Halloween is coming near, which means this is a good time to enjoy some horror movies. And so, let’s check out the top 15 best horror movies of all time to date!
15. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead 1968 (directed by George A. Romero) is not simply “a zombie film,” in fact it kicked off a new take on the zombies we often see nowadays. The film took place at a farmhouse in a disastrous time when the dead did not stay dead. The zombie suddenly came back to life and viciously attacked the livings. And gradually, the nightmarish zombies kept on marching, forcing people to hide inside the farmhouse and defense themselves.
By today’s standard, Night of the Living Dead may look boring but back to the day; it was exactly this simple, yet terrifying depiction of zombies which still haunt people even now. Before Night of the Living Dead, zombie was depicted as a resurrected dead-body, controlled by the witch or shaman to do their bidding. Ever before people have seen such nightmare of zombies crawling out right near your neighborhood, and Night of the Living Dead successfully delivered and thus, inspired a new age of zombie-themed stories like The Walking Dead.
14. The Thing (1982)
The Thing (directed by John Carpenter) took place in Antarctica where a team of researcher explored a ruined base, yet all they found were a frozen body with his throat cut, a couple of burned remains, and a mysterious coffin-like block of ice. When they backed to their base, soon everyone realizes there is a murderous alien creature called The Thing roaming the area. Even worst, the creature is capable of taking the form of living entity killed by it. And so, the entire place was soon fall into chaos as its denizens had to do anything to protect themselves, even if they had to doubt their closest people.
This film can be a great example of a good movie, yet unfortunately arrived at the wrong time. First, the film was released only 2 weeks after Steven Spielberg‘s E.T.The Extra-Terrestrial. And second, the film’s gory nature and its alien theme were not well-received back in the 80s standard. The Thing was fascinating since it featured a great cast, along with great monster idea while featuring no CGI. There are quite a number of memorable and original moments, like Norris’s chest bursting scene.
13. A Quiet Place (2018)
What will happen if the world is infested with malicious monsters which will kill you if they hear you? That is exactly what happens in A Quiet Place (directed by John Krasinski). The film takes place days later after a mysterious event which pushed the world into chaos. It focuses on the life of Abbott family as they are trying to survive in a dangerous time when a single sound can lead to imminent death.
There are two greatest elements which make this film so incredible: the tension and the characters. The entirety of this film literally feels intense. There is always a great sense of danger since even the slightest error made by one member of the family, everything can fall into disaster. Then we have the characters: the acting throughout the film is so incredible, so terrific. Both actors, actresses, and the director John Krasinski (who also plays as the father) clearly know what they want to focus on. And this is probably the best thing: Characters make logical choices for most of the time, unlike many other horror movies in which characters tend to do extremely frustrating actions.
12. The Babadook (2014)
The Babadook (directed by Jennifer Kent) is an Australian horror movie which tells the story of a single-mom named Amelia (played by Essie Davis) and her son Samuel (played by Noah Wiseman) 6 years after the death of her husband. Due to the extreme distress, Amelia’s relationship with her son is not that great. Then things only get worse when Samuel is haunted by a mysterious creature “Babadook”, the same creature from the book “The Babadook” read by his mother.
Frankly speaking, The Babadook is a fascinating horror movie, yet maybe boring for certain audiences. The thing is: The Babadook seems to rely more on the psychological horror, rather than blatant jump-scare, slasher-type of horror like in many current horror movies. Essie Davis proven herself to be a fantastic actress with this film, her acting feels so real, so convincing that viewers can feel the mother character Amelia like a real character. Furthermore, despite having few jump-scare; The Babadook truly feels unsettling and disturbing. And most importantly, the film actually focuses a lot on depression and grief, and as the result, certain viewers may not feel this film scary at all. But for others who did experience such emotions, this film can definitely creep them out.
11. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a terrifying horror franchise; however, we will only focus on the very first movie which started all: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 (directed by Tobe Hooper). It tells story of a young girl named Sally Hardesty, her brother, and her three friends visiting her grandfather’s grave. But soon, they found out that there is a psychotic murderer living in this neighborhood. And so, Hardesty and her companions have to find a way out if they want to survive from this monstrosity “Leatherface.”
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 is often considered as the movie which started several common elements in slasher horror films, typically the trope of a large, hulking, faceless murderer using power tools to kill other people. Due to its violent nature, the film faced quite a difficult time in finding distributor. And even when the film was on air, it did not receive much positive takes, again due to the extreme violence.
10. A Nightmare on Elm’s Street (1984)
Yet again another famous slasher film, A Nightmare on Elm’s Street 1984 (directed by Wes Craven) is a classic horror movie which gives birth to the terrifying character Freddy Krueger. The story is rather simple. It is about a group of teenagers being haunted by a mysterious, disfigured killer who chase them down when they asleep. The teenagers have no clue about this killer, and as they gradually finds out more about his real identity as Freddy Krueger, the nightmare keeps on going, killing them one by one.
A Nightmare on Elm’s Street 1984 is also another slasher film which continued the common tropes in many other slasher horror movies. Freddy Krueger in particular is an interesting monster since he messes up with victims’ perception, so too the audiences. Nowadays, the film is highly praised for its fascinating shifting between dream and reality scenes, making the viewers confuse with what happens throughout the film, and that’s a good thing.
9. Alien (1979)
And here we are, the movie which started all: Alien (directed by Ridley Scott) in 1979. It tells a sci-fi horror story about a seven-member Nostromo’s crew awake from hibernation to respond to a distress signal from a nearby moon LV-426. While exploring the area, Executive Officer Kane (played by John Hurt) found a chamber containing hundreds of peculiar egg, and then ultimately knocked unconscious by a bizarre creature hugging his face. The team brought Kane onto the ship, only to find out that they have accidentally brought a disaster to themselves. And so, the team has to find a way to deal with this alien nightmare before it’s too late.
This film was such a big blast that it got tons of awards and recognitions like being ranked as one of the greatest films of all time by Empire magazine. This classic sci-fi horror movie also began the Alien franchise we have known and loved after all these years. It expanded to many other mediums, including novels, comic books, toys, and video games. And for those who would like relive the Alien nightmare of the original, we suggest the horror game Alien Isolation.
8. Suspiria (1977)
Before going any further, let’s remind us all that this is Suspiria movie of 1977, not its upcoming remake on October 26, 2018. The original 1977 Suspiria (directed by Dario Argento) was the first of The Three Mothers trilogy. It tells the story of Suzy Banyon, a young talented dancer who has just received invitation to the Tanz Dance Academy in Freiburg, Germany. Things seem to be normal at first, but then Banyon’s life will soon be messed up by the dark nature of the academy.
Suspiria has one of the most fascinating settings in horror-film genre. It features the gothic, authentic atmosphere of a traditional European architecture, while at the same time, puts in an unsettling feeling throughout the film. Overall, it is a harmonic, beautiful blend between aesthetic of the 19th-century romanticism and the gory, horrifying element of discovering the unknown.
7. Halloween (1978)
One of the best elements in John Carpenter’s movies is how incredible the atmosphere is. And Halloween 1978 is definitely one of the best examples for this. The film kicks off in 1963 in the Midwestern town of Haddonfield, Illinois, featuring Michael Myers, a young boy wearing clown costume who “accidentally” killed his sister by stabbing her with a kitchen knife. That was already a terrifying thing to think about by itself; however, his terror did not end there. 15 years later, Michael escapes the sanitarium and returns to his good ol’ town and once again starts his murdering streak.
Michael Myers, along with other members of slasher-film genre like Jason Voorhees or Leatherface, is among the most iconic villains in horror movies. It was praised for its brilliantly scary atmosphere. The film does strike a fearful emotion within viewers as they imagine “what if it also happens to us?” It may not be exaggerating to say that Halloween 1978 set the standard for horror films, especially the slasher films.
6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Pregnancy and childbirth-themed horror can be extremely terrifying, and Rosemary’s Baby (directed by Roman Polanski) is arguably the best psychological horror movie in presenting this idea. The film tells a story about a married couple Rosemary (played by Mia Farrow) and Guy (played by John Cassavetes) who have just moved into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment. Despite Guy being friendly with the neighborhood rather quickly, Rosemary feels concerned and suspicious about the place. Then one day she gets pregnant after a nightmare of being raped by an ominous figure. Later on, Rosemary gradually suffers more from her pain and distress, only to find out that there is a dark secret looming before her, including the baby she’s having.
As mentioned, Rosemary’s Baby took inspiration with pregnancy and childbirth, and even deeper, paranoia, Christianity, and the occult element. The best thing about this movie is how they transformed the realistic setting of Manhattan’s Dakota apartment building into the character’s greatest nightmare. The film received numerous positive reviews and it was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
5. Peeping Tom (1960)
This extremely creepy, disturbing psychological horror film is probably the best example of movie which came at the wrong time. Peeping Tom (directed by Michael Powell) tells the story of Mark Lewis (played by Carl Boehm), a cameraman, a pornographic pictures taker, an amateur documentary film-maker. So… he is just a guy who likes photography and filming then? Eh… no… The thing is: Lewis has a disturbing hobby of stalking women, kill them, and record the whole process.
As we mentioned, this movie is extremely disturbing because we, as the audiences, witness the stalker doing the work while unable to do anything but to feel afraid and scared for the victim. And yes, by the 60s’ standard, the film was heavily criticized due to its controversial subject and thus, it greatly damaged Michael Powell’s career. Luckily people have taken a different perspective to review this film and finally agreed that this was one of the best British films of all time.
4. The Shining (1980)
Horror stories written by Stephen King have always been a great source of inspirations for many movie directors. And thus, 1980 The Shining (directed by Stanley Kubrick) is probably the best example of a Stephen King’s nightmare coming to life. The film tells the story of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), an aspiring writer who is recovering from alcoholic, along with his wife Wendy Torrance (played by Shelley Duvall) and young son Danny Torrance (played by Danny Lloyd), who takes a job of caretaking the isolated historic Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies. However, the hotel has a history of violence and ultimately, something there corrupted Jack gradually and ultimately made him want to kill his family.
If we look at The Shining nowadays, we will see that it was mostly rated as one of the best horror movies of all time. Yet back to the day, it received quite lots of mixed reviews, partly due to its unsettling atmosphere and violent element throughout the film. It is extremely different to many standard horror films nowadays. It does not try to jump-scare people but rather, aim at provoking uneasy emotions within the audiences. Moreover, it is a peculiar horror film which does not rely on dark, closed areas but rather, large and surprisingly bright hotel environment. The film can have multiple interpretations and questions which do not necessary have a concrete answer (especially that peculiar ending with the 1921 ballroom picture). And nowadays we can still find tons of fascinating theories about the film, including the outrageous one. Nonetheless, The Shining is surely not a film for the faint of mind.
3. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Many people agree that Mads Mikkelsen’s acting as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal TV series is superb. But prior to Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter, we cannot forget the film which started it all: 1991 The Silence of the Lambs (directed by Jonathan Demme). The film starts with Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster), a star student of FBI academy who is in charge of interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played by Anthony Hopkins) – a brilliant psychiatrist yet imprisoned due to his history of murder and cannibalism. By interviewing Hannibal Lecter, Clarice and Jack Crawford (played by Scott Glenn) hoped that they will finally capture the infamous killer Buffalo Bill who kills young women and then removes their skin. But here’s the big question: “Is Clarice interviewing Hannibal Lecter? Or she is being ‘interviewed’ by him?”
The best thing about The Silence of the Lambs is none other than its antagonist – Hannibal Lecter. The film successfully crafted a horrifying monster in human flesh who can dig out the darkest memory of a man and manipulate them, ultimately making Hannibal Lecter one of the most terrifying “thing” among horror movies. Needless to say, the film is among the best films of all time, not just in horror genre, and it is one masterpiece you have to watch if you’re fan of psychological horror.
2. Psycho (1960)
Black and white films may no longer be appealing nowadays; however, Psycho – a horror movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960 wants to prove otherwise. The film tells the story of Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh), a young woman living in Phoenix, Arizona who is discontent with her current life, as well as her romance state. One day, she receives $40,000 in cash to be deposited in the bank, but her desire wants otherwise as she takes the money and decides to leave Phoenix one and for all. As she leaves the place, tiredness and uneasiness creep in, forcing her to take a rest at Bates Motel. Here she meets Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins), a cheerful, yet also fearful owner of the motel. Such a good motel with friendly owner… but that is only the beginning of a nightmare.
Psycho is huge blast back to the day and it has always been among the most influential horror films to date. Unlike many typical despicable, evil antagonists nowadays, Norman Bates is a rather charming, sympathetic character. Audiences feel like being close to him, but that is exactly what betrays their expectation as they find who this guy truly is. It provokes an insecure feeling within audiences with the idea that you may not know the true personality of the person closest to you… And on top of that, the film has quite lots of memorable moments, especially that “bathroom scene”.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
And finally we are here: The Exorcist (directed by William Friedkin) in 1973. It is a supernatural horror film which tells a story about a little girl named Regan (played by Linda Blair) and her mother Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn). For some reason, Regan begins to act weirdly and she tends to bother her mother, which leads to Chris’s decision of asking for help from a young priest Father Karras (played by Jason Miller). Father Karras finds out that Regan is actually possessed by a demon, a powerful one, and he needs help from Father Merrin (played by Max von Sydow), an exorcist. But can they defeat this demon as it keeps toying with them as well as the girl?
The Exorcist is considered to be among the scariest horror movies to date. It has an incredible storytelling; it fills with tension, fear, and painful experience and surely, it is not for the faint of heart. What we find so interesting about The Exorcist is the fact that its demon is not simply a demon. It represents an evil idea which lurks within mankind. It is the idea that haunts the people’s mind and as long as they cannot find a way to relieve it, the nightmare will never end.
And that’s it folks! Which one of these movies will you watch for the Halloween? Feel free to share with us and for now, thank you and stay tune for more news in the future!
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