31 Horror Movies you must see!
It is Halloween Month, Shocktober, or whatever you’d like to call it. So I thought a list with 31 Horror Movies you need to see was a good idea. None of these are in any particular order. They’re not listed from worst to best or anything like that. They’re just movies that I think you should see that fall under the Horror Umbrella. They’re not all core horror films and sometimes they’re mixed up with other genres. Horror seldom stands on it’s own two feet anyway. There’s usually something else there as well. Did I miss something I should have included? Let me know in the comments!
Anatomy is a German flick that deals with a secret society in a university. But it’s not just a university, it’s also a medical school and… you guessed it. This secret order conducts human experiments. I have reviewed this here a while back. There is also a sequel.
Huset vid Vägens Ände aka The Cellar is a Swedish horror film I totally fell in love with when watching it for the first time. Later the film was extended with more scenes that made it even better. I have three or four different editions of this movie. And just now I realized that there’s still another edition that I don’t own. I feel like I need it! Anyway, this is a truly spooky horror flick from Sweden. And…I’m actually quoted on the cover of this one. They messed up the quote though so what I said was credited to someone else and I got their quote assigned to me. You can check out my review in Swedish here.
Fritt Vilt aka Cold Prey is a Norwegian horror film set in a snowy environment. It’s kind of a slasher and there are two sequels to it that I’m aware of. The first is heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The other two parts, not so much. I like them all but I have a special soft spot for the first one.
The Last House of the Left is a true horror classic. Although it’s not really a horror movie in that sense. It deals with hardened criminals that rape and kills for fun and the aftermath revenge of those actions. For me, this is one of the strongest movies of its kind out there and many other seems to have been modeled after this. David Hess, who plays the main villain becomes kind of synonymous with this part and there’s no way I can see him and not think about this movie. There are strong similarities with critically acclaimed director Ingar Bergmans’ The Virgin Springs. This one was directed by Wes Craven, later mostly known for the Elm Street and Scream movies.
Megan is Missing is a pretty disturbing movie about the disappearance of this girl – Megan. She involves herself in online chatting and is apparently abducted although a body is never found. It is kind of a found footage movie. But also filmed during the perspective of internet chats etc. I guess it is somewhat of a splitter among fans of the genre too. I’ve noticed that some people can’t stand it because it’s so slow and, according to them, badly acted. I didn’t have that problem at all and the final scenes are truly ghastly for me. I made a YouTube clip about it a few years ago here.
The Call of Cthulhu is a rare little gem. It’s a modern film, made in 2005 I believe but it’s made by enthusiasts as a silent movie. It might be the very best HP Lovecraft adaptation I’ve ever seen. Not fantastic as in terrifying, but the feel of it is just amazing. You can almost smell the old ones and the story is not of this world. If you know anything of HP Lovecraft you’ll understand. This is a modern masterpiece done old style and an absolute must-see!
You could argue that Cube is more of a science fiction than a horror film. And you might be right. You might also be right if you claim that all the existentialism associated with the movie is the product of someone overanalyzing the concept of the movie. Maybe it was just a low-budget science fiction horror movie that people wanted to find a deeper meaning with? Well, I certainly did and I adore this film. It kind of started the trend of movies where a group of people wake up in a strange environment and don’t know where they are, or show the other people are. There is an interpretational end to this and there are two sequels of sorts, one of them is even a prequel. That might not mean that anything gets explained more…
The Town that Dreaded Sundown might be more of a thriller than a horror flick. But on the other hand, it could also be considered an arch-slasher. It’s from 1976 so I’m sure there were other movies ahead of their time to be considered slashers. From Italy for sure. But classifications are sometimes hard. Can both The Toen the Dreaded Sundown and A Bay of Blood be considered slashers despite that they are not even similar? I certainly think so. The Town that Dreaded Sundown introduced the bag-over-the-head mask years before it came to hide Jason Voorhess face in Friday the 13th part 2. The story is based on reality which makes it a bit more interesting I think. A killer spreading fear and a killer that never was caught.
Cannibal Holocaust is another movie that can’t be said to be all horror. It’s a hybrid of several genres I think. But the bottom line and the objective of the movie is to terrify the audience. It’s about this documentary team that gets lost in the Amazon jungle I think. Their camera is then found, which makes part of Cannibal Holocaust another Found Footage movie. After seeing the movie you can argue if the horrifying experience found on the camera is what the savages did to the crew or what the crew did to the savages. In fact, who are the savages? The modern western man och the villagers in the jungle?
The Evil Dead was kind of a myth when I grew up. The version that was available to rent back then was heavily cut to pass the censorship legislation in Sweden. It was pointless to see those versions. So, I actually ended up seeing this much later and I wasn’t that impressed by it. I thought the gore would be better and the movie scarier. But in time I learned to appreciate it and I recognized it as a true classic and something that put cabins surrounded by evil demons on the map. It was not Sam Raimis’ first movie I think but it was the first in what would later become a trilogy. The following two parts, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness were more intational comedic while the first one wasn’t. But when seeing it again you can find the comedy in this one as well, but it’s mostly hidden under a genuine horror flick.
There are a plethora of horror movies taking place at hospitals and mental asylums. I guess there is something scary about the environment. Especially if they’re abandoned buildings as in Session 9. I guess there’s also some fear in the unknown of the insane psyche. Here, there’s a contractor promising to do a restoration job faster and cheaper than anyone else. But he discovers something that should have been forgotten. And he has to fight to keep his sanity. A true ghastly tale that kept me on my toes for sure.
Paranormal Activity was an ultra-low-budget film that spawned numerous sequels, spinoffs, and even parodies. The first movie was something else though. I’m not sure If I’ve seen any of the others to be frank. It was filmed entirely by using surveillance cameras and it creates a very claustrophobic feel. At least when Paranormal Activity is starting to happen and getting caught on camera. I remember this had three different endings where you could choose which one you liked the best. I didn’t go for the standard one since I found one of the others even more terrifying. CREEPY!
Funny Games is an Austrian film made in German. The Director, Michael Haneko is well known for making thought-provoking films and Funny Games isn’t an exception. It’s probably his best-known movie. So well known that he, himself, felt the urge to remake it in 2007 but in English this time. Both versions are great but the original is a masterpiece. The story revolves around a family that gets held hostage in their own house by a couple of thugs. The horrifying thing isn’t really that the family gets tortured and molested, it is that the perpetrators consider it more or less a game. I heard Haneke comment on this film and he claims that the family is acting in a horror film and the perpetrators are acting in a comedy. It’s a very complex and frightening movie, to say the least.
Not all horror or monster movies are scary. But I do believe the intent of Them! was to scare the audience back in 1954. Today it’s just a great classic monster movie about mutated ants. The title comes from a little girl who has witnessed the ants killing spree and only can say one word out of terror. Them! Fantastic special effects for its time and apart from the main cast displayed on the poster you can also find Leonard Nimoy, best known as Spock in the original Star Trek Series in a small uncredited role.
Jacob’s Ladder takes us back to the complex and very mentally challenging films again. It kind of deals with post-traumatic stress and/or insanity. It’s really hard to tell what’s real and what imagination is in this one. My personal thoughts about this are that the “ladder” is something used to escape from hell. Imaginary or real. In some parts of the world, the word Ladder was also changed into Inferno, which makes me think about Dante’s Infornos and the nine circles of hell. I realize when I write this that it’s time for a rewatch for me. I have to refresh my memory of this. But I hold this movie in very high esteem. I’m fairly sure that this has been remake in recent years. I’m talking only about the 1990 version here.
Phantasm is a cult movie for sure. I believe there are four sequels. I’m not sure if all are directed but Don Coscarelli or if Angus Scrimm was alive when the last one was made. I actually haven’t seen the fifth part yet. But this first one is really scary. There’s some uncertainty to it. It takes place in our world but there’s also another dimension in it where dead bodies or whatever are taken. It’s kind of a mix between cult horror and fantasy. The first time I saw this I was genuinely scared to walk down the stairs from the upper floor in the dark. It has some really creepy atmosphere to it!
Maniac is a raw and in-your-face action-thriller with gruesome murders in it. I think there is mainly one actually. At least that’s the one that everyone remembers. It’s kind of the exploding head in Scanners. If you know one scene, that’s the one. The killer is deranged, to say the least, and cannot always determine the difference between fantasy and reality. Fun fact, Joe Spinell who plays the villain was the highest or possibly the second highest-paid actor in The Godfather (or was it The Godfather 2?). He has just a minor part but apparently, Francis Ford Coppola liked to have him around… Anyway, Maniac is a true classic and there is a remake of it as well from 2012 with Elijah Wood as the main part. I strongly advise you to see the 1980 version!
Few film have had such an impact on the horror genre as Nosferatu. It has been remade and referenced in numerous movies and influenced ever more. It’s basically a Dracula story but as they didn’t have the permission to use Bram Stokers story they tried to hide Count Dracula into namning him Count Orlock as well. Nosferatu is a silent movie från 1922 but if you should see one silent horror movie in our life, it’s this one. Photographers tend to love the black and white photography in it and you can clearly see why some of the scenes left suck a mark on the genre evern a hundred years later.
The Changeling is a ghost story really. The environment is very creepy and it’s set in an old house. Old houses tend to be creepy and there are many rooms and creeking floors and doors. It has a lot of potential if you will. The Changling is very effective and the atmosphere may play a bigger role than usual in a ghost story. George C Scott, who plays the main part is fantastic in this!
An American Werewolf in London is one of two movies that I consider to be the archetype of the modern Werewolf movies. The other one is Joe Dantes’s The Howling. Of course, there are earlier movies like The Wolf Man from 1941, which has also been remade multiple times I think. But there’s a difference between the classic old-school and modern takes on the concept. Of course, An American Werewolf in London isn’t that modern anymore, it was made in 1981. But it still has one of the best transformation scenes ever! There’s no CGI, just clever practical effects. A Funny thing is that John Landis, who made the film is mostly associated with comedies. At least he is for me. But here he proves that he can direct really effective werewolf-horror as well.
Men Behind the Sun surely is an infamous film. The first time I saw it I had no idea about the true existence of Unit 731. A secret unit that was responsible for conducting human experiments in China during the Second World War. I just wasn’t aware of it. Så, in my head, I translated the Japanese into the nazi-germans and the Chinese into Jews. It was easier to comprehend the story that way. I mean, I think that what Dr. Mengele experimented with the Jews in Auschwitz is more common knowledge. But to put it simply. If you can think of a painful experiment that should be made on a human being, Unit 731 performed it. This movie is very cruel and explicit. It’s not a true horror film per se, but its scenery is truly shocking.
The Runestone is kind of a fantasy-horror hybrid. There’s a base in Norse mythology and the Fenris Wolf is the monster in the movie. It has some similarities with Rawhead Rex in that sense. There are old legends that turn out to be true. I Love this movie. It may not have aged very well but as I’m very into movies involving mythology, Greek or Norse or whatever I find it very amusing! Not really scary but an interesting take on the Fenris Wolf legend.
Witchboard may or may not have been the first movie where an Ouija board takes an essential part of the story. Nowadays there are a lot of movies with the word Ouija in them. Few of them are very good. Of course, I have only seen a few of them but none of them reach the heights of Witchboard. It has it all, a mystery, supernatural elements, satanism, possession, and murder. About all the conditions to meet the premises for a great horror movie. There is a sequel as well, Both are good, but the first one is still a little bit better.
Flowers of Flesh and Blood is the second part of the infamous Guinea Pig series. I believe it was this part Charlie Sheen reported to the FBI believing that the dismemberment of the female was for real. I don’t blame him. It’s extremely well done for its time. All practical effects. There are six movies in the series I believe and most of them are really over-the-top gory. The first one isn’t and that is a bit atypical. It’s violent and scary for sure but for other reasons. Flowers of Flesh and Blood is the goriest of them all though. It has also been kind of remade in the American Guinea Pig series.
From Beyond is another movie that claims to be based on an HP Lovecraft tale. I say claims because although I haven’t read the story, I have heard that the original story ends about when the opening credits in the movies start. It’s a very nice film directed by Stuart Gordon who created several adaptations of HP Lovecraft tales for the screen. It also stars Jeffrey Combs whom I cannot help but love. His interpretations of the roles are always very special. I guess his most famous role is in Re-Animator as Herbert West. But he has also done a lot of Star Trek roles in the different series. A very versatile actor who may have been somewhat caught in typecasting. He has worked frequently with Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna.
It’s not possible to compile a must-see list of horror movies without a Mario Bava flick on it. There are several that are really great but I probably hold Black Sunday as his best. I saw it in the theater once upon a time and was totally blown away. Of course, I wasn’t as experienced back then as I am now and this was my first ever Mario Bava film to see. I think the other two shown at the same festival were A Bay of Blood and Baron Blood. Both are great movies as well. But his had an atmosphere like no other movie. It’s about this witch being tortured to death more or less. Years later she is returned to life and claims her vengeance. It doesn’t sound very exciting but if you give it a go I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. It’s a very gothic tale.
Eden Lake is another movie that deals with very raw and sadistic violence. It’s also a very realistic movie and involves children performing the violence. This film is extreme terror and there is no way to escape from it. Once you see it and watch the final scenes you’ll know what I mean.
The Burning is a very typical slasher. Basically, the events that take place are of a teacher or camp counselor who gets trapped inside a burning building and years later he haunts the summer camp, killing everything that annoys him. In other words, seeking revenge for what was done to him even if the people experiencing his wrath are not the same people of initially caused The Burning. We recognize this from all kinds of other slashers. More or less all och the Friday the 13th sequels to name a few. In this one, the main instrument of murder is some hedge sheers.
It’s Alive is the first movie in a trilogy dealing with monster babies. I can’t really remember why it turned out monterious, or if it’s even explained in any way. That isn’t the point of the movie either. There is born a deformed child with monsterlike features and a killer instinct. That’s the important bit. I guess you can choose to see the plot as a metaphor for any baby born that requires special needs, such as diseases or physical or mental appearance. There are plenty of cases where a child is not mentally och physically well upon birth. But I might over-analyze things a bit too. Maybe it’s just about a monster baby? This film is from 1974 and a remake has been made. There are two sequels to the original film.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is a Spanish/Italian collaboration that is set in the English countryside. When I first saw I was totally blown away by the realism in this Zombie movie. It was something totally different from all the other Italian zombie movies at the time. This one actually made sense and wasn’t just scenes compiled to be as gross as possible, There was some thought behind it and even an attempt to a scientific explanation of the existence of the zombies. I consider this to be one of the best zombie films of all time!
Opera might not be the best Dario Argento movie of all time. But it’s certainly not the worst and it will always have a special place in my heart. It might very well have been the first movie by Meastro Argento that I ever saw. I was totally blown away (yes, I’m using that expression again). It’s kind of a variation of the classic Phantom of the Opera Tale I think. We have this opera singer and what goes on in the opera house. There is torture, graphic violence and everything else you might think makes a good movie great. It might not be a true horror movie per se as Dario Argento is mostly known for his thrillers, his Gialli. It’s more of a gruesome detective story maybe. But set in an opera house and with deep psychological undertones. A very beautiful movie!