You’ve already been spooked by “Halloween” and “The Exorcist,” so put these underrated scary flicks in your queue instead.
“The Cell” (2000): A visual feast even when its imagery is horrid (get ready for a horse sliced and separated into a dozen pieces), this lush brainchild of under-praised mastermind Tarsem Singh puts one’s senses on high alert. Featuring unforgettable costumes by the late, great Eiko Ishioka, “The Cell” sees Jennifer Lopez play a therapist who goes inside the mind of a serial killer (Vincent D’Onofrio). What she finds is Singh’s stunning blend of the beautiful and the macabre.
“Bug” (2006): The creepy-crawlies don’t even begin to describe what’s plaguing an impressionable waitress (Ashley Judd) in this minimalistic mind-number from William Friedkin (“The Exorcist”). A charming stranger (Michael Shannon) may seem harmless enough, but soon the two are locked away in a motel room, descending into the psychotic terror of insects in their skin.
“Queen of the Damned” (2002): This is major guilty-pleasure territory, but “Queen” is worth catching if only for the electric performance from Aaliyah, who passed shortly after playing the titular mother of all vampires. Her deadly-diva entrances and slinky attacks are worth enduring the film’s limp plot and acting.
“Hannibal” (2001): “The Silence of the Lambs” walked off with armfuls of Oscars; however, few viewers seemed to appreciate the artistry of its sequel, which director Ridley Scott sets in an atmospheric Italy, and in which Julianne Moore inherits Jodie Foster’s role as Clarice Starling. The story and its pivotal events are frighteningly unique, and the ending will leave you anything but craving a post-film meal.
“Scream 3” (2000): Of all the “Scream” films, the third installment is by far the most ridiculous—and, in effect, the most fun. The meta nature of the franchise’s sequels hits a fever pitch in round three, wherein a hilarious Parker Posey joins the cast as the actress playing Courtney Cox’s Gale Weathers. It’s clear the late Wes Craven was just having a blast this time around, casting the likes of Jenny McCarthy and reveling in the narrative’s wealth of Hollywood sleaze. But the twisty glee comes through in the final cut, making the movie a breezy, quotable delight.