And here we are. Finally. Out of literally hundreds of suggestions, I have tallied the votes and have narrowed them down to an essential list of 100 horror films that every cinephile and horror enthusiast to watch. As explained earlier, this list was compiled by reaching out to fellow bloggers, critics, filmmakers, writers, podcasters, proprietors and Redditors. Each person submitted their top 10 list of films, ranked in order. Their number one choice was weighted more heavily than their number 10 choice. The "points" were counted and we now have a pretty spectacular list. A personal thanks to specific contributors will be posted at the end of this article. But enough about that. Let's see what my esteemed colleagues think deserve to be placed in the horror film canon, as it were.
And here we go!
Before we get to the top 100, let's look at the runners up. Listed here are numbers 101-200, the films that received many votes but could not crack the Top 100.
101. Faust (1926)
102. Under the Skin (2010)
103. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
104. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
105. Repulsion (1965)
106. Green Room (2016)
107. King Kong (1933)
108. The Sixth Sense (1999)
109. Deep Red (1975)
110. Beetlejuice (1988)
111. I Saw the Devil (2009)
112. You're Next (2011)
113. A Page of Madness (1926)
114. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
115. Lost Highway (1997)
116. Don't Breathe (2016)
117. Godzilla (1954)
118. The Conjuring 2 (2016)
119. Vampyr (1932)
120. Gremlins (1984)
121. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
122. The Invitation (2015)
123. Dead Ringers (1988)
124. Insidious (2010)
125. House (1977)
126. Antichrist (2009)
127. Dead Alive [Brain Dead] (1992)
128. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
129. Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)
130. Manhunter (1986)
131. Tucker & Dale VS Evil (2010)
132. Duel (1971)
133. Hush (2016)
134. Sinister (2012)
135. Re-Animator (1985)
136. The Others (2001)
137. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
138. The Host (2006)
139. Goodnight Mommy (2014)
140. Paranormal Activity (2007)
141. The Orphanage (2007)
142. Mad Love (1932)
143. Planet Terror (2007)
144. Blade (1998)
145. Village of the Damned (1966)
146. 28 Weeks Later (2007)
147. The Body Snatcher (1945)
148. The House of the Devil (2009)
149. Scream 2 (1997)
150. Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
151. The Lost Boys (1987)
152. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
153. Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
154. Scanners (1981)
155. Ginger Snaps (2000)
156. V/H/S (2012)
157. Zombie (1979)
158. Son of Frankenstein (1939)
159. The Thing from Another World (1951)
160. Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)
161. The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920)
162. The Monster Squad (1987)
163. Demons (1985)
164. Child's Play (1988)
165. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
166. Slither (2006)
167. Creepshow (1982)
168. Stephen King's It (1990)
169. Ringu (1998)
170. Halloween II (1981)
171. Candyman (1992)
172. Drácula [Spanish Version] (1931)
173. Freddy VS Jason (2003)
174. The Devil's Rejects (2005)
175. Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed! (1969)
176. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
177. The Hunger (1983)
178. The Last Man on Earth (1964)
179. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
180. The War of the Worlds (1953)
181. The Howling (1981)
182. Shivers (1975)
183. Eden Lake (2008)
184. The Legend of Hell House (1973)
185. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
186. Children of the Corn (1984)
187. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
188. The Mummy (1959)
189. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)
190. The Blob (1958)
191. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
192. The People Under the Stairs (1991)
193. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
194. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
195. Pandorum (2009)
196. Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 (1988)
197. Nightbreed (1990)
198. I Bury the Living (1958)
199. Night of the Demons (1988)
200. Count Dracula (1970)
And now, let's get to the top 100...
100. CARNIVAL OF SOULS
1962 • Herk Harvey
Screenplay: John Clifford
Principal Cast: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger
SHE ESCAPED DEATH. NOW IT WANTS HER BACK!
Mary Henry survives a fatal car accident into a river that kills all of her friends, while she remains unscathed. Shortly after taking a job as a church organist, Mary starts to be stalked by a mysterious phantom stranger that is seemingly unrelenting in his pursuit. The cult classic uses Mary's on-screen job as an organist to provide an eerie and unsettling score. A wonderful early example of independent horror cinema.
I don't belong in the world.
99. EYES WITHOUT A FACE
1960 • Georges Franju
Screenplay: Georges Franju, Jean Redon, Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Claude Sautet Based on Les yeux sans visage by Jean Redon
Principal Cast: Pierre Brasseur, Edith Scob, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel
Genre: Mad scientist
Betsy, a young nurse fresh out of school, takes a job in the West Indies, to care for Jessica Holland, the wife of a plantation owner. Jessica is in a vegetative state mentally, though she is still capable of moving. Her husband, Paul, chalks it up to a fever that she suffered. However, the longer Betsy stays on the small island, and begins to hear about the voodoo customs of its natives, the more she suspects there may be something more unnatural to Jessica's condition.
1981 • John Landis
Screenplay: John Landis
Principal Cast: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine
JOHN LANDIS - THE DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL HOUSE BRINGS YOU A DIFFERENT KIND OF ANIMAL
Two American college students are attacked by a werewolf during a walking tour of England. While one of the students is killed, the other one is mauled before the werewolf is killed. David, the surviving student, begins to have fever dreams of becoming an animal and what he initially believes to be hallucinations of werewolf victims, urging him to kill himself. All the while, David's body starts transform under the curse of the werewolf. Blending dark comedy with state of the art practical special effects and make-up effects, this is one of the standard-bearers of the werewolf movie. The effects would later be paid replicated in the iconic 1984 music video, Michael Jackson's Thriller.
The wolf's bloodline must be severed; the last remaining werewolf must be destroyed. It's you, David.
89. THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
1955 • Charles Laughton
Screenplay: James Agee, Charles Laughton; Based on The Night of the Hunter, a novel
by Davis Grubb
Principal Cast: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Billy Chapin
THE WEDDING NIGHT, THE ANTICIPATION, THE KISS, THE KNIFE, BUT ABOVE ALL... THE SUSPENSE!
This Grimms-esque Big-Bad-Wolf story plays as the perfect critique of the myth of idealized Americana. Robert Mitchum is both captivating and intimidating as the con-man, prison-escaped preacher Harry Powell and Charles Laughton’s expressive direction of this film turns the chiaroscuro black and white rural landscape into a twisted southern-gothic fairytale. - Cassidy Robinson, Salad Fork Reviews
Ben Harper is a thief who, shortly before he is captured and sentenced to death by the police, hides $10,000 in his daughter's favorite toy. He instructs his son and daughter not to tell anyone, including their mother, where the money is. As luck would have it, before his execution, Harper shares a cell with Harry Powell a self-righteous preacher/con man, who tries to discern, unsuccessfully, the location of the $10,000. Upon his release from prison, Powell travels to Harper's home where he charms his widow into marrying him, all in pursuit of the stolen money. He soon realizes that the children know the true location of the money, and is determined to take the money from them by whatever means necessary. Robert Mitchum's portrayal of the religiously fanatic Harry Powell stands as one of the most menacing and villainous portrayals in history.
Ah, little lad, you're staring at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of right-hand/left-hand? The story of good and evil? H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. L-O-V-E! You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends, the hand of love. Now watch, and I'll show you the story of life. Those fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warring and a-tugging, one agin t'other. Now watch 'em! Old brother left hand, left hand he's a fighting, and it looks like love's a goner. But wait a minute! Hot dog, love's a winning! Yessirree! It's love that's won, and old left hand hate is down for the count!
88. LES DIABOLIQUES
1955 • Henri-Georges Clouzot
Screenplay: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi; Based on Celle qui n'était plus by Boileau-Narcejac
Principal Cast: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
SEE IT, BE AMAZED AT IT, BUT... BE QUIET ABOUT IT!
Henri-Georges Clouzot's psychological thriller Les Diaboliques is one of the finest works of horror ever captured. He accomplished this without monsters. Without aliens. Even without ax-wielding psychopaths. Clouzot uses mood, lighting and brooding cinematography to capture the terror. Two women, equally spurned by a chauvinist school headmaster, conspire to kill the man that's making their lives hell. But after the murder goes down, the real nightmare begins. The next day the body disappears and neither conspirator knows what happened. Was he still alive? Did they not kill him properly? Or, even more terrifying... is there something supernatural at work here? Clouzot doesn't let up the suspense until the very last frames of the film, ultimately climaxing in quite simply the best twist endings of all time.
Die, darling! Die and do it quickly!
1932 • Tod Browning
Screenplay: Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon; Based on Spurs 1923 short story by Tod Robbins
Principal Cast: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates
Genre: Body horror, Psychological horror
THE STRANGEST... THE MOST STARTLING HUMAN STORY EVER SCREENED... ARE YOU AFRAID TO BELIEVE WHAT YOUR EYES SEE?
Taking place within the everyday goings-on of a traveling sideshow circus, Tod Browning's Freaks plays out like a deformed soap opera morality tale. Beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra is involved in a love affair with strongman Hercules. This, however, doesn't stop her from shamelessly flirting with Hans the midget who is in [unrequited] love with her. Hans is constantly buying Cleopatra gifts, so when Hans' former fiancee Freida accidentally lets it slip that Hans is coming into a major inheritance, Cleopatra decides to marry Hans, then kill him and run off with Hercules with his inheritance. Although, things don't exactly work out the way she'd like... At the wedding, the freaks accept her as one of them, and the sight of all of them accepting her at once horrifies her. Once the freaks learn of her agenda, an unsettling vengeance is exacted. Freaks is a disturbing and horrifying movie. Browning used real sideshow performers in his film like a bearded lady, conjoined twins, pin heads and a "human torso" (who had no arms or legs.) The film horrified audiences at the time and the film was banned for years and completely derailed Browning's career.
2007 • Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
Screenplay: Paco Plaza, Luis A. Berdejo, Jaume Balagueró
Principal Cast: Manuela Velasco, Ferrán Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso, David Vert, Vicente Gil, Martha Carbonell, Carlos Vicente
Genre: "Infected" Zombies, Found Footage
WHATEVER YOU WITNESS... NEVER STOP RECORDING
A television journalist doing an special interest piece on emergency workers follows them to a call in the middle of the night to a dark apartment complex. Soon after they arrive, people start dying and the government quarantines the building, locking everyone inside. One of the last great "found footage" films before the genre became over saturated and it is also legitimately frightening. The lead character played by Manuela Velasco was actually a television news anchor in Spain, which added legitimacy to her performance. Also notable is the fact that none of the actors knew their fate until the day of filming their scenes, heightening the stress for the camera. The Spanish film was later remade in the United States as Quarantine, to less successful results.
It's nearly 2 A.M. and we're still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They're both in critical condition. The police won't let us leave and are giving us no explanations.
79. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
1994 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: Michael De Luca
Principal Cast: Sam Neill, Julie Carmen, Jürgen Prochnow, Charlton Heston
Genre: Supernatural, Psychological
REALITY ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE
Alright, I admit this one's an odd one, but I freaking love this movie. It's atmospheric, it's weird, it plays into both Stephen King's style of horror as well as H.P. Lovecraft's genre of otherworldly "Cosmic Horror". While the movie has it's admitted flaws, I love the slow descent into Lovecraftian madness that the audience gets to share with it's main character as you wander through ever more surreal horrors. - Mr. Eddie, frequent Forced Perspective podcast guest
John Trent is an insurance investigator tasked with finding out what happened to Sutter Cane, a reclusive horror novelist that has mysteriously disappeared. Trent's investigation eventually lands in Hobb's End... the fictional town that Sutter Cane created. The town should not even exist, and slowly Trent descends into a horrifying madness that breaks the fourth wall and goes ultra meta with the audience. Sutter Cane is a thinly veiled HP Lovecraft surrogate, with much of Cane's written work in the film being lifted straight from Lovecraft novels.
A reality is just what we tell each other it is.
78. FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER
1984 • Joseph Zito
Screenplay: Barney Cohen; Story by Bruce Hidemi Sakow; Based on Characters by Victor Miller, Martin Kitrosser, Ron Kurz, Carol Watson
Principal Cast: Kimberly Beck, Peter Barton, Corey Feldman, E. Erich Anderson, Crispin Glover, Alan Hayes, Barbara Howard, Lawrence Monoson, Joan Freeman, Judie Aronson, Camilla More, Carey More
Genre: Slasher, Supernatural
THREE TIMES BEFORE YOU HAVE FELT THE TERROR, KNOWN THE MADNESS, LIVED THE HORROR. BUT THIS IS THE ONE YOU'VE BEEN SCREAMING FOR.
When most cinephiles think of the Friday the 13th series, it's most likely this is the film they're probably most fond of. This is not the the first film with Jason Voorhees as the hockey-mask wearing villain, but it is the best of the series featuring Jason. Following the events of Part III, Jason Voorhees was presumed dead. But we all know that's not true. The resurrected Jason kills, chops and maims his way back to Camp Crystal Lake to administer his brand of evil. But he comes up against a foe that could be his match... a little boy named Tommy Jarvis. The film was initially supposed to be the final film in the series, but due to its tremendous success (and cheap production) the series as we all know continued well into the 90s before finally culminating with the "so bad it's good" Jason X in 2002. The series was rebooted/remade in 2009.
Under extreme duress, people are capable of extraordinary behavior. That's what happened when your brother violently attacked the killer. At that moment, it was perfectly normal for him to act to protect himself.
77. DON'T LOOK NOW
1973 • Nicolas Roeg
Screenplay: Allan Scott, Chris Bryant; Based on "Don't Look Now" by Daphne du Maurier
Principal Cast: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland
Genre: Supernatural, Psychological
PASS THE WARNING
John and Laura Baxter travel to Venice after mourning the loss of their young daughter, who tragically drowned in an accident. Laura meets a psychic that claims to see the spirit of their young daughter, but John is skeptical. However both parents start seeing visions of their daughter appearing frequently throughout the city. Are they going mad? Or is something more sinister at play? One of the most artistic and beautifully shot films on this list, the cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond earned him a BAFTA award in 1974.
Christine is dead. She is dead! Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead! Dead!
70. THE CHANGELING
1980 • Peter Medak
Screenplay: Russell Hunter, William Gray, Diana Maddox
Principal Cast: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, John Colicos, Jean Marsh, Helen Burns, Madeleine Sherwood
Genre: Psychological, Ghosts
TWO PEOPLE LIVE IN THIS HOUSE. ONE OF THEM HAS BEEN DEAD FOR 70 YEARS.
One of the few haunted house films that actually achieves its goal of making the viewer feel uncomfortable. A dark and upsetting film that crawls its way to a satisfying conclusion. - Doug McCambridge, Good Times Great Movies podcast
After his wife and daughter are killed in a tragic car accident, composer John Russell (George C. Scott) rents an old turn-of-the-century mansion that allows him the space and solitude he desperately needs. Little does John realize that a boy was murdered in the house decades before, and his spirit is awakened by John's presence in the home, using his grief as a beacon. John is troubled by the circumstances of the child's death and begins an investigation into what exactly happened all those years ago. Director Alejandro Amenábar has cited this film as an inspiration on his haunted house film, The Others (2001).
That house is not fit to live in. No one's been able to live in it. It doesn't want people.
2009 • Ruben Fleischer
Screenplay: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Principal Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
SURVIVAL RULE #4: DON'T BE A HERO
In this horror/comedy, the zombie apocalypse is already in full swing. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), an unlikely survivor on his way to find his family in Ohio, the gun-toting bad ass, Talahassee, who's on his quest to find the last Twinkie, and Little Rock and Wichita, a pair of con artists trying to reach an amusement park, band together on a road trip across zombified America. There's plenty of gore and laughs along the way as Columbus narrates the different rules to surviving Zombieland such as always make sure a zombie is dead with the "Double Tap" and always, always "Wear your seatbelt." Look out for one of the funniest cameos in horror cinema.
Oh, America. I wish I could tell you that this was still America, but I've come to realize that you can't have a country without people. And there are no people here. No, my friends. This is now the United States of Zombieland.
59. THE FOG
1980 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Principal Cast: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Atkins, John Houseman, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook
LOCK YOUR DOORS. BOLT YOUR WINDOWS. THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE FOG!
A small town in California is approaching its centennial celebration, but as the date gets closer, the town is blanketed in a thick mysterious fog. 100 years ago, residents of a leper colony were sailing to the town, but were intentionally misguided through the fog and their boat crashed among the rocks killing everyone on boar. Now they have risen up and using the fog to both signal and conceal their arrival, they are back to bring their unholy revenge upon the current generation. A creepy and fun entry into Carpenter's film canon, the special effects and make-up are still a blast to see on screen today.
11:55, almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before 12:00, just to keep us warm. In five minutes, it will be the 21st of April. One hundred years ago on the 21st of April, out in the waters around Spivey Point, a small clipper ship drew toward land. Suddenly, out of the night, the fog rolled in. For a moment, they could see nothing, not a foot in front of them. Then, they saw a light. By God, it was a fire burning on the shore, strong enough to penetrate the swirling mist. They steered a course toward the light. But it was a campfire, like this one. The ship crashed against the rocks, the hull sheared in two, masts snapped like a twig. The wreckage sank, with all the men aboard. At the bottom of the sea, lay the Elizabeth Dane, with her crew, their lungs filled with salt water, their eyes open, staring to the darkness. And above, as suddenly as it come, the fog lifted, receded back across the ocean and never came again. But it is told by the fishermen, and their fathers and grandfathers, that when the fog returns to Antonio Bay, the men at the bottom of the sea, out in the water by Spivey Point will rise up and search for the campfire that led them to their dark, icy death. [...] 12:00, the 21st of April.
1976 • Brian De Palma
Screenplay: Lawrence D. Cohen; Based on Carrie by Stephen King
Principal Cast: Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt
YOU WERE WARNED NEVER TO PUSH CARRIE TO THE LIMITS. NOW YOU MUST FACE THE EVIL CONSEQUENCES.
When strong characters, performances, and a director's visual mastery align. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
High school senior Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), raised in a psychotically religious upbringing, is a severe social outcast. She's been brought up to believe, by her zealot mother (Piper Laurie), that sexuality and natural human bodily functions are sin against God. Her mother's extreme view on sex is based on largely because her husband ran off on them long ago for another woman. Regardless of her social status, one student does take pity on Carrie and befriends her, but a group of vicious teenagers see this as an opportunity to play a prank on Carrie. What they don't realize is that Carrie is in possession of powerful supernatural abilities, and when the prank culminates at the senior prom, humiliating her in front of the entire school, Carrie's rage is let loose in all its fury. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were both nominated for Academy Awards for their extremely powerful performances in this film, a rare feat for a horror film. Also look out for John Travolta in one of his early feature film performances.
They're all going to laugh at you.
57. CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
1954 • Jack Arnold
Screenplay: Harry Essex, Arthur A. Ross; Story by Maurice Zimm
Principal Cast: Richard Carlson, Julia Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno
Genre: Monster Movie
NOT SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME HAS THE WORLD BEHELD TERROR LIKE THIS!
A group of scientists attempt to capture a prehistoric beast that lurks in the depths of the Amazon River. This was the last big film of the golden age of Universal Monster movies, though it did produce less memorable sequels, Revenge of the Creature in 1955 (starring a young Clint Eastwood) and The Creature Walks Among Us released in 1956. What sets The Creature apart from the other Universal monster contemporaries is that it was an original idea. The previous Universal films adapted literary works like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and Phantom of the Opera or drew inspirtion from mythical creatures like werewolves (The Wolf Man) and mummies (The Mummy). Also interesting to note that this film was originally released in 3D for extra scares. The film holds up today as a great creature feature, and the fishman suit is particularly impressive for its day.
We didn't come here to fight monsters, we're not equipped for it.
56. THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
1985 • Dan O'Bannon
Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon; Story by Rudy Ricci, John A. Russo, Russell Streiner
Principal Cast: Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Linnea Quigley
Genre: Zombies, Comedy
THEY'RE BACK FROM THE GRAVE AND READY TO PARTY!
Both a meta exploration of and an unofficial sequel to Night of the Living Dead, two clueless medical supply employees unwittingly spill a batch of chemicals that leads to a new zombie outbreak that caused the original event. However, these zombies are smarter and have the ability speak (mostly "Braiiins!") Return is definitely about laughs as much as it is about horror, but still keeps the cynicism of the original Romero classic. The Living Dead movies are a bit convoluted as far as their mythologies go. John Russo and George Romero went separate ways after Night of the Living Dead, with Russo retaining the naming rights to Living Dead while Romero went on to make films dropping the "Living" from the title (Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, etc.) Even then, most fans consider Romero's films to be canon, even though they don't follow the same naming convention. Return of the Living Dead started a new franchise that spun off sequels like Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988), Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993), Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis (2005) and Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)
1977 • Dario Argento
Screenplay: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi; Based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas De Quincey
Principal Cast: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett, Barbara Magnolfi
DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT WITCHES?
A new ballet dancer arrives at her school, but she begins to experience strange, and often seemingly supernatural, occurrences almost immediately after she arrives. After a few mysterious deaths, she begins to suspect the school is a front for something far more sinister. Definitely a weird film by the acclaimed Dario Argento, but nonetheless fascinating. His direction leaves you unsettled as does the hauntingly creepy musical score by the band Goblin. This was one of the final films to be filmed in Technicolor, which Argento wanted because of the vivid colors it can produce. His set design and cinematography also emphasized colors, specifically red, to enhance its nightmarish quality.
Who is it? Who's there? Ah, I've been expecting you! The American girl! I knew you'd come. You want to kill me! You want to kill Helena Markos! You wanted to kill me! You wanted to kill me! What are you gonna do now, huh? Now death is coming for you! You wanted to kill Helena Markos! Hell is behind that door! You're going to meet death now... the LIVING DEAD!
54. HORROR OF DRACULA
1958 • Terence Fisher
Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster; Based on Dracula by Bram Stoker
Principal Cast: Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Christopher Lee
THE CHILL OF THE TOMB WON'T LEAVE YOUR BLOOD FOR HOURS... AFTER YOU COME FACE-TO-FACE WITH DRACULA!
Hammer Horror's adaptation of the classic Bram Stoker novel. Perhaps Christopher Lee's most iconic role. Many actors have played the role from Bela Lugosi to Gary Oldman, but Lee's was the first to truly capture the gothic romance of the novel. To add to the excellence: Lee plays opposite Peter Cushing. Peter Cushing famously portrays Van Helsing pitted against Christopher Lee's bloodthirsty and terrifying Count Dracula. Lee's Dracula is probably the second most famous portrayal (after Lugosi) in cinema history and he and Cushing are one of the greatest pairings in horror cinema. Horror of Dracula (or just Dracula in the UK) was a big success for Hammer, and they went on to create eight sequels, six of which starred Lee, four of which starred Cushing reprising the role of Van Helsing. Not all of them are worth noting, but I'll just mention two other noteworthy films that did not make the countdown. In Prince of Darkness (1966), a direct sequel to Horror of Dracula, Christopher Lee returns to the role, this time to torment Father Sandor, a priest who mistakenly believes that vampires had been wiped out. The Count is resurrected and proves him wrong. The last good Dracula/Lee film sees Dracula rise (again) while Monsignor Ernest Muller tries to destroy him and his evil forces in Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968). The other films in this series are: The Brides of Dracula (1960); Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970); Scars of Dracula (1970); Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972); The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
It only remains for me now to await the daylight hours where I will with God's help forever end this man's reign of terror!
53. DRAG ME TO HELL
2009 • Sam Raimi
Screenplay: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Principal Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza
CHRISTINE BROWN HAS A GOOD JOB, A GREAT BOYFRIEND, AND A BRIGHT FUTURE. BUT IN THREE DAYS, SHE'S GOING TO HELL.
Oh Sam Raimi, you do still want to do horror! This came out after his Spider-Man trilogy and, after seeing it a few years later; I was happy, shocked (that ending!), but overall satisfied. Its style is similar to Evil Dead 2 and has some really cool practical effects and a main character whom you actually care for, which seems to be rare in a lot of horror films. - Megan Williams, Zombie Kitty Podcast
After evicting an old gypsy woman from her home, a bank loan officer is becomes the victim of a deadly curse. This film marked the return to horror from master Sam Raimi, who had been missing from the genre for almost two decades while he went on to work in more mainstream films like the original Spider-Man trilogy and producing shows like Xena: Warrior Princess. And he returns with a vengeance. Each day in Christine Brown's (Alison Lohman) life after she is cursed by the gypsy just gets worse and worse, with the increasing insanity that only Sam Raimi can film. The ending, which I won't spoil here, both subverts your expectations and completely satisfies the horror cineaste. Raimi returned to mainstream filmmaking shortly after this to direct the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful, but keeps his toe in the horror waters, producing the Evil Dead remake, Don't Breathe and the Ash vs The Evil Dead television show, of which he directed the pilot.
I desire the SOUL of Christine Brown. We will FEAST upon it while she festers in the grave!
52. ARMY OF DARKNESS
1992 • Sam Raimi
Screenplay: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Principal Cast: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz
Genre: Supernatural, Zombies, Fantasy, Time Travel
IN AN AGE OF DARKNESS. AT A TIME OF EVIL. WHEN THE WORLD NEEDED A HERO. WHAT IT GOT WAS HIM.
After surviving an horrifying night in a haunted cabin in the woods in Evil Dead 2 (more on that later), Ash is transported back in time to deal with evil monsters in medieval times. Thankfully he's got his chainsaw hand, a science book and his trusty "boomstick" to help him survive and lead a medieval kingdom to freedom (from an evil he inadvertently brought forward.) Ash, played to the delight of fans everywhere by the unforgettable Bruce Campbell, must take on all the forces of evil including: deadites, a skeleton army, tiny demon versions of himself and "Evil Ash", who he created when he ate one of the little guys. It makes sense when you watch it. Way more comedy than horror, it is still a much beloved favorite of the genre, due mostly to Campbell's intentionally hammy performance and unforgettable one-liners.
Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This... is my BOOMSTICK! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That's right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It's got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That's right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?
1977 • David Lynch
Screenplay: David Lynch
Principal Cast: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates
Genre: Body Horror, Surrealism
BE WARNED THE NIGHTMARE HAS NOT GONE AWAY
How do you describe a movie like Eraserhead? The film that introduced the world to the oftentimes warped mind of director David Lynch, who would go on to helm classics like The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. Eraserhead plays out like an extended nightmare sequence. It's surreal and deeply disturbing with unsettling imagery. The film's story is just a device to deliver the imagery, otherwise the narrative almost doesn't matter for such an experimental piece of filmmaking. In the film, Henry (Jack Nance) discovers he is the father to a hideously deformed mutant child. The film skips forward to when the parents are living together and the "child" cries all night, every night, without ever stopping or any sign of being satiated. Slowly and surely, Henry and his girlfriend begin to go mad. Upon its initial release, the small independent production did little business, but eventually found a cult audience as a "midnight movie." It has since gained acceptance and praise from film critics and historians as an important work of art, and was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.
In Heaven, everything is fine. In Heaven, everything is fine. You've got your good things. And I've got mine.
50. THE BABADOOK
2014 • Jennifer Kent
Screenplay: Jennifer Kent; Based on Monster by Jennifer Kent
Principal Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney, Daniel Henshall, Barbara West, Ben Winspear
Genre: Psychological, Supernatural
Ba-ba-ba... dook! Dook! DOOOOOKH!
49. TRICK ‘R TREAT
2007 • Michael Dougherty
Screenplay: Michael Dougherty
Principal Cast: Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Leslie Bibb, Anna Paquin, Brian Cox
Genre: Monsters, Supernatural, Serial Killer
IF YOU DON’T FOLLOW THE RULES TONIGHT, YOU WON’T LIVE TO SEE TOMORROW
I love this anthology movie, it's like a love letter to horror movie fans. Each of the vignettes pay homage to a different form of horror genre: From the psychopathic human killer, to classic monsters, to ghosts, to the otherworldly horror. Even better the stories aren't just simply told one after another in a vacuum, but the various stories play off each other as the movie continues; it's just really fun horror movie storytelling. -Mr. Eddie, Forced Perspective contributor
This is more of a seasonal horror film, but one I feel should be added to everyone’s Halloween film list every year. This anthology film cleverly connects all its stories together and they’re all effective and interesting. And it has Halloween as its overall theme. -Megan Williams, Zombie Kitty Podcast
A modern classic. Trick ‘r Treat is perhaps the best Halloween film to not feature Michael Myers killing teenagers. The film is an anthology of spooky tales taking place on the same October 31 in the same small town. We see werewolves, killers and ghost children out for revenge. All these tales are tied together by, Sam, a mysterious young Trick-or-Treater with a burlap sack over his head. What is his connection to these stories? The film is a lot of fun and has a cult following after being delayed a wide release for years, and only showing up at small screenings around the country. It wears its horror influences proudly on its sleeve and will surely inspire future horror anthology tales in the future.
Samhain, also known as All Hallows' Eve, also known as Halloween. Pre-dating Christianity, the Celtic holiday was celebrated on the one night between autumn and winter when the barrier between the living and the dead was thinnest and often involved rituals that included human sacrifice…. I like your eye patch.
48. EVENT HORIZON
1997 • Paul WS Anderson
Screenplay: Philip Eisner
Principle Cast: Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, Kathleen Quinlan, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs
Genres: Space Travel, Horror, Black Holes
INFINITE SPACE. INFINITE TERROR
Sam Neill's performance is absolutely terrifying, and keep in mind for '97 the sets they built are just unbelievable! -Josh Brown, Odd Obsession Movies
A rescue crew has been dispatched to answer the the distress call from the Event Horizon, a starship that disappeared into a black hole and has now mysteriously reappeared. But has it returned with someone, or something, on board? The film was a box office disappointment on its initial release, but over the last twenty years has been picking up momentum as a cult hit among both horror and science fiction fans. Sam Neil’s performance is one of the best of the genre. It features a great sound design, so make sure you keep the sound turned way up on this one.
Look, if what Doctor Weir tells us is true, this ship has been beyond the boundaries of our universe, of known scientific reality. Who knows where it's been, what it's seen. Or what it's brought back with it.
47. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
1996 • Robert Rodriguez
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino; Story by Robert Kurtzman
Principal Cast: George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Fred Williamson, Salma Hayek
CHEAP DRINKS. LOUD MUSIC. VAMPIRES. THIS’LL BE ONE HELL OF A NIGHT.
Fugitive bank robbers, Seth and Richie Gecko, kidnap an ex-preacher and his two children to get across the border into Mexico to evade capture. Ending up at an all night biker bar, they encounter an unholy surprise. From start to finish, this film is pretty much pure and complete insanity from the minds of Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez. Half crime thriller and half vampire splatter-fest, this film pretty much never stops the action from beginning to end. The first half is a suspenseful crime film. Everything is beautifully set-up and explained. We get character backgrounds and exposition. Who are the Gecko brothers? Why are they on the run? Who is the Fuller family? Why are they traveling cross-country? Why has the preacher lost his faith? Then the two sets of families cross paths and the story really begins. The two fugitive bank robbers take a family hostage to Mexico in an effort to escape U.S. justice. Then half-way through the movie… BAM! Vampires. It never apologizes for its ridiculousness and it’s tremendous.
Did they look like psychos? Is that what they looked like? They were vampires. Psychos do not explode when sunlight hits them, I don’t give a fuck how crazy they are!
1922 • FW Murnau
Screenplay: Henrik Galeen; Based on Dracula by Bram Stoker
Principal Cast: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Alexander Granach, Ruth Landshoff, Wolfgang Heinz
A THRILLING MYSTERY MASTERPIECE - A CHILLING PSYCHO-DRAMA OF BLOOD-LUST
Are parts of this movie dated? Absolutely. Does it make the hair on the back of my neck stick up? Absolutely. It also seems to have ushered in so many of the technique of modern horror filmmaking. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
The original horror film. Henrik Galeen’s story of Nosferatu is loosely based (read: ripped off) from Bram Stoker’s original novel Dracula. At the time of production, Bram Stoker’s estate had not given permission to Murnau to shoot the film, so they worked around it by changing names and a few events… but it’s essentially the same story. A real estate agent visits the reclusive Count Orlock in Germany to sell him some, but notices a series of unusual events surrounding his visit. Sound familiar? Even though this silent film is almost a century old, it doesn’t fail to deliver chills in ways that modern horror films wish they could. At the time this film was made, Bram Stoker’s widow was threatening legal action against the filmmakers for using her late husband’s story as the basis of this film, and so… Max Schreck portrayed “Count Orlok” instead of “Count Dracula.” Regardless of the name change, the story is familiar and is perhaps the best adaptation of the classic “Dracula” story. Schreck is especially creepy as the title character and the camera work was way ahead of its time. Beautiful horror film.
Is this your wife? What a lovely throat.
1999 • Takashi Miike
Screenplay: Daisuke Tengan; Based on Audition by Ryu Murakami
Principal Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Renji Ishibashi
SHE ALWAYS GETS A PART
A widower is asked by his son why he never remarried. Alone and frustrated, Shigeharu asks his filmmaker friend to set up a sham audition for a movie role for a young attractive woman as a way for him to get over the awkwardness of dating. During the auditions, he becomes infatuated with a young woman named Asami, who seems to be the perfect match for him. But there is more to Asami then her audition revealed. Shigeharu soon regrets ever meeting Asami or holding an audition in the first place. The final act of this film is so incredibly uncomfortable to watch as we see Asami slowly, but joyously, torture the widower. Interestingly, the film has been interpreted by critics as both a feminist and a misogynist… you decide.
Kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri kiri!
44. BLACK SABBATH
1964 • Mario Bava
Screenplay: Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Marcello Fondato
Principal Cast: Boris Karloff, Mark Damon, Michèle Mercier, Susy Andersen, Lydia Alfonsi, Glauco Onorato, Jacqueline Pierreux
Genre: Stalkers, Vampires, Supernatural
THIS IS THE NIGHT OF THE NIGHTMARE
Black Sabbath is a three part anthology series, hosted by Boris Karloff, who also plays a role in one of the stories. In the first story, “The Telephone” a woman is stalked by the voice of her ex-lover, fearing for her life, will she survive the night? In “The Wurdulak” Boris Karloff plays the patriarch of a family that has gone out to fight a wurdulak, an undead human that feasts on human blood, but he comes home changed… has he become a wurdulak as well? In the final story, “The Drop of Water”, a nurse’s patient has died in the middle of the night, and while she is preparing the body for burial, she sneakily steals an expensive ring off the corpse’s finger. Soon afterward, the nurse starts to hear dripping water everywhere and is continuously pestered by a fly. The strange phenomenon continue until she realizes, perhaps too late, that she shouldn’t steal from the dead. When seeking this film out, try and obtain the Italian version of the film and not the heavily edited American version, which was heavily censored and re-edited to appease prudish sensibilities of American audiences.
You have no reason to be afraid.
43. THE BIRDS
1963 • Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Evan Hunter; Based on The Birds by Daphne du Maurier
Principal Cast: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright
Genre: Nature Gone Wrong
….AND REMEMBER THE NEXT SCREAM YOU HEAR COULD BE YOUR OWN!
Melanie Daniels is a wealthy California socialite who is romantically pursuing Mitch Brenner by following him to his small coastal hometown. Soon here romantic pursuits are overshadowed by bizarre occurrences involving the local bird population. The occurrences turn deadly as the birds turn increasingly murderous. Considered the last great Hitchcock film. While Hitchcock was active for another 15 years after this, the length between films became greater and the quality of the films started decreasing. (Though even a mediocre late-career Hitchcock film is better than a lot of other films). The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, created by none other than famous Disney artist Ub Iwerks.
Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you're the cause of all of this. I think you're evil. EVIL!
42. THE CONJURING
2013 • James Wan
Screenplay: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Principal Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
Genre: Supernatural, Possession, Haunted House
BASED ON THE TRUE CASE FILES OF THE WARRENS
Ed and Lorraine Warren, a pair of paranormal researchers, investigate the strange happenings that have been terrorizing a family. At first the spirits seem to be haunting the little girls, but then the mother becomes one of the victims. The family reaches out the Warrens in their most desperate hour. Lorraine Warren’s psychic abilities go full-throttle in the presence of the evil of the house, but can the Warrens get word out to a priest to come and exorcise the house before it’s too late? Part haunted house film, part exorcism film. One of the most legitimately scary films of all time. If you tend to be a skeptic, like myself, then you probably think of the Warrens as a pair of con artists. But you must separate reality and their fictionalized personas in this film. In this film, both Warrens come off as heroic paranormal investigators. The film was followed by a spin-off, Annabelle, in 2014 featuring the possessed doll that plays a small role in the film and The Conjuring 2 last summer in which the Warrens investigate both the Amityville house and the Enfield poltergeist.
- It scares us just thinking about it. When you hear it, you're gonna think we're insane.
- Try Us. Please, from the start.
41. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
2008 • Tomas Alfredson
Screenplay: John Ajvide Lindqvist; Based on Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Principal Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg
ELI IS 12 YEARS OLD. SHE’S BEEN 12 FOR OVER 200 YEARS AND SHE JUST MOVED IN NEXT DOOR.
The story revolves around Oskar, who is essentially the little weird kid that was in everyone’s 4th grade class. This kid is constantly beat up and bullied. Nobody likes him. He meets Eli… who seems to like him back. The two form a cute little friendship, but in the mean time she’s getting her vampire on behind his back. And this movie pulls no punches. It is BLOODY as hell. Once Oskar figures out her secret, will he reject her or will their friendship last? I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say the climactic scene is satisfying for anyone in the audience who has ever been bullied. This movie was re-made recently as Let Me In for American audiences. It was a fine interpretation, but nothing beats the original.
- Are you a vampire?
- I live off blood... Yes.
- Are you... dead?
- No. Can't you tell?
- But... Are you old?
- I'm twelve. But I've been twelve for a long time.
40. FRIDAY THE 13th
1980 • Sean S. Cunningham
Screenplay: Victor Miller
Principal Cast: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Jeannine Taylor, Kevin Bacon, Mark Nelson, Robbi Morgan
THEY WERE WARNED... THEY ARE DOOMED... AND ON FRIDAY THE 13th, NOTHING WILL SAVE THEM
One of the most infamous slashers in history with one of the great iconic horror villains in horror history, and yet this time, it was the mother! -Geekdom101
Years after the tragic drowning of a child, Camp Crystal Lake re-opens for business. Soon afterwards an unknown stalker begins killing camp counselors in grisly fashion. The best Friday the 13th film is also the one that doesn't feature Jason Voorhees as the killer. This series really latched onto the slasher craze that Halloween kicked off in 1978, releasing a new film every year for almost 10 years, and single-handedly making hockey masks frightening for years to come. The film also took the "slasher movie as a morality tale" concept the furthest, with Mrs. Voorhees (spoilers) killing teenagers with loose morals as revenge for letting her son drown. The film launched 9 sequels and a reboot: Friday The 13th Part 2, Friday the 13th Part III, The Final Chapter, A New Beginning, Jason Lives, The New Blood, Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes To Hell, Jason X (where he goes to space, obviously) and the 2009 reboot. He also took on his fellow New Line Cinema monster, Freddy Krueger, in Freddy VS Jason. The series will be rebooted again in 2017.
You see, Jason was my son, and today is his birthday...
39. THE OMEN
1976 • Richard Donner
Screenplay: David Seltzer
Principal Cast: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw
GOOD MORNING. YOU ARE ONE DAY CLOSER TO THE END OF THE WORLD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
After his biological son is stillborn, an American ambassador adopts another boy to take his place. To his horror, clues begin to point to the fact that little Damien may in fact be the actual Antichrist. A late-career home run for Gregory Peck with an appropriately creepy soundtrack from Jerry Goldsmith. In fact, Goldsmith was rewarded with two Academy Award nominations, one for Best Music, Original Song (for "Ave Satani") and one for Best Music, Original Score, for which he won the Oscar. The film was a monster success and was followed up by three sequels: Damien: Omen II (1978), The Final Conflict (1981) and Omen IV: The Awakening (1991). It was also remade in 2006, releasing on June 6th, in other words, the 6th day of the 6th month of the 6th year, which is the only thing worth noting about it. A short-lived television series, "Damien", also came and went in 2016.
Look at me, Damien! It's all for you.
38. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
1935 • James Whale
Screenplay: William Hurlbut; Adaptation:William Hurlbut, John L. Balderston; Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Principal Cast: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive, Douglas Walton, Reginald Barlow, Mary Gordon, Ernest Thesiger
Genre: Monster Movie
A BRIDE FOR THE MONSTER COMES TO LIFE IN A SCIENTIST'S LABORATORY!
The insane Dr. Pretorious convinces Dr. Frankenstein to build another creature, this time a female mate as a companion to his first, tragic monster. The original Universal Frankenstein film left out many details of the book, including the section on which the Monster demands the mate, which is fully fleshed out as an entire film here. Much different than the source material, however, as there is no Dr. Pretorious in the novel that blackmails Dr. Frankenstein into creating a new monster. The film definitely takes a sillier and campier tone when Pretorious appears on screen, as Ernest Thesiger chews scenery until there's nothing left. Still, the final reveal of the Monster's Mate at the end of the film is worth the journey after a thoroughly enjoyable film. There is a fictionalized behind-the-scenes retelling of Bride of Frankenstein in the 1998 film, Gods and Monsters, in which Ian McKellan plays director James Whale in the last days of his life.
To a new world of gods and monsters!
1986 • David Cronenberg
Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue, David Cronenberg; Based on The Fly by George Langelaan
Principal Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
Genre: Mad Scientist, Monster Movie, Body Horror
HALF MAN. HALF INSECT. TOTAL TERROR
David Cronenberg's best body horror film updates a silly premise with technology and sexual undertones and makes it genuinely terrifying. - Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
36. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
2014 • Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Screenplay: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
Principal Cast: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Rhys Darby, Jonathan Brugh, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Stu Rutherford
Genre: Vampire, Comedy, Mockumentary
SOME INTERVIEWS WITH SOME VAMPIRES
Of all the horror/comedy mash-ups on this list, this may perhaps be the funniest. What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary film, using the premise of a documentary crew interviewing a crew of vampire roommates residing in New Zealand. There's Vladislav, a Gothic era vampire, Viago, an aristocratic vampire, Deacon, a "Lost Boy" style vampire, Petyr, a Nosferatu-esque vampire, and Nick, a recently-turned vampire that just doesn't know how to keep his newfound powers under wraps. Oh, and there's Stu: a regular human who helps the vampires discover the internet. The crew follows the vampire's daily lives, rituals, feedings, dividing up of chores and encounters with werewolves (not swearwolves.) It all culminates at an unholy party of the undead including witches, vampires and zombies. This movie is absolutely hilarious with incredible special effects and tons of blood and gore. It's the This is Spinal Tap of vampire movies.
Vladislav: Leave me to do my dark bidding on the internet!
Viago: What are you bidding on?
Vladislav: I am bidding on a table.
35. INSIDE [À l'intérieur]
2007 • Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Screenplay: Alexandre Bustillo
Principal Cast: Aymen Saïdi, Béatrice Dalle, Alysson Paradis, Nathalie Roussel, Nicolas Duvauchelle, François-Régis Marchasson
Genre: Home Invasion
OPEN THE DOOR, SO I CAN OPEN YOUR BELLY (Translation)
My favorite of the French extreme horror movement, it gave me more unexpected "Holy Shit" moments than any horror film in ages. Beatrice Dalle is amazing in this. - Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
This is absolutely the goriest, but it is still nuanced and subtle to boot. Do not schedule near meals. -Josh Brown, Odd Obsession Movies
One of the most incredibly disturbing, extremely violent home invasion thrillers of all time. Sarah is 9-months pregnant woman, whose husband died in a car crash months before, is all alone on Christmas eve, grieving her loss. The next day is her due date, and she's preparing to go to the hospital when someone knocks on the door. A strange woman asks to use the phone, but Sarah refuses. At this point the woman tries to force her way in and so begins a night-long cat and mouse game in which the woman tries to forcibly enter the house and kills anyone who tries to enter the house to help Sarah. Her goal? Slice open Sarah and take her baby. The violence is incredibly unsettling, even for the seasoned horror aficionado. The added element of pregnant woman heightens the tension to an almost unbearable level. Phenomenal filmmaking.
- Why me?
- I want one.
34. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
1991 • Jonathan Demme
Screenplay: Ted Tally; Based on The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
Principal Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
TO ENTER THE MIND OF A KILLER SHE MUST CHALLENGE THE MIND OF A MADMAN.
Stellar performances from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, who share a bizarre but palpable onscreen chemistry, lead a complex and intricate narrative to a satisfying but gimme-more ending. Also, Hopkins is so scary in this prolific role that it's still referenced to day, 2 decades removed from release. - Johnny Marsh, Sonic Comics Creative Director
This is the greatest serial killer movie of all time. The film has everything: Scares? Check. A great villain? Actually, TWO great villains. Double check. A sympathetic hero? Check. A phenomenal story? Check. The Silence of the Lambs is so good, it was the first, and so far only horror film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Picture (three others have been nominated: The Exorcist, Jaws and The Sixth Sense.) Not just that, but it hit a grand slam with awards for Director, Actress (Foster), Actor (Hopkins) and Writing. Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a fledgling FBI agent on the trail of a serial killer known as "Buffalo Bill." She thinks she can get some information from his former confidant, psychiatrist/cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Lecter spends his sessions with Clarice analyzing her and playing a chess game of wills, meanwhile the clock ticks away on if the feds will over catch up with Bill. Is he trying to help Clarice? Or does he just enjoy toying with her psyche? Because he is such a fascinating villain, Hannibal Lecter has been portrayed on camera multiple times: Manhunter (1986), Hannibal (2001), Red Dragon (2002), Hannibal Rising (2007) and the "Hannibal" TV Series.
A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
33. DAWN OF THE DEAD
1978 • George A. Romero
Screenplay: George A. Romero, Dario Aregento
Principal Cast: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross
IN 1968, GEORGE ROMERO BROUGHT US NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. IT BECAME THE CLASSIC HORROR FILM OF ITS TIME. NOW, GEORGE ROMERO BRINGS US THE MOST INTENSELY SHOCKING MOTION PICTURE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL TIME.
32. THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI
1920 • Robert Wiene
Screenplay: Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer
Principal Cast: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Fehér, Lil Dagover, Hans Twardowski
Genre: Mad Scientist
THE MOST AMAZING STORY EVER FILMED
Cesare, a somnambulist controlled by the demented Dr. Caligari, makes deadly predictions that come to pass. In fact, Caligari is hypnotizing Cesare to commit murders around the country. This is perhaps THE defining work of German Expressionist cinema with its sharp angles and twisted backgrounds and exaggerated set design. The style lends itself to the psychological horror of the film. It's an intentionally distorted reality to keep the viewer consistently on edge and cause anxiety and stress. The entire film has a nightmarish quality and plays into the climax, which may possibly one of the first twist endings in cinema. Robert Wiene's expressionist style has a clear influence on modern filmmakers, especially Tim Burton. Many film historians have argued that Wiene's use of Caligari is a metaphor for the tyranny of German authority. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is the pinnacle of paranoid horror films.
You fools, this man is plotting our doom! We die at dawn! He is Caligari!
31. HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
1982 • Tommy Lee Wallace
Screenplay: Tommy Lee Wallace, Nigel Kneale, John Carpenter
Principal Cast: Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O'Herlihy
Genre: Supernatural, Science Fiction Horror
THE HALLOWEEN HORROR CONTINUES
I love this movie, plain and simple. It's legit a yearly tradition that I watch this movie. And why not? When you love Halloween (the holiday, that is) as much as I do, how can you not love a movie where ever scene is drenched in the trappings of the season? When I sit down and watch this movie I'm immediately transported back to being a ten year old on Halloween night watching scary movie with friends in the dark. -Mr. Eddie, Frequent Forced Perspective guest
This is probably the most interesting entry in the entire list. On a technical level, it's probably not the most well-made film, but it has become such a fan favorite that the amount of votes it received rocketed it up the list. Ten years ago, even five years ago it probably would have been with rancor and derision instead of praise. The source of the outrage was fan expectations. In the days prior to the internet, there was no way to know outside of a trailer you may have seen once, that Michael Myers was NOT in this film. In fact, that is why John Carpenter agreed to have any part in the film. His producers wanted to continue the Halloween brand, but he wanted to turn the series into an anthology, telling a different story in every new film. So of course, when moviegoers went to see the film, and discovered no Myers in the film, they were not happy. As such the film gained a notoriety amongst fans of horror and the franchise. But in recent years, it has come to be re-evaluated. The story is about a doctor investigating a series of deaths that he believes has to do with a brand of Halloween masks sold by the company Silver Shamrock. Silver Shamrock, with an annoyingly catchy commercial jingle, is run by an insane toymaker who wants to kill as many children as possible on Halloween night with his masks in an ancient Celtic ritual. The film is undoubtedly cheesy, but it's so fun and fits so perfectly into the Halloween spirit, that fans are pushing it to become a re-discovered classic.
The third channel, it's still on. Please, take off the third channel. The third channel, it's still running. Stop it, please, for God's sake, please stop it. There's no more time! Please stop it. Stop it now. Turn it off! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! Stop it! STOP IT!
1931 • Tod Browning
Screenplay: Garrett Fort; Based on Dracula 1897 novel by Bram Stoker; Dracula 1924 play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston
Principal Stars: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan
THE STORY OF THE STRANGEST PASSION THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN
Renfield is on his way to Transylvania to lease a property in London to a mysterious Count Dracula. After the Count reveals himself to be a vampire, he makes Renfield his slave, driving him to insanity. Dracula arrives in London, meeting Dr. Seward and his daughter, of whom he quickly becomes enamored. After Mina's friend Lucy dies from mysterious circumstances, Dr. Van Helsing is called in to investigate. Full-length horror films were not common in 1931, so this was a bit out of the ordinary for both studios and audiences alike. Executives were nervous about the box office potential on a film with a heavy reliance on the supernatural. After it's premiere, newspapers reported that some audience members fainted at the site of the images on screen. Publicity jackpot. The studio wisely used this to sell the film in advertisements and it because big financial success. Because of the success of Dracula, Universal plunged headfirst into the horror waters and produced a series of successful monster movies: Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941) as well as a string of sequels: Dracula's Daughter (1936), Son of Dracula (1943), House of Dracula (1945) and Dracula made appearances in House of Frankenstein (1944) and the previously-mentioned Abbot and Costello crossover. To this day, fans of horror everywhere celebrate the "Universal Monsters." Dracula's legacy, much like the vampire himself, will last forever. The film is a classic of the pre-code Hollywood era and an icon of its genre.
There are far worse things awaiting man than death.
1981 • Andrzej Żuławski
Screenplay: Frederic Tuten, Andrzej Żuławski
Principal Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neill
Genre: Psychological Thriller
MURDER. EVIL. INFIDELITY. MADNESS
A movie that requires multiple viewings to appreciate, it’s either an allegory for a crumbling marriage or a straight up monster-sex story…I’ll go with the former as that’s easier to understand. -Doug McCambridge Good Times Great Movies podcast
Amazing frenetic, all different nationality cast, legend director, incredible performance by Isabella Adjani, good date movie - Taylor Larned, High-octane volunteer at Odd Obsession Movies
Mark and Anna are a happily married couple. Or so he thinks. When Mark returns home to Anna from a mysterious business trip, she informs him that she wants a divorce. Mark is still in love with Anna and becomes obsessive in trying to discern why his wife suddenly wants to leave him. Meanwhile, Anna's emotions are becoming increasingly more unstable the longer she stays in the marriage. Despite her claiming that the divorce is not because of another man, Mark's private investigations lead to a clandestine lover called "Heinrich." Soon afterwards, Mark meets Anna's identical doppelgänger, their child's teacher, Helen, who is much less temperamental than his wife. Mark still obsessed with his wife, starts an affair with her lookalike. But the private investigation firm has discovered something new about Anna, something far more sinister than a simple affair and something far more gruesome. Possession is an intensely dark psychological drama that acts as a commentary on dysfunctional relationships. The film rewards multiple viewings, which will leave your interpretation of on-screen events constantly in flux.
I can't exist by myself because I'm afraid of myself, because I'm the maker of my own evil.
28. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
1999 • Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez
Writers (Story, Dialogue was improvised): Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez
Principal Cast: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard
Genre: Supernatural, Found Footage
IN OCTOBER OF 1994 THREE STUDENT FILMMAKERS DISAPPEARED IN THE WOODS NEAR BURKITSVILLE, MARYLAND, WHILE SHOOTING A DOCUMENTARY... A YEAR LATER THEIR FOOTAGE WAS FOUND.
What happens when you take three actors, dump them in the woods posing as a documentary film crew exploring the legend of a witch, feed them little and scare the hell out of them on a nightly basis? You get the most popular, and most successful, found footage film of all time. While Cannibal Holocaust may have started the trend in the 1980s, The Blair Witch Project perfected it. In the infancy of the internet, the filmmakers used an incredibly smart viral marketing campaign that very much suggested that this was legitimate documentary footage. They even shot a SECOND fake documentary, The Curse of the Blair Witch, which aired on the SciFi channel leading to the film's release, detailing more of the backstory behind The Blair Witch Project. Some audiences went into the film, legitimately believing they were watching true events on camera. At screenings at festivals, the filmmakers would appear before the crowd and ask for any information on the "missing" students and hand out information flyers. IMDB even listed the actors as "missing, presumed dead" for a period of time on their website. Word of mouth and the brilliant viral marketing campaign made this film one of the most successful independent feature films of all time, with a production budget of less than a million dollars, the film grossed $248 million worldwide and launched the "found-footage" genre into the mainstream as films like Paranormal Activity, V/H/S, [REC] and Cloverfield followed in its footsteps. The film also had two less successful (both critically and commercially) sequels in Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and this year's Blair Witch.
I'm afraid to close my eyes, I'm afraid to open them.
27. THE DESCENT
2005 • Neil Marshall
Screenplay: Neil Marshall
Bleak, dark, and gory. The movie’s premise revolves around the horrors experienced by a group of cave-diving women and, in my opinion, some of the most messed up deaths happen BEFORE we even see them dive into the black hole. -Harbi181, Redditor
One year after her husband and daughter are tragically killed in a car accident, Sarah joins a group of her adventurous friends on a spelunking expedition. The cave is uncharted, and soon the group six women are trapped inside. In addition to the panic inducing claustrophobia that sets in, for both the characters and the audience watching, they soon discover that they are not alone in the cave. In fact, the cave is inhabited by humanoid cannibalistic dwellers that, once they sense their prey, begin to hunt the women down one by one. Add to that endlessly black pits, underground ponds of blood, cave-ins and growing distrust amongst the women and you have a recipe for a modern horror classic. The film is also notable for being one of the few horror films with an all-female cast, a conscious decision by the filmmakers. The film was a tremendous success and a sequel, The Descent Part 2 was released in 2009, to less success.
Hey, there's something down here...
1990 • Rob Reiner
Screenplay: William Goldman; Based on Misery by Stephen King
Principal Cast: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Frances Sternhagen, Richard Farnsworth, Lauren Bacall
Genre: Kidnap, Torture
PAUL SHELDON USED TO WRITE FOR A LIVING. NOW, HE'S WRITING TO STAY ALIVE.
Paul Sheldon, famous romance novelist, drives to a Colorado hideaway for some peace and quiet to concentrate every time he writes a book. After finishing his latest novel, he gets stuck in a snowstorm and his car careens off the road. He'd surely be dead if not for the intervention of Annie Wilkes, a nurse who lives in the mountains. Soon after waking up from his near-fatal car accident, Sheldon starts to wish he was dead. You see Annie just happens to be Paul's biggest fan... a psychotically obsessive fan of his line of Misery novels. And she will do anything... ANYTHING to keep him in her house while he "heals." But soon, that's not enough. Having read the last entry into the Misery series, where Paul had killed of the main character, Annie suffers a psychotic break and forces Paul to write a new ending. Paul's legs are broken, and there are no phones in the house so he can't call for help. When Annie learns of an unsuccessful escape attempt, she decides to make sure Paul never, ever leaves her in the film's most memorable (and painful) scenes. Kathy Bates delivers one of the scariest villains on screen which earned her an Academy Award.
I am your number one fan. There is nothing to worry about. You are going to be just fine.
1931 • James Whale
Screenplay: Francis Edward Faragoh, Garrett Fort, Robert Florey, John Russell; Peggy Webling (Play); John L. Balderston (Adaptation); Based on Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Principal Cast: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff
Genre: Monsters, Mad Scientist
THE MAN WHO MADE A MONSTER
The most well-known adaptation of Mary Shelley's immortal work. This 1931 classic still to this day remains the best adaptation of Mary Shelley's classic tale. Dr. Henry Frankenstein is obsessed with death. He believes he can give life to dead flesh and creates a man to prove his theory, he creates a man by sewing together body parts from various corpses. Instead of a man, he gives birth to a monster. Unfortunately the creature's abnormal brain causes him to break free and escape his creator as the film then focuses on the monster's attempt to find its "humanity." One of the first books and films to really start blending genres. Whale (through Shelly's work) used elements of science fiction and horror to create the monster, and his "birth" scene is still one of the most memorable in film history. Frankenstein was responsible for the imagery modern audiences associate with the Monster: Tall, Flat Top, Bolts in the neck. The movie was a huge success and is synonymous with Universal which sequel-ized and spun-off the monster in various films: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), House of Frankenstein (1944) and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948). Not to mention all other interpretations of the character who followed in Universal's footsteps like Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), but the original remains the go-to classic.
Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE! Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!
24. IT FOLLOWS
2015 • David Robert Mitchell
Screenplay: David Robert Mitchell
Principal Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe
IT DOESN'T THINK. IT DOESN'T FEEL. IT DOESN'T GIVE UP.
“There is someone…walking behind you…turn around…feel the breeze…” This movie is creepy. It might not be the most gruesome of horror films, but it is effectively scary all the same as you find yourself watching background characters, looking for clues to how to beat (or even see) the monster. [...] The cryptic background of this unstoppable beast, the uncertainty of the character’s fates, and the enigma of the movie’s mythology itself is worth the hour and a half run time. Harbi181, /r/Horror
What if a curse was sexually transmitted? That's the question It Follows poses to its audience. Jay is dating a new boyfriend, Hugh, and when they finally have sex and consummate the relationship, she is almost immediately knocked unconscious. When she awakens, she is tied, half-naked to a chair while Hugh is explaining to her (and the audience) the reality of her situation. She is now cursed. When they had sex, he passed on the curse to her. This curse is an evil entity that can only be seen by the cursed, which is now Jay. The evil entity can take the form of any person, including the deceased, and will continuously and relentlessly follow the cursed victim at a walking pace. If and when "IT" catches you, it will kill you and then go back down the line of previous victims. "IT" will not stop. "IT" will always find you. The only way to be rid of the curse is to pass the curse onto someone else and encourage them to do the same. The film was a small breakout hit and pleased audiences with its original concept. The film acts as a pretty blatant metaphor for STDs and AIDS, which has sparked many conversations and interpretations. The score by Disasterpiece sets the eerie mood immediately and should honestly been nominated for Best Original Score at the Academy Awards and was our pick last year as the best horror movie of the year. The final shot is incredibly satisfying as it can be interpreted in a variety of ways.
It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.
20. EVIL DEAD 2
1987 • Sam Raimi
Screenplay: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel
Principal Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Richard Domeier
Genre: Supernatural, Comedy
DEAD BY DAWN
Buckets of blood and gore, a film that veers wildly between comedy and horror, and the film that established the icon that is Bruce Campbell. - Doug McCambridge, Good Times Great Movies
The sequel to the original Evil Dead came about after horror master Stephen King, being a fan of the first film, convinced legendary producer Dino DeLaurentis to fund a follow-up. Initially, Raimi had the idea for Ash to be sucked into a time portal and have misadventures in medieval times. This was scrapped, however, when the production budget, though larger than their first film, was not enough for what Raimi believed to be necessary for a period peace. So they scrapped that plan and used it for the third film in the series, Army of Darkness. Raimi set about crafting a remaking of his first film, this time going for more comedy and slapstick, using the Three Stooges as inspiration, instead of a straight-up horror film. The result is one of the messiest mash-ups of laughs and gore ever produced. The film's expanded budge, while still relatively small, improved much of the special effects and make-up, which was handled by future Walking Dead and Academy Award Winning Make-Up artist Greg Nicotero. Plus much of the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness lore starts in this film: the hammy acting, the slapstick, the one-liners, the chainsaw hand. An essential for fans of 80s horror cinema.
- I'm fine... I'm fine...
- I don't think so. We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound "fine"?
1986 • James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron, David Giler, Walter Hill; Based on Characters created by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Principal Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen
Genre: Aliens, Monsters, Action
THIS TIME IT'S WAR
Taking place 57 years after the event of the first film, Ripley wakes up to find out that an entire generation has passed her by. She is questioned by her former employer, the Weyland Corporation as to what exactly happened all those years ago, because now they have lost contact with the planet LV-426, which was being terraformed and colonized by the company. Ripley accompanies company representative Carter Burke and a squadron of Space Marines back to LV-426 as an expert guide, only to find the planet deserted save for one lone survivor, a little girl named Newt. The planet is now swarming with beasts like the one Ripley encountered before, and now she must protect Newt at all costs while the Space Marines hold the monsters at bay. The film was Cameron's follow-up to The Terminator, and he continued to deliver on the action/monster movie elements with a strong female protagonist in the lead. Weaver's second time performing Ripley earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.
They mostly come out at night... mostly.
1996 • Wes Craven
Screenplay: Kevin Williamson
Principal Cast: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore
DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE. DON'T OPEN THE DOOR. DON'T TRY TO ESCAPE.
The 90s version of a "meta" horror film revitalized the genre and rightfully so. Ghostface established himself as a new horror icon. I saw that film for the first time in the theatre and may or may not have gone home early… -Johnny Marsh, Sonic Comics
Wes Craven’s meta document is about the process of deconstructing the teen slasher genre he helped create. He directs it with a hip, devil-may-care swagger, while still giving the goods as a horror film unto itself. It also boasts a very memorable and likable ensemble who all have the pleasure of delivering Kevin Williamson’s wonderfully self-aware dialogue. -Cassidy Robinson, Saladforkreviews.blogspot.com
1941 • George Waggner
Screenplay: Curt Siodmak
Principal Cast: Lon Chaney, Jr., Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi
NIGHT MONSTER... PROWLING... KILLING... TERRIFYING A COUNTRYSIDE... WITH THE BLOOD LUST OF A SAVAGE BEAST!
And here we arrive at our final Universal Monster movie on the list, The Wolf Man. Lon Chaney Jr. steps into the role of "Man of a Thousand Faces" his father left behind quite comfortably with the physical transformation he had to undergo to become The Wolf Man. Another classic Universal Monster movie that has influenced many werewolf movies that followed. Chaney stars as Larry Talbot, a man who returns to his European homeland for his brother's funeral, only to be attacked the wolf creature of folklore. Gypsies warn him that he himself will turn into a wolf, and their warnings come true. Talbot terrorizes the countryside as a werewolf, and upon transforming into a human again, retains vague memories of the slaughter and an urge to kill. How will he break the curse of the wolf before he kills again? Chaney had to endure hours of make-up to achieve the look of the wolf, with effects man Jack Pierce meticulously glueing wigs, prosthetics and yak hair in layers. While Chaney would often complain about the make-up process, he was also very proud of the fact that he was the only actor to portray the Wolf Man in the entire run of the character's films in the 1940s. Universal released two sequels in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and She-Wolf of London, and the Wolf Man also appeared in the other crossover films House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. The film was remade in 2010, with Benicio del Toro in the starring role.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.
2004 • James Wan
Screenplay: Leigh Whannell; Story by James Wan, Leigh Whannell; Based on Saw by James Wan, Leigh Whannell
Principal Cast: Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Michael Emerson, Ken Leung, Tobin Bell, Leigh Whannell
LIVE OR DIE. MAKE YOUR CHOICE.
Unlike its sequels, this one isn’t ‘torture porn’; it’s more of a mystery/thriller film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s tense, with some interesting twists, unique visual style and interesting editing style. - Zombie Kitty Podcast
Torture porn films. This genre is surprisingly popular terrifying audiences
mainly with over the top gore and realistic torture scenes rather than traditional scares. A great
representative of this sub genre and my number 10 pick is 2004’s Saw. -Adam Hartwick, Shadow Valley Productions
Two complete strangers wake up in a filthy bathroom, chained to the walls, with no recollection of getting there. They are on complete opposite sides of the room, with a dead man lying in the middle. A tape recorder is in the dead man's hands and each man has in their possession a tape addressed to them. It tells them that one of the men will be killed at 6:00, unless he kills the other one first. And thus we get into the mind of the Jigsaw Killer, a serial killer that doesn't actually kill his victims, but instead traps them in elaborate death traps and forces them to find a way to survive or kill themselves. Along with Hostel, Saw is one of the films responsible (or to blame, some might say) for the "torture porn" trend in films in the mid 2000s. But you can't argue with success, as the Saw franchise birthed seven films, with the final installment in 2010 titled Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. James Wan, who based the first film on a short movie he directed in 2003, would eventually become an A-list director based on the success of this first film, helming impressive projects like Insidious, The Conjuring, Furious 7 and the upcoming Aquaman film.
Congratulations. You are still alive. Most people are so ungrateful to be alive. But not you. Not anymore.
2012 • Drew Goddard
Screenplay: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Principal Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford
Genre: Monsters, Supernatural, Zombies, Werewolves, Vampires, Mutants, Home Invaders, Mad Scientists, Demons, Merman, Unicorn(?)
YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE STORY
This movie? This freakin movie? Holy hell, so good. I'm not sure if I've ever thought a movie was going to be one way and then have it be something completely different underneath the way this did. If you haven't seen it, stop reading this list and go watch it. - Johnny Marsh, Sonic Comics
While I'm sure most of you reading this list has seen this one already, just in case you haven't I'm not going to spoil it for you. This is movie takes some great twists and turns. Much like Trick R Treat, this movie is just a love letter written to fans of the horror genre. While not the scariest movie I've ever seen it's probably the most fun movie I've ever seen that fits the horror genre. -Mr. Eddie, Forced Perspective contributor
A group of teenagers go vacationing in a remote cabin in the woods, but soon a series of sinister events begin to occur. Sound like a familiar premise? Think again. This adoring love letter to horror movies is the ultimate monster movie, with almost every creature imaginable making some sort of cameo. The Cabin in the Woods, much like Scream did so successfully, takes horror movie tropes and deconstructs them, all the while winking at the camera. Why do you go in the scary basement? Why do you split up when you should stay together? Why do you drop the weapon? Why does the virgin always survive until the end? Turns out it's all being manipulated by a higher power. I won't go too much into spoilers here, but when the supposed-to-be-dead teenagers fight back, a literal army of nightmare creatures is unleashed. Every horror creature, killer or monster that you've ever been afraid of is loose with disgustingly bloody results. One of the most incredibly satisfying horror movies on the list, especially if you're a longtime fan of the genre. I don't want to spoil anything else, but if you've seen the film, check out this video which breaks down most of the references in the film.
You've seen horrible things, an army of nightmare creatures. But they are nothing compared to what came before, what lies below. It's our task to placate the ancient ones, as it's yours to be offered up to them. Forgive us and let us get it over with.
2016 • Robert Eggers
Screenplay: Robert Eggers
Principal Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson
A NEW ENGLAND FOLK TALE
I know this is a new one and maybe I’m still drunk off of its initial impression, but of all the recent indie-horror to get recognition, this one is executed with such precision and clarity of vision that it shouldn’t be ignored. Pulling together the internal theological battles and the doom-laden period aesthetics of Bergman and the glacial-paced psychological terror of Kubrick’s The Shining, director Robert Eggers creates a hopelessly bleak and oppressive film experience that taps into our primal fear of being seduced against our better judgement into a darkness we can’t escape. -Cassidy Robinson, @VCCassidy
The most recent film on the list ranks pretty high on the list at #14. This should speak volumes as the film landed on almost every list submitted. A puritan family in 1600s New England is banished from their religious community due to differing interpretations of their religion. Forced to find new land and live in isolation, the family eventually settles in a small area where they struggle to grow new crops. Meanwhile, the youngest in the family, a baby, is abducted without a trace and the mother, Katherine, blames her oldest daughter, Thomasin, on the baby's disappearance. It's revealed that a witch has taken the baby and used it for something unspeakable. What follows is the rest of the family devolving into complete dysfunction as jealousy, feelings of betrayal and supernatural incidents tear the family apart. Katherine blames Thomasin for everything as she slips into psychosis. Add to that, there is Black Phillip, the family's goat that is perhaps a sign of the bad things to come. The Witch is not a typical "jump scare" kind of horror film. It is an examination of faith and of family crisis and paranoia, all with dialogue written in old English. The film's atmosphere creates a persistent sense of dread that will leave you shaken after viewing the film.
She desires of my blood. She sends 'em upon me. They feed upon her teats, her nether parts. She sends 'em upon me.
1968 • George A. Romero
Screenplay: George A. Romero, John A. Russo
Principal Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Marilyn Eastman, Karl Hardman, Judith Ridley, Keith Wayne
THEY WON'T STAY DEAD
The good: it showed you don't need a big budget to produce quality horror. The bad: now every shmoe with a camera tries to cash in with their own cheap zombie movie.- Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
An undeniably creepy, iconic, groundbreaking horror that remains my favorite of the series. Something key here, I buy almost every minute of it. It feels raw, yet truthful somehow. The sequels, while technically superior, take another approach. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
The final creature that breaks away from the pack, although usually very slowly is the walking
undead themselves, zombies. Whether you are a fan of the slow moving or running style of
zombie, there’s no denying that they were all influenced by my number 6 pick… 1968’s Night Of
The Living Dead. -Adam Hartwick, Shadow Valley Productions
The original zombie movie, and they don't get much better. One of my favorite movies ever. If you like zombie movies and you've never seen the original Night of the Living Dead you should be ashamed of yourself. After a NASA satellite falls to Earth and emits strange radiation, the dead mysteriously start coming back to life with an unquenchable hunger for human flesh. A collection of strangers are holed up in an abandoned house and fight off the zombies for as long as they can. The plot is pretty conventional nowadays, but you have to realize that this is the film that started it all. It's still pretty downright scary and effective filmmaking. And bonus trivia: the word "zombie" is never once said in the whole movie. Usually the living dead are referred to as "those things." This is the highest ranked zombie film on the list, and for good reason. In addition to its own spinoffs like Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, you can trace back the roots of films like Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, Zombieland, Planet Terror, World War Z and the enormously successful TV show The Walking Dead all back to Night of the Living Dead.
They're coming to get you Barbara...
1981 • Sam Raimi
Screenplay: Sam Raimi
Principal Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Hal Delrich, Betsy Baker, Sarah York
Genre: Supernatural, Possession, Haunted Cabin, Zombies
THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE IN GRUELING TERROR
The timeless look, dizzying cinematography and unrelenting pace of the last half of the movie makes this one the standard bearer. - Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
Sam Raimi’s debut is a must for horror fans, mainly for its cinematography and practical effects. I actually prefer watching this one than the second one, due to this factor and I feel like this one had better pacing. It also introduced the world to Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert. Groovy! - Zombie Kitty Podcast
Before Sam Raimi directed the billion-dollar Spider-Man franchise, he came from these humble beginnings. The plot is not all that groundbreaking: Five friends head towards a secluded cabin in the woods for the weekend. Once there, they find that an old book that was left behind. After heading to the basement they also find and play a tape recording of demonic incantations that release the spirits of the cabin to raise hell upon the five unsuspecting college students. One by one the spirits possesses every one of them until only Ash is left standing. Can Ash survive the night and last until the sun comes up? Evil Dead is at times goofy, and sometimes seems like they're should be a drinking game to go along with it. (And what a fun Halloween idea that would be.) However, you can see flashes of Raimi's late brilliance in this film, and the make up and special effects are impressive considering this film cost about $2.53 to make. Regardless Evil Dead is essential Halloween viewing. All of the film's sequels and spin-offs have made this list, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness and the 2013 remake. If Ash VS The Evil Dead weren't a television show, it would probably qualify for this list. How can you not love this movie? Tree molestation and all.
I believe I have made a significant find in the Kandarian ruins, a volume of ancient Sumarian burial practices and funerary incantations. It is entitled "Naturum De Montum", roughly translated: Book of the Dead. The book is bound in human flesh and inked in human blood. It deals with demons and demon resurrection and those forces which roam the forest and dark bowers of Man's domain. The first few pages warn that these enduring creatures may lie dormant but are never truly dead. They may be recalled to active life through the incantations presented in this book. It is through the recitation of these passages that the demons are given license to possess the living.
1982 • Tobe Hooper
Screenplay: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, Mark Victor
Principal Cast: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight
Genre: Haunting, Supernatural
IT KNOWS WHAT SCARES YOU.
Released during the golden age of slasher films, it proved that horror doesn't need an R rating to be good. - Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
It’s the realistic presentation of the ‘typical’ family that makes this film work so well. You feel for the characters and understand their motivations and fears as the ghosts they live with become increasingly hostile. -Doug McCambridge, one half of ‘Good Times Great Movies’ (podcast)
Being afraid of things that go bump in the night is a universal fear especially if those bumps are caused by paranormal entities like ghosts and spirits. What happens to us after death is a topic for another video, but nothing is scarier than when those ghosts spirits come back to haunt us and few movies captured that fear better than my number 4 pick...1982’s Poltergeist. -Adam Hartwick, Shadow Valley Productions
1968 • Roman Polanski
Screenplay: Roman Polanski; Based on Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin
Principal Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Angela Dorian
Genre: Supernatural, Psychological
PRAY FOR ROSEMARY'S BABY
Creepy, just creepy as hell. Creepy Polanski making a creepy movie which has an ending that you'll never forget. -Geekdom101
1960 • Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Joseph Stefano; Based on Psycho by Robert Bloch
Principal Cast: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Janet Leigh
Genre: Slasher, Serial Killer
THE PICTURE YOU MUST SEE FROM THE BEGINNING... OR NOT AT ALL!... FOR NO ONE WILL BE SEATED AFTER THE START OF... ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S GREATEST SHOCKER PSYCHO.
Hitchcock made some incredibly bold choices for the time that destroyed any concept of boundaries within the horror genre. - Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
Characterization, Bernard Hermman's string laden orchestral soundtrack, Hitchcock's mastery of the camera, and one of my favorite plot twists of all time are all reasons this makes my top five. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
Literally influenced hundreds of films and filmmakers. What more do I need to say? -Geekdom101
1975 • Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb; Based on Jaws by Peter Benchley
Principal Cast: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Genre: Monster, Nature Gone Wrong
IT'S AS IF GOD CREATED THE DEVIL, AND GAVE HIM JAWS
Duh, it's JAWS. - Johnny Marsh, Sonic Comics
It's not only my favorite horror movie of all time, but it's easily one of my all time favorite movies period. I saw this first when I was probably too young to have watched it and I have been fascinated by it ever since. It might have to do with the fact actually live near the actual real world place where the events that inspired this movie took place. Or maybe it's because everything about this movie is perfect: The setting, the build up, the characters, the dialogue, the pacing, everything. Oh, and one final note, this is one of the very times where the movie is head and shoulders better than the book. - Mr. Eddie, Should I Toon In?
People that don’t believe in ghosts and monsters can still be terrified by nature especially when it’s higher than us on the food chain. Realism and believable danger can make a horror movie strike fear into a person and nobody did that better than Steven Spielberg when he kept a generation of people out of the water -Adam Hartwick, Shadow Valley Productions
Amity Island is a small vacation community that sees a surge in tourism during the summer beach season. The new Sheriff in town, Martin Brody, discovers the remains of a shark attack victim washed up on the shore. Brody's request to close the beach until the shark's been caught is denied by the mayor, who is concerned about the impact it will have to the tourism business. After another victim is claimed by the rogue shark, this time a young boy in front of a crowded beach of tourists, the angry townspeople calls on the local government to act. The young boy's mother even puts a bounty on the shark, which brings all sorts of fisherman out of the woodwork (or out of the water, if you will.) A local fisherman named Quint offers to kill the shark for a large fee and Brody, believing Quint to be the most qualified, soon joins the effort, despite the fact that he's terrified of the water. They are joined by Oceanographer Matt Hooper and the trio embark on an adventure to capture and kill the great white predator. Jaws had a lasting legacy in changing the business. The wide release/massive marketing model was soon adopted by Hollywood as the new way to conduct business. Hollywood still works the same way to this very day. It also established the idea of the summer blockbuster, where studios would release all of their anticipated big money-makers in the summer, when audiences were more primed to go to the movies. While other films like Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music were massive box office hits before, Jaws created an entire season for it. Spielberg would go on to helm some of the greatest and essential films of the last 40 years, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report and Lincoln. Jaws and Spielberg's influence on cinema is incalculable. So, don't be afraid to go back in the water and watch this essential classic.
You're gonna need a bigger boat
1974 • Tobe Hooper
Screenplay: Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Principal Cast: Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, Teri McMinn, John Larroquette
Genre: Slasher, Cannibals
ALL MASSACRE FACTS BASED ON A TRUE STORY
Just an absolute classic. Incredible realistic camera work and directing, young Tobe Hooper is such a genius with this film that it has virtually NO gore and yet tricked people into thinking it was a blood bath. The fact that the movie looks like it was shot with a hand camera makes it all the more frightening. -Geekdom101
Chainsaws. Cannibals. Texas. Yep. That all adds up to something pretty downright horrific. Just the name tells you exactly what you're going to get before the opening credits begin. This movie was way ahead of its time. Despite featuring little gore, it fooled audiences into thinking it was a splatterfest. It spends a good deal of time building the atmosphere of the film... right from the beginning you know things are not going to turn out well. And not just because you know it's a horror movie, but because unlike most slasher films, the audience can actually feel fear for these soon-to-be victims. At first, it's spooky enough when we hear about the corpse sculptures found in a cemetery. Then we have the hulking Leatherface and his chainsaw. When Leatherface first makes his shocking appearance in the film, it's terrifying, but it gets taken to 11 during the "dinner" sequence where Marilyn Burns is the guest of honor for a dinner of cannibals. Of course, then we have our heroine, Sally, tied down and forced to be the guest of honor at a cannibalistic dinner party. The scene is incredibly unsettling to watch and probably one of the most memorable in horror cinema. Oh and let's not forget Grandpa. You know what? I'll let you find out about Grandpa by yourself. Tobe Hooper was extremely reckless in the filming of the film, perhaps to the benefit of the final artistic product. Many cast members were injured during the shooting, and some did not part the film on good terms with Hooper. An example is during the cannibal dinner scene, Marilyn Burns' real blood was used when actor Gunnar Hansen sliced her finger with a razor blade. When William Vail's character gets decapitated, the actual live running chainsaw was swung within inches of his neck. Try to get this one out of your head. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a horror masterpiece. The film created a franchise with three sequels followed by a reboot in 2003, which had two additional sequels. There is also a prequel, Leatherface, supposedly in the works as well.
The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
1984 • Wes Craven
Screenplay: Wes Craven
Principal Cast: John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Nick Corri, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
Genre: Slasher, Supernatural
WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T FALL ASLEEP
Wes Craven took an underutilized concept in horror - the dream world - and used it to make one the most original horror movies ever. - Judge Hammer, FilmVerdicts.com
Personally I think horror is often at it's best when it keeps the audience questioning, and Nightmare on Elm Street did that perfectly. First time watching this classic more than once this movie swerves you into not realizing that the characters, (and you as the audience) have slipped out of the safety of the waking world and into the horror of the dream world. -Mr. Eddie, Forced Perspective guest
I’m sure it’s just nostalgia but this is the greatest and most terrifying film I have ever seen. The character of Freddy seemed so real to me as a child that I did not sleep the entire night after watching this movie. He attacks you while you are asleep and where else are you more vulnerable? -Doug McCambridge, one half of ‘Good Times Great Movies’ (podcast)
Freddy is a staple for the horror genre like several others on this list, likewise in his own right. Granted, many movies can have the “sleepless” effect of a good horror movie, but only one franchise really takes the cake in that walk by turning the premise on its head and making you fear the sleep itself. -Harbi181, Writer
My personal favorite horror film villain. Absolutely amazing story and concept, creative, unique, scary - just a masterpiece. -Geekdom101
One, two... Freddy's coming for you.... The movie that introduced the world to one of the most iconic screen villains of all time with knives for fingers: Freddy Krueger. Teenagers on Elm Street are being murdered under mysterious and violent circumstances… and they’re always asleep when it happens. What dark secrets does this average, American street hold? Turns out that after a group of parents found out about a child killer living amongst them, they burn him alive and kill him. But Fred Krueger returns as a supernatural invader of dreams to seek revenge on their children. If you die in the nightmare, you die in real life. The first, and best, of the franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street rose above the “dead teenager slasher” films of the 80′s and dared to do something different. Yeah, there were still dead teenagers… but the new imagery and special effects that Craven brought to the big screen at the time were unparalleled. The story still feels fresh and innovative.
Robert Englund's performance is legendary as he slices and dices teenagers in new and imaginative ways. His Freddy Kruger is one of the greatest on-screen villains of all time. Check out his entry on the 100 Greatest Movie Villains. Also look out for an early performance by the one and only Johnny Depp, just, uh, don't get too attached. (So much blood!) Much like many of the films on this list, the film marked the beginning of a franchise, with mixed results in quality. The film was followed by 2: Freddy's Revenge, III: Dream Warriors (#92 on this list), IV: The Dream Master, V: The Dream Child, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and Wes Craven's New Nightmare (#86), plus a reboot/remake in 2010 and the crossover film Freddy VS Jason.
1979 • Ridley Scott
Screenplay: Dan O'Bannon; Story by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett
Principal Cast: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto
Genre: Aliens, Monster Movie
IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM
Like The Shining, Alien is the perfect slow burn. From Jerry Goldsmith's truly unsettling score, to production design inspired by H.R. Giger, you can just feel the fear in your core. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
This movie had balls. Phalic symbols, oh yes by the pound, but it was bold, it was original, and it was just plain scary. Not many movies have the audacity to get the bigger names of its time and kill them off in front of you only to leave this unknown actress whose staying power lasts four (working on the fifth) movies. You spend the first hour of the movie scared of a beast who you only see in bits and pieces (like the ones it left behind), and when its finally Ripley vs the Alien, you feel just as vulnerable and damn near petrified as she was. I refuse to watch this one in the dark or alone, but I will gladly recommend it every time there’s a Halloween party. -Harbi181, Reddit
Although the remainder of the series is all action, the original film is absolutely terrifying and really defines the "science fiction/horror" sub-genre. It has a strange atmosphere of loneliness and -Geekdom101
This next sub genre is created by the combination of two incredible genres… science fiction and horror creating some of my favorite movies ever. It’s easy to see why these two fit together so well and few have done it better than Ridley Scott when he created a sci fi horror classic with 1979’s Alien. -Adam Hartwick, Shadow Valley Productions
What Ridley Scott accomplished with Alien, was to blend science-fiction and horror in a way no one had ever done before. To this day, this film continues to be one of the scariest horror films of all time as well as being a fantastic science-fiction epic. Not only did it win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects, it also is currently in the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress and has appeared in various American Film Institute countdown lists. This film proves that genre films can also be as engaging, provocative and influential as the heaviest dramas. Originally called “Star Beast” before it went to production, the film follows a team of space miners who respond to an S.O.S. signal right before they are about to head home after a long several months on the job. When they go to investigate the seemingly deserted planet, an alien life form attacks and attaches itself to one of the crew's face, putting him in a comatose state. The alien is eventually separated from Kane's (John Hurt) face... but not before laying eggs in his belly. In what has to be one of the most disturbing scenes in film history, an alien bursts out Kane's chest, and quickly grows to monstrous size as it picks off the crew one by one. Alien spawned a "Quadrilogy" of sequels (Aliens, Alien3 and Alien Resurrection), spin-offs (Alien VS Predator) and most recently a prequel in Prometheus (sort of.) In space, no one can hear you scream.
You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility... I admire its purity. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality... I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies.
1973 • William Friedkin
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty; Based on The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Principal Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, Mercedes McCambridge
Genre: Supernatural, Possession
SOMETHING BEYOND COMPREHENSION IS HAPPENING TO A GIRL ON THIS STREET, IN THIS HOUSE... A MAN HAS BEEN SENT FOR AS A LAST RESORT. THAT MAN IS THE EXORCIST.
For as cliché as it is to say, the Exorcist remains at the top of the list. Think about the character development of Father Karris. Probably the most truthful example of a priest I've seen in any film. A man who struggles with doubt and with guilt. People act and speak as they would in real life and when the films reaches it's conclusion, it nearly moved me to tears. I can't say that of any other horror film. -Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
The movie that terrified people so damn much that some grown folks still refuse to watch it. Unbelievably disturbing, atmospheric, surreal, and all around horrific. Very few movies STAY HORRIFIC for this many decades. This is my tippy top movie. -Geekdom101
To this day, this film still terrifies me. 43 years after this movie was released and not one film has even come close to scaring audiences like this film still does. The Exorcist is about a young girl named Regan who one happens to get possessed by the Devil. Or, at least, it claims to be the Devil. Regardless, it's a demon. And this demon turns sweet, little Regan into a foul-mouthed, head-spinning, bed-levitating, green-liquid-vomiting nightmare. Two priests are called upon to exorcise the demon: Father Karras, who doubts his faith because of his recently deceased mother and Father Merrin, a frail and elderly priest who has battled the demon before. Both of these men of God have to fight the ultimate evil and save a girl's life. On a lot of people's list, this topped the countdown as the greatest horror film of all time and in previous versions of this list, it WAS the #1 choice. (It has been unseated this year.) The film is the standard-bearer for exorcism or possession films, as it was the first film to popularize the sub-genre. The film became notorious upon its initial release for making some audiences members faint and event vomit during screenings. The film was a monster hit, breaking records at the box office. It was rewarded with two Oscars for Best Writing and Best Sound, and was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Miller), Best Actress (Burstyn), Best Supporting Actress (Blair) and Best Director. There were several sequels, but only The Exorcist III is worth mentioning as the other films were not up to par creatively.
Especially important is the warning to avoid conversations with the demon. We may ask what is relevant but anything beyond that is dangerous. He is a liar. The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don't listen to him. Remember that - do not listen.
1980 • Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: Stanley Kubrick, Diane Johnson; Based on The Shining by Stephen King
Principal Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers, Danny Lloyd
Genre: Supernatural, Haunted House
STANLEY KUBRICK'S EPIC NIGHTMARE OF HORROR
How Kubrick made so much empty space feel so claustrophobic is just genius. - Judge Hammer - FilmVerdicts.com
A truly unique example of storytelling. No film before or after has been edited and scored in such a unique style. A style that shakes me to the core. While I have some issues with Jack Nicholson's performance going from crazier to crazier as opposed to something more nuanced, I can't deny that this is a one of a kind cinematic experience. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
Even though this movie has very little to do with the Stephen King book it was based on (My favorite King book btw), I think it surpasses the book in many ways. The visuals that Stanley Kubrick presented the viewers in this amazing masterpiece are so iconic that once you've seen them you'll never look hotel hallways the same way ever again. - Mr. Eddie, Should I Toon In?
If you say it didn't scare the hell out of you, you're full of shit. -Josh Brown, Odd Obsession Movies
Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson's incredible work. Nicholson's acting is top notch, the creepy visual and audio engineering and story and some of the most memorable scenes ever. -Geekdom101
Jack Torrance is a struggling, alcoholic writer that takes a job as a caretaker for the Overlook hotel during the winter season. He feels that the isolation and solitude will help him get over his writer's block while also making a little money, taking along his wife and his psychic son to keep him company. Soon the hotel is snowed in by a massive snowstorm and Jack's frustrations and the hotel's haunted past slowly starts to drive Jack into a murderous psychotic state. The Shining, by far, is one of the most legitimately terrifying films of all time and its influence can still be seen to this day. The highlight of this film is clearly Jack Nicholson. Nicholson has often been criticized as sometimes going over-the-top and being hammy. I can't disagree with that. However, one could not criticize him overacting in this film. At least, not until the climax... but by then a bravura performance is earned and, frankly, needed. The whole film rests on his performance. Many thoughts are abound as to the ending of the film. Is the hotel haunted? Is Jack just psychotic? What about the photograph at the end of the film? Was Jack Torrance "absorbed" into the evil of the hotel? Or was he a reincarnation of the evil of the hotel? Questions like this is what make the film re-watchable and enjoyable on many different levels. The Shining, over 30 years later, remains a horror masterpiece.
Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in! Gonna bash 'em right the fuck in!
1982 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: Bill Lancaster; Based on Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr.
Principal Cast: Kurt Russel, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, TK Carter, David Clennon
Genre: Alien, Monster, Paranoia
THE ULTIMATE IN ALIEN TERROR
An exercise in the profoundly disturbing, Saw it as a child on television. It continues to haunt my dreams. Both Alien and the Thing aren't our everyday reality, but they manage to make me believe. No easy task. - Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
The original... well actually, this was sort of a remake of a 1951's The Thing from Another World so... um..., the 1982 version, all right? Seriously though, this is my favorite sci fi horror movie of all time. The idea of having people trapped in a frozen wasteland stalked by an otherworldly horror is played out perfectly and the visual effects are still amazing even today. - Mr. Eddie, Forced Perspective contributor
The effects are what’s most discussed when this film is brought up, and for good reason. But the film is more than that as it explores the terrifying themes or claustrophobia, isolation and paranoia better than any film I’ve ever seen. -Doug McCambridge, one half of ‘Good Times Great Movies’ podcast
This is my go-to scary movie, the one that got me seriously interested in the horror/thriller genre. Nevermind the grotesque and intense realistic effects that set the standard for horror movies for years; never mind the signature styling of John Carpenter and his always impressive directorial efforts; never mind the excellent cast and realistic dialogue… the feeling of isolation, despair, and hopelessness sits with you (as it does the characters on screen) for the duration of the movie, down to the last few moments as the screen fades with the signature, unsettling score. As an added plus, Kurt Russell personified the reluctant action hero in the 80s and he holds strong to that title in playbacks. A definite must for anyone who wants a horror movie. -Harbi181, Redditor
My personal favorite sub genre of horror can have elements of all the rest but always include grotesque and blood-thirsty monsters. Creature features done well can be terrifying and when done poorly are still wildly entertaining to watch and none have left a bigger influence on me than my number 1 pick… 1982’s The Thing. -Adam Hartwick, Shadow Valley Productions
Another John Carpenter classic. This remake of the 1950s classic, The Thing from Another World (mentioned earlier in this list), keeps the action in a frozen landscape, but changes the monster to ramp up the gore and scares. The alien in this film can take the shape of anything it comes into contact with, leading to a "who can you trust" atmosphere to the blood and guts. The film was ahead of its time as far as practical special effects... remember CGI did not exist in 1982, which makes this film even more impressive. The Thing features one of the great horror movie endings that keeps you guessing even after the credits roll. Not only was the film NOT nominated for special visual effects at the Academy Awards, but it was actually nominated for a Razzie. Just goes to show how the public's perception of a film can change over time. This may be Carpenter's ultimate masterpiece. The film was followed up in 2011 with a prequel, also titled The Thing, which shows what happens to the OTHER research camp before this film's crew discover the wolf's being chased by the helicopter. It's not as good.
I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won.
1978 • John Carpenter
Screenplay: John Carpenter, Debra Hill
Principal Cast: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P. J. Soles, Nancy Loomis
THE NIGHT HE CAME HOME
The mainstream slasher that started it all. Carpenter's classic film struck a chord with me very early on in my horror movie days. There's something about that blank face that will never stop hunting you that still invades a nightmare here and there. Not to mention Carpenter also wrote the iconic theme which is a total earworm. - Johnny Marsh, Sonic Comics
John Carpenter strikes again with the movie that forever established him. This one's all about tone for me. Let's be honest. The story's actually a little hokey. I was tempted to put Black Christmas in place of this as it felt more believable overall, but Halloween remains a visceral horror experience from beginning to end. In no small part due to Carpenter's score. -Dave Campfield, Filmmaker
A classic in every sense of the word. John Carpenter's film resume is among the greatest ever and this has to be on everybody's lists. A movie where you find something new every time. -Geekdom101
The Godfather of slasher films. When he was 6 years old, Michael Myers brutally killed his older sister on Halloween. 15 years later, he escapes the mental institution of which he was a resident for the majority of his life on the day he is supposed to be transferred to a maximum security prison. On the anniversary of the murder of his sister, Myers, wearing a creepy white mask (actually a Captain Kirk mask painted white, William Shatner has never been so scary) stalks a group of teenagers in the neighborhood he grew up in, killing them off one by one. Halloween has a pretty typical slasher film formula, but what sets it apart is that it was one of the first slasher films to become a commercial success and it uses the formula quite successfully. And it created a lot of the tropes that are still in use today in modern horror: horror movie as a morality play; the final girl; the unstoppable killer... it popularized all of it. While there was certainly films like Psycho, Black Christmas and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre before Halloween, Carpenter's film created the trend that has seemingly never stopped. Without Halloween we don't get Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, Sleepaway Camp, Prom Night, Saw or countless others. The movie also started its own franchise and following the initial film, audiences got Halloween II (1981), III: Season of the Witch (1982), 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989), 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995), H20: Twenty Years Later (1998), Resurrection (2002) and two reboots Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009) both directed by Rob Zombie. The film is getting yet another release in 2017 titled Halloween: The Night Evil Died, which supposedly take place after the events in the 2002 film. This is the all time greatest, most essential horror film, according to our voters, and it is a deserving #1.
I met him, fifteen years ago; I was told there was nothing left; no reason, no conscience, no understanding; and even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, of good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.
If you've reached the end of this list, please have a listen to the latest Essential Films Podcast, where the film discussed is none other than HALLOWEEN!
I would like to thank my many contributors to this countdown:
ICG Local 600
Hip Hop recording artist with Pseudo Slang
General Manager at Odd Obsession Movies
Host of Tuesday Night Cigar Club
Filmmaker - Caesar & Otto's Deadly X-Mas, Caesar & Otto's Paranormal Halloween
Director of Video Diary of a Lost Girl Movies
Grand Maven of Cinema at Odd Obsession Movies
Kayfabulous Lucha Brothers podcast
Frequent guest on Forced Perspective podcast
Forced Perspective Host
Forced Perspective Twitter
Former Host They're Coming to Get You Podcast
Shadow Valley Productions
Host of Filmspotting podcast
High-octane volunteer at Odd Obsession Movies
Co-Host of Filmspotting podcast
Creative Director, Sonic Comics
Good Times Great Movies podcast
Host - Should I Toon In?, Laidback Gourmet
Frequent Guest on Forced Perspective podcast
General Manager, Music Box Theater - Chicago, IL
Caesar & Otto's Deadly X-Mas, The Perfect Candidate, Ripper
The Perfect Candidate
Film buff at Odd Obsession Movies
Purveyor of Fine Film at Odd Obsession Movies
Host of Deadgar's Dark Coffin Classics
Zombie Kitty Podcast
Available on Twitter, Itunes, Soundcloud
And a huge thank you to all the Redditors over at /R/Horror that contacted me directly to contribute.