5 Visually Stunning Horror Gems

LA’s iconic Hollywood Forever Cemetery screenings at Cinespia just turned 20. Behind this phenomenon is founder John Wyatt, a down-to-his-core cinephile. Their annual Halloween screenings have sold out year after year, so who better to make us a proper list of horror gems than the film lover himself?

“When it comes to horror movies, style can be everything, and for the films on this list, the mise-en-scène is evocative, terrifying, beautiful, and wildly inventive. Dialogue and plot might come second to eye-candy, but the bewitching power of these movies is in the spectacle on screen. The ’70s and ’80s were a peak of horror visual style, these films are must-sees for horror fans looking for the unusual.”

suspiria on LEO edit
Suspiria 1977, Photo Courtesy of Produzioni Atlas Consorziate


“Italians are the kings of visual expression and Dario Argento is the maestro of rich and fantastical imagery. A series of killings are gory and brutal punctuations in a dreamy hallucination as a young student (played by the superbly frightened Jessica Harper) discovers her new school may hide a coven of witches. Suspiria follows the logic of a dream, with a haunting and driving musical score; a gallery of incredible older actors (Joan Bennett, Alida Vali, and Udo Kier); stunning sets; and rich lighting creating a hallucinogenic fairy tale.” 

suspiria on LEO edit
Suspiria 1977, Photo Courtesy of Produzioni Atlas Consorziate


“If Argento is already on your radar, his fellow Italian and former Assistant Director Michele Soavi created this slasher gem. Italian 1980s fashion abounds in this great gore fest that puts style over substance. The film is secretly smarter than it first appears and will keep you on the edge of your seat with genuine suspense. Gauzy cinematography, compelling characters, and one of the best killer costumes in cinema make this a fun ride.”

stagefright on LEO edit
Stagefright 1987, Photo Courtesy of Artists Entertainment Group

NEAR DARK (1987)

“Kathryn Bigelow’s clever directorial debut brings vampires out of old, creaky castles and into the underbelly of American Midwest life. Gorgeously shot, gory, and self-aware, it turns the genre on its head while telling a compelling love story.  It’s one of the best vampire movies hands down.”

near dark on LEO edit
Near Dark 1987, Photo Courtesy of De Laurentiis Entertainment Group


“Moody, evocative, and downright scary, a private eye mystery turns into something much more horrifying. Mickey Rourke, Lisa Bonet, and Robert DeNiro make this a great, dark, 1980s treasure. Director Alan Parker (Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Midnight Express) was known for atmospheric cinematography and this film is filled with smoke, shadows, snow, and rain, pouring on a brooding ambience. One image in this film still gives us goosebumps every time we watch it!”

angel heart on LEO edit
Angel Heart 1987, Photo Courtesy of Tri-Star Pictures

HOUSE (HAUSU) (1977)

“Wild effects and a dizzying imagination make this supernatural Japanese tale good weird fun. Ghosts, supernatural cats and haunted house madness greet a group of schoolgirls traveling to a mysterious estate in the country. Floating heads, haunted mirrors, bleeding clocks, and possessed pianos fill a bizarre and spooky world in this experimental horror/comedy. Movie watching rarely gets stranger or more entertaining than Hausu.”

house (hausu) on LEO edit
House 1977, Photo Courtesy of Toho