10 Primo Italian Supernatural Horror Films

For the last time: 'Suspiria' is not a giallo!

Italian Horror

5. Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if George Milton and Lennie Small lived in a world where they had to fight off zombies, hook up with super sexy demon ladies, and deal with gobs of other supernatural shenanigans? If you have you’re a freak but you’re a freak that’s in luck because Michele Soavi gave us this very world in 1994 with his gonzo horror-comedy, Dellamorte Dellamore. Rupert Everett stars as Francesco Dellamorte, a cemetery caretaker that spends his days taking care of a cemetery (obviously) with the help of his assistant Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro). If this were a run of the mill cemetery things would be just peachy. But it’s an Italian cemetery so shit gets wild. Decapitations, raging fires, Death, motorcycle zombies, and spaghetti make this a top-shelf, 5-star film. (Chris Coffel)

4. Black Sunday (1960)


Black Sunday begins with a ritualistic branding, cultish robes, and the hammering-in of a spiked metal mask. These are the good guys. And they’re here to eradicate Asa, a witch, and her paramour, Javutich. Two centuries after the fact, a clumsy academic revives Asa, who, feeling a bit sore about having been spiked and immolated, wreaks havoc. Black Sunday may be the oldest entry on this list but don’t let its age fool you. Part art film part gothic mood-fest, Black Sunday is one of the most auspicious directorial debuts in film history. While Barbara Steele delivers a mesmerizing performance as the tortured, wild-eyed Asa, the film’s real star is Mario Bava, who acted not only as the film’s director but its cinematographer, co-writer, and special effects artist. A supremely atmospheric film, Black Sunday is arguably the granddaddy of every other film on this list. (Meg Shields)

3. Demons (1985)


Watching Demons is like going to a punk show. It’s a mix of noxious grossness, searing guitars, over the top performances, and most importantly: utterly infectious fun. When the needle drops on Accept’s ‘Fast As A Shark’ while our sword wielding, motorcycling lead chops the titular hell-spawn in half, you know you’ve left the atmosphere and hit your happy place. Unlike other Italian Horror on this list that has an air of higher art, Demons is best appreciated at face value. It delivers on being simply a wild romp fueled by blood, guts, and cocaine energy. I mean, just look at that still above – what more could you ask for from a movie called Demons? Add in a soundtrack featuring Mötley Crüe and Billy Idol, and you’ll see that Lamberto Bava‘s masterpiece is a quintessential example of why Italian Horror is such an undeniable crowd pleaser. (Jacob Trussell)

2. Suspiria (1977)


A symphony of rich Technicolor palettes, dreamlike prog-rock score, and fantastic cinematography, the OG Suspiria is one of the most technically stylish horror movies out there. Dario Argento’s best-known film contains several trademarks of the Italian supernatural genre, from reliance on post-production ADR to the eroticized slasher elements that no doubt influenced American films of the ‘80s. The plot’s no dud either: Suspiria revolves around mysterious occurrences at a prestigious German ballet studio where young dancer Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper) witnesses increasingly disturbing phenomena and eventually uncovers a harrowing and timeless conspiracy. Suspiria at times feels like a languorous fever dream, and at other times, a choking, colorful nightmare — but all 98 minutes feel absolutely classic. (Valerie Ettenhofer)

1. The Beyond (1981)


Suspiria may be the most well known supernatural Italian film, but The Beyond is the best. Lucio Fulci imbues his film with the best hallmarks of the subgenre – dreamy imagery, nightmare logic, pedal to the metal gore, unbridled esoterica – to create an experience of horror that has been unmatched for almost 40 years. But it’s not a film that is interested in being conventionally scary. Rather it’s a canvas for Fulci to paint in the colors of surrealism, a small sidestep from the directors love of lurid trash, creating a film that is more arthouse than grindhouse. Undead ghouls are lit from impossible light sources, the film’s performances are filled with full-throated theatricality, and scenes that could be viewed as hokey – like one where a man is slowly devoured by tarantulas – not only are treated with grave severity but do it without a shred of irony. This is just the way our maestro sees the world, and The Beyond is a microcosm of this perspective. It’s the power – and the magic – of Fulci. (Jacob Trussell)

Red Dots

Grab some pizza, corrupt politicians, and other lazily stereotypical Italian items and then read more entries in our 31 Days of Horror Lists!

Actor. Writer. Available to host your next public access show. Find more of my writing at Rue Morgue, Ghastly Grinning, Diabolique Magazine, and Grim Magazine.