The 25 Greatest Horror Movies Of All Time
"Beware the moon, lads."
Quite simply this is a review of the 25 greatest Horror Movies of all time (in my opinion, for what its worth!)
I originally planned this amazingly written introduction but in the end I reckoned the films could speak for themselves.
Enjoy and please leave your many comments and own highly valued criticism.
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The 25 Greatest TV Shows of all time, and many more.
25 Peeping Tom (1960)
Do you Know What The Most FRIGHTENING thing in the world is...?
Starring:Carl Boehm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley.
Now revered as a classic British Horror Movie, Peeping Tom was not given such a good reception when it was released in 1960. The intense controversy garnered at the time practically destroyed the career of one of the finest British directors in history. Michael Powell was virtually ostracized and blacklisted due to the extreme controversy raised.
Even by today's permissive standards, Peeping Tom touches on some fairly taboo subjects. It is a bold, brave and imaginative movie whose stature has increased dramatically over the years. Regarded quite rightly as a masterpiece of modern cinema, Peeping Tom still has the power to send a shiver down the spine.
24 A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
"Whatever you do, don't fall asleep."
Starring:John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp, Amanda Wyss, Robert Englund
Wes Craven had already shocked and repulsed audiences with his controversial Last House on the Left (1973) which was a semi remake of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960). He had also introduced cannibalistic in-breds in the cult classic "The Hills Have Eyes (1977) before hitting pay-dirt with the introduction of deformed and psychotic child murderer Freddy Krueger.
A Nightmare on Elm Street followed a similar plotline to Halloween and Friday the 13th in the fact that American teenagers are brutally hunted down and murdered by a lone madman.
Nightmare is a simplistic, dare I say it formulaic movie which transcends its low budget slasher roots. It has an innovative style, a likeable cast and a villain who has gone down in movie history.
Toying with any number of sub texts, this is a movie which grabs the audience's attention, plays with your emotions and downright scares the hell out of you.
Its impact scarred by too many mediocre sequels, A Nightmare on Elm Street still remains one of the best "jump out of your seat" horror films ever made.
23 Repulsion (1965)
A classic study of insanity and sexual repression.This is not a dream, this is reality.
Starring:Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Patrick Wymark
Director Roman Polanski`s first English language film was, when released in 1965,surprisingly passed uncut by the censors due to the fact that psychologists had advised that its study of mental breakdown was wholly and uncannily convincing.
Repulsion defies all convention, creating a haunting and hypnotic ambience that threatens to derail the viewer's emotions on any number of occasions.
This is a thought provoking, disturbing and enigmatic movie that hinges on a superb performance by a young Catherine Deneuve.
Minimal dialogue means Maximum shock value as Polanski orchestrates a slow burning psychological masterpiece of cinema.
22 Last House On The Left (1972)
'To avoid fainting, keep repeating-it's only a movie...'
Starring:Sandra Cassel, David Hess, Lucy Grantham
Arguably, the most controversial film on my list, Last House On The Left is a sadistic and exploitive nightmare that can also claim to be the earliest shot video nasty. Benefiting from a superb ad campaign " To avoid fainting, keep repeating-its only a movie" LHOTL offers a brutal, ferocious and cruel revenge movie that fails to offer any hope for mankind.
The director Wes Craven tips his hat to the political agendas dominating America at the time, referencing (in a subtle way) the Vietnam War and the counter culture that could spawn such an atrocity as depicted in the movie.
Its difficult to defend LHOTL as many revered film critics seem to want to do, it's a fairly amateurish affair shot almost documentary style, the acting is mediocre at best and the pace is erratic and in- cohesive at times.
Where LHOTL succeeds is in its demand for attention and the effect on the viewer. Most "decent" human beings would find this movie repulsive rather than scary but one viewing can leave a seriously sour taste in the mouth. LHOTL gets under the skin and stays there making an indelible mark on the senses and because of this reason, Last House On The Left makes my Top 25 Greatest Horror Movies of all time ahead of more assured and professionally made films.
21 Funny Games U.S (2007)
What do you think? Think they stand a chance?
Starring:Tim Roth, Naomi Watts,Michael Pitt, Brady Corbett.
A shot by shot remake of Director Michael Hanekes 1997 original (Which I'm ashamed to say I have yet to see) Funny Games is an indomitable and disturbing exercise in endurance. It is in essence, a movie that you feel compelled to stop watching. It pushes the viewers patience to the limit and continues to manipulate the emotions.
Funny Games could hardly be classed as entertainment, its a challenging and gruelling ride and is intentionally horrific.
I watched this movie after a lovely day out at the seaside with my family. I actually went to bed feeling distressed and drained. This feeling didn't subside for a couple of days; surely this is the true meaning of horror.
20 Dead Of Night (1945)
Just room for one inside, sir.
Director: Charles Frend
Starring: Elizabeth Allan , Leslie Banks , Frank Lawton , Basil Sydney , Mervyn Johns , Michael Redgrave , Googie Withers , Basil Radford , Roland Culver , Cedric Hardwicke
The oldest movie on the list but don't let that put you off.
This was Ealing Studios first Post War film and marked a move away from the documentary style realism that had dominated its war-time output. Despite its success, Dead of Night was the last mainstream British Horror movie until the rise of Hammer nearly a decade later.
Boasting a solid British cast and many reputable and influential figures of Ealing's Success in the background (including a writing credit for none other than HG Wells) Dead of Night is an eerie and spine tingling treat.
Obviously any film from 1945 will lack the blood, gore and horrific images that dominate Horror movies today and some of the acting will seem wooden and quaint but look beyond the very English facade and a terryifying and malavelont world awaits you.
19 Dog Soldiers (2002)
There are some places you really shouldn't go.
Starring:Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Liam Cunningham.
Director Neil Marshall is beginning to carve out a decent career for himself as a director of seriously good movies. His feature film debut, Dog Soldiers is an unashamedly derivative, all action and gutsy Horror film which just happens to be one of the finest werewolf films ever made.
Crammed with in jokes, movie references and cheesy character names (Bruce Campbell anyone?), Dog Soldiers is a delight from start to finish.
Considering the low budget, the effects are gloriously bloody and highly effective and the actors are all incredibly boisterous and realistic.
Unpretentious and extremely tongue in cheek, Dog Soldiers is a little gem of a movie which quite comfortably deserves a place on anyone's list of all time horror movies
18 Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Buy Milk. Ring Mum. Dodge Zombies
Starring:Simon Pegg, Bill Nighy, Dylan Moran, Lucy Davis, Nick Frost.
Horror and comedy are not always the most comfortable of bedfellows (Scary Movie, anyone) but over the years, a number of movies have managed to pull it off, American Werewolf In London (1981) and Evil Dead 2 (1987) instantly spring to mind. Shaun Of The Dead takes the humour to another level, lets face it, a romantic comedy with Zombies doesn't sound too appealing when you think about it but SOTD succeeds in remarkable fashion.
SOTD is not a spoof, its a full blown homage to George A Romero Zombie movies which also happens to be extremely funny, the movie doesn't poke fun at its source material, it embraces it wholeheartedly to the point where the audience cares compassionately when the characters are in danger.
There is not a piece of false writing in SOTD and all the characters are fleshed out superbly, when their everyday mundane life's are interrupted by extraordinary events, each character reacts accordingly without them slipping into characture.
This is an extremely funny movie which also happens to be gory, heart rending and destined for all time greatness.
17 Ringu (1998)
"One curse, one cure, one week to find it.
Director: Hideo Nakata
Starring Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Hiroyuki Sanada
The movie that started the so-called "New Wave" of Japanese Horror Movies, Ringu is a spine tingling exercise in psychological terror. Based on a best selling novel by Koji Suzuki which itself takes its origins from a Japanese folk tale, Ringu spawned a number of sequels, prequels and westernised re-makes. It also paved the way for the success of other East Asian fright fests such as Ju-on: The Grudge (2003), Dark Water (2002) and The Eye (2002) (all also re-made for Western eyes).
Highly imaginative, unpretentious and quite simply terrifying, Ringu delves deep into the human soul and rips the heart right out of it.
Do not watch alone.
16 Eden Lake (2008)
Follow the blood!
Starring:Michael Fassbender, Bronson Webbe, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Turgoose
The day after I watched Eden Lake, I read a story in the local rag about a 19yr old disabled girl who had been literally taken prisoner, tied up, physically and mentally abused and then left in a local park at 5.30 in the morning, her captors were young aimless hoodies.
Almost the very next day I read about a 17yr old boy who was tied to a tree, doused in petrol and set alight to die a horrible death by youngsters not much older than him. This is what makes Eden Lake so frightening and shocking, its grip on reality is very close to the knuckle and although it has many contrivances it delivers a voyeuristic and all too familiar story of 21st Century Britain and the major problems of today's society that all politicians fail to comprehend.
Eden Lake disturbed the hell out of me; it's not a conventional horror movie by any stretch of the imagination. It's real, too damn real.
15 Switchblade Romance (2003)
I won't let anyone come between us any more.
Starring:Cecile De France, Maiwenn Le Besco, Philippe Nahon, Franck Khalfoun.
Better known as Haute Tension in its native country, this is a rare beast, a French Slasher movie, which seems like a blood soaked relic from the 80s.
Pushing the Gore and bloodletting to the very limit, Switchblade Romance is not for the faint hearted or those easily offended by gruesome video Nasties.
What lifts this movie from the behind the counter bargain bin is its style, its relentless pace, superior bloody makeup effects (by legendary makeup artist Gianetto De Rossi) and a daft but incredulous twist that is so insane, its almost brilliant.
14 Carrie (1976)
Go to your closet and pray!
Director:Brian De Palma
Starring:Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt.
Spellbinding and highly influential horror movie that remains one of the true classics of the genre.
Carrie is a macabre fairy tale for the modern age oozing style and imagination.
Boasting the ultimate 70s High School cast (John Travolta, William Katt, P J Soles, Amy Irving and Nancy Allen) and featuring Sissy Spacek in a role she was seemingly born to play, Carrie is manipulative and horrifying, portraying the heartbreaking effects of being an outcast in society.
Stephen Kings first novel is brilliantly adapted by director Brian De Palma and his flashy and kinetic camerawork are a significant reason for the films immense success.
Reportedly one of the most watched movies on Halloween by American teens, its hard to deny its endless ability to shock and terrorise a whole new generation of Horror film watchers.
13 Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
36 billion people have died since the reign of humanity. For the new Dawn, there's a reunion...
Starring:Ving Rhames, Sarah Polley, Mekhi Phifer
The biggest compliment I can pay to Zack Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead remake is that it is on a par with the original. Making some bold and innovative changes, Snyder develops a tense, gory and action packed Zombie flick. Derided by some critics for changing the undead from shuffling and clumsy protagonists to fast and furious flesh eating monsters, this is never the less a worthy and entertaining successor. Grotesque, visceral and less political than its predecessor, DOTD delivers the goods tenfold while always showing respect to Romero's classic (even throwing in a number of cameos from the original). Snyder's apocalyptic zombie vision benefits greatly from Indie Queen Sarah Polleys magnificent performance. All in all, the end of the world has never looked so gruesomely good.
12 Fright Night (1985)
The master will kill you for this! But not fast. Slowly! Oh, so slowly!
Starring:William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys.
Vastly underrated Vampire movie that is stylish, cool and highly memorable. A simplistic premise (Good vs. Evil) which pays homage to the old horror flicks. Fright Night benefits from two superb central performances, Chris Sarandon is mesmerising in a Christopher Lee type role and Roddy McDowell chews the scenery as a cross between Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, hence his characters name, Peter Vincent.
Unleashing a barrage of (very good)special effects later in the film, the director Tom Holland carefully constructs an old fashioned tale of terror which never fails to enthral and entice the audience resulting in one of the very best Horror films of the 80s.
11 Halloween (1978)
He is coming to your little town!
Starring:Donald Pleasence, P J Soles, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Loomis
Halloween is still the granddaddy of all slasher movies and has lost little of its impact and influence. Its status as one of the most important movies in Horror Film history is undeniable.
Mirroring Psycho (1960) and employing various techniques first used in the excellent Bob Clarke helmer "Black Christmas" (1974), Halloween is masterfully directed by John Carpenter and totally belies its low budget roots. Many of its plot devices, camera shots and character interaction are now staple ingredients in the majority of all slasher flicks. Genuinely scary and manipulative, Halloween has very little gore relying more on an imposing and angst filled tension to shock the viewer. This is a movie that redefined the rules, spawning a number of inferior sequels and imitations.
Boosted by a simple premise, a solid cast and an unbelievably brilliant theme tune, Halloween stands toe to toe with the very best Horror Films of all time.
10 28 Days Later (2002)
Be Thankful For Everything, For Soon There Will Be Nothing...
Starring:Cillian Murphy, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley, Christopher Eccleston, Marvin Campbell, Brendan Gleeson
Arguably one of the finest directors in the business today, Danny Boyle makes interesting and evocative films and even his misfires "A Life Less Ordinary (1997)" and "The Beach (2000)" are more emotive and challenging then a whole host of star loaded fodder that is served up this and every other week.
28 Days Later is without a doubt a directors movie, Boyle is on the absolute top of his game.
Tipping its hat to George A Romero's Zombie trilogy and throwing in a Day Of The Triffids style beginning, 28 Days is a gruesome, frightening and more importantly, a down right realistic apocalyptic saga.
Using every trick in the book (and inventing a few new ones), Boyle works his magic even under the constraints of an obviously tight budget. Throw in some intensely raw acting performances, a scattering of London shot filming locations and a horde of "rage" infected zombies who actually run (rather than shuffle along) and you have one hell of a Horror Movie.
9 The Descent (2005)
Hey, there's something down here...
Starring:Alex Reid, Shauna Macdonald,Natalie Jackson Mendoza,Saskia Mulder.
Neil Marshall's highly anticipated follow up to Dog Soldiers (2002) is an atmospherically brilliant horror flick that is literally dripping with unrelenting tension. Boasting an all female cast, this is a white-knuckle roller coaster ride that offers no mercy. Brutal, terrifying and gloriously sadistic, The Descent is a nerve wracking and claustrophobic nightmare that takes no prisoners.
8 Salem's Lot (1979)
You'll enjoy Mr. Barlow. And he'll enjoy you.
Starring David Soul,James Mason,Lance Kerwin,Lew Ayres,Bonnie Bedelia
Salem's Lot really shouldn't work. It doesn't have a lot going for it. For starters it was a made for TV production which in the 1970s meant no profanity, sex or over the top violence. It also meant a limited budget and other constraints such as regular cliffhangers adapted for TV ads.
It had a pretty mediocre cast (David Soul as lead, come on) and a pretty mediocre director in Tobe Hooper.
Hooper's career can hardly be classed as legendary, his most famous movie The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is highly overrated although it takes plaudits for having the most enticing title in Film History, Poltergeist (1981) would probably be Hooper's second most famous movie but if the urban legend is to be believed, Steven Spielberg was on hand for most of the directing duties as Hopper was deemed to be unreliable.
Resisting all these potential disadvantages, Salem's Lot triumphs miraculously. Scare for scare, chill for chill, this is possibly the most frightening movie ever made.
In the full original 184m version, the atmospheric and slowly wrought tension is cranked up to the max as a small American Midwest town is callously and brutally overtaken by Vampires.
Salem's Lot keeps things simple, Haunted House, traditional vampires, wooden stakes, holy water, good vs. evil. All tick the box. Neglecting any humorous undertones, all the actors play it straight as a die and help to create a menacing and disturbing aura.
Despite a few changes to Stephen King's original novel, the author was said to be fairly pleased with the finished product (although he was irked by the change of one of his main characters, Mr Barlow). Herein lies Salem's great strength, it plays like a book keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat as it tantalisingly stirs up the emotions developing an eerie and indomitable feeling of dread.
From a personal point of view, I remember Salem's Lot been an event. When it was first televised in the UK, everybody at my school seemed to be talking about it. To impressionable 13yr olds, this was probably our first introduction to a proper Horror film (remember, no VCRs in those days).
I still believe this is one of the best Vampire films ever and fully deserves its place in the 25 Greatest Horror Movies Of All Time.
7 Jaws (1975)
You're gonna need a bigger boat.
Starring:Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary
Without question, one of the most important films in history, Jaws is a watershed event establishing itself as the first "summer blockbuster", defining the career of Steven Spielberg and becoming the first movie ever to go on "wide release" across America. All of this attributes to the massive legend of Jaws the movie but the main underlying fact behind its massive success is that it is absolutely bloody terrifying.
What a number of so-called Horror directors fail to realise is that however unlikely the scenario, a good chiller has to make you afraid of something. Jaws made you afraid to go in the water and to a highly impressionable 10yr old holidaying on the Isle Of Wight, the sea suddenly became the most terrifying place in the world and although I'm no marine biologist, I don`t think many great white sharks are spotted off the coast of Shanklin.
6 The Evil Dead (1981)
You're not gonna leave me here, are you? Are ya, Ash?
Starring:Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich, Sarah York
Much has been documented about the making of "The Evil dead" and how Sam Rami raised the meagre budget of $375,000. Its also fairly safe to say the cast and crew survived an almost torturous shoot that was to produce probably the biggest Horror cult film of all time. The Evil Dead is a masterpiece of gut churning terror defying its low budget roots by imaginative and truly unique direction by Rami. Almost 30yrs on the movie has lost none of its impact, its still extremely gory, its still gruesomely shocking and it still scares the living daylights out of anyone fool enough to watch it late into the night.
5 Let The Right One In (2008)
Are you a vampire?
Starring:Kare Hedebrant, Peter Carlberg, Anders T Peedu, Karin Bergquist, Pale Olofsson, Henrik Dahl, Lina Leandersson, Ika Nord, Karl-Robert Lindgren, Per Ragnar.
Literally coming out of nowhere, Swedish chiller, Let The Right One In is unquestionably the finest Horror Film of the last 25 years.
Essentially a movie about relationships, love and vampires, LTROI is a mesmerising and hypnotic coming of age drama.
Expertly crafted by director Thomas Alfredson with a perfectly paced screenplay by John Ajvide Lindquist (who also wrote the original novel) this is a film which explores dark and complex issues head on yet is enchanting and perversely uplifting.
Complemented by unbelievably good performances by its two young leads, LTROI sets an extremely high standard for all future horror films to follow and sends a message to Hollywood directors that can only elicit awe and admiration.
4 The Wicker Man (1973)
You'll simply never understand the true nature of sacrifice.
Starring:Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt
The Citizen Kane of horror movies (as attributed to Film magazine Cinefantastique).
The Wicker Man is an amazing, audacious and intelligent film expertly crafted and beautifully shot.
Surviving an extremely troubled production (the film company British Lion Films was taken over by EMI and actors including Christopher Lee worked without pay), the Wicker Man defies all conventions with its chilling and off centre screenplay. Successfully blending a number of genres and employing a superb and oft used folk soundtrack, the film snakes its way to a cataclysmic and shocking finale. One of the best British movies of all time, the effect of the Wicker Man is hypnotic even after multiple viewings and although it offers many questions, the answers are not so forthcoming.
3 An American Werewolf In London (1981)
Stay on the road. Keep clear of the moors.
Starring:David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine
Amazingly, the idea for American Werewolf in London came to director John Landis when he was working as a production assistant on the Clint Eastwood movie Kelly's Heroes (1970).
Easily the best Werewolf movie ever made, AWIL blends outrageous dark humour with gruesome and horrific scenes of carnage. Landis was (at the time) on a roll which showed no signs of abating and his masterful and astute directing delivered a visually impressive masterpiece of Horror cinema.
Taking the American-English culture clash to the max and throwing in a number of whacky and downright unfriendly characters, Landis pitches the tone to perfection.
Complemented by an almost perfect soundtrack and several stand out scares, AWIL induces both laughter and intense shock sometimes in the same scene.
The icing on the cake though is Rick Bakers amazing makeup effect in the wolf transformation scene which is almost certainly the finest ever committed to celluloid.
2 The Thing (1982)
Now I'm gonna show you what I already know.
Starring:Kurt Russell, T K Carter, Richard Dysart, Richard Masur.
Released at cinemas soon after E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, The Thing was a pretty serious box office dud, Cinemagoers obviously preferred their aliens warm and cuddly. Critics also savagely rounded on it labelling it repulsive and over gory.
Carving out a niche for itself as the ultimate cult movie, The Thing has now fortunately been reappraised in a number of reviews and its status today, as one of the best Horror/Sci Fi movies ever made is incontestable.
What makes The Thing so good is an almost indescribably choking atmosphere of paranoia and unbearable tension. It also has a superb cast of character actors, truly outlandish make up design and a mind numbingly eerie score by none other than Ennio Morricone. Almost 30 years on, the creature effects are still awe inspiring and (in the absence of CGI) mind blowing.
John Carpenters highly influential movie set a very high benchmark, one that has yet to be bettered.
1 Dawn Of The Dead (1978)
When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.
Director:George A Romero
Starring:David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott Reiniger, Gaylen Ross.
George A. Romero virtually single-handedly invented the horror sub genre "The Zombie movie". Night Of The Living Dead (1968) was the first of his trilogy and 10yrs later came the highly acclaimed Dawn Of The Dead (1978), which become a massive worldwide hit when released (Day of the Dead followed in 1985).
Enlisting such luminaries as Dario Argento (as producer) and former Vietnam combat photographer Tom Savini to create the gruesome yet highly imitated makeup effects, Romero served up an instant classic.
I read an excellent review by Dave Kehr on the Chicago Reader website in which he said this film taps into two dark and dirty fantasies, wholesale slaughter and wholesale shopping. I couldn't have put it better myself.
DOTD is a fantastical attack on Consumerism and American excess which also happens to be bold, brave and utterly entertaining, Romero undoubtedly crafted the finest Horror movie of a decade which was notoriously soaked in blood and gore; he also made what I consider to be the greatest Horror Movie of all time.
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