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

20

Peeping Tom (1960)

“The great ones feel alone all the time.” Serial killer and director Mark Lewis (Karlheinz Böhm) is referring to the isolation felt by legendary actors, but he might as well be talking about the legendary murderers as well. Michael Powell’s incredibly frightening film explores the mind of this disturbed voyeur by merging the camera’s perspective with that of Mark’s. Eventually you can’t separate one from the other. It makes for an incredibly twisted exercise in formalism and point of view, where most of the bloody kill shots are left entirely up to the imagination.  Heath

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

19

Deep Red (1975)

Seeing is disbelieving in Dario Argento’s quintessential giallo, a visually extravagant treatise on the persistent misprision of vision. Focusing once again on an artistically inclined protagonist who has seen too much, but doesn’t quite know what he knows, Deep Red limns a world in which the work of art exudes an aura of malevolence, where deviance and psychopathology spring from thwarted inclinations and stifled lives. Alongside Argento’s elaborate murder set pieces, staged with all the baroque flair of a Verdi opera, the other innovation here is strictly sonic: Whenever Goblin’s propulsive synth-laden score kicks in like a demented lullaby, you know something bloody is about to go down.  Wilkins

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

18

Pulse (2001)

Empowered by the rise of the Internet culture, spirits draw humans away from one another, entombing them in a realm of their own private obsessions. Does this even count as a metaphor anymore? Until the recent The Bling Ring, Pulse is the closest a film has come to fully capturing the paradoxical and deceptively empowering trap of online societies that allow you to indulge an illusion of socialization alone in the privacy of your own home. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s ferocious act of despairing protest is also one of cinema’s most unnerving and suggestive ghost stories.  Bowen

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

17

Eyes Without a Face (1960)

Robin Wood, that great analyzer of screen frissons, once noted that “terrible buildings” were the recurring theme in the films of Georges Franju, and perhaps none is more terrible than the mansion-clinic presided over by Prof. Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) in the French surrealist’s masterpiece Eyes Without a Face. As the surgeon operates on captive young women in hopes of restoring the face of his disfigured daughter Christiane (Edith Scob), an unforgettable portrait of subverted normalcy emerges—one where angelic doves and grisly hounds, obsessive love and appalling violence, the gruesome and the poetic, are all perpetually leaking into one another.  Croce

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

16

Nosferatu (1922)

There’s an ephemeral quality to this classic vampire story’s images that haunts the mind, like the disease of Count Orlock’s very presence, long after the final credits have rolled: the cargo ship stacked with coffins, a silhouetted Max Schreck climbing a set of stairs, the enigmatic final sequence that blurs the line between heroism and sadism. There are also the striking point-of-view shots that illustrate the experiential qualities of horror cinema, a technique whose influence has been felt in films as disparate as Halloween, Rear Window, and Cloverfield. As F.W. Murnau allows his sense realism to rub eerily against his most ostentatiously expressionistic flourishes, even the most mundane occurrences exude a feeling of the otherworldly.  Hunt

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

15

The Exorcist (1973)

The “demon seed” film cycle, which gained purchase roughly around 1956’s The Bad Seed and on through Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen in the 1960s and ’70s, seemed to represent the repressed anxiety of post-baby boomer America. In The Exorcist, this terror gurgles up at the speed of projectile pea soup. In William Friedkin’s proto-blockbuster, the anxiety toward that most parochial duty of reproduction rears its ugly head and spins it around 360 degrees. The slow-burning subtlety of Rosemary’s Baby (or even The Omen) explodes in a gnarly spew of abject terror: a dovetailing of simmering suspense and exploitative shock encompassing most of what the horror film—as a genre, as a mode—is capable of accomplishing.  Semley

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

14

Repulsion (1965)

Repulsion remains a thrilling experiment in sang-Freud, its two-way prism of audio-visual embellishments intuiting a woman’s fractured psyche and catching super-cool flashes of the audience’s perverse cine-desires. A searing, clockwork synergy, the lucid sights and sounds of Carole’s world are conduits and conspirators of madness and pleasure. Roman Polanski’s triumph is a weird, tense depolarization of space, a chipping away at psychological walls so that fear and desire become synonymous. The film is like a slyly misanthropic theme-park ride for the sane—a satiric, disturbing approximation of insanity by way of a master-class mosaic of aural detail and visual sleights of hand.  Gonzalez

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

13

Vampyr (1932)

Even for Carl Theodor Dreyer, a film like Vampyr seems like a miracle, as much a result of a singular vision as happenstance. The disorienting effect of the film’s fluctuating perspectives and supernatural imagery is only heightened by a distinct schism rendered between sight and sound, itself common to many productions rooted in the transition from silents to talkies, and an all too appropriate quality for a work in which events unfold in separate, sometimes overlapping realms. Everyman Allan Grey’s journey into a nightmarish wonderland is a mesmerizing (and trailblazing) distillation of genre tropes, where shadowy forms permeate deep into the psyche to carry out their ethereal menace.  Humanick

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

12

Videodrome (1983)

“Just torture and murder: No character, no plot—I think it’s the future.” Predicting an entire cottage industry of torture porn, not to mention presaging an untold number of contemporary corporate conspiracies and government-surveillance controversies, David Cronenberg’s Videodrome fused a generation’s nascent fascination with the entertainment value of the perverse into a hallucinatory hybrid horror-thriller with vast cinematic and social intent. When James Woods’s underground television producer stumbles upon a sadistic network transmission, his attempts to co-opt the program leads to a procession of double-crosses and waking nightmares, the implications of which the character can never escape and which cinema has yet to reconcile.  Cronk

The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time

11

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now posits a question asked by many a horror film: Are things what they seem or not what they seem? But this moody tone poem provides a unique, disarmingly paradoxical answer that suggests both and neither are true. In many ways, this film about a husband and wife whose daughter dies in a tragic accident concerns the horror of mourning. A ghost story of sorts, it mines terror from grief and guilt, emotions that hang over the couple’s voyage to Italy like a thick fog. Roeg draws us into his characters’ anxious headspaces with recurring visual motifs—water, the color red, Christian iconography—and fluid editing techniques, evoking a temporally unencumbered sense of atmosphere that’s more nightmare than dream, and from which there feels like there’s no escape.  Hunt

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