Horror is made up of so many sub-genres, that it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with them all, especially the hidden gems amongst the usual blockbuster hits. But those huge titles are never usually as memorable as those smaller, low-budget frighteners. So we’ve decided to take a look back at a number of gore and suspense-filled treats which featured a major talent, well before they became a big box-office draw or TV favourite. So here are some superb titles and a few that are bloody awful – they should be ashamed!

Let the countdown begin… or take the horrific consequences…

13 & 12. Matthew McConnaughey and Renee Zellweger in THE RETURN OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1994)

A year after his breakout role in DAZED AND CONFUSED and two years before his star making turn in A TIME TO KILL, Matthew McConughey appeared opposite Bridget Jones herself, Renee Zellweger in a reboot of Tobe Hooper’s 70s gritty masterpiece.

Having original Leatherface co-creator Kim Henkel making his directorial debut 20 years after the original should have been a bonus. It’s not. In fact, it’s shit, and Henkel now just waits for his royalty cheques to drop through the post, having never worked on a film since.

11. and 10. Jason Alexander and Holly Hunter in THE BURNING (1981)

THE BURNING features not one, but two actors that went onto great things. SEINFELD star Jason Alexander appeared alongside Oscar-winning actress Holly Hunter in this video nasty fave. The film was essentially a rip-off of FRIDAY THE 13, with teens sliced and diced by a long-thought-dead janitor, horrifically burned years earlier in a prank played by former summer campers. Another recognisable face also crops up in this in the form of Fisher Stevens, who went on the play Johnny 5 creator Ben in the SHORT CIRCUIT films, amongst other things.

9. Sam Worthington in ROGUE (2007)

Two years before AVATAR and TERMINATOR: SALVATION, Sam Worthington appeared in WOLF CREEK-director Greg McClean’s underrated (and long delayed) giant crocodile thriller ROGUE. He plays Radha Mitchell’s asshole ex, who turns hero when the tourist-filled boat she’s in charge of is chomped on by the reptilian monster, leaving them all at the mercy of the massive motherfucker!

McClean’s Aussie-set flick has a number of intense set pieces and the photography of the Northern Territory looks absolutely stunning. Also, Worthington doesn’t last long, which isn’t always a bad thing.

8. Jennifer Connelly in PHENOMENA (1985)

Having made her film debut a year earlier in Sergio Leone’s sweeping, epic crime story ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, Connelly was cast as the young lead opposite genre legend Donald Pleasence in this murder-mystery giallo from Dario Argento.

PHENOMENA is really a detective story first and foremost, as Connelly’s supernatural gift and split personality help her solve a series of grisly crimes at the boarding school to which she has recently been inducted. Not one of Argento’s best but certainly not his worst either.

7. Leonardo DiCaprio in Critters 3 (1991)

This future Oscar-nominated actor appeared in the third installment of the straight-to-video (and GREMLINS rip-off) CRITTERS franchise, this time has the extraterrestrial beasties attempt to munch their way through an entire tower block of innocent human flesh.

We’re just waiting on Martin Scorcese to tempt our Leo back to headline his remake of the little hairy flesh-eating fuckers, entitled CRITTERS: STOP BREAKING MY FURRY BALLS! It’s out next year, apparently.

6. Jennifer Anniston in LEPRECHAUN (1993)

The former FRIENDS stunner popped up as the female lead in this cult favourite. Brit hero Warwick Davis starred as the titular character, who just wants his gold back after being tricked and locked away for a decade by some thieving scoundrel. Willing to make anyone pay for the betrayal, he also wants the young Aniston as his wife, but sadly for him, his ugly little mug just ain’t Jen’s type.

The low-budget franchise spawned five sequels and as well as a forthcoming reboot. As dire as they were, I feel no guilt in saying they were all better than ALONG CAME POLLY.

5. Brad Pitt in CUTTING CLASS (1989)

Despite starring in this dire effort, the handsome chops of Mr Pitt were almost forgotten about, until he eventually became a superstar during the late 1990s. For him, CUTTING CLASS is now the turd that won’t flush, and it’s well documented he’s bloody embarrassed about the film and his performance. CUTTING CLASS sees our Bradley as a lad vying for the affections of a young lady whilst a series of murders are occuring at their high-school. Is it the strange weirdo who’s just returned from a mental hospital? Could it be Brad? Or are there other faces in the frame? I’ll save you the punishment. It’s the weirdo.

4. Jamie Lee Curtis in HALLOWEEN (1978)

The granddaddy of the slasher genre, and the movie in which the lovely Jamie Lee made her mark. We all know the story – masked maniac Michael Myers stalks Curtis’ Laurie on the streets of Haddonfield, before deciding, ‘Bugger it, let’s slice up her friends first’. John Carpenter is at his absolute best with this classic – so many rehashed its formula, yet nobody came close to equalling its foreboding ferociousness.

Curtis came back for the gorier sequel (as well as other early slashers TERROR TRAIN and THE FOG) before young boys like me marvelled at those perfect pert breasts in TRADING PLACES, her comic-timing in A FISH CALLED WANDA, and that sexy dance in TRUE LIES… but mainly those terrific tits.

3. Johnny Depp in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

Wes Craven was carving out a name for himself well before razor-fingered Freddy Kruger made his mark. Known for vicious nasties THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THE HILLS HAVE EYES, it took a severely scared pedophile, haunting the dreams of the teenagers of Elm Street, to finally get Craven into the mainstream. One of those young victims was the future Jack Sparrow, making his feature film debut and meeting his end when wisecracking Freddy drags hims through a blood-soaked bed. Never sleep again indeed.

2. Kevin Bacon in FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)

Camp Crystal Lake was where we first encountered a young Kevin Bacon, as he become another notch on villain Pamela Voorhees’ hatchet handle. Sean S. Cunningham’s attempt at cashing in on the unlucky date, much like Carpenter did with HALLOWEEN, proved a massive success well before machete-wielding (and hockey-masked) maniac Jason turned the series on its head. Sequel after sequel drove the plot further away from the revenge-fuelled Mrs Voorhees, whose poor brains were damaged after horny camp counsellors left her son to drown. Bacon’s death was a memorable one, with his throat slit wide open by effects guru Tom Savini.

1. John Travolta in CARRIE (1976)

Poor Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) suffered abuse at the hands of high-school bullies in Brian DePalm’s classic take on the iconic Stephen King novel. One of those heartless bastards was Danny Zuko...erm sorry, John Travolta, in proper douche-bag mode. No matter, as CARRIE has a supernatural skill all of her own, well a fucked-up one at least, as she makes sure anyone laughing at her on Prom Night pays big time. Her telekinetic powers throw the car – in which Travolta’s attempting to speed away like greased lightning, – straight in the air to crush him.

 Have we missed any of your choices?