How many times have you popped into one of those lists to find it either created by someone who has NO idea what horror is truly all about (as in they include the likes of Se7en on the list, when we all know that film is actually a dark thriller), or they only seem to draw off every other similar list on the planet.
Well…set those fears aside. I’m going to list out for you my top ten all time horror films.
But who the hell am I to name such a list? I’ve been a fan of horror since childhood. My first film was Gorgon in the mid seventies and I never looked back. I’m also a horror author, so I do know my way around the genre. That being said, this is all about opinion…and I’m about to offer up mine.
Take a walk through this dark and dank basement with me, will you?
In reverse order (I wouldn’t dream of giving away the best of the best right away).
10: Night of the Living Dead
I’m talking about Romero’s original. This film did so much for cinema and helped to kick start a sub-genre that I hung my hat on years ago. It’s a brilliant tale, shot sparsely and acted quite well (especially given the period in which it was filmed).
9: The Conjuring
This film was incredible…on so many levels. With a great script, amazing acting, and a the hottest director to helm horror in a long time. Of course it was helped along with the amazing talent of Vera Farmiga and Lily Taylor.
How can you go wrong with the original black and white film with Boris Karloff donning the makeup that would bring Shelley’s creature to life. This amazing, gothic film did the unthinkable and bested the book.
7: The Fly (1986)
Ah the Brundlefly. Using an already strong story, this remake was helmed by a brilliant director (David Cronenberg) and starred Jeff Golblum and Geena Davis. The FX were amazing and Goldblum was spectacular.
This one might seem a bit out of place, but Pumpkinhead holds a special place in my heart. Not only does it star Lance Henrickson, but it offers up some incredible creature effects (thank you, Stan Winston) and does an incredible job merging story and atmosphere to create an incredibly creepy end result.
5: The Babadook
This film was remarkable. That the lead actor (Essie Davis) wasn’t even remotely considered for an award is a sham. The Babadook is a great metaphor for parenting…and the horrors therein.
This was the last film to actually scare me. I saw Candyman when it was first released in the theatre, while attending Purdue University…which was a short 90 minutes away from Cabrini Green. All I really need to say about this film is Tony Todd. Hell yeah.
3: The Exorcist
If you remember seeing this film in the 70s or 80s…you get it. This was well before we’d become jaded by all the daily grind horror that now surrounds us. The Exorcist arrived at a time when society still had a collective heart and soul to spin into a delirium of absolute terror. This film was terrifying then and has stood the test of time like no other horror film.
Clive Barker’s wondrous S&M playthings, the Cenobites, have done so much to influence modern horror. Pinhead is an icon and the film’s daring foray into the realm of hell-born sensuality was a masterful work unlike nothing we’ve ever witnessed.
1: The Witch
It might seem crazy that a film so recently released could knock down Hellraiser from the top spot. But The Witch was a staggeringly brilliant film that displays the madness that is both parenting and surviving during a time period where the odds were stacked against everyone. The acting in this film was some of the best I’ve seen in any film–regardless of genre–the script was nothing short of brilliant, and the atmosphere and cinematography was breathtaking.
High Tension, Antichrist, The Devil’s Rejects, Pontypool, Session 9, Trick ‘R Treat, Wolf Creek, The Ring, Mist, Haloween, Friday 13th.
There you have it. My top ten horror films of all time. Yes there are plenty of other great horror films to be had, but these are the ones that have had the most magical and/or profound effect on me over the years.