Hot Topic: Good Horror Films?

2008 Martyrs Movie Film Cinema Poster Art

Good Horror Films

Which are your favourite horror films?

Below is a list of horror films we thought were effective.

Our choices are bound to differ from yours.

Add your favourite horror films in the comments and tell us why we must see them!

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Wonderful Cinema’s Choices

  • Lovely Molly (2011)
  • The Last House on the Left (2009)
  • Thirst (2009)
  • Martyrs (2008)
  • Frontier(s) (2007)
  • Vacancy (2007)
  • All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006)
  • The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
  • H6: Diary of a Serial Killer (2005)
  • House of Wax (2005)
  • The Descent (2005)
  • Wolf Creek (2005)
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004)
  • A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
  • Gacy (2003)
  • High Tension (2003)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
  • Wrong Turn (2003)
  • 28 Days Later… (2002)
  • May (2002)
  • The Ring (2002)  we haven’t seen Ringu (1998) yet
  • Ed Gein (2000)
  • Ginger Snaps (2000)
  • Sleepy Hollow (1999)
  • Ravenous (1999)
  • The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  • Nightwatch (1994)
  • Dracula (1992)
  • Raising Cain (1992)
  • Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
  • Angel Heart (1987)
  • Evil Dead II (1987)
  • Near Dark (1987)
  • The Fly (1986)
  • The Hitcher (1986)
  • The Dead Zone (1983)
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  • Damien: Omen II (1978)
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
  • I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
  • Long Weekend (1978)
  • The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
  • The Omen (1976)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • The Stepford Wives (1975)
  • Black Christmas (1974)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  • The Exorcist (1973)
  • The Honeymoon Killers (1969)
  • Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
  • Psycho (1960)

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Of course, this list is greatly affected by the hundreds or thousands of horror films which we haven’t seen yet – and those we’ve forgotten. There are also titles we haven’t seen for so long such as The Return of the Living Dead (1985) that we’d have to watch again before commenting.

Our Top 10 horror films are 1. Alien (1979), 2. The Shining (1980), 3. Angel Heart (1987), 4. Let the Right One In (2008), 5. The Thing (1982), 6. Halloween (1978), 7. Funny Games (1997), 8. Thirst (2009), 9. The Dead Zone (1983) and 10. Wrong Turn (2003).

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Define Horror!

One person’s definition of horror will be different to another’s. Here is our perspective:

We don’t have a fixed view on what a horror film should be other than the following: it should either install horror in us or the movie’s theme should be steeped in supernatural or macabre elements.

Some frightening films are still not horror. The Silence of the Lambs (1991), for example, and also Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986). But other films such as Funny Games (1997) we class as horror because it really did terrify us.

It is clear that Shaun of the Dead (2004) is a comedy, not a horror, regardless of the film’s main theme. The same goes for Frankenweenie (2012), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and the absolute classic, The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) is a superb film. But, although it contains major elements of horror, it doesn’t have the feel of a horror film. The same goes for Antichrist (2009).

Let the Right One In (2008) is not particularly frightening but that does not stop it being the greatest horror film made in the last decade.

Ravenous (1999) is not listed under IMDb’s Horror genre but to us it is just that.

There are certain films we’ve seen which couldn’t be considered great but do stand out one way or another. Silent Hill (2006), for example, had a practically non-existent storyline but some superb visuals.

The horror film we despise the most is Saw (2004); there was nothing we liked about this film. Paranormal Activity (2007), another big hit, was also atrociously bad. Drag Me to Hell (2009) too. But that’s the beauty of the world, isn’t it: we are all individuals with individual tastes!

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Give Us Your Tips

We are sure a lot of you will disagree with our list and comments. There are plenty of holes in our theories of what is and what isn’t a horror film. And it is probably pretty inconsistent what we have included in our list and left out using our own guidelines.

What are your recommendations? Have your say below!

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About Shimky

Hi there! I run Wonderful Cinema. I hope you like the site and some of the recommendations. Please leave us a comment recommending a film for us to watch. My avatar is a crop of Luke Chueh's Black in White painting. All the best Shimky.

60 comments

  1. The Sixth Sense is one of my favourite horror films.

    • Good film! I wouldn’t class it as horror, though. It’s more of a mystery. I haven’t seen it since it came out. Must watch it again soon.

      • I watched it at my grandparent’s house and was skeptical at first because Bruce Willis’ name was on the DVD cover. It was a great movie and I enjoyed every minute of it.

        • Hi Sweet Feet! Did you end up liking Bruce Willis, then? He’s done a lot of rubbish action films but he is a good actor. Among the long list of dross, he’s given great performances in Die Hard (1988), Pulp Fiction (1994), Twelve Monkeys (1995), Sin City (2005), Moonrise Kingdom (2012). I haven’t seen many of his films, so there are probably many more good performances out there.

  2. musicMagpie

    Awesome blog – have a follow! Personally Jaws and Alien have to be amongst the top ten – Jaws in particular because it made an entire generation scared of going to the beach which is quite an achievement for a movie. Good horror should probably be about creeping people out rather than relying on some tense music to create the odd jumpy moments – it’s the creepiness in films like The Shining that really gets under the skin. Will be sure to look out for your future posts – thanks for posting!

  3. You won’t agree because it’s a horror/comedy from the 90’s, but Vamp with Grace Jones was great at the time – probably dated now. Who cares – I love Grace Jones – she’s so weird, and scary all by herself!

  4. ‘Friday the 13th’, is a good old scary 80’s movie .) I think that Saw is not a horror movie really, not for me anyway, they are just disgusting..

  5. A few of my favorites that aren’t on the list are Hellraiser (One and Two, nothing beyond that) and Inside (2007). Most of my others are pretty much covered ( JAWS, Alien, American Werewolf in London, The Thing, etc)

    • I’ve seen À l’intérieur (2007) but didn’t think that much to it. Much preferred Martyrs (2008). The modern French horror style has a great feel to it, doesn’t it.

      Didn’t like Hellraiser (1987). Just watched it last year for the first time. Maybe if I hadn’t seen Halloween (1978) as a youngster, it wouldn’t have such a long-lasting impact on me? I also only saw The Exorcist (1973) last year for the first time and although I agree it’s a good movie, it didn’t grab me by the ghoulies like so many people out there. It’s top of almost everyone’s horror lists.

      • Same here with The Exorcist, I didn’t find it to be as terrifying as most people do/did. And yes, French horror is definitely pretty crazy. Very jarring.

        Now that you mention The Exorcist, I also like The Last Exorcism (2010) quite a bit. It was definitely a different take on the whole “found footage” type film.

  6. Horror? No way!!!. can one call Psycho a horror movie? If yes, that’s it. Full stop.

  7. Great post. More horror please. Agree with some of your top 10 – Let the Right One in and The Thing in particular. Aliens is great but sci fi to me. Also The Blair Witch Project divides, but I love it. One that is missing that is worth watching is Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone. Antichrist – not horror, just plain disturbing! Not a lot of Zombie flicks there – some good British low budget ones like Dog Soldiers and The Zombie Diaries. Avoid the dreadful The dead Undead, one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, on all levels! Thanks.

  8. I’m a big fan of horror and have not seen a lot of these. I’ll be checking them out. Have you seen Cabin in the Woods? Would you classify that as horror?

  9. Personally, I like supernatural horror and though I haven’t been really scared by a film in many years, it is always the supernatural that gets me close to fear – not any slasher or torture film. I know others that only like slasher films and think supernatural horror is too unrealistic. I also like films that make you think about them after they are over and that kind of seeping horror always works well with me. ‘The Fourth Kind’ did that to me. I was thinking about the film for days after I had seen it.

  10. Some great choices here, although I must admit that I liked the first Saw movie…the rest sucked.

    • GaryLee828

      Actually the “Saw” sequels were better done than the original; “Saw” had some extremely intense sequences, and I am not referring to the gore factor; like in the third installment when the subject was confronted with the drunk driver who killed his child and as a result of this incident the subject became bitter and hateful towards the world and Jigsaw confronted him with the scenario “Forgive or die”. There were actually a lot of moral dilemmas that arose throughout the whole “Saw” franchise and that’s what made it so fascinating.

  11. My favourite horror movie is ’28 Days later’. Which also turned me into a Zombie-movie fan, a genre I didn’t like at all before. I didn’t like ‘I spit on your Grave’ at all, because I think it was exploitative in all the wrong ways…

  12. I personally think when it comes to actual horror movies, the Japanese do it best. The special effects aren’t so great in most cases but the atmosphere of their filming and what not make it SO creepy. For instance, the original of The Grudge…. The American version was definitely creepy and I still won’t watch it, but it wasn’t until I watched the Japanese version that I was like– Whoa…I’m never watching that again!

    When it comes to American horror, I hold that The Shining was still the best.

  13. Japanese horror is truly like nothing else. They really know how to make creepy films.

    Unfortunately, I don’t watch much horror. I saw The Ring and loved it, but I too often find myself disappointed by horror films. I despise slasher movies, and I avoid the ones that deal with anything demonic (long story). However, what about the film American Psycho? I thought that was pretty creepy. I also don’t recall seeing Poltergeist on your list–practically a classic.

  14. A +1 for Ravenous , that’s good ‘un.I thought Ginger Snaps was a comedy ? Poltergeist always scare the shit out of me.As for Horror what about all them Twilights ? Now they were truly horrific.

  15. I know it’s not a “horror” but I had trouble sleeping for nights after seeing it: The Night of the Hunter (1955) with Robert Mitchum and he was horrific! It is also a damn pretty film!

  16. Mike

    Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. ’nuff said.

  17. I liked the first remake of House of Wax from 1950-something. Its with Vincent Price and he is obviously a creep. Typically, I don’t love movies from that era, but that one was pretty good. The Shining, The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are my favorite horror movies. I won’t watch Jaws. It only comes on in the summer and I’m a lifeguard on the beach. Eff that noise.

  18. 28 Days Later and High Tension both still give me nightmares! Nice list, I haven’t seen a lot of the older films so will need to check them out.

  19. calmlife282

    One of my favourites is ‘The Others’ starring Nicole Kidman… It’s spooky and the concept is really really good…

  20. I’m not a huge fan of horror films. I tend to lean toward creepy/psychological or supernatural. I have very little interest in the current trend for gore fests. You have already listed quite a few of my favourites though I love Alien, An American Werewolf in London, The Shining, Sleepy Hollow, Psycho and Dracula. To that list I would add Dog Soldiers, The Lost Boys, Event Horizon and The Birds.

  21. I saw “Event Horizon” in the comment above. I completely agree! I also really like “House of 1000 Corpses”. The cinem … cimminom … camera work kept me off kilter between the really horrific scenes.

    It’s interesting that you put “I Spit On Your Grave” in that list. Yep, that particular 30 minute scene (I won’t tell for those that haven’t seen the movie) was disgustingly brutal although the movie quality overall was … meh.

  22. Can’t choose just one, so many favs are on this list that I absolutely love! But I will say when it comes to the American re-makes of Japanese horror, I will take the original Japanese version every time. Not to say that the American industry does not do a good job, but I’ve found the J-Horror films have a more solid story plus they rely more on old-style camera tricks for the scariest scenes, while America is relying more on CGI which looks more fake by comparison when you’ve seen both.

    BUT… America does still make some really good ones too. No question about that.

  23. GaryLee828

    You need to add french horror “Inside” to your list; it is unforgettable and about as intense as it gets!

    And add spanish thriller “The Hidden Face”. The Hidden Face has elements of horror, but leans more on the thriller/mystery genre, but the strength is in the twist that comes in the middle of the film that you never see coming ahead of time. It is absolutely genius, but DO NOT watch the trailer ahead of time b/c the trailer gives the twist away and takes away from the experience. Go in cold, and you will be surprised!

  24. I recently watched “Beyond the black rainbow” and I thought it was quite effective in terms of a horror movie..

  25. Crazy Goblin

    I would have to go with first Omen (not the remake)

  26. Almost all of my favorites are either covered by your list or in the comments, but I didn’t see Right At Your Door (2006), though you might exclude it from the genre, I found it horrifying. Also, classics such as The Fog (1980) and The Thing (1982), My Bloody Valentine (1981), and Ghost Story (1981). I guess from those last 3, it’s fairly obvious when my love of horror developed. Also, one which really caught be surprise in quality and suspense was 2004’s Dead Birds. I’ve been disappointed with most big horror movies for the last decade or more, with only a few exceptions.

  27. I saw John Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness (1987) in 1989 in a horror movie marathon and couldn’t sleep alone for a month… Same with Hellraiser… I am sure that it won’t have the same effect on me now, but as I am concerned the demonIc themed films are the scariest! I also liked [Rec], 28 Days Later and Saw.

  28. My very first horror movie was The Wasp Women (1959). I was watching it on TV late at night when I was 5 years old. Someone tried to break into our house, so my parents left me alone to see what was happening. THAT WAS SCARY. But I’ve been hooked on scary movies ever since.

    I have categorized my favorite “frights.” For Classic Scary, my favorites are The Mummy (1932) and Night of the Demon (1957). I’m also partial to The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). For Big ‘n Scary, I like Tarantula (1957) and Eight Legged Freaks (2002). (What is scarier than a giant spider? OK, a bunch of giant spiders.) For Cheesy ‘n Scary, I like The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Creepshow (1982) and Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). For Scary TV, Night Gallery tops the list, followed by Kolchak the Night Stalker. (Both from the 70s.) Karloff’s Thriller series from the 60s had some great episodes. And for Really Scary, it’s a close call between the Exorcist (1973), the Shining (1980) and the Ring (2002).

    A few Halloweens back, I put together a top ten list for each of these categories with some pics and other goodies here: http://puck.topcities.com/horror/

  29. Huge list, and pretty all-encompassing. Good stuff as usual from you. Here is a more modest list of 5, recently posted in my blog. regards, Pete.

    http://beetleypete.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/some-horror-films/

  30. nancymn

    Thanks for the Like and Follow on my blog. Not a horror film fan myself, but I found your writing on the subject very enjoyable!

  31. One of my favorite genres. And I even love the super cheesy stuff (maybe the most)!
    Some from my youth that I still adore (and you should watch if you haven’t): Pet Sematary, Children of the Corn, Alice Sweet Alice, & Candyman.
    Glad to see you have Funny Games! I was just talking about that yesterday!
    Dead Silence is super cheesy but I found it scary nonetheless.
    Thanks for the follow!

  32. We are pleased to inform you that you have been nominated for ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’. See the details here:

    http://frontofthemirror.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    ¡Congratulations!

  33. I’ve seen every movie you list here. There are few I think should be added; House on haunted hill (1959) Nosferatu (1922) Frankenstein (1931) Two Evil Eyes (George Romero, Dario Argento collaboration 1990) Black Sabbath (1975) House of usher (1960) The legend of hell house (1973) The masque of the red death (1964) Pit and the pendulum (1961) Spirits of the dead (1968) Suspiria (1977) The Uninvited (1944) Whatever happened to baby Jane? (1962) The Penalty (1920) The Unknown (1927) just to name a few …

  34. Hi Shimky,

    Great blog, thanks for following mine, Reviewswithatude. I have 3 horror movies that I love that I didn’t see mentioned here. The Birds, by Hitchcock, because it took a ordinary thing, birds, and made them menacing. The other two are The Eye, the Hong Kong Version and not the Jessica Alba version, and Audition, about an older widow who holds an audition to find a young wife. This is from Japan. Something about Asian horror is much scarier than American horror.

  35. One of my all time favourites is Ravenous which you have listed, mainly because I’m not the biggest fan of horror as a genre and this is not your typical horror, I love the twist at the end and on top of all the the acting is superb, particularly the twisted relationship between Robert Carlyle and Guy Pearce’s characters. I also like Guillermo Del Toro’s Cronos for similar reasons. Wes Cravens 1988, The Serpent and the Rainbow is another I like, with Bill Pullman. One film which I remember being really struck by because again it’s a little alternative and because of the implications it suggess and is also one of my all time favourites for a horror, is Ken Russells Altered States, a story of genetic regression, starring the greatly underrated has William Hurt.

  36. I always like a good scary movie. I’ve been trying to remember the name of this one movie I saw when I was a kid, it scared the crap out of me. Something about 7 bible curses. Some guy and his wife got in a plane crash, doctors couldn’t save her so husband took revenge on the medical team. I think it had Vincent Price.
    I liked a lot of the ones you have on your list.
    And thank you for stopping by my blog and following me, I appreciate it! :-)

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