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The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time
The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

20

Carrie (1976)

The definitive tale of a person who summons the courage to try and engage with the world around her, only to be terribly, terribly rebuffed. One of the most influential of American horror movies, Carrie was also director Brian De Palma’s most emotionally direct film up to that point, as it broke through the belabored gimmickry of his earlier work to pave the way for an astonishing career that remains under-heralded. Over 30 years after its release, Carrie still best encapsulates, more than any other movie before or since, one of the prevailing subtexts of nearly every horror film: the fear that your private, most horrible thoughts about yourself are entirely, inescapably true. Bowen

The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

19

Deep Red (1975)

Deep Red‘s nesting symbols have been planted with a delirious sense of emotional logic. The murder scenes complement and anticipate one another in myriad fashions, and are informed with a piercing loneliness that’s unusually disturbing and moving. In the film, when a woman is nearly drowned in a bathtub of scalding water, she collapses onto the floor and attempts to write the identity of her killer in condensed steam on a mirror. Dario Argento lingers, with rapturous calm, on the woman’s outstretched finger as she tries and fails to make this final clarifying gesture before dying. Worthy of Michelangelo Antonioni, this sequence has agonizing existential power, standing in for all the fruitless tasks that govern our lives as we gradually approach death. Bowen

The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

18

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Robert Wiene’s capstone of German Expressionism envisions the world as if it were created by an insane god, all jagged edges and precipitous landscapes. The artificial stylistics complement the nefarious motivations of a murderous physician who uses a somnambulist to do his lethal dirty work. Madness seems to engulf every distorted composition. Throughout The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, innocent characters are chased through a psychologically skewed nightmare that defies logic. Here, serial murder, mind control, desire, and brutality are all a means to an end, fully realized to appease the sadistic urges of a monster posing as a man. Heath

The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

17

Eraserhead (1977)

Despite never indulging in outright horror, it’s no surprise to find David Lynch’s name on this list nearly as much as more traditionally inclined genre filmmakers, so disquieting is his imagery, so unnerving his thematic spectrum. And Lynch’s debut film, Eraserhead, may be his most disarming, disturbing, and unforgettable experiment in a career that’s only grown stranger. Pieced together over a period of years, the film is nonetheless a lucid nightmare, following Jack Nance’s meek protagonist on a transformative odyssey, both emotionally and physically, through an industrial wasteland which recycles souls and collapses time and space into a slipstream of subconscious guilt and longing. Heaven’s never felt so enticing. Cronk

The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

16

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

For Frankenstein‘s sequel, James Whale turned up the dial on the extravagantly expressionistic set designs and sly sense of black humor. Especially notable in a storyline that more or less picks right up where the first film concluded is the addition of a prologue featuring a tale-spinning Mary Shelley (played by the Bride herself, Elsa Lanchester) and Ernst Thesinger’s mad, Mephistophelean Dr. Pretorius, who seduces Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) back into the laboratory by dangling the prospect of unnatural knowledge before him. Whale isn’t ashamed to plumb for pathos either (witness the scene where Boris Karloff’s Monster sheds a tear), when he isn’t waxing macabrely poetic with the Monster’s final summation: “We belong dead.” Wilkins

The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

15

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 Movies of All Time

14

Vampyr (1932)

Deepening and epitomizing Vampyr‘s mystery are prismatic compositions abounding in skulls, coffins, candles, paintings, and other gothic bric-a-brac, which merge with the striking architecture of faces and found buildings. These images are so loaded with stimulation that one feels rushed and overwhelmed, particularly considering the geometric dislocation. The soundtrack alludes to acts that remain unseen, such as the baying of wolves and crying of children, and plot points are frequently introduced and dropped. Carl Theodor Dreyer plummets the audience into a vortex in which conventional rules of play have been suspended. From top to bottom, the film refutes the myth of truth’s singularity. Bowen

The 100 Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

13

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 Movies of All Time

12

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 Movies of All Time

11

The Thing (1982)

For all of the Grand Guignol overload of its special effects, The Thing is first and foremost an atmospheric film, one predicated on the claustrophobia and paranoia generated by its remote Antarctic-base setting. It’s there that a scientific crew discovers, then falls prey to an alien that can assume the form of any living being it touches, forcing the men stationed at the base to question the true identities of those around them. This is fitting material for director John Carpenter, who ironically used his biggest budget to return to the kind of small-scale, inward-looking horror of Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween. But if the physical scope of the film is narrow, its tone is one of vast, cosmic terror, influenced in no small part by H.P. Lovecraft. Jake Cole

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