eastwood

      Yes, the Amicus films! Thanks for mentioning and reminding me of those =^) The “Monkey’s Paw” one (don’t remember which movie it’s in) is my favorite. Quite gruesome.

    • James Allard

      I loved these films, even if they were… well… lacking? in the Horror aspect, they were all grand and great fun

  • nowaygetreal

    I think Necronomicon is awesome. Incredible practical effects with crazy monsters and some fun stories. Definitely underseen.

    • Yaya Batax

      Leatherface (2017)

      See now : YESMOVIE. US

      A teenage Leatherface escapes from a mental hospital with three other inmates, kidnapping a young nurse and taking her on a road trip from hell while being pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge

    • The chicken man

      Saw it when it came out, remember loving it. Watching it today to see if my tastes have changed. 🙂

  • craig smith

    Trapped ashes. The John Saxon episode is my favorite

  • Ed Johnson

    The Theatre Bizarre, is a great one. The 2nd is one of the hardest movies to find.

    • Fracassi

      I really liked the Richard Stanley segment!

  • Elizabeth

    Deadtime Stories, Dead Of Night, and Body Bags are all free to watch on several Roku channels. Tale Of Tales is streaming on Showtime or you can rent it. The Dark Tapes is also rentable. I couldn’t find the rest but they’re probably on YouTube.

  • From A Whisper To A Scream

    • DeeHolidayAccount

      That movie rocks.

    • ButtaCheez

      Just realized I saw this one under it’s alternate title “The Offspring”.
      Thank you for it’s well deserved acknowledgement. Great stories narrated by the even greater Vincent Price.

  • dr.chimrichalds

    The director of Tale of Tales directed an incredible film called Gomorra. If you haven’t seen it and like gangster movies, you should seek it out. It’s incredibly realistic & brutal & takes all the glamour out of the gangster lifestyle that so many movies showcase.

  • Justin Anthony

    Tales that Witness Madness, Asylum, and The Willies should be on the list also.

  • DeeHolidayAccount

    From Beyond The Grave… I feel as if it was a little underseen, I might be wrong though.

  • Darren Kerr

    Did Trick ‘R Treat get forgotten about at all?

    • The chicken man

      Not perfect, but I really enjoy it!

    • art123guy

      The article is about underseen anthologies. I think most of us have made it regular viewing on Halloween.

      • Darren Kerr

        Good point sir…god point.

  • sliceanddice

    Dark tapes was a bag of piss. Like the look of the fairytale one, though.

  • Meatwad

    You forgot Stephen King’s CAT’S EYE. Pretty good movie.

  • Calavera

    Some of those look awesome! Hopefully, I’ll find them somewhere online.

  • Justin Anthony

    Just got to thinking and 3 Extremes 1 and 2 are both incredible and overlooked also.

  • Brian

    Don’t forget “The Willies” with the great Gordy Belcher…

    • ky

      Hey, yeah! Thank you so much for mentioning this! I was reading about Campfire Tales, which I also recall watching, and when the stories were listed I was wondering “What about the janitor that turns into a monster? What about the kid that pulled wings off flys and gets his payback BIG time?” Sometimes these older anthologies blend together a bit, but they all hold a place in my heart due to watching them at a young age. Thanks for the reminder; “The Willies” should absolutely be on this list. Lesser known, lots of fun.

      • Brian

        Absolutely. It’s a fun flick i remember watching as a kid.

  • jsmoltz29

    Just watched campfire tales for the first time. 90 minutes well spent!

  • Hugh Manatey

    I’ve seen most of these. Deadtime Stories was absolutely dreadful, though.Good SPFX, but that’s it. People should check out the recent-ish Korean trilogy Horror Stories. All three movies are overall entertaining.

  • Akuma No Shisho

    Two Evil Eyes (1990) – The 2nd story, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” is creepy as hell!
    Deadtime Stories (1986)
    Quicksilver Highway (1997)
    A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
    All Hallows’ Eve (2013)
    Little Deaths (2011)
    House of 9 (2005)

  • ConnieHinesDorothyProvine

    I’ve seen Campfire Tales. One of the co-stars is Christine Taylor, who was married to Ben Stiller for 17 years.

    I also recommend 1975’s Trilogy of Terror.

  • Brian

    Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath

  • Sail As Islands Belong On Trip

    Where can i actually see any of these without paying out the nose for a VHS tape?

    • Madstand

      The full movie Necronomicon: Book of the Dead is on Youtube. Good quality too. I’m pretty sure the full version of Deadtime Stories is on there as well. But I remember it being a really bad copy, most likely off an old VHS. Decent chance some of the other movies on this list are on Youtube as well.

      • Antonio Tirado

        I think deatime stories is on Amazon instant video

    • Rick-Taylor

      Body Bags is on Youtube, too.

  • J Jett

    i just (by accident) came across an anthology horror movie called MINUTES PAST MIDNIGHT with Barbara Steele, Jason Flemyng (DEEP RISING, SNATCH) and Arthur Darvill (DOCTOR WHO, LEGENDS OF TOMORROW). it looks pretty good.

  • ?hollywood

    Seriously, none of the Amicus films from the early 70s??? What is wrong with the author ??

  • CeCe Says Ugonlearntaday

    I LOOOVE ANTHOLOGY HORROR!!

  • Eric Wysocki

    Both Phobias are a lot of fun!

  • HalesTales

    Against popular opinion, I thought XX was pretty good.

  • Antonio Tirado

    Southbound is a good new anthology imo

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This Week in Horror - August 7, 2017

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