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15 Modern Horror Movies Stephen King Has Personally Recommended

Which remake did King once call “the best horror movie of the new century“?

Stephen King has been regularly churning out scary stories for over 40 years now, and with many of them considered to be among the best of all time, I suppose you could say that King knows a thing or two about the horror genre. Hell, I’d go so far as to say that his name is incredibly fitting. For there are many masters of horror, but friends, there is damn sure only one true KING.

One of the great things about Stephen King is that he’s always promoting the work of others. Over on Twitter, @StephenKing can often be found taking a break from his own writing to personally recommend new indie horror movies that many of his fans had probably never even heard of, and the importance of that cannot be overstated. Such an influential figure encouraging others to check out new horror films is exactly the kind of boost that many of those movies so desperately need, and it makes us happy that King has become one of the genre’s gatekeepers.

Who better, am I right?

So which horror movies has King personally recommended over the years? Searching through his tweets, reading through the 2010 forenote to his must-own book Danse Macabre, and browsing through various other quotes, we’ve been able to compile a list of 15 horror movies that King has vouched for in recent years. And some of the movies on that list may surprise you.

You’ll find the list below, with quotes from King himself!

AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

1) THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

“Visceral horror to rival ALIEN and early Cronenberg. Watch it, but not alone.”

10-09-blairwitch3

2) THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

“One thing about Blair Witch: the damn thing looks real. Another thing about Blair Witch: the damn thing feels real. And because it does, it’s like the worst nightmare you ever had, the one you woke from gasping and crying with relief because you thought you were buried alive and it turned out the cat jumped up on your bed and went to sleep on your chest.”

Crimson Peak, image source Universal/Legendary

3) CRIMSON PEAK

“Was treated to a screening of Guillermo del Toro’s new movie, CRIMSON PEAK, this weekend. Gorgeous and just fucking terrifying.”

dawn-of-the-dead2

4) DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)

“Genius perfected would be Zack Snyder’s Dawn remake, which begins with one of the best opening sequences of a horror film ever made. Snyder’s zombies are, it seems to me: fast moving terrorists who never quit. You can’t debate with them, you can’t parley with them, you can’t even threaten their homes and families with reprisals. All you can do is shoot them and then steer clear of the twitchers. Remember that their bite is worse than fatal.”

Deep Blue Sea Anniversary

5) DEEP BLUE SEA

“Directed by the ever-popular Renny Harlin, who could potentially turn Heidi into an action flick, this movie about genetically engineered sharks, you could say, isn’t up to very much… until, at the most unexpected point of the film, one of the surpermakos rears up and bites Samuel L. Jackson in half! Yessss! I screamed out loud, and I treasure any horror movie that can make me do that.”

the-descent-banner

6) THE DESCENT

“If it were to pick another movie to analyze closely, it would be this remarkable story of six women who go on a caving expedition and encounter a race of subhumans (who resemble del Toro’s Pale Man, now that I think about it). What gives the movie its resonance is how the women play against each other – their very real resentments (and secrets) allow us to believe the monsters in a way that most horror movies do not. I never tire of saying this: in successful creepshows, it’s not the FX, and mostly not even the monsters, that scare us. If we invest in the people, we invest in the movie… and in our own essential decency.”

event horizon

7) EVENT HORIZON

“Basically a Lovecraftian terror tale in outer space with a The Quatermass Experiment vibe, done by the Brits. The plot’s messy, but the visuals are stunning and there’s an authentic sense of horrors too great to comprehend just beneath the eponymous event horizon.”

Final Destination, courtesy of New Line

8) FINAL DESTINATION

“I love all these movies, with their elaborate Rube Goldberg setups – it’s like watching R-rated splatter versions of those old Road Runner cartoons – but only the first is genuinely scary, with its grim insistence that you can’t beat the Reaper: when your time is up, it’s up.”

hitcher-remake

9) THE HITCHER (2007)

“Rutger Hauer in the original will never be topped, but this is that rarity, a reimagining that actually works. And Sean Bean is great in the role Hauer originated. Do we really need this film? No. But it’s great to have it, and the existential theme of many great horror films – terrible things can happen to good people, at any time – has never been so clearly stated.”

The-Last-House-on-the-Left-DI-1

10) THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009)

“The best horror movie of the new century. The Dennis Iliadis version is to the original what a mature artist’s painting is to the drawing of a child who shows some gleams of talent. The 2009 Last House is the most brutal and uncompromising film to play American movie theaters since Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer.”

themistbanner

11) THE MIST

“The ending will tear your heart out… but so will life, in the end. Frank Darabont’s vision of hell is completely uncompromising. If you want sweet, the Hollywood establishment will be pleased to serve you at the cineplex, believe me, but if you want something that feels real, come here. Darabont could have made a higher-budget film if he’d added a cheerful ‘It’s all OK, kiddies’ ending, but he refused. His integrity and courage shine in every scene.”

the-ruins-horror

12) THE RUINS

“The Scott B. Smith-scripted adaptation of his novel isn’t quite as creepy as the book, but the sense of dismay and disquiet grows as the viewer begins to sense that no one’s going to get away. With its cast of mostly unknowns, this would play well on a double bill with Snyder’s Dawn [of the Dead] remake.”

stir-of-echoes

13) STIR OF ECHOES

“Writer/director David Koepp should be declared a national treasure. His adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1958 novel is an unsettling exploration of what happens when an ordinary blue-collar guy (Kevin Bacon) starts to see ghosts, thanks to a hypnotic suggestion.”

Horror Sequels

14) THE STRANGERS

“An orchestration of growing disquiet and horror as a young couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) are set upon by a trio of masked psychotics. It starts slowly and builds from unease to terror to horror. Why is this happening? Just because it is. Like cancer, stroke, or someone going the wrong way on the turnpike at 110 miles an hour.”

THE WITCH

15) THE WITCH

“The Witch scared the hell out of me. And it’s a real movie, tense and thought-provoking as well as visceral.”



AROUND THE WEB


COMMENTS

86 Comments
  • PsychoMantis18

    Gohhhd he has some crappy taste in movies… for the most part.

    • Khy

      Hey…I like some of those movies.

      • roger

        Do you know what “for the most part” means ?

        • Khy

          Do you know what, “I wasn’t fucking talking to you mean”?
          I know this user. I was being lighthearted. Fuck off, cunt.

          • Vincent Kane

            I think cunt is one of the dirtiest words ever but I love it.

      • PsychoMantis18

        Me too but only about half.

        And King said he preferred The Shining mini-series by Garris to Kubrick’s Shining….

        He is dead to me.

        • Khy

          HAHA. King is indeed petty when it comes to that

  • THGrimm

    Mr. King and I have similar taste. These are some great flicks! There’s three here I haven’t seen, but soon.

  • Vincent Kane

    I’m about 50/50 with the movies Mr. King likes. Surprised to see some of these on here…

  • Deadcalm

    “If we invest in the people, we invest in the movie… and in our own essential decency.”

    Well said. Without strong, well-played characters, a horror film can never truely be great (or its effect long-lasting.)

  • Biscoito18

    Good list. The only ones I don’t like are “The Hitcher” and “The Last House on the left” remakes.
    And I agreed about Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead amazing opening sequence!

  • Grimphantom

    He lost me with 2007 version of The Hitcher

    • Vincent Kane

      Gotta admit Sean Bean was pretty awesome.

      • Grimphantom

        He was the most decent of the movie but the writing and the other actors didn’t brought anything to the movie

  • pablitonizer

    Glad Stephen THE King and I share same taste, except for The Hitcher. I truly truly love deep blue sea, Final Destination & Dawn of the dead!

  • Ask him what he thinks of “The Shining”….

    • Analisa Ravella

      Ha, good one.

    • Fracassi

      Want a good reason to get the made-for-TV version of The Shining? Great commentary by King (although muddled with all the other commentaries) about his views on the Kubrick film. Otherwise, I can’t see any reason not to love the brilliant Kubrick film. By far, my favorite part is the impossible office where the window couldn’t possibly exist.

  • CrackTheSkye1990

    You’re Next > The Strangers

    And by a long shot

    • kelly

      YES.

    • Simon Allen

      You’re Next is such a fucking hoot !!!
      The Strangers had me yawning and looking at my watch

      • Creepshow

        Yes it is.

        And…yes it did.

    • Deadcalm

      I think The Strangers can be summed up in 2 words: “That’s it?”

      • turk

        Actually, you can sum it up in one word: “Ils.”

    • Jeremy

      I beg to differ. I thought You’re Next was trash nothing scary about it, if they were trying to go the dark comedy route it didn’t work either. The Strangers is good in its own right not to mention it was based on true events which makes it more creepy.

  • Grendal Sven

    Dude’s a great horror writer, but he has questionable taste in movies. With the exception of a few quality films, his stable of adaptations are terrible, but he will sit there and tell how good they all are and why until he runs out of breath.

  • Colin Christian

    Meh to Crimson Peak and The Strangers,but other than that,pretty cool list.

    • Bill Brixton

      For whatever reason, The Strangers is the only home invasion movie that’s upset me while watching it. I’ve (probably?) seen all of the rest of them but something about it was effective to me.

      • James Allard

        Myself as well, but I have a specific reason, in that it is more similar to a movie called 8MM. The question of evil comes up, directly “Why are you doing these horrible things to us?” is answered, brutally, “You were home.”

  • Graham

    Pretty solid list. I wouldn’t say The Ruins is great, but it’s better than I think people give it credit for. Same with The Hitcher, especially considering it’s a remake. He’s right when he says it’s not a movie we needed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good.

  • Colonel Ives

    as I was scrolling and reading his opinions I had the witch on the back of my mind and the reveal as I slid my thumb made me grin a grin I hadn’t grinned in awhile. also, I have a soft spot for the ruins and James Gunn anything I love. even if inherently biased.

  • Khy

    Deep Blue Sea? This man knows how to have fun! Fuck yes!

  • DWS

    I separate horror movies as those with a supernatural element and those where there is murder and suspense. And atmosphere is 99 percent of a good horror movie. The best ones have no romance or sex. There are exceptions like Rosemary’s Baby though.

  • roger

    The Blair Witch Project…Deep Blue Sea…The Hitcher remake…quit drugs Stephen !

    • Khy

      Or you can just respect the fact that everyone has their own unique tastes and just because someone doesn’t have their heads up their ass like you do doesn’t mean they are on drugs. Idiot.

      • Kori Batchelor

        Damn, you’re salty. I love it!

  • Simon Allen

    Crimson Peak ……what an empty vessel.

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      that movie has no soul, is like a rehash of better movies by Del Toro, he should get away form hollywodo for a while to make good movies

      • Simon Allen

        Same old stuff from him …only with huge amounts of money spent and little imagination used.

  • Benjamin Priest

    I respect any list by Stephen King because because it’s Stephen Freaking King.

    • Saturn

      Stephen King’s Top 15 “so-called” Celeb’s who deserve to be executed live on tv. Who dies first, YOU decide……
      Shit, I just gave him an idea for his next book.

      A lucky audience winner can participate in first execution of Knock Out Tuesday!

  • K.C. Fahel

    I’m surprised by what is said about “Blair Witch”. I saw it and saw fakeries and obvious machinations. The last 30 seconds is the only part worth watching.

    • Bill Brixton

      The marketing campaign for Blair Witch was unlike anything I had ever seen at the time and the found footage use was remarkable at the time (I know there’s a dozen movies before it). I had to watch it at the little indie theater when it came out because the big ones wouldn’t show it, though eventually they did. I credit Blair Witch with creating the sub five million dollar horror movies that play at the multiplex.

    • listicles are OMG WEAK FAIL

      Sorry to say that you didn’t, because there weren’t any. The actors were only given vague overviews of the scenario and a direction to travel in. There’s only a single moment in the entire film were they had to be told what to do because they’d missed seeing a really good prop, other than that they were just set loose in the woods and “attacked” at intervals without prior knowledge. What you saw were tired, hungry, unwashed actors experiencing basically everything their characters were. Dread Central has a fantastic series on the making of it written by one of the production crew, which I highly recommend reading.

  • Brian VonDerahe

    I remember him praising The Babadook a few years back…

    • sailor monsoon

      ….as did the world

    • Nahuel Benvenuto

      yeah some ogf his choices are not that good horror movies

      • Saturn

        Depends on the person who watches them – they work for him, so that’s why it his list.

        What would your 15 be if you were to make a list of the best “modern horror films”?

        It’s not as easy to do as you think – as you inevitably leave something out that you wished you’d put it, and often regret a couple you did.

        It would be interesting if BD actually started a thread up for us to name our top 15 horror movies since,perhaps, the year 2000? And then tally it all up at the end for the “Official Bloody Disgusting Top 15 Post Millenium Horror Movie List”.

        I’m not certain, but I do think they did do something similar a few years back (it may have been here, on another horror site – my memory is fuzzy, so it’s time to shave my brain).

  • Aberrant Dabbler

    Wasn’t expecting half of these. Each to their own.

  • He also enjoyed “Carriers” a lot.

    • Saturn

      That’s because he wrote the book!

      Ah no, wait……
      You mean the movie from 2009.

      I still haven’t got around to watching that yet – is it worth a blind buy?

      • Tiger Quinn

        It’s pretty good. Very predictable.

      • If you are ‘able’ to watch something that is more like a quiet post-apocalyptic drama, then yes, buy it!

        • Saturn

          Well I generally enjoy (to varying degrees) post apocalyptic movies, so I reckon I’ll check it out on Amazon, see if I can get it cheap.

    • Joe Smith

      That was a decent film.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    Crimson Peak is so meh

    • CelticBull

      Right? The “twist” sucked and the CGI kept pulling me out of the experience.

  • James Allard

    The Witch is the only one I’ve yet to see.

  • Scott Malcolm

    Wow, if the witch scared _anyone_, they have a low threshold.
    Unscary movie is unscary.

    • Ms. Ripley

      Everyone reacts to different triggers when it comes to horror. Some react to gore, others to things they don’t see, to ghosts, to witches.
      So speak for you personally pls, and don’t drag people with other opinions through the mud. And by now it is more than known, that people either hate The Witch, or love it to bits.

      • Scott Malcolm

        I suppose you’re correct, stephen king is scared by his own stuff and his work is NOT scary or disturbing.
        Clive Barker on the other hand…

      • Scott Malcolm

        And please show me where I dragged anyone through the mud, you over-reacting jello-spined snowflake.

        • Ms. Ripley

          Jello-spined snowflake? You creative muppet, you. 🙂

          • Scott Malcolm

            You still haven’t shown me where I dragged anyone through the mud. Soooo I guess that means your argument falls flat on it’s face. Go be triggered somewhere else.

          • Ms. Ripley

            I am not here to go to war with you. If you don’t see it, it won’t help when i put my finger on it and shove your face onto it.
            I am sorry you felt attacked by my comment. I just can’t stand people that think that their taste dictates how a movie really is. Try to rephrase it by “in my opinion the movie is unscary”. That’s totally ok, buddy. And your neighbor might think otherwise. But because you respect each other’s opinions you can laugh about it.
            I wasn’t scared by “Saw” in the slightest but would never dare to tell others who were scared shitless that their threshold was low.
            See, now I gave you an explanation.
            Less insults, more communication, Mr Muppet. 😉

          • Scott Malcolm

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/146ccbbcbdf3c27657615c45875cd4b49309bcb119bc0bb0b62140d85eba464a.jpg

            And yet I wasn’t the one who made an allegation of dragging someone through the mud.

            If you don’t like my point of view, ignore it an move on.
            Otherwise be prepared to defend any assertions you make.

  • Nicolás Saiz Arismendi

    Here he is talking about The Babadook: https://twitter.com/stephenking/status/535984981219479552

    • disqus_5GSc0nKbtM

      Best lines from the Babbadook:
      Amelia (to Samuel): Where did you get this book?
      Samuel: Off the shelf.

      bwahaha!

  • Tiger Quinn

    Deep Blue Sea got an eyebrow raise, but The Stranges? Come ON. Jump Scare: The Motion Picture Starring Dead Eyed Liv Tyler was NOT good.

  • David

    The Descent = good. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Strangers.” Gonna have to watch “Autopsy”, “last house”, “The witch” and “The ruins.”

    • Evan3

      Read the Ruins. One of t he best horror novels ever written. Blows the movie out of the water.

  • Khy

    I think the reason why I love King’s list is that it’s not snobbish. It’s simply films that he enjoyed and had a great time with and I’m exactly that kind of movie goer.

    I’m not always looking for the next “classic”.

  • John Smith

    Are any of you reading your post BEFORE you hit send? This is Mr. Stephen King. The mind that created Carrie.. Pet Seminary… The Shining. I could go on. Your opinion is only that. Until you challenge his against yours. Then you are zero. Your can’t even clean his keyboard. So stop making yourself look stupid. Just smile and stfu

    • killerklownphil

      I need to see this Pet Seminary movie ASAP! Sounds awesome!

  • Fracassi

    Danse Macabre always gave me the sense that King’s ideas of good movies were more akin to my parent’s liking, and something I just couldn’t get on board with, but this is actually pretty good.

  • Joe Smith

    Deep Blue Sea, The Hitcher and Last House.. were all horrible! While the others were great, I have no faith in his movie choices for saying these 3 were great.

    • OmarComin’

      Nothing wrong with DBS and LHOTL.

      Plenty of movies worse than those.

      • squatting neville

        King does like his trash pulp horror. He’s written plenty off it, and he’d admit that himself.

  • OmarComin’

    I enjoyed Last House on the Left.

    Garret Dillahunt was a good villain.

  • aFriendlyAgenda

    Interesting

    A little bit of an arguably goofy list
    Some goodies, some iffys
    But who am I to argue with Stephen King if he saw something in them

    (Although I dont always agree with him, his lifelong animosity towards Kubricks the Shining seems a little unreasonable IMO)

    He sure enjoy’s a remake

  • Ethan Walker

    Autopsy of JD?? never heard of it, gotta check that out. In hindsight, Blair Witch seems stupid, and started a trend of shitty “found footage” films that give me a headache with their jittery filming. But B.W.P. was EFFECTIVE back in it’s day, it did a LOT with very little and scared a lot of people. My reaction to the end of The Mist: what a f@cking retard! haha I liked the crazy monsters in it a lot. In conclusion, I recommend Carpenter’s The Thing as the best film ever.

  • RedNeoCon

    Crimson Peak? Deep Blue Sea?

    Fuck you Stephen King.

    • gabriel

      No, fuck you for not mentioning The Hitcher in your stupid little list.

      • RedNeoCon

        Fuck you, Hitcher ain’t that bad.

  • Mungo9000

    I want to see The Hills Have Eyes remake in the list. The political subtext, (of American neoconservatives taking the country out into the wilderness to be surrounded by enemies who hate them), was pretty blunt but nonetheless effective. A great time capsual of how it felt to live through ‘the war on terror’.

  • DEIMOS

    Deep blue sea is not crapy but not incredible….

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