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Monday, November 24, 2008

The "Cyber-Horror Elite" Have Spoken: Presenting the Top 50 Horror FIlms of All Time!

Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about my horror snobbery, let me just take the piss out of myself here and make it clear that this is nothing more than a fun little exercise, and "Cyber-Horror Elite" is a tongue-in-cheek term, at best. Nevertheless, it does represent the composite opinions of the some of the most high-profile writers/critics in the online horror community, so take it for what you will.

Just to get everyone up to speed, some days ago, HMV put out the results of their highly flawed survey of the top 50 horror movies of all time. After I replaced the lunch I had lost going over their atrocity, I set about putting into a motion a plan to retaliate with a list of my own. A list that I hoped would be representative of the opinions of those who actually love horror, and for whom the genre is a genuine passion.

Invitations went out to some 32 cyber-horror notables (the full list can be found below). Each contributor was asked to select his or her personal top 10. What I did next was assign points to each movie selected, based on where they were ranked on each individual's list (10 points for a number-one pick, 9 points for a number-two pick, etc.) The totals for each movie were then tallied, and a list of the top 50 scoring movies was put together. In several instances, there were two or more movies whose scores were tied; in these cases, I put it to a run-off vote. Any ties which still remained after that would be decided by me (I only made use of this prerogative once).

And so, without further ado, here is the list of Top 50 Horror Films of All Time, as chosen by some of the shining lights of the online horror community:

1. Halloween (1978) dir: John Carpenter
2. The Exorcist (1973) dir: William Friedkin
3. Psycho (1960) dir: Alfred Hitchcock
4. Night of the Living Dead (1968) dir: George Romero
5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) dir: Tobe Hooper
6. Frankenstein (1931) dir: James Whale
7. The Shining (1980) dir: Stanley Kubrick
8. The Thing (1982) dir: John Carpenter
9. Alien (1979) dir: Ridley Scott
10. Nosferatu (1922) dir: F.W. Murnau
11. Dawn of the Dead (1978) dir: George Romero
12. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) dir: James Whale
13. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) dir: Wes Craven
14. Jaws (1975) dir: Steven Spielberg
15. The Blair Witch Project (1999) dir: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez
16. The Haunting (1963) dir: Robert Wise
17. King Kong (1933) dir: Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack
18. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) dir: Roman Polanski
19. Dracula (1931) dir: Todd Browning
20. The Evil Dead (1981) dir: Sam Raimi
21. Poltergeist (1982) dir: Tobe Hooper
22. Black Sunday (La Maschera del Demonio) (1960) dir: Mario Bava
23. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) dir: Rupert Julian
24. An American Werewolf in London (1980) dir: John Landis
25. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) dir: Jack Arnold
26. Friday the 13th (1980) dir: Sean Cunningham
27. Evil Dead II (1988) dir: Sam Raimi
28. Alucarda (1978) dir: Juan Lopez Moctezuma
29. Carrie (1976) dir: Brian DePalma
30. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) dir: Francis Ford Coppola
31. The Fly (1986) dir: David Cronenberg
32. The Fog (1980) dir: John Carpenter
33. The Wolf Man (1941) dir: George Waggner
34. House on Haunted Hill (1959) dir: William Castle
35. Night of the Demon (1957) dir: Jacques Tourneur
36. Frankenstein (1910) dir: J. Searle Dawley
37. Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man) (1994) dir: Michele Soavi
38. Thriller (1983) dir: John Landis
39. The Addiction (1995) dir: Abel Ferrara
40. Aliens (1986) dir: James Cameron
41. Phantasm (1979) dir: Don Coscarelli
42. The Thing from Another World (1951) dir: Christian Nyby
43. Zombi 2 (1979) dir: Lucio Fulci
44. The Mist (2007) dir: Frank Darabont
45. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) dir: Jack Clayton
46. The Living Dead Girl (1982) dir: Jean Rollin
47. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) dir: Joseph Green
48. The Return of the Living Dead (1985) dir: Dan O’Bannon
49. Suspiria (1976) dir: Dario Argento
50. Salem’s Lot (1979) dir: Tobe Hooper

Some items of note:

  • No movie in the top 12 was made in the last 25 years.
  • No movie in the top 14 was made in the last 10 years.
  • Only one movie in the top 26 was made in the last 20 years.
  • Four of the top 10, and 3 of the top 5, were made in the 1970s.
  • Most recent film: The Mist (2007)
  • Earliest film: Frankenstein (1910)
  • Directors listed most times: John Carpenter & Tobe Hooper (3)
  • Three silent films: Frankenstein, Nosferatu, The Phantom of the Opera
  • One TV movie: Salem’s Lot
  • Two non-feature length films: Frankenstein (16 min.), Thriller video (14 min.)

Decades breakdown
  • 1980s: 15
  • 1970s: 12
  • 1960s: 6
  • 1930s: 4
  • 1950s: 4
  • 1990s: 4
  • 1920s: 2
  • 1940s: 1
  • 1910s: 1
  • 2000s: 1

Eight movies from outside the U.S.
  • United Kingdom: Night of the Demon
  • Italy: Zombi 2, Dellamorte Dellamore, Suspiria, Black Sunday
  • France: The Living Dead Girl
  • Mexico: Alucarda
  • Germany: Nosferatu

And in the interest of full disclosure, here's a complete list of the brave souls/pontificating pundits who were polled for the list...

Iloc Zoc of Zombos' Closet of Horror
Wes Fierce of Horror Film Magazine
Vince Liaguno of Slasher Speak, horror novelist
Max Cheney of The Drunken Severed Head, 2007 Rondo nominee for Best Website
Kim Paffenroth, author of Gospel of the Living Dead
Karswell of The Horrors of It All
Casey Criswell of Cinema Fromage and Bloody Good Horror
Stacie Ponder of Final Girl and AMC's Horror Hacker
The Vicar of VHS & The Duke of DVD from Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Movies
Ryne Barber of The Moon Is a Dead World
Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting
John W. Morehead of Theofantastique
Carnacki of The Mystery of the Haunted Vampire
The Lightning Bug of The Lightning Bug's Lair
Sean T. Collins of Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, Marvel.com and Maxim
Jeff Allard of Dinner with Max Jenke and Shock Till You Drop
CRwM of And Now the Screaming Starts
Paul Bibeau of Goblinbooks, editor at Maxim, author of Sundays with Vlad
The Horror Guy
Justin of Send More Cops
Gary D. Macabre of Blogue Macabre and The Many Faces of the Frankenstein Monster
Garg the Unzola of The Necro Files
Pierre Fournier of Frankensteinia, Canadian Comic Book Creator Hall of Famer
BC of Horror-Movie-a-Day
Peter Hall of Horror's Not Dead
Chad Helder of Unspeakable Horror, writer of Vincent Price Presents
Unkle Lancifer of Kindertrauma
John Kenneth Muir, horror critic (Booklist Editor's Choice)
Pax Romano of Billy Loves Stu
Curt Purcell of The Groovy Age of Horror and Cinema Nocturna
Tenebrous Kate of Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire
And yours truly, of course.

There you have it. Digest. Discuss. Debate. Distribute.


Unknown said...

Really not too much to bitch about here...this is a really good list. One of the best I have seen. Based on the participants, I'm not surprised though.

Pierre Fournier said...

What? No TWILIGHT???

It’s an excellent list!

Personal observations:
- Very nice to note that the top ten are from 5 different decades.
- I think the 70s and 80s rankings reflect the average age of the participants. (And by the way, in listing “the best of all time”, I automatically disqualify films made in the last 10 years as impossible to evaluate.)
- I’d love to see a list of the films that were picked as #1 favorites.
- And just to make more work for you, how about a list of all the films mentioned that didn’t make the top 50.
- I suggest we do this once a year, are you up to it? I’d be curious to see how films move up or down, new titles appear and titles dropping off the list.

Thanks very much, Brian. You did a helluva job.

Mr. Cavin said...

Well, like all lists by other people (or by averages) this bears not the slightest resemblance to my own. That's no surprise. What shocks me today is that your stable produced a high enough number of top ten lists, of all-time highest quality horror, with enough instances of Friday the 13th to rank it almost in the first half of this final assimilation. The fact that I don't think the movie belongs on a top fifty list is certainly worth arguing. Possibly an argument I'd lose. But I cannot imagine anyone, ever, including it in a list of the ten best, or most influential, or scariest, or most well made horror movies of all time. A large percentage of your contributors seem to feel like Friday... is a better horror movie than Universal's the Mummy and Dead Ringers and Eyes Without a Face and anything ever made by Hammer Films. Wow. Good work, "horror elite".

I think your final product here shows an obvious thirty-something bias, by the way. The Thriller video? Really? Was any respondent over forty or younger than twenty-nine?

Judson Scott said...

The biggest thing I'll take away from this list is the fear of praising new horror.

I'm a horror fan bred from hammers; the shit I watched growing up that turned me into who I am today, and similarly for all of you reading. And because I'm such a horror fan I do read and recognize much of the panel, but I can't consider the "classics" untouchable. There's not many surprises on this list, which isn't a bad thing, I just think it's unfortunate that the handful of amazing horror films we've gotten over the last decade aren't ever in the discussion. Inside, Planet Terror, Hatchet, Trick R Treat, The Descent, The Devil's Rejects, and Audition come to mind; hell for my money Inside and Trick R Treat are two of the best horror movies ever made.

I do like the list, especially the inclusion of Return of the Living Dead, The Thing at 8, Blair Witch (it deserves it) and Friday the 13th (my horror faithfuls came through). I just think it's a reflection of how the some of the most important people, the most heard voices of our genre, hold on to what got them where they are, not what's keeping them there.

pot head pixie said...

The list looks good in general. but...

The Thriller video? It's cool but one of the best horror films of all time? I think not.

Hammer films anyone?

The only Cronenberg film in there is The Fly? Surely Videodrome should have made it above that one!

Having said that, everyone is going to come up with their own personal choice.

PaulBibeau said...

It seems like the next big project is to try to list the 50 best (or even 10 best) horror films of the last 20 years. Then we compare.

Great work Brian!

Anonymous said...

None of the participants are qualified to judge these films. Only the general public who pay to go to the cinema should be allowed to vote. Critics should be outlawed!

B-Sol said...

Wow, I go to sleep for a few hours, and look what happens! OK:
Pierre- All great ideas. I still have the info. I also think it would be a good idea to return to it in a year.
Mr. Cavin & Judson- I appreciate your opinions, and I'd certainly be open to expanding the votership next time around. The more, the better. But be aware that your own contradictory opinions on F13 demonstrate just how subjective a ranking like this truly is.
Paul- Another great idea. Just let me catch my breath first, OK buddy?
Anonymous- I think you missed the point of why I did this.

OH yeah, and I just knew Thriller was gonna cause some issues...

Anonymous said...

Hey, wait a minute...where's my name? Of all the nerve!

Tenebrous Kate said...

Kudos to your intestinal fortitude, B-Sol. You're a braver, more committed creature than I and I'm delighted to see the fruits of your labor!

It's surely an interesting list, and I appreciate the care you took to list out the stats by decade. I'm inclined to agree with Pierre regarding the reflection on the age of the participants. For one, I know I'm totally spoiled by being part of the VHS/DVD generation, which has likely skewed my own preferences.

As to my qualifications for judging, I have none to offer. Except for the fact that I LIKE judging so damn much :D

The Vicar of VHS said...

Thanks for all the hard work here, Brian.

Mr. Cavin--FWIW, there was a lot of discussion and disagreement between members about what should and shouldn't make the list. As with anything done by committee, there's something here to piss off everyone! (For instance, somehow my all time fave "The Wolf Man" comes in below both F13th AND "Bram Stoker's Dracula"--a position I can only attribute to statistical anomalies. ;)

(I keed, I keed, of course...)

And to Anonymous--I find it hilarious that you seem to believe everyone on the list is a high-falutin' professional critic, watching movies down their noses in their private screening rooms in their remote mansions in exclusive areas of Beverly Hills and the Carpathians, pish-poshing at the stuff the rabble find "good." I mean, the only person I know who does that is the Duke of DVD, and god knows he's earned it.

Believe it or not, most of us are part of the "general public"--with the exception that we care enough about the genre to spend a great deal of our free (unpaid) time writing about it.

Anonymous posters should be outlawed! ;)

B-Sol said...

Whoops, my humble apologies, sir! Zombo's Closet has now been officially recognized.

Unknown said...

Great job with the list B-Sol.
It came out pretty damn good.

To Mr. Cavin: I was included on this list and I'm much younger than 29. I thought the demographic was fine, and I also think that with any one person, there are going to be extreme differences in taste. That's why it's so much fun to look at these lists, and to watch movies in general. Everyone is going to have a different opinion.

To Anonymous, who was too scared to post their name: I'm pretty sure that all of us pay for the movies that we watch. We're reviewing movies and posting about horror basically for nothing. It's what we love to do, not what we're paid to do. Do a little research before you criticize us about being too high and mighty to be considered the "general public."

Mr. Cavin said...

Mr. Cavin & Judson [...] your own contradictory opinions on F13 demonstrate just how subjective a ranking like this truly is.

B-Sol: That is precisely what I was talking about when I tried to get you to stipulate criteria back when you initially announced this. See, you had the opportunity to do something here, something only a person with horror chops, down with the community, could pull off. Instead you offer us the same silly beauty pageant that we read the first time around, only now calibrated to a homogeneous group of gen-x bloggers who share your tastes.

I have nothing against Friday the 13th, but it seems more like a childhood fave than an important act of art, what with all its gratuitous derivation. But had I kissed my first babysitter in the warmth its flickering blue glow, how could I keep from adding it to a list of favorites?

The biggest thing I'll take away from this list is the fear of praising new horror.

Judson Scott: You have a very good point. Besides how this plays into my prejudices above, do you also think it's because people tend to feel more confident revering material already sort of proven by sheer staying power? Do you predict that voters choose based on perceived levels of community adequacy? (I.e., would you vote for a movie you didn't really think anyone else was going to mention, and diminish a finite number of chances to promote the things you really feel have a chance of making the list?) Or do you just think there is a prejudice against more modern horror.

If the latter, give it another ten or fifteen years and it will be all you ever hear about anymore.

As with anything done by committee, there's something here to piss off everyone!

Vicar: Dismay my boy. Dismay is all. I don't get pissed of over opinions, I challenge them. I like to have mine challenged. Someone wants to give me some kind of idea in what respect, oh, Friday the 13th is worthy of inclusion on a top ten list (besides subjectivity) I'd even allow my opinion to change. Maybe it's because nobody was sitting down to Twitch of the Death Nerve with their babysitter in eighty-eight?

I was included on this list and I'm much younger than 29.

Ryne: That's neat, actually, and I'd like to see what your own list looked like. What I don't understand is why everyone is carefully explaining to me the subjective, opinionated, blah, blah, blah of these things. I'm playing the only way I've been allowed, by asking questions and making comments on the work you've done.

I'm way more interested in learning what other people's issues and pleasures with this list are. And in hearing someone tell me why Friday the Thirteenth is better than, oh, I Walked With a Zombie.

The Vicar of VHS said...

>>Dismay my boy

With however much respect is do, sir, I am not you "boy."

Unknown said...

I'm way more interested in... hearing someone tell me why Friday the Thirteenth is better than, oh, I Walked With a Zombie.

I don't think anyone said that a movie picked is necessarily better than another movie, only that it is in their top horror films for reasons unknown. This list wasn't about compiling the best, but what people felt as the ones to come back to, whether they be entertaining, culturally relevant, or just fun. Certainly I Walked With a Zombie has more depth to it than Friday the 13th, yet I still tend to find it unrewarding.

The Vicar of VHS said...

FWIW, Ryne, "I Walked with a Zombie" was on *my* top 10 list. :) As was the original "Cat People."

But you're correct that the methodology as posted at the top of this article should make clear how the list was arrived at--maybe it is a "beauty pageant," but I don't think it was presented as more than a tally of a group of favorites from people who watch and think about horror movies a lot. I don't see why that should inspire such vitriol.

Though I *do* understand how the "Cyber-Horror ELITE" tag might invite some bad feelings. Still, you can't please everyone.

I would invite dissenters to post their own top-ten lists, in order to have a more fertile ground for discussion. But throwing denigrations back and forth doesn't really strike me as useful.

Anonymous said...

No asian movies at all!? No Ringu? No Audition? No A Tale Of Two Sisters? Not even oldies like Kaidan or Onibaba... Well well it's a mighty fine list anyway I must say.

Anonymous said...

Top 50 Horror Movies - why is the Thriller video on there???? I never agreed w/ the Alien movies being horror either!

Anonymous said...

I think its hard to draw the line with what is a horror movie, a sci-fi movie or just a thriller in general. I don't agree with all of them being a HORROR movie. But, it is a good list, well done.

Mr. Cavin said...

I am not you "boy."

Vicar: I'm really sorry. I was trying to indicate Foghorn Leghorn-like jocularity, not insult you.

Actually, I apologize to all of you. I was trying to talk about this, mull it over, not contaminate the topic with anything that might be considered vitriol. I don't mean to appear to impeach anyone's opinions beyond a lighthearted poke, and maybe offer my disappointment that this wasn't as scientific as Id have liked to have seen it. But jeeze, let me be the first to point out that if I don't like it I can to it myself any other way I please. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about all the hard work that has been done. Like I said a month ago (or whenever), a beauty pageant can be interesting too. If I'm a little disappointed it is because I thought this could be different from other lists I've seen.

And by that I mean in context. It is quite different, in content, from most of the other lists I've seen.

Maybe I need to slow down a little and mention some of the things that really made my day about this list: I love that Frankenstein beat out Bride..., I am delighted at the inclusion of the Thing from Another World and Night of the Demon, and even Bram Stoker's Dracula, the copious merits of which seem to occasionally disappear behind people's feelings about the lead. I am even super thrilled to see Halloween in the lead.

When B-Sol announced this, I attemted to make a list of my own and eventually gave up in frustration after four hours or so (since, honestly, I was only doing it for my own amusement)--I argue with my own decisions as much as anyone else's. I guess I'll try again, over my Thanksgiving vacation. Then if anyone is realy interested in what I think they can look it over.

Otherwise, I think I'll lay down the internet and back slowly away instead of pissing anyone else off. Hope everyone has a nice (US) vacation.

Discuss. Debate. Distribute.

Anonymous said...

My motto is "The best use of a can of worms is to go fishin'."

Now that you've opened the can, B-Sol, we all need to go fishing for the reasons we decide what is or isn't a top horror film. For the most part, these comments are doing just that.

Thanks for opening the can. Now who brought the beer?

B-Sol said...

No worries, Mr. Cavin, all comments are welcome. I'll never be a "comment deleter", I'm more of a "warts and all" kinda guy. I know I'd definitely like to see your list as well.

Anonymous said...

For those surprised at the exclusion of some films, don't think that there weren't any votes for them. For many of them discussed, there were! Just not enough.

For instance, I myself listed two Hammer films in my own top 10, both Peter Cushing's "The Curse of Frankenstein" and Ingrid Pitt's "Vampire Lovers".

And for the "Alien" doubters, it scared the bejeesus out of me the first time I saw it, so that's enough to make it horror for me!

If your'e curious, my own nominations for the list can be read over at Cinema Fromage (http://www.cinemafromage.com/?p=936)

Mr. Karswell said...

Nice work Brian, I am quite pleased with the overall results (slightly irked that Night of the Demon '57 and the Creech are so far down the list), but whatever... to actually see a few other things I picked make the list too is quite refreshing. Thanks for all your hard work on this project.

B-Sol said...

I think the fact that Night of the Demon made it at all is to the great credit of the list. As for Hammer, I'll say that I myself was surprised none of them made the list, but hey, it is what it is. This isn't one person's intimate list, its a condensation of the lists of 32 horror movie fanatics.

Brian, aka Hellstorm said...

What's the average age of these "Cyber-Horror Elitists"? I imagine most of them were teenagers between the late '70s and the early '90s. Doesn't the difference between the HMV list & the "Cyber-Horror Elitist" list indicate how out of touch these elitists are with the general public?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can call me an Alien doubter. I guess you had to watch it when it came out in it's prime. To watch it now you have to agree it's laughable!

CRwM said...


I agree with you that age probably makes a huge difference in these lists. But the HMV list doesn't really tell us anything about age and its impact on results. Since the HMV voters had to rank flicks in a pre-selected list, we can't really know what a real poll of HMV customers would look like.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list, and congratulations on a job well done.

I'd like to see a list of the movies that only got one vote.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Mr. Cavin: apology accepted. They say sarcasm is one of the hardest things to get across in print, and I would wager that Foghorn Leghorn references are another. Though a couple of apostrophes in place of word endings might have helped. ;)

Anyway, no hard feelings, and I do in fact look forward to hearing people's pros and cons about the different movies that made it. It just seemed that the attacks (or mistakenly perceived attacks) were directed elsewhere.

(FWIW, I still think calling this the "Cyber Horror Elites" list is kind of asking for it--that term is definitely loaded, and a couple of commenters have noted it negatively.)

That said, I'm one of those who didn't vote for Bram Stoker's Dracula, and not just because of the leads. It's entertaining and visually arresting in its best moments, but I can think of six better Dracula treatments, only two of which made this list. In my opinion only, naturally. :)

As to the much-touted age issue, I can't speak for everyone, but I became a teenager in the 80s and stopped being one in the early 90s. However, I was raised on a steady diet of Universal Classics on TV, and have since gone back to 60s and 70s movies where I've found some of my favorites.

I was very pleased that Alucarda and Living Dead Girl made the list--more people should see those.

Personally, I'd like to hear someone defend the inclusion of the "Thriller" video. I'm sure someone can put together a well-reasoned argument, but that someone is not me. :S

B-Sol said...

Perhaps, in hind-sight, the "Cyber-Horror Elite" label was a bit ill-advised, but I did go out of my way to indicate that it was tongue-in-cheek.
As for the age issue, I'll say this. One of the reasons I wanted to see the differences in a list compiled by rabid horror fans/writers is that I suspected it would be more representative of the entire history of the genre, not just recent years. And I think I was right. Not being around when something was out is no excuse for someone who professes to be a hardcore fan. I grew up in the '80s, yet I'm a huge fan of Universal and Hammer, for example. A real fan goes out of his way to discover things beyond his own personal experience. We've got every decade of cinema represented on this list. Sure, the '70s and '80s are represented more than other periods. And part of that is due to the age of the participants. But, if I may take a stand, there are many who could argue that it may also be because that era yielded some of the finest horror films we've ever gotten. Certainly better than what's out there now. I personally that the '70s was the best decade for movies bar none, both horror and otherwise.
And as for leaving out a lot of great flicks of recent years, I think Pierre was on the money when he said the newer they are, the harder it is to evaluate. Maybe the answer IS to do some kind of list at some point thats limited to the past 15-20 years or so. Could be interesting.

The Headless Werewolf said...

Brave list and a noble effort, but I'm thinking that Spain should have been represented. I think pretty highly of TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD and THE BLOOD SPATTERED BRIDE . . .

AndyDecker said...

Interesting list. Mostly I would have chosen the same movies.

Except for The Shining, which I hate with a passion, and of course the idea that crap like Blair Witch is deemed a better movie than The Haunting is silly. Or that the remake of The Fly is a better movie than the original which sadly is absent from the list. But to each its own :-)

In any case this list is more realistic than the first one.

jpelliott said...

This may be stupid but does no one consider Silence of the Lambs a true horror film?

Judson Scott said...

do you also think it's because people tend to feel more confident revering material already sort of proven by sheer staying power?

MR Cavin, absolutely. I find it hard to believe that a group like this hasn't seen anything new that they're confident enough to consider part of their top 10, or top 20, for that matter. I understand that the "classics" are always in the discussion because of what they've done for the genre, but where do you draw the line between respecting a film, and enjoying it?

If the argument is all the oldies appeared because of "what they did for the genre," well then apply that to Friday the 13th. Has any movie besides Halloween done so much for slasher films? And would the golden age of 80s slashers been the same bloody romps if F13 never came through? Doubt it.

So now you have to ask, were some of the votes for movies because of what they've done and not necessarily for sheer enjoyment of watching? I'd say so. A lot of these movies HAVE to be on this list, and I'm fine with that. You tell me to fill out a list and you'll find TCM #1, both Evil Deads, NOTLD, The Thing, Halloween, etc, etc...but if I run around the next Fangoria Convention telling everyone I think Inside is one of the best slasher films ever, and that Trick R Treat is the best Halloween movie I've ever seen, then I'll probably get chased out of the building.

Rhubarb said...

I was kind of surprised The Addiction made the list. All I got from that was an all purpose comeback when challenged. No matter what the subject or situation you can always say "Do you want an apology for ethical relativism?"

To date, nobody has ever asked me to apologize for my ethical relativism.

frgodbeyjr said...

I think you have an interesting list filled with really good and well made horror... I have to admit that I'm very surprised that neither Hellraiser or Hellraiser 2 are on the list. Other than that, good list.

Pierre Fournier said...

“… list indicate how out of touch these elitists are with the general public”

Populist observations aside, the “general public” already have a voice. It’s called The Box Office. The top-grossing film of all times is James Cameron’s Titanic. That, I suppose, makes it the greatest film ever made, and critics who would list several hundred films ahead of it are obviously out of touch.

As a contributor to the Vault list, I was not concerned with current tastes, pop culture fads or what marketing sells as “hot”. Being asked to list “the greatest” horror films, I simply made a list of films that I thought were significant in horror film history. A few of my choices made the final cut, here and there, up and down the list.

The list is not The Last Word From On High. Its just another list, with the possibly interesting catch that it is a compilation of opinions by people who have demonstrated, as bloggers, writers and critics, a passion for horror films, a knowledge of its history, and a capacity for intelligent analysis. And still, its just another list. If you don’t like it, roll your own.

As to the Elitist tag, I have a Groucho-like aversion to any organization that would accept me as a member, although I’ll reconsider if they hand out proper capes, monocles and, perhaps, a nice pointy hat.

Anonymous said...

I also do not consider Silence of the Lambs a HORROR movie. I feel it's more a Thriller. Great movie don't get me wrong, I just don't think it belongs in a horror category

thebonebreaker said...

Fantastic List ~ I have seen all but one on the list (#28) and being that I agree with almost all on the list, I will have to check that one out!

Thanks for taking the time to put this together B!


Vince Liaguno said...

But I cannot imagine anyone, ever, including it in a list of the ten best, or most influential, or scariest, or most well made horror movies of all time.

Over 40 here, and Friday the 13th was on the Top Ten list I contributed. And I didn't watch it in the blue glow of my TV or as background to a make-out session with my babysitter. I saw it (several times) in a packed theater and thought it quite genius in its simplicity and its combination of isolated setting, sound and light, innovative kills, and scream-out-loud scares. It was one of only a handful of times that I can remember being truly frightened by the idea of what was coming next and walking out of a theater, worn out, with the feeling that I had 'survived' the experience.

Friday the 13th built upon the burgeoning slasher genre and inspired countless knockoffs along with its iconic predecessor Halloween. Friday the 13th will always be one of the classic body count films in my forty-something book.

Great job, Brian, compiling our list of informed opinions.

B-Sol said...

Thanks, Vince, I knew it was only a matter of time before our resident slasher expert spoke up!

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Where is Eyes Without A Face? Or Horror of Dracula? Eraserhead, anyone? This list is capital B Bullshit. Blair Witch Project? I thought that was a typo!! Ugh. I appreciate the improvement, but this list...I'm not impressed. How does The Mist beat Suspiria? I'm ashamed to call whoever made this list a horror fan. I don't want them associated with me.

Unknown said...

That's okay, I. LaCasse. You don't seem like the type of guy I'd want to be around either.

veaudaux said...

Good list - you know, I've never really considered King Kong as horror, but I can totally see how it fits the "giant monster" genre that was so popular at the time.

Also, in response to Pierre Fournier's second observation - I don't think the bias towards the 70s and 80s is reflective of anything other than the quality of horror films at that time. I was born in '84, which means I wasn't watching horror until the early 90s. I'd STILL say the 70s and 80s were the "golden age". It was a period when the genre had grown up enough to be something other than drive-in fodder for teenagers (don't get me wrong - that made for some great movies, too), but hadn't been completely diluted by it's exposure to the mainstream yet (see: I Know What You Did Last Summer - that was as much horror as an Agatha Christie novel).

And yeah, it's cool to knock Blair Witch NOW, but it was damn innovative for it's time. It's STILL being imitated, even by some of the greats like George Romero.

The only things I'd add would be The Blob ('58 version), and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Brian, aka Hellstorm said...

No, I wasn't talking about fans of Titanic. Allow me to elaborate here...


Unknown said...

I'm THRILLED that you included "Thriller". I definitely feel it belongs on the list. For 14minutes, it hits many different notes and hits them right.

Anonymous said...

Touche'. What can I say, I'm a negatice person. Alright then, let me restate myself: An improvement, but not perfect. I would have liked to have seen Eraserhead, Horror of Dracula, and Eyes Without A Face. And maybe Rocky Horror Picture Show instead of Thriller. How 'bout that?

Bla said...

Too many American movies. What a shame.

Unknown said...

I think that some people have missed the fact that nowhere does it say "Best", even though that's been pointed out so many times.

Personally, I think the list speaks quite well to what I believe it to show: The most influential and scary films. For many, complex and deeply thought out horror films lose audiences, while straight forward slashers (like F13th) connect.

And to those upset with the lack of more recent films, think of it in terms of longevity...they've not proven themselves yet, or are just using ideologies that've already been used (more effectively) in other films. A fantastic example of this is the BWP...yes, now it seems corny, but that movie was original, well produced, and scary as all hell. New ideas = scary. Repeated ideas (no matter how well they're done) get old. With that in mind, if I had to add one to the list it'd be Audition. The second would be Black Christmas.

Great job B! I thoroughly enjoyed going through that list and nit-picking:-)

B-Sol said...

Thanks Matthew. I confess to not having seen the original Black Christmas. But all the praise that's been heaped on it as a result of it being left off this list makes me want to correct that!

Chuck Conry said...

WHAT?? No Silent Night, Deadly Night??

Anonymous said...

Horror Elite? WTF? With titles like "Thriller," "The Adiction," and "The Blair Witch Project" on their list they look more like the Horror Douchebags as opposed to the Horror Elite. Especially since the left out such titles as: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, The Innocents, Re-Animator, The Wicker Man, White Zombie, The Omen, and Peter Jackson's Brain Dead. And there are no Hammer titles or Val Lewton movies. Calling themselves the "Horror Elite" is like the Republican's calling the Democrats elitists.

Unknown said...

For the zillionth time, "Horror elite" should be taken in good fun.

As for the movies that you think should be on here, oh well. Can't please everyone, and you probably looked for movies that weren't on here so you could complain.

Just appreciate that a list was made so that you can look at it and say how dumb it is compared to your standards.

B-Sol said...

Hmmmm..."Horror Douchebags"...I like the sound of that. Kind of rolls off the tongue. Maybe for the next survey!

Anonymous said...

"Ryne said...
and you probably looked for movies that weren't on here so you could complain."

NO Ryne, with steaming piles of crap such as "Thriller," "The Adiction," and "The Blair Witch Project" on that list at all, It quickly became OBVIOUS what was missing.

And to finish on a positive note, I was shocked, but happily surprised that such awesome movies as: "Living Dead Girl," "Alucarda," "Zombi 2," and "Salem's Lot" did make it onto the list. So it's not all complaints.

Brian, aka Hellstorm said...

I noticed the same "douchebag" comment on my Fangoria blog, and I adressed it in the comments there. I'm sorry if that's what sent him here.

B-Sol said...

No worries, man. Hey, thanks for taking a stand! This is all in good fun, who would seriously refer to themselves as "elitists" without being ironic, anyway?

Garg Unzola said...

Only the general public is qualified to judge the best horror films? On what grounds? As George Carlin would say, just think of how stupid the average person is and realise that half of them are even more stupid.

Let's not forget that The Omen remake was a box office hit. There goes the credibility of Joe Public.

I am actually qualified to deliver film critique as I did film study at university. I just choose to have fun on my blog instead of delving into technicalities.

Thriller being on the list doesn't bother me. It qualifies, because when it came out a promo was a full-blown Hollywood affair. It certainly is a horror film purely because it features Michael Jackson.

Brian, aka Hellstorm said...

As someone qualified to deliver film critique, what criteria determines if a film belongs on a list of the best horror films? Historical significance? Influence on later films? Technical achievement? The ability to horrify an audience? Does a film that's more funny than scary belong on a list of the best horror films, regardless of its use of horror tropes? If nothing else, Joe Public (collectively) is more qualified than any critic to judge what resonates with the largest audience, or shouldn't that be a criteria?

B-Sol said...

I'd like to chime in here with some insight, at least, on what informed my own choices. The extent to which the films scared me, believe it or not, was not high on my list of criteria. Rather, I went by what I considered to be the horror films that were the best movies, or at least the most enjoyable. For example, some much older films may have lost some of their capacity to scare over the decades, yet they remain highly enjoyable, and sometimes also very well-made films. So that's just some of my own personal guidelines, but I did leave it purposely open-ended as kind of a rorschach test of sorts. Turned out pretty interesting, wouldn't you say?

Unknown said...

I'm so outraged because this list did not meet my exact qualifications or emulate my own personal list, which I perfect in my free time, to the numbers. The only thing scary about this list is the fact that it sucks so bad.

Seriously, a great list. Anyone ever consider when you're doing something as subjective as ranking films from a genre that spans 100 years, there's going to be a considerable amount to work with and all your personal favs might not make the cut? Were it my list, I woulda found room for Eraserhead and Curse of the Werewolf and this and that until my list hits every horror movie I found relevant or scary or interesting. I enjoy the fact that so much is made of Friday the 13th's inclusion, but no one stops to consider TCM, it's just automatic. It's not without merit, it's a good film, but one could make the argument it's not as classic as we all suspect. I wouldn't deny its inclusion on a top 50 list because it is certainly unsettling and innovative in its time, but I happen to think TCM2 is better. Point is, it's all subjective and this is a fine list.

Gary D Macabre said...

Brian, I approached the list in a similar fashion. Films that I felt truly excelled in one area or another, and most all excelled in a couple aspects of film making. Some of my personal favorites did not make even make my list.

I would be interested in knowing what your top 10 were.

B-Sol said...

OK, for the record, my own top 10:

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
2. The Shining (1980)
3. Nosferatu (1922)
4. Bride of Frankenstein
5. Psycho (1960)
6. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
7. The Exorcist
8. Frankenstein (1931)
9. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
10. Freaks

Garg Unzola said...

As someone qualified to deliver film critique, what criteria determines if a film belongs on a list of the best horror films?

Highly subjective, because academic film students do not construct best of lists. Personally, it would have to spur what is called a cycle. A cycle is the start of a genre in its own right, but it doesn't necessarily lead to a genre. An example is the epic cycle started by Gladiator, which lead to a cycle of epic films (Kingdom of Heaven, etc) and then dwindled without forming a genre.

Night of the Living Dead would count as a highly influential horror film because it started a cycle of zombie films, which ultimately became a genre. It is thus a good candidate for top 10 in my books, but it is still subjective.

Also, keep in mind that film studies broadly involve learning the technical aspects of film (how to tell your long shots from your close-ups) and learning a bit about the history of film, learning background on certain key directors and their work and learning how to interpret or crit films within certain ideological frameworks (how are women portrayed? What would Karl Marx say about this film? Yes, it really is that fickle.).

The purpose is not to construct top 10 lists. We were told that naming genres and making top 10 lists are part of journalism and not part of academic film critique. Also, film reviews do not form part of film critique in the academic sense either. You don't need an academic film studies background to legitimately write film reviews or construct top 10 lists, but it helps. You'd be better off with a journalism background though.

Brian, aka Hellstorm said...

"Personally, it would have to spur what is called a cycle." With that, do you feel that Saw, Hostel, Ringu and Ju-on should be on the list, since they started the recent "torture" and "Asian ghost" cycles in horror cinema?

Garg Unzola said...

Yes, they are eligible in those terms. Their influence is already seen in Hollywood, not only in terms of remakes but also in terms of the little girl with the freaky hair and the frog in her throat.

Similarly, the gorno/torture porn films ala Eli Roth should also be on there on that note, but again it's highly subjective. You could argue that these cycles were too recent and they haven't had a chance to settle in to be truly classic, like The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead have.

However, the assignment was our personal top 10 horror films. I personally try to avoid the mainstream as far as possible, which is why I didn't put any cycle-starting films on my list, with the exception of Brain that Wouldn't Die. I also don't like CGI as a rule, I hate remakes and I like mindless buckets of blood and inexplicable boob shots.

As a rule of thumb, I use my 10 commandments of horror:

It's hardly academic, but then, the success of Harry Potter can't be explained by academia either.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand how "Halloween" makes the top spot. Yes, it has it's place in 'horror history' but number one? I think not.

For the record, "Frankenstein" (1931) would be my number one pick.

B-Sol said...

You know what, I was also pretty surprised that Halloween came it at the number one spot, but hey, the numbers don't lie. The fact remains that out of the 32 people polled, the majority included it on their top 10 list, with a noticeable number of them ranking it number one. Plain and simple, it received more points than any other film. Thus, it was ranked number one.

Christopher Zenga said...

This list is spot on, I own all of this films and even though the wolfman( whict is on of my altime faveroiuts) may not be "scary" anymore since we have all been deseitzed buy Gereral rhodes being torn in half "Choke on em!" or the Saw's and Hostel's of today
films of that era are the only reason we are enjoying the horror we are today.

If I can add,

*Shutter (the Tai original)

*Children shoulden't play with dead things


*House (it has a warm place in my heart, righ along side monster squad

Anonymous said...

My motto is "The best use of a can of worms is to go fishin'."

Now that you've opened the can, B-Sol, we all need to go fishing for the reasons we decide what is or isn't a top horror film. For the most part, these comments are doing just that.

Thanks for opening the can. Now who brought the beer?

B-Sol said...

I agree, John. Perhaps after I get to posting the list of the Top 25 Horror Movies of the Modern Era (which I'm surprised you neglected to take part in, by the way), we might want to think about doing some simultaneous(ish) posting on just that topic.

Brian, aka Hellstorm said...

I didn't realize we were doing "synchronized posting," LOL.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the list. Going through them now and finding ones I haven't seen!

I'd like to watch films from the last 20 years though, everyone's seen the old classics, and they have cemeted their place in history - any chance of making a "Best 50 films from 1990 onwards" post? I'm sure there's some gems that wouldn't make the top 50 of all time that are worth seeing.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the list. Going through them now and finding ones I haven't seen!

I'd like to watch films from the last 20 years though, everyone's seen the old classics, and they have cemeted their place in history - any chance of making a "Best 50 films from 1990 onwards" post? I'm sure there's some gems that wouldn't make the top 50 of all time that are worth seeing.

B-Sol said...

Actually, Jay we did exactly that, and you can find it here:


Anonymous said...

My motto is "The best use of a can of worms is to go fishin'."

Now that you've opened the can, B-Sol, we all need to go fishing for the reasons we decide what is or isn't a top horror film. For the most part, these comments are doing just that.

Thanks for opening the can. Now who brought the beer?

Anonymous said...

My motto is "The best use of a can of worms is to go fishin'."

Now that you've opened the can, B-Sol, we all need to go fishing for the reasons we decide what is or isn't a top horror film. For the most part, these comments are doing just that.

Thanks for opening the can. Now who brought the beer?

Anonymous said...

My motto is "The best use of a can of worms is to go fishin'."

Now that you've opened the can, B-Sol, we all need to go fishing for the reasons we decide what is or isn't a top horror film. For the most part, these comments are doing just that.

Thanks for opening the can. Now who brought the beer?

Anonymous said...

My motto is "The best use of a can of worms is to go fishin'."

Now that you've opened the can, B-Sol, we all need to go fishing for the reasons we decide what is or isn't a top horror film. For the most part, these comments are doing just that.

Thanks for opening the can. Now who brought the beer?

Mr. Cavin said...

Um, I think the tana tea robot is skipping again, guys. On the fritz. All jammed up. Coming unraveled....

Anonymous said...

This is the correct list:

1. The Texas chainsaw massacre
2. The exorcist
3. Psycho
4. The shining
5. Halloween
6. The omen
7. Friday the 13th
8. The Silence of the Lambs
9. Rosemary's baby
10. A Nightmare on elm Street
11. Jaws
12. Drácula
13. Night of the living Dead
14. The Evil Dead
15. Alien
16. Poltergeist
17. Saw
18. Carrie
19. The Bilds
20. Child’s play

I do research for this list is the most correct.

Unknown said...

Very good list. I totally agree with having "Thriller" on there, and "Halloween" in the number one spot brings a tear to my eye.


Where the hell is "The Wicker Man"? Did I miss it? Cause it has to be on there!

B-Sol said...

What can i say? I, too, was disappointed that Wicker Man didn't make it. However, it did make the best foreign horror films list we made right after...

Søren said...

Inspired by this post I've done a similar survey here in Denmark for my horror blog. My blog's called Skræk og Rædsel.

I've invited reviewers, writers, directors and long time horror fans. 33 answered my request and here's the result:

2. ALIEN (1979), Ridley Scott.
3. DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978), George A. Romero.
4. THE SHINING (1980), Stanley Kubrick.
5. PSYCHO (1960), Alfred Hitchcock.
6. THE EXORCIST (1973), William Friedkin.
7. PROFONDO ROSSO (1975), Dario Argento.
8. SUSPIRIA (1977), Dario Argento.
9. EVIL DEAD II (1987), Sam Raimi.
10. THE THING (1982), John Carpenter.
11. HALLOWEEN (1978), John Carpenter.
12. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), George A. Romero.
13. ZOMBI 2 (1979), Lucio Fulci.
14. DRACULA (1958), Terence Fisher.
15. RE-ANIMATOR (1985), Stuart Gordon.
16. DON'T LOOK NOW (1973), Nicolas Roeg.
17. THE EVIL DEAD (1981), Sam Raimi.
18. THE HAUNTING (1963), Robert Wise.
19. VIDEODROME (1982), David Cronenberg.
20. ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), Roman Polanski.
21. JAWS (1975), Steven Spielberg.
22. JU-ON - THE GRUDGE (2003), Tahaski Shimizu.
23. BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), James Whale.
24. HENRY - PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER (1987), John McNaughton.
25. HALLOWEEN II (1981), Rick Rosenthal.
27. LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO (1960), Mario Bava.
28. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1995), John Carpenter.
29. THE BROOD (1979), David Cronenberg.
30. HONOGURAI MIZU NO SOKO KARA (2002), Hideo Nakata.
31. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), Wes Craven.
32. HAUTE TENSION (2003), Alexandre Aja.
33. E TU VIVRAI NEL TERRORE - L'ALDILÀ (1981), Lucio Fulci.
34. SANTA SANGRE (1989), Alejandro Jodorowsky.
35. REPULSION (1965), Roman Polanski.
36. NOSFERATU: PHANTOM DER NACHT (1978), Werner Herzog.
37. EVENT HORIZON (1997), Paul W.S. Anderson.
38. REC (2007), Jaume Balaueró, Paco Plaza.
39. THE INNOCENTS (1961), Jack Clayton.
40. BRAINDEAD (1992), Peter Jackson.
41. THE MUMMY (1932), Karl Freund.
42. POSSESSION (1981), Andrzej Zulawski.
43. CARRIE (1976), Brian De Palma.
44. THE DESCENT (2005), Neil Marshall.
45. ANTICHRIST (2009), Lars von Trier.
46. FREAKS (1932), Tod Browning.
47. TENEBRE (1982), Dario Argento.
48. DAS TESTAMENT DES DR. MABUSE (1933), Fritz Lang.
49. JACOB'S LADDER (1990), Adrian Lyne.
50. DRACULA (1979), John Badham.

Unknown said...

Well, this certainly generated a lot of responses. I may have to steal it and use it on my blog which has one person that comments.
Only kidding. If I steal, I give credit to the theivee.
Don't have any real argument except that I never could understand what anyone saw in the Blair Witch Project. Maybe I'm missing something but I personally found that film to be boring and irritating. Still, I give them credit for being innovative. In spite of my lack of love for the film, I have more respect for it than for Twatlight any day of the year.

Matt said...

The Mist - really? I thought that was just hilarious rather than scary, with a very forced "shock" ending. I think that it may be here due to it being "fresh in the public's conscience" as some of the entries on the HMV list appeared to be.

Generally a pretty good list though.

B-Sol said...

I disagree. I really believe The Mist was one of the best horror films of the '00s, and maybe I'm a real softy, but that ended crushed my soul.

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