Oct 282015
 

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The parameters of a horror film are often contentious. Some viewers may luxuriate in intense Zombie-eating gore, but go running for the exit when a character is stalked by a ghost. Identifying the most successful horror films is also an identifier of what frightens you as an individual, and everyone is different. For me – isolated settings and creepy noises almost always get me, as does the threat of intense unflinching violence.

There are a few films that would have made my list if I had opened up the range a little – Se7en, which I view as an (excellent) police-procedural thriller, and Shaun of the Dead, which is more of a comedy, are two examples. You may argue that The Silence of the Lambs and An American Werewolf in London fall into these respective categories, but I have included them because I value their horror elements more. If I were pressed I would file them under ‘horror’. Is Come and See a war film or horror? Most definitely a horror.

Then there are the sub-genres of horror – supernatural, psychological, monster, portrayals of true crime. Working out what the most successful examples of these sub-genres (and the genre as a whole) is very subjective. Two years ago I spent the better part of a year working through as many of the classic horror I had not yet seen. While I barely scratched the surface of what is out there, I put together a list I was proud of and felt was an educated assessment of the genre. Please find below an updated version of my ’50 Favourite Horror Films’, a list of sure-fire winners if you’re looking for quality suspense.

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1. The Shining (1980)

2. The Thing (1982)

3. The Wicker Man (1973)

4. The Exorcist (1973)

5. Alien (1979)

6. Jaws (1975)

7. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

8. Deep Red (1975)

9. Nosferatu  (1922)

10. Come and See (1985)

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11. Suspira (1977)

12. The Descent (2005)

13. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

14. Don’t Look Now (1973)

15. Peeping Tom (1960)

16. Under the Skin (2013)

17. Mulholland Drive (2001)

18. Audition (1999)

19. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

20. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

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21. Possession (1981)

22. Funny Games (1997)

23. Scream (1996)

24. Vampyr (1932)

25. 28 Days Later (2002)

26. The Innocents (1961)

27. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

28. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (1970)

29. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

30. Halloween (1978)

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31. Evil Dead 2 (1987)

32. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

33. The Birds (1963)

34. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

35. It Follows (2014)

36. Let the Right One In (2008)

37. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

38. Candyman (1992)

39. Tenebre (1982)

40. The Invisible Man (1933)

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41. The Fly (1986)

42. Videodrome (1983)

43. Re-Animator (1985)

44. The Vanishing (1988)

45. The Babadook (2014)

46. Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

47. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

48. Black Swan (2010)

49. Black Christmas (1974)

50. Tremors (1990)

What are some of your favourite Halloween go-to films? Did they make my list?

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