I am just as picky about my horror movies as I am about my horror games, however, I will cut most movies some slack if I enjoy the overall theme and it’s not another “teens partying” story. Some of these films are commonly known, some of them are a little less well known.
As with games, I prefer my horror films to contain less gorey gore gore moments and jumpy jumpscares and more moments of growing suspense and dread. I also enjoy films that are both beautiful and disturbing at the same time as they pull me in, and as horrified as I am, I cannot look away.
Some horror movies I see more as comedies than horror, and so they will not end up on this list, along with actual horror comedies. We’re just going for pure horror here. There will also be no hybrid films here, no scifi horror, mystery, thriller, or fantasy horror, even though some of my favorite films ever come from the meshing of genres.
Honorable Mention: I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
I watched this for a class, and was honestly surprised by how much it honestly creeped me out. We’re not talking flesh-eating zombies here, but rather zombies created via voodoo. In this film, people are cursed to roam the earth as zombies with wide, cold, staring eyes. The film creates horror and tension with little more than light, shadow, and very bizarre facial expressions. It’s not as good as the other films on this list, but it’s good if you want to watch something retro.
10: A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
This film is an intense and psychologically arresting one. So, why is it so low on my list? That’s just because I find this film to, in spite of it being classed as horror, fit into the category of thriller better. Still, this film throws more twists and turns than a Shyamalan picture and actually does it WELL. Following the story of a traumatized girl as she tries to deal with her father’s remarriage, there are a lot of unexpected and shocking events throughout this film. Also there are ghosts. Ghosts are a trend for this list.
9: Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
I had to put a J-Horror film on here somewhere. While it is far from my favorite, I do enjoy watching The Grudge once in a while. By the Grudge I mean the original Japanese version. While I sometimes find myself poking fun at the “burping” ghost of Kayako and Toshio’s meowing, there are some moments of genuine horror in this film, particularly when an individual is alone and the ghosts decide to pay a visit…
8: The Conjuring (2013)
James Wan has finally managed to make a film that I consider good, and in 2013 no less! It is a very well written ghost story, being based on cases that Ed and Lorraine Warren, pioneers in the field of paranormal investigation, worked on. The visuals and effects are fairly simple, but sufficient to create a mood of dread and suspense. If only more modern horror films were made this well.
7:Eyes Without a Face (1962)
A French film, this entry counts under the “beautiful but disturbing as all hell” type of horror film that I enjoy. Despite being in black and white, it manages to be deeply unsettling. The plot centers around a man who kidnaps women in order to take their faces for his disfigured daughter. The image of Christiane in her stiff, lifeless mask is one that will stay with you long after the film ends.
6: The Others (2001)
This film showcases how a twist ending should be done. A brilliantly written ghost story, it features a mother and her children as they are haunted by mysterious spirits. Years before ghost stories became “trendy” again, this film still does it right, only outdone by two other ghost stories higher on this list. If you don’t know the twist, it will leave you reeling.
5: Hellraiser (1987)
Clive Barker is one of my favorite authors. His gift for the twisted, mad, disturbing, and beautiful has only been matched by writers of much earlier times. While I am generally turned away by gory works, Hellraiser pulled me in. It is gross, yes, but it is also very visually impressive and bizarre. It is also a pretty good adaptation of The Hellbound Heart, one of my favorite Barker works. While it is not my favorite of Barker’s creations, it is still one of my favorite horror movies.
4: Suspiria (1977)
GOODNESS this film is visually beautiful. The first of Dario Argento’s “Witch Trilogy” the story follows a ballet student who attends an academy in Germany. Everything about this film is strange. The rooms, the events…the blood. Aside from being visually arresting, it manages to get in a few good scares. Its one of the few actually scary movies about a coven of witches, and, for anyone not turned away by blood, comes highly recommended.
3: The Orphanage (2007)
A Spanish horror film, The Orphanage stunned me with how emotionally intense it is. I will let any viewers know, this film WILL toy with your emotions and make you feel anger, sadness, and horror. Still, this is what makes it a great film. The visuals are stark but powerful, with the image of Tomas in his sack mask being the most notable. A tragic ghost story, this is a good watch when you want something that is more than just cheap scares.
2:The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
German Expressionist horror at its finest, Featuring a mysterious man and his somnambulist, Cesare, it has so many twists and turns that it makes your head spin. The film is beautiful, and, while some people do not have the patience for silent film anymore, I do highly recommend it as it manages to still be scary despite its age. This film is considered a classic for good reason.
And my favorite Horror Movie EVER is…
1:The Haunting (1963)
This movie is the quintessential ghost story, and there is nothing better than a damned good ghost story. It doesn’t have flashy effects, gore, or jumpscares, but what it DOES have is atmosphere. This film creates scares and builds tension with little more than noise and shadow. It is one of the few films on this list to actually make my skin crawl on top of being a great movie overall. This one comes highly recommended.