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#201-#300

The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films: #201-#300

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 Picture of Dorian Gray

201. (-18) The Picture of Dorian Gray

Albert Lewin

1945 / USA / 110m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Lowell Gilmore, Richard Fraser, Douglas Walton, Morton Lowry, Miles Mander


“Albert Lewin’s direction is masterful. He uses shadow to crank up tension and atmosphere, without ever going over the top into out and out horror. The set design is brilliant, Dorian’s childhood school room, where he hides the painting, is wonderful. Lewin shot the film in black and white, save for a couple of Technicolor shots of the portrait. The portrait’s original beauty, when it is simply a painting of Dorian, and the later incarnation, as it takes on all of Dorian’s faults and turns the figure into a monster, are all breathtaking. The supporting cast is wonderful, George Sanders steals every scene he is in, rattling off Wilde’s rich and wry observations without stopping to breathe… The glaring mistake here is Hurd Hatfield in the title role… As Dorian commits murders and suicides begin swirling around him, Hatfield looks oblivious, not unfeeling or menacing.” – Charles Tatum, eFilmCritic Reviews

Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told

202. (-17) Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told

Jack Hill

1968 / USA / 81m / Col / Black Comedy | IMDb
Lon Chaney Jr., Carol Ohmart, Quinn K. Redeker, Beverly Washburn, Jill Banner, Sid Haig, Mary Mitchel, Karl Schanzer, Mantan Moreland


“Jack Hill’s Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told (1968) is first and foremost an oddity. It’s exploitation schlock horror that revels in its own schlockiness, and seems perfectly aware that it’s—in normal terms—a bad movie. Aspects of it are crude to the point of being amateurish. The film is clunky enough that it looks like a bargain basement offering from about 10 years earlier (granted, it was made four years before it was released). Yet, either in spite or because of these things, Spider Baby has an irresistable charm. This, after all, is not only a movie in which Lon Chaney, Jr. gives the best performance (roll that around in your mind), but one for which he sings the title song.” – Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

It

203. (-17) It

Tommy Lee Wallace

1990 / USA / 192m / Col / Evil Clown | IMDb
Jonathan Brandis, Brandon Crane, Adam Faraizl, Tim Curry, Emily Perkins, Marlon Taylor, Seth Green, Ben Heller, Harry Anderson, Dennis Christopher


“Stephen King creates the ultimate boogeyman and he happens to be a clown who is neither man nor monster. Though “Stephen King’s It” is filled with the usual King doldrums of a small town, hidden demons in the town, and at least one character that wants to be an author, director Tommy Lee Wallace’s adaptation is a very good bit of nostalgia, and a perfectly good horror film. All things considered. It gets a lot of flack for straying from the original novel greatly, but it is a 1990 television movie, so for the resources director Wallace is given, it offers up a creepy and spooky tale about the past coming back to haunt you.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

204. (-17) Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles

Neil Jordan

1994 / USA / 123m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Virginia McCollam, John McConnell, Tom Cruise, Mike Seelig, Bellina Logan, Thandie Newton, Lyla Hay Owen, Lee E. Scharfstein


“For all its queasy scenes of rat-eating and throat-slashings, “Interview” isn’t a horror movie. It’s not meant to scare, because we’re asked to identify with the vampires, not their victims. The dramatic problem Jordan can’t quite surmount is that there isn’t a whole lot at stake. Can a murderer hold on to his scruples, or will he succumb to the emptiness of immortal vampire life? Yet I found myself admiring Jordan’s brave attempt to translate Rice’s kinky fatalism to the screen. This is not a movie that holds up under daytime logic. It’s about seduction, and either you succumb to its inky entrapments or you resist. When its mojo was working, I was happy to be had.” – David Ansen, Newsweek

The Legend of Hell House

205. (-17) The Legend of Hell House

John Hough

1973 / UK / 95m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill, Gayle Hunnicutt, Roland Culver, Peter Bowles


“Relying upon suggestion and anxious anticipation over violence, “The Legend of Hell House” earns a fair share of chills, many of them dealing in the expert use of shadows (one on the ceiling, another silhouetted through a shower curtain) to depict the mind games played by its encroaching apparitions. As spiritually open communicator Florence Tanner, Pamela Franklin is a standout among the above-average cast, charismatic, vulnerable and emotionally riveting in equal measure. Drenched in atmosphere and fog (and little exterior moonlight, as every nighttime establishing shot oddly appears to have been shot in the middle of the day), the film is adeptly made, if noticeably laid-back.” – Dustin Putman, The Movie Boy

Dog Soldiers

206. (-13) Dog Soldiers

Neil Marshall

2002 / UK / 105m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb
Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham, Thomas Lockyer, Darren Morfitt, Chris Robson, Leslie Simpson, Tina Landini, Craig Conway


“One of the best all-out, no-apologies, hell-bent-for-leather horror films to emerge from the beginning of the 21st century—a modestly-budgeted, action-packed effort that pits British soldiers against local werewolves with a taste for human flesh. DOG SOLDIERS is derivative of any number of previous films (reduced to its essence, one might call it a hybrid of THE HOWLING and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD), but it works on its own tongue-in-cheek terms, fillings its dialogue with references to its antecedents.” – Steve Biodrowski, Cinefantastique

Let's Scare Jessica to Death

207. (+12) Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

John D. Hancock

1971 / USA / 89m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Zohra Lampert, Barton Heyman, Kevin O’Connor, Gretchen Corbett, Alan Manson, Mariclare Costello


“Directed by the unheralded John Hancock in 1971, this is a hippie-era curiosity – a film once so obscure the few who’d seen it thought it might have been a dream, which is now gaining in reputation. It’s at once an anatomy-of-a-crack-up film constructed around Zohra Lampert’s extraordinary, fragile performance as a woman who can’t distinguish reality from fantasy, and a vampire movie about a flower child (Mariclare Costello) who drains the blood from an entire town of unfriendly, scarred folks. The last reels manage a symphony of shudders and a succession of beautiful, creepy images. The dead girl walking out of the lake is perhaps the single scariest image I retain from horror film-viewing in my teens. It’s still unsettling.” – Kim Newman, Focus Features

Reazione a catena

208. (-35) Reazione a catena

Mario Bava

1971 / Italy / 84m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Camaso, Anna Maria Rosati, Chris Avram, Leopoldo Trieste, Laura Betti, Brigitte Skay, Isa Miranda, Paola Montenero


“It’s immaculately constructed, filled to the brim with well-developed characters that are simply delightful to hate, and it’s got some of the loveliest location photography of any movie from the whole decade. By all accounts, it was Bava’s favorite among his films, and it’s not at all hard to see why. Everything works in Reazione a catena, from the broadest elements of the story arc to the tiniest details of mise en scène, and if only one-hundredth of the films it influenced had one-hundredth of its perfection, the horror film would be a much less disreputable and more wonderful thing than has been the case.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Trick 'r Treat

209. (+15) Trick ‘r Treat

Michael Dougherty

2007 / USA / 82m / Col / Anthology | IMDb
Dylan Baker, Rochelle Aytes, Quinn Lord, Lauren Lee Smith, Moneca Delain, Tahmoh Penikett, Brett Kelly, Britt McKillip, Isabelle Deluce, Jean-Luc Bilodeau


“[A] welcome addition to the post-modern meditation on the genre. An anthology at its core, but more a triumphant return to old school shivers, this unique narrative experience will instantly remind the viewer of cold Fall nights, years ago, when 31 October was a date to be reckoned with. A quasi-classic, this exceptional look at what Halloween really means is the byproduct of writer/director Michael Dougherty’s desire to craft, what he lovingly refers to, as tales of “mayhem, mystery, and mischief. Perhaps the most surprising thing about this love letter to ghosts, ghouls, and goblins is how accomplished it is. With only a few scripts under his belt (he co-wrote X2 and Superman Returns), Dougherty turns out to be as visually compelling as Tim Burton, or even Terry Gilliam.” – Bill Gibron, PopMatters

Salem's Lot

210. (-14) Salem’s Lot

Tobe Hooper

1979 / USA / 187m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Julie Cobb, Elisha Cook Jr., George Dzundza, Ed Flanders, Clarissa Kaye-Mason


““Salem’s Lot” presents a very humanistic approach toward vampire folklore. Ben Mears, filled with desperation and literally nothing left to lose in the face of a fantastic situation, finds himself in a local morgue prepared to face down one of the unholy walking dead by taping together two tongue depressors and scotch tape, supplying a makeshift crucifix… It about sums up the whole of “Salem’s Lot,” a film wrapped around despair and tension where a small town’s unrest and inner turmoil of infidelity and abuse is brought to the surface when faced with a hidden menace in the shadows, in the form of a vampire striking down town residents one by one.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

The Exorcist III

211. (+14) The Exorcist III

William Peter Blatty

1990 / USA / 110m / Col / Possession | IMDb
George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller, Nicol Williamson, Scott Wilson, Nancy Fish, George DiCenzo, Don Gordon, Lee Richardson


““Exorcist III” is an old-fashioned, precise nightmare machine, trusting the grip of psychological torment to generate wicked scares. It’s certainly a talky picture, but outrageously cinematic, with a predatory sound and visual design that seeps into the skin, gradually churning unease as Kinderman pieces together the ghastly details of the crimes. Blatty directs with an eye toward intangible menace, using composition and stillness as a way of creating threat — there’s little about the film that plays by standard genre rules as we know them today. Sure, a few shocks strike from the shadows, and there’s a bit of gore to keep the hungry happy, but the majority of the film is played frigidly to optimize the creeps. I could kiss Blatty for making such a patient effort. “Exorcist III” is watchful, internalized, vulnerable. It’s, gasp, scary.” – Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com

L'inferno

212. (+23) L’inferno

Francesco Bertolini & Adolfo Padovan & Giuseppe de Liguoro

1911 / Italy / 71m / BW / Fantasy | IMDb
Salvatore Papa, Arturo Pirovano, Giuseppe de Liguoro, Pier Delle Vigne, Augusto Milla, Attilio Motta, Emilise Beretta


“Italy’s first feature-length film… [it] reportedly took in more than $2 million at the U.S. box office, and proved audiences worldwide were willing to sit through a long-form film in one shot. What may have helped keep audiences attentive was Dante’s story and risqué material that’s still quite provocative: this first film version of The Divine Comedy features partial nudity and magnificently surreal images which undoubtedly influenced future filmmakers with its vivid mise-en-scene. The film’s legendary production phase includes a nearly 3 year period, a large cast and meticulous sets, and clever optical effects which may seem charming but are quite innovative.” – Mark R. Hasan, KQEK.com

The Sentinel

213. (+36) The Sentinel

Michael Winner

1977 / USA / 92m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Arthur Kennedy, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Deborah Raffin


“With an impressive cast list, and some visuals that bring up memories of Lucio Fulci, The Sentinel is a great classic that everyone should watch. There’s something very dirty and disturbing about a lot of horror films from the 70s. Typically, they aren’t as violent as horror movies can be now, but they frequently have a skin crawling effect that is currently lacking in the genre. The Sentinel is uncomfortable for most of its running time. From the very strange neighbours in Alison’s new apartment building, to her terrible memories of the past, to an ending that you just won’t expect, almost every moment will leave you with chills.” – The film reel

The Dead Zone

214. (-16) The Dead Zone

David Cronenberg

1983 / USA / 103m / Col / Thriller | IMDb
Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams, Tom Skerritt, Herbert Lom, Anthony Zerbe, Colleen Dewhurst, Martin Sheen, Nicholas Campbell, Sean Sullivan, Jackie Burroughs


“It makes for gripping supernatural drama, all the more notable because it wasn’t quite what any of the principals had done before or since. Walken rarely gets a chance to play Ordinary Guy like he does here, while Cronenberg’s penchant for the weird and obtuse is abandoned without losing the exquisite sensibilities that make him such a great filmmaker. Even King moved in a slightly different direction with this one, staying away from straight-up horror for one of the first times in its career. It kind of sneaks up on you. This is not a noisy film, and won’t attract the kind of spotlights that an evil Plymouth or rabid St. Bernard might. But it delves deeper than they do for its ideas, and travels much further as a result.” – Rob Vaux, Mania.com

Hostel

215. (-21) Hostel

Eli Roth

2005 / USA / 94m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson, Barbara Nedeljakova, Jan Vlasák, Jana Kaderabkova, Jennifer Lim, Keiko Seiko, Lubomír Bukový


“Eli Roth’s “Hostel” is an agonizing experience to sit through – disheartening, unpleasant, bursting with torture, detached and harsh, and unrelenting in its passion for the horrific. To call it a challenge in the visual sense does not begin to explain its ability to completely rob you of the comfort of artifice; it so fully indulges in its reality that every cut, every bloodcurdling moment in which pain is inflicted on a number of unsuspecting victims, is felt rather than seen. That may rob the movie of repeat value even in the hands of audiences who willingly embrace this overzealous sub-genre of torture-driven horror, but it does provoke deeper considerations: in the hands of skilled filmmakers who know how to establish reason and perspective, can extreme visual depravity rise above its nature to merely sicken and appall?” – David Keyes, Cinemaphile

Maniac

216. (-14) Maniac

William Lustig

1980 / USA / 87m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper, Rita Montone, Tom Savini, Hyla Marrow, James L. Brewster, Linda Lee Walter, Tracie Evans


“Lustig’s film depicts this lunatic in a somewhat compassionate light, making sure to complement Zito’s grisly slayings with moments of schizophrenic introspection as he mumbles to himself about the childhood abuse that scarred his psyche. Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg’s script, however, stops short of trying to elicit outright sympathy, a wise decision given Zito’s bloody habit of stabbing whores in seedy motel rooms – an act that, like so many of his killings, has an overt sexual component – and shooting lovers at point blank range with a shotgun (leading to horror make-up expert Tom Savini’s infamous exploding head cameo). Spinell’s committed performance as the slovenly, misogynistic fiend has a frenzied intensity that only somewhat compensates for the implausible plot, which eventually involves Zito’s relationship with a way-out-of-his-league photographer. But as a grimy snapshot of early ‘80s Manhattan and an unapologetically twisted study in pathological murderousness, Maniac still exhibits a hideous pulse.” – Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness

Scanners

217. (-10) Scanners

David Cronenberg

1981 / Canada / 103m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Jennifer O’Neill, Stephen Lack, Patrick McGoohan, Lawrence Dane, Michael Ironside, Robert A. Silverman, Lee Broker, Mavor Moore, Adam Ludwig, Murray Cruchley


“Part conspiracy thriller, part political tract, it is Cronenberg’s most coherent movie to date, drawing a dark (but bland) world in which corporate executives engineer human conception to produce ever more powerful mental samurai. And he punctuates it with spectacular set piece confrontations which really do dramatise the abstract, ingenious premise. As always, there’s a nagging feeling that the script is not quite perfectly realised on screen, but Patrick McGoohan’s bizarre cameo performance, and the extraordinary moral and sexual ambiguity of the final scanning contest, more than make up for it.” – Derek Adams, Time Out

Dead Ringers

218. (-14) Dead Ringers

David Cronenberg

1988 / Canada / 116m / Col / Psychological | IMDb
Jeremy Irons, Geneviève Bujold, Heidi von Palleske, Barbara Gordon, Shirley Douglas, Stephen Lack, Nick Nichols, Lynne Cormack, Damir Andrei, Miriam Newhouse


“[Cronenberg] clearly understands that a small amount of medical mischief can be more unnerving than conventional grisliness. Even the film’s opening credits, which present antiquated obstetrical drawings and strange medical instruments, are enough to make audiences queasy. Who, then, will be drawn to this spectacle? Anyone with a taste for the macabre wit, the weird poignancy and the shifting notions of identity that lend ‘Dead Ringers’ such fascination. And anyone who cares to see Jeremy Irons’s seamless performance, a schizophrenic marvel, in the two title roles. Mr. Cronenberg has shaped a startling tale of physical and psychic disintegration, pivoting on the twins’ hopeless interdependence and playing havoc with the viewer’s grip on reality.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

The Curse of the Werewolf

219. (-11) The Curse of the Werewolf

Terence Fisher

1961 / UK / 93m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb
Clifford Evans, Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Catherine Feller, Anthony Dawson, Josephine Llewellyn, Richard Wordsworth, Hira Talfrey, Justin Walters, John Gabriel


“Lon Chaney, Jr.’s Wolf Man may be cinema’s most famous lycanthrope, but there can be little doubt that this 1960 film from Hammer Productions is the best werewolf movie ever made. It features all of the studio’s classic virtues: beautiful sets, effective music, colorful photography, solid scripting, memorable performances, and a muscular directorial approach that relishes depicting horror for the maximum emotional impact.” – Steve Biodrowski, Cinemafantastique

Operazione paura

220. (+34) Operazione paura

Mario Bava

1966 / Italy / 85m / BW / Gothic | IMDb
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Erika Blanc, Fabienne Dali, Piero Lulli, Luciano Catenacci, Micaela Esdra, Franca Dominici, Giuseppe Addobbati, Mirella Pamphili, Giovanna Galletti


“There’s an overwhelming sense here that the horror that plagues the film’s characters is a response or manifestation of their fears and deepest desires. The film’s aggressively baroque exteriors are often in sharp contrast with the spare, almost Brechtian interiors. Because Bava meant to create a strange dialectic between a hallucinatory, pastoral exterior and a deceptively sterile interior, there’s a heavy emphasis on doors and windows closing on their own or blocking Melissa’s passage between worlds. The girl’s gaze, though, is unavoidable, as is her bouncing ball, which has a way of defying space and teasing the film’s characters, even in death.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

Blood Feast

221. (+8) Blood Feast

Herschell Gordon Lewis

1963 / USA / 67m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
William Kerwin, Mal Arnold, Connie Mason, Lyn Bolton, Scott H. Hall, Christy Foushee, Ashlyn Martin, Astrid Olson, Sandra Sinclair, Gene Courtier


“When asked in a 1982 interview if he’d ever been offended by a film, John Carpenter opined, “Yes, I have. There was a movie called ‘Blood Feast’…” This notorious item, the work of cult favorite and “Godfather of Gore” Herschell Gordon Lewis, was the first real American splatter film (of course, foreign movies ranging from 1960’s Jigoku to the Hammer films all the way back to Un Chien Andalou had been distributing plasma for years). As such, it enjoys an avid following that has nothing much to do with its quality ? or lack thereof; in fact, its fans treasure its very dearth of professionalism.” – Rob Gonsalves, eFilmCritic.com

New Nightmare

222. (+25) New Nightmare

Wes Craven

1994 / USA / 112m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Jeff Davis, Heather Langenkamp, Miko Hughes, Matt Winston, Rob LaBelle, David Newsom, Wes Craven, Marianne Maddalena, Gretchen Oehler, Tracy Middendorf


“Ten years after ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ first scared the daylights out of audiences, Wes Craven returns to his now classic horror premise and takes it to a new dimension. With equal debts to Pirandello and P. T. Barnum, Mr. Craven brings his prize creation, Freddy Krueger, out of the realm of Halloween masks and into the so-called real world. Realism is fundamental to the “Nightmare” series. Mr. Craven does not deal chiefly in phantasmagoric demons; he deals in terrifying extensions of everyday experience, the stuff of which true nightmares are made.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

The Blob

223. (-10) The Blob

Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.

1958 / USA / 86m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howland, Stephen Chase, John Benson, George Karas, Lee Payton, Elbert Smith, Hugh Graham


“It’s interesting to watch writers and fans scramble to find an appropriate metaphor for “The Blob” – after all, this was the 1950s, when every sci-fi horror flick had to mean something, be it a commentary on Eisenhower-era conformity or a reaction to atomic age fears or a warning of the Communist threat. The most common analysis suggests the latter, but I’d like to think “The Blob” stands for nothing but a good scare at the movies (suggested best by the classic, winkingly meta sequence where the creature oozes into a theater showing a “midnight spook show,” sending viewers screaming into the streets). Sure, it sneaks some ideas into the corners, mainly the aforementioned “the kids are alright” premise, but overall it’s harmlessly, almost admirably shallow. It works because it’s sincere in its superficiality, hoping to earn some gee-whiz reactions from an eager audience.” – David Cornelius, Popcornworld

The Lodger

224. (+49) The Lodger

John Brahm

1944 / USA / 84m / BW / Thriller | IMDb
Merle Oberon, George Sanders, Laird Cregar, Cedric Hardwicke, Sara Allgood, Aubrey Mather, Queenie Leonard, Doris Lloyd, David Clyde, Helena Pickard


“If “The Lodger” was designed to chill the spine—as indeed it must have been, considering all the mayhem Mr. Cregar is called upon to commit as the mysterious, psychopathic pathologist of the title—then something is wrong with the picture. But, if it was intended as a sly travesty on the melodramatic technique of ponderously piling suspicion upon suspicion (and wrapping the whole in a cloak of brooding photographic effects), then “The Lodger” is eminently successful.” – The New York Times

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

225. (-11) The Hunchback of Notre Dame

William Dieterle

1939 / USA / 117m / BW / Drama | IMDb
Charles Laughton, Cedric Hardwicke, Thomas Mitchell, Maureen O’Hara, Edmond O’Brien, Alan Marshal, Walter Hampden, Harry Davenport, Katharine Alexander


“The first thing that is noticed right off the bat, at least in relation to the Disney version of the story, is that this film is much more dramatic, serious and dark than Disney’s, which makes sense. The nature of the beast that is Quasimodo is much more terrifying and the job the filmmakers do on Charles Laughton is spectacular. The make up and everything else that went into making Laughton look like the hunchback is true movie magic. In addition, Laughton gives a good performance in the role. There isn’t a whole lot to do with the character except look a bit forlorn and misunderstood, but when given the chance he does a good job.” – Adam Kuhn, Corndog Chats

The Spiral Staircase

226. (+30) The Spiral Staircase

Robert Siodmak

1945 / USA / 83m / BW / Mystery | IMDb
Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Kent Smith, Rhonda Fleming, Gordon Oliver, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Allgood, Rhys Williams, James Bell


“With its stark expressionistic design and cinematography, to say nothing of its atmospheric Gothic set, The Spiral Staircase hss not just the feel but the actual living substance of the darkest nightmare. The enormous swathes of shadow which drape the sinister mansion interior and dwarf the protagonists resemble the talons of some gigantic night beast that is constantly on the verge of striking. From the very first shot to the very last, there is a sense of menace and anticipation that is both spellbinding and terrifying, slowly building to a dizzying climax in the final nerve shattering ten minutes. No wonder the film shocked audiences when it was first released – it has much the same impact today, particularly if you watch it alone, with the lights turned out – preferably in a dark old house…” – James Travers, French Film Site

Duel

227. (+7) Duel

Steven Spielberg

1971 / USA / 90m / Col / Thriller | IMDb
Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone, Lou Frizzell, Gene Dynarski, Lucille Benson, Tim Herbert, Charles Seel, Shirley O’Hara, Alexander Lockwood


“‘Duel’ might almost have been a silent film, because it expresses so much through action and so little through the words that are here. Mr. Weaver is David Mann, the film’s only real character, and he’s given a few internal monologues that only awkwardly express Mann’s anxiety… These and a few whimsical conversations from a call-in radio show are really all the character development the movie provides, and they’re much weaker than the ingenious visual effects. Mr. Spielberg wasn’t purely a special-effects director in those days, and he isn’t one now, but the people in ‘Duel’ seem particularly remote… The vehicles are the real stars” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

American Psycho

228. (-19) American Psycho

Mary Harron

2000 / USA / 102m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Samantha Mathis, Matt Ross, Jared Leto, Willem Dafoe


“[American Psycho] regards the male executive lifestyle with the devotion of a fetishist. There is a scene where a group of businessmen compare their business cards, discussing the wording, paper thickness, finish, embossing, engraving and typefaces, and they might as well be discussing their phalli… It is their uneasy secret that they make enough money to afford to look important, but are not very important… I have overheard debates about whether some of the murders are fantasies (“can a man really aim a chain saw that well?”). All of the murders are equally real or unreal, and that isn’t the point: The function of the murders is to make visible the frenzy of the territorial male when his will is frustrated.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Gwoemul

229. (+13) Gwoemul

Joon-ho Bong

2006 / South Korea / 120m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon, Hae-il Park, Doona Bae, Ah-sung Ko, Dal-su Oh, Jae-eung Lee, Dong-ho Lee, Je-mun Yun, David Anselmo


“The mood shifts wildly between comedy, horror, serious drama, and action – but Bong always seems in control and by the end leaves one feeling satisfied (though not overstuffed) with the results as it’s both exciting and ballsy. Even our protagonists have an endearing everydayness about them which makes them easy to root for. In spite of its assorted lumpy bits, this is a far more successful monster movie than any creature feature Hollywood has churned out in a LONG time.” – Garth Franklin, Dark Horizons

The Devil-Doll

230. (+13) The Devil-Doll

Tod Browning

1936 / USA / 78m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Rafaela Ottiano, Robert Greig, Lucy Beaumont, Henry B. Walthall, Grace Ford, Pedro de Cordoba, Arthur Hohl


“It’s no classic like Freaks, but it’s distinctly fun, with appropriately melodramatic performances by a delightful cast. The secret “toy” factory in the toyshop is minimalist for conveying weird scientific equipment but it’s a nice set even so, & the FX for shrunken animals & people are likewise kept simple but very appealing. So if you’re in the “mood” for experiencing & appreciating period horror it’s authentically scary stuff. A viewer who can’t quite relate to it in the spirit of its era will yet enjoy it, but probably find it a mite comical, which is still enjoyable.” – Paghat the Ratgirl, Weird Wild Realm

Isle of the Dead

231. (+58) Isle of the Dead

Mark Robson

1945 / USA / 71m / BW / Mystery | IMDb
Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer, Katherine Emery, Helene Thimig, Alan Napier, Jason Robards Sr., Ernst Deutsch


“Lewton’s signature, of course, was atmospheric spookiness, not shocks. A couple of good jumps aside, his movies have endured because of his remarkable talent in fusing the eerie with the melancholy. But whether it was by design or pressure from Gross, Isle of the Dead offers both the unsettling and the truly startling as it reaches its climax. The fear of being buried alive gets its ultimate expression here. At first that fear is played out in indelibly understated creepiness — the camera slowly moving in on a closed casket, wrapped in the shadows of tree branches swaying in the wind. And then… a noise. It builds from there when Thea slowly walks through the same area later. Obscured by heavy darkness and aided by a strikingly modern use of flash frames, a figure appears so fleetingly you are not sure you’ve seen her at first. But then she makes her presence definitively known. Taken together, these scenes rank among the most bone-chilling moments from any era of horror cinema.” – Joel Wicklund, Classic-Horror

The Man Who Laughs

232. (-17) The Man Who Laughs

Paul Leni

1928 / USA / 110m / BW / Melodrama | IMDb
Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Julius Molnar, Olga Baclanova, Brandon Hurst, Cesare Gravina, Stuart Holmes, Sam De Grasse, George Siegmann, Josephine Crowell


“Like many a German expressionist nightmare, The Man Who Laughs (based on a novel by Victor Hugo) is a collision of non-complementary angles and framing that confuses as often as it elucidates. At the same time—and unlike Caligari or Leni’s own Waxworks—it is also remarkably clean in its delineation of action. In the same manner that Veidt is both the film’s central monster as well as its main source of pathos (all but laying out the blueprint for James Whale’s Frankenstein), the film’s fascination with bric-a-brac and its tendency toward spare, minimalist compositions is evidence of a stylistic schism.” – Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine

A Bucket of Blood

233. (+13) A Bucket of Blood

Roger Corman

1959 / USA / 66m / BW / Black Comedy | IMDb
Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone, Julian Burton, Ed Nelson, John Brinkley, John Herman Shaner, Judy Bamber, Myrtle Vail, Bert Convy


“This is undoubtedly one of the director’s best works. It’s beautifully shot in crisp black and white, and alongside the comedy it contains some truly chilling scenes. Everything is played absolutely straight so the horror is never diminished by knowing nods. Miller is superb in the central role, somehow managing to keep viewers rooting for him as he grows increasingly unhinged. Smart, playful and beautifully composed, this may not be the most famous of Corman’s works but it’s well worth rediscovering.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye For Film

The Beast with Five Fingers

234. (-18) The Beast with Five Fingers

Robert Florey

1946 / USA / 88m / BW / Mystery | IMDb
Robert Alda, Andrea King, Peter Lorre, Victor Francen, J. Carrol Naish, Charles Dingle, John Alvin, David Hoffman, Barbara Brown, Patricia Barry


“Curt Siodmak’s screenplay, from a story by William Fryer Harvey, uses a standard but sturdy setup for a supernatural whodunnit. Everybody is a suspect, even the ostensibly innocent Julie. Events go pretty much as expected until Hilary Cummins’ nightmarish scenes kick in, at which time the combined talents of director Florey, the special effects department and Max Steiner’s dynamic music raise the chill factor to the ceiling. Peter Lorre takes the effect the rest of the way, finding a dozen ways of appearing haunted, shaken and finally terrorized by a horrifying hand crawling under its own power. A shocking sight for the 1940s, the hand has been raggedly sawed or chopped off – the stump of a bone is even visible in the wound.” – Glenn Erickson, DVDTalk

Orlacs Hände

235. (-17) Orlacs Hände

Robert Wiene

1924 / Austria / 92m / BW / Psychological | IMDb
Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina, Fritz Kortner, Carmen Cartellieri, Fritz Strassny, Paul Askonas, Hans Homma


“The larger brush strokes of the narrative are eminently engrossing and chilling, focusing on Orlac’s mental anguish and on the gathering mystery of a regularly reappearing figure who may or may not be the dead Vasseur. There is more to the story than first meets the eye, and while I expect opinions about the film’s ending may vary quite a lot, it is not lacking in ingenuity. The Hands of Orlac is not about story, though, it’s about mood, a quality which it has in abundance. The situation is disconcerting enough in itself, but it’s brought home by Wiene’s breathtakingly sinister images, which reek of dark mystery and corpselike pallor. The sets, despite their verisimilitude, are just strange enough to insinuate their way into being yet another component in the frightening atmosphere, often looking as though rooms and alleyways are suspended in blackest space, isolated and terrifying to anyone who dares enter.” – Anton Mistlake, Mistlake’s Blog

The Quatermass Xperiment

236. (-25) The Quatermass Xperiment

Val Guest

1955 / UK / 82m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Margia Dean, Thora Hird, Gordon Jackson, David King-Wood, Harold Lang, Lionel Jeffries, Sam Kydd, Richard Wordsworth


“Other fine moments, such as an ill-fated car ride with his wife, make The Quatermass Xperiment a little more haunting than you may expect. Though it’s set up as a standard creature feature, it doesn’t capitulate to that mode until the very end, when the monster is finally revealed. It probably looks a little silly to modern audiences, and the film itself is certainly quite tame, this was the stuff of an “X” rating in its heyday (which also explains the odd spelling of the film’s title, which is a marketing ploy). Most of its terrors at the time would have been the psychologically unnerving sort, as audiences were only a decade removed from atomic horrors and UFO hysteria was about to reach manic heights. Guest’s film definitely taps into all of that, though it still works as a brisk, cool horror movie without those subtexts.” – Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror

The Devil's Rejects

237. (+8) The Devil’s Rejects

Rob Zombie

2005 / USA / 107m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie, William Forsythe, Ken Foree, Matthew McGrory, Leslie Easterbrook, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Dave Sheridan


“The Devil’s Rejects is a visceral little film that reverberates with nasty attitude, a knowing smirk, and a demented gleam of the eyes. That said, this is not a film for everyone. It’s a hard R, filled with disturbing imagery and f@#k laced spurts of dialogue, but it’s all part of the package and those who get it, however, will be treated to a high-octane thriller that operates on a much deeper level than your average slash-and-gore film. In the end it’s not only a perversely entertaining yarn, but a wickedly intelligent one, as well; a film that is destined to become a cult classic of the highest caliber.” – Spence D., IGN

Communion

238. (+24) Communion

Alfred Sole

1976 / USA / 98m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula E. Sheppard, Niles McMaster, Jane Lowry, Rudolph Willrich, Michael Hardstark, Alphonso DeNoble, Gary Allen, Brooke Shields


“Alice, Sweet Alice conflates the angst of adolescent sexual development with the fury of Catholic retribution, suggesting at times an analog version of David Fincher’s Se7en. It’s a dangerous combo, and it’s all over the fierce confrontations between the film’s characters and director Alfred Sole’s surprisingly formalist compositions. Indeed, there isn’t a scene in the film that doesn’t suggest a face-off between man and God—by my count, there’s only a handful of shots that don’t have a cross or statue of Christ passing judgment from some wall or corner of a room. Possibly the closet American relation to an Italian giallo, the film is head-trippingly hilarious (Jane Lowry, as Aunt Annie, may be the nuttiest screamer in the history of cinema) and features some of the more disquieting set pieces you’ll ever see in a horror film.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

The Strangers

239. (+12) The Strangers

Bryan Bertino

2008 / USA / 86m / Col / Home Invasion | IMDb
Alex Fisher, Peter Clayton-Luce, Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks, Laura Margolis, Glenn Howerton


“This premise is so simple, only a tyro writer-director like Bryan Bertino would dare pitch it. Even the similar French-Romanian movie Ils (Them) was constructed around a revelation that complicates its couple-terrorised-by-barely-seen-intruders business. This is a single idea, with only enough characterisation to force an audience to invest emotionally in the victims… an ingredient is missing – the most vicious ’70s horror films still had humour and perspective. This shows only a relentless commitment to being no fun at all, which is vaguely admirable but ultimately self-defeating. The message of ’70s horror was that straight society was crazy; the 2008 version is that other people are shit – it’s a fine distinction, but makes a depressing difference.” – Kim Newman, Empire Magazine

Final Destination

240. (-23) Final Destination

James Wong

2000 / USA / 98m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenveur Smith, Chad Donella, Seann William Scott, Tony Todd, Amanda Detmer


“Wong’s old-school modus operandi is superficially reflected in the decision to name the movie’s characters after well-known horror filmmakers (ie Hitchcock, Lewton, Browning, etc), yet it’s the ease with which the director cultivates an atmosphere of suspense that ultimately sets Final Destination above its slasher brethren – with the surprisingly tense opening fifteen minutes certainly standing as a highlight within the proceedings. Sawa’s personable turn as the hero is matched by a uniformly effective supporting cast rife with familiar faces , which – when coupled with Wong’s thoroughly capable directorial choices – cements Final Destination’s place as an innovative (and unexpectedly influential) exercise in horror.” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews

They Live

241. (-10) They Live

John Carpenter

1988 / USA / 94m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Roddy Piper, Keith David, Meg Foster, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Peter Jason, Raymond St. Jacques, Jason Robards III, John Lawrence, Susan Barnes, Sy Richardson


“It’s an effective ploy, forcing us to confront certain basic facts about the state of the world around us without sounding preachy, and it articulates a decidedly working-class anger in response to social iniquity without sounding self-righteous. And it does all of this while retaining the surface appeal of its B-movie origins, frequently (and entertainingly) indulging in the seductive spectacle of ghouls and guns in combat—though always with ulterior motives.” – Calum Marsh, Slant Magazine

Dressed to Kill

242. (-14) Dressed to Kill

Brian De Palma

1980 / USA / 105m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz, David Margulies, Ken Baker, Susanna Clemm, Brandon Maggart, Amalie Collier


“What really ups the ante in the effectiveness of “Dressed to Kill” are the long, purposefully drawn-out set-pieces. Director Brian De Palma is a wizard of mise en scene, building remarkable levels of suspense in the way that he sets up what is about to happen and then edits the material in an intoxicatingly slow fashion that allows for the viewers to be placed in the characters’ shoes, imagining all the while what they might do in a similar situation. A ten-minute museum sequence, free of dialogue, is brilliant, with Kate people-watching while making a list of items to pick up at the grocery store. When a dark, devastatingly good-looking man takes a seat next to her, she flirts with him without uttering a syllable. Their ensuing pursuance of each other through the maze of rooms in the museum is shot by late cinematographer Ralf Bode (2000’s “Boys and Girls”) with a fluid, dreamlike intrigue and a hint of danger, speaking to the desperation of Kate’s character.” – Dustin Putman, The Movie Boy

Day of the Woman

243. (+68) Day of the Woman

Meir Zarchi

1978 / USA / 101m / Col / Rape and Revenge | IMDb
Camille Keaton, Eron Tabor, Richard Pace, Anthony Nichols, Gunter Kleemann, Alexis Magnotti, Tammy Zarchi, Terry Zarchi, Traci Ferrante, William Tasgal


“Man and nature are both all-consuming in Meir Zarchi’s landmark horror film I Spit on Your Grave, seamlessly surrounding attractive young novelist Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) as she drives deep into the New York countryside to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. It’s hard not to admire Zarchi’s disavowal of substantive character traits and narrative foundation for thematic shock and awe. His film oozes with aggression from all sides, taking form in the sharp reds, blacks, and greens of the film diverse chromatic scale. One can’t mistake I Spit in Your Grave for anything other than a raging political text, a rigorous reminder to the power of a disturbed imagination, be it victimizer or victim.” – Glenn Heath Jr, Slant Magazine

Lost Highway

244. (-12) Lost Highway

David Lynch

1997 / USA / 134m / Col / Mystery | IMDb
Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, John Roselius, Louis Eppolito, Jenna Maetlind, Michael Massee, Robert Blake, Henry Rollins, Michael Shamus Wiles, Mink Stole


“In a way, most of Lynch’s films have always been about fantasy, art or some other equivalent thereof wringing out truths of our human nature… What Lost Highway does is tie that theme directly to film noir, and cinema in general, revealing how the tropes and archetypes of the genre and the medium are interlinked with human truths like guilt, sexual frustration, love, heroism, etc… but Lost Highway‘s melding of elements from other genres like science-fiction, fantasy, psychological thrillers, and more make it beyond subversive and downright ahead of its time. And Lost Highway is only the first movie of Lynch’s to incorporate the cinematic language into his stories.” – Christopher Runyon, Movie Mezzanine

The Blood on Satan's Claw

245. (-19) The Blood on Satan’s Claw

Piers Haggard

1971 / UK / 97m / Col / Gothic | IMDb
Patrick Wymark, Linda Hayden, Barry Andrews, Michele Dotrice, Wendy Padbury, Anthony Ainley, Charlotte Mitchell, Tamara Ustinov, Simon Williams, James Hayter


“The Blood on Satan’s Claw, a 1971 horror potboiler from English genre studio Tigon, lacks the moral underpinnings of Michael Reeves’ cautionary classic Witchfinder General but resembles it in setting and atmosphere… The Blood on Satan’s Claw clarifies the relationship between wickedness and virtue by showing how evil, in the guise of rebellious children and especially a seductive teenager, can be vanquished by vigilance and bravery on the part of Christian men… It’s not just an enjoyable chiller with sex, violence, costume drama, and some amusing hairstyles, but also a dramatization — using the abolition of Catholic royalty from the English throne as a historical marker — of the tension between reason and superstition, between modern science and the long, regularly irresistible history of mythology.” – Bryant Frazer, Deep Focus

Zombieland

246. (+2) Zombieland

Ruben Fleischer

2009 / USA / 88m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray, Derek Graf


“You could argue that the film is really about ‘family’ or ‘friendship’ or ‘romance’ or ‘finding acceptance’, because these are the elements that make up life, and thus, are the building blocks of most stories. But, life in Zombieland isn’t exactly life at all. Our four protagonists struggle to find normalcy in their situation, and although they succeed to a certain degree, it is only once they learn to accept (and enjoy) the disemboweling of their undead enemies. No, this film is not some Michael Haneke-esque lecture condemning audiences for enjoying the violence within. It is a celebration. It’s nice to see a movie in which the very fabric of society falls apart, yet humanity still soldiers on; not through feats of extreme bravery or powerful self-sacrifice, but through a sense of humour.” – Simon Miraudo, Quickflix

Night of the Creeps

247. (+10) Night of the Creeps

Fred Dekker

1986 / USA / 88m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, Jill Whitlow, Tom Atkins, Wally Taylor, Bruce Solomon, Vic Polizos, Allan Kayser, Ken Heron, Alice Cadogan


“The film builds up slowly and inevitably explodes in to a zombie free for all that’s still boiling with terror and incredible scenes of gore and grue. The performances are fantastic, especially by Tom Atkins as Detective Cameron, and Steve Marshall as the quick witted JC. “Night of the Creeps” is an almost forgotten eighties gem, and one that sports a sick and twisted ending that deserves to be seen, mainly because it lays seeds for a great sequel that we never saw. Still a ball of a zombie film, director Fred Dekker offers his own take on the zombie, while also paying tribute to fifties science fiction and slasher films along with a clever script, and original concept. “Night of the Creeps” is an entertaining horror romp and one that deserved a sequel.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

The Blob

248. (+11) The Blob

Chuck Russell

1988 / USA / 95m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith, Donovan Leitch Jr., Jeffrey DeMunn, Candy Clark, Joe Seneca, Del Close, Paul McCrane, Sharon Spelman, Beau Billingslea


“Isolationism and false security are as much the targets of the ’88 model blob as hobos and horny jocks. For Russell and screenwriter Frank Darabont (whose The Majestic probably could’ve used an extended cameo by the flesh-eating distention), all are red herrings, and all meaning ascribed unto the attacks is strictly external to the creature itself, which only wants to eat people, and messily at that; the film belongs to the spectacular end of a special-effects era prior to the advent of CGI, and the half-campy, half-terrifying blob attacks are invariably lurid fun. Its attacks are rationalized through the corrupt filter of organized religion, though the blob is still a biological phenomenon, much like the disease that inspired so many activists to wear pink and take to the streets in protest over a needlessly politicized epidemic. Yes, the movie is more overt fun than the others of its ilk, but it tellingly ends with a holy man all too thrilled to deliver credit for the scourge directly to God’s doorstep.” – Eric Henderson, House Next Door

Sleepy Hollow

249. (+4) Sleepy Hollow

Tim Burton

1999 / USA / 105m / Col / Mystery | IMDb
Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Gough


“Tim Burton’s take on this classic ghost story is at once eerie, atmospheric, and darkly humorous. As with most of his films it is extremely rewarding visually, and in this case is shot with such diluted use of colour as to be almost black and white in places. Depp’s performance as Crane, is a sympathetic one… The pace and tension are both kept up throughout the film, aided and abetted by Danny Elfman’s dramatic score and the remarkable visuals. There is, however, surprisingly little warmth or connection between the audience and the characters. For ghostly aesthetics this film takes a lot of beating, but in striving to achieve the perfect atmosphere, the rest of the film is left out in the cold.” – Ali Barclay, BBC

Cube

250. (-14) Cube

Vincenzo Natali

1997 / Canada / 90m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
Maurice Dean Wint, David Hewlett, Nicole de Boer, Nicky Guadagni, Andrew Miller, Julian Richings, Wayne Robson


“When one slows down to consider the amount of energy and planning that had to go into setting up shots and piecing them together and focusing on just the right bits of the walls to make sure that scenes would flow right, and transition from one to the other properly, Cube can only be regarded as a titanic masterpiece of resource management. That’s just about the least sexy thing you could ever praise a filmmaker for doing, but making the movie this seamless required tremendous skill and attention, and at the level of pure craftsmanship, Cube is among the most genuinely impressive low-budget films that I have ever seen.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

251. (+31) A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Chuck Russell

1987 / USA / 96m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Heather Langenkamp, Craig Wasson, Patricia Arquette, Robert Englund, Ken Sagoes, Rodney Eastman, Jennifer Rubin, Bradley Gregg, Ira Heiden, Laurence Fishburne


“After the misstep of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge, New Line resolved to make a better sequel, calling in series creator Wes Craven (with Wild Palms writer Bruce Wagner) to craft a more elaborate storyline (and set-piece bad dreams), casting more interesting up-and-comers as Freddy fodder (Patricia Arquette, Laurence Fishburne) and giving director Chuck Russell something like an effects budget… the film delivers amazing scenes in spades, bringing to life the sort of bizarre images which used to be found only on comic book covers: a boy’s veins are pulled from his limbs and used as strings to puppet-master him towards death, an antique tap grabs a girl’s hand and sprouts Freddy’s razornails, a victim is literally tongue-tied… It’s always a pleasure to see obnoxious American teenagers slaughtered like dogs, but it’s especially nice to see them wiped out in such surreally imaginative ways.” – Kim Newman, Empire Magazine

Bad Taste

252. (+74) Bad Taste

Peter Jackson

1987 / New Zealand / 91m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
Terry Potter, Pete O’Herne, Craig Smith, Mike Minett, Peter Jackson, Doug Wren, Dean Lawrie, Peter Vere-Jones, Ken Hammon, Robin Griggs


“Ever since Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” re-wrote the horror film as slapstick comedy, guerrilla filmmakers with low budgets and big dreams have tried to emulate the punk magic of this cult masterpiece. Most have been merely derivative, but by delving deeper and darker, writer and director Peter Jackson made “Bad Taste” both a gut-wrenching slasher classic, and a surreal – almost hallucinogenic – comedy. Despite being little more than a rambling selection of lame characters and imaginative – if hammy – executions, the film’s farcical energy and glorious B-movie schlock keeps you hooked until the apocalyptic finale. This is a film without heroes… All you can do is sit back, hold on, and watch the roller coaster carnage unfold.” – Matt Ford, BBC

The Company of Wolves

253. (-16) The Company of Wolves

Neil Jordan

1984 / UK / 95m / Col / Werewolf | IMDb
Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Graham Crowden, Brian Glover, Kathryn Pogson, Stephen Rea, Tusse Silberg, Micha Bergese, Sarah Patterson, Georgia Slowe


“The movie is based on a novel and a screenplay by Angela Carter, who has taken Red Riding Hood as a starting-place for the stories, which are secretly about the fearsomeness of sexuality. She has shown us what those scary fairy tales are really telling us; she has filled in the lines and visualized the parts that the Brothers Grimm left out (and they did not leave out all that many parts). The movie has an uncanny, hypnotic force; we always know what is happening, but we rarely know why, or how it connects with anything else, or how we can escape from it, or why it seems to correspond so deeply with our guilts and fears. That is, of course, almost a definition of a nightmare.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Prince of Darkness

254. (-16) Prince of Darkness

John Carpenter

1987 / USA / 102m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Donald Pleasence, Jameson Parker, Victor Wong, Lisa Blount, Dennis Dun, Susan Blanchard, Anne Marie Howard, Ann Yen, Ken Wright, Dirk Blocker


““Prince of Darkness,” while still the same trapped in a house formula, manages to hold up as a creepy and dread soaked horror film that Carpenter is able to direct with immense flair. Carpenter is a genius about confining stories to one setting and building an incredible narrative from it. “Prince of Darkness” garners a considerably low budget, but the terror and urgency is so present, you can’t even care. The characters are stuck in the church with no holy presence, and trapped by possessed armies of the homeless that tear anyone apart who dares to attempt escape. Meanwhile, there is no one aware they’re in this church, so they’re an island in an urban setting, along with zero hope. Much of “Prince of Darkness” is based around mounting dread and an ultimate pay off, and Carpenter builds every scene to a great crescendo.” – Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed

Inferno

255. (-22) Inferno

Dario Argento

1980 / Italy / 107m / Col / Giallo | IMDb
Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi, Daria Nicolodi, Sacha Pitoëff, Alida Valli, Veronica Lazar, Gabriele Lavia, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Leopoldo Mastelloni


“Inferno is at its core a haunted house movie, with a succession of increasingly supernatural encounters as various characters investigate the strange happenings, both in New York and Rome. Very much a mood piece, trying to decipher Argento’s ‘riddles’ is a futile exercise and one that actually detracts from the principal appeal of soaking up the incredible atmosphere and suspense filled set-pieces. This isn’t a mystery to solve, it’s one to surrender yourself to. Resist the urge to question motivations and non sequiturs and you quickly become immersed in the theatrically lit sets and mesmeric photography. Some key scares are masterfully built up too – an underwater scene early on will have you rubbing your feet for security.” – James Dennis, Twitch

Basket Case

256. (+9) Basket Case

Frank Henenlotter

1982 / USA / 91m / Col / Splatter | IMDb
Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner, Robert Vogel, Diana Browne, Lloyd Pace, Bill Freeman, Joe Clarke, Ruth Neuman, Richard Pierce


“With so much of the movie occupying this kind of borderline-ethereal state of random violence, the interruptions of deep dark perversity are all the more shocking, because while we’ve been ready since the first moments for perversion, we’re expecting the robust nastiness of an exploitation film, not the thick dollops of incestuous body horror that the film plays with by the end. Make no mistake, the film is exploitation after a fashion – Duane visits a grind house in one scene, a neat meta-moment acknowledging that this grimy, tawdry film is in every inch of frame destined for the exploitation circuit – but even exploitation films rarely have this degree of crazed invention that borders on dangerousness. Henenlotter’s grotesquerie is something else entirely, and its singularity makes it far more valuable than any number of movies made at an ostensibly higher level of quality.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Halloween III: Season of the Witch

257. (+61) Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Tommy Lee Wallace

1982 / USA / 98m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Tom Atkins, Stacey Nelkin, Dan O’Herlihy, Michael Currie, Ralph Strait, Jadeen Barbor, Brad Schacter, Garn Stephens, Nancy Kyes, Jonathan Terry


“Was it a cheat that Halloween III skipped out on more Michael Myers mayhem? Well, it certainly was annoying that the advertising didn’t let audiences know that little fact in the teasers and trailers. And a great many fans are still pissed about that to this very day… But, to be frank, people need to lighten up about this third entry because Season of the Witch is actually a pretty terrific little midnight movie, in keeping with John Carpenter’s other chillers of the era, specifically The Fog and The Thing. On many levels, the films kinda play like an eerie trilogy of haunting ghost stories, filled with monsters, mad men and vengeful ghouls… Season of the Witch has grown in popularity over the years as fans have healed from the initial sting and gave the film a second chance.” – R. L. Shaffer, IGN DVD

Christine

258. (+47) Christine

John Carpenter

1983 / USA / 110m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky, Harry Dean Stanton, Christine Belford, Roberts Blossom, William Ostrander, David Spielberg


“Technology running amok and turning against humans is one of Stephen King’s favourite topics for creating suspense stories, but Christine also works as a metaphor for the destructive impact of the automobile age. Christine succeeds in effortlessly transforming the staid and cerebral Arnie to a self-obsessed anti-social maniac, and destroys all his relationships, in other words a direct if exaggerated parallel to the impact of the auto industry on overall societal behaviour.” – The Ace Black Blog

The Hunger

259. (-15) The Hunger

Tony Scott

1983 / UK / 97m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, Cliff De Young, Beth Ehlers, Dan Hedaya, Rufus Collins, Suzanne Bertish, James Aubrey, Ann Magnuson


“It’s a largely sensual movie, in both senses of that word: it is about experiencing moments communicated through just about every means other than sensible character psychology. I can easily understand why somebody would find the movie accordingly hollow and annoying in its hip violence, but for horror to have this kind of impressionist impact, it must be doing something great, even if that something isn’t quite in line with the film’s intimations that it wants to be about human experiences of sex and longing (the “hunger” of the title”). It’s one of the most viscerally impressive horror movies of the ’80s, it plays the “tragic sexual vampire” card without defanging the monsters, and it’s consistently gorgeous – I can’t quite decide whether The Hunger is successful at being the exact film it sets out to be, but it is a very successful film of some sort, and that’s close enough.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Opera

260. (-55) Opera

Dario Argento

1987 / Italy / 107m / Col / Giallo | IMDb
Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, Daria Nicolodi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Antonella Vitale, William McNamara, Barbara Cupisti


“Opera is a violent aria of memory, bad luck, the artistic drive and the horror of the stare. Betty (Cristina Marsillach) is haunted by memories of her dead mother, once an opera diva herself. Argento’s flashback sequences are predictably opaque. Secret corridors and staircases run alongside both Betty’s apartment and the film’s opera house, evoking the secret recesses of the subconscious. An image of a pulsating brain (here, a visual signifier of the girl’s Freudian despair) precedes images of a killing spree that imply that the girl’s mother may have been more than a passive victim… [In the finale] it really looks as if the heroine has cracked. Take Opera as the last time the great Argento was cracked himself.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

The Entity

261. (+3) The Entity

Sidney J. Furie

1982 / USA / 125m / Col / Haunted House | IMDb
Barbara Hershey, Ron Silver, David Labiosa, George Coe, Margaret Blye, Jacqueline Brookes, Richard Brestoff, Michael Alldredge, Raymond Singer, Allan Rich


“Although this ‘dramatisation’ purports to be an accurate record of the events as they occurred, that doesn’t mean it can’t also wallow in the sheer sensationalism of it all. With a pumping soundtrack by Charles Bernstein accompanying the entity’s gratuitous attacks, and some early prosthetics from Stan Winston depicting invisible fingers groping at Carla’s more tender bits, The Entity dispenses with all subtlety in favour of shock value. But when you’re dealing with facts, how far is too far? Technically proficient, visually impressive and frequently scary, The Entity remains a highly entertaining bit of widescreen eighties hokum that delivers some genuine jolts, an over-earnest performance from Barbara Hershey, and a premise that’s so outrageously unbelievable it must be true!” – Nigel Honeybone, HorrorNews

Honogurai mizu no soko kara

262. (-23) Honogurai mizu no soko kara

Hideo Nakata

2002 / Japan / 101m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Hitomi Kuroki, Rio Kanno, Mirei Oguchi, Asami Mizukawa, Fumiyo Kohinata, Yu Tokui, Isao Yatsu, Shigemitsu Ogi, Maiko Asano, Yukiko Ikari


“Nakata is a master of the uncanny, able to transform something as innocent as a little girl’s shoulder bag into an object to inspire terror. “Dark Water” positively oozes atmosphere, building up the tension slowly before allowing it to overflow into irrational shocks and strange epiphanies. Yet just beneath its surface horror this film conceals a deep reservoir of tragedy, addressing themes like family breakdown, isolation, abandonment, and – something of a taboo in Japan – the terrible legacy of mental illness. In the end, the keynote of “Dark Water” is not so much horror as an overwhelming sadness, in this masterpiece of tormented souls.” – Anton Bitel, Movie Gazette

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

263. (-8) Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Roy William Neill

1943 / USA / 74m / BW / Monster | IMDb
Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Dennis Hoey, Don Barclay, Rex Evans, Dwight Frye, Harry Stubbs


“By 1943, the steam was mostly out of the second phase of Universal horror movies, even in their new cheaper, B-picture incarnation, and if the cycle was going to keep on going, something bold and splashy had to be done, for then as now movies made their money from a snappy advertising campaign more than because of their inherent quality. The solution, in retrospect, seems inevitable; but who can say how many harried meetings it took until some Universal executive hit upon the idea of putting two of their A-list monster into a movie together. The result was titled, with all due shamelessness, ‘Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man’, and that was pretty much the end of Universal’s horror line as a home for even the vaguest kind of serious filmmaking until 1954.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Jeepers Creepers

264. (-14) Jeepers Creepers

Victor Salva

2001 / USA / 90m / Col / Monster | IMDb
Gina Philips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck, Patricia Belcher, Brandon Smith, Eileen Brennan, Peggy Sheffield, Jeffrey William Evans, Patrick Cherry, Jon Beshara


“Throughout, Salva’s skill as a director keeps the movie afloat, helping to propel us through some of the dodgier narrative stumbles (the “let’s go back to the obvious death trap for no reason other than to facilitate a horror film!” moment, or a weird, stretched-out, yet excellently tense confrontation with a crazy cat-lady played, distractingly, by Eileen Brennan), and making the best moments sing. Every inch of the sequence inside the pipe is carried off brilliantly, and not just Darry’s half: as Trish stands guard outside, there’s a truly breathtaking false scare that uses an out-of-focus depth of field in a profoundly clever, subtle manner; as indeed, the film consistently makes outstanding use of hiding details in corners of the frame where, because of composition or focus, we don’t necessarily expect to look.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

My Bloody Valentine

265. (-13) My Bloody Valentine

George Mihalka

1981 / Canada / 90m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Alf Humphreys, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Thomas Kovacs, Terry Waterland


“My Bloody Valentine, especially in its restored state, definitely stands the test of time as one of the most entertaining 80s-era slashers. The death scenes are quite gruesome and ingenious; the miners are likeable; the obligatory “funny fat guy” (played by Keith Knight) is endearing; the young ladies are voluptuous (but sorry guys… no gratuitous nudity); and there’s the token “crazy old man” spouting warnings; properly solemn small-town law enforcement officers, and a few other other characters who are more than just cardboard cutouts. The dialogue is laugh-out-loud hilarious at times, and you’ve gotta love the dated tunes and far-out fashions.” – Staci Layne Wilson, Horror.com

The People Under the Stairs

266. (-46) The People Under the Stairs

Wes Craven

1991 / USA / 102m / Col / Black Comedy | IMDb
Brandon Quintin Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames, Sean Whalen, Bill Cobbs, Kelly Jo Minter, Jeremy Roberts, Conni Marie Brazelton


“Though the new movie has its share of blood and gore, it is mostly creepy and, considering the bizarre circumstances, surprisingly funny. The principal setting is the scary old house occupied by the mad real estate operators, played with thick relish by Everett McGill and Wendy Robie. They not only keep their teen-age daughter (A. J. Langer) in chains, but they also have a basement full of flesh-eating ghouls. Mr. Craven’s screenplay manages to evoke both “Treasure Island” and “The Night of the Living Dead,” and plays like a stroll through an amusement park’s haunted house. It is full of peculiar noises, floors and walls that suddenly give way, things that jump out of the dark and objects of unmentionable disgustingness that sneak up from behind.” – Vincent Canby, New York Times

Phenomena

267. (-26) Phenomena

Dario Argento

1985 / Italy / 116m / Col / Supernatural | IMDb
Jennifer Connelly, Daria Nicolodi, Fiore Argento, Federica Mastroianni, Fiorenza Tessari, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Patrick Bauchau, Donald Pleasence, Alberto Cracco


“Phenomena’s paranormal obsessions are unlike anything you’ve ever seen—a retro-mystical tableaux of pulsating synthesizers and flying insects ready to do the bidding of their human master. When Jennifer is taunted by her fellow classmates, Biblical hordes of black bugs gather outside her school’s window. The girls cringe in fear as Jennifer whispers, “I love you all.” This is the extent of Jennifer’s love for all of God’s creatures. Argento frequently cuts to an insect’s point of view, splitting his frame into six or eight segments. However obvious these flourishes may seem, Argento once again showcases his obsession with the eye and elements of sight and sightlessness. In the end, Phenomena’s greatest weakness may be that it doesn’t demand active spectatorship as much as it seemingly muddles our expectations.” – Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

Angel Heart

268. (-8) Angel Heart

Alan Parker

1987 / USA / 113m / Col / Mystery | IMDb
Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, Stocker Fontelieu, Brownie McGhee, Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Whitcraft, Eliott Keener, Charles Gordone


“In a sense, William Hjortsberg’s ‘Falling Angel’ remains one of the great unfilmed novels, this in spite of the fact that Alan Parker did a pretty good job here of transforming the horror noir into a motion picture. The problem is that, in turning ‘Falling Angel’ into Angel Heart, the British writer-director decided to ditch the New York locations of the book in favour of the seedy, occult-inflected environs of New Orleans… Although New York rather than New Orleans would have added to the atmosphere and originality of Parker’s picture, Angel Heart is still a cut above your average 1980s horror movie… Rourke’s performance is such that Angel Heart stands out from the necromancy movie crowd.” – Richard Luck, Film4

Theatre of Blood

269. (-6) Theatre of Blood

Douglas Hickox

1973 / UK / 104m / Col / Comedy | IMDb
Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Robert Coote, Jack Hawkins, Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe, Robert Morley


“The magnum opus of Vincent Price’s film career, this stylish, witty comedy horror boasts an irresistible premise, an inspired ensemble cast, fabulous music and first-rate production values. In a part he was born to play, Price is classically trained actor Edward Lionheart, who murders theatre critics using famous death scenes from Shakespeare’s plays as payback for being dismissive of his talents. Aided by his faithful daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) and a group of tramps, Lionheart plans each killing with elaborate inventiveness and cunning disguise. Price does a superior job portraying an inferior actor and mines every nuance of tragedy and comedy with triumphant brilliance and delicious gusto. The result is enormously enjoyable.” – Alan Jones, Radio Times

La noche del terror ciego

270. (-4) La noche del terror ciego

Amando de Ossorio

1972 / Spain / 101m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
Lone Fleming, César Burner, María Elena Arpón, José Thelman, Rufino Inglés, Verónica Llimera, Simón Arriaga, Francisco Sanz, Juan Cortés, Andrés Isbert


“The film is not, of course, flawless; like just about every other genre film made on that continent in that time period, the plot is too flimsy to withstand even a slight breeze of scrutiny (there’s a whole entire subplot involving Virginia’s ultimate fate that is of nearly no value to the story whatsoever), and most of the characters are die-cut from cardboard, although Bet is surely a more rounded figure than we often see in these films, and reasonably well performed. But honestly, no sane person goes into a film like this for the story. They go for the atmosphere, the terror, and the zombies, and all three of those things are in peak form here. As the kick-off to the European zombie film, Tombs is just about the finest example of the form that I have ever seen.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Asylum

271. (-4) Asylum

Roy Ward Baker

1972 / UK / 88m / Col / Anthology | IMDb
Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Herbert Lom, Patrick Magee, Barry Morse, Barbara Parkins, Robert Powell, Charlotte Rampling, Sylvia Syms, Richard Todd


“All in all, “Asylum” is one of the best anthology films ever made. Especially eerie is the tale where a killer is pursued by the severed body parts of his victim, all of which are wrapped in paper. The film makes effective use of Moussegsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and “Night on the Bare Mountain” as the basis of the soundtrack. With performances that are all top notch and great direction from Baker, the film is a flawless piece of horror moviemaking — a well-made gem from the 1970s that is unlike anything that studios can produce today.” – Lucius Gore, Esplatter

Les lèvres rouges

272. (+8) Les lèvres rouges

Harry Kümel

1971 / Belgium / 87m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Ouimet, Andrea Rau, Paul Esser, Georges Jamin, Joris Collet, Fons Rademakers


“The film’s slow-burn tragedy is underlined by a powerfully subversive undercurrent about female empowerment, which frequently boils just under the surface of lesbian vampire narratives. Unlike most lesbian vampire films, Daughters of Darkness is understated rather than exploitative, feeding off sexual tension rather than flaunting naked sexuality. Male anxiety about being unneeded (or unheeded) by the women around them is particularly pronounced here, as Stefan’s sadistic tendencies and need for control are clearly little more than desperate stabs at the traditional masculinity he studiously lacks. His victimization is all but inevitable, as it provides the catalyst for Valerie’s escape, although it is debatable as to whether her literal merging with the countess by the end is a triumph or another kind of imprisonment.” – James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk

Deranged

273. (-5) Deranged

Jeff Gillen & Alan Ormsby

1974 / USA / 84m / Col / Crime | IMDb
Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson, Robert Warner, Marcia Diamond, Brian Smeagle, Arlene Gillen, Robert McHeady, Marian Waldman, Jack Mather


“Deranged belongs alongside other cult black comic horror curios like Motel Hell and two films namechecked in Arrow’s publicity blurb, Carnival of Souls and The Honeymoon Killers. The viewer is constantly surprised by jarring turns of tone and sharp juxtapositions of wild humour with tough, uncompromising imagery. While some ideas work better than others, at least this film has them in abundance; with many low budget films from the 60s and 70s, necessity really was the mother of invention, and mavericks with talent and an eye for horror’s sense of wonder could let their imaginations rip. The final sequence lingers long in the memory and delivers the enduring image from the Ed Gein case. According to the blurb, “…this is one of American horror cinema’s great one-offs, an eerie, genuinely unsettling but also darkly comic experience,” and this reviewer can’t disagree with that.” – John Costello, This is Horror

Halloween II

274. (-3) Halloween II

Rick Rosenthal

1981 / USA / 92m / Col / Slasher | IMDb
Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer, Lance Guest, Pamela Susan Shoop, Hunter von Leer, Dick Warlock, Leo Rossi, Gloria Gifford


“Actually, ”Halloween II” is good enough to deserve a sequel of its own. By the standards of most recent horror films, this – like its predecessor – is a class act. There’s some variety to the crimes, as there is to the characters, and an audience is likely to do more screaming at suspenseful moments than at scary ones. The gore, while very explicit and gruesome, won’t make you feel as if you’re watching major surgery. The direction and camera work are quite competent, and the actors don’t look like amateurs. That may not sound like much to ask of a horror film, but it’s more than many of them offer. And ”Halloween II,” in addition to all this, has a quick pace and something like a sense of style.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times

The Last Man on Earth

275. (+44) The Last Man on Earth

Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow

1964 / USA / 86m / Col / Post-Apocalyptic | IMDb
Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Raho, Christi Courtland, Antonio Corevi, Ettore Ribotta


“Human ugliness is more than skin-deep here, and Morgan’s ultimate foes aren’t the undead but rather a group of infected-but-treated men and women who consider him an enemy—ironic, considering they’re the only ones left with the capacity for reason and communication. Morgan’s solitude was bad enough when it was thought that his was the last mind capable of such things, and the revelation of these semi-humans’ intent to dispose of him further amplifies it. The Last Man on Earth is indeed about both life and death, creation and destruction, and the fact that each facet is as grim and uninviting as the next is its most chilling statement on the way things once were and the way they might one day become.” – Michael Nordine, Not Coming to a Theater Near You

The Most Dangerous Game

276. (+9) The Most Dangerous Game

Irving Pichel & Ernest B. Schoedsack

1932 / USA / 63m / BW / Thriller | IMDb
Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Leslie Banks, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente, William B. Davidson, Oscar ‘Dutch’ Hendrian


“Count Zaroff remains obsessed with the hunt… “Kill, then love,” he tells Rainsford. “When you have known that, you have known ecstasy.” Once he has hunted down Bob, he will rape Eve. Rather than wait around to see who wins, Eve joins Bob, and as they flee and lose and finally survive, through every chase and twist, they of course fall in love. The irony is that the erotic horror verbalized by Zaroff, the primal male urge to obliterate an enemy and celebrate in bed, is implicitly, and by more civilized and formulaic means, achieved by Rainsford… a superbly paced, sexually charged, tightly constructed, no-holds-barred adventure film with moments of dark, Germanic horror that stick in the mind, a movie that moves.” – Bruce Kawin, Criterion Collection Notes

Murders in the Rue Morgue

277. (+9) Murders in the Rue Morgue

Robert Florey

1932 / USA / 61m / BW / Mystery | IMDb
Sidney Fox, Bela Lugosi, Leon Ames, Bert Roach, Betty Ross Clarke, Brandon Hurst, D’Arcy Corrigan, Noble Johnson, Arlene Francis


“It’s silly and frivolous and absolutely deserves to be laughed right off the screen, but for one tremendous achievement: it is one of the best-looking horror films of the ’30s, full stop. It was shot by Karl Freund, who I’m increasingly sure could save anything: if the rumors are true, he’s the only reason Dracula exists as a functional object, and between The Mummy and Mad Love, he directed two of the most excitingly atmospheric films in the first wave of Universal horror. And good God, but does he ever bring the most flamboyant Expressionist zeal to Murders in the Rue Morgue, using sharp delineations of light to hammer home moments of terror and the uncanny, and he and Florey combined for some really amazing camera placements that present a sense of depth and shape to the rather generic Parisian settings that blazes miles past anything in the stagey Dracula.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Werewolf of London

278. (+5) Werewolf of London

Stuart Walker

1935 / USA / 75m / BW / Werewolf | IMDb
Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Lawrence Grant, Spring Byington, Clark Williams, J.M. Kerrigan, Charlotte Granville, Ethel Griffies


“Werewolf of London benefits from a crackerjack script, taut direction, and fine scenic design, not to mention some of the best uses of supporting characters to ever prop up a monster movie. Every moment is filled to the brim and purposeful, and the two comic relief characters, elderly Mrs. Whack and Mrs. Mancaster, deserve a movie all their own. And nowhere else will you see such a dapper, well-spoken werewolf. Just try to find another body-slashing man-beast who dons his hat, coat, and scarf before heading out into the night. Werewolf of London is a genuine surprise treat.” – Mark Bourne, DVD Journal

Valerie a týden divu

279. (+91) Valerie a týden divu

Jaromil Jires

1970 / Czechoslovakia / 77m / Col / Surrealism | IMDb
Jaroslava Schallerová, Helena Anýzová, Petr Kopriva, Jirí Prýmek, Jan Klusák, Libuse Komancová, Karel Engel, Alena Stojáková, Otto Hradecký, Martin Wielgus


“Jaromil Jires’s overripe 1970 exercise in Prague School surrealism. The 13-year-old title heroine, who’s just had her first period, traipses through a shifting landscape of sensuous, anticlerical, and vaguely medieval fantasy-horror enchantments that register more as a collection of dream adventures, spurred by guiltless and polysexual eroticism, than as a conventional narrative. Virtually every shot is a knockout—for comparable use of color, you’d have to turn to some of Vera Chytilova’s extravaganzas of the same period, such as Daisies and Fruit of Paradise. If you aren’t too anxious about decoding what all this means, you’re likely to be entranced.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Dracula's Daughter

280. (+13) Dracula’s Daughter

Lambert Hillyer

1936 / USA / 71m / BW / Vampire | IMDb
Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan, Gilbert Emery, Irving Pichel, Halliwell Hobbes, Billy Bevan, Nan Grey, Hedda Hopper


“What we got instead was a snappy, first-rate (if lower-tier) A picture that had only one real drawback: No big name horror star, which is almost certainly why it has tended to be undervalued. In every other respect, it’s a pretty terrific horror picture with the best hero (Otto Kruger) and heroine (Marguerite Churchill) of any classic horror. In fact, their roles—written in something of the style of a screwball comedy by Garrett Fort—pointed in a new, more adult direction for the genre. (How that would have played out will never be known, since this was the end of the line for the original Universal horror era.) It also had an impressive Countess Dracula in Gloria Holden, and a super-creepy henchman for her in Irvin Pichel. Throw in stylish, fast-paced direction from Lambert Hillyer (who had proven himself adept at the genre with The Invisible Ray earlier that year) and a top-notch musical score from Heinz Roemheld, and you have a horror movie to remember.” – Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

Dead of Night

281. (-51) Dead of Night

Bob Clark

1972 / Canada / 88m / Col / Zombie | IMDb
John Marley, Lynn Carlin, Richard Backus, Henderson Forsythe, Anya Ormsby, Jane Daly, Michael Mazes, Arthur Anderson, Arthur Bradley, David Gawlikowski


“Part of the reason that Deathdream has captivated audiences throughout the last thirty years is the understated and creepy way in which it unfolds. Although evident from the first few scenes, the film never explicitly reveals that Andy is actually dead until more than halfway through, adding a level of ambiguity to his sinister actions. This charges the film with a sense of mystery and encourages the audience to piece together the plot themselves. Although effective as a flat-out horror film, Deathdream was also one of the first films to be critical of the Vietnam War, focusing on the lingering effects of the conflict on soldiers returning to America. The stress disorders and drug addiction that many veterans experienced are alluded to, but more importantly, this film is filled with sense that the war has changed not only Andy, but the entire country. Ormsby’s screenplay portrays Andy as the ultimate corrupted innocent, a survivor (although not in the strictest sense of the word) of an experience that literally left him dead inside.” – Canuxploitation

Rabid

282. (-13) Rabid

David Cronenberg

1977 / Canada / 91m / Col / Body Horror | IMDb
Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan, Patricia Gage, Susan Roman, Roger Periard, Lynne Deragon, Terry Schonblum, Victor Désy


“Much more than just another zombie movie, this is really about epidemics and the fear of disease, and the scene where a train full of commuters realise there are infected people among them is one of the most riveting depictions of mass panic ever recorded. When he made Rabid, Cronenberg was not an auteur with a reputation to defend. He’d barely even established himself as a cult favourite. What he delivers, then, is unrestrained by any such concerns – he never expected it to win fans or make money, so it follows his own vision, raw and uncompromising. Its disorganised nature is entirely appropriate to the story it tells, so that whilst it may drag in places, whilst there are plot inconsistencies and loose ends, the overall effect is very powerful. It was an unforgettable calling card signalling the start of a unique career, and it’s well worth looking back on now.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

Quatermass and the Pit

283. (+37) Quatermass and the Pit

Roy Ward Baker

1967 / UK / 97m / Col / Science Fiction | IMDb
James Donald, Andrew Keir, Barbara Shelley, Julian Glover, Duncan Lamont, Bryan Marshall, Peter Copley, Edwin Richfield, Grant Taylor, Maurice Good


“Skillfully directed by Roy Ward Baker, Quatermass is resplendent with suspense, action and melodrama that never verge too far into the realms of camp. Despite seeming dated and unintentionally funny to contemporary audiences, the film remains valid and actually is one of the more thought provoking of science fiction horror films out there. By turning the typical sci fi film plot on its head, Quatermass is actually unpredictable and poses intelligent questions that help give it a sense of realism that can obviously not be found in the bulk of Hammer’s work (I mean, however great the films are, we all know that Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster aren’t actually real!). Although the prospect of alien invasion is often considered implausible, Quatermass certainly makes a compelling case for the plausibility of a past invasion that never came into fruition. Aside from this, it’s quite simply a very enjoyable film!” – Stuart Cummins, What Culture

L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo

284. (-14) L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo

Dario Argento

1970 / Italy / 98m / Col / Giallo | IMDb
Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Giuseppe Castellano, Mario Adorf, Pino Patti, Gildo Di Marco


“Now king of the spaghetti slasher, Argento made his directorial debut with this tightly constructed thriller in which an American writer is witness to an attempted knife attack, and then finds himself obsessed with tracking down a serial killer whose next victims could be himself and his lover. There are some extravagant false leads, but tension is well sustained with the aid of Vittorio Storaro’s stylish ‘Scope photography and a Morricone score. Particularly effective are the opening attack, viewed through a maze of locked windows, and a scene with the victim caught on a stairway suddenly plunged into darkness. Certain elements seem to have been an influence on Dressed to Kill and The Shining, but Argento himself zoomed into more and more abstract shock effects, neglecting the Hitchcockian principles observed here.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out

The Brides of Dracula

285. (-13) The Brides of Dracula

Terence Fisher

1960 / UK / 85m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur, Freda Jackson, David Peel, Miles Malleson, Henry Oscar, Mona Washbourne, Andree Melly, Victor Brooks


“Terence Fisher proves just as adept at action in this film as he was with atmosphere and space in the original, resulting in a tremendously exciting climax with just enough imagination to leave us unconcerned about how much it borrows from other sources. Besides that, Brides is not just the equal of Dracula as a triumph of craftsmanship; in at least one important way, it’s a major step up. Though the film is still lighter than the modern viewer would think proper, it offers a much deeper collection of musty shadows than the first film had, and a crazy motif of colorful detail lighting that makes no sense in a strictly motivational way (i.e. there’s no reason that bright green lights should pour out of the inn’s back rooms), but serves a much greater purpose in showing just how off-kilter and nightmarish this whole Gothic world really is.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

The Vampire Lovers

286. (-12) The Vampire Lovers

Roy Ward Baker

1970 / UK / 91m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Ingrid Pitt, George Cole, Kate O’Mara, Peter Cushing, Ferdy Mayne, Douglas Wilmer, Madeline Smith, Dawn Addams, Jon Finch, Pippa Steel


“What really makes this a good film, however, is the treatment of the supernatural presence. Whereas all of Hammer’s previous vampire movies were about very physical creatures, the fresh type of vampire presented here has a far eerier ambience and gives the sense of a ghostly otherworldliness that helps the picture immensely. These are beings who command through their minds and their sexual charisma, and only rarely through physical strength. At times they vanish like specters, at times they – maybe – turn into cats. It’s a wholly different take on the vampire, and one that achieves the combination of allurement and fearsomeness which most vampire tales strive for but fail to reach.” – Anton Mistlake, Mistlake’s Blog

Night of the Eagle

287. (-12) Night of the Eagle

Sidney Hayers

1962 / UK / 90m / BW / Supernatural | IMDb
Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston, Anthony Nicholls, Colin Gordon, Kathleen Byron, Reginald Beckwith, Jessica Dunning, Norman Bird, Judith Stott


““Burn, Witch, Burn” maintains both its tone and the line of ambiguity about whether the witchcraft actually works. Wyngarde is fantastic in a finely nuanced performance. He comes off as a good person but flawed; he’s not always the nicest human being and with that ego comeuppance is assured. Still, this is Hayers’ ship, and he steers it flawlessly. The film is never less than gripping, and past a certain point, you have no idea where this movie is going. With neither the budget nor the technology for flashy effects, the filmmakers had to fall back on quality acting, writing, directing, and editing. They succeeded.” – Ron Wells, Film Threat

Picnic at Hanging Rock

288. (-12) Picnic at Hanging Rock

Peter Weir

1975 / Australia / 115m / Col / Mystery | IMDb
Rachel Roberts, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse, Kirsty Child, Tony Llewellyn-Jones, Jacki Weaver, Frank Gunnell, Anne-Louise Lambert, Karen Robson, Jane Vallis


“That [Weir] also refuses to answer the questions the film presses upon us is a tactical risk, but it works because he is not setting it up as a straightforward narrative. He is playing with themes and images, and only elusively with a plot. The girls that remain behind become hysterical, unable to explain what became of their friends, and there is a strong allusion to the force of nature that also exists within their pubescent bodies, as if sexual awakening can have devastating outward results — an idea exemplified when the girls are spotted barefoot in the bush from afar by a stable boy and a young English aristocrat. From their point of view, they are both angels and sirens, and when the boys follow they find no trace of them. Meanwhile, their headmistress, played with stoic force by Rachel Roberts, is determined there is a rational explanation, but no answer will be forthcoming. It is a dreamlike journey with no resolution, just fragments and suggestions, leaving an almost painful sense of longing for these lost creatures.” – Ian Nathan, Empire Magazine

Dance of the Vampires

289. (-8) Dance of the Vampires

Roman Polanski

1967 / USA / 108m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Jack MacGowran, Roman Polanski, Alfie Bass, Jessie Robins, Sharon Tate, Ferdy Mayne, Iain Quarrier, Terry Downes, Fiona Lewis, Ronald Lacey


“An almost-forgotten but mainly delightful entry in the Roman Polanski filmography, this is a beautifully-designed, subtly subversive parody of the 1960s Hammer films. Best remembered for the gag in which Jewish vampire Alfie Bass laughs off a peasant girl’s brandished crucifix, this is a rare spoof that works less for its laugh-out-loud moments than for a delicate, genteel rearrangement of the clichés of genre. Polanski himself is the earnest disciple of a mad old vampire hunter (Jack MacGowan) who sets out to destroy the coven of dignified Count Von Krolock (Freddy Mayne), but our sympathies wander from the supposed heroes to the fey, irritating, elegant vampires.” – Kim Newman, Empire

The Raven

290. (-3) The Raven

Lew Landers

1935 / USA / 61m / BW / Crime | IMDb
Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews, Irene Ware, Samuel S. Hinds, Spencer Charters, Inez Courtney, Ian Wolfe, Maidel Turner, Anne Darling


“In ‘The Raven’, Lugosi gives one of his very best performances – the image of his maniacally laughing face, looking down through a grate as a traumatized and newly disfigured Karloff is confronted by a series of mirrors is one of the most memorable of the era. His ice cold, simple declaration of “Yes. I like to torture,” is absolutely bone-chilling and despite a great and relatively understated showing by Karloff, it remains Lugosi’s show and the fact that he was given second-billing is something of a travesty. Thankfully Bela’s performance is so strong and has such impact that no mere credits will affect viewer’s perception of who the true star of this movie really is. All in all, while it may lack a marquee monster at its center, ‘The Raven’ is completely unmissable for any fan of classic horror.” – Michael Rose, Mysterious Universe

Mark of the Vampire

291. (-14) Mark of the Vampire

Tod Browning

1935 / USA / 60m / BW / Vampire | IMDb
Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt, Henry Wadsworth, Donald Meek, Jessie Ralph, Ivan F. Simpson, Franklyn Ardell


“A remake of Browning’s own silent London After Midnight (transported to Czechoslovakia), this semi-parodic vampire thriller creaks here and there, but still has enough style to warrant an honoured place among early horror films. Lashings of lore and atmosphere (strange noises, dancing peasants, bats, spiders and cobwebs) embellish a far-fetched but amusing tale of strange deaths at a sinister castle. It’s hard to decide who overacts the most, with Barrymore, Atwill and Lugosi all candidates, though the ‘surprise’ denouement provides Lugosi with an excuse of a sort. But a real touch of class is present in James Wong Howe’s magnificent photography, not to mention Carol Borland’s stunning apparition as a vampire.” – Geoff Andrew, Time Out

It's Alive

292. (-14) It’s Alive

Larry Cohen

1974 / USA / 91m / Col / Body Horror | IMDb
John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, James Dixon, William Wellman Jr., Shamus Locke, Andrew Duggan, Guy Stockwell, Daniel Holzman, Michael Ansara, Robert Emhardt


“The proudly independent Larry Cohen finally struck it rich in the mainstream with this unnerving tale of a monstrous baby that puts a novel twist on the concept of being brought into the world kicking and screaming. As the marketing campaign for the film declared, the only thing wrong with Frank and Lenore Davies’s second child is that it’s alive, and, after being received with horror by the rest of the world, it does not hesitate to defend that life to the utmost. One part allegory on familial tensions and one part commentary on environmental and biological poisoning, It’s Alive is a multi-layered work that is at the same time starkly clear and chillingly precise in its observations.” – Josh Vasquez, Slant Magazine

Targets

293. (-14) Targets

Peter Bogdanovich

1968 / USA / 90m / Col / Thriller | IMDb
Tim O’Kelly, Boris Karloff, Arthur Peterson, Monte Landis, Nancy Hsueh, Peter Bogdanovich, Daniel Ades, Stafford Morgan, James Brown, Mary Jackson


“Targets, despite having been made over 40 years ago, remains an intense viewing experience. In some ways, it’s even more relevant now than it was then, because, sadly, we’ve seen far too many Bobby Thompsons, especially in the past decade. The drama therefore feels very real. That Bogdanovich never provides much of an explanation for Bobby’s actions only makes them creepier. The finale, set at the drive-in, is an extended sequence of immense terror, beautifully staged by the director for maximum suspense.” – Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat

Twins of Evil

294. (-10) Twins of Evil

John Hough

1971 / UK / 87m / Col / Vampire | IMDb
Peter Cushing, Dennis Price, Mary Collinson, Madeleine Collinson, Isobel Black, Kathleen Byron, Damien Thomas, David Warbeck, Harvey Hall, Alex Scott


“The joy of Twins is in the zip. Not a moment is wasted on uncessary dialogue or character development; not a frame is lacking in blood or flesh… The movie represents a moment of change in British society. Hammer in the 1960s was puritan: evil was evil and good always triumphed over it. In the 1970s it began to absorb some of the cultural trend towards relativism. So when the movie opens the bad guy is someone who would once have been regarded as the good guy – the witch hunter… You might say that Twins is a mess. Its plot is daft, the actors seem to be playing out private melodramas and the message is convoluted. But the result is actually something that feels incredibly alive.” – Tim Stanley, The Telegraph

Piranha

295. (+33) Piranha

Joe Dante

1978 / USA / 94m / Col / Nature | IMDb
Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies-Urich, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Belinda Balaski, Melody Thomas Scott, Bruce Gordon, Barry Brown


“That’s it in a nutshell, and yes, the storyline is both random and goofier than shit. Yet, that’s all part of Piranha‘s charm. This flick is by no means good; in fact, for the most part it’s just a really blatant rip-off of Jaws, but wow is it fun. We’re talking turn your brain off entertainment at its finest, folks. Piranha delivers more than its fair share of laughs, intentional and otherwise, while keeping in tune with the campy boobs and blood flicks of its time. None of it really makes any sense, but it’s a safe bet that by the time these creatures start their nibbling, plot holes will be the last thing on your mind.” – Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton, Dread Central

The Ghoul

296. (-8) The Ghoul

T. Hayes Hunter

1933 / UK / 77m / BW / Mystery | IMDb
Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke, Ernest Thesiger, Dorothy Hyson, Anthony Bushell, Kathleen Harrison, Harold Huth, D.A. Clarke-Smith, Ralph Richardson


“It is perhaps a happy series of accidents that led to the results here, but whatever the case, the film is richly melodramatic horror — with marvelous performances, a witty script, atmospheric direction and a surprising number of effective shocks — including a final scene for Karloff that may well be the grimmest and most startling moment in classic horror.” – Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

297. (-7) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

John S. Robertson

1920 / USA / 49m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
John Barrymore, Brandon Hurst, Martha Mansfield, Charles Lane, Cecil Clovelly, Nita Naldi, Louis Wolheim


“John S. Robertson’s vision is not boggled down by repetition or clichés, and he breaks from the shackles of Stevenson’s immortal story in every detail. The scenes preceding the transformation have a light and delicate touch to them, but it is the dank and menacing scenes afterwards that seem to grab our attention the most. Most of the characters, during the transformation, are seen walking around in damp alleys, in which the light of a lamppost is the only relief from the shadows. One might even call these scenes early examples of the 1940s film noir. “Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” is not just a movie about unleashing our dark sides, but controlling them.” – David Keyes, Cinemaphile

Son of Dracula

298. (-4) Son of Dracula

Robert Siodmak

1943 / USA / 80m / BW / Vampire | IMDb
Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Craven, J. Edward Bromberg, Samuel S. Hinds, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Pat Moriarity, Etta McDaniel, George Irving


“If you can cope with the dated ideologies, and big lug, Lon Chaney Jr, looking more out of place than a priest in a day care center, you’ll find much to celebrate in SON OF DRACULA. All that priceless Universal atmosphere is here in spades. The soundtrack, the Gothic splendor, the hot ladies and the cold, dark shadows…all here. It’s a forgotten, roughly hewn gem, but its one worth seeking out for lovers of ‘ye olde horror’. The atmosphere is palpable, the plot is unique and the strange change of setting from olde world England/Transylvania, to the deep south, is a refreshing one. Give SON OF DRACULA a little of your time, and you may be pleasantly surprised. And besides, if you don’t watch it, Lon Chaney will eat you!” – Kyle Scott, The Horror Hotel

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

299. (-8) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Victor Fleming

1941 / USA / 113m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton MacLane, C. Aubrey Smith, Peter Godfrey, Sara Allgood, Frederick Worlock


“This 1941 version of the film does not have a very good reputation, and while it certainly is flawed it just as certainly doesn’t deserve as bad a rap as it has been given over the years. Yes, it somewhat pales in comparison with the 1932 version, which could take advantage of the leniency of the pre-Code years to emphasize the sexual aspects of the story; something the 1941 version was not at liberty to do. And yes, MGM may not have been the studio to tackle this story, being more interested in gloss and glamour than in the dirty depths that the story needs to examine. But given these drawbacks, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” actually ends up being a pretty engaging variation on the tale.” – Michael Mapél, MichaelMapél.com

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

300. (-8) The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Eugène Lourié

1953 / USA / 80m / BW / Science Fiction | IMDb
Paul Hubschmid, Paula Raymond, Cecil Kellaway, Kenneth Tobey, Donald Woods, Lee Van Cleef, Steve Brodie, Ross Elliott, Jack Pennick, Ray Hyke


“Like all movies of this kind from this period, you can probably read into The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms the fear of imminent destruction, but the spectre of the Cold War isn’t so pronounced that it gets in the way of being a fleet thriller: the destruction of New York is decidedly far from thorough, and there’s not a scrap of hand-wringing about nuclear energy or anything. It’s pure survival horror, with a punch of people we like being faced with an implacable, unstoppable force, and if that makes the film a bit shallower than a lot of the other classic monster pictures, it’s also a huge part of the reason that it’s so much better than all but a tiny number of the films it influenced.” – Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy