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


The Evil Dead (1981)

As I noted in my review of Fede Alvarez’s passable 2012 remake, the legacy of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead has, in some sense, been unfairly co-opted by sequels Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness. Where the latter films are highly self-conscious screwball horror-comedies, The Evil Dead remains a memorably spooky haunted-house picture, made more unsettling by its (mostly incidental) schlock, from the stiff performances to the hyperactive camera-work. Beyond his broad influence on similarly set up “cabin in the woods pictures,” Raimi, like George A. Romero and Tobe Hooper before him, rejuvenated the possibilities for America independent cinema writ large.  Semley

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s masterful slasher movie introduced the world to Michael Myers, a natural-born killer of such ruthless skill and force that his power seemed alien in nature. Stalking suburbia on that fateful October night, this massive behemoth murders his way home in order to erase his family name for good. It’s not just personal; there’s an instinctual nature to his savagery. The trembling synthesizer score tracks his every move, building to a crescendo of violence that feels like the dawn of an entirely new breed of terror. Herein lies the origin of species for the postmodern movie monster.  Heath

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)

One of David Lynch’s most densely coded dream worlds, this hallucinogenic preamble to Twin Peaks is a perverse cautionary tale of sorts. In a world of blue, Laura Palmer walks with fire near a metaphorical bridge between here (a place consumed by pain and sorrow, known as garmonbozia and visualized as, yes, creamed corn) and there, the subconscious docking port (The Red Room) for demons and angels alike. The film chillingly and subversively propels its little girl lost toward inevitable doom, but Lynch takes empathic pains to make his heroine conscious of her own downfall, showing her the flight of angels from bedroom paintings, even gifting her an angel once she sheds, at once horrifically and rapturously, her mortal coil. Because a death unenlightened isn’t one worth suffering.  Gonzalez

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Dawn of the Dead (1978)

If the second entry in George A. Romero’s now sextet of zombie films remains the most widely popular, it’s not necessarily because it’s the scariest, goriest, or even funniest. It’s because the potency of its message is translated purely, almost disarmingly, its blatant but nonetheless vicious criticism of capital and commercialism at once pointed and playful in execution. As the few remaining humans in a world overrun by the undead bunker down in a shopping mall in Everytown, U.S.A., rebuilding an indoor society from the scrap heap of consumer culture, Romero taps the raw nerve of our animal instinct, in the process anticipating an upcoming decade of decadence and debauchery.  Cronk

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Nosferatu the Vampyre (1978)

As F. W. Murnau and Max Shreck were born to make and star in the original vampire film, Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski seem to have been fated to collaborate similarly on its inevitable remake. The idea of the vampire has rarely been more hypnotically articulated, and the German auteur’s adherence to his source material (sans a final deviation that’s practically cosmic) renders this homage as doubly bizarre in tone. Aided by the permeating melancholy of Popol Vuh and the rousing discord of Wagner, this Nosferatu aches with the beauty of life, even in the face of death, and merits serious comparisons to the masterwork that preceded it.  Humanick

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


The Wicker Man (1973)

A film that’s become synonymous with British horror, The Wicker Man follows a conservative Christian policeman (Edward Woodward) seeking a missing girl on a Hebridean island inhabited by pagans. The first half has an (intentional) air of the faintly ridiculous about it, embodied equally by Christopher Lee’s gloriously campy portrayal of the cult’s leader and the life-on-the-island sequences that are Pythonesque in their absurdist look at culture clash. But the film’s impish wit and soft, Arcadian glow belie its cruel streak. The gathering clouds of unease building into a shocking third act that’s aesthetically and structurally reminiscent of the end of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, possibly the highest praise one can give to the conclusion of a horror film.  Das

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


The Birds (1963)

Every Alfred Hitchcock film could be said to be about the world’s fragile appearance of balance, and how complete chaos seems to be just a shot away. And arguably no Hitchcock film expresses that sense of breakdown in as wide and vivid a scale as The Birds, his stunning vision of nature itself turning ferociously against humanity. Startling with peculiarly Antonioniesque scenes of would-be romantic couple Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) complacently pecking at each other around Bodega Bay, the narrative takes a radical turn and becomes nothing less than the prototype for future zombie apocalypses. Under Hitchcock’s mordant gaze, we’re all headed toward the precipice with vengeful seagulls tangled in our collective hair.  Croce

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Alien (1979)

A film whose shadow looms darkly over subsequent decades of horror and sci-fi, Ridley Scott’s Alien is a master class in the evocation of escalating dread. Made forever distinctive by H.R. Giger’s visual rendering of psychosexual horror and biomechanical hellscapes, not to mention the unusual foregrounding of working-class and female characters, Alien is still—at its core—a prototypical haunted-house picture. It just happens to be one of the most artful, flawlessly executed examples of that type, the rationed-out shocks underscored by groundbreaking creature effects, jarring sound design, and the talents of a magnificent ensemble. It’s the stuff of primordial nightmare, mapping the infinite reaches of human anxiety—about everything from sexuality to technology—into two agonizing hours.  Das

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Audition (1999)

For all its reputation as a stomach-churning endurance test awaiting eager new horror fans, it’s worth reminding audiences that Takashi Miike’s Audition is a masterpiece because the filmmaker brilliantly plumbs the poignant human desperation that often fuels both the romantic comedy and the horror film. Aoyama’s (Ryo Ishibashi) ridiculous self-absorbed quest to find a mate isn’t merely parodied as a symptom of social objectification, as it might have been in an Eli Roth production. You feel for Aoyama, and you somehow even feel for Asami (Eihi Shiina), the vengeful wraith who must assert her own form of deranged romantic self-actualization, regardless of the collateral damage.  Bowen

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time


Possession (1981)

The dissolution of a married couple takes on a manically supernatural air in Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, a hypnotic and sickly hysterical monster movie that pathologizes everything from sex and monogamy to identity and subjectivity to biology and the preternatural. Essentially, nothing in the film is sacred, effectively heightening its deliberate descent into madness. Still, as crazy as this fever dream gets, its emotional core remains intact, thanks to unbelievably committed performances by Sam Neil and especially Isabelle Adjani, as well as by Zulawski’s persistence of (batshit) vision. This may be the most surreal and disturbing relationship drama the movies have ever given us.  Hunt