DREAD X: ARTIK Director Tom Botchii’s Top 10 Misclassified Horror Films

Earlier this week, we released our latest DREAD title Artik, which was written and directed by Tom Botchii. It’s a film we’re very proud of and the critics seem to be responding in kind! 1428elm says, “…you won’t be able to turn away,” Cryptic Rock says the film is, “…well worth the journey,” and Cultured Vultures calls Artik, “…an existential study of violence and cruelty that’s an essential watch for horror fans.”

To celebrate the release, we got Botchii to create a Dread X list where he shares his top 10 misclassified horror films!

Botchii tells Dread Central, “Jump scares, blood, killers… It’s all in the genre. We see them and we immediately know where they belong. But have you ever watched a film, that tackled all the same beats, that wasn’t classified as a horror? How about one that left you all freaked out and having nightmares even though it’s deemed a “fantasy film,” you know, something for kids. That’s what this list is all about; the films that I feel are misclassified within their genre and actually work far better as a horror movie.”

Head on down to check out his list.

A comic book-obsessed serial killer teaches his son how to get away with a series of brutal murders until the boy befriends a mysterious man who threatens to expose everything.

Written and directed by Tom Botchii, Artik stars Chase Williamson of John Dies at the End and The Guest fame as well as Lauren Ashley Carter, who appeared in our own films Black Site and Imitation Girl. Also starring in the movie are Matt Mercer (Contracted), Gavin White (14 Cameras), and Jerry G. Angelo (7 Faces of Jack the Ripper).

You can pick up your copy over at Epic-Pictures.


It’s loaded with jump scares but it’s the realism and the pulse-pounding intensity that makes this Kurt Russel led thriller a tour horror misclassification. It’s Jonathan Mostow’s best work in my opinion and truly takes a much darker approach to the road trip sub-genre. Completely overloaded with tension, and once it takes off it doesn’t let up until the credits roll.


When it comes to tension, a lot of times films tend to click into high gear in levels. Usually moving like a roller coaster to ease up, give you a break and then hit you. Foxcatcher doesn’t do that. It never eases up. Based on the real-life murder of Olympic wrestling standout, Dave Schultz, by John du Pont, I remember following this story when it happened originally and that’s probably why it feels even more terrifying. Although this depiction takes some liberties with the truth, it definitely adds to that unbreakable level of tension throughout as screenwriters Dan Futterman and E.Max Frye turn to John du Pont’s obsession with Dave Schultz’s brother, Mark and his natural leadership skills. The film’s loaded with outstanding performances with Steve Carell (playing the polar opposite of what you know from the American version of The Office), and especially Mark Ruffalo being the big standouts. Highly recommend for filmmakers looking to learn about keeping scenes tense. Give it a watch.

The Impostor

This documentary is a pure nightmare. I’ve always thought real life is far more terrifying than any monster and all it takes is one watch of the trailer to see how miscast this is as an investigative documentary. It hits all the horror beats and messes with you, big time. Watch it with an eye for how this would work as a narrative horror and you’ll see what I’m getting at here.

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky

You want gore? Imagine a martial arts film that goes full-on Street Trash with its action scenes. Exploding heads, flying intestines and gallons of blood, even a right hook to the body that ends up blowing spinal column bits out the other end. Now that’s what I call a good time. Welcome Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky into your life, a true gore classic, masquerading as a martial arts film. Without spoiling the ending, there’s even a nod to the monster sub-genre of horror in this one.

Predator 2

I don’t care what anybody says; Predator 2 is the best in the franchise. Predator is an “Arnold Movie,” but Predator 2 is a straight-up horror treat and I think it blows away the rest of the Predator films. It’s directed by Stephen Hopkins, who also did the great film The Ghost and the Darkness and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. The thing that makes part of your two great is that it’s almost right away we are checked into a high- octane level of fear with victims popping up all across a gang warring Los Angeles. Rather than spending so much time on the setup, we get to dive right into it. I also feel like this film was way ahead of its time casting the great Danny Glover as the lead. Playing the everyday man, and completely opposite of the original Predator in Arnold Schwarzenegger. A lot of people hated it for that reason, but it made the Predator universe far more plausible to me. This was also the only action film to give me nightmares growing up!

I Saw The Devil

What do you even say about this one? Want jumpscares? Got em. Want crazy deaths? Got em. Crazed killers? Got em. Want demented scenes and subplots? Got em. Literally everything across the horror spectrum, this film does and executes better than most actual horror films. Brilliantly directed by Kim Jee-woon, I Saw The Devil is one of the most violently extreme cat-and-mouse games ever done. And it’s a horror film, dammit!

The Chaser

Pure genius, genuinely terrifying insanity of a third act and probably in my top 5 best films I’ve ever seen. Nobody I’ve shown this film to doesn’t react. It always burns a hole in their brain and sticks around for a few days and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s highly emotional, up there with Dear Zachary on tear counter while also staying so raw with its action and terror that you sort of fall in while watching it, almost like you just jumped into the deep end of a fully covered swimming pool. This is the best of the Korean serial killer films, even though I will also hold a special place in my heart for Memories of Murder. Sort of the opposite in movement and pace from say other more Americanized films with a race against the clock storyline. This one moves more methodical, and it really makes me sweat which is why I think it’s been horribly misclassified as a Crime Drama.

Battle Royale

I give you, the most demented and most intense film I’ve ever seen. Certain horror films are less jump scare oriented and more do just messed up. This is the first foreign film I ever saw and nothing to this day has topped it. The intensity captured here is worth studying for filmmakers, and watching for horror fans. Some of you might be out there saying, “Hey, now isn’t this basically the Hunger Games?” No, shut up. This Japanese dystopian thriller was directed by King Fukasaku and based on the late 90’s novel by Koushun Takami. The performances and sheer intensity can not be captured within this article, so stop reading and go watch it already!

Arlington Road

Nothing captures the real terror of what everyone has been afraid of since the Oklahoma City bombings, quite like Arlington Road. It feels so ahead of its time. Like something nobody would touch today, due to the potential outrage culture backlash. It’s so plausible, that it’s terrifying. Expertly directly by Mark Pellington, who grabbed his footing directing some of the most powerful music videos in history, including Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy,” this raw, visceral nightmare is based around a professor becoming obsessed with the culture of extremist groups after he suspects his new neighbors, of being involved with them. A fantastic script by Ehren Kruger captures the paranoia of this era perfectly with a cast lead by Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. The first five minutes alone, are scarier than most horror films you’ll ever see. It’s full of twists and has definitely been miscast as a drama. In a post 9/11 world, this is more of a horror film than ever. It’s going to stick with you long after the credits roll.

Return to Oz

This is the scariest film I’ve ever seen. I revisited it for this article thinking “No, it’s just because you were a kid…” yeah, I don’t think so. There has never been a creepier film ever made. I mean, a witch that collects heads?! The Wheelers?! C’mon!! Why was this available for kids? I remember having nightmares for months after watching this. And because we only had like three VHS tapes, I’d proceed to watch it over and over again, thus continuing the sleepless cycle. Growing up on The Wizard of Oz, my parents used to leave this one on while they went to work thinking, logically as a sequel this would be the same cup of tea. Well first off, the plot centers around a return to Oz, which is now a pile of rubble, with a broken yellow brick road. And almost right away, everything feels so dark. There are no happy dance numbers, no painted backgrounds, and there’s no Toto. This is a very different, very uncomfortable trip to Oz. Director Walter Murch once said that it was never his intention to make a scary film, but instead to engage the audience by placing Dorothy in desperate situations. But he thinks that because they didn’t make a musical, viewers never had a chance to take a break, and realize that what they were seeing was just light-hearted fun. Which in turn caused the tension continued to rise.

Whether it ended up being an accident, or not. No film has ever terrified me as much as Return to Oz did. And the crazy part, is even now it still creeps me out. This is single-handedly the biggest misclassification of a horror film in history. Grab some friends, hook up the ole VCR and check it out for yourself. Just don’t blame me for the nightmares!



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