For some reason that I am unable to explain, we have felt compelled to pull together this MASSIVE compendium of essential horror movies that everyone should watch at some point in their life. Ambitious? Arrogant? Ill Advised? Probably all of that. Regardless, here it is, Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time. Thank you SO MUCH to the hard working writers at Malevolent Dark, and one esteemed guest writer for helping to pull this together. Each writer is individually attributed on each snippet. Be sure to check out their other work via the links.
Without out further delay please enjoy Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time!!!
Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time (100-76)
100. From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino, From Dusk Til Dawn makes this list out of pure bombastic spectacle. The film begins like any other penned by Tarantino, a pair of brothers travel across America on a bullet fueled crime spree, taking hostages along the way. While this introduction is fantastic in its own right, at the midway-point the story explodes into a sex-laden vampire infested survival horror film.
The eclectic cast starring George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, and Juliette Lewis, paired with memorable appearances by the likes of Salma Hayek and Danny Trejo, deliver performances that straddle the line between zany and intense. The practical effects are great and the vampire morphology fantastic. Lest we forget, Salma Hayek makes one of the most fabulous vampires in all of horror history. You know what I am talking about.
99. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
1999, Tim Burton, Headless Horseman, I mean it’s an odd way to spell Autumn, but I’ll accept. Sleepy Hollow is a loose adaptation of Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.” It’s a pillar of the supernatural gothic genre and pioneered many tropes we know today.
With a notable cast (Christina Ricci, Johnny Depp, and Christopher Jones) and an even more recognizable wardrobe designed by Colleen Atwood, this movie follows the perspective of Police constable Ichabod Crane. Ichabod is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate a string of murders only to be thrown into the thralls of superstition, legends of headless horsemen, pumpkin heads, and romance.
98. Deranged (1974)
Deranged, a 1974 cinematic creation directed by Alan Ormsby and Jeff Gillen, doesn’t always crack the top 100 lists, but this is Malevolent Dark and we know some stuff. Deranged so often gets overshadowed by its undeniably influential brother The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). This film also gets its chilling foundation in real-life horror, drawing inspiration from the notorious crimes of Ed Gein, the same eerie muse behind legends like Psycho and Silence of the Lambs.
The film’s strength is magnified by Roberts Blossom’s deeply unsettling portrayal of Ezra Cobb. His character study delves into the most twisted corners of the human mind. Amplifying its impact is the movie’s raw atmospheric tone, characterized by a bleak Midwestern backdrop, grainy visuals, and a documentary-esque realism. Rather than relying solely on visceral gore, Deranged exhibits a commendable restraint, emphasizing psychological terror leading to moments of stark brutality.
Roberts Blossom’s portrayal of Ezra Cobb is both haunting and unnervingly authentic. His dedication to the role elevates the film from mere shock horror to a deeply unsettling character study. This approach helps determine its status as an underrated classic of horror history.
97. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
Jacob’s Ladder has one of the greatest twist endings of any horror movie, reminiscent of the classic Twilight Zone episode “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. The film expertly tows the line between Jacob’s hallucinations and the psychological terror of the Vietnam War. With several Lovecraftian references (hello, tentacles), perhaps the real horror is losing control of your reality. This inspiration for the Silent Hill franchise boasts an amazing script, a dangerously spooky atmosphere, and terrifying special effects.
This is definitely one of Tim Robbins’ most underrated performances, and he is supported by an all-star cast of 90s favorites.
96. The Stuff (1985)
The Stuff, Larry Cohen’s 1985 satirical horror film, cleverly blends social commentary with traditional genre thrills, marking its distinctive place in horror cinema. At its surface, the story of a sentient, addictive dessert substance might seem ridiculous, but Cohen uses this premise to offer biting commentary on consumerism, corporate greed, and societal gullibility. The film’s strength lies not just in its horror elements but in its subversive take on 1980’s capitalism.
By presenting a society so eager to consume without question, The Stuff becomes an allegory for unchecked corporate greed wrapped in attractive packaging. Cohen’s signature blend of dark humor and incisive societal observations, combined with memorable visuals and a quirky premise, elevates The Stuff from mere horror to a masterful critique of modern society.
Oh yeah, and it stars Michael Moriarty as David “Mo” Rutherford at his insolent best. “They call me that ’cause when people give me money, I always want mo,”
95. The Last House on the Left (2009)
The 2009 remake is the second remake of a Wes Craven film on the list. Where Craven’s 1972 movie is ultra-violent and depressing in tone, Dennis Iliadis’ version downsizes the violence and tweaks the story enough to offer a glimmer of light in the darkness. The film is a rape-revenge flick, but vengeance is doled out by the victim’s parents instead of the victim herself. The twist is that their daughter’s rapists and abusers arrive at the parents’ house stranded in a storm. The parents unknowingly help until they figure figure out what has transpired.
Sara Paxton (The Innkeepers) as Mari leads a strong cast that includes Tony Goldwyn (Ghost) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad). Last House fleshes out the characters better than the original, tapping into Mari’s competitive swimming ability and her father’s occupation as a doctor to deliver meaningful scenes. Suspenseful and cathartic, Last House is another well directed remake boosted by its effective level of intensity and pacing.
94. Slumber Party Massacre (1982)
Slumber Party Massacre, released in 1982, resonates deeply with 80’s kids that had the benefit of Cinemax and poor parental guidance. At first glance, it might seem like a standard slasher film, but its layers run much deeper. Directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by Rita Mae Brown, the film subtly subverts and critiques the typical tropes of its genre. While it plays with the conventions of teen slashers, it also cleverly injects a feminist perspective, making audiences question and reflect on the portrayal of women in horror.
Its blend of genuine scares, dark humor, and self-awareness elevates it from mere shock value to a thought-provoking commentary on gender dynamics within the horror genre. The combination of a strong female-driven narrative, engaging performances, and its position as a trailblazer in feminist horror solidifies Slumber Party Massacre as one of the top100 horror movies of all time.
93. Motel Hell (1980)
Motel Hell! Now you’re speaking my language. Motel Hell is one of those films that doesn’t just embrace its own insanity, it revels in it. Released in 1980, this macabre masterpiece, directed by Kevin Connor, offers a delicious blend of dark comedy and genuine horror. At its heart, it’s a critique of American consumerism and the meat industry, all wrapped up in the absurdity of Farmer Vincent’s “smoked meats.” As they say, “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent Fritters.”
The film masterfully walks the line between gruesome and goofy, making audiences squirm one moment and laugh the next. Rory Calhoun’s deadpan portrayal of Vincent is a masterclass in underplayed horror, and who could forget the gyrating garden of human crops. Slaughterhouse serial killer wearing a hollowed out pig skull to a chainsaw duel finale? Yes please!!! It’s bizarre, it’s memorable, and it’s undeniably unique.
Motel Hell isn’t just a horror film; it’s an experience that captures the essence of 80s horror. It’s a wild ride.
92. The Orphanage (2007)
J. A. Bayona’s gorgeous Spanish masterpiece is as beautiful as it is dread-inducing. Belen Rueda’s performance as grown-up orphan Laura never fails to disappoint, and the film is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the melancholy end. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, the gorgeous cinematography expertly uses the camera to induce a sense of claustrophobia. Watch for a cameo from Charlie Chaplin’s daughter as a medium in a particularly chilling scene.
Several attempts have been made at an American remake, but sometimes it’s better to not mess with perfection.
91. The Shining (1980)
In Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 opus, The Shining, one experiences a masterful distillation of atmospheric dread and psychological horror. Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, the film’s narrative intricacy lies not merely in its tale of a haunted hotel and a family’s descent into madness, but in its nuanced exploration of isolation, human vulnerability, and the fragility of the psyche.
Kubrick’s meticulous framing, combined with the hauntingly repetitive score, crafts a claustrophobic ambiance that pervades every scene. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance, with its incremental gravitation towards insanity, remains one of cinema’s most iconic performances. The Shining is laden with symbolism, from the enigmatic Overlook Hotel to the perplexing final shot, inviting endless scholarly interpretations and debates.
The Shining, both in its immediate impact and its enduring influence, epitomizes the apex of cinematic horror, merging technical prowess with profound thematic depth. REDRUM!
90. The Ring (2002)
This remake of a Japanese movie adapted from Koji Suzuki’s novel of the same name is probably best known for its signature image of a long-haired ghost in a white gown stepping out of a TV set. If you haven’t read the book,you should – there is much more backstory on Samara/Sadako. This tale of a cursed VHS cassette that kills you unless you share it is as stunning as it is terrifying, keeping you guessing until the final twist. The Ring has made countless horror fans think twice before clicking “Play” on that viral YouTube video.
89. Cube (1997)
Cube’s $350,000 budget paid off: it grossed almost $9 million at the box office, followed by one sequel, a prequel, and a Japanese adaptation.
David Hewlett of Stargate fame leads a cast of six strangers who wake up in a giant Rubik’s Cube where you must be able to calculate math in your head or face booby traps that would make even John Kramer flinch. Fans of both locked-room mysteries and Saw can agree that Vicenzo Natali’s 1997 feature film utilizes every one of its 90 minutes expertly.
The film’s portrayal of Kazan has not aged well, but otherwise Cube is nearly flawless.
88. Poltergeist (1982)
In 1982, the cinematic world received a revival in sight and sound on a tired old trope. Tobe Hooper directed Poltergeist, a film that seamlessly melded suburban tranquility with supernatural terror. With the influential touch of producer Steven Spielberg, this masterpiece transcends the standard confines of its genre.
At its heart, Poltergeist is a poignant exploration of the American family dynamic, set against a backdrop of escalating supernatural disturbances. The film’s brilliance lies not merely in its state-of-the-art visual effects, which were groundbreaking for the era, but also in its meticulous character development and pacing.
Carol Anne’s haunting pronouncement, ‘They’re here,’ serves as a chilling harbinger of the chaos to ensue, and remains etched in cinematic memory. Furthermore, Jerry Goldsmith’s evocative score accentuates the film’s oscillation between tender familial moments and otherworldly terror.
87. Videodrome (1983)
Videodrome is by far the best film depicting VHS cassette being inserted into James Woods’ abdomen. This early example of techno-horror by David Cronenberg (who else?) follows the president of a television station specializing in outlandish programming as he tries to find the source of a broadcast playing snuff films. Special effects legend Rick Baker’s practical effects take this body horror classic to a new level, and Debbie Harry is flawless as the deviant host of a radio program.
Videodrome is a reminder that when you stare into the abyss too long, the abyss does indeed stare back.
86. Cabin in the Woods (2013)
Cabin in the Woods stands out due to its ingenious blend of satire, suspense, and unexpected plot twists. While it starts off echoing traditional horror tropes of a group of young people vacationing in a remote location, it quickly subverts expectations, providing commentary on the conventions of the horror industry itself.
Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s writing packs wit and unpredictability, creating both genuine scares and laugh-out-loud moments. The movie also boasts a compelling cast, imaginative set pieces, and a climax that’s one for the ages.
It’s not just a horror movie; it’s a meta-analysis of the genre, making it a much needed shot in the arm for an genre in need of a boost.
85. I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
The 2010 remake of the 1978 cult classic is a brutal film of rape and revenge that manages to top the original in realism and production value. Directed by Steven R. Monroe, the movie is powered by Sarah Butler’s riveting performance as Jennifer, a writer who’s gang raped by five misogynistic rednecks.
Butler’s transformation from helpless victim to avenging angel is cathartic as she dispenses her brand of justice by torturing each of her attackers in meaningful ways. Monroe’s confident direction never lets the story digress and never lets the violence go over the top. Monroe’s willingness to give the strong supporting cast of transgressors ample screen time only adds more spice to the killing.
If the original I Spit on Your Grave (1978) is the standard for rape-revenge horror films, then the remake exceeds it.
84. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Directed by Ruggero Deodato in 1980, Cannibal Holocaust remains one of the most controversial yet influential entries in all of cannibal horror cinema. Its provocative narrative, which employs a film-within-a-film structure, is a searing indictment of media exploitation and the blurred boundaries between civilization and savagery.
Deodato’s pioneering use of found footage predates the technique’s mainstream popularity by decades and serves to infuse the film with a chilling veneer of authenticity. This illusion of realism, combined with graphic and unsettling imagery, pushes viewers to confront their own desensitization to on-screen violence and question the ethics of voyeuristic entertainment.
While Cannibal Holocaust is undeniably harrowing and often difficult to watch, its boldness in challenging both genre conventions and complacency marks it as an important entry into the genre. Simply in terms of importance, this one deserves its place in the top 100 horror movies of all time.
83. Dawn of the Dead (2008)
Before Zack Snyder became the darling of the DC Universe, he directed an action-packed remake of the George Romero classic Dawn of the Dead in 2004. The remake opens with one of the best pre-credit scenes ever plus a title sequence over a Johnny Cash song that is perfection.
Snyder’s version doesn’t top Romero’s 1978 original, but it comes closer than it has any right to. Much of the credit goes to a strong ensemble cast led by Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames. Like Romero’s movie, the Dawn remake keeps the shopping mall setting and uses top-notch special effects to drive the story to its nihilistic end.
The remake is also 26 minutes shorter, making it leaner, meaner, and faster-paced than the original.
82. As Above, So Below (2014)
This lesser-known found footage horror film asks: what if Indiana Jones were female and traveled through the Paris catacombs, only to be met by an allegory of the nine circles of Hell? Shot in the real Paris underground, the movie uses claustrophobia and panic to make the action sequences almost unbearable. The protagonists encounter cultists and physical manifestations of their own guilt, implying that the true horror lies inside oneself. If you’re looking for a strong, intelligent female protagonist, you have come to the right place. This is psychological horror at its best.
81. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
The Autopsy of Jane Doe One of those cinematic gems that etch a lasting mark in terms of films that chill your bones and pick at your brain with delicate precision. Its premise is unique in that it chooses the cold, sterile environment of a morgue – a place of finality and clinical detachment. The autopsy of a mysterious woman gradually unfolds the mystery. A this enigma unravels with every incision as the unsettling nature of Jane Doe’s death reveals its horrifying story.
The meticulous pacing builds tension that sets up perfectly timed jump scares. Director André Øvredal understands the fine art of building tension. Much like peeling layers off an onion, each revelation concerning Jane Doe’s identity is both horrifying and compelling, making the audience lean in even as they want to turn away. Aesthetically, the movie is a marvel. The juxtaposition of the morgue’s antiseptic environment against the increasingly eerie phenomena creates a jarring visual collision.
Moreover, Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox breathe authenticity into their roles, grounding the supernatural occurrences in a world of palpable grief and skepticism. Their father-son dynamic adds a heart to the story, making the terror all the more visceral because the audience invests heartily into their fates.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is not just a horror movie – it’s a contemplative piece about the traumas women endure and the societal inclination to dissect, judge, and categorize them, often with little understanding or empathy. The unnamed Jane Doe becomes an emblem of countless women whose stories and sufferings remain unheard, invisible, and buried.
80. Nightbreed (1990)
Nightbreed, directed by Clive Barker in 1990, based on Barker’s novella “Cabal,” uniquely subverts conventional horror tropes, presenting the monsters of Midian as more sympathetic than their human antagonists, challenging notions of identity and acceptance. The narrative’s depth is enhanced by complex characters, like Boone, whose transformation underscores themes of personal discovery and self-embrace.
A hallmark of its era, Nightbreed boasts wonderful practical effects across a menagerie of monster, showcasing intricate designs. While its initial reception was mixed, its subsequent Director’s Cut, aligned closer to Barker’s envisioned narrative and elevated its esteem among enthusiasts. In our opinion, Director’s cut or not, this one will bring out that monster you always wanted to be.
79. Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Sleepaway Camp is one helluva messy movie, but absolutely worth seeing just once. While superficially, this film is a slasher flick taking place at a summer camp, not unlike Friday the 13th, however, unlike Friday, in an utterly shocking reveal, the real monster isn’t a machete-wielding psychopath but the now antiquated notion of the Queer Menace. It delivers this message in the most uniformed and indelicate way possible.
Even so, it’s worth seeing, if only to be comforted by the fact that this film likely would never get made today because so many of its plot devices are no longer socially acceptable.
78. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
The 2006 remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 film is a pulse-pounding powerhouse of extreme horror that bests the original in intensity and production value. Directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension), The Hills Have Eyes follows a family on a trip through the New Mexico desert. They soon find themselves lost and the target of cannibalistic humans mutated and scarred by radiation from past atomic bomb testing.
Fueled by an outstanding ensemble cast and a blistering score, Hills is an ultra-violent masterpiece of survival horror. Aja’s decision to focus on the interpersonal dynamics (including the German Shepherds) establishes a strong connection to the family. In the process, he creates desperate heroes out of the two unlikeliest characters and absolutely nails the landing with one of the most emotionally epic endings in a horror film ever.
77. Squirm (1976)
Squirm, directed by Jeff Lieberman in 1976, is an exemplar of the eco-horror subgenre that flourished in the 1970s, a period marked by a growing awareness of environmental issues and the potential consequences of humanity’s negligence. The film takes an already god forsaken and horrible creature, the bloodworm, and thrusts it into the limelight as a supercharged agent of terror. We use the word supercharged literally as their thirst for blood is triggered a massive electrical storm.
Lieberman’s narrative doesn’t just rely on the grotesque spectacle of worm-infested horror; it weaves in a keen sense of place, capturing the atmospheric tension of a small Southern town. Squirm also stands as a testament to the power of practical effects in an era before CGI. Has anyone ever heard of Rick Baker? Its skin-crawling scenes of worm attacks leave a lasting impression on viewers. The film’s ability to tap into a primal fear of nature’s retaliation, while also delivering genuine thrills, solidifies its status as a standout entry in the horror canon.
Killer worms are F****** terrifying, ’nuff said.
76. Demons (1985)
Demons (or Dèmoni) , Italian horror film directed by Lamberto Bava, is a pus splattered ride defined 1985 as a banner year for the horror genre. Produced by Dario Argento, its audacious visuals and relentless pacing pound the audience into submission. Set in a movie theater, the film breaks the 4th wall with a movie within the movie. The meta-cinematic layer adds depth, blurring the line between fiction and reality, and suggesting that the horror onscreen can infiltrate our world.
The film’s brilliance also shines in its visceral practical effects, which are both grotesque and fantastic, capturing the essence of 1980s horror aesthetics. The pulsating Euro soundtrack, featuring notable bands of the era, complements the film’s frenetic energy. Its unique blend of social commentary, atmospheric horror, and psychotic energy ensures its esteemed position in this list.
It’s companion piece, Demons 2, almost made this. While inferior, its still well worth the effort even if just more of the same.
Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time (75-51)
75. Prince of Darkness (1987)
John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness is a masterstroke in atmospheric horror, weaving science, religion, and the supernatural into a tapestry of mounting dread. I’m particularly struck by how Carpenter deftly navigates the realms of academia, grounding the tale in a recognizable reality before plunging viewers into a world of satanic terror. The film’s central premise, which concerns a malevolent force lying dormant in a church, serves as a commentary on faith and skepticism in the modern age.
Carpenter’s use of shadow and light, combined with his iconic synthesizer score, creates a mood that’s both unsettling and entrancing. Moreover, Prince of Darkness doesn’t shy away from strong female characters, making it resonate even more deeply with that demographic. It’s a nuanced, layered piece that challenges both the mind and the senses. It also features Alice Cooper at the height of his horror iconography.
74. Stagefright (1987)
StageFright (also known as “Aquarius” and “Deliria”) is the directorial debut for Michele Soavi. It’s Italian origin often gets it lumped in with giallo, but the film is much more representative of the slasher genre. Yet, it maintains its euro sensibilities and seamlessly weaves theatrical flair with raw horror.
What sets it apart from myriad slashers of the era is its vivid juxtaposition of art and murder. The entire affair leverages a theater as the backdrop for a thespian bloodbath. Central to the film’s appeal is the killer’s mask, an eerie owl visage, which becomes an iconic symbol predator stalking prey. This mask, juxtaposed against the theatrical setting, creates a disorienting blend of beauty and brutality that makes this film stand out.
73. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Friday the 13th Part 2 serves as a quintessential entry in the slasher genre, further developing the legacy of the Friday the 13th franchise and introducing audiences to Jason Voorhees as the central antagonist. It was a bold move, but Pamela Voorhees decapitation really left Director Steve Miner few alternatives. Interestingly, this wouldn’t be the last time the franchise pulls a slasher switcheroo. I suspect that we don’t have to tell you that Jason Voorhees would go on to become one of the most iconic characters in horror cinema.
Building on the suspense of the original, Miner elevates the tension by presenting a more relentless and terrifying version of Jason, who, unlike the hockey-masked killer of later sequels, dons a hauntingly simple sack over his head. The setting of Camp Crystal Lake, with its shadowy woods and eerie isolation, becomes a character in itself, amplifying the sense of terror.
The film masterfully balances suspenseful build-ups with shocking kills, capitalizing on audience anticipation. Moreover, its influence is undeniable as it set the stage for countless slashers to come.
72. The Mummy (1932)
It is difficult to overstate the importance that Universal Films had on the horror movie industry. The Mummy (1932), directed by Karl Freund, is an iconic pillar in the golden age of Universal’s classic monster films. Central to its importance is Boris Karloff’s mesmerizing portrayal of Imhotep, the resurrected priest. With haunting eyes and a chilling stillness, Karloff transcends the confines of makeup and prosthetics to deliver a performance that is both terrifying and tragic.
Beyond the iconic performance, the film is a masterclass in atmospheric horror, with its moody lighting and evocative set designs that transport the viewer to an ancient world rife with forbidden love and dark curses. The Mummy seamlessly blends romance, tragedy, and terror in order to create a truly horrific delight. What kind of savages would we be if Universal films did not make the Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time?
71. The Strangers (2008)
What is already a terrible night for a young couple in the midst of great uncertainty in their relationship only gets worse as it quickly descends into a terrifying home invasion masterpiece. Although there are no clear thread between the young couple and the trio that targets them for torture, that lack of connection underscores that which makes The Strangers so terrifying. Sometimes someone doesn’t have to do anything wrong for something terrible to happen to them. Sometimes, the universe just decides it’s your turn.
70. The Exorcist III (1990)
The Exorcist III, directed by William Peter Blatty, the original author of “The Exorcist” novel, stands out as a compelling continuation of story that stumble mightily in its sophomore effort. What sets this sequel apart from its predecessor is that it departs from the character of Regan MacNeil. It’s more of a spin-off that delves into the life of Father Damien Karras. It invests heavily into character-driven narrative and psychological tension rather than relying solely on visceral shocks.
George C. Scott’s portrayal of Lieutenant Kinderman is both intense and nuanced, anchoring the film with a gravitas that anchors the supernatural horrors unfolding around him. Brad Dourif’s portrayal of the Gemeni Killer does everything to usurp that stability. The film’s pacing is deliberate, allowing for a buildup of suspense that culminates in some genuinely chilling moments, including one of the most incredible jump scares in cinematic history. We are talking an academic case-study on jump scares that should be taught at Universities.
Blatty’s script grapples with profound themes of faith, doubt, and the nature of evil, providing a depth that resonates with viewers on both an emotional and intellectual level. Through its atmospheric direction, stellar performances, and philosophical underpinnings, The Exorcist III cements its place as one of the standout horror sequels of all time as well as one of the Top 100 Horror Films of All Time..
69. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)
Representing Spanish-Portuguese cinema, Tombs of the Blind Dead introduces one of the most iconic horror movies bad guys, zombified Templar knights that have been blinded for their satanic crimes. Serving as a metaphor for Franco fascist rule Tombs of the Blind Dead brings a foreboding atmosphere though sound and visuals. Its slow-burn pacing is only matched by its slow and shambling dead.
Despite not achieving mainstream recognition, the film has garnered a massive cult following, and its influence on subsequent horror cinema and filmmakers cannot be overlooked.
68. Dead Girl (2008)
The film Dead Girl proved divisive upon release for its depiction of toxic masculinity and the misogyny that it breeds. Like many divisive horror films, the interpretation often lies in the eyes of the beholder.
I actually applaud the film for its provocative and uncomfortable narrative. Minimally, it knocks the rust off of the tired zombie sub-genre by infusing it with a truly thought provoking and innovative idea. Some boys find a young woman bound and tied in the basement of an abandoned building. As it turns out, the woman’s body is cold to the touch and her skin is pale. Still, she writhes to the touch. She’s undead. What do the boys do? They take turns raping her.
It’s gross. It’s offensive. It’s 100% misogynistic. As far as horror movies go, it’s pretty damn good.
67. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The first Nightmare on Elm Street introduced the world to the Mick Jagger of horror villains. Freddy Kreguer serves as a reminder to parents of two things that they have surely always lost sleep over: first, that the sins of the father (and mother) will be visited upon the children, and try as they might parents can’t always be everywhere to protect their kids.
Brought to life through the masterful performance of Robert Englund and the exquisite mastery of Wes Craven, it’s no wonder that Freddy continues to be one of the things that goes bump in the night even though the franchise has long since ended.
66. Night of the Creeps (1986)
Night of the Creeps brings unique blend of humor, sci-fi, and horror elements, which makes it a likely cult-classic candidate. Released in 1986 and directed by Fred Dekker, the film pays homage to 1950s B-movies while adding its own contemporary twist. The film interpolates aliens, serial killers, zombies and brain eating parasites. Are you sold yet?
It features memorable characters, and performances by Tom Atkins and Jason Lively. Its witty dialogue, and a special effects that span the continuum from ridiculous to pretty damn good elevate this one to laugh out loud status. The film’s self-awareness and clever references to classic horror tropes make it endearing. As Detective Ray Cameron says, “Thrill Me!”
65. The Conjuring (2013)
Lili Taylor wows as a mother possessed by the spirit of an evil witch who is hell-bent on familicide. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga star as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, opening the door to the extensive Conjuring universe of films.
Using Blumhouse’s signature less-is-more approach, James Wan uses shadows and limited lighting to make the audience as terrified as the characters in the movie. The Conjuring is a reminder that if a house is listed for an unbelievably cheap price, it’s probably haunted. Also, do-it-yourself exorcisms rarely, if ever, work.
64. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch is often maligned for its bold departure from the Michael Myers. In truth, the film was never bad, but audiences in 1982 just couldn’t process it as part of the Halloween franchise. Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, the film introduced a fresh plot involving esoteric witchcraft and Halloween masks infused with the power of Stonehenge.
While it faced initial backlash from fans expecting more of the iconic slasher formula, it has since gained a dedicated following. It also serves as yet another 80’s horror gem to star Tom Atkins. Its eerie atmosphere, unsettling soundtrack, and memorable Silver Shamrock jingle have made it a deserving cult classic.
63. 28 Days Later (2002)
Arguably the most significant advancement to the zombie genre since George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later made the undead scary again with a millennial upgrade and a plot that stroked all of the new anxieties brought on by the new century.
Similar to how Dawn of the Dead served as a commentary on class and race, the sprinting, snarling, and, most importantly, contagious zombies in Boyle’s 28 Days Later spoke to the then-rising distrust and lack of faith in institutions and governments and a distrust of the scientific advancements wrought by better and more accessible technology.
62. Messiah of Evil (1973)
Messiah of Evil is a 1973 independent horror film directed by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. If anything, this film heaps on the atmosphere as it follows a woman’s determination to uncover the mystery behind her father’s disappearance. Set in the coastal town of Mount Dune, this American film possesses a distinct Italian flair with Argento-esq imagery. It is notable for its intersections with Lovecraftian cosmic horror and surrealism.
Messiah of Evil excels at setting up harrowing situations that culminate in creative kill sequences. It also benefits from its haunting and memorable score and its unmistakable 70’s flare.
61. Scanners (1981)
Scanners, directed by David Cronenberg, is celebrated for its explosive use of practical effects. the film explores the prevalence telepathic and the horrific outcomes when their use goes awry. The infamous head-exploding scene is a standout moment in horror cinema, showcasing the film’s visceral and shocking elements. Additionally, in Cronenberg fashion the film delves into thought-provoking themes related to the human mind, ethics, and corporate malfeasance.
Scanners’ thoughtfully crafted narrative, combined with Michael Ironside’s bold performance as the antagonist Darryl Revok solidified its status as a cult classic. The blend of body horror, psychological tension, and social commentary creates a lasting impact on the genre that continues to resonate.
60. Sinister (2012)
Snuff films have never been more terrifying. Scott Derricksen directs Sinister, an early Blumhouse feature and asks: what if the Boogeyman were real? Ethan Hawke delivers one of his best performances as a struggling writer who moves his wife and two small children into a house that was the site of a mass murder… as one does. The writer discovers a box of Super 8 recordings that unfold a chain of events ending in typical Blumhouse fashion: bleak. Very little of the antagonist, Bughuul, is seen, and very little gore is shown. There’s something to be said for leaving it to the imagination.
59. Frankenstein (1931)
Gracing pre-code Hollywood (1927-1934 era where there were no censorship guidelines for moving pictures) 1931’s Frankenstein solidified itself as a main pillar of the sci-fi horror genre. It also set the stage for Boris Karlof to become a monstrous icon of the horror genre for decades to come.
Based on Mary Shelly’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein”, Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) a grave robbing scientist who snatches corpses from the cemetery to host medical experiments on. His goal is to create a living being from the quilted parts he harvests with the help of his assistant. Resulting from his successes is a monster fit for mayhem. This movie was the first of the adaptations of the famous novel but would nowhere be the last. There have been over eighty, but none as iconic.
58. The Tingler (1959)
The Tingler is a masterclass in classic horror. William Castle’s inventive direction taps into primal fears, with the audacious notion of a creature thriving on human fear itself. The film’s innovative use of gimmicks, such as ‘Percepto’ vibrating seats in theaters, only heightened its immersive experience. Vincent Price, in one of his many iconic roles exudes charisma. His performance carries the audience through a tale that blurs the line between psychological horror and visceral fear. It’s not just the scares, but the commentary on the nature of fear, that cements The Tingler’s status as a must-see.
57. Lake Mungo (2008)
Lake Mungo, directed by Joel Anderson, is a hauntingly atmospheric film that elevates the found-footage and mockumentary subgenres to new heights of emotional depth and psychological suspense. Eschewing the overtly sensational and cheap thrills often associated with found-footage films, Lake Mungo instead delves into the palpable grief and unraveling mystery surrounding the death of a young girl named Alice.
The narrative unfolds in a deliberately paced mosaic of interviews, home videos, and recovered footage, each piece deepening the eerie enigma of what happened to Alice. This film stands out not merely because of its chilling revelations or the unsettling imagery it presents but because of its profound exploration of grief, memory, and the lingering presence of the dead in the lives of the living. It taps into a primal human fear — not just of the supernatural, but of the unknown facets of those we love.
Lake Mungo is haunting, melancholic and chilling. Its realistic portrayal of a family grappling with loss coupled with its supernatural conclusion cements Lake Mungo in greatness.
56. Killer Klowns From Outerspace (1988)
At first glance, the title and plot of this film appear as though they have been derived from a game of Mad Libs; thanks to the combination of seemingly unrelated pop culture ephemera–outer space, clowns coupled with violent death. Unsurprisignly the film takes a decidedly absurdist twist on scary clowns. These clowns may not tempt you to your doom by promising to show you how they all float, but one thing is for certain: you’ll never look at cotton candy the same way again.
55. The Devil’s Rejects (2005)
Rob Zombie confronted himself with the challenge of pushing the boundaries of his sequel beyond the greatness of his debut film House of 10000 Corpses. To do so, he completely nuked and replaced nearly every stylistic feature to crate a completely new work cast in unflinching brutality, depravity, and darkness. While the film may be rooted in the horror genre, it transcends these confines by blending elements of road movies, crime dramas, and black comedy to create a wholly unique experience.
The narrative follows the murderous Firefly family, and while their actions are undeniably heinous, Zombie paints them with layers of complexity that blur the lines between villain and antihero. The film’s aesthetic — gritty, sun-bleached, and reminiscent of 1970s grindhouse cinema — amplifies its brutal and raw emotional core.
Zombie’s direction, combined with stellar performances from the cast, particularly Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Sheri Moon Zombie, captures an eerie charm amidst the chaos.
54. The Crazies (1973)
George A. Romero’s The Crazies is a masterful entry in the realm of outbreak horror that delves deeper into the societal consequences than monsters. Likewise, its all the more terrifying for it. Romero offers a sharp commentary on governmental mishandling, collapse, and the fragility of human sanity. Coming off the heels of his groundbreaking Night of the Living Dead, Romero crafts a narrative that presents a terrifying scenario of a bio-weapon accident, causing the inhabitants of a small town to succumb to homicidal madness.
Unlike traditional zombie or infection films, The Crazies blurs the line between those infected and the ostensibly sane, illustrating the chaos that ensues when trust disintegrates. The film’s raw, almost documentary-style cinematography lends an unsettling realism to the unfolding horror, heightening the sense of urgency and despair. Romero’s penchant for social critique shines throughout, using the horror genre as a lens to scrutinize the bureaucratic ineptitude and the military’s heavy-handed response.
The Crazies stands not just as a gripping horror film but also as a prescient warning about the precarious balance between the lives of real people and the power struggle of their leadership.
53. Ghost Story (1981)
An all-star ensemble cast (including beloved tap dancer Fred Astaire) carries this adaptation of Peter Straub’s bestselling novel of the same name. A young woman played by Alice Krige is accidentally killed by a group of rowdy young men. Now senior citizens, the self-named “Chowder Society” starts dying off one-by-one in the style of “And Then There Were None”. Dick Smith’s special makeup effects are impeccable on Eva/Alma’s corpse. While not quite as cohesive as the source material, Ghost Story is still a solid tale of haunting and revenge
52. Terrifier (2016)
Terrifier, directed by Damien Leone, is a visceral return to the essence 80’s slasher horror. It’s immediately evident that Art the Clown easily joins the ranks of iconic horror villains. Leone firmly establishes that his nostalgic vision for the future of horror is rooted in over-the-top practical effects. The films adopts a grainy, yet digital, patina that harkens back to the days of CRT televisions.
David Howard Thornton explodes onto the horror scene as Art the clown. Art doesn’t talk, so his physical acting takes center stage. The terror comes less from dread and more from fear of Art’s seemingly limitless capacity for inflicting suffering. Possibly offensive, probably misogynistic, totally audacious, Terrifier resonates as a love letter to die-hard fans of the slasher genre.
51. The Descent (2005)
The best horror film set in caves, The Descent is a gritty tale of six women trying to bond by traversing an unexplored system in hopes of helping Sarah (Shauna McDonald) overcome a family tragedy from the previou
s year. With a shocking opening scene and a strong ensemble cast led by Natalie Mendoza, the 2005 movie written and directed by Neil Marshall transforms from a claustrophobic survival story to a severely intense creature feature.
The three keys elevating The Descent to greatness are Marshall’s decision to address the complicated group dynamics among the women, his use of the natural environment to create tension, and a fresh take on humanoid monsters.
Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time (50-25)
50. The Fly (1958)
In the vast tapestry of horror, The Fly (1958) isn’t merely a blip—it’s a pulsating mark of genius. At its core, this isn’t just a tale of a man turned insect; it’s a heart-wrenching exploration of identity and the horrors of scientific overreach. The metamorphosis of the Andre Delambre provides a visceral representation of man’s eternal struggle with nature and himself. The film, with its distinctive color palette and committed performances, especially by Vincent Price elevated the art of sci-fi horror.
The Fly is less about the grotesque and more about the emotional dissonance of being trapped in a body that is not your own, and the tragic conclusion that the conundrum implies.
49. The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)
While he may be the least popular of Universal’s classic monsters, Creature from the Black Lagoon is the most visually striking and mysterious. The 1954 film directed by Jack Arnold is an unusual love story about a misunderstood amphibious Gill Man whose curiosity in a group’s archeological expedition to his Amazonian home results in tragedy.
Despite unfriendly encounters with humans, the Gill Man is entranced by the beauty of Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams) which leads to its most notable and beautifully shot underwater stalking scene. Exploring relationships between humans and monsters is nothing new in movies, but Creature wordlessly conveyed his loneliness and longing so tenderly that it continues to inspire filmmakers today like Guillermo del Toro and his Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water.
48. The Iron Rose (1973)
The Iron Rose, directed by Jean Rollin, is a mesmerizing blend of poetic visuals and profound existential dread. Set in a vast, cemetery, the film explores the human psyche’s confrontation with mortality. It may be one of the most perfect visual representations of the word “haunting”. The Iron Rose doesn’t rely on overt scares. Instead, it delves into an atmospheric and psychological realm, using the setting’s haunting beauty to mirror the protagonists’ escalating internal turmoil.
The lead role is played beautifully by French actress Françoise Pascal. Her physical forma and graceful presence draws the viewer into an increasingly dark world. Rollin’s signature style — a combination of gothic imagery, surreal sequences, and languid pacing — is in full display here, turning what could be a simple tale of two lovers trapped in a cemetery into a deep meditation on life, death, and darkness. Its unique blend of horror, art-house aesthetics, and philosophical undertones make The Iron Rose a masterwork of horror.
47. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Gary Oldman. That is all.
But seriously, Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the bloodsucker from Transylvania stands as one of the best adaption of Bram Stoker’s vision. Sure, naysayers will point to the performances of Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker and Winona Ryder as Mina Harker as evidence that Dracula is not a great film. It’s all over shadowed by an explosive performance by Gary Oldman as the Prince of Darkness himself. His portrayal evokes sympathy as much as menace. The tragedy of Dracula’s story pours from Goldman’s presence.
With a commitment to authenticity, Coppola revisits Stoker’s novel, delivering a visually stunning film that respects its source material while adding its own unique cinematic flair. The practical effects stun and the in-camera presentation is a tribute to early cinema that creates a timeless feel.
Bram Stokers Dracula is not just a horror film but rather a gothic cinematic experience to behold.
46. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes earns its place among the best in the horror genre for several reasons. Vincent Price, a true master of horror, delivers a captivating performance as Dr. Anton Phibes, a character both sympathetic and diabolical. Price’s ability to blend charm and menace is on full display. Moreso, the ridiculous premise of Dr. Phibes and his Bond villain persona injects a serious dose of dark comedy into this film. Had this franchise made it to a third installment, Phibes might have beaten Dr. Evil to sharks with lasers on their heads by several decades!
Director Robert Fuest weaves a tapestry of imaginative and elaborate death scenes, each inspired by the biblical plagues. These sequences, executed with macabre precision, are not only gruesome but also strangely fascinating and even darkly humorous. Production design and artistry play pivotal roles, with striking visuals that elevate the film’s aesthetic. The set pieces and costume design add to the film’s stylish and distinctive atmosphere.
Finally, the haunting organ-centric soundtrack enhances the overall sense of dread and unease as Phibes descends into his lair to architect his evil plan. All together it creates a truly entertaining horror experience.
45. Midsommer (2019)
Ari Aster never fails to disappoint if you’re hoping for an extremely traumatic movie-watching experience. Midsommar follows a group of Americans who travel to Sweden to observe a holiday in a small town, only to be greeted by a pagan cult hungry for sacrifice. The opening scenes rival Hereditary for inducing visceral reactions, and the blood angel scene is an amazing use of prosthetics. If you can tolerate the feelings of discomfort this movie induces, Midsommar is a wonderful tale of grief and betrayal, and one woman’s journey of revenge and acceptance.
44. The Bird With Crystal Plumage (1970)
Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is hailed as a classic example of the giallo sub-genre and a harbinger of works to come. Argento’s stylish direction, innovative cinematography coupled Ennio Morricone’s haunting score create a thrilling atmosphere. Argento blends mystery and horror, along with its gripping whodunit plot, to keep the audience engaged. Its influence on subsequent horror and slasher films, as well as its artistic murder sequences, adds to its acclaim.
Interestingly, Argento excecutes this film without the trademark gore and bloody exposition that his later works would become famous for. He sticks much closer to the classical giallo structure put forth by progenitors like Mario Bava.
As a cultural milestone in Italian cinema, The Bird With Crystal Plumage set into motion Argento’s status as a suspense and horror master.
43. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead qualifies as one of the greatest horror films of all time for one simple reason. There is no film that has done more for the zombie sub-genre than this one. In fact, this film ushered in an entire class of Romero-esq zombies with their hunger for human flesh and slow gait.
Directed by George A. Romero, this film broke ground in its portrayal of social issues, such as racism and the breakdown of societal norms, within the horror context. The movie’s low budget forced creative ingenuity, resulting in a raw, gritty atmosphere that intensified the terror. Furthermore, the film’s shockingly bleak ending left an indelible mark by challenging conventional expectations of horror cinema.
George Romero also deserves credit for casting Duane Jones as the films African American hero and protagonist. This not because he wanted to make a contrived statement in the age of the Civil Rights Movement, but because a zombie apocalypse is blind to societal issues. Unfortunately, the white militia trying to contain the zombie outbreak is NOT blind, leading to an unfortunate outcome for Ben. The best social commentary doesn’t show up on billboards, it sneaks up behind you.
Night of the Living Dead remains a seminal work that not only reshaped the horror genre but also served as a reflection of the turbulent times in which it was made, solidifying its status as a timeless classic.
42. Alucarda (1977)
Lost in all the bloodshed, screaming, and manic intensity of Alucarda is the casualness with which the film tosses around bizarre, never-explained details: The bloody garments worn by the nuns. The convent appearing, from the inside, like a hollowed-out mountain. Alucarda’s mother being a character from the novel “Dracula”. And Alucarda herself materializing from a wall, which, as a character intro, should alarm her co-stars but doesn’t. And one stunning bit of foreshadowing that you may not catch upon first watch but becomes that much more powerful when you finally do notice.
Editor Note: Please visit Alex Vorkov’s site and support his work, linked just below.
41. Opera (1987)
Opera (1987) benefits from its visionary direction and mastery of the genre from Director Dario Argento. Likewise his signature camerawork and striking visuals to create a tour de force that pushes the boundaries of the giallo sub-genre. The iconic imagery of the antagonist bound with needles taped to her eyelids ingrains itself into the psyche of horror fans.
Opera is renowned for its gruesome and artfully crafted murder sequences, each a gory spectacle. The attention to detail, such as the blade of the knife protruding through the floor of the victims mouth, make the kills as entertaining as horrifying. As a part of the giallo tradition, Opera combines mystery, suspense, and stylish aesthetics. Its complex plot engages while the opera house setting adds to the film’s eerie atmosphere. Ennio Morricone’s haunting score enhances the overall mood.
Ultimately, Opera stands as a work of art within the horror genre. Opera is a revered classic and possibly the last truly fantastic film from Dario Argento.
40. Lifeforce (1985)
Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce combines elements of science fiction and supernatural horror, blending them into a unique and visually stunning narrative. Its plot, involving space vampires that feed on human life force, is refreshingly original within the genre. Tobe Hooper intentionally structured the storytelling and presentation around the the old school Hammer Film Productions model. This influence can be seen throughout the film.
Moreover, Lifeforce boasts impressive special effects and visual sequences for its time, particularly the mesmerizing transformation scenes. The film takes viewers on an epic journey that spans continents and explores apocalyptic themes, giving it a grand scale. While not as acclaimed as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, this film shows the same versatility that permeated Poltergeist.
39. Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971)
Lucio Fulci’s Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, directed by Lucio Fulci, is celebrated for the directors signature visuals, cultural commentary, and suspense. The film’s intricate and mind-bending narrative, involving a woman’s surreal and nightmarish experiences thrusts the audience into her hallucinogenic reality. Fulci’s pushes the boundaries of the genre through dream sequences filtered through a handful of brown acid leftover from Woodstock.
The film features a haunting and atmospheric score by Ennio Morricone, enhancing the eerie and unsettling atmosphere. Additionally, Lizard in a Woman’s Skin has gained recognition for its controversial and boundary-pushing content, including graphic violence and progressive sexuality. This includes a scene so realistic that it wrongly put Fulci under fire for abusing animals.
Florinda Bolkan stars as the lead, so what else is there to say?
38. The Howling (1981)
If Lon Chaney Jr.’s The Wolfman put werewolves on the map, The Howling made lycanthropes a destination point. Forgoing the isolated angst of a tortured soul in The Wolfman, The Howling presented an entire community of werewolves assimilating to life in the human world. The 1981 movie directed by Joe Dante delivers the horror but adds a layer of intelligence not expected in a werewolf film. Dee Wallace leads a killer cast of veteran character actors that included Slim Pickens. Of course, Rob Bottin’s transformation scene of Eddie Quist remains one of the iconic moments in horror filmdom.
Editors Note: Has there ever been a slimier bad-guy than Eddie Quist?
37. Terrifier 2 (2022)
Sometimes when a director tries to one-up himself, the results fall way short of fan expectations. With Terrifier 2, Damien Leone made completely clear that he knows how to navigate that minefield. This films takes EVERYTHING that Terrifier did well and turns it up to 11 (maybe even 12). That all being said, it would be a disservice to this film to say that Leone just doubled down on the gore. The production quality went way up and break-out performances by Lauren LaVera and Elliot Pullam cement Terrifier 2 in horror greatness.
The story of Art the Clown advances in some unexpected ways. First and foremost, he gets a funky little companion in the form of The Little Pale Girl. Second, Art further exemplifies his supernatural origins, especially in the wacky end-credit scene starring Chris Jericho.
Terrifier 2 furthers Leone’s commitment to the practical effects renaissance that is taking over the industry at the moment. It all adds a gritty nostalgia to the film. While the film spends a lot of time looking back, it simultaneously throws on a set of shades in preparation for bright horror future. Deal with it.
36. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972)
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things honestly doesn’t get discussed as much as it should. Directed by Bob Clark, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things exemplifies the art of independent horror filmmaking.
The film stands out for its commentary on dark side of human nature and the blurred lines between entertainment, morbidity, and reality. The isolated island, acts as a microcosm of society, and the characters’ descent into chaos becomes a metaphor for humanity’s futility of survival. The eerie setting, combined with a haunting score, creates an unforgettable ambiance that lingers long after the credits roll. Performances, especially by Alan Ormsby as Alan, are both nuanced and over-the-top, leading to the film’s blend of horror and dark comedy.
Finally, the horrific conclusion is one for the books. Who ever thought that we would be rooting for a zombie? Right?!?!
By modern standards, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things might seem like a curiosity, but its psychological underpinnings, eerie atmosphere and societal critiques make it a timeless classic.
35. Halloween 2 (1981)
Directed by Rick Rosenthal, Halloween 2 builds directly upon the harrowing events of the original and it showcases a seamless narrative continuity. This effectively thrusts audiences back into the terror-filled world of Haddonfield. The eeriness of the hospital setting, with its dimly lit corridors and haunting silence, amplifies the suspense. The settings is sprawling and yet confining all at the same time. In the mind of the audience, Michael Myers hides behind every corner.
Jamie Lee Curtis’s portrayal of Laurie Strode deepens, presenting a traumatized yet resilient survivor. Central to the film’s impact is the enriched mythology surrounding Michael Myers, particularly the revelation of his familial ties to Laurie. The controversy around this last point is well known. Come at me bro. Let’s not forget about the ties to ancient Celtic ritual of Samhain. There were so many lost opportunities to tie so many sequels together through the singular word of Samhain. (exasperated sigh)
Coupled with John Carpenter’s spine-tingling score and the genuine, gritty feel of practical effects, Halloween 2 not only honors its predecessor but also tries its best to close the book on it. Sadly, someone found a way keep it rolling. They always find a way.
34. Martyrs (2008)
Martyrs (2008), directed by Pascal Laugier, is an unflinching exploration of pain, suffering, and the search for transcendence. That should clue you in, it’s hard to watch. In fact, this film actually caused my wife to question my own mental stability. In that, it’s really freaking good!
Martyrs is not just a horror film; it’s a profound meditation on the nature of suffering and the willingness of society to tolerate others suffering to reach their own ends. It pushes boundaries, not merely for the sake of shock but to challenge its audience to confront their discomfort about pain, redemption, and the afterlife. The film’s begins as a simple revenge story by jumping off of the screen in a horrifying home invasion. Quickly it morphs into something far deeper that defies genre conventions.
Keeping viewers on edge, its graphic depictions of violence are not gratuitous (okay, maybe slightly gratuitous), but they serve a purpose. Laugier forces viewers to confront the reality of physical and emotional torment. This confrontation comes not through the voyeuristic eyes of the third person, or the evil eyes of the oppressor, but rather though that of the one suffering. Yet, amidst the brutality, there are poignant moments of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice.
The stark cinematography and haunting performances, particularly by Morjana Alaoui and Mylène Jampanoï, further elevate the film. Ultimately, Martyrs resonates deeply because it doesn’t offer easy answers. It leaves its audience to grapple with its themes long after the credits roll.
33. Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Despite being labeled as a sequel, Evil Dead 2 is the iconic reimagining of its predecessor. The film sees beloved character Ash Williams spending most of the film on his own, facing off against the deadites. Having Ash be the focus of the movie gives Bruce Campbell the room to show off his acting chops, giving us an amazing, hilarious, and captivating performance. The film also features so many iconic quotes and a plethora of phenomenal special effects that it’s impossible to deny it a spot in the horror hall of fame.
32. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
What stands out about Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) is not its attempt to clear the bar set by it juggernaut predecessor, but rather its ignoring the bar altogether.
The sequel, while still preserving the visceral terror of the original, takes the grim atmosphere of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and juxtaposes it with over-the-top gore and macabre humor. In the process, Hooper also finds horror comedy’s ambassador in Bill Moseley. This deliberate shift in tone showcases Hooper’s willingness to subvert expectations and create something unpredictable.
Moseley’s character of Chop Top standout with his unhinged behavior, both horrific and comedic. Dennis Hopper’s being Dennis Hopper does Dennis Hopper things that make this off-the-wall project in his catalog. His role as the revenge-seeking Lieutenant “Lefty” Enright brings an additional layer of comedy.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 also delves deeper into the twisted dynamics of the Sawyer family, providing a richer context to the madness. The set design, especially the underground lair sprawling under Texas Battle Land with bones and Christmas lights, creates a surreal and nightmarish atmosphere. Ultimately, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 stands out for its audacity. That audacity shines an even brighter spotlight on the genius of Tobe Hooper.
31. The Devils (1971)
The Devils, directed by Ken Russell and based on Aldous Huxley’s “The Devils of Loudun,” has often been cited as one of the most provocative and artistically audacious films ever made. In truth, it might only borderline on horror, but anyone will agree that the events of the film are horrific.
The Devils explores the intersection of religious fanaticism, political manipulation, and individual freedoms. Russell’s direction combines grandiose set designs with visceral performances, making the film visually captivating as well as profound. Oliver Reed’s portrayal of Father Urbain Grandier is powerful and nuanced, presenting a flawed character that deserves some measure of sympathy. Vanessa Redgrave’s portrayal of the hunchbacked Sister Jeanne, obsessed with Grandier, is horribly tragic.
Beyond performances, the film’s presentation of exorcism and witch-hunting is unflinchingly graphic. Russel confronts audiences with the brutalities enacted in the name of faith and control. The use of surreal imagery, from the sterile design of Loudun’s walls to the dreamlike sequences of religious / erotic ecstasy, push genre boundaries. the result is a fine blend of horror with art-house sensibilities.
The Devils challenges the abuse of power by religious and political institutions. Its unapologetic critique of these themes, combined with Russell’s unique aesthetic vision, makes it not just a horror film but a cinematic experience that engages intellectually and emotionally. Did we mention that it was widely controversial upon release?
30. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
Hammer Horror raised an enntire gneration of 70’s kids that couldn’t get enough monsters. By taking traditional tropes, Hammer took the Universal formula and added a distict British flair to it. The Curse of Frankenstein gets to the heart of Mary Shelly’s tale by shifting the focus to the real monster of the story, Victor Frankenstein.
The Curse of Frankenstein famously stars Christopher Lee as the monster and Christopher Plummer as the mad doctor hell-bent on his diabolical science, no matter what the cost. While both performances are brilliant, Plummer’s portrayal as Dr. Frankenstein is downright psychopathic.
Director Terence Fisher adds another dimension to Lee’s monster by making sure that the tragedy of the tale comes through the makeup. In all of the adaptions of the story, this version of the monster is by far the most fantastic. In standard Hammer fashion, all of the gothic greatness one would expect comes through this classic.
29. Vampire Circus (1972)
While Christopher Lee undoubtedly had a huge impact on Hammer Film Productions Dracula franchise, Hammer’s non-Dracula vampire films had a much broader impact on the sub-genre. Vampire Circus represent one of those standout horror films.
Released in 1972, it was praised for its unique twist on the conventional vampire tropes. It blends elements of the vampire mythos with the eerie backdrop of a traveling circus. Unlike other films of its era, it infused a rich tapestry of colorful characters and subplots, which added layers of depth to the tale.
The production design, costumes, and makeup were brilliant, capturing the gothic atmosphere that Hammer films were renowned for. The color transfer of the films especially the the scarlet ribbons of blood, pop off the screen.
28. Hellraiser 2 (1988)
Hellraiser II is one of the few sequels that may surpass the original. Tony Randel’s depiction of the underworld and the return of villainess Julia are only the beginning of this journey through hell. Ashley Laurence reprises her role as Kirsty Cotton, now a patient in a psychiatric hospital. The special effects in the final action sequence are a bit dated, but no worse than the lightning strikes that banish the Cenobites back to hell in the original Hellraiser. Initially given an X rating, Hell has never looked so good.
27. Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)
Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter provides another example of Hammer Horror Production breaking ground in the vampire sub-genre. Specifically, these vampires breakout form the business of drinking blood and instead consume the youth and life force of their victims.
The eponymous character, Captain Kronos, is not just a regular vampire hunter; he’s a swashbuckling anti-hero. Accompanied by his scholarly hunchbacked assistant, the duo provides an engaging mix of action and intellect. The film blends elements of swordplay and gothic horror to create a compelling addition to vampire mythology. Most notably, the film stars the stunning and fabulous Caroline Munro.
26. Deep Red / Profondo Rosso (1975)
Firstly, Argento’s masterful direction sets it apart. His unique visual style, characterized by vivid colors, unconventional camera angles, and atmospheric shots, intensifies the film’s eerie ambiance. The film’s narrative weaves a complex murder mystery with deep psychological themes and supernatural elements.
The soundtrack, crafted by the band Goblin, is another standout aspect. The haunting music accentuates the tension and becomes almost a character in their own right. Additionally, Deep Red is marked by Argento’s inventive and shocking kill sequences, which, though graphic, are aesthetically staged.
Beyond its technical prowess, the film delves into the darker recesses of the human psyche, making it not just a visual treat but also a thought-provoking masterpiece. This combination of style and substance solidifies Deep Red‘s a giallo masterwork.
Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time (25-1)
25. My Bloody Valentine (1981)
My Bloody Valentine (1981), while not the first of the holiday slashers, it certainly represent one of the first from Canada. The film distinguishes itself by grounding its story in a unique setting: a coal mining town. This provides a fresh backdrop for the action, but also produces an iconic killer, donning mining gear. Another aspect that resonates with fans is the movie’s commitment to special effects. The kills are gory, inventive and barbaric. Make sure to check out the Directors Cut if you can find it. Pesky American editors always ruin the fun.
My Bloody Valentines blend of strong storytelling, psycho kills, and creepy underground sets its reputation as one of the classic slasher films of all time.
24. Faces of Death (1978)
Faces of Death, released in 1978 and directed by John Alan Schwartz, represents the forbidden fruit that adorned only the most hardcore of video stores.
The film is unique in its mockumentary style, presenting itself as a collection of real-life death footage. This “pseudo-documentary” approach, combined with its provocative title, ignited significant controversy. Some of that controversy came from fanatical censors that hated anything taboo. More interesting were the neatly limitless calls of “Is it real?” among peers. In a pre-Internet era, Faces of Death became a kind of urban legend, whispered about in hushed tones and rented surreptitiously from video stores.
Its shock value and taboo nature, especially during its time of release, is legendary. Faces of Death challenged audiences to confront their own morbid curiosities, pushing boundaries of taste and acceptability. While many scenes were later revealed to be staged, the myth surrounding its authenticity persisted, granting it a particular infamy.
23. Saw (2004)
An icon of innovation and the predecessor to the “gore-porn” genre, Saw is simply a must-watch for any fans of horror. The film follows two men trapped in a bathroom by a psychotic serial killer who wants to make them appreciate their lives. Saw utilizes tight sets and minimal characters to tell a captivating, thrilling, and terrifying mystery that will go down in history as one of the best. The film has managed to spawn one of the most successful and prolific horror franchises in history.
With the success of its most recent installment, Saw X, it looks like there’s no end in sight for the iconic Saw series!
22. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
As transformative as George Romero’s zombie vision proved to be, even as far back as 1985, the zombie genre needed a breath of fresh air. Released the very same year as Romero’s Day of the Dead, Dan O.Bannon, with the help of John Russo, provided that fresh air… or rather a secret government weapon called Trioxin.
First and foremost, Return of the Living Dead defines a new taxonomy of zombie. These zombies are fast, sentient, communicative and they have an insatiable appetite for BRAAIIIINS!!! This film also finds that sweet balance between dark comedy and horror. It’s really funny, but never feels contrived or forced. Its practical effects are extremely effective.
Finally, the cast of characters are almost too many to name, but this is peak Thom Matthews. He gets tremendous support from Clu Gulager, James Karen and an iconic performance by Linnea Quigley.
There were many before, and many to follow, but the cultural impact of Return of the Living Dead continues to be felt in the horror community.
21. Tenebre (1982)
Dario Argetno’s Tenebrae, masterfully intertwines Argento’s trademark visual style with a riveting narrative, creating an aesthetic that is both unsettling and captivating. Its striking color palette, innovative camera work, and meticulously crafted set pieces elevate it into the realm of art. Tenebrae delves deep into themes of obsession, duality, and the nature of evil, presenting them in an avant-garde manner.
The pulsating score by Goblin enhances the tension, driving the action forward while keeping audience on the edge of their seats. This film contains some of Argento’s most infamous kills; notably an abstract crimson painting on the whitest of walls made by the gushing arteries of a victim.
Tenebrae is artistic brutality, and it represents the pinnacle of Argento’s giallo vision.
20. Halloween (2009)
Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2 is often attacked for it various transgressions and blasphemies against John Carpenter’s holy scriptures, but I LOVE IT for its bold take on the iconic horror franchise. Zombie delves deeper into the psyche of Michael Myers, offering a more detailed exploration of the character’s inner turmoil and motivations. This character study, combined with Zombie’s eye-popping visuals, results in a barbaric film that’s as much more than a one-dimensional slasher.
Dreamlike sequences, which blend reality and hallucination help drive the narrative forward with out burdening it with words. The gritty realism of the violence juxtaposed against these surreal moments creates a jarring contrast. Moreover, Zombie embraces the trauma experienced by Laurie Strode, adding a fascinating sub-plot.
In defying genre expectations and adding his unique flair, Rob Zombie ensured Halloween 2’s place on this list. It is THE BEST Halloween film outside of the 1978 original. I might go further if I weren’t afraid for my life.
19. The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg’s modern update to the 1958 sci-fi horror classic takes the viewer on a compelling fusion of body horror, emotional depth, and remarkable practical special effects. At its core, the film grapples with gut-wrenching journey from humanity to an insect human hybrid that makes a mockery of both.
Cronenberg masterfully uses the transformation of Seth Brundle, played brilliantly by Jeff Goldblum, into a fly-human hybrid as a metaphor for disease. As Brundle would eventually articulate, “A disease with a purpose.” Goldblum so perfectly embodies the eccentric science wizard in the first act, tragic victim in the second and transcendent monster in the third.
The film’s groundbreaking practical effects, showcase the stages of Brundle’s transformation in grotesque detail, set new standards for the genre.
While not the first truly awesome horror remake of the 80’s, this one makes a case for one of the best.
18. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
Rob Zombies debut film, House of 1000 Corpses, literally jumps off of the screen. Back in 2003 when the film was released, the industry was begging for something fresh and Rob Zombie delivered. Sure, he gratuitously picks some well worn tropes, but never have they be presented in so much style and color.
Most notably, Rob Zombie makes his love for the genre well known with every scene. From his references to local horror shows, serial killer references, grind house sensibilities and shameless embrace of horror oddities, his love of the genre shines through.
Zombie pays homage to classic horror films, drawing parallels with cult classics like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, yet it maintains its own originality. What truly elevates the movie are its characters, particularly the Sig Haig in the role of Captain Spaulding and Bill Moseley in the role of Otis Firefly. Both bring a refreshing blend of grotesque dark humor and menace.
Some might call the films plot erratic, but that’s just another way to say pleasantly insane. It stylish, raw, unapologetic and one of the best horror films in the last few decades.
17. Re-Animator (1985)
Adapting Lovecraft for the big screen is no small feat, and many movies have tried and failed. No film has managed to so perfectly encapsulate one of H.P Lovecraft’s stories quite like Stuart Gordon’s 1985 masterpiece Re-Animator. Not only does Gordon manage to wonderfully translate Lovecraft’s unique brand of horror, but he also manages to nail the dark comedy that Re-Animator is rife with.
Jeffrey Combs is unrivaled as Herbert West, managing to make himself likable despite playing such a selfish and strange character. He puts such a unique spin on the mad scientist trope that it’s hard to imagine a more perfect actor for the role. The film is also chock-full of wonderfully campy special effects and is perfect for anyone who just wants to sit down and have a great time with a horror film.
16. Hellraiser (1987)
Hellraiser is one of the most iconic franchises in horror history, spawning ten films (I’m not counting Revelations), a recent reboot, several graphic novels and countless collectibles.
Doug Bradley was nearly cast as one of the movers in a five-minute scene at the beginning of the film. Thankfully he took a chance on the role of Pinhead, and became the undead leather daddy. Clare Higgins is amazing as one of the best villainesses of the 80s, joined by Andrew Robinson and Ashley Laurence. Both women reprise their roles in Hellraiser II: Hellbound. The Cenobites, as always, tow the line between pleasure and pain.
15. Hereditary (2018)
Ari Aster’s Hereditary is one of the few movies that devastated me when I first saw it, and continues to devastate me more with each subsequent watch. Even without the paranormal elements, the film does an amazing job of portraying a dysfunctional family suffering through a great loss.
Toni Collette should have at least been nominated for an Academy Award, if only for the dinner table scene. One of the best parts of rewatching the movie is noticing new details with each subsequent viewing. Hereditary is a masterpiece that is both uncomfortable and beautiful to watch.
14. The Beyond (1981)
Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond, released in 1981, is celebrated as one of the pinnacles of Italian horror cinema. Minimally, it is the jewel in what would become know at Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy. The Beyond is a masterclass in atmospheric horror. It relies heavily on creating a surreal and nightmarish ambiance.
The film’s setting, a decrepit hotel built over one of the seven gateways to hell. This intersection of humanity and the abyss becomes the backdrop for several gory signature kills. As we have always said, LUCIO FULCI HATES EYEBALLS, and this film is no exception. The gore at times is wonderfully gratuitous.
The cinematography, with its eerie visuals, coupled with a haunting score, crafts a palpable sense of dread. Coherence takes a backseat and Fulci makes no apologies.
The Beyond is a shining example of Italian horror and an easy placement in the list of top 100 horror films of all time.
13. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, released in 1978, is a seminal work within the zombie sub-genre. First and foremost, the zombie mostly provide a backdrop. The real horror of this film is societies descent into chaos. Who is more dangerous the zombie or the survivors? Today the topic may see cliché. In ’78 it was ground breaking.
Set in a sprawling shopping mall, Romero makes an even more nuanced metaphor. His zombies are almost indiscernible from wandering suburbanites suffering from consumer cancer as the bumble through the halls of want in complacent sadness.
The film seamlessly blends horror with satire, making the audience think while conjuring their own survival plans. Tom Savini delivers explosive effects while also making a cameo. We certainly can’t mention this film without pointing out its genre importance by introducing Ken Foree to the horror lexicon.
I there ever was a film that defined classic zombie horror, Dawn of the Dead is it.
12. The Evil Dead (1981)
Directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell, the original Evil Dead has become a staple of effective low-budget horror. Though it may not have had a major studio backing it, Evil Dead managed to deliver genuine frights and create a blueprint for the classic “cabin in the woods” horror movie.
Few other movies have been so evidently made with the passion that so clearly went into Evil Dead, and the film stands as a fantastic reminder of how great movies can be when they’re made for the love of the craft.
11. Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s Halloween, released in 1978, is a cornerstones of the horror genre. Michael Myers, presents an unstoppable force of evil, whose mask and silent demeanor have since become iconic symbols of terror. Carpenter’s masterful direction and innovative camera work by Dean Cundy take center stage. The use of long tracking shots exemplify this.
The film’s score, also composed by Carpenter, is instantly recognizable and might be the greatest contribution to the horror genre… ever. Undoubtedly, John Carpenter put an indelible mark on the slasher sub-genre. of films. Often the franchise gets judged by its many maligned sequels, but Halloween manages to rise above the fray as a universally acclaimed example of the state of the art. No discussion of Halloween would be complete without mentioning Jamie Lee Curtis’ position as the ultimate scream. She would go on to represent the genre for decades.
At then end of the day, the holiday of Halloween is synonymous with horror, and Halloween is its ambassador supreme.
10. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist, directed by William Friedkin and based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, is hailed as one of the greatest horror films for its profound impact on the genre and its visceral depiction of pure evil clashing with faith. The film’s narrative centers on the demonic possession of a young girl and the harrowing exorcism that follows. It delves deep into the psychological and spiritual realms, challenging viewers’ deepest fears and beliefs.
Coupled with groundbreaking special effects, a chilling score, and stellar performances—especially by Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, and Jason Miller—the film transcends mere shock value. Its thoughtful exploration of faith, doubt, and the nature of evil, set against a backdrop of a terrorized family, elevates The Exorcist into a masterclass in horror.
9. Phantasm (1979)
Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm exemplifies the simple pleasure of scrambling to the couch with a Dr. Pepper and a heaping bowl of popcorn to find out what terrors the Saturday night horror bazaar will bring. Suspenseful, dreamlike and surreal, Phantasm teases the audience into a state of delirium. The atmosphere of Phantasm drips with vibes of dread. Coscarelli introduces one of the most iconic death implements in all of horror cinema with his heat seeking metallic spheres of brain-drilling death. Angus Scrimm’s Tall Man rose to become a mainstay through a litany of sequels.
Phantasm’s unlikely combination of the oppressive specter of death culture and science fiction flair make it an innovator of late 70’s horror.
8. Zombie (1979)
Zombie masterfully exemplifies the visceral and raw aesthetic that Italian horror cinema became renowned for in the late 20th century. Fulci, with his distinct approach, presents an unrelenting onslaught of gore and tension that leaves audiences both repulsed and riveted. Its iconic scenes, like the underwater encounter between a zombie and a shark and signature Fulci eyeball horror, have become emblematic of audacious horror filmmaking.
Zombie isn’t just a festival of the macabre; it also offers subtle commentary on colonialism and societal decay. Its haunting score (Fabio Frizzi), coupled with the atmospheric cinematography, creates an eerie, otherworldly experience. In a genre often overflowing with formulaic iterations, Zombie stands as a testament to the innovative and boundary-pushing potential of horror.
“We are Going to Eat YOU!”
7. Blood and Black Lace (1964)
What distinguishes Blood and Black Lace as a film par excellence in the horror genre is its visual flair. Bava’s meticulous and vibrant use of Technicolor paints every frame with an uncanny allure, transforming scenes of terror into a vivid tableau of artistry. It’s a symphony of shadows and light, where each murder is choreographed with a balletic grace that’s as entrancing as it is horrifying.
Moreover, the film’s narrative structure, characterized by a whodunit mystery intertwined with psychological terror, laid the groundwork for future filmmakers to explore themes of identity, obsession, and morality. Not to be overlooked is the movie’s thematic depth, exploring the underbelly of the fashion world, and by extension, commenting on societal decadence and moral decay.
Furthermore, the film’s sound design and score are nothing short of exemplary, contributing to the atmospheric tension and rendering the audience ensnared in a web of fear and anticipation. Every creak, every footstep, every note of the music heightens the visceral impact of Bava’s cinematic vision.
6. Martin (1977)
George A. Romero’s Martin (1977) stands as a testament to his knack for subverting expectations and eschewing the well-trodden paths of vampire tales. He presents us with a protagonist who teeters on the edge of fantasy and grim reality. The film dissects themes of alienation, modernity and tradition to provide an intellectual landscape ripe for contemplation.
In terms of atmosphere and style, Romero crafts visuals that are starkly real, utilizing a monochrome palette that echoes the internal strife of the titular character. The film plays with ambiguity masterfully, inviting viewers to ponder the nature of evil and the origins of such darkness.
Martin also demonstrates that the genius in independent film often starts with the subject matter. Romero chose a pallet of paints that could be implemented at a lower budget without sacrificing meaning.
Lastly, the central performance by John Amplas is nothing short of fantastic, offering a portrayal that is vulnerable and coldly unnerving.
In a final triumph, George Romero leaves the audience with a looming question, is Martin really a vampire, or is it all in his deranged mind?
5. House on Haunted Hill (1959)
House on Haunted Hill! (1959) This film, my lovelies, is Vincent Price at his charming yet eerie best, throwing a party you’d kill to attend, but, you know, hopefully not literally!
Firstly, the plot is a delicious concoction of mystery and horror – a wealthy eccentric invites a group of people to a haunted house, and if they survive the night, they get a fortune! And the atmosphere! It’s all shadows and eerie sounds, and you feel the chill in your bones even before the ghosts make an appearance. It’s vintage horror glamour, every frame a masterpiece of black and white gorgeousness!
Vincent Price is just marvelous – he’s charming, he’s sinister, he’s everything you want in a host who might just be trying to kill you. Carol Ohmart performance as the discontented wife is just utterly captivating! Director William Castle, the gimmick king, had this thing called “Emergo” – in theatres, a skeleton would fly over the audience during a specific scene! It’s camp, it’s fun, it’s everything we adore about classic cinema!
In conclusion, House on Haunted Hill is a glittering jewel in the horror crown. It’s got style, it’s got scares, and it’s got Vincent Price being all kinds of fabulous.
4. Suspiria (1979)
My journey through horror traversed many styles and geographies; however, there was one film that sent me a down a 35 year rabbit hole of Tuscan horror that I have yet to emerge from. That film is Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977).
Dario Argento was firing on all stylistic cylinders at this point in his career. He leans heavily on washing his scenes in vibrant colors. His reliance on the clean lines of European Art Deco sensibility provides a beautiful yet foreboding experience.
Furthermore, Argento steps outside of his giallo comfort zone in this one by weaving a tale of old world witches, esoteric secrets and supernatural presence. While the film provides all the gore that one would expect, the deeper impact comes from the psychological scars emerging on a young dance student named Suzy Bannion.
Building on the success of Profondo Rosso / Deep Red (1975), Argento continued his collaboration with Claudio Simonetti and the band Goblin for the soundtrack. The results are atmospheric, cinematic and haunting.
Suspiria would eventually lead to the 3 Mothers trilogy of films including Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007).
3. The Thing (1982)
The Thing, John Carpenter’s flawless adaptation of John W. Campbell Jr.’s 1938 story “Who Goes There” is a must-see for any fan of body horror and practical effects. Rob Bottin’s groundbreaking prosthetic makeup on the titular character is so detailed that he was hospitalized for exhaustion once filming wrapped. This homage to Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness” places twelve men in an Antarctic research station with a shape-shifting alien that can imitate any organism it touches. Trapped by a blizzard, the group starts to turn against one another as the body count rises. The movie ends with the nihilistic question: is anyone still human?
2. Alien (1979)
Everyone remembers this classic Ridley Scott movie for the chest-burster scene, but the titular alien is actually a parasite with a four-stage life cycle. The Xenomorph, created by goth idol H.R. Giger and executed by special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, is one of the most recognizable horror movie villains of all time. Alien is also notable for introducing Ellen Ripley, who influenced countless future strong, intelligent female protagonists.
The Alien franchise went on to spawn three sequels, two prequels, and two crossover movies with the Predator. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming as-of-yet untitled Alien movie directed by Fede Alvarez scheduled to release in summer of 2024.
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
What’s left to say about this psycho cannibal masterpiece directed by Tobe Hooper. Notorious for its wanton violence, yet conspicuously devoid of blood and gore, Hooper created an unhinged descent into the “mad and macabre” that continues to shock audiences nearly 50 years later.
While famous for its carnage, the film commands respect for its fantastic set-design and brilliant cinematography. Set Designer Robert Burns combed the hot and dusty Texas countryside for the carcasses and bones of real animals to fashion into the most grotesque totems to the gods of insanity. Cinematographer Daniel Pearl photographed one of the most recognizable shots in horror as he followed Pam to her doom.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would be known for many things, but most of all it is know for catapulting Leatherface into the realm of the most recognizable icons in all of horror history.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre towers above a crowd of truly brilliant horror films and finishes Malevolent Dark’s Top 100 Horror Movies of All Time as the greatest horror film ever.
Thanks for reading!