This isn’t a list of every horror movie ever made. Nor does it contain every major work of every horror auteur (you’ll notice we didn’t include John Carpenter’s They Live or Wes Craven’s The Last House On The Left). Rather, this is a compendium of films that we feel – in one way or another – are essential viewing for every horror fan. Some are mainstream (Poltergeist), some aren’t (Cannibal Holocaust). It’s a broad sampling of key films from the genre.
But you don’t have to be a horror die-hard to take the challenge! If you’re comfortable being a “Soccer Mom”, simply clock how many of these you have (or haven’t) seen and let us know! There are 61 Films listed below the jump. Each film you’ve seen earns you 1 Point. Count out how many you’ve seen and let us know which category you fall into. You can give us your specific count in the comments or yell at us for the films we’ve left out!! The categories are:
1-10 Points: Soccer Mom
11-20 Points: Mildly Adventurous
21-30 Points: Casual Fan
31-40 Points: Hardcore
41-50 Points: Unstable
51-60 Points: Psychopath
61 Points: Special Circle Of Hell
Head inside to take the challenge! The films are listed in no particular order. This is NOT a ranking!
Whether or not it was actually directed by Steven Spielberg or Tobe Hooper, it’s certainly one of the more menacing Amblin films.
2. JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING
A classic that outdoes the original in every way.
3. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
One of the first, and most successful, “found footage” hits.
Dario Argento’s most popular giallo.
5. THE SHINING (1980)
Even though Stephen King disliked this adaptation, it remains of one the scariest films ever made. Another classic in Stanley Kubrick’s nearly impeccable filmography.
6. UNIVERSAL CLASSIC MONSTERS (You must have seen at least 2 of these to count as one point).
Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. Not a bad run! Without them you would have The Monster Squad!
7. ROSEMARY’S BABY
More queasy and disturbing than it is terrifying, it’s a gorgeous and bold film.
8. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
The most imaginative slasher in history?
9. FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
A Halloween rip-off that spawned a franchise I love dearly.
10. HALLOWEEN (1978)
Maybe the best slasher ever? It also spawned a franchise, but its sequels aren’t nearly as entertaining as F13‘s.
11. THE EXORCIST
Along with The Shining it’s one of only a few eternally terrifying films. Also? Surprisingly obscene.
12. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
One of Jonathan Demme’s strongest works. The film that “legitimized” horror for adults in the early ’90’s.
13. DEAD ALIVE
Peter Jackson’s zombie opus is widely considered one of the goriest films ever made.
14. EVIL DEAD 2
Sam Raimi’s gooshy Looney-Tunes episode comes to life.
15. PSYCHO (1960)
Partly inspired by Ed Gein, easily Hitchcock’s most famous horror film.
One of the best movies ever made. Period.
17. THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
Also partly inspired by Ed Gein, albeit in a much different manner than Psycho. And unlike Poltergeist, we’re fairly certain that Tobe Hooper directed all of it.
Eli Roth’s film outdoes Saw by actually having something on its mind. Not to mention greater cinematic flair.
One of Brian DePalma’s best films and one of the best Stephen King adaptations FTW!
Paco Plaza’s calling card spawned its own franchise (along with the remake Quarantine and its sequel).
Don Coscarelli’s classic is one of the many reasons we’re all waiting for John Dies At The End.
22. DEEP RED
Argento’s colorful stylistic precursor to Suspiria.
23. CHILD’S PLAY
For one brief movie, we were scared of a doll. The next four? Not so much.
I rented this from Blockbuster when I was 12 and I had no idea what the hell was going on at the time. In hindsight, that’s a good thing.
Saw may not be as effective as Hostel, but it has some truly clever/ingenious moments and it launched a franchise you could set your watch to.
26. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON
One of my personal favorites of all time. The rare horror film that balances gore, scares, characters, laughs and genuine heartfelt emotion perfectly.
In one of the best Christmas movies ever, Chris Columbus perfectly balanced menace with heart. Phoebe Cates gets a monologue for the ages.
28. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
We’d have no zombies without George A. Romero. Not as we know them now, at least.
29. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
We all know that Romero tackles consumerism in this masterpiece, but even without the commentary it’s still an amazing movie. The pinnacle of his career.
30. RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD
Expertly acknowledges and sidesteps the legend of Night Of The Living Dead, creating its own zombie sub-genre in the process.
31. NEAR DARK
The best southern vampire movie that never uses the word “vampire”. Kathryn Bigelow and Eric Red fashioned one for the ages that was unfortunately overshadowed at the box office by The Lost Boys.
32. SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Edgar Wright displays a near perfect grasp of tone, character, structure and visual acumen on his first feature.
33. DRAG ME TO HELL
Why didn’t more of you go see this? One of Raimi’s best! You guys are killing me!
34. TROLL 2
Because sometimes you need a palate cleanser.
35. FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
Almost like the 2011 version. Except for the fact that it’s actually a fun movie and makes a modicum of sense.
36. HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER
One of the few horror films that can actually churn my stomach.
David Fincher becomes “David F*cking Fincher” on his second feature. An impressively nihilistic studio film.
James Gunn does Night Of The Creeps one better by making a far more satisfying movie about an intergalactic entity experiencing love for the first time.
Dario Argento wrote this Lamberto Bava-directed romp about a zombie outbreak in a German movie theater. It’s insanely fun. If you haven’t seen it, seek it out (though I guess that should be said for every film in this challenge).
40. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST
Almost as disturbing as Henry. Remember when people thought this was a real snuff film?
41. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
While I prefer Paranormal Activity 3, there’s no denying the tectonic shift this film caused in the horror industry.
Chan-wook Park’s masterpiece. The less you know about it, the better.
43. 28 DAYS LATER
Danny Boyle reinvigorates the zombie genre for the 2000’s.
Ridley Scott’s 1979 film has aged perfectly. Still gorgeous, brilliant and terrifying.
Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s 1996 film was the first post-modern slasher hit (a few had tried and failed before, including Craven himself with New Nightmare). It’s also just a good movie. Craven has always been an up-and-down director and this is one of his higher points, if not his highest.
46. THE BLOB (1988)
Dude. Chuck Russell and Frank Darabont hit a post Dream Warriors humdinger with this one. So fun!
47. THE MIST
Frank Darabont in a slightly less fun mood. One mainstream cinema’s bleakest endings.
48. THE FLY (1986)
Just like John Carpenter did with The Thing, David Cronenberg takes his source material to new (and disgusting) highs with his version of The Fly.
49. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
The best horror film of 2012. So far.
50. THE DESCENT
Easily one of the scariest movies of the past 10 years. I defy you not to squirm.
51. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Beautiful, heartfelt and macabre. Complete with a satisfying tragicomic ending. Be sure to watch with the right set of subtitles!
52. THE HOST
In which Joon-ho Bong becomes South Korea’s Stephen Spielberg. A great ride.
Find someone who hasn’t seen this movie. Make them watch it, but don’t tell them what it is. See what happens.
Nosferatu gave us vampires along a timelessly cool design for them.
55. FIRE IN THE SKY
Find abduction scenes unsettling? Fire In The Sky won’t do much to help.
56. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS
John Carpenter’s nod to Stephen King is certainly wacky, but its kitchen sink attitude makes it a classic. This may be the last time he hit one out of the park.
57. THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW
Arguably one of the best voodoo movies ever made.
Long live the horror anthology!
I wonder how many more Annie Wilkes’ are out there now that the internet is widely in use. A movie that will make you second guess any desire you have to be a celebrity.
60. A TALE OF TWO SISTERS
Only nine years old, but already one of the classic South Korean horror films. Directed by Jee-woon Kim.
61. I SAW THE DEVIL
Jee-woon Kim’s last film has both enough detractors and proponents to make it worth seeing.
Now add up your points! Did we leave anything out that you think would be key to the test? Be sure to let us know!
1-10 Points: Soccer Mom; 11-20 Points: Mildly Adventurous; 21-30 Points: Casual Fan; 31-40 Points: Hardcore; 41-50 Points: Unstable; 51-60 Points: Psychopath; 61 Points: Special Circle Of Hell