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The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time
The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

10

The Fly (1986)

A beautifully poignant tale of love and heartbreak cocooned in the outré trappings of its maker’s distinctive splatter-punk aesthetic, The Fly represents the apotheosis of David Cronenberg’s early obsessions. The story of scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), who, in a fit of drunken jealousy, tests his new teleporter only to find himself fused with a housefly, it’s a testament to the elastic properties of genre as metaphor. Cronenberg reappropriates the original’s schlocky damsel-in-distress plot as the delivery system for a thoughtful, witty, and literate consideration of his pet preoccupations: sex, death, technology, biology. It’s tragedy pitched at an operatic scale, body horror at its most visceral, pop philosophy at its most insightful. Insect politics for a blockbuster age.  Das

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

9

The Thing (1982)

Infection transfers seamlessly between organisms in John Carpenter’s exploration of paranoia, making detection impossible until it’s too late. So how does one survive such an onslaught when your body might already be rotting from the inside out? Kurt Russell and company grapple with this mortal question throughout, and their reactions run the gauntlet, from violent to compassionate and beyond. The film’s extreme icy setting only forces these roughnecks closer together in confined interiors, where the air is just warm enough for a supernatural host to take root and never let go. It’s a perfect cinematic Petri dish for our greatest fears to flourish and evolve.  Heath

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

8

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Roger Ebert memorably described the effect George A. Romero’s charter zombie film had on a group of Saturday matinee kids, wrote that their accelerating awareness that the film wasn’t going to play nice—and was, in fact, going to plunge a garden trowel deep into Mommy’s chest cavity—drove them to hysterical tears. Perhaps they subconsciously recognized in the political and social subtext of the film the many ways adults were failing them, how upheavals were destroying all illusions of social stasis, how the arms race was pushing the Doomsday Clock toward midnight, how the nuclear family unit was on its deathbed. Or maybe Romero’s pitch-black, impressionistic, gory depiction of the living under siege by the dead simply was and remains among the scariest goddamned movies ever made.  Henderson

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

7

Freaks (1932)

In many ways, Tod Browning’s Freaks is the antithesis of the typical horror film, which isn’t to suggest that its rain-soaked climax is anything less than scary as hell. A clear-eyed portrait of a traveling circus’s community of disabled performers, the film is most famous for effectively ending director Tod Browning’s career, an outcome that ironically underscores his film’s unflinching humanitarianism. In defense of their own, the film’s disfigured characters are capable of great horrors, but it’s those who see them as less than human—audiences included—to whom the title of this masterpiece most scathingly refers.  Humanick

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

6

The Shining (1980)

By 1980, Stanley Kubrick had made a practice of adopting genres, pushing their perceived limitations, and often perfecting the formula. Despite its base predilections, The Shining proved to be a risky experiment. A formally bold, elliptically structured translation of Stephen King’s pop novel, the film revels in horror tropes, raising as many questions as it answers while encoding its text with an added degree of discomfort by playing logic against itself and heightening the primal fear in character and audience alike. Simply one classic, unsettling sequence after another, the film is at once the paradigm of modern horror and the most audacious employment of genre the cinema has ever known.  Cronk

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