Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time
Oct 10 2017

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

By: Landon Murray

For horror film fans, October is a big month, movie and spirit-wise, and Where Y’at wants to count down some of the best movies for this spooky, fun-filled time of year. Some of these are go-to classics, others are remakes done right, while even more are terrifying by helping give audiences a scare worth anticipating. Enjoy, and get ready to be on the edge of your seat as we count down our top 20 horror movies for Halloween!

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

20. Black Christmas, 1974

Director: Bob Clark

What’s so great about this creepy movie, set during the Christmas break at a university, is the subtlety in the manner in which the film unfolds. The villain remains obscured throughout, but the violence this person unleashes on unsuspecting college girls is terrifying and makes even the happy times surrounding Christmas even more bleak when you consider the evils that lie amongst you, in your safe place. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

19. The Crow, 1994

Director: Alex Proyas

Not a horror movie in the general sense of the word, but this film, set during the days surrounding all Hallows Eve, provide a wonderfully dark, complex portrait of love and of what you would do if given the chance to set the wrongs right. Brandon Lee, in his last film before passing, marvelously brings the story to life as a ghost from beyond who returns through supernatural means in order to get revenge for what was done to him and his fiancee. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

18. House of The Devil, 2009

Director: Ti West

These days, Ti West is a common name among horror circles, but, in my opinion, it’s mostly because of the nuance and careful ways he executes this slow burning, but magnificently unnerving movie. Tom Noonan is the main source of discomfort in the film, but the minimal cast and the usage of creepy tones and even weirder circumstances of the movie make it something for fans of horror, without all the usual in your face gore. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

17. I Saw The Devil, 2011

Director: Kim Jee-Won

What would you do if your life partner was taken from you in a vile way? That’s the basic groundwork for this fast paced, super violent recent movie. From start to finish, it acts as a horror film set in a chase scene that pits a well trained, high ranking security officer and the man who ruined his life. It’s intense and in your face, and while the scares throughout aren’t going to make you weep and jump in nervous tangents, the sheer amount of brutality put forth by both men makes this pick a worthy addition for your viewing pleasure.

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

16. Trick R Treat, 2007

Director: Michael Dougherty

One of the best Halloween set movies ever released enters our list at number 16. This horror anthology, set during Halloween night in a distant, but familiar small town has everything a horror fan would want. Hot girls with beautiful hair are featured, as well as some of the worst parental decisions ever portrayed on film. If you like gore, meandering stories that tie in together in random, unexpected ways, this movie is for you. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

15. The Crazies, 2010

Director: Breck Eisner

More often than not, remakes are lazy, stupid and just plain not worth your time. That’s not the case with this awesome movie set in a rural, everyone knows everyone town. People get sick, no-one has any idea why, and as Timothy Olyphant and company try to figure out exactly what the hell is going on, they also have to defend themselves against a secret military mission and people they’ve known for years who are suddenly trying to kill everyone they fix their eyes on. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

14. Evil Dead, 1981

Director: Sam Raimi

While the recent remake is very much worth your time, the winner of the franchise remains the first installment. Made on a shoestring budget with then no-name, now horror movie God Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead is one of the reasons I have a chainsaw tattooed on my arm. Also, who doesn’t love a scene featuring a sexual assault courtesy of a tree and more gore than most modern movies even try to fit in. Don’t open the book the dead, for it has horrible things planned for you. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

13. It Follows, 2015

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Every year, a horror film sets itself apart from the rest. In 2015, It Follows traces the steps of a girl named Jay who, let’s just say, shouldn’t have gotten busy with a particular person. What follows is a tense, but steady trail of violence that’s seen only by the victim. It’s one of the more impressive usages of setting I’ve seen recently, and the performances are excellent all around. Totally not in your face, and the scares are used to brilliant execution, but the slow crawl of the movie will have you grossly unsettled by the climax of the film.

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

12. [REC], 2008

Director: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza

Now I’m not usually unnerved or squeamish, but watching this movie by myself at 2 a.m. one night was definitely a choice I regretted making, even though the movie is beyond enthralling. Set in an apartment building during an undisclosed quarantine situation, a news reporter and her cameraman are thrust into a world of chaos from all sides. The whole movie will leave you scared, but the final minutes of the film are beyond words and leave you feeling cold, tired and ready for rest. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

11. Martyrs, 2008

Director: Pascal Laugier

First things first: If you don’t like gratuitous violence and some of the most f'ed up characters featured in a film, this movie isn’t for you. It’s gore goes to the next level, but the reasons for the carnage unfolding are presented in very clear terms. A girl, tortured by seemingly normal people, goes on a mission of revenge, but the web she gets tangled in as the film draws to a close makes what came before seem like a Sunday in the park. Warning, this ending is one of the best among horror film elite.

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

10. The Babadook, 2014

Director: Jennifer Kent

I’ve only seen this movie once, but the imagery presented is potent enough that it’s stayed with me since that initial viewing. It starts off simple enough: A mother dealing with a traumatic loss and a son who simply can’t help himself when it comes to causing trouble. Then a book enters the picture, and, gradually, this already tense situation becomes a world filled with more horror than this mother and her son can handle. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

9. The Cabin In The Woods, 2012

Director: Drew Goddard

Released four years ago, this is easily one of the most original ideas to enter the world of horror in the last 20 years. Equal parts comedy, horror and science fiction, Goddard's film works so well because it uses lessons of the past in making a film that transcends easy taglines. Five unsuspecting college students go away for a weekend, but that’s where you become unable to guess what’s coming next. One of the great movies of the last few years and well worth your time if you want to laugh intermittently while being scared s**tless. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

8. High Tension, 2005

Director: Alexandre Aja

What starts out as a nice relaxing weekend intended for studying for two young ladies quickly changes course when a crazed man in a truck decides to ruin a family's life. From that moment on, you’re presented with enough gore to make you good on horror films for a long time and an intense chase that will leave you as confused as I was during the initial viewing. Over the top death scenes and a climax that will make you go back and double check the rest of the film for clues will leave you satisfied, but also with a knot in your stomach. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

7. House Of 1000 Corpses, 2005

Director: Rob Zombie

One of my favorite movies of all time, period. I became obsessed with this movie, seeing it seven times in theaters before making it a go to for the Halloween season. The genius of the film lies in the treatment of the snot nosed rude captives and how they manage to get stuck in a mess involving a family of insane, calculated killers called the Firefly family. House of 1000 Corpses isn’t as much about survival of the victims as it is a look into the crazy family and how they function in the world. A horror movie for metal fans, Zombie’s directorial debut is full of visually stunning set pieces, humor used in the most dark and twisted way possible, and enough of a backstory to fuel more movies set in this universe. A must watch for old school campy horror fans, as well as people familiar with Zombie's blend of horror metal. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

6. Let The Right One In, 2008

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Rarely does a film do so much with such a basic backstory, but this one manages to soar among the best horror films of the last decade. A young boy meets a strange girl, and in the pursuit of protecting the boy this girl has fallen in love with, they encounter troubles from multiple angles. It’s directed and shot wonderfully, and while violence and crimes of an extreme nature are very clearly shown, the cinematography used in capturing the mood and the coldness of the setting makes this a worthwhile film to embark on, especially this time of year. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

5. Blair Witch Project, 1999

Director: Eduardo Sanchez, Daniel Myrick

Straight up when I saw this movie for the first time my mind had exploded, and only the images of carnage displayed during the running time entered my brain. I lived at the time in a nowhere town with two roads and plenty of trees, so traveling back home at 1 a.m. after seeing this truly rocked my 18-year-old mind to the core. Since then, found footage has become more popular, but the trials of three unassuming campers laid the groundwork for the whole horror genre to move forward. The worst part of the movie is easily the way in which you imagine the suffering you hear in the shadows and not in what you actually witness. You’ve been warned. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

4. The Shining, 1980

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Maybe the greatest horror film of all time? Not sure, but it’s my favorite by far. The way Kubrick tricks the audience, accompanied by extremely scary portrayals from Jack Nicholson and the ever frazzled Shelley Duvall make The Shining a horror opus for us all. It’s a long winding road of uncertainty, but as the movie runs it’s course, you’re confronted with unbridled terror in a remote location of the world, where the only thing you can do to escape the spirits inhabiting the hotel is running for your life. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

3. Halloween, 1978

Director: John Carpenter

You probably expected this to be number one given the subject matter, but John Carpenter’s classic Halloween enters our countdown on the final day at number three. It just seemed too obvious to put this at number one, but that’s not discounting the effect the film still has on moviegoers all these years after it’s release. What would you do if your sibling went crazy years earlier and broke out on Halloween to kill the last remaining member of your family that, by the way, happens to be you? All of these things are explored in the movie, set in a normally quiet town in the Mid-West. A powerhouse, game-changing performance from Jamie Lee Curtis gives the film an ampleness to navigate the terrain, and one of the best villains in all of film slowly, methodically and patiently comes after our heroine. Chilling to the core, with enough scares to never make you feel safe in your own house again, Halloween has stood the test of time, and remains a very real reason not to piss off your family. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

2. Audition, 2001

Director: Takashi Miike

Like a slow stew of food cooking over several hours, Audition remains one of the most difficult watching experiences I’ve ever been involved in. The setup you ask? A widower trying to find his next wife embarks on a fake audition to find his dream girl. The only catch is the lady he picks has a notorious relationship with the male species. Over the course of the film, it becomes slowly evident that this is going to majorly f**k up this guys life, but the last 15 minutes of the movie will both captivate you in the gentle ways his life is ruined, and also just how scary it is to fall for someone who turns out to be utterly psychopathic in their methods. You won’t be looking at the screen, but it’s only because you are stunned by the horror before your eyes. 

Top 20 Horror Films of All-Time

1. The Descent, 2006

Director: Neil Marshall

Hands down the scariest movie on the list, Neil Marshall’s perfect, foreboding, dark and sinister The Descent remains the film all other horror movies of recent memory are compared to. Let me tell you too, this movie puts recent terrifying films to utter shame. It’s so scary, my former partner refused to watch it for nine years because of how scary she heard it was. Set inside a cave below the earth, strong, powerful, smart women are thrust forth into a world of darkness, with only their knowledge and flashlights to help them escape a movie monster so well done, that you don’t even need an imagination to picture just how vicious these things are. From the opening scene to the last desperate gasps of the finale, The Descent manages to be a story with more raw emotion, spirit and energy than anything that has been released since. Proclaimed as the scariest movie of the last 20 years by many, you’ll see why as soon as you go down to the underbelly of the earth and of evil. Happy Halloween y'all! 

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