Lists  Reviews  Images  Update feed
MoviesTV ShowsMusicBooksGamesDVDs/Blu-RayPeopleArt & DesignPlacesWeb TV & PodcastsToys & CollectiblesComic Book SeriesBeautyAnimals   View more categories »
Listal logo
Added by the giraffe on 5 Aug 2010 04:10
2302 Views 13 Comments

My Top 20 Horror Films

Sort by: Showing 20 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
People who added this item 490 Average listal rating (307 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.5
"Do you wanna see something REALLY scary?"

I remember in 1984 my Dad brought this movie home on VHS. By then I was already going out of my way to watch Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes, so he called me in to watch it with him. The "Kick the Can" story was the only one that didn't scare me. I remember the animated rabbit that emerges from the magic hat gave me some nightmares. After that, I avoided horror movies for a couple years.

Now I love every moment of the movie. Each story works well AND complements those around it, the acting is excellent, and the effects still look authentic if a little cartoonish at times.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1065 Average listal rating (637 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Frankenstein (1931)
My parents let me watch the Universal Monster films as a child. I loved them all, but Karloff had the most presence as Frankenstein's Monster. His body language and facial expressions scared me enough to give me some of my earliest nightmares.

Now that I'm older, this film continues to send chills down my spine, and the story remains as spellbinding as it ever was. Karloff's Monster remains the best of the bunch.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 481 Average listal rating (301 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
My second favorite of the Universal Monsters films. It didn't scare me so much as keep me entertained throughout. It was also the first horror film I could laugh at (thank you, Una O'Connor), and so it's probably responsible for my acceptance of comic moments in horror films I watched down the line.

I think it's held up very well over the ages also.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1389 Average listal rating (903 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
I spent the night at a friend's house, and his parents had rented this movie so we all watched it together. I think I was 9 or 10. It scared the hell out of me. Nightmares galore.

As a result, I made a vow to stop being scared by horror films. Once I figured out how to do that it worked for a long time. That meant, however, that I had to find other reasons to appreciate them.

The transformation scene remains one of my favorite effects of all time, and John Landis knew how to throw in humor at the right moments without letting you forget you're watching a scary movie.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2809 Average listal rating (1805 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
The Birds (1963)
Pretty sure this was the first scary Hitchcock film I ever saw. Before this I'd only seen his mysteries/thrillers. I remember being entertained by it, but not really scared.

I watched it again much later and really appreciated his sense of timing, use of suspense, and the way he took an everyday, mostly harmless creature and turned it into a force to be reckoned with.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2829 Average listal rating (1831 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
The first horror villain I became a big fan of was Freddy Krueger. When I was in my early teens I watched 1-5 regularly on cable and loved every minute of them. This was the film that started it all of course, and it remains the best of the bunch.

The sequels run higher on cheesiness and cornball jokes, whereas this one's a straight-up slasher with just the right amount of humor. Plus I think the idea of someone murdering you in your dreams is still good for scares.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4154 Average listal rating (2744 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.5
Psycho (1960)
My favorite Hitchcock film. Anthony Perkins is amazing as Norman Bates, and the film benefits from being shot in the days before blood and gore became the norm. Hitchcock knew how to shoot a sequence that gave you an idea of what was going on, but let your imagination fill in the details...and often what we imagine is even worse than what we might actually see. Plus Hitchcock was a master storyteller, able to weave unexpected turns and keep you riveted throughout. Even on repeated viewings I still find surprises.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1736 Average listal rating (1130 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.9
Ah, my first zombie film. Nothing ever compares, does it? It's still a scary movie by today's standards, and the pacing matches those lumbering creatures. Slow, steady, methodical, and you know they'll get you in the end. Plus it's great social commentary in addition to being frightening. When a movie works this well on multiple levels, it earns my love and respect.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1424 Average listal rating (950 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
Hellraiser (1987)
Pinhead makes Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers look pathetic. For one, he immediately looks more frightening, what with the leather outfit and the nails protruding from his skull. He speaks with deadly seriousness, and if you run from him he slowly walks after you. He never fully gives chase, because he has all the time in the world and he knows he'll have you in his clutches sooner or later. And then what wonders he'll show you...

I personally think the special effects here stand up well today...they look more realistic to me. Plus Clive Barker's twisted tale is so perfectly told that I can overlook the 80s fashion sense that plagues the human characters throughout (especially Julia...admittedly though, the wardrobe choices could be FAR worse). And I love the way it ends.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2092 Average listal rating (1408 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
I saw this one in my later teens, after watching Army of Darkness for the first time. Talk about blowing away my expectations. I was expecting more comedy, and what I got was a truly scary horror film.

Over the years as I've watched it a few more times, my appreciation for it has grown and it's worked its way up this high. The main characters ring true, and the demons that set upon them manifest in so many creative ways I still catch myself in awe of Raimi's genius. Proof that having a small budget to work with makes you more creative.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1620 Average listal rating (1112 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Evil Dead II (1987)
Well, I'd seen the others, so of course I sought this one out next. I love the comic moments in this, and there are many. Fortunately though it never completely overtakes the film like it does in Army of Darkness (hence why it's not in this list anywhere). It's equally balanced between horror and comedy, but the comedy is on the darker side. All in all it's just a lot of FUN to watch, and sometimes that's all I want from a horror movie.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1606 Average listal rating (1024 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
My second favorite Romero film, for a lot of the same reasons as I love NOTLD. I really like the characters in this one, and watching them try to survive makes for an intense ride. Plus I deeply enjoy the social commentary in this one, even if it seems obvious by today's standards.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 416 Average listal rating (247 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Cemetery Man (1994)
AKA Dellamorte Dellamore

Rupert Everett is awesome as the groundskeeper in a cemetery where the dead come back to life soon after they're buried. I love the deadpan way he deals with everything thrown his way, all Zen'd out and accepting of his lot in life. There are some great comic moments here too, which makes this a more fun horror film, and the plot twists are very well-executed.

I think I respect it all the more because I still haven't completely figured out what to make of the ending.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 3617 Average listal rating (2435 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
28 Days Later (2002)
Apparently some people like to debate whether fast zombies or slow zombies are better. I say both have their merits. With the faster ones, you have to be constantly on your guard and ready to run or fight without any notice. That's far more dangerous than knowing you have enough time to get away.

I love Alex Garland's script, and Danny Boyle expertly brings the horrors to life. It all looks and feels REAL. Also, the blood and gore makes me truly happy.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 878 Average listal rating (604 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.1
I love this movie. It opens by bringing back memories of watching cheesy horror films on TV as a kid, draws inspiration from Texas Chainsaw Massacre & Alice in Wonderland, and ends up as an excellent homage to horror films as a whole. Rob Zombie makes watching stupid teens get what's coming to them for sticking their noses where they don't belong thoroughly entertaining.

Plus all the villains are named after Marx Brothers characters, which rocks. Sid Haig almost steals the whole movie though as Captain Spaulding.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1819 Average listal rating (1057 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Grindhouse (2007)
If you didn't see this in the theatres, you missed one of the best movie-going experiences of all time. Not only do you get 2 movies for the price of 1, you also get some brilliantly executed faux trailers (and only one of them ended up on DVD).

Rodriguez's zombie film is high on body count and laughs, and it's a high octane blast from start to finish. Then Tarantino gives us his homage to 70s stalker (and hot rod) films, with Kurt Russell playing super-creepy and menacing as he shadows groups of pretty grrls. The latter has a slower pace mostly due to Tarantino's love of dialogue, but I think it all works well.

As a whole, you get 3+ hours of non-stop entertainment, with plenty of blood and gore along the way.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 548 Average listal rating (303 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.6
May (2002) (2003)
This one surprised me, but then I had no idea what to expect going into it (and I find that's the best way to go into any movie).

Angela Bettis is perfect as May, a young woman who goes from sweet and misunderstood to confident and sadistic. That's not an easy transition to make, but Bettis does so with seeming ease. It's a really different horror film, and that's probably why I like it so well.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 123 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
Spider Baby (1967)
One of Sid Haig's earliest roles, this is a bizarre, compelling tale of a misfit family fighting to keep their home. I found it more creepy than scary, but the characters and tale are pretty original. The acting is good too, especially Lon Chaney Jr., who delivers one the best (if not THE best) performances of his career.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1003 Average listal rating (675 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.2
The Strangers (2008)
The Strangers was the first film to truly, deeply scare me since I'd vowed not to let that happen anymore (about 20 years later to be more specific). I'm not saying I hadn't jumped once in a while out of surprise over the years...I'm saying I was holding the armrests with white knuckles and had nightmares when it was over with. I'd reached a point where I didn't think horror films could do that anymore, so when this finally succeeded it immediately earned a spot at the top.

Now admittedly the core of the story had already been done in Funny Games and Ils (aka Them), but I had yet to watch either of those movies at this point and thus the idea was fresh to me. And much like those films, everything is perfectly set in place to build tension to the point where you stop feeling safe whether you're sitting in the theatre or at home...which is exactly what a great horror film should do.

I love the way it introduces our main characters without dialogue, letting their facial expressions, appearance, and body language tell us their present emotional states. Then it takes the time to develop their characters so we start to care about them. And then the so-called strangers show up and the torment begins. And what glorious, well-executed (no pun intended) torment it is.

If you've never seen this, I recommend you watch it either alone or with others who will remain silent (a party film this is not). Make sure you turn it up loud like it would be in the theatre, so you can hear every noise. And if it doesn't scare you at all then there may be something wrong with you.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 523 Average listal rating (290 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
The Vanishing (1988)
Easily my favorite foreign horror movie right now. Every aspect is masterfully handled & the ending is one of the best, horror or otherwise.
the giraffe's rating:

Listed in the order I was first exposed to them.

Added to

29 votes
the giraffe's movie lists guide (188 lists)
list by the giraffe
Published 9 years, 10 months ago 2 comments
8 votes
the giraffe's horror lists (23 lists)
list by the giraffe
Published 9 years, 3 months ago 1 comment

Related lists

A Year of Horror - 2006 - Update V.2
70 item list by jaytoast
15 votes 9 comments
A Year of Horror - 2005 - Update V.2
58 item list by jaytoast
19 votes 7 comments
A Year of Horror - 2004 - Update V.2
35 item list by jaytoast
16 votes 4 comments
A Year of Horror - 2003 - Update V.2
40 item list by jaytoast
11 votes 6 comments
A Year of Horror - 2002 - Update V.3
33 item list by jaytoast
15 votes 6 comments
A Year of Horror - 2001 - Update V.3
24 item list by jaytoast
9 votes 3 comments
A Year of Horror - 2000 - Update V.3
36 item list by jaytoast
17 votes 9 comments
History of Horror
3743 item list by diabolical dr voodoo
286 votes 45 comments
A Year of Horror - 2009 - Update V.2
85 item list by jaytoast
33 votes 10 comments
A Year of Horror - 2008
66 item list by jaytoast
27 votes 9 comments

View more top voted lists

People who voted for this also voted for

More lists from the giraffe