Painting the Town Red: 10 Must-See Italian Horror Movies That Aren’t Giallos

There comes a time in every horror fanatic’s life when they dive deep into the bloody waters of Italian horror. It is a higher subgenre. There’s more excess, there’s more craziness, and there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense – but that’s the beauty. Italian writers took the American horror genre and turned it on its head. They’ve made it their own, with smaller budgets, practical homemade effects, and all the hilarious voice acting we could ever ask for.

What are some of the best Italian horror movies that aren’t Giallos? It was hard work, but I think I did it! Today it’s all about murderous sea creatures, cannibalistic killers, sleazy dead, pus-splatter demons, and just plain weird stuff. It was a tough list to put together, and it’s subjective. Pick up your favorite whiskey, sit back, relax and luxuriate in 10 of the best Italian horror movies, that aren’t Giallos.

ten. Caltiki: The Immortal Monster (1959)

The archaeologists decide to extract all the gold and riches from a sacrificial pool which, unbeknownst to them, awakens a monster lurking in the depths of said pool… If you like old black and white horror, with visibly fake decorations, that feel like watching a B-grade Universal Monster movie, then this is the movie for you. What this film lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in effort and creativity.

9. The Last Shark (1981)

the last shark - great white - squale 1981 vhs cover

This movie is a Jaws remake you didn’t know you needed. It’s a blatant scam, and fun to boot. The last shark is what you get when you have a fraction of the budget that Jaws had and the lack of resources to create a believable-looking shark. Despite its many flaws and the blatant plagiarism of the original, you can’t help but love it for what it is; a low-budget, fun and entertaining tribute.

8. The Night Killer (1990)

Lordy, this one is a doozy. The night killer is one of the most ridiculous movies ever to hit the screen, but they used it to their advantage. There’s so much more room for a movie to grow when it’s 100% aware of who it is. Besides, it’s worth watching just to see the killer stalking his prey while wearing one of the most hilarious and fun masks ever.


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seven. Murders on Night Trains (1975)

How about watching a movie, which makes you feel like a despicable voyeur even for laying eyes on it? If you are completely comfortable with this, allow me to suggest The Night Train Murders. It’s a movie that’s not just sleazy, intense, and pure exploitation. It will also make you question your faith in humanity. Murders on night trains isn’t a fun watch, but sometimes we need to be exposed to movies to not only broaden our cinematic reach, but also to hit our senses hard.

6. Nightmare Beach (1989)

Nightmare Beach (1989)

Don’t go to Spring Break if you’re a douchebag, in a biker gang, or a Peeping Tom, because you’re dead meat. No one is safe in nightmare beach, and this is what must be respected; a killer who has no prejudice about whom he kills. Everyone is fair game. It’s fun, smooth, violent and fast-paced, I guarantee you’ll be excited once you’ve finished watching this.

5. City of the Living Dead (1980)

city ​​of the living dead fulci poster

The gates of hell are officially open, and it’s getting macabre. Kills combine perfect sound and practical effects that are sure to make your stomach turn. city ​​of the living dead is a well-thought-out film with a solid story, which has characters you really care about – which can be rare with movies of this ilk.

4. Contamination (1980)

Contamination 1980 - blue underground - dvd cover

Credit: Blue Underground

If Gory But Creative Italian Sci-Fi Horror Is More Your Speed, You Need To Check Out Contamination. The concept of gelatinous goo that can explode when you come into physical contact with it isn’t just a unique story to tell, but it’s a wild ride to jump on. It’s also a fresh perspective on the genre that sets it apart from the crowd.

3. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

cannibal holocaust vhs cover

Famous. Violent. Brutal. cannibal holocaust is nothing less than perfect. It’s sensory overload with the violence, grime and despicable nature our characters are portrayed in. Despite the filth and barbarism, there’s a story of morality in there, and it’s the glue that holds this film together. You’ll need a cold, sobering shower after this one.

2. Demons (1985)

demons 1985 horizontal poster

As far as Italian horror goes, this is going to be one of the craziest movies you’ll ever see. From the moment you see pus coming out of the face of the first victim, the madness does not stop. demons has some of the best practical effects you’ll see in any horror movie, and once you’ve finished watching it, you’ll be looking far and wide for more movies like this.

1. Cannibal: The Grim Reaper (1980)

via vhscollector.com

Holy cow is this wild movie! There is no complex story in this film. If anything, the story manages to take a step back from the gore we see. Most of the time it can hurt a movie, but it doesn’t hurt Anthropophagous. The film crosses that line and pushes the boundaries of what is considered acceptable. But it does so by bringing something that might be considered fresh and unseen to the genre upon its initial release. Anthropophage has no inhibitions when approaching, he is totally free; that’s how you know you have an influential pioneer on your hands

What’s your favorite Italian horror movie? Let us know about Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord. Not a social media fan? Get more horror straight to your inbox by signing up for the Neighborhood Watch newsletter.

demons 1985 gif

Demons (1985)

About Catharine C. Bean

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