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The Top 10 Popcorn Horror Movies of All Time

Updated on June 28, 2015
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Skeptic, cinephile, bookworm, gamer, writer, history buff, armchair scientist, and occasional YouTuber.

The most campy, self-indulgent, offbeat cult-horror-classics the world has to offer

It's that time of year again, horror fans! The leaves have fallen, the grey skies have come, the jack-o'-lanterns have been carved, and my allergies have finally subsided. You guessed it: All Hallows Eve is upon us at last!

To kick off the spooky festivities, I wanted to do something a little different from the usual mundane Top Horror Films of All Time list (although I've shamelessly done that as well) and, instead, focus the following only on the fun stuff: the campy, self-indulgent, and the most carefree, exaggerated, offbeat cult classics that Halloween has to offer.

So turn off the lights, sit back, relax, strap on your chainsaw, and grab the popcorn. Here comes The Top 10 Popcorn Horror Movies of All Time.

10.) The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) - Directed by: Jim Sharman

As a parody of the B-movie science fiction and horror films of the old days of Hollywood, this musical of creepy transvestites, floozies, perverts, and weirdo's, has become the cultyest cult-classic that the film going world has ever known.

Some may debate over how much of a Halloween film this actually is and, I'll admit, I had my own reservations about adding it here. But I'd be lying to myself if I didn't admit that there are particular traumatizing visuals from this movie that have haunted me throughout my entire life - much more than a headless zombie ever could. Shudder.

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9.) The Lost Boys (1987) - Directed by: Joel Schumacher

"Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It's fun to be a vampire." Or so the tagline goes...

I don't care what anyone says, I like the two Corey's. And they were at their very bloodsucking best in this seminal teenage vampire classic from 1987 (eat your sparkly heart out, Twilight).

And if vampires, Corey's, mullets, and all sorts of 80's awesomeness wasn't enough for you, we've also got the king of 80's douchey-ness, Kiefer Sutherland, in his greatest bullying role since Stand by Me. How could anyone not love this movie?

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8.) Shaun of the Dead (2004) - Directed by: Edgar Wright

When Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost teamed up to make a parody of the classic zombie movies they adored, the last thing they expected was that their little movie would end up becoming an instant cult-classic in its own right - but that's precisely what happened.

With well developed characters and an intelligent spot-on wit, the charm and heart of this film is not to be reckoned with in the zombie genre. It not only succeeds as a legitimate zombie movie, but it surpasses many of the gory forefathers it set out to give homage too (it's really no wonder the film has been praised by such horror gods as Stephen King and George A. Romero).

Shaun of the Dead may very well be the Return of the Living Dead of the new, cynical, irony-loving generation.

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7.) Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) - Directed by: Edward D Wood, Jr.

Have you ever heard the old saying, "It's so bad, it's good,"? Well, this is where that came from.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (original title: Grave Robbers from Outer Space) is the definitive cult-classic by the renown "worst director of all time" Edward D. Wood, Jr. And is known by many as being the worst movie ever made.

That notwithstanding, there's a certain creepy allure about this 1950s science fiction/horror gem, starring Tor Johnson, Vampira, and Bela Lugosi, that makes it not only endearing but, also, strangely fascinating.

(To gain a better understanding of the reverence many of us have for this film, read up on director Edward D. Wood, or check out Tim Burtons 1994 Academy Award winning film, Ed Wood.)

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6.) The Return of the Living Dead (1985) - Directed by: Dan O'Bannon

With a keen self-awareness and an unapologetic self-indulgence, Dan O'Bannon's 1985 film, Return of the Living Dead, is much more humorous than any of George A. Romero's Dead films. And we love it all the more because of it.

While there are many things which make this film a classic - the 80's death metal, punk rock soundtrack; the beginning of the now-renown zombie craving for "Brrraaaaiiiinnns," and so on and so forth - one thing stands out above all others: the perpetual gratuitous nudity of the redheaded, punk rocking goddess, Trash. Call me shallow if you like, but that alone makes this a Halloween favorite (and a Christmas favorite, and an Easter favorite, and a Columbus Day favorite, and a Hanukah favorite, and Tuesday favorite...).

Seriously though, folks; this is a must see in the zombie genre.

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5.) An American Werewolf in London (1981) - Directed by: John Landis

Never have I ever simultaneously laughed out loud and jumped in horror as many times as I did while watching this hilarious, charming, and terrifying, 1981 Academy Award winning werewolf movie.

An American Werewolf in London not only remains to be the best werewolf movie ever made but to this day, even with the all the modern newfangled CGI of the new era, it still holds the number 1 spot for the best werewolf transformation ever put on film.

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4.) Fright Night (1985) - Directed by: Tom Holland

When horror movie buff Charlie Brewster (William Ragsdale) discovers that his new suburban next door neighbor may be a vampire, he tries desperately to convince his friends, his girl, his mother, and even his vampire-hunting TV hero (Roddy McDowall) to listen; and he'll go to whatever lengths he can to prove he's not crazy - This brief synopsis is the root of the film that, in my childhood, changed forever the way I would view the modern vampire.

Elegantly balancing the scares and the comedy, Fright Night manages to perfectly terrify and amuse the audience to a precise equilibrium, never becoming too campy, and never taking itself too seriously in the process.

Remade with pretty boy Collin Farrell in the starring role, nothing will ever hold a candle to this original 1985 teenage horror movie masterpiece.

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3.) Creepshow (1982) - Directed by: George A. Romero

With five separate stories directed by zombie movie legend, George A. Romero, and written by the master of horror himself, Stephen King, 1982's horror anthology film, Creepshow, was bound for gory glory from the very get-go.

For any lover of the classic 1950s E.C. horror comics (Tales From The Crypt, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear), you already know what you're getting into with this cult favorite. You get the gore, the scares, the humor, and the obligatory campyness all rolled into one eerily delightful frightfest, elegantly sprinkled with a clear and obvious adoration for the genre in which it's praising.

King and Romero let it all hang out here; and thank the lords for it.

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2.) The Evil Dead Trilogy (1981, 1987, 1992) - Directed by: Sam Raimi

Before director Sam Raimi hit it big with Toby Maguire and the web-shooting Spider-Man, he was making the film world groovy with Bruce Campbell and the chainsaw wielding Ash Williams in The Evil Dead.

Let us set the stage: A group of college students go to spend a weekend in an isolated cabin in the woods when, as luck would have it, they inadvertently unleash an assortment of malevolent ghosts, demons, ghouls, and spirits that inevitably begin to run ramped, killing off everyone in sight, one by one. And with this, the fun begins.

You may think you've heard this old story before but, trust me, there's never been anything like The Evil Dead - before or since.

If I had to sum up these movies with only two words, they'd have to be: Kick. Ass.

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1.) Dawn of the Dead (1978) - Directed by: George A. Romero

"When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth." And, boy, do they ever!

When George A. Romero brought the zombies out of the haunted houses, creepy graveyards, and foggy nights, and opted to place them into the very epitome of the modern mundane - the American shopping mall - he changed the tone for all zombie movies, video games, books, and TV shows to come.

It may not be as terrifying as the original Night of the Living Dead film, but this movie nevertheless remains to be a staple of the zombie genre. Heavy in gore, laughs, scares, claustrophobia, and character development, Dawn of the Dead literally changed the way zombies were to forever to be viewed.

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Which Is Your Favorite Popcorn Horror?

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