There's a theory amongst some horror fans that says fright films which use generic spooky words like "dark," "evil," or "dead" in their title are truly terrible. At times, it seems filmmakers use lofty words like "dark" to evoke scares cheaply, but the word is so overused and all-encompassing that it often backfires. Although the Guillermo del Toro written and produced Don't Be Afraid of the Dark – which hits theaters this Friday – got its title from the 1973 TV movie it was inspired by, history has proven that similar sounding names have failed miserably. Just look at Alone in the Dark – created by the infamous Uwe Boll. (Ok, maybe that example was too easy … ) It doesn't even manage to fall into the so bad it's good category, it's just awful – and the title is completely uninspired (taking its moniker from the blandly titled videogame series of the same name). That's just one of dozens of movies that should never see the light of day ever again.
We decided to sift through the crap and highlight seven "dark" genre films with commonplace titles that are actually quite remarkable. Leave us your picks below.
Editors Note: A few of the clips below are slightly NSFW. You've been warned.
ARMY OF DARKNESS
The comedy quotient of the horror-comedy scale dominates the third installment of the Evil Dead trilogy, making Army of Darkness an ultimate cult favorite. Ash returns with his chainsaw arm, boomstick, and hoopty – only this time he's been accidentally transported to the 1300s where he's forced to fight an army of Deadites so he can return back to the future and his job at S-Mart. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the highly quotable Bruce Campbell proves that the "dark" part of your movie needn't be so serious to still be totally badass.
BEYOND THE DARKNESS
Exploitation master Joe D'Amato combined cannibalism, necrophilia, voodoo, perverted sexcapades, a Goblin soundtrack, and more in Beyond the Darkness. Like his pornographic movies or the bloody and over-the-top Anthropophagous, Beyond the Darkness is a depraved little piece of cinema that will make you do a double take more than once. An "orphaned" taxidermist develops a taste for blood, while his lusty and lunatic governess has a taste for him. Visceral, twisted, and sleazy, Beyond the Darkness does its best to extinguish a small light inside your soul.
Fighting dirty and quick to kill, Near Dark is the antithesis of the Twilight generation's romantic vampires. A ruthless, undead clan – led by the formidable Jesse (Lance Henriksen), along with the wild and unhinged Severen (Bill Paxton) – feeds their way through a dusty town, transforming one of the young locals into their newest blood-thirsty brother. It's a race to sunrise for the fledgling vamp who has to choose between his human and nocturnal families.
ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK
Giallo great All the Colors of the Dark puts the spotlight on nightmarish occult terror and a very naked Edwige Fenech. She's the black magic woman in Sergio Martino's disorienting trip down the rabbit hole, which tells the story of Fenech's foray into a horny blood cult. The paranoid exploits shift between dream and reality as she tries to dodge a group of ghoulish characters that alter her body, mind, and soul through their black arts.
DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS
A mysterious Countess takes an obsessive liking to a newlywed couple who have ventured to an empty seaside hotel during the off-season. The psychosexual, sometimes campy, and Sapphic thrills that follow pulse with baroque fervor. Harry Kümel's dreamy and erotic tale of bloodletting aims for dusky, voluptuous horror instead of gory violence.
DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW
It's always interesting to look back on TV movies like the 1973 version of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark and see what networks managed to accomplish in the fear department with such a small budget. One of the creepier prime time horror entries is CBS's Dark Night of the Scarecrow, which debuted in 1981. When a mentally challenged man is accused of a crime he didn't commit, the townsfolk enact a twisted form of justice. Dark Night of the Scarecrow's old school chills proved that there's a strange darkness lurking inside every human being – even your neighborhood mailman.
PRINCE OF DARKNESS
It doesn't get much darker than the apocalypse, and John Carpenter's second entry in his end of the world trilogy posits that humanity is doomed and the devil is living inside the mainframe. To add to the hopelessness, the sinister soundtrack – which comes courtesy of the director and Alan Howarth – thunders with doom and gloom, while Carpenter's horde of "zombies" swarm a Los Angeles church. Prince of Darkness may not be Carpenter's strongest entry, but it's pretty damn bleak.