THE CONJURING 2 (2016)
The Conjuring 2 can’t help but lose a bit of its predecessor’s chilly sting through familiarity, but what remains is still a superior ghost story told with spine-tingling skill.
Synopsis: Reprising their roles, Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga (“Up In the Air,” TV’s “Bates Motel”) and Patrick Wilson (the “Insidious” films),…
Starring:Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor (II) , Madison Wolfe
Directed By:James Wan
THE CONJURING (2013)
Well-crafted and gleefully creepy, The Conjuring ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares.
Synopsis: Before there was Amityville, there was Harrisville. “The Conjuring” tells the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson,Vera Farmiga)
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor
Directed By: James Wan
THE CRAFT (1996)
This cult classic, about four “weirdo” teenage girls (Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Robin Tunney) who cast spells on their peers, gets bonus points for perfectly encapsulating the prep-school-outcast aesthetic Catholic school girls would adopt for years to come.
SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET (2007)
This film adaptation of the 1979 musical stars Johnny Depp as a London barber who takes his razor to the necks of his clients as revenge against a judge (Alan Rickman) who wrongfully convicted him. Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs. Lovett, the cook who turns the barber’s victims into meat pies.
The Hills Have Eyes
Craven took his proven gift for shattering depictions of sadism and added a healthy dose of world-building. The Hills Have Eyes explores our innate fear of the outsider and the fallout (both figuratively and literally) of a society that turns a blind eye to the monsters it created, while continuing Craven’s meditations on the corrosive costs of violent action.
Final Destination, in its original incarnation, is an effective horror thriller with just enough self-aware humor. The story follows a group of teens (and one horribly ill-fated teacher) after they escape the fiery deaths that awaited them on flight 180. Thanks to the premonitions of the young, awkward Alex Browning (Devin Sawa), the band of teens exit the flight just before it explodes. And everyone who stepped off the plane with him, whether against their will or not, become the targets of death – an unembodied, relentless force that is constantly setting the wheels in motion for Rube Goldberg-esque death machinations.
Child’s PlayIn a stroke of twisted genius, the story follows a serial killer named Charles Lee Ray who is fatally shot by a homicide detective in Chicago. While that would be an okay start for a slasher film, the fact that his soul is transferred into a child’s doll really sets the foundation for the entire franchise. What follows is a tense, at times terrifying thriller in which the newly purchased doll comes to life and starts committing murder and mayhem while ordering around his new owner, Andy.
American Psycho is one of the greatest pieces of social satire in modern American history; a skewering takedown of preening Wall Street excess and self-indulgent vanity that lambasts the hollow wholesomeness of the 1980s with a derisive glare. Tongue ever in cheek, American Psycho centers on Christian Bale‘s Patrick Bateman, a wealthy and successful (but not the mostwealthy and successful) New York banking executive who presents a flawless facade by day and unleashes his homicidal side at night. Tormented by his own greed and insatiable desire for impossible-to-get reservations, the perfect business card, and the highest high-rise.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre revels in the reality that death does not have sympathy, it does not care who you are — strapping and strong, young and beautiful, good-natured, kind, weak, meek, abled or disabled — death comes for us all.
Emily Perkins (Brigitte) and Katharine Isabelle (Ginger) as the bonded but warring sisters dealing with two different sides of Ginger’s transformation, each deeply devoted to the sister they swore they’d never abandon, but equally torn apart by Ginger’s newfound affliction and desire to “tear everything to fucking pieces.
Ichabod Crane tale that dips its toe into witchcraft, legend, and even early American politics—albeit all with a slight wink
Clive Barker’s name has become synonymous with the horror genre, just as his first feature-length film Hellraiser has become a symbol for leather-wearing, sadomasochistic, pain-worshippers. Both descriptors are fitting, though there’s so much more to Barker’s original 1987 film than mere fetishism. There’s a deep mythology here, a rather original one that started with Barker’s novella “The Hellbound Heart” and was carried on in numerous sequel films, comic books, novels, video games, and more.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
This one is somewhat legendary in Halloween lore given its troubled production and unfinished nature. Extensive reshoots removed an entire third act sequence in which Dr. Loomis received the “Curse of Thorn” from Michael Myers, and the final film is filled with nonsensical stretches as a result of extensive editing. Perhaps the producers and director Joe Chappelle should’ve known better than to try and explain away Michael’s seemingly supernatural powers, but they went all in with this cult subplot that was so bad that subsequent films pretend it never existed in the first place. Nevertheless, the film remains pretty watchable thanks to a strange debut performance from Paul Rudd and a family drama subplot involving Marianne Hagan’s character that’s actually quite compelling.
Halloween: The Return of Michael Myers
Halloween III, producers staged a big return for everyone’s masked psychopath for the first Halloween film without John Carpenter or co-writer/producer Debra Hill’s involvement. The result is a sign of things to come: cheapened sequels that lean far too heavily on Donald Pleasance and threaten to ruin the mystery behind the Michael Myers myth.
Halloween: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Instead of taking the story to its natural next step—an evil Jamie—Michael’s niece is now simply a mute, troubled young girl plagued by visions of her uncle stalking and killing people. This is dumb. And the choice to make Jamie a mute, throwing herself into silent fits of terror, is an odd one that comes off more comedic than troubling/scary. It’s a boring film to boot, as Michael just moseys along while Jamie watches through her minds eye, then drags her adorable little hospital buddy/translator along to watch her uncle kill people.
THE AWAKENING (2012)
An author (Rebecca Hall) intent on debunking ghost stories is hired by a boarding school teacher (Dominic West) to probe reports of a ghost following the death of a student. Harry Potter‘s Imelda Staunton and Game of Thrones‘s Isaac Hempstead-Wright also star.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (1993)
If horror movies aren’t for you, get in the holiday spirit with The Nightmare Before Christmas, a Tim Burton stop-motion classic that explores what happens after the adorably creepy denizens of Halloween Town stumble upon Christmas.
THE EXORCIST (1973)
The Exorcist rides its supernatural theme to magical effect, with remarkable special effects and an eerie atmosphere, resulting in one of the scariest films of all time.
Synopsis: Novelist William Peter Blatty based his best-seller on the last known Catholic-sanctioned exorcism in the United States. Blatty transformed the…[More]
Starring: Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn
Directed By: William Friedkin
DON’T BREATHE (2016)
Don’t Breathe smartly twists its sturdy premise to offer a satisfyingly tense, chilling addition to the home invasion genre that’s all the more effective for its simplicity.
Synopsis: A trio of reckless thieves breaks into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they’ll get away with the…
Starring:Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Stephen Lang
Directed By:Fede Alvarez
CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)
In the small town of Gatlin, Nebraska, a devilish creature known as “He Who Walks Beyond the Rows” convinces the local children to massacre the adults in return for a bountiful harvest. Three years later, a young couple traveling through the area gets caught up in the bloodshed. Surprise: the film is based on a short story by Stephen King.
Annie thinks she’s found a nice guy in her new boyfriend, but after they have sex he reveals that he’s being stalked with an unnamed evil—which will now hunt her down until she can pass “it” onto the next person she sleeps with. The moody, retro-inspired horror film is a modern classic with an unsettling, unimaginable monster that our heroine must outsmart.
Six adventurous women go into the dark depths of a unmapped cave in North Carolina, hoping for a fun trek through the darkness. But their mountain vacation is disrupted when they discover that they aren’t the only ones in the cave, which also happens to be full of flesh-eating humanoid monsters who hunt them women down.
THE FLY (1986)
David Cronenberg combines his trademark affinity for gore and horror with strongly developed characters, making The Fly a surprisingly affecting tragedy.
Synopsis: Considered fairly gruesome in its day, the original 1958 The Fly looks like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood compared to this 1986.
Starring:Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel
Directed By:David Cronenberg
Elevated by standout performances from James Caan and Kathy Bates, this taut and frightening film is one of the best Stephen King adaptations to date.
Synopsis: Adapted from a Stephen King novel, Rob Reiner’s Misery cast James Caan as a writer at a career crossroads. The…
Starring:Kathy Bates, James Caan, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen
Directed By:Rob Reiner
Carrie is a horrifying look at supernatural powers, high school cruelty, and teen angst — and it brings us one of the most memorable and disturbing prom scenes in history.
Synopsis: This classic horror movie based on Stephen King’s first novel stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a shy, diffident teenager…
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, John Travolta, Amy Irving
Directed By: Brian DePalma
Scary, suspenseful, and viscerally thrilling, Halloween set the standard for modern horror films.
Synopsis: A young boy kills his sister on Halloween of 1963, and is sent to a mental hospital. 15 years later…
Starring:Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles
Directed By:John Carpenter
In Jennifer Kent’s gothic Australian thriller, a young widow is burdened with her troubled six-year-old son. But it only gets worse for the beleaguered mother when the titular character of her son’s picture book—the tall, top hat-wearing spook named the Babadook—begins to creep beyond the pages of his book and wreaks havoc on the mother and son.
A group of teens is stalked—and slowly picked off, one by one—by a masked and hooded killer who just happens to have an obsession with horror movies. Sure, it’s partially a postmodern satire of ’80s slasher movies with a crew of ’90s heartthrobs, but at its core Scream is still one of the scariest movies ever made thanks to the direction from horror master Wes Craven.
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS(1978)
Employing gritty camerawork and evocative sound effects, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a powerful remake that expands upon themes and ideas only lightly explored in the original.
Synopsis: In this elaborate remake of the 1956 horror classic, health inspector Donald Sutherland is dispatched to investigate the curious behavior…
Starring:Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Leonard Nimoy, Veronica Cartwright
Directed By:Philip Kaufman
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend…
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford
Directed By:Jordan Peele
A modern classic, Alien blends science fiction, horror and bleak poetry into a seamless whole.
Synopsis: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” A close encounter of the third kind becomes a Jaws-style nightmare when… [
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton
Directed By: Ridley Scott
ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968)
A frightening tale of Satanism and pregnancy that is even more disturbing than it sounds thanks to convincing and committed performances by Mia Farrow and Ruth Gordon.
Synopsis: In Roman Polanski’s first American film, adapted from Ira Levin’s horror bestseller, a young wife comes to believe that her.
Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Maurice Evans
Directed By: Roman Polanski
THE WAILING (GOKSUNG)(2016)
The Wailing delivers an atmospheric, cleverly constructed mystery whose supernatural thrills more than justify its imposing length.
Synopsis: The arrival of a mysterious stranger in a quiet rural village causes suspicion amongst the villagers- but as they begin…
Starring:Kwak Do-won, Jung-min HWANG, Jun Kunimura, Chun Woo-hee
Directed By:Hong-jin Na
Compelling, well-crafted storytelling and a judicious sense of terror ensure Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has remained a benchmark in the art of delivering modern blockbuster thrills.
Synopsis: Based on Peter Benchley’s best-selling novel, Steven Spielberg’s 1975 shark saga set the standard for the New Hollywood popcorn blockbuster..
Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
George A. Romero’s debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.
Synopsis: A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse….[More]
Starring:Judith O’Dea, Russell Streiner, Duane Jones, Keith Wayne
Directed By:George A. Romero
While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver.
Synopsis: Big-budget special effects, swiftly paced action, and a distinct feminist subtext from writer/director James Cameron turned what should have been…
Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser
Directed By:James Cameron
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
Let the Right One In reinvigorates the seemingly tired vampire genre by effectively mixing scares with intelligent storytelling.
Synopsis: A 12-year-old boy befriends a mysterious young girl whose appearance in town suspiciously coincides with a horrifying series of murders..
Starring:Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl
Directed By:Tomas Alfredson
EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN (1987)
Evil Dead 2’s increased special effects and slapstick-gore makes it as good — if not better — than the original.
Synopsis: This sequel is better, funnier, scarier and superior to the first indie gore-fest. Never before has there been such an…
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva
Directed By: Sam Raimi
THE WITCH (2016)
As thought-provoking as it is visually compelling, The Witch delivers a deeply unsettling exercise in slow-building horror that suggests great things for debuting writer-director Robert Eggers.
Synopsis: In this exquisitely made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively… [More]
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw
Directed By: Robert Eggers
THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods is an astonishing meta-feat, capable of being funny, strange, and scary — frequently all at the same time.
Synopsis: Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story,…
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz
Directed By: Drew Goddard
THE EVIL DEAD (1981)
This classic low budget horror film combines just the right amount of gore and black humor, giving The Evil Dead an equal amount of thrills and laughs.
Synopsis: This auspicious feature debut from Sam Raimi — shot on 16mm in the woods of Tennesse for around $350,000 –… [More]
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker, Hal Delrich
Directed By: Sam Raimi
10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)
Synopsis: A young woman wakes up after a terrible accident to find that she’s locked in a cellar with a doomsday…
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr., Bradley Cooper
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
Director Jonathan Demme’s smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
Synopsis: In this multiple Oscar-winning thriller, Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI’s training academy whose… [More]
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)
Critics Consensus: Sam Raimi returns to top form with Drag Me to Hell, a frightening, hilarious, delightfully campy thrill ride.
Synopsis: Evil Dead director Sam Raimi takes the helm for this “spook-a-blast” shocker about an ambitious L.A. loan officer who incurs…
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, David Paymer, Reggie Lee
Directed By: Sam Raimi
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
Wes Craven’s intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.
Synopsis: A group of teenagers are terrorized by “Freddy Krueger”, an evil being from another world who gets to his victims…
Starring: Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakely
Directed By: The late Wes Craven
SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004)
Shaun of the Dead cleverly balances scares and witty satire, making for a bloody good zombie movie with loads of wit.
Synopsis: It’s often said that the true character of a man is only revealed in times of dire crisis, and for…
Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis
Directed By: Edgar Wright
Wickedly funny and featuring plenty of gore, Zombieland is proof that the zombie subgenre is far from dead.
Synopsis: A cowardly shut-in named Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is forced to join up with a seasoned zombie slayer named Tallahassee (Woody…
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Well-acted and fiendishly frightening with an emotionally affecting story at its core, It amplifies the horror in Stephen King’s classic story without losing touch with its heart.
Synopsis: New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “IT,” directed by Andy Muschietti (“Mama”), is based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel…
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis
Directed By: Andy Muschietti
Smartly filmed, tightly scripted, and — most importantly — consistently frightening, Poltergeist is a modern horror classic.
Synopsis: With Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hopper, Steven Spielberg had his first great success as a producer. Released around the same… [More]
Starring: JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Beatrice Straight, Dominique Dunne
Directed By: Tobe Hooper
FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
Fright Night deftly combines thrills and humor in this ghostly tale about a man living next to a vampire.
Synopsis: Classic Vampire film about a teenager who learns that his next door neighbor is a vampire, and no one will…
Starring: Chris Sarandon, Roddy McDowall, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse
Directed By: Tom Holland
THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009)
Though its underlying themes are familiar, House of the Devil effectively sheds the loud and gory cliches of contemporary horror to deliver a tense, slowly building throwback to the fright flicks of decades past.
Synopsis: Sam is a pretty college sophomore, so desperate to earn some cash for a deposit on an apartment that she… [
Starring:Jocelin Donahue, Greta Gerwig, Mary Woronov, Tom Noonan
Directed By:Ti West
THE OMEN (1976)
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The young son of an American diplomat and his wife, living in London, turns out to be marked with the…
Starring:Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw
THE INVITATION (2016)
The Invitation makes brilliant use of its tension-rich premise to deliver a uniquely effective — and surprisingly clever — slow-building thriller.
Synopsis: In this taut psychological thriller by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Jennifer’s Body), the tension is palpable when Will (Logan Marshall-Green, Prometheus)..
Starring:Michiel Huisman, Logan Marshall-Green, John Carroll Lynch, Tammy Blanchard
Directed By:Karyn Kusama
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
Terrifying and funny in almost equal measure, John Landis’ horror-comedy crosses genres while introducing Rick Baker’s astounding make-up effects.
Synopsis: While wandering the English moors on vacation, college yanks David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) happen upon a quaint…
Starring: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine
Directed By: John Landis
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
Full of creepy campfire scares, mock-doc The Blair Witch Project keeps audiences in the dark about its titular villain — thus proving that imagination can be as scary as anything onscreen.
Synopsis: Combining Hi-8 video with black-and-white 16 mm film, this film presents a raw look at what can happen when college… [More]
Starring:Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard, Bob Griffith
Directed By:Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick