From Nosferatu to An American Werewolf in London with a little bit of Battle Royale and Invasion of the Body Snatchers thrown in for good measure, this is a selection of what could be the ten best horror movies of all time. Do you agree with this choice, or can you suggest something even scarier or bloodier?
Ten Best Horror Movies of All Time
Make sure you are not alone when you watch the ten best horror movies of all time.
Some of the best horror movies of all time
Most of us like to be scared, but only in the safe confines of a cinema or tucked up with a glass of beer and some popcorn at home. Whether at Hallowe’en or any dark, stormy night, the best way to achieve this is with a good, old-fashioned scary movie.
From the Nosferatu film in 1922 to more recent escapades as in the 2000 cult horror movie Ginger Snaps, there has been a wealth of good horror films over the years. Recent productions from the Far East too have inserted a welcome freshness into the genre, more is the pity that Hollywood feels the need to make poorer versions of them rather than releasing the originals.
There will doubtless be disagreements with the list below as everyone has their own favourite horror movies, but few could argue that these ten are among the best in the genre. They are listed in alphabetical order.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Jenny Agutter starred in this tongue-in-cheek werewolf drama that broke new grounds in special effects at the time with the change from human to werewolf – no more falling down behind the sofa and reappearing wearing a mask. Londoners objected to the lack of care taken in the geography of England’s capital city but that only detracted slightly from what was a great film.
Battle Royale (2000)
Each year, a class of schoolchildren is chosen to enter the game. They are taken to a remote island and fitted with a collar. They are told they have to kill each other and only if just one person survives will that person get to live, otherwise the collars round their necks will kill all the remaining children. This Japanese classic is unique if only for them having the nerve to produce this film. The result is a highly entertaining killing spree.
This adaptation of one of Stephen King’s early novels stars Sissy Spacek in the lead role as bullied teenager Carrie White who discovers she has psychic powers. She is also abused at home by her mother, who is a religious nutter. The film builds up to one of the best climaxes to a horror movie ever at the school prom. And even after that it still has a leap from your seats sting in its tail. Watch out too for a young John Travolta as Billy Nolan.
Ginger Snaps (2000)
This Canadian werewolf movie superimposes female puberty with the curse of the werewolf when Ginger (played by Katharine Isabelle), the older of two sisters, is attacked by a beast. Her sister Brigitte (played by Emily Perkins) comes to the rescue and then tries to help Ginger as she notices changes happening to her sister, some related to puberty others related to lycanthropy. Fun and horrific at the same time, it is one to watch, if only for an excellent performance by Mimi Rogers as the sisters’ mother Pamela.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Not to be confused with the poorer 1978 remake, this gripping tale is set in a small American town where the local doctor (played by Kevin McCarthy) is puzzled by people starting to doubt their loved ones are really who they say despite all evidence to the contrary. It turns out though the fears were justified as an alien race is systematically replacing people by replicas grown from plant-like pods. Many regarded this as an attack on communism, which maybe is true, but it is still a good film.
Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
This early vampire film was an unofficial adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with the names changed because they didn’t have the rights. Jonathan Harker, for example, becomes Thomas Hutter and Count Dracula becomes Count Orlok. In this German film, Orlok does not make other vampires but just kills. And this vampire, unlike many that followed, does not look in the slightest bit sexy.
The Japanese translation can also give this film the name Ringu, but this Japanese horror movie must not be confused with the much inferior US remake in 2002 called The Ring. The film is about a haunted videotape that anyone who watches will die within a week. It stars Nanako Matsushima, Miki Nakatani, Yuko Takeuchi and Hitomi Sato.
The Exorcist (1973)
One of the most controversial horror films ever, The Exorcist changed the nature of horror from that moment. Some councils in the UK, for example, banned their local cinemas from showing it. Based on a novel by William Peter Blatty, it tells the story of a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon and the resultant exorcism carried out by two priests. Despite its age, it still has the ability to scare and shock.
Kate Beckinsale stars in this battle between werewolves and vampires as Selene, a vampire whose job it is to hunt and kill werewolves. When she reports she’s discovered that the werewolves are more prevalent than thought, she is met by disbelief from the leading vampires. Her objectivity is confused when she finds herself falling in love with a werewolf. An interesting and compelling take on the history of vampirism and lycanthropy.
Village of the Dammed (1960)
Based on the novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, this a classic film that also suffered the indignity of having an inferior remake years later in 1995. When all the villagers fall asleep at the same time, the world knows something fishy is going on. Even more so when it is discovered all the females of child-bearing age are pregnant. The children who eventually emerge look very similar and have a telepathic link. A similar fate has happened to other villages around the world. A chilling film that will give you nightmares.
What is the Best Horror Movie?
The question of which is the best horror movie will always be one for debate. It could be one of the above, or maybe one of the many excellent films coming out of Asia. It could even be a spoof on existing horror movies, such as Scream. Hopefully, though, the best horror movie of all time will not yet have been made. That way, we all have something to look forward to.