The Best Horror Films

1. "Psycho," 1960. Alfred Hitchcock's shocking masterpiece, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh, was revolutionary because it switched the emphasis of horror films from the supernatural to the psychological. Bernard Herrmann's moody score greatly enhances the terror. Perkins reprised his Norman Bates role in three sequels. They were interesting failures.

 

2. "The Bride of Frankenstein," 1935. Boris Karloff's Frankenstein monster is the most tragic figure in horror history. In this film, he tries to threaten his maker into creating a mate for him. In some ways, the effeminate Dr. Pretorious functions as a mate for the doctor, and gives the film a clever gay subtext. Better than the 1931 "Frankenstein" in every way. "Gods and Monsters," the biopic about the film's director, sheds some light on the making of the film. This film was brilliantly parodied in "Young Frankenstein."

 

3. "The Night of the Living Dead," 1968. George Romero's terrifying zombie film captures the authentic feel of a documentary and it inspired countless inferior imitations, including a terrible 1990 remake. The scene involving a zombie girl dispatching her dad is one of the most horrifying sequences in film history. Followed by the worthwhile "Dawn of the Dead" and disappointing "Day of the Dead." The anniversary edition adds newly shot footage, which dilutes and diminishes the film.

 

4-5. "Nosferatu the Vampyre," 1979 and "Nosferatu," 1922. F. W. Murnau's silent original makes great use of expressionistic lighting. Max Schreck is the repulsive and most pathetic vamp in film history. Werner Herzog's eerie remake leaves every other modern vampire film in the dust

 

6. "The Seventh Victim." 1943. Superb psychological horror film with some film noir elements about a woman who leaves school and goes to the big city to search for her missing sister. She finds out that the unstable sister has fallen in with a bunch of Satanists. She also becomes part of a love triangle with her traditionally handsome brother-in-law. This superb thriller was an important precursor of "Psycho" and "Rosemary's Baby," and it's one of the most fascinating and effective horror films ever. But the crowd (mostly Art Institute students) at the Gene Siskel Center didn't get it. They laughed loudly as if they were seeing "American Pie," and they almost sabotaged the film's eerie ambience. This film is part of a new and highly recommended Val Lewton box set

 

 

7-. "Rosemary's Baby," 1968. Roman Polanski's dark, funny. tale of the birth of a demon child has a clear, pro-feminist message. Stars Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.

 

8. "The Innocents," 1961. Classy, psychologically complex adaptation of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw," stars Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave.

 

9. "The Exorcist," 1973. William Friedkin's horrifying tale of demonic possession of the little girl (Linda Blair) has convincing makeup and terrific special effects. The restored version, released in 2000, adds some terrific scenes but they don't work in the context of the film.

 

10. "Freaks," 1932. Early horror-film master Tod Browning gathered a cast of real-life sideshow performers for this creepy film about a group of "freaks" who get revenge on the evil, attractive characters. Original version was severely cut in the U.S. and banned in Britain.

 

11. Onibaba, 1964. A pair of murderesses gets their comeuppance in 14 th century feudal Japan. Kaneto Shindo’s classic is not a supernatural film but it has many horror elements. The younger one falls for a man and the older one tries to scare her with a demon mask with disastrous results. A powerful and atmospheric commentary on the depths people will descent to in times of war.

 

12. "Jaws," 1975. I had to cover my eyes the first time I saw this well-acted, suspenseful thriller as a kid. Steven Spielberg directed Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss. It won three Oscars, but I liked it anyway.

 

13. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," 1932. Frederic March's performance as a brilliant doctor and his monstrous alter ego deservedly won an Oscar. The silent John Barrymore version and Spencer Tracey versions are also worth checking out.

 

14. "Alien, " 1979. Ridley Scott gets more mileage out of the Jaws in space concept than anyone thought possible. The basic visual concepts for the monster by Swiss surrealist, H. R. Giger are brilliant, and the mock pregnancy scene is one of the most horrific ever. The sequel, "Aliens" is even better but it is more of a sci-fi action film than a true horror film.

 

15. "Peeping Tom," 1960. This disturbing and arty horror film

caused such a scandal that it almost ended the career of its brilliant

director, Michael Powell.

 

16. "Frankenstein" 1931.James Whale's classic about a man-made monster is certainly less frightening than when it was first released, but it still works as a superb tragedy. Boris Karloff makes an expressive monster, and the under appreciated Colin Clive is outstanding as the maniacal mad doctor (Who could forget his "It's alive!!" rant?) Still it pales in comparison to its sequel "Bride of Frankenstein." One of the most horrifying scenes (involving the drowning of a blind girl) was initially cut then restored in 1987.

 

17. "The Blair Witch Project," 1999. This heavily improvised pseudo-documentary was the most realistic and memorable horror flick of the '90s. It features a great use of hand held camera and other cinema verite techniques.

 

18 "Repulsion," 1965. Roman Polanski's thriller about a sexually repressed young woman who knocks off all her perspective boyfriends. It is heavily influenced by "Psycho," and in some ways it almost matches the original. As always, Catherine Deneuve is exquisite and unforgettable in the lead.

 

19. "Carrie," 1976. Brian De Palma's stylish Stephen King adaptation includes a classic prom scene, which has been endlessly imitated. It has an early John Travolta appearance, from back when he was still cool. The sequel has some good moments too.

 

20. "Curse of the Demon," 1958. Jacques Tourneur created this riveting, masterfully orchestrated tale of supernatural suspense.

 

21. "The Bad Seed," 1956. Mom believes that her mom's murderous tendencies were passed on to her seemingly innocent nine-year-old daughter. Patty McCormick gives one of the most sinister performances in horror history. An important precursor to "Psycho."

 

22. "The Mummy," 1932. Karl Freund's expressionistic lighting and Boris Karloff's performance make this the only must-see mummy film. The more adventure oriented 1999 film with the same name seems juvenile and artless in comparison.

 

23. "Spirits of the Dead," 1969. Three excellent short adaptations of Poe stories by three respected European directors. Federico Fellini's episode, "Toby Dammit" is a surreal masterpiece.

 

24. "The Wicker Man", 1973- Christopher Lee gives his best performance as a mysterious leader of a pagan sect of this English classic. A big budget remake came out in 2006.

 

25. "Land of the Dead," 2005-George Romero’s zombie film is infinitely superior to your typical gore fest, and it is equal parts an art film and horror flick. It uses a post apocalyptic horror scenario to explore class warfare in America. The quasi-heroic zombies (representing the marginalized struggle against the rich villains (led by Dennis Hopper). A great antidote to the journalistic pro-elite propaganda.

 

26. "The Wolfman," 1941. Lon Chaney Jr. gained immortality with his role as the hapless werewolf, Larry Talbot, but Claude Rains and Evelyn Ankers also excel in supporting roles. As always, Jack Pierce's makeup is magnificent.

 

27. "Mr. Vampire," 1986. Chinese monk uses martial arts to battle hopping vampires in this inventive horror comedy, which spawned four sequels.

 

28. "Cat People", 1942. Jacques Tourneuer's thoughtful thriller is not especially terrifying but it is well acted and psychotically provocative. Simone Simon plays a woman who fears that she will fall prey to a mysterious curse that will turn her into a panther when she is aroused. Simone Simon is pure magic on-screen.

 

29. "Dawn of the Dead," 1979. Romero's eerie sequel to "Night of the Living Dead" adds shrewd social commentary to the mix. Since the zombies occupy a shopping mall, the film can be seen as a clever satire of consumerism. Changes in the MPAA code allowed Romero to make this much gorier than the original.

 

30. "The Last House on the Left," 1972. Wes Craven's most disturbing feature is a devastating revenge story about a couple that gets grisly vengeance on the villains that murdered their children. Based loosely on Igmar Bergman's "The Virgin Spring."

 

31. " Texas Chain Saw Massacre," 1974. Tobe Hooper creates a chilling nightmarish atmosphere without wallowing in excess gore. The sequels are worthless.

 

32. "Les Diaboliques” or "Diaboloque," 1955- A man's mistress and wife join forces against him in order to murder him. This suspenseful crime film has many horror elements and it was another precursor of "Psycho." The bathtub scene is particularly unforgettable. The sterile 1996 remake with Sharon Stone is infinitely inferior. In French with English sub-titles.

 

33. "Se7en 1995."-David Fincher's twisted thriller is scarier than most because it leaves so much to the imagination. Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt are excellent as two detectives that are tracking a moralistic serial killer. Spacey's performance is one of his best.

 

34-35. “The Evil Dead, “1981and "Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn," 1987. The original film is marvelously inventive and ingenuously combines many elements of classic horror films. The splatter comedy sequel is the only horror film that's equally influenced by George Romero's zombie films and the Three Stooges shorts. Followed by a second worthwhile sequel, "Army of Darkness," which was more of a heroic fantasy film than a horror film.

 

36. "The Night Stalker," 1972. Darren McGavin is terrific as Karl Kolchak, a cynical newsman who stumbles upon a vampire in a modern day Las Vegas. Film creates a marvelous sense of urban paranoia and expertly combines elements of the horror genre with film noir. The literate script was based on a story by Richard Matheson, a frequent contributor to "The Twilight Zone" series. At one point, this was the most watched made for TV film ever. Robert Aldrich fans take note: this film features an appearance by "Kiss Me Deadly" star, Ralph Meeker. The short lived but influential TV series that spun off from the film is available on DVD.

 

37. "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" 1962. This wonderful Gothic thriller benefits from terrifically hammy performances by Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

 

38. "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," 1990. Morally ambivalent portrayal of a killer is much more terrifying than the more acclaimed, "The Silence of the Lambs."

 

39. "Vampyr," 1932. Carl Dreyer's classic adaptation of the ultimate lesbian vampire text, "Carmilla," is as much of an art film as it is a horror flick. Creative camera work and lighting contribute immeasurably to the ambience of terror.

 

40-41. "Dracula," 1931 and "Dracula-Spanish version," 1931. Bela Lugosi played the role of his lifetime in this adaptation of the popular Dracula play. This somewhat dated classic has some haunting images and seems almost like a silent film. George Melford's Mexican version was shot on the same sets for a Mexican audience. It is slightly more modern and explicit but it features a less memorable vampire.

 

42. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," 1984. Robert Englund stars as a murdered killer who attacks his killer's children in their dreams. Former humanities professor was obviously inspired by Morpheus the dream deity when he came up with Freddy. Works well until the cop-out ending which was altered to allow for the possibility of a sequel. Surprisingly effective low budget thriller led to eight sequels (The forth film with a fine Patricia Arquette appearance is worth seeing) and a TV series. Features an early appearance by Johnny Depp. Heather Langencamp makes a gutsy adversary for Freddie.

 

 

43. "Son Of Frankenstein," 1939. Dr. Frankenstien's son (Basil Rathbone) wrong headededly attempts to rehabilitate his family name by taming the monster. Handsome well-mounted film benefits from a great Lionel Atwill performance as a police chief with an artificial hand. Rowland V. Lee's direction does not quite match James Whale's work on the first two Frankenstein flicks, but it comes close enough.

 

44. "Suspiria," 1977. Dario Argento's violent thriller is shot like an opera, complete with over-the-top music and exaggerated acting. Featuring the creepy and campy music of Goblin.

 

45. "Halloween," 1978. Well- made teen slasher film helped launch the careers of horror director, John Carpenter and former scream queen, Jamie Lee Curtis. "Halloween H20” in which Curtis reprises her role is the only one of the sequels worth seeing.

 

46. "Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary," 2003. Guy Maddin's astonishing film is a white, black, and red ballet version of "Dracula." A marvelous blend of horror, surrealism, expressionism and dance. It doesn't sound like it should work, but it does. Much more daring and avant-garde than "Bram Stoker's Dracula."

 

47. " Legend of Hell House, "1973. A dying millionaire hires a man to prove whether life exists after death. Adult and imaginative ghost film was a critical success and a box office flop.

 

48. "Re-Animator," 1985. Stuart Gordon's adaptation is not terribly faithful to H. P. Lovecraft's original story but it works fine as a splatter comedy. Gordon and the film's star, Jeffrey Combs worked together on several other low budget Lovecraft adaptations as well. Herbert West discovers a serum that revises the dead. Believe it or not the video version is toned down and less frightening.

 

49. "Habit," 1997. Chilling low budget vampire film about a young man who is either becoming a vampire or an alcoholic. It's up to you to decide. Director, Larry Fessenden went on the direct "The Wendigo" which was nearly as intriguing.

 

50. The Raven (1934), This creaky but atmospheric tale was suggested by the popular Poe poem. Bela Lugosi is a talented surgeon who worships Poe. He's also a sadist who loves torture. He saves the life of a beautiful young woman then he tries to force her into marriage. He also blackmails a deformed man into assisting him (Karloff who does a great variation on his Frankenstein monster routine.) The film isn’t very scary but Karloff evokes great sympathy. Director Lew Landers later went on to direct the mediocre, "Return of the Vampire" with Lugosi. One of the highlights is a weird sequence in which a woman dances to "The Raven" poem.

 

51. "Silence of the Lambs," 1991. Jonathan Demme's popular film about a charming cannibal serial killer was quite influential but it's also highly homophobic. Still, Anthony Hopkins does a fine job playing Hannibal Lector, one of the all-time great cinematic villains. This film has plenty of chills and thrills, but it did not deserve the best picture Oscar. The first Hannibal Lector film, "Manhunter" was just as good, but it probably does not qualify as a horror film. Someone once hilariously described this film as the "Masterpiece Theatre" version of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

 

52. "The Sixth Sense," 1999, Intelligent ghost story about a child psychologist who treats a young boy who sees dead people. Haley Joel Osment was brilliant as the boy, but Bruce Willis was unconvincing as the shrink. I kept expecting him to rescue someone from a building. More of a supernatural suspense story than a horror film but why quibble?

 

 

53. "The Birds," 1963. Alfred Hitchcock's claustrophobia inducing thriller about birds on the attack is not one of his best. Still, it features some heart pounding sequences and a great Bernard Hermann score. The scene in which the protagonists are trapped in a farmhouse was a big influence on "The Night of the Living Dead." Based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. Believe it or not the Oscar geniuses thought that "Cleopatra" had better special effects than "The Birds."

 

 

54. "Audition," 1999. Miike Takashi's gruesome and sadomasochistic horror film is about a shy businessman who falls for a mentally unstable woman who mysteriously disappears. The last 30 minutes of the film contains one of the most horrifying sequences, ever filmed, but the ending doesn't quite hold up. Available on DVD, in Japanese with English sub-titles at films/a/audition.shtml" http://www.insideout.co.uk/films/a/audition.shtml.

 

 

55. “Horror of Dracula,' 1958. This gets on the list mostly for Christopher Lee's top notch portrayal or Dracula. He was the most threatening, powerful, and aristocratic prince of darkness, and Cushing was perfectly cast as the fearless, noble Van Helshing. Released in Britain as “Dracula” and followed by six increasingly silly sequels.

 

 

56. "Kill Baby Kill," 1966. Suicide victims are found in a small Transylvanian town with gold coins in their hearts. The story is sometimes hard to follow but horror auteur, Mario Bava's direction is wonderfully over the top, gorgeous and highly stylized.

 

57. "The Devil Rides Out," 1968. Christopher Lee plays a man who wants to save his surrogate son from the clutches of a Satanic cult at all costs. Terrence Fisher proves he is a horror master and Lee plays a compelling and morally ambiguous hero. Richard Matheson's intriguing script was based on a novel by Dennis Wheatly. In the USA it was released as "The Devil's Bride" because they didn't want moviegoers to think it was a Western.

 

58. "Le Boucher,” 1970. Claude Chabrol’s shocking thriller is about a teacher who suspects her butcher boyfriend is a psychopathic killer that has been carving up the populace in a small French village. In French with English sub-titles.

 

59. “The Devil’s Rejects, 2005- Rob Zombie’s Tarantino influenced film is gory but great fun. It’s filled with dark humor, odd characters, and it plays like a splatter version of “Bonnie and Clyde.” The ending is tremendously effective.

 

60. "The Tenant," 1976. Great director, Roman Polanski in one of his few staring roles plays a timid clerk who moves into an apartment of a woman who committed suicide. He begins to act and talk likes the tenant and he begins to believe her spirit is possessing him.

 

 

61. "Sisters," 1973-Margot Kidder plays a woman with a twin who may be a murderess, but not everything is as it seems. Brian De Palma's homage to Psycho has stood the test of time and deservedly earned him the title of the new master of suspense.

 

62. “Mute Witness, 1994”- A mute makeup artist sees a real murder on the set of a horror film. This German/American/English/ Russian film has a unique international feel.

 

63. “Cemetery Man/Dellamorte Dellamorte," 1994-Ruprett Everett stars in a hilarious horror comedy and bout a cemetery worker that has trouble keeping the dead in the ground. Based on the Italian comic series Dylan Dog which has been reprinted in the US by Dark Horse comics.

 

64. "Martin, 1977"-George Romero's unusual Atheist horror flick is about a non-supernatural vamp who craves blood from women for sexual reasons.

 

65. “Kwaidan,” 1964-Classic horror anthology from Japan is poetic and atmospheric, but hard to follow at times. “In a Cup of Tea” about a man who seas a sinister face in his teacup is particularly brilliant and visually impressive. In Japanese with English sub-titles.

 

66. "High Tension,” 2004- A college student goes to visit her friend's family and a mysterious killer starts picking off the family one at a time. Mesmerizing horror film doesn't always add up but it is the most frightening film released in years. See the unrated French director's cut.

 

67. "Near Dark, 1987-A man falls for a vamp. After she bites him he has trouble blending in with her vamp family and adjusting to his new status. Unusual film is in equal parts a horror film, love story, and a western.

 

68. "Let's Scare Jessica to Death," 1971-Zohra Lambert gives a convincing performance as a recently released mental patient. She goes to relax in a small town and starts to see hints of supernatural forces aligning against her. This highly surreal horror flick has been extremely underrated and unjustly forgotten.

 

69. "Incubus," 1965- This camp classic features William Shatner as a pure man who is tempted by a sinister succubus who begins to fall for him. This was the only film shot in Esperanto and it was lost for 30 years.

 

70. "The Howling," 1981-Very clever and funny werewolf film is filled with in jokes. A beautiful reporter (Dee Wallace Stone) goes to a resort and discovers she is staying in a lycanthrope colony. “American Werewolf in London” from the same year is similarly enjoyable horror/comedy blend.

 

71 "Battle Royale," 2000-This chilling extreme Asian take on "The Most Dangerous Game" features high school students fighting each other to the death on a secluded island. Chiaki Kuriyama went on to play Go Go Yubari in "Kill Bill Vol. 1." In Japanese with English sub-titles.

 

72. “God Told Me To/Demon," 1976-A detective finds that an odd series of murders is tied to a Christ-like alien, Larry Cohen's disturbing and rewarding horror film has obvious ties to the Jim Jones and Charles Manson cases.

 

73. “The Eye/ Jian Gui, 2002,” A blind woman gets an eye transplant but her new eyes are a mixed blessing. They cause her to see spirits. The American remake (groan) is scheduled to be released in 2007.

 

74. "May," 1993. Haunting tale of an alienated young woman who has a sinister obsession with an evil looking doll. She reaches out for love and breaks down when she is rejected. This sophisticated and well acted film would make a great companion piece to two other disaffected teen flicks: "Ginger Snaps" and Donnie Darko."

 

75. “The Fly,” 1986-One of the few remakes that drastically improve on the original. Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum add a romantic dimension that was not present in the original, and director Dave Cronenberg makes the man's transformation into fly-man as a metaphor for the AIDs epidemic. The only thing I miss from the old version is the scene with the fly with a human head. Unlike many other filmmakers, body horror auteur Cronenberg always has an intellectual reason for the gore and or violence.

 

76.” The Devil’s Nightmare,”1971- Campy and Surreal horror film about a succubus (played by the comely and sinister Erica Blanc) that stalks the seven occupants in a creepy castle. The seven deadly sins motif reminded me of “Seven.” The film has a weird hypnotic power that makes me come back to it again and again. Also known as “The Devil Walks at Midnight” and “Succubus.”

 

 

77.” Return of the Living Dead,” 1985- Fast paced, amusing and campy horror comedy about a group of punk/new wave kids that encounter flesh-eating zombies. Featuring the quintessential performance by scream queen, Linnea Quigley as Trash. Great soundtrack includes horror themed rock songs by Rocky Erickson and The Cramps (you cannot beat “The Surf’in Dead.”

 

78. “The Whip and the Body,” 1963-Mario Bava's exquisitely lit and scored film is about a depraved family that fears one of its members is coming back as a ghost. Starring a very young Christopher Lee with a dubbed voice. Like many '60s horror flicks from Europe, this has strong S and M overtones. I bought it at a bargain store and it was the best dollar I ever spent.

 

79-80. “The Ring,” 2002 and “Ringu,” 1998- As always Naomi Watts is terrific as a reporter who finds that a string of murders are connected to a sinister video. The Japanese version is directed better, but the American one has better acting.

 

81. “The Masque of Red Death,” 1964- Roger Corman's stylish and effective adaptation of the famous Poe story features exquisite cinematography by  future great director, Nicolas Roeg plus performances by Jane Asher ('The Stone Tape'), Hazel Court (Hammer's 'Curse Of Frankenstein'), and Patrick Magee ('Dementia 13', 'A Clockwork Orange').

 

 

82. “The Haunting, " 1963. Julie Harris and Claire Bloom star in an influential tale of a group of people that gather at a haunted house. Both this film and the 1999 remake are based on a novel by Shirley ("The Lottery") Jackson. The 1999 remake has special effects that are more expensive and brings lesbianism into the mix, but it is otherwise mediocre.

 

83. “Junk,” 2000- Japanese director, Atsushi Muroga combines Tarantinoesque crime elements with a zombie story. The unforgettable fate of the zombie queen recalls the death of Priss in "Blade Runner." In Japanese with American sub-titles.

 

84. "Lair of the White Worm," 1988- An archeologist finds a strange snake like skull related to a still living snake queen. Amanda Donohue shines as a snake goddess. The heroes fight her with snake charming, swords, and a mongoose. Ken Russell camps up a novel by Bram Stoker. He worked again with Sammi Davis and Donohue on his adaptation of “The Rainbow" the nest year. Filled with puns and contains some of the wildest dream sequences since "The Devils.”

 

85. “The Devil Doll,” 1936-A prisoner on Devil’s Island shrinks people down to size to help carry out his evil plans in Todd Browning’s best post “Freaks” film.

 

86. "Dagon," 2002- Creepy, surreal, and atmospheric adaptation of an H. P, Lovecraft tale about a man who encounters a strange race of fish people.

 

87. Island of Lost Souls- The only watchable film version of Robert Lewis Stevenson features a delightfully hammy turn by Bela Lugosi.

 

88. "Dead-Alive," 1992. New Zealand made zombie flick about a boy who refuses to harm his flesh eating zombie mother. Film is filled with gore, dark humor, and some slapstick, but it also the script has some Freudian overtones. Director Peter Jackson definitely has a knack for presenting dynamic action scenes. He later went on the do the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

89. “Murders in the Zoo,” 1933-Lionel Atwill is a jealous zookeeper uses animals to kill men that show his attractive younger wife any attention. This still shocking film was made before the movie code came into effect.

 

90. “Poltergeist,” 1982- Ghosts kidnap a girl and her family goes through a terrifying ordeal to get her back. Tobe Hooper's  big budget film is as glossy  as a Speilberg film.

 

91. “The Ninth Gate,” 1999-Johnny Depp portays an occult book director who must triumph over evil obstacles to obtain a sacred text. Great set designs, fine performances and stylish direction by Roman Polanski salvage an anti-climatic script.

 

92. “ Angel Heart,” 1987-Stylish horror/noir features Mickey Rourke who gets in over his head when he is hired by a diabolical client, Louis Cypher (get it?) played by Robert De Niro who looks uncannily like Martin Scorsese. This controversial thriller contains a highly erotic sex scene involving Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet which was trimmed to avoid an NC17.

 

93. “Creepshow,” 1982-Five '50s style horror films do a good job of capturing primal fears. With a great cast of horror veterans such as The acting also finds the right note. Such veterans of horror as Hal (Rituals and The Fog) Holbrook, Adrienne (The Fog and Swamp Thing) Barbeau, and of course, E.G. Marshall of Mystery Theatre. The overacting is ideal for the material. George Romero's homage to horror comics is not a brilliant as the original EC comics that inspired it but it comes close.

 

94. “American Psycho,” 2000- Shark-like businessman's aggression carries over to his personal life when he slaughters people for fun in his leisure time. A clever satire of Reagan era Machiavellian business practices. Director Mary Harron keeps the social satire of the Bret Easton Ellis novel but she trims much of its pointless gore, which turns out to be the perfect approach. Christian Bale in an early pre "Batman: A Beginning" role is superb.

 

95. “Plague of the Zombies,” 1966-Moodily effective Hammer tale of a man who suspects that a villager is killing people to make them into zombies to work as slaves. Terrific photography and some tense scenes make this a keeper.

 

96. “Stir of Echoes,” 1999- Film about psychics and ghosts that stars Kevin Bacon (playing a "receiver") compares well to the similar "Sixth Sense" but it did not receive a fraction of the acclaim. Too bad. It also contains a great supporting performance by the tragically underrated, Illeana Douglas.

 

97. “Werewolf of London,” 1935-Despite weak makeup this film staring Henry Hull provided the basic template for the werewolf film, which was later improved and fleshed out in “The Wolfman.”

 

98. “The Hunger,’ 1982-In this MTV influenced film, the style is the content, and Catherine Deneuve (one of the best film actresses ever) makes a ravishing vamp. Her character’s willingness to do anything to stay young makes her a perfect metaphor for a Hollywood actress. At the time, the love scene between her and blood specialist (played by Susan Sarandon) was controversial. The early scene in the opening credits with Bauhaus doing "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a landmark in the history of Goth.

 

100. “Blacula, “1972. Dracula (he’s pro slave in the film) turns an African prince into a vampire. William Marschall’s turn in the main role, helps elevate this into high quality trash. The ultimate blaxploitation horror flick includes a hysterical disco scene. Followed by “Scream Blacula Scream" which featured a cameo by the blaxploitation goddess/icon Pam Grier.

 

Five Guilty Pleasures

 

“Plan 9 from Outer Space,” 1956. Ed Wood’s tour de force deals with aliens trying to resurrect the dead. How can anyone resist any film that includes Bela Lugosi, horror hostess Vampira, and Swedish wrestler, Tor Johnson? The clumsily inserted stock footage, bad dialog and implausible situations only add to the fun. Can be seen as either the worst horror film of the best unintentional comedy.

 

“Tromeo and Juliet,” 1997. This schocky splatterpunk desecration of the Shakespeare classic features tons of gore and slapstick humor. Decadent, disgusting, cheap and kind of fun.

 

“The Vampire Lovers (1970)” and “Lust for a Vampire (1971)” – The first film is a highly erotic retelling of “Carmilla” which started a trend of lesbian vampire films, which were at least partially a reaction against feminism. In the sequel “Lust,” a sexy reincarnation of Carmilla causes havoc at a girls’ school. The film has laugh inducing music during the romantic scenes and it is even fascinating when it is bad.

 

“Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman. 1972”,Werewolf travels to Europe to search a witch’s tomb. He finds that his female companion has been turned into a vampire and he clashes with her in his monster form. Paul Naschy was Spain’s preeminent horror film star. But his films arrived in America in butchered, badly dubbed and atrociously translated versions. Leon Kimovsky provides some incomparably eerie images. Also called “Bloodmoon.”

 

Best horror comedies

 

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstien

Adams Family Values

An American Werewolf in London

Bubba Ho Tep

A Bucket of Blood

The Fearless Vampire Killers

Ghost Busters

The Little Shop of Horrors

Shaun of the Dead

Young Frankenstein

 

Best Supernatural and Horror TV Shows

 

American Gothic

Angel

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Dark Shadows

Eerie Indiana

The Kingdom

One Step Beyond

Salem's Lot

The Twilight Zone

Tales from the Crypt

WORST HORROR FILMS: "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein;" "The Beyond;" "Curse of the Swamp Creature;" "Dracula vs. Frankenstein;" "Friday the 13th 3-D;" "I Spit on Your Grave;" " Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Next Generation;" "Pigs."

Buffs who want to find out more about films by the European horror masters might want to check out the excellent reference book, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s by Lawrence McCallum (see http://southsidecallbox.com/italian_horror.html.)

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