People often brush off super low budget horror movies as a waste of time. They can look cheap, and be full of noticeably flawed acting, sound mixing, etc. I get it. With the entertainment landscape so saturated and with most titles so accessible, a lot of people just want to spend their time consuming more professional-grade films.

I certainly appreciate the craftsmanship of more expensive and expertly put-together films myself, but perhaps more than anything, I appreciate originality and passionate filmmaking. Ultra-low budget horror is often a great place to look for these qualities. They’re typically made by people just trying to get their vision out there regardless of resources, and I find that inspiring. Often, these films miss their mark, and that only makes them easier to brush off as irrelevant. From time to time, however, they break through their financial barriers and technical set-backs and deliver something memorable.

Just look at Jeremy Gardner’s THE BATTERY or RESOLUTION from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Most of you are probably familiar with these because they were so well made for such minuscule budgets that the horror community couldn’t ignore them. These are perhaps a couple of the best examples of great ultra-low budget filmmaking we’ve seen in recent years, but I wanted to call your attention to some others that I’ve found worth viewing. While their budgetary and technical constraints don’t all disappear into the film as well as in THE BATTERY or RESOLUTION, they’re each honorable (or at the very least, entertaining) entries to our beloved genre in my opinion.

I was asked to do a top 15 list of 2015 horror movies at the end of last year, and CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT was one of those that just barely missed it. If I had written it on a different day–it very well could have made the cut.

Like most of the movies on this list, it has some noticeable flaws on the technical side, but for me, the originality and charm of this movie more than made up for that. Considering it’s a vampire movie (a seemingly well-worn genre), I was all the more impressed. Also called “LIMBO” the movie tells the story of a colony of children who were victims of adult vampires.

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I was fortunate enough to had read the novel this movie was based on before seeing the movie. I immediately fell in love with the book, and was pleasantly surprised with how well this low budget indie captured the spirit of it. It’s sick and twisted, but that’s not what makes it so good. The strongest parts of FOUND are the nostalgia it invokes and its coming of age element.

The movie of course spawned another low budget treat in HEADLESS, which is a different beast altogether. I highly recommend both movies, but you have to start with FOUND to view and appreciate HEADLESS in the proper context. Also check out FOUND director Scott Schirmer’s follow-up to FOUND, HARVEST LAKE for another low budget, but unique treat.

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Not unlike FOUND, PIECES OF TALENT got a lot of buzz around the less mainstream horror outlets a couple years ago, and with good reason. It’s about a guy who’s basically an independent filmmaker whose work entails murdering his actors, and a young woman who befriends him.
pieces-of-talent

THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE just became available on VOD last month, and while it’s still pretty early, it’s one of my favorite from this year so far. It’s a very simple and character-driven movie dealing with paranoia, mental health, and a possibly impending attack by inhuman beings that, you know, look like people. I strongly recommend giving it at least a rental.
they-look-like-people

Much like CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, FELT was another one that just missed my “best of” list for last year. It had been on my pending list earlier in the year, but there were just too many awesome movies that came out throughout the year. Still, FELT is definitely worth your time. It tells the story of a young, depressed woman and offers some commentary on “rape culture,” depression, and related emotions. It’s also arty and brutal.
felt-movie

If you’re familiar with the old Japanese GUINEA PIG films, you’ll have a vague idea of what to expect here. I had seen some of them and others of a similar ilk, yet I was surprised to find BOUQUET is still pretty effective. If you’re not familiar, these films are basically entirely made up of prolonged sequences of dismemberment and torture. If you think the HOSTEL and SAW films are “torture porn,” you’ll hardly be able to contain yourself with these.

Personally, I find it necessary to subject myself to the occasional endurance test. It reminds me of my younger days when I was always on the look out for something just a little more fucked up than what I’d seen prior. In this department, to be honest, AMERICAN GUINEA PIG didn’t necessarily show me a lot I’d never seen, but it definitely had some moments that won’t soon leave my brain. That said, the conclusion, which involves something you don’t even see, is what really left me chilled.

A lot of people don’t like “shocking for shocking’s sake,” and that’s perfectly fine. Just watch something else. What can I say? I like to be shocked by movies sometimes. I also like practical gore FX, and BOUQUET is a veritable feast of them. It’s nasty and quite well done, even in the context of a faux lo-fi snuff film.

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SLASHERS was particularly fun in the era in which it was released. It was something of a slasher version of The RUNNING MAN with a Japanese reality game show used as the setting despite being a Canadian English-language film. It gave us several fun madmen to watch butcher the participants, and a super catchy theme song.

This is easily the silliest film on the list, and to be honest, I haven’t seen it in years, so I don’t know how well it has aged. That said, I always had a good time with it the several times I did watch it in the early 2000s, and I would gladly revisit it today.

slashers

TIN CAN MAN is an early film from Ivan Kavanagh, who directed the acclaimed (at least within the horror community) THE CANAL. I won’t say that the film has many of the elements that made THE CANAL so effective, but this is a completely different type of movie. It’s black and white, it’s frantic, and it’s claustrophobic. It’s nightmarishly lit, and feels like an uncomfortable fever dream, but in a good way.

I would especially recommend this one to those who enjoyed The Canal and have a more general interest in director filmographies.

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