It's a Horror Classic! - Part 2by billychess7 | created - 05 May 2012 | updated - 05 May 2012 | Public
They have become cults, unforgettable, they have the gift to be immortals. I could support the opinion that cinema is the descendant of dreams. At the same time, I believe that thrillers are the descendants of nightmares. Here I have collected the 100 horror movies I consider to be the scariest of all time. In this list you might see movies that are more of thrillers and not horror movies. Masterpieces like Se7en or The Silence of the Lambs can be found in police drama thrillers' lists, but here all the maniac serial killers are well welcomed. Science fiction films that cause fear are acceptable. Movies with monsters like King Kong are hardly here because I consider them more of fantasy films. Mystery films that are first of all thrillers have been also put. Sequels? No, only the mot characteristic movie of a series. Remakes? Of course! Sometimes the students get better than the teachers, after all...
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1. The Collector (1965)
Unrated | 119 min | Drama, Thriller
A man kidnaps a woman and holds her hostage just for the pleasure of having her there.
John Fowles's novel The Collector was written in the form of a dual diary, one kept by a kidnapper, the other by his victim. The film is told almost exclusively from the point of view of the former, a nerdish British bank clerk named Freddy Clegg (Terence Stamp). A neurotic recluse whose only pleasure is butterfly collecting, Clegg wins $200,000 in the British Football Pool. He purchases a huge country estate, fixes up its cellar with all the comforts of home, then kidnaps Miranda (Samantha Eggar), an art student whom he has worshipped from afar. The demented Clegg doesn't want ransom, nor does he want to rape the girl: he simply wants to "collect" her. She isn't keen on this, and tries several times to escape. After several weeks, Clegg and Miranda grow increasingly fond of one another, and Clegg promises to let her go. When time comes for the actual release, however, Clegg decides that Miranda hasn't completely come around to his way of thinking and changes his mind, leading to a further series of unfortunate events.
2. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
PG | 115 min | Drama, Mystery
During a rural summer picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind.
Votes: 27,547 | Gross: $0.08M
Peter Weir's haunting and evocative mystery is set in the Australia of 1900, a mystical place where the British have attempted to impose their Christian culture with such tweedy refinements as a girls' boarding school. After gauzily-photographed, nicely underplayed scenes of the girls' budding sexuality being restrained in Victorian corsets, the uptight headmistress (Rachel Roberts) takes them on a Valentine's Day picnic into the countryside, and several of the girls, led by the lovely Miranda (Anne Lambert) decide to explore a nearby volcanic rock formation. It's a desolate, primitive, vaguely menacing place, where one can almost feel the presence of ancient pagan spirits. Something -- and there is an unspoken but palpable emphasis on the inherent carnality of the place -- draws four of the girls to explore the rock. Three never return. No one ever finds out why. The repercussions for the school are tragic, and of course Roberts reacts with near-crazed anger, but what really happened? Weir gives enough clues to suggest any number of explanations, both physical and supernatural.
3. Scream (1996)
R | 111 min | Horror, Mystery
A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.
Votes: 241,987 | Gross: $103.05M
Scream is at once a slasher film and a tongue-in-cheek position paper on the "dead teenagers" movies of the late 1970s/early 1980s that plays as half-parody, half-tribute. Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is having a rough time lately: she's still getting over the brutal rape and murder of her mother a year ago, and now one of her friends (Drew Barrymore) has been killed by a lunatic who harassed her with terrifying phone calls, then stabbed her to death while wearing a Halloween costume. Soon Sydney is receiving similar phone calls, quizzing her on the arcane details of such films as Friday the 13th and Prom Night, and is attacked by the same cloaked maniac. With her father missing, she has hardly anyone on her side except her best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan) and Tatum's brother Dewey (David Arquette), a half-bright cop. As for the murderer, it could be any number of people: Syd's father; her cute but overly intense boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ullrich); Tatum's goofball boyfriend Stuart (Matthew Lillard); or Randy (Jamie Kennedy), who works at the local video store and seems to like horror movies just a little too much. Much like Halloween, Scream spawned a series of sequels and inspired a large number of similar films -- its original working title, Scary Movie, became the title of the 2000 parody film by Damon Wayans.
4. The Spiral Staircase (1946)
Approved | 83 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller
In 1916, a shadowy serial killer is targeting women with "afflictions"; one night during a thunderstorm, the mute Helen feels menaced.
The wonderfully suspenseful psychological drama Spiral Staircase is the prototype of the "old dark house, lady in distress" thriller, full of dark corners, flickering candles and featuring a mysterious, menacing killer whose true identity remains hidden until the end. Helen Capel (Dorothy McGuire), mute because of a childhood trauma, cares for the owner of the house, the wealthy Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore), a demanding, widowed invalid. Helen has quietly fallen in love with one of Mrs. Warren's sons, Dr. Parry (Kent Smith), who she believes to be a gentle and understanding man. Helen's peaceful life is changed forever when three local women, all with physical handicaps, are found murdered. The movie builds to a suspenseful conclusion as Helen finds herself in the midst of a life-and-death battle in the house, as the true identity of the murderer is revealed. Dorothy McGuire is exquisite as the innocent, sweet Helen and gives a totally convincing performance in the difficult role. She uses her expressive face to perfectly convey Helen's emotions, fear and ultimate bravery. Ethel Barrymore won an Academy Award nomination for her performance as Mrs. Warren and plays the difficult "Grande Dame" with great relish. Director Robert Siodmak, noted for his stylish direction of atmospheric suspense films, uses all his plot devices with great skill and craftsmanship, increasing the suspense and sense of foreboding as Helen is observed through the eyes of her stalker, who the audience sees only as a pair of menacing eyes.
5. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
Approved | 80 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson investigate the legend of a supernatural hound, a beast that may be stalking a young heir on the fog-shrouded moorland that makes up his estate.
Though it takes a few liberties with the Arthur Conan Doyle original -- not the least of which is turning Sherlock Holmes into the second lead -- The Hound of the Baskervilles ranks as one of the best screen versions of this oft-told tale. After learning the history of the Baskerville curse from the hirsute Dr. Mortimer (Lionel Atwill), Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) takes upon himself the responsibility of protecting sole heir Henry Baskerville (top-billed Richard Greene) from suffering the same fate as his ancestors: a horrible death at the fangs of the huge hound of Grimpen Moor. Unable to head to Baskerville mansion immediately, Holmes sends his colleague Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) to act as his surrogate. What Watson doesn't know is that Holmes, donning several clever disguises, is closely monitoring the activities of everyone in and around the estate. Meanwhile, young Henry falls in love with Beryl Stapleton (Wendy Barrie), sister of the effusively friendly John Stapleton (Morton Lowry). Holmes and Watson compare notes, a red herring character (John Carradine) is eliminated, Henry Baskerville is nearly torn to shreds by a huge hound, and the man behind the plot to kill Henry and claim the Baskerville riches for himself is revealed at the very last moment. The Hound of the Baskervilles "improves" upon the original with such embellishments as turning the villain's wife into his sister, and by interpolating a spooky séance sequence involving mystic Beryl Mercer. In other respects, it is doggedly (sorry!) faithful to Doyle, even allowing Holmes to bait the censor by asking Dr. Watson for "the needle" at fadeout time. A big hit in a year of big hits, The Hound of the Baskervilles firmly established Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as moviedom's definitive Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
6. The Howling (1981)
R | 91 min | Horror
After a bizarre and near fatal encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.
Votes: 25,109 | Gross: $17.99M
This groundbreaking, darkly comic horror film from director Joe Dante changed the look and feel of werewolf movies in ways light-years distant from Universal's horror classic The Wolf Man. The story begins with television reporter/anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace) taking part in a dangerous police operation intended to trap psychopath Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). When confronted by Eddie face to face, she witnesses something horrifying enough to trigger selective amnesia. Plagued by a series of violent nightmares, Karen decides to admit herself to a posh recovery resort known only as "The Colony," run by her eccentric New Age therapist, Dr. Waggner (Patrick MacNee), and brings along her husband, Bill (Christopher Stone), for support. The night after they arrive, Karen and Bill are unnerved by eerie howling in the woods.Back in the city, Karen's co-workers Chris (Dennis Dugan) and Terry (Belinda Balaski) have been investigating Eddie's background after discovering that his body has disappeared from the morgue. Sifting through Eddie's possessions, they find a strange collection of artwork depicting wolf-like creatures, and decide to consult with Walter Paisley (Dick Miller, of course), the owner of an occult bookshop, on werewolf lore. Though he claims not to believe in the stuff he's selling, Paisley nevertheless convinces Chris to purchase a handful of silver bullets...just in case.Back at the colony, Dr. Waggner has organized a hunting party after hearing Karen's account of the nocturnal howling, but the men find nothing but a rabbit, which Bill is told to bring to the cabin of the sultry Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks) to prepare for dinner. After resisting Marsha's less-than-subtle sexual overtures, Bill is attacked by a wolf while returning to his cabin. The following moonlit night, the sleepless Bill wanders outside to find Marsha waiting and the two make love by the campfire, their bodies undergoing a frightening transformation. Just as Karen is beginning to suspect that her husband is hiding a secret far more threatening than marital infidelity, Chris and Terry have come to realize -- too late, in Terry's case -- that Eddie Quist is not only still alive, but not quite human...and he knows he's being followed. Chris arrives at the colony too late to save Terry, but manages to find Karen just as the colony's residents -- all of whom are werewolves, including Dr. Waggner -- are assembling to decide her fate.Dante fills his film with heartfelt homages to The Wolf Man and other classic horror movies, as well as a few clever visual puns and in-jokes from his tenure with Roger Corman, but never strays from the path to genuine horror, particularly when Rob Bottin's chilling monsters are onscreen.
7. Hellraiser (1987)
R | 94 min | Horror, Thriller
An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover; the demonic cenobites are pursuing him after he escaped their sadomasochistic underworld.
Votes: 84,743 | Gross: $14.56M
The feature-film debut of multi-talented filmmaker Clive Barker, this grim and surreal project is based on the writer/director's own novella The Hell-Bound Heart. The film opens with a chilling prologue in which globe-trotting pervert Frank (Sean Chapman) -- a connoisseur of sexual depravity seeking the ultimate sensual experience -- purchases a small, intricate puzzle box from an unseen dealer in an unspecified country. Upon solving the puzzle, Frank opens the door to a hellish alternate universe and is promptly torn to ribbons by a network of hooks and chains; his strewn body parts are subsequently collected by the Cenobites -- grotesque, S & M-clad denizens of hell. The story continues several years later, when Frank's brother, Larry (Andrew Robinson), moves into Frank's abandoned house with his daughter, Kirsty (Ashley Laurence), and his new wife, Julia (Clare Higgins). An accident causes some of Larry's blood to spill on the attic floor, which somehow triggers Frank's hideous resurrection. His body only half-composed, Frank seeks the tacit assistance of Julia -- with whom he had once had a torrid sexual liaison -- in restoring him to human form. Still secretly in love with Frank, Julia assists him by seducing men from the town and bringing them back to the house so her undead lover can drain their bodies of blood. Her increasingly furtive behavior arouses the suspicions of Kirsty, who had already moved to an apartment to get away from her despised stepmother. After following Julia and her next potential victim home, Kirsty comes face to face with the still-incomplete Frank, narrowly escaping with her life...and with the puzzle box. After losing consciousness, Kirsty awakens in the hospital, where she manages to solve the box's intricate mechanism and summon a trio of Cenobites -- including their apparent leader (played by Doug Bradley and dubbed "Pinhead" on subsequent sequels) -- who are prepared to claim her. In desperation, Kirsty offers them a bargain in which they agree to spare her soul if she leads them to Frank. Kirsty soon returns home to find Julia with her father...whose behavior has become disturbingly unnatural. Realizing that her father has become Frank's latest victim -- and that her uncle is now walking around in his brother's skin -- Kirsty hands Frank over to the Cenobites, who have particularly evil plans for their old friend.
8. Freaks (1932)
Not Rated | 64 min | Drama, Horror
A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.
The genesis of MGM's Freaks was a magazine piece by Ted Robbins titled Spurs. The story involved a terrible revenge enacted by a mean-spirited circus midget upon his normal-sized wife. In adapting Spurs for the screen, writers Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Wolf, and Al Boasberg retained the circus setting and the little man-big woman wedding, all the while de-vilifying the midget and transforming the woman into the true "heavy" of the piece. German "little person" Harry Earles plays Hans, who falls in love with long-legged trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova). Discovering that Hans is heir to a fortune, Cleopatra inveigles him into a marriage, all the while planning to bump off her new husband and run away with brutish strongman Hercules (Henry Victor). What she doesn't reckon with is the code of honor among circus freaks: "offend one, offend them all." What set this film apart from director Tod Browning's earlier efforts was the fact that genuine circus and carnival sideshow performers were cast as the freaks: Harry Earles and his equally diminutive sister Daisy, Siamese twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, legless Johnny Eck, armless-legless Randian (who rolls cigarettes with his teeth), androgynous Josephine-Joseph, "pinheads" Schlitzie, Elvira, Jennie Lee Snow, and so on. Upon its initial release, Freaks was greeted with such revulsion from movie-house audiences that MGM spent the next 30 years distancing themselves as far from the project as possible. For many years available only in a truncated reissue version titled Nature's Mistakes, Freaks was eventually restored to its original release print.
9. Curse of the Demon (1957)
Approved | 95 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
American professor John Holden arrives in London for a parapsychology conference, only to find himself investigating the mysterious actions of Devil-worshiper Julian Karswell.
In this film, American Professor Dana Andrews investigates a devil-worshipping cult active in England. The cult has apparently been responsible for more than one death in recent months. When Andrews comes too close to the cult for comfort, the devil-worshipping leader slips a cursed parchment into Andrews' research files.
10. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Unrated | 93 min | Horror
A mad, disfigured composer seeks love with a lovely young opera singer.
Votes: 13,644 | Gross: $0.72M
Lon Chaney stars as Erik, the Phantom, in what is probably his most famous and certainly his most horrifying role. Produced by Universal, the film shot in 1923 and shelved for nearly two years, and was subjected to intensive studio tinkering. While many expected a disaster, the film turned out to be a rousing success. It was both the stepping off point for Chaney's run as a superstar at MGM and the prototype for the horror film cycle at Universal in the 1930s. The story concerns Erik, a much-feared fiend who haunts the Paris Opera House. Lurking around the damp, dank passages deep in the cellars of the theater, he secretly coaches understudy Christine Daae (Mary Philbin) to be an opera star. Through a startling sequence of terrors, including sending a giant chandelier crashing down on the opera patrons, the Phantom forces the lead soprano to withdraw from the opera, permitting Christine to step in. Luring Christine into his subterranean lair below the opera house, the Phantom confesses his love. But Christine is in love with Raoul de Chagny (Norman Kerry). The Phantom demands that Christine break off her relationship with Raoul before he'll allow her to return to the opera house stage. She agrees, but immediately upon her release from the Phantom's lair, she runs into the arms of Raoul and they plan to flee to England after her performance that night. The Phantom overhears their conversation and, during her performance, the Phantom kidnaps Christine, taking her to the depths of his dungeon. It is left to Raoul and Simon Buquet (Gibson Gowland), a secret service agent, to track down the Phantom and rescue Christine.
11. The Fly (1986)
R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.
Votes: 131,868 | Gross: $40.46M
Considered fairly gruesome in its day, the original 1958 The Fly looks like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood compared to this 1986 remake. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis star as Seth Brundle, a self-involved research scientist, and Veronica Quaife, a science-magazine reporter. Inviting Veronica to his lab, Seth prepares to demonstrate his "telepod," which can theoretically transfer matter through space. As they grow closer over the next few weeks, she inadvertently goads Seth into experimenting with human beings rather than inanimate objects. Seth himself enters the telepod, preparing to transmit himself through the ether -- but he doesn't know that he is sharing the telepod with a tiny housefly.
12. The Innocents (1961)
Not Rated | 100 min | Horror
A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.
In this lugubrious but brilliantly realized adaptation of Henry James' classic novella The Turn of the Screw, 19th century British governess Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) arrives at a bleak mansion to take care of Flora (Pamela Franklin) and Miles (Martin Stephens), the wealthy household's two children. Outwardly the children are little darlings, but the governess begins to feel that there's something unwholesome behind those beatific smiles. After several disturbing examples of the children's evil impulses, Miss Giddens gets information from the housekeeper (Megs Jenkins) that suggests that the children may be possessed by malign spirits -- or are all these events just the products of Miss Giddens's own imagination? The best and most frightening vignette in The Innocents occurs when the governess casually kisses young Miles, then recoils in horror when she realizes that someone other than Miles has kissed her back. Unlike many CinemaScope productions, The Innocents plays better in the claustrophobic confines of the TV screen.
13. Black Sunday (1960)
Not Rated | 87 min | Horror
A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way.
Generally considered to be the foremost example of Italian Gothic horror, this darkly atmospheric black-and-white chiller put director Mario Bava on the international map and made the bewitching Barbara Steele a star. Steele plays Princess Asa, a high priestess of Satan who is gruesomely executed in 1600s Moldavia by having a spiked mask hammered into her face. Before she dies, Asa vows revenge on the family who killed her and returns from the grave two centuries later to keep her promise. In a striking resurrection scene replete with bats, scorpions and fog, Asa rises from the tomb to claim her bloody vengeance. With vampires, bubbling flesh, dank crypts, undead servants and torch-bearing mobs, the plot is a little ripe, but the visuals are Bava's primary consideration. The atmosphere is so heavy and the imagery so dense that the film becomes nearly too rich in texture, but the sheer, ghastly beauty of it all is entrancing. Although this was only the second of Bava's twenty-six films as director, it is undoubtedly his best and the one upon which most of his considerable reputation rests.
14. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Passed | 98 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
Dr. Jekyll faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild with a potion that transforms him into the animalistic Mr. Hyde.
This first sound version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic morality tale starred Fredric March as the kindly, philanthropic Dr. Jekyll, who makes the fatal mistake of delving into secrets that Man Should Never Know. Fascinated with the notion that within each man lurk impulses for both Good and Evil, Jekyll develops a drug to release the wickedness in himself. The result: the lecherous, lycanthropic Mr. Hyde (one has to keep reminding oneself that the handsome, soft-spoken March plays both roles; small wonder that he won the Academy Award). Jekyll is the honorable suitor of the virtuous Muriel Carew (Rose Hobart), while Hyde is the brutish pursuer of the sluttish "Champagne Ivy" Pearson (Miriam Hopkins, as sexy as she'd ever be in films). It isn't long before the kindly Jekyll is unable to control the wicked Hyde, with tragic results. Director Rouben Mamoulian could often seem like the Brian De Palma of his time, showing off like a first-year film student instead of telling a story. But Mamoulian's excesses work beautifully in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, notably the dizzying first transformation scene (that heartbeat you hear on the soundtrack belongs to Mamoulian himself). Withdrawn from circulation when MGM refilmed the Stevenson novel in 1941, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde resurfaced in the early 1970s, albeit only in the heavily censored version prepared for the 1938 reissue. The current video version restores most of the missing scenes--including the famous opening reel, photographed from Jekyll's point of view with a subjective camera.
15. The Wolf Man (1941)
Approved | 70 min | Horror
A practical man returns to his homeland, is attacked by a creature of folklore, and infected with a horrific disease his disciplined mind tells him can not possibly exist.
"Even a man who is pure at heart/And says his prayers by night/May become a wolf when the wolf-bane blooms/And the moon is full and bright." Upon first hearing these words, Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney) dismisses them as childish folderol. After all, this is the 20th Century; how can a human being turn into a werewolf? Talbot soon learns how when he attempts to rescue Jenny Williams (Fay Helm) from a nocturnal attack by a wolf. Collapsing, Talbot discovers upon reviving that Jenny is dead-and, lying by her side, is not the body of a beast, but of a gypsy named Bela (Bela Lugosi). The son of fortune teller Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya), Bela was a lycanthrope, or "wolf man." And now that he has been bitten by Bela, Talbot is cursed to suffer the torments of the damned whenever the moon is full. Arguably the best of the "original" Universal horrors (original in the sense that it was not based on an existing literary property, a la Frankenstein, Dracula and The Invisible Man), The Wolf Man boasts one of the most stellar casts ever to grace a "B" picture: Lon Chaney Jr., Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy, Warren William, Patric Knowles, Maria Ouspenskaya and Bela Lugosi. The man-to-wolf transformation sequences -- one of which took a full 24 hours to film -- are thoroughly convincing, thanks to the cosmetic genius of Jack P. Pierce (Chaney had wanted to emulate his father by developing his own werewolf makeup, but existing union rules would not permit this). Alas, after this powerhouse opening volley, the Wolf Man character was relegated to a series of cheap sequels, teaming him with other Universal shock stars: Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943), House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945). The final ignominy was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1945), in which Lawrence Talbot (Chaney again), having been cured of lycanthropy in House of Dracula, reverts to his werewolf status -- and has to endure the one-liners of Lou Costello to boot!
16. Mother Joan of the Angels (1961)
110 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
A priest is sent to a small parish in the Polish countryside which is believed to be under demonic possession and there he finds his own temptations awaiting.
A Mother superior in a 17th-century convent finds herself possessed by the Devil in this Polish drama set in a convent of Ursuline nuns. Several attempts are made to exorcise the demon. While four priests attempt to banish the spirit, two more are burned at the stake for impregnating her. All but one of the other nuns allow Satan's minions to enter their bodies. An extremely devout priest uses every power at his disposal to exorcise them. But even self-flagellation cannot stop them. In desperation, the priest consults an aged rabbi who suggests that the "demons" are really manifestations of human nature. The priest then finds himself becoming possessed by the Mother Superior. Suddenly he desires her body and soul. To prove his desire, he murders two stable grooms. He then encounters the one unpossessed nun who has just spent a night of lovemaking with an aristocrat who has since tossed her out. She is terribly upset and the priest advises her to go back to the convent and tell the Mother Superior of the lecherous man's misdeeds.
17. Five Million Years to Earth (1967)
Approved | 97 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A mysterious artifact is unearthed in London, and famous scientist Bernard Quatermass is called into to divine its origins and explain its strange effects on people.
Nigel Kneale's Quatermass TV series spawned a brief film series produced over an eleven-year period; 1967's Quatermass and the Pit, released in the US as Five Million Years to Earth, was the third and (until 1979's Quatermass Conclusion) last of the features. As with previous chapters in the Kneale saga, the film begins with a baffling scientific discovery. This time it's an alien ship, alive after 5,000,000 years, discovered during the excavation of a new subway line. The craft is able to cause psychic disturbances in individuals genetically connected to the machine; it also prompts them to see dead Martians as ghostly entitites nearby. In time, conclusions drawn from these events lead scientists to shocking conclusions about the origins of the human race.
18. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Unrated | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Horror
Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
Votes: 97,174 | Gross: $5.10M
Director George A. Romero's epic sequel to his legendary Night of the Living Dead has firmly established itself as the equal of its ground-breaking predecessor. Though shot in 1978 -- ten years after the first films' release -- Dawn's story begins as if the events in Night had happened only a few months before: after shambling armies of the recently-dead take over every major city -- seeking warm human flesh for food -- the U.S. government imposes a state of martial law, sending in special National Guard units to attack and destroy zombie infestation where they find it. Two members of one such unit, Peter (Ken Foree) and Roger (Scott Reiniger) have been tasked to overthrow a nest of zombies in a Pittsburgh housing project (one of the film's most explicitly gory scenes). When the job turns ugly and Peter is forced to terminate his own berserk, racist commanding officer, the pair decide to split the outfit with the help of his friend Stephen (David Emge), a traffic pilot for WGON-TV, and the station's floor manager, Stephen's girlfriend Frances (Gaylen Ross). Together they steal the station's helicopter and head for less-populated areas, but after some narrow scrapes with flesh-hungry redneck ghouls in the country outside Harrisburg, they opt for a more secure hideout. Eventually they find the perfect solution: a massive, sprawling shopping mall. After the lengthy process of purging the building of zombies is complete, the four secure themselves snugly in the miniature city, consigned to live out their lives in a dull but cushy consumer's paradise... but the arrival of a menacing gang of nomadic bikers proves that this is not to be. With their survival instincts weakened by a mallful of toys and trinkets, the crew are again forced to face grim reality as they face both living and undead foes in a final battle. Romero's excellent, multi-layered story combines high-adventure heroics, three-dimensional characters and explicit gore (by the always masterful Tom Savini, who plays a small role as a leering biker) to excellent effect. The subtext comparing the glassy-eyed behavior patterns of the ghouls to those of American consumers is clear, but not overdone: "It's some kind of instinct," Stephen comments, observing the zombies' attraction to the mall; "This was an important place in their lives." Despite the glimmer of hope offered by the film's closing scene, the outlook for humankind is grim. Perhaps it is Frannie who best expresses Dawn's outlook for humanity: "We're not gonna make it, are we?" Several versions of this film are available on video, including a faster-paced European version edited by overseas distributor Dario Argento and a "Director's Cut" with a great deal of exposition restored (though Romero is quoted as having preferred the unrated cut released initially to U.S. theaters). The shooting script also contains a more downbeat ending, which was never filmed.
19. The Haunting (1963)
Approved | 112 min | Horror
A scientist doing research on the paranormal invites two women to a haunted mansion. One of the participants soon starts losing her mind.
Votes: 28,798 | Gross: $2.62M
One of the most highly regarded haunted house films ever produced, Robert Wise's The Haunting (based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House) weaves the dark tale of a questionably sane young woman and a sinister house which holds a terrifying past. Invited to join anthropologist Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson), ESP expert Theodora (Claire Bloom), and probable heir to the estate Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn) in order to dispel the near mythical tales that surround the house, unstable Eleanor Vance (Julie Harris) agrees to spend a few nights in the house following the death of her mother. As they slowly begin to discover, the horrific and seemingly unbelievable tales may hold more truth than the skeptical guests might have previously expected. With a seemingly unstoppable supernatural force lurking in every shadow, the probability of anyone escaping the evil clutch of the cursed mansion seems increasingly remote.
20. Horror of Dracula (1958)
Approved | 82 min | Horror
Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire's castle under false pretenses.
This Hammer Studios classic is far closer to the letter (and spirit) of the Bram Stoker novel than the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula. The premise finds the infamous count journeying from his native Transylvania to England, where he takes a headfirst plunge into the London nightlife, and begins to rack up victim after victim. In the process, Dracula also runs into his arch-nemesis, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), which ignites a battle of wills between the two. Heavily censored in Britain when released (with the goriest moments truncated), this outing was restored by the BFI in the mid-late 2000s. It put Lee and Cushing on the map and paved the way for many sequels starring the two, and for many non-Dracula follow-ups with these actors as well.
21. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Unrated | 67 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
Hypnotist Dr. Caligari uses a somnambulist, Cesare, to commit murders.
In one of the most influential films of the silent era, Werner Krauss plays the title character, a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare (Conrad Veidt). In one tiny German town, a series of murders coincides with Caligari's visit. When the best friend of hero Francis (Friedrich Feher) is killed, the deed seems to be the outgrowth of a romantic rivalry over the hand of the lovely Jane (Lil Dagover). Francis suspects Caligari, but he is ignored by the police. Investigating on his own, Francis seemingly discovers that Caligari has been ordering the somnambulist to commit the murders, but the story eventually takes a more surprising direction. Caligari's Expressionist style ultimately led to the dark shadows and sharp angles of the film noir urban crime dramas of the 1940s, many of which were directed by such German émigrés as Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak.
22. Suspiria (1977)
Not Rated | 92 min | Horror
A newcomer to a prestigious ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amidst a series of grisly murders.
A candy-colored nightmare from Italian terror maestro Dario Argento, Suspiria weaves a menacing tale of witchcraft as a fairy tale gone horribly awry. From the moment she arrives in Freiberg, Germany, to attend the prestigious Tans Academy, American ballet-dancer Suzy Banyon (Jessica Harper) senses that something horribly evil lurks within the walls of the age-old institution. Ill at ease as the result of her fellow student's peculiar behavior and increasingly terrified following a series of gruesome and spectacular murders, Suzy slowly begins to unravel the dark history of the academy. Convinced that the occult roots of the school and the horrific tale of its founding mother may hold an unthinkable secret, she begins a hallucinatory journey into the black heart of one of the most powerful witches ever known to exist. As Suzy edges ever closer to a secret that may hold the answers to all of her nightmares, the coven's grip on her soul begins to tighten until there is seemingly no escape. Will Suzy solve the mystery of the cursed academy before the fearsome Black Queen consumes her, or will she finally reveal the secret that has forever haunted the lavish corridors of the academy and bring an end to the Black Queen's terrifying reign?
23. Onibaba (1964)
Unrated | 103 min | Drama, Horror
Two women kill samurai and sell their belongings for a living. While one of them is having an affair with their neighbor, the other woman meets a mysterious samurai wearing a bizarre mask.
A landmark in fantasy cinema, this lyrical ghost story is set in medieval Japan amid a bloody conflict between rival fiefdoms. While the warrior Kichi's impoverished wife (Jitsuko Yoshimura) and mother (Nobuko Otowa) wait for his return from battle, they maintain a humble existence by luring lost soldiers into the surrounding fields of tall grass and murdering them in order to sell their armor and weapons for food; the bodies are then disposed of in a deep cavern. After learning that her son has been killed in battle, Otowa begins to concoct a scheme to frighten her daughter-in-law into staying at home with her indefinitely. After killing a soldier clad in a hideous demon mask -- which hides his grotesque, scarred face -- the mother dons the mask and succeeds in frightening Yoshimura away from her new lover's house. To her own horror, the mother quickly discovers that the mask is now securely stuck to her face, and her attempts to remove it culminate in the greatest horror of all. Fraught with sexual tension, nefarious schemes, and Freudian symbolism, this compelling masterpiece, by turns hypnotically beautiful and shockingly brutal, represents the finest in horror filmmaking, driven by powerful imagery and aided by sumptuous black-and-white photography.
24. The Uninvited (1944)
Not Rated | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.
The Uninvited is one of the rare Hollywood ghost stories that does not cop out with a "logical" ending. In fact, the film has more in common with British ghost tales of the period, in that the characters calmly accept spectral visitations as though they were everyday occurrences. Roderick Fitzgerald (Ray Milland) and his sister, Pamela (Ruth Hussey), buy a house on the Cornish seacoast, never suspecting that it is a "bad" house, subject to haunting. Before long, Roderick and Pamela are visited by Stella Meredith (Gail Russell), whose late mother, it is said, is the house ghost. It is further supposed that the ghost means to do Stella harm. Stella's grandfather Commander Beech (Donald Crisp) is close-mouthed on the issue, but it is clear he knows something that he isn't telling. Sure enough, there is a secret to the manor: it is inhabited by not one but two ghosts, one of whom is merely trying to shield Stella from harm. Once the film's deep dark secret is revealed (courtesy of a virtuoso "mad speech" by supporting actress Cornelia Otis Skinner), Roderick is able to single-handedly exorcise the estate and claim Stella as his bride. Based on the novel by Dorothy Macardle (with a few uncredited "lifts" from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca), The Uninvited remains one of the spookiest "old dark house" films ever made, even after years of inundation by computer-generated special effects. Less effective was the 1945 sequel, The Unseen, which starts well but degenerates into a substandard murder mystery.
25. Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Not Rated | 70 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
An obsessed scientist conducts profane experiments in evolution, eventually establishing himself as the self-styled demigod to a race of mutated, half-human abominations.
This first film version of H.G. Wells' Island of Dr. Moreau stars Charles Laughton as Dr.Moreau, a dedicated but sadly misguided scientist who rules the roost on a remote island. Shipwrecked sailor Edward Parker Richard Arlen finds himself on Moreau's island, agreeing to stick around until another boat can come along and take him home. But that's not quite what Moreau has in mind: he'd rather Parker stay on the island and marry the exotic Lota (Kathleen Burke), who curiously possesses the characteristics of the panther. In fact, all the island's natives seem more animal than human, especially the hirsute Bela Lugosi. And why not? They are animals who've been transformed by Moreau into humanlike creatures via surgery. Moreau's plans to mate Parker and Lota are complicated by the arrival of Parker's fiancee Leila Hyams, who has been brought to the island by ship's captain Stanley Fields, one of Moreau's flunkies. When Moreau kills Fields for this insubordination, he makes the mistake of breaking one of the rules he himself has imposed on the island: That no creature shall kill another. Island of Lost Souls does its job of inducing goosebumps so well that one can forgive the cherubic excesses of Charles Laughton in his portrayal of Dr. Moreau. The film would be remade under Wells' original title in 1978, with Burt Lancaster in the Laughton role.