Yes, Halloween season is here, so it is time to dust off those horror films, nuke some popcorn, and gather ’round the television set to enjoy. And if you need any help in deciding what to watch, I am at your service. In the last two years, I've posted my top 1-25 and 26-50 horror movies and today I'm adding another ten to the list. This is a highly subjective list so add your favorites in the comment section.
And don't forget to donate to our funder:
Anyway, here goes....
* I double posted Carrie at #54 by accident after I had it at #26, but it's been fixed. Also, I didn't have a chance to view "The Innocents" because my DVR's hard drive crashed so I left it off my list entirely.
60) Santa Sangre
I just rewatched this incredible film by Alejandro Jodorowsky and it is stunning. A young boy grows up in a circus, is haunted by his mother's religious obsession with an armless woman and his father's lustful desires that leads to violence, death and a loss of reality. To say it causes him emotional distress doesn't quite fit:
The movie involves the perverse emotional and physical enslavement of a son by his mother--a control all the more macabre when we learn, late in the film, the secret of its actual nature. It is also about an instinctive hatred between characters representing lust and chastity, which are both seen as perversions in a world without a sane middle way. This bold subject matter is orchestrated by Jodorowsky in a film that inspires critics to make lists, calling it Jungian, surrealistic, Felliniesque, Bunuelian, sadomasochistic, expressionist and strongly flavored by such horror classics as "The Beast With Five Fingers," "The Hands of Orlac" and the film that guides the hero's fantasies, "The Invisible Man."
59) Dark Water:
Hideo Nakata scores another horror triumph with his very freaky ghost film. Not quite as horrifying as Ringu, but it's still a master class of horror. You'll never look at a child's yellow rain coat the same.
58) Bay Of Blood
Mario Bava's Bay Of Blood is a film that influenced the Friday The 13th style of slasher movies, but it has a much more coherent story. The ending was also quite shocking at the time.
An elderly heiress is killed by her husband who wants control of her fortunes. What ensues is an all-out murder spree as relatives and friends attempt to reduce the inheritance playing field.
Yet Bava's thoroughly unique and snarky mise-en-scéne doesn't give the impression of a mere retaliatory work, the nail in the coffin to this reasoning being a denouement Joe Dante has called “the best ending since Citizen Kane.” Bava proverbially pulls out all the stops: the rare horror ending that offers one last shock while committing fully to the film's ideals, a final punchline that Bava makes sure doesn't go down easy.
Simply put, it's a terrifying movie. LA Times' Kenneth Turan writes:
Once seen, never forgotten, "Eyes Without a Face" is a film to haunt your dreams. Disturbing, disorienting, quietly terrifying, it's one of the least known of the world's great horror movies and, in its own dark way, a startlingly beautiful and artful piece of cinema as well.
When I saw this movie for the first time I had never seen Betty Davis in anything else and she terrified me more than any monster ever could.
NY Times 1962 review:
As this pair of profoundly jealous has-beens who live alone in an old Hollywood house, where one of them (Miss Crawford), a cripple, is confined to a wheelchair as the result of a long-ago vindictive "accident," they do get off some amusing and eventually blood-chilling displays of screaming sororal hatred and general monstrousness.Especially Miss Davis. As the mobile one who is slowly torturing to death the helpless sister whose fame as a movie actress eclipsed her own as a child vaudeville star, she shrieks and shrills in brazen fashion, bats her huge mascaraed eyes with evil glee, snarls at the charitable neighbors and acts like a maniac.
David Fincher's serial killer trope is heavy on atmosphere, the bible and an all star cast. The twists and turns keep you on your toes and the ending is pretty damn good too.
This grim death sets the tone for David Fincher's "Seven," one of the darkest and most merciless films ever made in the Hollywood mainstream. It will rain day after day. They will investigate death after death. There are words scrawled at the crime scenes; the fat man's word is on the wall behind his refrigerator: Gluttony. After two of these killings Mills realizes they are dealing with a serial killer, who intends every murder to punish one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
54) The Changeling:
George Scott gives a great performance as a famous musician battling a tremendous amount of personal grief who decides to rent a creepy house that has a dark history. What could go wrong?
When George C. Scott moves into a mansion on the outskirts of Seattle he gets a lot more than peace, quiet, rain, and double nonfat cappuccinos. Instead he moves into one of the most unsettling ghost stories ever in “The Changeling”.
While on the surface, Peter Medak’s “The Changeling” isn’t the most evidently horrifying movie, there is something about the intimate, drawing-room atmosphere of this supernatural horror fiction that lingers with you for years.
53) Kill Baby Kill
This might be my favorite Mario Bava nightmare.
Fear was a favorite subject of Bava’s, and here he depicts a municipal reign of terror brought on, in many ways, by the mere idea of death, personified in the body of a ghostly little girl dressed in white. The irony is intriguing—what scares these people most is what, on the surface, shouldn’t frighten them at all, a visual distillation of childhood innocence.
52) Deep Red
Dario Argento scored high on my list with Suspiria, but the movie that came before it is in many ways just as good.
Deep Red manages to utilise childhood icons as horrific set pieces. The constant use of the child’s lullaby, which to most people would be soothing, becomes something to fear because it signifies murder and trauma. Argento’s use of the camera as a character is effective here, sweeping through the scenes while the audience looks on. The use of childhood items like dolls add a macabre feeling to the whole affair.
I could have easily put F.W. Murnau's 1922 classic here, but instead I chose Herzog's brilliant vision of dread. Rger Ebert said this about Klaus Kinski:
To say of someone that they were born to play a vampire is a strange compliment, but if you will compare the two versions of Nosferatu you might agree with me that only Kinski could have equaled or rivaled Max Schreck's performance.
This is a horror gem from Thailand that finds how a young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident.
Only a deranged mind could turn a Polaroid picture into a nightmare. Unlike many horror films, this one has an ending to die for.
49) Blue Velvet:
From the moment David Lynch takes his camera and goes beneath the surface, you know you'll never be the same by the end of the film. Has there ever been a scarier character than Frank Booth?
48) From Beyond:
This was Stuart Gordon's next movie after Re-Animator and it holds a place dear in my heart, because I've always been partial to monster movies. Based on a H.P Lovecraft story, Dr. Pretorius (Bride of Frankenstein reference) desires to stimulate all our senses for his S&M proclivities by ticking your pineal gland. Unfortunately for him, the Resonator opens up a whole new world that's quite hungry.
Crawford Tillinghast: It ate him... bit off his head... like a gingerbread man!
Being a celebrated author isn't all it's cracked up to be, just ask Paul Sheldon. Kathy Bates won the Oscar for being his #1 fan and James Caan suffered a hobbling. What could be better?
Annie Wilkes: I thought you were good Paul... but you're not good. You're just another lying ol' dirty birdy.
46) The Brood:
David Cronenberg did it again with this 1979 creep-fest starring the wonderful Samantha Eggar. A psychologist (Oliver Reed) uses his New Age techniques to try and help a woman who is struggling with the term "motherly love."
This is a true independent film if ever there was one. With no money or special effects, Herk Harvey creates a spine-tingling thriller and gives us the first glimpse of the modern-day zombie. Slant:
....remains virtually unsurpassed in its capacity to sustain dread. Candace Hilligoss's proto-feminist is an adrift spirit in an unwelcoming world, alienated by men and God and perpetually surfacing from a living nightmare beyond her comprehension. The enigmatic nature of her plight, and of the ethereal, titular carnival, suggest a multitude of fates to which death is preferable.
44) Paranormal Activity:
Inspired by Blair Witch, I didn't see this in the movies, but it still scared the sh*t out of me as I streamed it at home on a Saturday night. How could looking at video from the night before raise the hair on my head? This movie was made for around $15K and made over 190 million.
As I've said, I'm no fan of torture porn, but James Wan came up with an original concept and pulled it off brilliantly and the bottom line is, it was scary as hell.
42) The Cure:
I'm a huge fan of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and this is my favorite film he directed. A wave of gruesome murders is sweeping Tokyo. The only connection is a bloody X carved into the neck of each of the victims. I doubt many people have seen this gem, but you should -- immediately.
A medical school student creates a serum that restores dead things back to life. Whatever could go wrong? It starts out pretty campy, but once a very good Jeffrey Combs gets his formula working, all hell breaks loose.
40) Dead of Night:
This 1945 horror movie is exceptional and was way ahead of its time -- I would say, even Lynchian.
Architect Walter Craig, seeking the possibility of some work at a country farmhouse, soon finds himself once again stuck in his recurring nightmare. Dreading the end of the dream that he knows is coming, he must first listen to all the assembled guests' own bizarre tales.
This is the movie that turned ventriloquist dummies into nightmares.
39) Blair Witch Project:
Since its release, no horror movie has been parodied or even panned as much, but when it hit the theaters, this film had the type of hype you couldn't pay for. And with a budget that's less than most new luxury cars, it turned a standing-room-only theater into a whimpering crowd. This movie didn't 't translate very well to the smaller television screen, but since it was released in 1999, no movie has been as influential to the horror movie of today.
Polanski was broke so he took the work on this picture and what he produced was truly terrifying. The beautiful Catherine Deneuve is brilliant as a woman who slowly loses her grip on reality and in the process, acts out with murderous violence.
37) Peeping Tom:
This movie was released the same year as Psycho and featured a serial killer using a camera to kill, but instead of elevating the director, it was so shocking to the critics at the time that it nearly destroyed his career.
Six girlfriends meet every twelve months to go on an adventurous trip and this year they get trapped in a cave deep in the bowels of the Appalachians -- only they aren't alone. It's a true claustrophobic thriller...
Holly: Hey, there's something down here...
35) Wolf Creek:
I'm no fan of torture porn, but Wolf Creek is frightening on many levels. Several young backpackers take a trip the Australian outback and who they find there is more terrifying than they could have ever imagined.
Mick Taylor: See? Head on a stick!
34) Black Sunday:
There has to be a place for Mario Bava on any all time horror list and I chose his beautifully realized Satan worshiping saga for my list. Asa, a hateful witch waits two hundred years to get revenge against the family blood line who tried to burn her at the stake. And with movies like Blood and Black Lace, many filmmakers believe Bava is also the inspiration for the American slasher film genre that blew up in the late 70's and 80's.
33) Don't Look Now:
Nicolas Roeg's slow burn of a movie is based on a story by the great Daphne Du Maurier and although there's not a lot of action, Roeg infuses every frame with a sense of dread. It also benefits from tremendous performances by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie and transformed the beauty that is Venice, Italy into a haunted waterway.
Don't let the 1930's date fool you. This is a special movie and is the best of the best of the Dracula/ Frankenstein/Wolfman/Mummy movies that started the great run of horror in Hollywood.
31) The Sixth Sense:
The ending of this movie had so much buzz swirling around it that it made M. Night Shyamalan an overnight star before most people saw the film. The praise was well deserved because it was a very scary picture. Too bad M. Night hasn't been able to come close to this flawless picture.
Cole Sear: I see dead people.
Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?
[Cole shakes his head no]
30) Near Dark:
Academy Award winning director Katherine Begilow made this outstanding and completely original vampire movie in 1986, that portrays the living dead as a roving band of cowboy-like nomads, feasting on the blood of the world after dark in a camper. It also houses one of Bill Paxton's early and most fun portrayals of all time.
29) The Conjuring:
I loved this film so much I wrote a review about it when it was released last year. This movie will make you jump out of your couch so many times you'll give up, and and just stand the rest of the way. It's the second best demon/possession movie of all time, right behind the Exorcist. Nuff' said.
28) The Fly:
In an accident that could only happen to a mad genius, a scientist has his DNA merged together with a fly and the results are mindblowing in David Cronenberg's remake of the 1958 original. It also made Jeff Goldblum a huge star.
This is the third film by Park Chan-Wook in his awesome vengeance trilogy that is truly a work of art. It's a story about a man being imprisoned for fifteen years without knowing by who, why or where and then is suddenly let go, which marks his mad pursuit of his captor. The imagery and set design is matched only by the total originality of the story.
The first and one of the best Stephen King adaptations to hit the big screen ever created. Never bully a menstruating seventeen year old girl who possesses telekinesis! The acting is topnotch, with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie tearing up the screen and just when you thought it was over, it scares the sh*t out of you again.
Don't fall asleep during this one! The remake was good too, but not quite as good as the original. It's paranoia on steroids.
Dr. Miles J. Bennell: They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next...!
This is South Korea's entry into the horror genre. The plot focuses on two sisters who, after returning home from a psychiatric hospital, experience increasingly disturbing events involving both them and their stepmother.
Another hand held camera pic that is surprisingly brilliant.
IMDB: A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.
Ángela: It's nearly 2 A.M. and we're still sealed in this building that we came to with the firemen earlier this evening, to assist an elderly woman who later attacked a policeman and a fireman. They're both in critical condition. The police won't let us leave and are giving us no explanations.
Simply exquisite and beautifully shot. Brings the vampire genre back where it belongs. The US remake was great also.
IMDB: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire
Eli: I'm twelve. But I've been twelve for a long time.
21) The Haunting
The classic haunted house tale that was perfectly crafted by Robert Wise, who directed Sound of Music and West Side story. He only used shadows, camera angles and sound to terrify you.
Mrs. Sanderson: The dead are not quiet in Hill House.
Evil Dead was a shocker that changed horror as well. Thank you Sam Raimi.
Mirror Ash: I don't think so. We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound "fine"?
This has an ending that will simply rock your world and is Miike's finest horror movie.
Asami Yamazaki: This wire can cut through meat and bone easily.
Before Wes Craven gave us Freddy, he created Jupiter.
Mars: Baby's fat. You fat... fat and juicy.
I loved this J-horror flick from Japan. It ushered in a new wave of horror from Asia which was a most welcomed addition to the genre. Everything about this movie is eerie and off-putting.
Wes Craven continued to re-energize the horror movie and Freddy did just that.
Children: One, two, Freddy's coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. / Nine, ten, never sleep again.
I know some people don't consider this a horror movie, but I do. It's an unforgettable film experience with Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins winning Oscars for their roles.
Hannibal Lecter: A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
This is Dario Argento's masterpiece about an American ballet dancer being terrorized at a German school. Darren Aronofsky learned much from this film.
Helena Markos: You wanted to kill me! You wanted to kill me! What are you gonna do now, huh? Now death is coming for you! You wanted to kill Helena Markos! Hell is behind that door! You're going to meet death now... the LIVING DEAD!
13) The Omen
Brilliantly made and downright creepy. How would you cope knowing your child is the anti-Christ?
Young nanny: Look at me, Damien! It's all for you. [she jumps off a roof, hanging herself]
12) The Birds
Pure Hitchcockean mastery.
Lydia: [to Melanie] Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you're the cause of all of this. I think you're evil. EVIL!
Tobe Hooper's classic was also co-written by the amazing Steven Spielberg.
Tangina: It lies to her. It tells her things only a child can understand. It has been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is The Beast.
10) Rosemary's Baby
Polanski pulls out all the stops in this twisted and very scary yearn about Satan's love child.
Minnie Castevet: He chose you, honey! From all the women in the world to be the mother of his only living son!
Ridley Scott crafted the perfect horror movie in outer space where nobody can hear you scream.
Ash: You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.
Aliens is also an excellent sequel that stands on its own and was made by the master, James Cameron.
8) The Shining
What can you say about Jack Nicholson that hasn't already been said?
Jack Torrance: Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.
The father of the zombie horror film that is responsible for making The Walking Dead the biggest cable show ever which owes its life to George A. Romero. It was heavily edited when it first came on television and we had to see it at a midnight show to check out its tasty good fun.
Newscaster: It has been established that persons who have recently died have been returning to life and committing acts of murder. A widespread investigation of funeral homes, morgues, and hospitals has concluded that the unburied dead have been returning to life and seeking human victims. It's hard for us here to be reporting this to you, but it does seem to be a fact.
Michael Meyers, the six year old boy who killed his sister on Halloween and is the myth John Carpenter created that is so powerful that it set the standard for serial killers up to this day. He also helped write the soundtrack that helped add so much suspense to the action. After watching it again, you'll be surprised to realize that hardly any blood was spilled in the movie, but the mere thought of Meyers coming for you was so chilling that neither blood or gore was needed. That's a true master at work.
Dr. Loomis: I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face, and the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized that what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.
5) Thing From Another World/The Thing
The Thing From Another World (1951) is the benchmark for horror and alien films and was my favorite movie when I was growing up. An alien thaws out from a chunk of ice in the arctic at a research outpost and starts growing his own seed family by feeding it blood from the people he killed with the help of a mad scientist. There's a terrifying scene where scientists are tracking the creature's movements with a Geiger counter and they find him heading straight for them. James Arness of Gunsmoke played the creature.
Dr. Arthur Carrington: No pleasure, no pain... no emotion, no heart. Our superior in every way.
John Carpenter came along and remade it in 1982, but kept the movie closer to the original story "Who Goes There?" The special effects were incredible at the time and still hold up even in our world of CGI. Kurt Russell has never been better and there are scenes that will live on in your memory forever.
Clark: I dunno what the hell's in there, but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is.
4) Texas Chain Saw Massacre
A huge dude wearing a mask (Leatherface) made of skin while chasing you with a freaking chain saw. Nuff' said. I think we all have a few weirdos in our families, but not like this one.
Franklin: Hey man, you ever go in that slaughter room or whatever they call it? The place where they shoot cattle in the head with that big air gun?
No movie had the effect on beach life or water skiing across this country quite like Spielberg's classic Jaws. To this day the SyFy channel is still making huge profits off campy movies like Sharknado and the Discovery channel makes a fortune from their annual Shark Week, all because of a big rubber shark that barely worked, a haunting theme by John Williams and Spielberg's master class in terror.
Quint: You know the thing about a shark, he's got... lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eye. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be livin'. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white.
I kept flipping my first two picks around because no two films had ever rocked the world like Psycho and The Exorcist did. I was too young to see Hitch's macabre masterpiece in the theater, but I did see The Exorcist. When I was waiting on line in NYC, I'll always remember a woman yelling at us not to go in and see that movie!!!! after she just left the theater. Couples were hugging each other tight and crying as they left. It's not only a truly terrifying movie, but also an Oscar nominated one with terrific performances from the entire cast.
Father Merrin, Father Damien Karras: The power of Christ compels you!
Demon: Lick me, lick me!
There was nothing like Psycho ever made before Alfred Hitchcock gambled his own money on Robert Bloch's book about Ed Gein and turned it into an incredible low budget black and white production when Paramount rejected it because they wanted another North By Northwest. Only the genius of Hitch would come up with the idea to kill off his leading lady (Janet Leigh) within the first thirty minutes of the film. As a child my mother wouldn't let me see this movie when it aired on TV because it had terrified her so much. The shower scene is usually discussed as being the scariest of its time, but the toilet bowl flushing scene caused Hitchcock just as much grief from the censors because things like that weren't ever shown in film at that time.
Norman Bates: It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?