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#1-#100

The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films: #1-#100

The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films: Introduction | #1-#100 | #101-#200 | #201-#300 | #301-#400 | #401-#500 | #501-#600 | #601-#700 | #701-#800 | #801-#900 | #901-#1000 | Full List | Sources | The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Horror Films | Top 50 Directors

The Exorcist

1. (0) The Exorcist

William Friedkin

1973 / USA / 122m / Col / Possession | IMDb
Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, Linda Blair, William O’Malley, Barton Heyman, Peter Masterson

“I’ve revisited The Exorcist over the years and found it effective every time. Because it’s founded on characters, details and a realistic milieu, the shocks don’t date; they still seem to grow from the material… The movie is more horrifying because it does not seem to want to be. The horror creeps into the lives of characters preoccupied with their lives: Father Karras (Miller) with his mother and his faith, Father Merrin (von Sydow) with his work and health, Chris MacNeil (Burstyn) with her career and marriage. The movie also gains power because it takes its theology seriously–for a movie, anyway.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Shining

2. (0) The Shining

Stanley Kubrick

1980 / USA / 144m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone, Joe Turkel, Anne Jackson, Tony Burton, Lia Beldam

“The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s indelible take on both the horror genre and the popular fiction of Stephen King, is both a radical distillation of its source novel’s densely stuffed ghosts-and-gore imagery as well as a conflation of its hidden central theme of the true-life horrors of domestic abuse. The result is a film that, though it ignores almost every major spook-show episode in the novel (nope, no teeming wasp’s nest here), enhances everything that’s legitimately unnerving about King’s book… Kubrick’s The Shining dwells at the outer limits of what can be thought of as a genre film, stretching the definition, filling it out, leaving it richer in its wake.” – Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

Psycho

3. (0) Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock

1960 / USA / 109m / BW / Thriller | IMDb
Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Janet Leigh, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Simon Oakland, Frank Albertson, Patricia Hitchcock, Vaughn Taylor

“Where would we be without Psycho? Fifty years on and Hitch’s delicious cod-Freudian nightmare about a platinum-blonde embezzler (Leigh) who neglected to consult a guide before selecting her motel still has much to answer for. It blazed a bloody trail for the much-loved slasher cycle, but it also assured us that a B-movie could be A-grade in quality and innovation. It dared to suggest that your star didn’t need to surface from an ordeal smelling of roses (or, indeed, at all). It combined a knife, a scream, a melon, some chocolate sauce, Bernard Herrmann’s greatest score and more than 70 edits to push the envelope of screen violence.” – David Jenkins, Time Out

Alien

4. (+2) Alien

Ridley Scott

1979 / USA / 117m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto, Bolaji Badejo, Helen Horton

“One of the great strengths of ‘Alien’ is its pacing. It takes its time. It waits. It allows silences (the majestic opening shots are underscored by Jerry Goldsmith with scarcely audible, far-off metallic chatterings). It suggests the enormity of the crew’s discovery by building up to it with small steps: The interception of a signal (is it a warning or an SOS?). The descent to the extraterrestrial surface. The bitching by Brett and Parker, who are concerned only about collecting their shares. The masterstroke of the surface murk through which the crew members move, their helmet lights hardly penetrating the soup. The shadowy outline of the alien ship. The sight of the alien pilot, frozen in his command chair.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

5. (-1) The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Tobe Hooper

1974 / USA / 83m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan, Robert Courtin

“If you haven’t seen it in a while, here’s a reminder: It’s really fucking scary. Horror movies long ago had the horror taken out of them, but the gritty physicality of Texas Chainsaw is all too terrifyingly real. Shot through with Watergate-era malaise, it’s a chilling portrait of a nation with nowhere to hide, where selfish hippies are preyed upon by maniac rednecks in a world devoid of order. Hysterical, excessive and, oh yes, a masterpiece.” – Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper

Halloween

6. (-1) Halloween

John Carpenter

1978 / USA / 91m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Kyle Richards, Brian Andrews, John Michael Graham, Nancy Stephens, Arthur Malet

“It’s more clear than ever that John Carpenter’s Halloween is a remarkable film that towers over the endless clones that followed it. In fact—and this doesn’t really detract from Scream’s cleverness—watching Halloween again makes it apparent just how saddled with poor self-parody so many of its slasher follow-ups were… Carpenter’s story of childhood killer Michael Myers’ return to the town in which he has become a symbol of all that is dark relies more on suspense and suggestion than cheap shocks and gore, which in itself makes it a better film than its successors… Ignore the Prom Nights and the Friday The Thirteenths; Halloween cuts deepest.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

Night of the Living Dead

7. (+2) Night of the Living Dead

George A. Romero

1968 / USA / 96m / BW / Zombie | IMDb
Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon, Charles Craig, S. William Hinzman, George Kosana

“Night of the Living Dead came out of nowhere, or to be more precise, Pittsburgh, and turned into the most influential horror film since Psycho. George Romero’s remarkably assured debut, made on a shoestring, about a group of people barricaded inside a farmhouse while an army of flesh-eating zombies roams the countryside, deflates all genre clichés. It traded the expressionistic sets of the traditional fright flick for a neorealistic style—Romero’s use of natural locations and grainy black and white gave his gorefest the look and feel of a doc… This was Middle America at war, and the zombie carnage seemed a grotesque echo of the conflict then raging in Vietnam.” – Elliott Stein, The Village Voice

Jaws

8. (+4) Jaws

Steven Spielberg

1975 / USA / 124m / Col / Nature | IMDb
Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Carl Gottlieb, Jeffrey Kramer, Susan Backlinie, Jonathan Filley, Ted Grossman

“Jaws is a lively, chaotic swirl of contradictions, prodigious talent, and formal mastery. It’s a thriller that played a role in the entire restructuring of Hollywood’s methods of selling its films to the public. Jaws was the sure-to-be calamity that became one of the most beloved and quoted films of all time… The surprise is how good it was and still is. The film is a strange mixture of the über-controlled and the wild and wooly. Imagine if portions of Psycho were spliced into one of Hal Ashby’s early films and you’d be closer to the film’s tone than you might think.” – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine

The Thing

9. (-2) The Thing

John Carpenter

1982 / USA / 109m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Keith David, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan, Peter Maloney, Richard Masur, Donald Moffat

“A flop upon its release (by Universal, two weeks after Spielberg’s E.T.), this spatial masterpiece of desolate Arctic vistas at odds with close-quarters claustrophobia has since been hailed as a high totem of modern horror-making. There remains something deeply unnerving about Carpenter’s ambiguity as to whether the movie’s shape-shifting alien is distorting its hosts’ personalities or merely revealing something of their primal selves.” – Scott Foundas, The Village Voice

Rosemary's Baby

10. (-2) Rosemary’s Baby

Roman Polanski

1968 / USA / 136m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Victoria Vetri, Patsy Kelly, Elisha Cook Jr., Emmaline Henry

“Horrifying and darkly comic, Rosemary’s Baby was Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut. This wildly entertaining nightmare, faithfully adapted from Ira Levin’s best seller, stars a revelatory Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors (played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon) and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby. In the decades of occult cinema that Polanski’s ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it has never been outdone for sheer psychological terror.” – The Criterion Collection

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens

11. (+6) Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens

F.W. Murnau

1922 / Germany / 94m / BW / Vampire | IMDb
Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, Gustav Botz, Alexander Granach, John Gottowt, Max Nemetz, Wolfgang Heinz

“A masterpiece of the German silent cinema and easily the most effective version of Dracula on record. F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film follows the Bram Stoker novel fairly closely, although he neglected to purchase the screen rights—hence, the title change. But the key elements are all Murnau’s own: the eerie intrusions of expressionist style on natural settings, the strong sexual subtext, and the daring use of fast-motion and negative photography.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Dawn of the Dead

12. (+1) Dawn of the Dead

George A. Romero

1978 / USA / 127m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France, Howard Smith, Daniel Dietrich, Fred Baker

“Dawn of the Dead is one of the best horror films ever made — and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling. It is also (excuse me for a second while I find my other list) brilliantly crafted, funny, droll, and savagely merciless in its satiric view of the American consumer society. Nobody ever said art had to be in good taste.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Bride of Frankenstein

13. (+17) Bride of Frankenstein

James Whale

1935 / USA / 75m / BW / Monster | IMDb
Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester, Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, Una O’Connor, E.E. Clive, Lucien Prival

“The best of the Frankenstein movies–a sly, subversive work that smuggled shocking material past the censors by disguising it in the trappings of horror. Some movies age; others ripen. Seen today, Whale’s masterpiece is more surprising than when it was made because today’s audiences are more alert to its buried hints of homosexuality, necrophilia and sacrilege. But you don’t have to deconstruct it to enjoy it; it’s satirical, exciting, funny, and an influential masterpiece of art direction.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

A Nightmare on Elm Street

14. (-4) A Nightmare on Elm Street

Wes Craven

1984 / USA / 91m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Johnny Depp, Charles Fleischer, Joseph Whipp, Robert Englund, Lin Shaye

“As often occurs in low-budget features, some of the acting around the fringes is slightly amateurish, and the ending suggests post-production tinkering, but “A Nightmare on Elm Street” works gangbusters in all the ways it really counts. Terrifically spooky and original—at the point in which the movie was made, there had never been anything like it—the film continues to feel completely modern despite being almost a quarter-century old” – Dustin Putman, The Movie Boy

Suspiria

15. (-4) Suspiria

Dario Argento

1977 / Italy / 98m / Col / Giallo | IMDb
Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier, Alida Valli

“As distinctive in its painterly colors as Val Lewton’s horror films were in their expressive swaths of black and white, Suspiria serves up a gorehound’s feast of explicit mayhem. But never has gratuitous bloodletting seemed so ornately beautiful… Argento’s vibrant color scheme leaps off the screen like a ’50s Technicolor musical, with sets and lighting design that fill the Cinemascope frame with bold reds, greens, yellows, and blues… Long admired in cult circles, Suspiria stands as one of the most visually striking horror films ever made, and the high watermark of a first-rate splatter stylist.” – Scott Tobias, A.V. Club

Frankenstein

16. (+18) Frankenstein

James Whale

1931 / USA / 70m / BW / Monster | IMDb
Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Frederick Kerr, Dwight Frye, Lionel Belmore, Marilyn Harris

“A stark, solid, impressively stylish film, overshadowed (a little unfairly) by the later explosion of Whale’s wit in the delirious Bride of Frankenstein. Karloff gives one of the great performances of all time as the monster whose mutation from candour to chill savagery is mirrored only through his limpid eyes. The film’s great imaginative coup is to show the monster ‘growing up’ in all too human terms… The film is unique in Whale’s work in that the horror is played absolutely straight, and it has a weird fairytale beauty not matched until Cocteau made La Belle et la Bête.” – Tom Milne, Time Out

The Evil Dead

17. (+2) The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi

1981 / USA / 85m / Col / Possession | IMDb
Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker, Theresa Tilly, Philip A. Gillis, Dorothy Tapert, Cheryl Guttridge, Barbara Carey, David Horton

“Twenty years after its original theatrical release, Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead still feels like the punchiest horror flick this side of a Dario Argento gialli. Made on a shoe-string budget, The Evil Dead is difficult to assess for what initially seems like nothing more than B-movie schlock. Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his friends take a weekend trip to the woods only to stumble across the mysterious Book of the Dead. Spells are unleashed, friends go zombie and Ash is forced to test the limits of his squeamishness. Raimi’s script is riotously deadpan, his compositions undeniably breathtaking and inventive. The director relentlessly fashions the film’s first half as a creepy-crawly sweat chamber with evil seemingly taking the form of an omniscient, roaming camera.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

The Silence of the Lambs

18. (+11) The Silence of the Lambs

Jonathan Demme

1991 / USA / 118m / Col / Crime | IMDb
Jodie Foster, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons, Lawrence T. Wrentz, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Frankie Faison, Don Brockett, Frank Seals Jr., Stuart Rudin

“Although Demme does reveal the results of the killer’s violence, he for the most part refrains from showing the acts themselves; the film could never be accused of pandering to voyeuristic impulses. Under-standably, much has been made of Hopkins’ hypnotic Lecter, but the laurels must go to Levine’s killer, admirably devoid of camp overstatement, and to Foster, who evokes a vulnerable but pragmatic intelligence bent on achieving independence through sheer strength of will.” – Time Out

Carrie

19. (-3) Carrie

Brian De Palma

1976 / USA / 98m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, Priscilla Pointer, Sydney Lassick

“Wickedly reckless and deliriously tasteless, Carrie is about the creation of a sorceress, a geek-girl fantasy—what nerdy high-school chick hasn’t longed to zap the popular bitches?—rife with hilarious sexual symbolism (my personal favorite is Carrie’s control of a wildly leaping fire hose). No movie ever needed to end with an orgasm as much as this one, and De Palma rises to the occasion with a scene many have imitated but none have duplicated. Even when his heroine is postmortem, it seems De Palma can’t stop watching.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, Reverse Shot

The Birds

20. (+7) The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock

1963 / USA / 119m / Col / Nature | IMDb
Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Doreen Lang, Ruth McDevitt, Joe Mantell

“With death dropping blandly out of a clear sky – its menace magnified into apocalypse from the crop-dusting scene in North by Northwest – this is Hitchcock at his best. Full of subterranean hints as to the ways in which people cage each other, it’s fierce and Freudian as well as great cinematic fun, with ample fodder for the amateur psychologist following up on Hitch’s tortuous involvement with his leading ladies.” – Tom Milne, Time Out

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

21. (+29) Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari

Robert Wiene

1920 / Germany / 78m / BW / Psychological | IMDb
Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Rudolf Lettinger

“Undoubtedly one of the most exciting and inspired horror movies ever made. The story is a classic sampling of expressionist paranoia about a hypnotist who uses a somnambulist to do his murders, full of the gloom and fear that prevailed in Germany as it emerged from WWI. There are plenty of extremely boring sociological/critical accounts of the film; best to avoid them and enjoy the film’s extraordinary use of painted light and Veidt’s marvellous performance.” – David Pirie, Time Out

Evil Dead II

22. (+1) Evil Dead II

Sam Raimi

1987 / USA / 84m / Col / Comedy | IMDb
Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Ted Raimi, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier, John Peakes, Lou Hancock, Snowy Winters

“Sam Raimi’s eye-popping sequel to the cult classic original deftly treads the line between frightfest and horror satire. Starring Bruce Campbell, Raimi’s favorite non-actor — or, as Raimi calls him, “the king of acting in reverse” — the film either follows nonsensically on the heels of the first or completely replaces it; it takes place in the same cabin with the same Book of the Dead, as if Ash would simply head on back to try his luck a second time. (He is just about that dim.) Deploying the full range of low-budget effects, Evil Dead II still looks junky, but Raimi’s goofball sense of humor makes the film’s very tawdriness appealing.” – Sam Adams, Philadelphia City Paper

Don't Look Now

23. (+12) Don’t Look Now

Nicolas Roeg

1973 / UK / 110m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania, Massimo Serato, Renato Scarpa, Giorgio Trestini, Leopoldo Trieste, David Tree, Ann Rye

“Conceived in Roeg’s usual imagistic style and predicated upon a series of ominous associations (water, darkness, red, shattering glass), it’s hypnotically brilliant as it works remorselessly toward a sense of dislocation in time; an undermining of all the senses, in fact, perfectly exemplified by Sutherland’s marvellous Hitchcockian walk through a dark alley where a banging shutter, a hoarse cry, a light extinguished at a window, all recur as in a dream, escalating into terror the second time round because a hint of something seen, a mere shadow, may have been the dead child.” – Time Out

An American Werewolf in London

24. (-2) An American Werewolf in London

John Landis

1981 / USA / 97m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb
Joe Belcher, David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, David Schofield, Brian Glover, Lila Kaye, Rik Mayall, Sean Baker, Paddy Ryan, Jenny Agutter

“‘An American Werewolf in London’ is one of the few horror films that explore the psychological effects of lycanthropy alongside the physical and the fallout. David’s vivid dreams subsequent the attack are still startling and intense, and they’re very bad omens that he will more than likely submit to the beast and lose his essence as a man. “An American Werewolf in London” has every chance to be cheap and exploitative and prefers instead to create a very heartfelt and terrifying vision of a man becoming a werewolf, and to this day there’s yet to be a horror film that touches on the curse with superior aptitude.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

The Haunting

25. (0) The Haunting

Robert Wise

1963 / USA / 112m / BW / Haunted House | IMDb
Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn, Fay Compton, Rosalie Crutchley, Lois Maxwell, Valentine Dyall, Diane Clare, Ronald Adam

“Often overwrought in its performances, this adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House – a group of people gather in a large old house to determine whether or not a poltergeist is the source of rumours that it is haunted – still manages to produce its fair share of frissons. What makes the film so effective is not so much the slightly sinister characterisation of the generally neurotic group, but the fact that Wise makes the house itself the central character, a beautifully designed and highly atmospheric entity which, despite the often annoyingly angled camerawork, becomes genuinely frightening.” – Time Out

The Innocents

26. (+13) The Innocents

Jack Clayton

1961 / UK / 100m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Clytie Jessop, Isla Cameron

“Is it the finest, smartest, most visually savvy horror film ever made by a big studio? Deborah Kerr is the sexually straitjacketed governess subject to either the ghastly duplicity of her dead-eyed charges (Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin) or the threatening ghosts of the estate’s previous servants—or both—and it might be the most unforgettable performance by a British actress in its decade. Clayton’s filmmaking, mustering frisson by both candle and blazing daylight, could serve as an object lesson in its genre. Only Robert Wise’s The Haunting, out two years later, came close to its edge-of-sight menace, repressed gothic angst, and all-suggestion creep-outs.” – Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice

The Blair Witch Project

27. (-12) The Blair Witch Project

Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez

1999 / USA / 81m / Col / Found Footage | IMDb
Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams, Bob Griffin, Jim King, Sandra Sánchez, Ed Swanson, Patricia DeCou, Mark Mason, Jackie Hallex

“Shot with handheld cameras, Blair Witch has the look of a student film and its accompanying outtakes, but more importantly, it feels real. Its three principals (Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard) all give fine performances, creating fully realized characters from apparently candid moments in the film’s first half and doing a thoroughly convincing job of appearing scared witless in its second. And scary it is, but in a way not seen too often before. Blair Witch’s novel approach relies almost entirely on suggestion and implication, tapping into the same feelings conjured by a mysterious creak in an empty house.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

Freaks

28. (+13) Freaks

Tod Browning

1932 / USA / 64m / BW / Thriller | IMDb
Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates, Henry Victor, Harry Earles, Daisy Earles, Rose Dione, Daisy Hilton, Violet Hilton

“Freaks uses authentic circus performers and unapologetically exploits their real genetic malformations in a melodramatic masterpiece of black comic horror. A scheming trapeze artist marries a circus midget for his money; his fellow performers welcome her as an honorary “freak” and their chanting ritual – gabba gabba, one of us! – left me gasping… What cultural references are there for this? Poe? David Lynch? Antonin Artaud? Diane Arbus? Maybe. Freaks is filled with poignancy; it offers a premonition of eugenics, as well as a provocative comparison with the alienated condition of women and the freakish nature of all showbiz celebrity. It is a work of genius.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

The Fly

29. (-1) The Fly

David Cronenberg

1986 / USA / 96m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel, Leslie Carlson, George Chuvalo, Michael Copeman, David Cronenberg, Carol Lazare, Shawn Hewitt

“‘What am I working on? I’m working on something that will change the world and human life as we know it!’ So Seth Brundle (Goldblum) promises in the opening line of Cronenberg’s inspired remake… This is a film about fusion. That of man and insect, of course; but also the emotional and physical fusion between man and woman – liberating and painful as that may be. The playful, quirky chemistry between Goldblum and Davis in the first half of the movie ensures that this gothic horror is heartbreaking as well as stomach-churning (the special effects by Chris Walas are still staggering).” – Tom Charity, Time Out

The Wicker Man

30. (+7) The Wicker Man

Robin Hardy

1973 / UK / 88m / Col / Mystery | IMDb
Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsay Kemp, Russell Waters, Aubrey Morris, Irene Sunters, Walter Carr

“The film creates atmosphere as well as any horror movie of the sound era; but where the contemporaneous Italian horror cinema, for example, was all about an atmosphere of the uncanny and of a certain cosmic vileness that makes everything horrible and unreal, The Wicker Man is a movie that manages to create, in watching it, something akin to the heightened feeling of queasiness that comes right before a storm. But it does this entirely under the surface: obliquely, it’s all about a shouty cop being rude to odd, and even outright weird neo-pagans, but neo-pagans who seem unfailingly nice. – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

The Omen

31. (-7) The Omen

Richard Donner

1976 / USA / 111m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Harvey Stephens, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson, Robert Rietty, Tommy Duggan, John Stride

“This apocalyptic movie mostly avoids physical gore to boost its relatively unoriginal storyline with suspense, some excellent acting (especially from Warner and Whitelaw), and a very deft, incident-packed script. There is not a single original theme in The Omen, but its makers are so resolute in avoiding padding, and so deceptively accomplished in their use of emotional triggers, that you come out wondering how the film succeeds so well. The secret lies partly in the hermetically tight construction which, among other things, veers the action to a spooky chase across Europe just when other horror movies are getting bogged down in what dumb effect to produce next.” – Time Out

Poltergeist

32. (-14) Poltergeist

Tobe Hooper

1982 / USA / 114m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne, Oliver Robins, Heather O’Rourke, Michael McManus, Virginia Kiser, Martin Casella, Richard Lawson

“While not many movies insist on the suspension of disbelief that Poltergeist demands, skepticism vanishes quickly. For Poltergeist is more than an entertaining spook show. It’s also touching, funny and human. To give any of the plot away would be a gross disservice. (Small children who think the objects in their rooms take on scary shapes when the lights go out, however, should be kept away from Poltergeist at all costs.) Though the film avoids the blood and guts endemic to the genre, it is nonetheless a goose-pimpler. The performances are all first-rate, and tiny Heather will melt the hardest heart.” – People

Repulsion

33. (+16) Repulsion

Roman Polanski

1965 / UK / 105m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Yvonne Furneaux, Patrick Wymark, Renee Houston, Valerie Taylor, James Villiers, Helen Fraser, Hugh Futcher

“Roman Polanski followed up his international breakthrough Knife in the Water with this controversial, chilling tale of psychosis. Catherine Deneuve is Carol, a fragile, frigid young beauty cracking up in her London flat when left alone by her vacationing sister. She is soon haunted by specters real and imagined, and her insanity grows to a violent, hysterical pitch. Thanks to its disturbing detail and Polanski’s adeptness at turning claustrophobic space into an emotional minefield, Repulsion is a surreal, mind-bending odyssey into personal horror, and it remains one of cinema’s most shocking psychological thrillers.” – The Criterion Collection

Ringu

34. (+10) Ringu

Hideo Nakata

1998 / Japan / 96m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Yûko Takeuchi, Hitomi Satô, Yôichi Numata, Yutaka Matsushige, Katsumi Muramatsu, Rikiya ôtaka, Masako, Daisuke Ban

“Director Hideo Nakata manages to strike a genuinely alarming balance between the cultural depths of Japanese folklore and the surface sheen of latter-day teen culture. With its video curses, late-night television links and matter-of-life-or-death phone calls, Ring has more than enough techno-friendly trappings to ensnare the average channel surfer. But lurking at the bottom of its well of intrigue is a timeless terror more attuned to the mature sensibilities of an adult audience. And it is this unique combination of old folk devils and contemporary moral panics which gives Ring such a nerve-rattling edge.” – Mark Kermode, Sight and Sound

Friday the 13th

35. (+10) Friday the 13th

Sean S. Cunningham

1980 / USA / 95m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Peter Brouwer, Rex Everhart

“When viewed in comparison to the current state of horror movies as defined by the Hostel and Saw series, the original Friday the 13th seems downright tame, if not genuinely classical with its stripped down, campfire-tale aesthetic. And that is, ultimately, what the film is: a campfire boogeyman story designed to do little more than build tension and deliver a few well-timed shocks, which it does with precision and even a bit of artistry. It’s certainly easy to knock Friday the 13th for its various faults, but what those criticisms usually boil down to is an assault on its limited aspirations. Sure, it doesn’t do a whole lot, but what it does do it does quite well.” – James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk

Låt den rätte komma in

36. (-22) Låt den rätte komma in

Tomas Alfredson

2008 / Sweden / 115m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist, Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord, Mikael Rahm, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Anders T. Peedu

“Though subtlety and atmosphere may be two of the key factors that help distinguish Let the Right One In from a vast majority of jump-cut-laden adolescent vampire flicks, the filmmakers don’t shy away when the time comes for all hell to break loose. Not only does that stylistic decision allow cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema the chance to get a little creative during some of the film’s more intense sequences, but it also helps to make the violence all the more effective when it actually occurs onscreen, skillfully laying the groundwork for a beautifully executed payoff that will nudge Let the Right One In into near-classic territory for many.” – Jason Buchanan, TV Guide

Hellraiser

37. (+1) Hellraiser

Clive Barker

1987 / UK / 94m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, Sean Chapman, Oliver Smith, Robert Hines, Anthony Allen, Leon Davis, Michael Cassidy, Frank Baker

“Barker’s dazzling debut as a director creates such an atmosphere of dread that the astonishing visual set pieces simply detonate in a chain reaction of cumulative intensity. His use of the traditional ‘teenage screamer’ heroine (Larry’s daughter) tends to undercut the unsettling moral ambiguities of the adult triangle, and the brooding menace of the Cenobites is far more terrifying than the climactic rollercoaster ride. These are small quibbles, however, in a debut of such exceptional promise. A serious, intelligent and disturbing horror film.” – Time Out

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

38. (+19) Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Don Siegel

1956 / USA / 80m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Jean Willes, Ralph Dumke, Virginia Christine, Tom Fadden, Kenneth Patterson

“Siegel, as ever rough-edged and machismo, is clearly taken with this smart screenplay’s many levels, and deliberately lets this film run from terror to melodrama to comedy. As screenwriters were being blacklisted, he went for the jugular of American paranoia. As Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, both hitting a shrill exaggeration in performance, dash about avoiding assimilation while no one listens, Siegel’s isn’t a work of paranoia; it’s a sarcastic attack upon it.” – Ian Nathan, Empire Magazine

Videodrome

39. (+12) Videodrome

David Cronenberg

1983 / Canada / 87m / Col / Body Horror | IMDb
James Woods, Sonja Smits, Deborah Harry, Peter Dvorsky, Leslie Carlson, Jack Creley, Lynne Gorman, Julie Khaner, Reiner Schwartz, David Bolt

“When Max Renn goes looking for edgy new shows for his sleazy cable TV station, he stumbles across the pirate broadcast of a hyperviolent torture show called Videodrome. As he struggles to unearth the origins of the program, he embarks on a hallucinatory journey… Videodrome is one of writer/director David Cronenberg’s most original and provocative works, fusing social commentary with shocking elements of sex and violence. With groundbreaking special effects makeup by Academy Award®-winner Rick Baker, Videodrome has come to be regarded as one of the most influential and mind-bending science fiction films of the 1980s.” – The Criterion Collection

Les yeux sans visage

40. (+7) Les yeux sans visage

Georges Franju

1960 / France / 88m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel, Edith Scob, François Guérin, Alexandre Rignault, Béatrice Altariba, Charles Blavette, Claude Brasseur, Michel Etcheverry

“An incredible amalgam of horror and fairytale in which scalpels thud into quivering flesh and the tremulous heroine (Scob) remains a prisoner of solitude in a waxen mask of eerie, frozen beauty… Illuminated throughout by Franju’s unique sense of poetry – nowhere more evident than in the final shot of Scob wandering free through the night, her mask discarded but her face seen only by the dogs at her feet and the dove on her shoulder – it’s a marvellous movie in the fullest sense.” – Tom Milne, Time Out

The Descent

41. (-20) The Descent

Neil Marshall

2005 / UK / 99m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone, Oliver Milburn, Molly Kayll, Craig Conway, Leslie Simpson

“From the high-impact opening shock to the poignantly bleak ending, this underground Deliverance is designed to cause maximum stress in anyone remotely claustrophobic, vertiginous or afraid of the dark. Marshall’s expert choreography of the creepy “crawler” creatures provides the extra terror, while they provide the full-on skin-slicing gore. As a writer and director he has a keen understanding of what makes the horror genre tick, and overturns the usual conventions with canny wit. Super-scary and vicious, both psychologically and physically, this cleverly produced chill-ride is edgy British horror at its very best.” – Alan Jones, Radio Times

Se7en

42. (+49) Se7en

David Fincher

1995 / USA / 127m / Col / Crime | IMDb
Morgan Freeman, Andrew Kevin Walker, Daniel Zacapa, Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow, John Cassini, Bob Mack, Peter Crombie, Reg E. Cathey, R. Lee Ermey

“Admittedly, designer unpleasantness is a hallmark of our era, and this movie may be more concerned with wallowing in it than with illuminating what it means politically. Yet the filmmakers stick to their vision with such dedication and persistence that something indelible comes across—something ethically and artistically superior to The Silence of the Lambs that refuses to exploit suffering for fun or entertainment and leaves you wondering about the world we’re living in.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Aliens

43. (+36) Aliens

James Cameron

1986 / USA / 137m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, William Hope, Al Matthews, Mark Rolston

“The first of these movies remains one of the great sci-fi horror achievements of the modern cinema, but its sequel, “Aliens,” is that rare instance where a follow-up deviates from the formula and finds an effective rhythm in propelling the story. As a vehicle to showcase the emerging talents of a then-relative newcomer named James Cameron, the movie also inspired the way many such films have been made in the years since: with full ensembles of distinctive speaking parts, moody photography that exploited claustrophobic feelings, and a sense of storytelling that was gradual but unrelenting in the way it imprisoned characters in a world of nonstop terror.” – David Keyes, Cinemaphile

Peeping Tom

44. (+4) Peeping Tom

Michael Powell

1960 / UK / 101m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Karlheinz Böhm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley, Brenda Bruce, Miles Malleson, Esmond Knight, Michael Goodliffe, Martin Miller, Jack Watson

“Few films have as strange and tortured a destiny as Peeping Tom. Unanimously savaged by critics at the time of its 1960 release, Michael Powell’s sympathetic portrait of a mild-mannered serial killer was pulled from London theaters in less than a week… Today, thanks largely to a 1980 revival engineered by Powell enthusiast and fellow director Martin Scorsese, Peeping Tom is rightly seen as a horror classic and sophisticated psychological journey… Peeping Tom was a bold, subversive risk. Far ahead of its time, it’s a study in voyeurism that equates photography and moviemaking with scopophilia, the morbid urge to gaze.” – Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle

King Kong

45. (+61) King Kong

Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack

1933 / USA / 100m / BW / Monster | IMDb
Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher, Sam Hardy, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente, James Flavin, King Kong

“If this glorious pile of horror-fantasy hokum has lost none of its power to move, excite and sadden, it is in no small measure due to the remarkable technical achievements of Willis O’Brien’s animation work, and the superbly matched score of Max Steiner… The throbbing heart of the film lies in the creation of the semi-human simian himself, an immortal tribute to the Hollywood dream factory’s ability to fashion a symbol that can express all the contradictory erotic, ecstatic, destructive, pathetic and cathartic buried impulses of ‘civilised’ man.” – Wally Hammond, Time Out

Les diaboliques

46. (+34) Les diaboliques

Henri-Georges Clouzot

1955 / France / 114m / BW / Psychological | IMDb
Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel, Jean Brochard, Thérèse Dorny, Michel Serrault, Georges Chamarat, Robert Dalban, Camille Guérini

“Before Psycho, Peeping Tom, and Repulsion, there was Diabolique. This thriller from Henri‑Georges Clouzot, which shocked audiences in Europe and the U.S., is the story of two women—the fragile wife and the willful mistress of the sadistic headmaster of a boys’ boarding school—who hatch a daring revenge plot. With its unprecedented narrative twists and terrifying images, Diabolique is a heart-grabbing benchmark in horror filmmaking, featuring outstanding performances by Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, and Paul Meurisse.” – The Criterion Collection

Dracula

47. (+6) Dracula

Tod Browning

1931 / USA / 75m / BW / Vampire | IMDb
Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Dwight Frye, Edward Van Sloan, Herbert Bunston, Frances Dade, Joan Standing, Charles K. Gerrard

“This seminal classic from director Tod Browning is one of the most famous horror movies ever made, but by today’s standards it is rather talky, stagebound and bloodless, with most of its important chills occurring off-screen. However, it remains the most subtly romantic and highly atmospheric rendition of Bram Stoker’s tale about the Transylvanian count, with Browning orchestrating the opening scenes to macabre perfection.” – Alan Jones, Radio Times

Scream

48. (-22) Scream

Wes Craven

1996 / USA / 111m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Drew Barrymore, Roger Jackson, Kevin Patrick Walls, David Booth, Carla Hatley, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Lawrence Hecht, Courteney Cox, W. Earl Brown

“The best fright fest of the ’90s, Wes Craven’s “Scream” playfully tweaks many of the horror/ slasher conventions in place since the arrival of “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th” in the mid-’80s, but it does so with a fiendishly clever, complicated plot that makes it an instant classic, and not simply of the genre. Though it begins and ends with requisite bloody roughness, the film deftly mixes irony, self-reference and wry social commentary with chills and blood spills.” – Richard Harrington, Washington Post

The Phantom of the Opera

49. (+75) The Phantom of the Opera

Rupert Julian

1925 / USA / 93m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland, John St. Polis, Snitz Edwards, Mary Fabian, Virginia Pearson

“The result bears out the suggestion that Phantom belongs to Chaney more than anyone else, and not just because the famous unmasking scene and the rousing finale have an energy not seen elsewhere in the film. It belongs to Chaney for the same reason Frankenstein belongs to Boris Karloff and Dracula to Bela Lugosi: His monster’s indiscriminate rages, consuming desire, and world-shattering emotions make the world around him seem tiny by comparison.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

Cat People

50. (+19) Cat People

Jacques Tourneur

1942 / USA / 73m / BW / Supernatural | IMDb
Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, Jack Holt

“First in the wondrous series of B movies in which Val Lewton elaborated his principle of horrors imagined rather than seen, with a superbly judged performance from Simon as the young wife ambivalently haunted by sexual frigidity and by a fear that she is metamorphosing into a panther. With its chilling set pieces directed to perfection by Tourneur, it knocks Paul Schrader’s remake for six, not least because of the care subtly taken to imbue its cat people (Simon, Russell) with feline mannerisms.” – Tom Milne, Time Out

Vampyr

51. (+41) Vampyr

Carl Theodor Dreyer

1932 / Germany / 83m / BW / Vampire | IMDb
Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz, Jan Hieronimko, Henriette Gérard, Albert Bras, N. Babanini, Jane Mora, Georges Boidin

“With Vampyr, Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s brilliance at achieving mesmerizing atmosphere and austere, profoundly unsettling imagery (The Passion of Joan of Arc and Day of Wrath) was for once applied to the horror genre. Yet the result—concerning an occult student assailed by various supernatural haunts and local evildoers in a village outside Paris—is nearly unclassifiable, a host of stunning camera and editing tricks and densely layered sounds creating a mood of dreamlike terror. With its roiling fogs, ominous scythes, and foreboding echoes, Vampyr is one of cinema’s great nightmares.” – The Criterion Collection

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

52. (+14) Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Philip Kaufman

1978 / USA / 115m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Art Hindle, Lelia Goldoni, Kevin McCarthy, Don Siegel, Tom Luddy

“Though it lacks the awesome allegorical ambiguousness of the 1956 classic of sci-fi/political paranoia, Kaufman and screenwriter WD Richter’s update and San Francisco transposition of Jack Finney’s novel is a far from redundant remake. The extraterrestrial pod people now erupt into a world where seemingly everyone is already ‘into’ changing their lives or lifestyles, and into a cinematic landscape already criss-crossed by an endless series of conspiracies, while the movie has as much fun toying with modern thought systems (psychology, ecology) as with elaborate variations on its predecessor.” – Time Out

28 Days Later...

53. (-33) 28 Days Later…

Danny Boyle

2002 / UK / 113m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Alex Palmer, Bindu De Stoppani, Jukka Hiltunen, David Schneider, Cillian Murphy, Toby Sedgwick, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Christopher Dunne, Emma Hitching

“From eerie vistas of deserted London to unnerving views of Manchester reduced to burning rubble, this Dogme-driven apocalyptic nightmare from director Danny Boyle is a tense, exciting and terrifying horror. A powerfully iconoclastic Dawn-meets-Day of the Dead hybrid (written by Alex Garland, author of The Beach), this triumphantly executed piece of contemporary horror has genuine shock value with its down-and-dirty violence and disturbing authenticity. Shot on digital video for a documentary feel that is tempered with occasional, unexpected flashes of surreal artfulness, Garland’s compelling story grips on every level as Boyle’s visual concept dovetails perfectly with the atmospheric narrative to produce an engrossing assault on the senses.” – Alan Jones, Radio Times

Profondo rosso

54. (+14) Profondo rosso

Dario Argento

1975 / Italy / 126m / Col / Giallo | IMDb
David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Piero Mazzinghi, Glauco Mauri, Clara Calamai, Aldo Bonamano

“Deep Red was Dario Argento’s first full-fledged masterpiece, a riveting thriller whose secrets carefully unravel via a series of carefully calibrated compositions that become not unlike virtual gateways into Freudian pasts. Like Argento’s ever-flowing camera, Deep Red’s killer is everywhere—the protagonist’s claustrophobia becomes a physical response both to the film’s oppressive mise-en-scène and Argento’s formal framing. Unlike The Cat O’ Nine Tails, there’s no silly scientific rationale here for the film’s murders (indeed, there are no easy answers). Argento delicately grapples with issues feminism and masculinity within Deep Red’s meticulously visual exegesis of a troubled psyche.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

Black Christmas

55. (+1) Black Christmas

Bob Clark

1974 / Canada / 98m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Marian Waldman, Andrea Martin, James Edmond, Doug McGrath, Art Hindle, Lynne Griffin

“A precursor to “Halloween” and infinitely superior as a thriller and slasher film, “Black Christmas” is that masterpiece of horror that has various facets years after its creation, and there’s yet to be a slasher that’s as unsettling and haunting. While I’ll always love The Shape emerging to chase after Laurie Strode, for my money “Black Christmas” is the supreme slasher film that succeeds as a nightmarish, and twisted practice in mystery and ambiguity filled with entertaining in-jokes, and a director who is not above leaving the audience with as many answers as they had before watching his work.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Shaun of the Dead

56. (-23) Shaun of the Dead

Edgar Wright

2004 / UK / 99m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Nicola Cunningham, Keir Mills, Matt Jaynes, Gavin Ferguson, Peter Serafinowicz

“A hybrid of stylish suspense and dry comedy, Shaun Of The Dead tries to do right by all its contributing elements and mostly succeeds. No laughing matter, the zombies come straight out of a George Romero film, lumbering along with a fearsome intensity. Wright directs with an expert sense of rhythm but never lays his technical finesse on with Guy Ritchie thickness; he lets his characters take center stage even after he’s shown he can frame them through a gaping hole in a zombie’s stomach.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

Re-Animator

57. (-14) Re-Animator

Stuart Gordon

1985 / USA / 104m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton, David Gale, Robert Sampson, Gerry Black, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon, Peter Kent, Barbara Pieters, Ian Patrick Williams

“Stuart Gordon doesn’t just push the envelope of good taste with this one; he tears right through it. From the opening scene the gross factor is set at a high level, and it only escalates until it reaches a moment that has remained one of the most infamous in contemporary horror film history. The sheer audacity of this film is enough to justify its cult status, but there is much more to it that has made it one of the best entries in the splatter-film subgenre. Violence and gore will only carry a film so far. What this movie has in its favor is a sharp and witty sense of dark humor. While sometimes campy, the comedy is played seriously by the actors, who never wink or nudge at the camera.” – Felix Gonzalez Jr., DVD Review

Braindead

58. (-16) Braindead

Peter Jackson

1992 / New Zealand / 104m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Timothy Balme, Diana Peñalver, Elizabeth Moody, Ian Watkin, Brenda Kendall, Stuart Devenie, Jed Brophy, Stephen Papps, Murray Keane, Glenis Levestam

“Dead-Alive is one outrageously gruesome set piece after another, a movie in which the human characters are boring but the limbs, eyeballs, and — especially — intestinal tracts have an exuberant life of their own. There are no rules in Jackson’s slapstick carnival of gore. Bodies tear themselves in half; rib cages are ripped from their owners; a murderous monster baby burrows into someone’s head from the inside; the hero plows through a living room full of zombies while wielding a raised lawn mower. Do you really want me to go on? Dead-Alive obviously isn’t for everyone, but it’s the most delirious bloodbath since Re-Animator, the kind of horror movie that makes you want to turn your head — and then dares you to look away.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Ôdishon

59. (-27) Ôdishon

Takashi Miike

1999 / Japan / 115m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura, Renji Ishibashi, Miyuki Matsuda, Toshie Negishi, Ren Ohsugi, Shigeru Saiki, Ken Mitsuishi

“Miike’s static long shots and symbolic use of color subversively recall Ozu, and the audition itself becomes, intentional or not, a studied take on stately naïvete. Audition’s stylistic trapdoor, though, isn’t as abrupt as many seem to suggest, because a shaking body bag and a troubled Asami (sitting by her phone waiting for Aoyama’s delayed call) terrifyingly portend the chaos yet to come. Miike’s torture mechanism is very much based on the premise that performance is crucial to the freeing of the soul, and just as Asami’s rage is as much a product of Freudian psychosexual repression, so too does it express a need to negate her passivity.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

The Sixth Sense

60. (-2) The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan

1999 / USA / 107m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Trevor Morgan, Donnie Wahlberg, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Jeffrey Zubernis, Bruce Norris, Glenn Fitzgerald

“Though not without some genuinely frightening moments, The Sixth Sense is less a horror film than a moody piece of magic realism. Shyamalan’s approach, composed largely of Kubrickian extended takes, has a sense of purpose and an artful construction that respects both its story and its audience, allowing both to take their time sorting things out.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

Dracula

61. (+12) Dracula

Terence Fisher

1958 / UK / 82m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Olga Dickie, John Van Eyssen, Valerie Gaunt, Janina Faye, Barbara Archer

“This creepy period yarn has retained much of its bite… One shouldn’t be brutal about a film of such noble intent, but as ‘horror’ it doesn’t have the honest-to-goodness scares that modern audiences expect. Still, Christopher Lee’s Dracula is a menacing and complex presence who never lets his fangs and cape dominate. There’s also the canny use of vampirism as an allegory for drug abuse and sexually transmitted disease: is this the camp forerunner to Abel Ferrara’s The Addiction?” – David Jenkins, Time Out

Dead of Night

62. (+33) Dead of Night

Various

1945 / UK / 103m / BW / Anthology | IMDb
Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall, Googie Withers, Frederick Valk, Anthony Baird, Sally Ann Howes, Robert Wyndham, Judy Kelly, Miles Malleson

“Unlike most other anthologies—which are usually directed by one person—Dead of Night divides its content between four different directors. That the end result is as cohesive and flows as naturally as it does is a testament to the strengths of all its directors. Basil Dearden handled the wraparound segments dealing with the gathering at the manor. The final four minutes of the film, an unbearably chilling whirlpool of madness, is a tour de force depiction of the man’s nightmare.” – Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

The Invisible Man

63. (+50) The Invisible Man

James Whale

1933 / USA / 71m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers, Una O’Connor, Forrester Harvey, Holmes Herbert, E.E. Clive, Dudley Digges, Harry Stubbs

“The megalomania that ensues upon Rains’ ability to go about unseen is played for suspense, pathos and tongue-in-cheek humour (he can’t go out in the rain, because it would make him look like a ridiculous bubble). The real strengths of the movie are John P Fulton’s remarkable special effects (Rains removing his bandages to reveal nothing, footsteps appearing as if by magic in the snow), lending much-needed conviction to the blatant fantasy; and the fact that we never see the scientist without his bandages until the very end of the film.” – Time Out

I Walked with a Zombie

64. (+38) I Walked with a Zombie

Jacques Tourneur

1943 / USA / 69m / BW / Zombie | IMDb
James Ellison, Frances Dee, Tom Conway, Edith Barrett, James Bell, Christine Gordon, Theresa Harris, Sir Lancelot, Darby Jones, Jeni Le Gon

“I Walked With a Zombie is a master class in sight, sound, and suggestion from beginning to end. Jane Eyre’s gothic romance is transplanted to the West Indies, where Betsey Connell (Dee) confronts the power of voodoo. In the film’s most famous sequence, Betsey takes an extended trip through a sugar cane field and encounters the zombie Carrefour (Jones). Tourneur’s images cast an unnerving spell, suggesting that the emotionally frustrated living may be the real zombies.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

Eraserhead

65. (0) Eraserhead

David Lynch

1977 / USA / 85m / Col / Surrealism | IMDb
Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates, Judith Roberts, Laurel Near, V. Phipps-Wilson, Jack Fisk, Jean Lange, Thomas Coulson

“Watching Eraserhead today, what emerges is the sheer, immersive clarity of David Lynch’s vision, the sense of a world unlike our own and yet inextricably bound to it: a world in which all the light has been sucked out, leaving only horror and isolation, desperation and unattainable dreams. Knowing the struggles Lynch and his crew underwent to complete this wildly uncommercial labour of love, over five years of scratching for every budgetary dollar, the absence of compromise astounds. Eraserhead is a singular work of the imagination, a harrowing, heartbreaking plunge into the darkest recesses of the soul.” – Tom Huddleston, Time Out

Night of the Demon

66. (+27) Night of the Demon

Jacques Tourneur

1957 / UK / 95m / BW / Supernatural | IMDb
Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham, Athene Seyler, Liam Redmond, Reginald Beckwith, Ewan Roberts, Peter Elliott

“A major work in that minor genre, horror movies. Intelligent, delicate, and actually frightening (no kidding), this was directed by Jacques Tourneur, author of many of the best of Val Lewton’s famous series of B-budget shockers. A shot or two of a cheesy monster (insisted upon by the producer) are the only violations of the film’s sublime allusiveness, through which the unseen acquires a palpitating presence. Tourneur is attempting a rational apprehension of the irrational, examining not so much the supernatural itself but the insecurities it springs from and the uses it may be put to.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Misery

67. (+16) Misery

Rob Reiner

1990 / USA / 107m / Col / Thriller | IMDb
James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen, Lauren Bacall, Graham Jarvis, Jerry Potter, Thomas Brunelle, June Christopher, Julie Payne

“The casting is inspired: Caan oozes frustration at his physical disability, while Bates brings authority and an eerie naturalness to her demented character, her homespun expressions (‘oogie’, ‘dirty birdy’) providing a bizarre counterpoint to her increasingly cruel actions. Reiner captures just the right level of physical tension, but for the most part wisely emphasises the mental duels. Terrific.” – Time Out

The Return of the Living Dead

68. (-4) The Return of the Living Dead

Dan O’Bannon

1985 / USA / 91m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, John Philbin, Jewel Shepard, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Brian Peck, Linnea Quigley

“O’Bannon’s filmmaking techniques are simple and resourceful, with shots following the actors around the room in consistent medium shots as they volley rapid-fire (and quotable) dialogue off of one another. It’s the zombie movie Howard Hawks never got to make, and frankly it’s less Rio Bravo than His Girl Friday with all the ribald humor on display. Well acted, with endearing characters from both the punk contingent and the middle-aged office guys.” – Jeremiah Kipp, Slant Magazine

The Ring

69. (-33) The Ring

Gore Verbinski

2002 / USA / 115m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Amber Tamblyn, Rachael Bella, Daveigh Chase, Shannon Cochran

“Expanding on the strong visual sense evinced in the otherwise mediocre The Mexican, director Gore Verbinski creates an air of dread that begins with the first scene and never lets up, subtly incorporating elements from the current wave of Japanese horror films along the way. He succeeds mostly through sleight of hand. When the shocks come, they interrupt long stretches in which the camera lingers meaningfully as characters accumulate details that confirm what they already know: What they’ve seen will kill them, and soon.” – Keith Phipps, A.V. Club

The Night of the Hunter

70. (+106) The Night of the Hunter

Charles Laughton

1955 / USA / 93m / BW / Thriller | IMDb
Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, James Gleason, Evelyn Varden, Peter Graves, Don Beddoe, Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce, Gloria Castillo

“The Night of the Hunter—incredibly, the only film the great actor Charles Laughton ever directed—is truly a stand-alone masterwork. A horror movie with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale, it stars a sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum as a traveling preacher named Harry Powell, whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children. Graced by images of eerie beauty and a sneaky sense of humor, this ethereal, expressionistic American classic—also featuring the contributions of actress Lillian Gish and writer James Agee—is cinema’s most eccentric rendering of the battle between good and evil.” – The Criterion Collection

The Wolf Man

71. (+26) The Wolf Man

George Waggner

1941 / USA / 70m / BW / Werewolf | IMDb
Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Warren William, Ralph Bellamy, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Evelyn Ankers, J.M. Kerrigan, Fay Helm

“Like most of the Universal crop, this intelligent and sophisticated picture unfortunately sports a brief running time (70 minutes), but the screenplay by Curt Siodmak manages to pack the proceedings with all manner of intriguing developments, including discussions on the duality of man as well as the place of superstition in a God-fearing world. Jack Pierce’s makeup design is superb, and the strong cast also includes Ralph Bellamy as the local constable, Lugosi as a doomed fortune teller, and Maria Ouspenskaya as the gypsy woman who attempts to help Larry.” – Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

72. (+17) Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

John McNaughton

1986 / USA / 83m / Col / Crime | IMDb
Mary Demas, Michael Rooker, Anne Bartoletti, Elizabeth Kaden, Ted Kaden, Denise Sullivan, Anita Ores, Megan Ores, Cheri Jones, Monica Anne O’Malley

“The tensions developed here are more behavioral and psychological than those essayed by Hitchcock, though the insights into the personality of a compulsive killer are at best partial and perfunctory. What mainly registers is the nihilism of the warped ex-con (Rooker) and his dim-witted friend and accomplice (Towles), who joins him in a string of senseless murders, which the film makes chillingly believable.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Creature from the Black Lagoon

73. (+64) Creature from the Black Lagoon

Jack Arnold

1954 / USA / 79m / BW / Monster | IMDb
Richard Carlson, Julie Adams, Richard Denning, Antonio Moreno, Nestor Paiva, Whit Bissell, Bernie Gozier, Henry A. Escalante

“A much more antic, exploitative experience than the Frankenstein/Wolfman/Mummy/Dracula pictures it stands alongside, Creature from the Black Lagoon perfectly typifies the transition from older, more European horror styles into bloodthirsty schlock and ever-cheaper thrills. Though the creature will destroy anyone who stands between him and Kay, who he continually sweeps up in his arms to drag off to do God-knows-where, it’s Denning actually forms the movie’s (human) conscience. An aspiring romantic stuck in a chiseled man’s-man persona, he’s all about the kill, as the audience must inevitably be as well. It’s still a man’s world—or is it?” – Steve Macfarlane, Slant Magazine

Carnival of Souls

74. (+4) Carnival of Souls

Herk Harvey

1962 / USA / 78m / BW / Psychological | IMDb
Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, Art Ellison, Stan Levitt, Tom McGinnis, Forbes Caldwell, Dan Palmquist, Bill de Jarnette, Steve Boozer

“With its striking black-and-white compositions, disorienting dream sequences and eerie atmosphere, this has the feel of a silent German expressionist movie. Unfortunately, so does some of the acting, which suffers from exaggerated facial expressions and bizarre gesturing. But the mesmerising power of the carnival and dance-hall sequences far outweighs the corniness of the awkward intimate scenes; and as Mary, caught in limbo between this world and the next, dances to the discordant carnival music of time, the subsequent work of George Romero and David Lynch comes constantly to mind.” – Time Out

Kaidan

75. (+39) Kaidan

Masaki Kobayashi

1964 / Japan / 183m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Rentarô Mikuni, Kenjirô Ishiyama, Ranko Akagi, Fumie Kitahara, Kappei Matsumoto, Yoshiko Ieda, Otome Tsukimiya, Kenzô Tanaka

“One of the most meticulously crafted supernatural fantasy films ever made, Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan is also one of the most unusual. While such classic black and white chillers as The Uninvited, The Innocents and The Haunting teasingly speculate on the existence of ghosts, this lavish widescreen and color production deals with the spirit world head-on, as something completely and frighteningly real.” – David Ehrenstein, The Criterion Collection

Day of the Dead

76. (-15) Day of the Dead

George A. Romero

1985 / USA / 96m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy, Anthony Dileo Jr., Richard Liberty, Sherman Howard, Gary Howard Klar, Ralph Marrero, John Amplas

“Though still unmistakably allegorical, much of the irony and parable foreshadowing of the first two films has all but vanished, leaving behind bitterness, lament and cynicism. In a world that seems to drift further and further into a diplomatic declaration of martial law with each and every Presidential address, the overriding voice of Day of the Dead speaks for the universal rage of all displaced peoples, backed into a corner and certain that they are in the oppressed minority. Day of the Dead is the synthesis of all the racial, tribal, social and governmental concerns of the first two films, and Romero’s notions are not pretty.” – Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

La maschera del demonio

77. (+13) La maschera del demonio

Mario Bava

1960 / Italy / 87m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri, Antonio Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi, Clara Bindi, Mario Passante

“Intense gore also being part of the Italian horror experience, I take pleasure in thinking that this early masterpiece of the form would be, in its little way, intense enough that even after decades of increasingly explicit and imaginative bloodletting, Black Sunday still includes moments that can be genuinely unsettling. The hallmark of Bava’s filmmaking is style, atmosphere, and alarming violence, and these things are all at their very best here, in his most approachable and perhaps even his most beautiful film. It’s a tremendous start to what would end up being one of the most brilliant careers in all of horror, and one of the genres undeniable masterpieces.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

The Thing from Another World

78. (+108) The Thing from Another World

Christian Nyby

1951 / USA / 87m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Margaret Sheridan, Kenneth Tobey, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, James Young, Dewey Martin, Robert Nichols, William Self, Eduard Franz, Sally Creighton

“One of the great sci-fi classics, a Hawks film in all but director credit (he produced, planned the film, supervised the shooting). The gradual build-up of tension, as a lonely group of scientists in the Antarctic discover a flying saucer and its deadly occupant, is quite superb; while The Thing itself (played by Arness) is shown sufficiently little to create real menace. As in most of Hawks’ work, the emphasis is on professionalism in a tiny, isolated community, on a love relationship evolving semi-flippant fashion into something important, and on group solidarity.” – Time Out

Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam

79. (+211) Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam

Carl Boese & Paul Wegener

1920 / Germany / 91m / BW / Fantasy | IMDb
Paul Wegener, Albert Steinrück, Lyda Salmonova, Ernst Deutsch, Hans Stürm, Max Kronert, Otto Gebühr, Dore Paetzold, Lothar Müthel, Greta Schröder

“Paul Wegener directs and stars in an enduring example of German Expressionist horror, based on an ancient Jewish myth. A mystical rabbi brings a monster to life in a bid to save Prague’s Jews from the Holy Roman Empire. Like FW Murnau’s Nosferatu, Robert Wiene’s The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari and Lang’s Metropolis, Wegener’s film is a vivid piece of darkly toned fantasy that exerted a powerful influence over both European cinema and Hollywood. James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein is only the most obvious example of Der Golem’s visual and thematic legacy. Incorporating animation and eerie, coloured tints, Der Golem is striking to look at. ” – Jon Fortgang, Channel 4

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

80. (+67) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Rouben Mamoulian

1931 / USA / 98m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart, Holmes Herbert, Halliwell Hobbes, Edgar Norton, Tempe Pigott

“March deservedly won an Oscar for his astonishing “dual” role (shared with Wallace Beery for THE CHAMP), but perhaps the real star of the film is director Mamoulian, whose audacious use of symbolism and careful pacing increase the mystique of this strange story. His heavy use of point-of-view editing is entirely appropriate to the story, and Struss’s outstanding photography is a marvel to behold. Made before the Production Code clampdown in 1934, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE not only uses violence to great effect but also does not shy away from the links between horror and sexuality.” – TV Guide’s Movie Guide

The Brood

81. (+28) The Brood

David Cronenberg

1979 / Canada / 92m / Col / Body Horror | IMDb
Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman, Nuala Fitzgerald, Cindy Hinds, Susan Hogan, Gary McKeehan, Michael Magee, Robert A. Silverman

“From its wintry Canadian setting to its prominent mad scientist figure, from its darkly imaginative plot to its chilling Howard Shore soundtrack, and from its psychosexual transformations to its unflinchingly repellent body horror, it is unmistakably a film by David Cronenberg – but what makes it unique amongst the visionary auteur’s œouvre is its close connection to his personal biography. For at the time he wrote the script, Cronenberg had just been through a difficult divorce and bitter custody battle for his own daughter – and if The Brood is concerned with transgressively extreme ways of finding release for inner feelings of rage and recrimination, then it is also clear that the film itself allowed the director to give ‘psychoplasmic’ expression to his own sense of anger and frustration.” – Anton Bitel, Movie Gazette

Island of Lost Souls

82. (+100) Island of Lost Souls

Erle C. Kenton

1932 / USA / 70m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi, Kathleen Burke, Arthur Hohl, Stanley Fields, Paul Hurst, Hans Steinke, Tetsu Komai

“One of the best-kept secrets in rock criticism is that all of Devo’s original act—from the “de-evolution” rap down to the chant of “Are we not men?”—was a straight cop from this 1933 adaptation of H.G. Wells’s Island of Dr. Moreau. Charles Laughton, with an obscene caterpillar mustache, is the mad doctor working on the transformation of animals into (sub)human beings by means of sickening “surgical techniques”; Richard Arlen and Leila Hyams are two shipwreck survivors who, unsuspecting, wash up on his shore. It’s a grand, hokey chiller, dripping with sex and sadism and photographed in dense, Sternbergian shadows by the great cinematographer Karl Struss.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

The Black Cat

83. (+63) The Black Cat

Edgar G. Ulmer

1934 / USA / 65m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners, Julie Bishop, Egon Brecher, Harry Cording, Lucille Lund, Henry Armetta, Albert Conti

“Filled with startling visuals—perhaps one of the single greatest images to come out of the Universal horror cycle is the breathtaking image of Poelzig’s collection of dead women hovering in glass cases as he walks among them stroking his cat, admiring his “pussy” as it were—and meticulously designed as one of the genuine triumphs of the first period of expressionist cinema, the film has been unfortunately overshadowed by inferior films from the Universal horror period. The Black Cat’s ability to peer around the corners of its own genre notions of master criminals and horror fiends allows for a film that is both luxuriously mysterious and strangely relevant, the shadow of a social critique within the elaborate body of a work of baroque horror.” – Joshua Vasquez, Slant Magazine

El orfanato

84. (-30) El orfanato

J.A. Bayona

2007 / Spain / 105m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, Edgar Vivar, óscar Casas, Mireia Renau, Georgina Avellaneda

“This is a movie whose power and emotional pitch lie in the understated: the discreet performances, the lack of special effects, the laconic script. Yes, one can quibble over an unnecessary prologue, a drawn-out séance and a sentimental final sequence, but these are minor flaws in a poignant film that looks to the past and the world beyond to illuminate the realities of the present.” – Maria M. Delgado, Sight and Sound

Onibaba

85. (+23) Onibaba

Kaneto Shindô

1964 / Japan / 103m / Col / Jidaigeki | IMDb
Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura, Kei Satô, Jûkichi Uno, Taiji Tonoyama, Senshô Matsumoto, Kentarô Kaji, Hosui Araya, Fudeko Tanaka, Michinori Yoshida

“No masterpiece by any means, it’s at times overplayed, but it’s striking visually, handling swift horizontal movement – and using the claustrophobic body-high reeds among which the women live – very well. It’s also genuinely erotic, and the treatment in detail of the women’s lives as essentially bestial is interesting so long as Shindo stops short of portentous allegorising about the human condition.” – Time Out

The Curse of Frankenstein

86. (+88) The Curse of Frankenstein

Terence Fisher

1957 / UK / 82m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, Christopher Lee, Melvyn Hayes, Valerie Gaunt, Paul Hardtmuth, Noel Hood, Fred Johnson, Claude Kingston

“Frankenstein was the biggest name in horror from 1931 until 1948 when Universal’s flathead met Abbott and Costello, at which point the tragic, fearsome Monster became a laughable goon… Then Hammer Films, a small British production company, had an unexpected hit with The Quatermass Experiment (1956) and cast around for another monster. They seized on the idea of remaking the original science-gone-mad property, in bloody colour and with as much bodice-ripping and eyeball-in-a-jar action as the censors would allow… it adds dynamism and British grit to a genre that had previously tried to get by on atmospherics and mood alone. It manages to be shocking without being especially frightening, and its virtues of performance and style remain striking.” – Kim Newman, Empire

La chute de la maison Usher

87. (+255) La chute de la maison Usher

Jean Epstein

1928 / France / 63m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Jean Debucourt, Marguerite Gance, Charles Lamy, Fournez-Goffard, Luc Dartagnan, Abel Gance, Halma, Pierre Hot, Pierre Kefer

“What was theoretical in Epstein’s The Three-Sided Mirror is here freer, more lucid and ethereal, and from its first image of a visitor with busy fingers wading through a tangle of trees and branches to the final orgy of poetic destruction, the director intensely considers the push-pull relationship between life and art—the precarious soul-suck between the two and the chaos their battle risks. When Debucourt’s Usher looks at his painting, he is both staring at the visage of his elusive wife’s representation and the audience itself. Epstein treats celluloid not unlike Usher’s canvas—a delicate, fragile thing to draw on (slow or fast, sometimes twice, thrice, four times over)—and to look at the screen of this film is to witness a portal into a complex, heretofore unknown dimension of cinematic representation.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

The Changeling

88. (-17) The Changeling

Peter Medak

1980 / Canada / 107m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh, John Colicos, Barry Morse, Madeleine Sherwood, Helen Burns, Frances Hyland, Ruth Springford

“The mansion, a gigantic and rickety invention, represents what most people would automatically picture after hearing the words “haunted house.” It’s dark and creepy, and it’s a wonder that Scott’s character even agreed to live there. While the house provides the aura of dread that pervades the movie, the restraint shown by director Peter Medak is just as responsible for the effectiveness of the tale. Instead of inundating us with over-the-top haunted house hijinks, he bides his time by waiting before introducing the ghostly happenings – a weird noise here, a horrifying vision there – which provides a satisfyingly ominous atmosphere.” – Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

The Howling

89. (-5) The Howling

Joe Dante

1981 / USA / 91m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb
Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski, Kevin McCarthy, John Carradine, Slim Pickens, Elisabeth Brooks, Robert Picardo

“The Howling is a cracking good horror film, anchored by strong performances. Rather than being a stereotypical female victim, Karen is smart, fierce, and formidable, even when she’s vulnerable in the face of hairy beasts. The movie is also aided by groundbreaking special effects, which still look phenomenal today. Makeup wizard Rob Bottin developed a smoother, more convincing way to do werewolf transitions than had ever been seen before. Without a doubt, the showstopping moment comes when we spend several minutes watching a character morph into a wolf. This has to be one of the seminal moments in ’80s horror.” – Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat

The Others

90. (-44) The Others

Alejandro Amenábar

2001 / USA / 101m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy, Renée Asherson, Gordon Reid, Keith Allen

“This is a modern horror film with an old-fashioned touch, relying on suspense and the suggestion of the supernatural to generate a disturbing sense of the Uncanny. In the manner of classic haunted house movies like THE INNOCENTS (1960) and THE HAUNTING (1963), THE OTHERS uses a deliberately steady pace to increase tension, gradually drawing viewers into its mystery until they are so engaged that they completely susceptible to the effectively executed scare tactics. Although the actual shocks are few and far between, the film maintains interest with its intelligent storytelling, and the rich atmosphere sustain the mood of supernatural dread throughout.” – Steve Biodrowski, ESplatter

Haute tension

91. (-17) Haute tension

Alexandre Aja

2003 / France / 91m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Cécile De France, Maïwenn, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun, Andrei Finti, Oana Pellea, Marco Claudiu Pascu, Jean-Claude de Goros, Bogdan Uritescu, Gabriel Spahiu

“Director Alexandre Aja manages to create one of the most layered and suspenseful slasher films ever made since “Halloween” and while displaying often disturbing scenes of graphic violence, the film’s main point is its atmosphere and tension as these two people play a game of cat and mouse trying to outwit one another relentlessly. The film continuously runs on a loop of a pretty plot-less and utter pointless violence and gore which becomes an exercise in snuff and brutality that didn’t satisfy any need I had for a true horror movie.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

The Body Snatcher

92. (+127) The Body Snatcher

Robert Wise

1945 / USA / 77m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater, Russell Wade, Rita Corday, Sharyn Moffett, Donna Lee

“Karloff alone makes it a worthy classic, but Wise’s smart direction is enough to push it well up into the second-tier at least of Lewton films, though it just falls short of their extremest heights of great atmosphere and psychological perception. Still, it’s a nice tight horror movie of the old school, heavy on implication and resolutely performed by people who didn’t care if they were talented enough to deserve better material. A strong, well above-average effort in almost every way, there’s no evidence at all that Lewton’s first brush with money and success dulled his instincts, and while it is generally agreed that he would make no more great films after this one, it by no means feels autumnal or valedictory – just another one of the rock-solid B-pictures that he so consistently cranked out, making better horror movies than anybody else in that generation.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Saw

93. (-53) Saw

James Wan

2004 / USA / 103m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
Leigh Whannell, Cary Elwes, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Dina Meyer, Mike Butters, Paul Gutrecht, Michael Emerson, Benito Martinez, Shawnee Smith

“Saw is everything a thriller should be. Instead of a long-winded back story to lead into our premise, Wan and Whannell move right into the thick of things. The story is exceptionally clever, revealing the characters and Jigsaw himself very carefully. Just when you may think you’re getting a handle on a character or a situation, Saw throws you for a loop again and again. The intensity is constant and absolutely relentless. Much like the tests Jigsaw puts his subjects to, Saw is an endurance test. When you think you can relax and take a deep breath, it hits you again.” – Jeff Otto, IGN

Martyrs

94. (-39) Martyrs

Pascal Laugier

2008 / France / 99m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin, Robert Toupin, Patricia Tulasne, Juliette Gosselin, Xavier Dolan, Louise Boisvert, Jean-Marie Moncelet, Jessie Pham

“[Martyrs is] one of the most extreme pictures ever made, one of the finest horror movies of the last decade… What begins as an archetypal genre piece soon twists and snaps in unexpected directions, its dizzying plunges down midnight-black rabbit holes keeping viewers disorientated and vulnerable… Martyrs is, according to Laugier, the “anti-Hostel”, its savagery devoid of glee and its scalpel scraping at mind and soul… a technically brilliant, emotionally resonant, uncommonly cerebral horror film that dares to bend every rule, blend every mood. The first half comprises a reeling camera, disjointed cutting and a half-glimpsed phantom… The second half is mechanical and methodical, evoking Michael Haneke’s cruel austerity yet infused with genuine tenderness.” – Jamie Graham, Total Film

...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà

95. (+4) …E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà

Lucio Fulci

1981 / Italy / 87m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Anthony Flees, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Gianpaolo Saccarola

“It is something of a perfect horror movie. The genre, as I have argued and others have argued before me, is all about the interruption of the quotidian by the uncanny; horror, that is, is the presence of inexplicable danger in the face of the most banal kind of normality. It’s hard to think of a better way to describe The Beyond than “inexplicable”, the plot rolls along so capriciously and arbitrarily.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Jacob's Ladder

96. (-14) Jacob’s Ladder

Adrian Lyne

1990 / USA / 113m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jason Alexander, Patricia Kalember, Eriq La Salle, Ving Rhames, Brian Tarantina

“Jacob’s Ladder invites participation and is an intellectually stimulating experience. Even for those who know the ending, there’s still pleasure to be had in piecing together the puzzle and figuring out how everything fits together. Without the final piece – that is provided in the last scene – it can be a frustrating experience, but there are those who will figure out the truth before it is explicitly revealed. The film’s tone, with its gothic settings, demonic images, and affinity for darkness and shadows, is more reminiscent of horror than anything else, although some would argue that Jacob’s Ladder should be seen as science fiction or even a war movie.” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews

Phantasm

97. (-12) Phantasm

Don Coscarelli

1979 / USA / 88m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
A. Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Bannister, Kathy Lester, Terrie Kalbus, Kenneth V. Jones, Susan Harper, Lynn Eastman-Rossi, David Arntzen, Ralph Richmond

“Cheap Phantasm was; unimaginative is emphatically was not. It looks on paper an awful lot like plenty of other films, past and future, on the model of “inquisitive kid gets in over his head”; horror films and thrillers with one foot planted firmly in bedtime story. What sets Coscarelli’s picture apart from its genre cousins is the batshit crazy tone, a certain feeling of his not giving any kind of a shit whatsoever about telling a story that makes sense; it’s suggested at the end that some indeterminate amount of the movie might have been a nightmare, even a recurring nightmare, complete with a shocker ending that seems to immediately invalidate that same possibility.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

House on Haunted Hill

98. (+31) House on Haunted Hill

William Castle

1959 / USA / 75m / BW / Haunted House | IMDb
Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr., Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman, Skeleton

“The number of people who have made B-pictures and seemed to genuinely love that they were doing it is a small list indeed, and rare indeed is the B-movie artist whose work suggests such enthusiasm for his job – it puts Castle on a rarefied level next to the like of John Carpenter, a director you could not otherwise compare him to. House on Haunted Hill might be dumb and corny and reliant to a ludicrous degree on Price’s withering sarcasm, but it not only knows what it is, it loves being what it is, and that’s enough to make it one of the very best “boo!” movies that I have ever seen.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Near Dark

99. (-23) Near Dark

Kathryn Bigelow

1987 / USA / 94m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Wright, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, Tim Thomerson, Joshua John Miller, Marcie Leeds, Kenny Call, Ed Corbett

“There’s a ghastly humor in all this, and Bigelow brings it out without overindulging it. Faced with a nearly repulsive subject, she makes the blood flow inside it, stream out over the cuts. “Near Dark” (MPAA-rated: R for sex and violence) is probably too violent for any but hard-core horror audiences. But unlike “The Hitcher,” it isn’t illogically violent or artificially horrific. Bigelow’s visual style–rudimentary in her earlier film, “The Loveless”–is often sensational here. She’s made a film whose pop nihilism and occasional wild beauty can raise a few honest shivers.” – Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

Spoorloos

100. (+35) Spoorloos

George Sluizer

1988 / Netherlands / 107m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus, Bernadette Le Saché, Tania Latarjet, Lucille Glenn, Roger Souza, Caroline Appéré

“”The Vanishing” is a thriller, but in a different way than most thrillers. It is a thriller about knowledge – about what the characters know about the disappearance, and what they know about themselves. The movie was directed by George Sluizer, based on a screenplay he did with Tim Krabbe, which in turn was based on Krabbe’s novel The Golden Egg. Together they have constructed a psychological jigsaw puzzle, a plot that makes you realize how simplistic many suspense films really are. The movie advances in a tantalizing fashion, supplying information obliquely, suggesting as much as it tells, and everything leads up to a climax that is as horrifying as it is probably inevitable.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times