Top 100 Horror Movies 1982 – 2012

April 8, 2012 — 95 Comments

Thought I’d put together a list of, what are in my opinion, the top 100 horror movies of the last 30 years. Why just the last 30 years? First, for me, the early 80s mark the divide between classic horror and modern horror. There are some excellent horror movies before 1982, but there are also many films that were truly amazing for their time, but wouldn’t be considered as good today. However, due to their huge cultural significance, they are always included in the top 100 horrors of all time. I want to put together a list, that people just getting into horror, can take away and will actually watch.

Second, there are thousands of top 100 horror movie lists on the internet, and they all pretty much look the same. By not including films prior too 1982, I’ve freed up space for some great films that would otherwise be overlooked. Let’s be honest, most horror fans could probably recite the top 20 horror films without any difficultly. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a list that didn’t end with either The Exorcist, Psycho or The Shinning?

I’ve read a lot of these lists, and there is always comments like “That’s not a horror film.” I believe that horror has so many sub-genres, and the edges of the horror genre itself are blurred. Some of the films on this list may fit better into other genres, such as science fiction or dark comedy, but I feel they also have enough of a horror flavor to warrant their place.
Furthermore, I have tried to limit the amount of non English speaking films, to be honest, I could write them a list of their own. I have included a few that have had noteworthy international acclaim or have influenced the whole genre.

I’m sure I’ve missed more than a few, so as people comment and make suggestions, I may update the list.

100. Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers (1988)

99. Cabin Fever (2002)

98. Dark Water (2002)

97. Lifeforce (1985)

96. Session 9 (2001)

95. Friday The 13th (2009)

94. Wrong Turn (2003)

93. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

92. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

91. Ils – Them (2006)

90. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

89. Trick r Treat (2007)

88. High Tension (2003)

87. Dead Snow (2009)

86. The Gate (1986)

85. Shadow of a Vampire (2000)

84. Silent Hill (2006)

83. Jeepers Creepers (2001)

82. The Grudge (2004)

81. Pet Semetery  (1989)

80. The Orphanage (2007)

79. The People Under the Stairs (1991)

78. The Bride of Chucky (1998)

77. Orphan (2009)

76. Inside (2007)

75. Joy Ride (Road Kill) (2001)

74. Pumpkin Head (1988)

73. Frankenhooker (1990)

72. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

71. Audition (1999)

70. From Dusk to Dawn (1996)

69. Feast (2005)

68. Martyres (2008)

67. Paranormal Activity (2007)

66. Dead End (2003)

65. Arachnophobia (1990)

64. Prince of Darkness (1987)

63. Resident Evil : Afterlife  (2010)

62. Leviathan (1989)

61. Final Destination (200)

60. The Signal (2007)

59. Event Horizon (1997)

58. Underworld : Awakening (2011)

57. Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

56. May (2002)

55. The Loved Ones (2009)

54. The Crazies (2010)

53. Wolf Creek (2005)

52. Candyman (1992)

51. The Ruins (2008)

50. Splice (2009)

49. From Beyond (1986)

48. Creepshow (1982)

47. Child’s Play (1988)

46. Eden Lake (2008)

45. Night of the Creeps (1986)

44. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

43. The Mist (2009)

42. Angel Heart (1987)

41. Stake Land (2010)

40. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

39. Teeth (2007)

38. The Devils Rejects (2005)

37. Death proof (2007)

36. Near Dark (1989)

35. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

34. Cube (1997)

33. Misery (1990)

32. [REC] (2007)

31. The Entity (1982)

30. Splinter (2008)

29. Nightmare on Elm Street : Dream Warriors (1987)

28. Piranha (2010)

27. Attack The Block (2010)

26. Slither (2006)

25. Resident Evil (2002)

24. Blade (1998)

23. Frailty (2001)

22. The Lost Boys (1987)

21. Saw (2004)

20. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil (2010)

19. Dog Soldiers (2002)

18. Hell Raiser (1987)

17. Zombieland (2010)

16. Let Me In  (2010)

15. IT (1990)

14. Scream (1996)

13. Ginger Snaps (2002)

12. Shaun of The Dead (2004)

11. The Descent (2005)

10. Poltergeist (1982)

9. The Fly (1986)

8. Tremors (1990)

7. The Vanishing (spoorloos)  (1988)

6. Re-animator (1985)

5. Ringu (1998)

4. The Evil Dead 2 (1987)

3. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

2. The Thing (1982)

1. Aliens (1986)

 

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95 responses to Top 100 Horror Movies 1982 – 2012

  1. 

    Great list! Love those top two, and also happy to see Spoorloos, Dog Soldiers and Angel Heart on there. There’s a bunch on here I’ll have to check out. It just snuck in for you, but I have to say that I really disliked The Hamiltons – annoying characters, poorly shot, cliche plotting. But hey, 1/100 ain’t bad.

    -Neal
    http://dcpfilm.wordpress.com/

  2. 

    Yeah, I actually struggled with this list. Most of my favs are from the 60s and 70s. I’m sure I’ve missed a few big guns but I was just drawing a blank once I got to about 80 🙂

  3. 

    Great list! 🙂 Are you planning to do more in the future??

  4. 
    epitaphcarver April 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Nice list.

  5. 

    Great list! It was clever of you to eliminate the classics! I’m similarly sick of top 100 lists ending with Citizen Kane or The Godfather, so I’m totally on board with this idea.

    I do have one question, though. Have you seen the movie The Orphanage? If not, it’s a definite must-watch. It’s a Spanish horror film produced by Guillermo del Toro.

    If you HAVE seen it, is there a reason it isn’t on the list? If not, you need to watch it ASAP and get back to me with your thoughts on where it would have gone.

    What do you say? Up for a challenge? It’s on Netflix I believe!

  6. 

    nice list, but insidious?

  7. 

    Great list! Lots of familiar names, but a few that we’ll have to catch up on.
    Thanks!

  8. 

    Some good picks there. Final Destination, Shaun of the Dead, Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and The Fly are among my all-time favorites from any era or genre. Good gut-wrenching stuff, with humor often adding greatly to the impact rather than detracting. Aliens seems to me an odd choice for #1, but hey, it’s your list.

    A couple of glaring omissions IMHO: of all the remakes of Japanese horror, I thought The Ring (2002) was the only one that was actually superior to the original. I would also have added The Eye (2002) and Shutter (2004).

    • 

      Why is Aliens an odd choice?

      The Ring was very good. However, it lacked the gritty bleakness of the original. I thought it was a softer, prettier film compared to Ringu 1 & 2 (You gotta watch them back to back – really 2 parts of the same film). I could have included The Ring somewhere is the 50-100 range, but I didn’t want to waste two spaces on essentially the same film.

      The Eye has one of the most terrifying scenes of all time – The elevator scene. On that merit it may just slip onto the list, but as I said, I was trying to limit the amount of non-english speaking films on the list.

      Shutter has no place in the top 100 😛

  9. 
    Andrea Martin April 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Love this! About 10 I’m gonna have to look up! which is great – almost run outta films recently. Sleepaway 2, but not 1? Top 10 are probably my fav films ever! x

  10. 

    You had me with all of these, except Angel Heart *Boring as Fuck*

  11. 

    That’s a great list & some really interesting choices, the cool thing is that they’re all really valid. It also jogged the memory, Eden Lake in particular, I’d forgotten about that one, or tried too, great film but also one of the bleakest I’ve ever seen.

  12. 

    Great list man! I agree with nearly all of your choices. I write horror fiction, both prose and poems, so a lot of my ideas start formulating after watching horror movies.

    Most of the “teen thriller” movies of today just don’t cut it for me, and I often find myself flipping through much older movies to get the inspiration I need. Thanks mate!

  13. 

    Great list. I couldn’t imagine doing one myself.

    Top three for me all time are actually horror movies.

    1. Psycho
    2. Halloween
    3. A Nightmare on Elm Street

  14. 

    Love this list, especially with some lesser known movies like People Under the Stairs and Tucker and Dale! You’ve given me something to use for this Halloween when I’m trying to find new movies to watch. Not sure I could come up with 100 but this would be an interesting list for me to create.

  15. 

    Good list! I would probably change the order around quite a bit, but my own would probably have most of the same entries. But that’s one thing about horror; it’s maybe the most subjective of all genres. Even though I only saw it yesterday though, I would definitely have included PIN.

    • 

      I haven’t seen PIN, but that odds that you mention it as I was recommended it this weekend. Worth a watch then? (I’ve lost too much of my life on awful horror films ha!)

      • 

        Definitely worth a watch. I put up a full review yesterday (with some mild spoilers)

        • 

          I read a review last night – think it may have been yours.

          What would you have moved around on the list? Anything major? I knocked it up pretty quick, but I found the order more difficult than selecting the films.

          • 

            I would have put Martyrs and High Tension (or Switchblade Romance as it’s called here!) higher up. For me, they are easily both top 15. I would have had more foreign movies though. I think the best horror in the last ten yrs at least is coming out of Asia

            • 

              Are you in the UK? My version was called Switchblade romance (which I think is a better title). But then I kept seeing it called High Tension, so I went with that for my list. I was tempted to put Martyrs a bit higher, but I have vague memories of feeling quite mixed about the film. Need to rewatch it I think. Often I need to give films a second run, especially if I’ve seen it at the end of a movie marathon when my concentration is lagging 🙂

              I wanted to add more foreign films tbh, but I was trying to make the list as universal as possible. The majority of people on my blog are English, and it pains me to say, some people write films off straight away if there subtitled. I must admit, subtitled films are no good if you in a group. I was going for something that anyone could pull out in preparation of a Halloween movie night 😀

  16. 

    I’m in UK, yeah. Up in sunny Edinburgh to be precise.
    Haute Tension was the original French title, which was translated directly for all international markets except us! Switchblade Romance is a much better title. High Tension just seems so generic and a bit dull.
    I know what you mean about people disregarding films because they’re in another language, or even just black and white!

  17. 

    This is a solid list! Nice work – and thank you, there are a few I haven’t seen that I’ll add to my watch list 😀

    • 

      Thanks! I’ve been avoiding your review of Cabin in the Woods. Really looking forward to it on Friday. We’ve had hardly any horrors in UK cinemas this year so I gotta make a thing of it 🙂 …I skimmed it without thinking, and worryingly I saw ‘The Village’ mentioned :S

      • 

        It’s nothing like The Village! In fact, my review says hardly anything about the film. All I said was the reason why I wasn’t going to say anything about the film was because I didn’t want to ruin it by giving people expectations (which is what I think ruined The Village for me). 😛

        You should read my review. No spoilers I promise!

        Excited to hear what you think about The Cabin in the Woods!!

  18. 

    About a third of these I haven’t seen – especaillay at the bottom of the list.

  19. 

    My favourite horror movies would have to be The Haunting and House on Haunted Hill (the remake). I’m also a big fan of Final Destination 1 and 2. I think recent films are too focused on gore and the not the story.

  20. 

    Thanks for the great list, reminded me of some movies I wanted to re-see and check out for the 1st time.

  21. 

    Great list man, and I was secretly hoping you’d read my review of “The Changeling” as I wanted to know what you thought. Also, I saw your review for “Absentia” and the main character is the older sister of a friend of mine, I’m looking forward to seeing it! Oh yeah, if you haven’t seen it yet, definitely check out “Session 9”, I’d love to hear what you think (it’s my favorite horror movie ever)

    • 

      Ofcourse I’ve seen Session 9! Great film – nothing original, but it took some old ideas and did them better. It was actually on my maybe pile for the list, I just couldn’t decide where to put it! Your not the only person that’s said it should be on there – might have to make room for it 🙂

  22. 

    This is an awesome list to which I will refer many times! Thanks for taking the time and putting in the work.

  23. 

    The list is nice. I just understand one thing, how can movies like piranha, resident evil and wrong turn be tagged horror?

    • 

      Not really sure how to answer that my friend. Some films fit into many genres, and often may only have horror elements. It’s a genre that is made up from many sub genres; Slashers, Torture porn, Psychological horror, creature features, body shock horror, video nasties, the living dead / zombies, demons, religion, horror comedy, sic-fi horror, J-horror, Gothic horror, ghosts and haunted houses, evil kids, young persons horror, animals vs. human, teen horror, etc.. the list is extensive, and different for everyone. What one person considers horror another may not. However, I believe very few people would suggest those three titles are not horror.

  24. 
    WordsFallFromMyEyes April 12, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Firstly – love the pic. It intrigues me endlessly how scary a skull looks, but we are all skulls beneath our skins. A really great pic.

    Re your list, I didn’t know so many of them, shame me! But what you wrote re genres & sub genres of horror, I fully agree. You’re very knowledgeable in all this. Interesting post 🙂

  25. 

    Nice list you have the same taste in horror that I do (:

  26. 

    Glad to see ‘The Thing’ near the top. I love that movie and it is incredibly spooky.

    -Steve

  27. 

    Great list! Glad to see movies in there like Dead Snow and Audition. To me knowing the making of certain scenes in Audition made it more vile. I also like the fact you included movies that fall into the horror/comedy sub genre, Shaun of the Dead being one of my favourite in that catagory. You do have some on the list that make me shake my head and ask myself did he really put that on there….but it is your list and still an amazing one at that!

  28. 

    Hummmmm do I really wish to go down that path….well sure why the heck not go down that slippery slope 😛 ! Sleepyaway Camp 2….campy as it is(pun so not intended ), not so sure it would make my top 100. Top 100 B rated horror, oh hell ya. Frankenhooker?? come on..nooooooo. again B rated. That is perhaps another list to compile. yes? Let Me In…I honestly preferred the original Let the Right One In over that. But this is your list not mine, overall it is an amazing list. I think I have seen 99% of these movies and own them most, not all, of them.

    • 

      Ah that’s not so bad, I was getting ready to take you back to horror school 😛

      I will give you Frankenhooker no argument, I wasn’t sure about including that one myself. I wanted a film on the list that represented the sleazy horrors and video nasties of the 70s, but was made between 1982 and 2012. Was the only one that sprang to mind – I am completely open to suggestions here.

      Choosing between Let Me In and ‘Let The Right One In’ is a very tough call. I loved them both. However, I thought the remake was slightly better. Also, as with The Ring / Ringu, I could have included both on the list, but I didn’t want to use two spots for essentially the same movie. Also, Hammer’s reentry into the horror film market tugged on my nostalgia a little.

      Sleepaway camp 2 – This represents a less definable sub genre of horror films. The ‘so bad their good, so cheesy it makes your skin crawl, with lots of needlessly topless women’ genre. Ofcourse you wouldn’t enjoy it. it was designed solely for groups of teenage boys between 13-15 yrs old. Sure, we got Piranha in there, but I wanted something from the 80s.

      My list must included B movies! Most horrors are B movies, in fact the days of Sci-fi B movies was left behind in the 50s. Horror pretty much flies the flag for B movies. Just because it’s a B movie – that does mean that its not good, yes, a lot of B movies are awful, but some are outstanding.

      Sorry about the Essay! Ha! Thanks for your comments 🙂

      • 

        Okay okay I will give you Frankenhooker for cheese factor alone and I never said I did not like Sleepaway Camp 2. I just am not so sure that I would put it on my top 100 list. But if we are giving merit for cheesiness then it deserves to be on the list. I mean honestly if I was judging because of cheese factor I would have said something about Feast and I like that movie.

        I so have to disagree that most horror movies are B movies, many yes, not most. I think the Scy-Fy (ohhhh so prefer the old Sci-fi) channel has resurrected the art of the 50’s style B movies. With titles like Sharktopus, Frankenfish and Dinocroc vs. Supergator the 50’s is reborn. But nothing will ever compare to Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

        And thank you for not bringing me back to horror school 😉 … It is just a matter of opinions and agreeing to disagree. Also making for a fun debate.

  29. 

    Because I am an absolute baby, I have always avoided horror films. That being said, I can say that I have seen 5 movies on your list. maybe I am tougher than I thought? nah……lol

  30. 

    Thanks for liking my post on the Tokoloshe. This is a great list and I’m glad you left out the Classics.
    Was very happy to see Shadow of the Vampire, Malkovich and Defoe were brilliant! Was slightly disappointed however not to see my two favs: Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula(F. Ford Coppola)… 😉

    • 

      I found it surprisingly difficult to pick just 100, I did consider Sleepy Hollow, which I love, but it just didn’t make the final cut. Bram Stoker, and Interview with the Vampire probably should have also been included too. I think, when I was writing this list, I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ period horror 🙂

  31. 

    It is very difficult to come up with a list like that, but yours is quite solid! One day I will have to make a list of my own. My two all time faves are: The Exorcist III and Halloween.

  32. 

    Great blog, man! However, there is a glaring oversight on this list. I submit for your consideration 28 DAYS LATER. Danny Boyle’s best.
    Just swap it out with SPLICE (which should not be on the list!).
    Fun stuff, and thanks for liking my post.

    • 

      I made this list pretty much on the spot. I could have made it a lot longer, probably should just to fit in the ones I’ve missed. Maybe ill post an edited one just before Halloween, taking it up to 120 films. I did consider 28 Days Later, but by then I had already filled my list.

      Splice will stay 😛

  33. 

    As previously stated… Great list! Only think I’d change is to put The Descent at nr 2 in that list 😛

  34. 

    Geez…..so many comments! I, for one, am glad you included Sleepaway Camp 2! Love that one 🙂

  35. 

    I think Aliens is not so much a horror as a complete sci-fi, the original Alien now that was Horror based in space. I’m not a mad horror fan so I’m not sure about some of them haha.

    • 

      I covered this at the top of this post. I felt Aliens has enough common horror components to warrant a place on the list, and then, where else could I place it. For me; Avatar, Star wars or Jurassic park would be ‘complete’ or mainstream sci-fi. Aliens is a Sci-Fi, no doubt, but it also could easily be listed under horror. Everyone has their own definitions I suppose.

  36. 

    I completely, and utterly agree with number 1. Nice list!

  37. 

    I thought this was a great list, excellent idea to have the cut-off at 1982 to present to highlight some lesser known movies.
    I know it’s all subjective, but surely you could have included Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, The Silence of the Lambs, Braindead, Day of the Dead (1985), and The Hitcher (1986)..?
    Also place Martyrs higher… and great to see Splice, Angel Heart, The Loved Ones and Shadow of the Vampire on there.

  38. 

    I seriously considered including Day of the Dead and Braindead. But I had to limited the amount of Zombie films in the list – They probably deserve their own list! I had to make some tough calls otherwise half the list would have been zombies. I love the Hitcher, honestly I completely forgot about it when writing this list! I wrote this just for a bit of fun, as I was bored of just reviewing films. I probably should have spent a bit more time on it and done some research, and I probably wouldn’t have missed some obvious ones. I am going to take onboard some of the feedback and reorder the list just before Halloween.

    I think I need to rematch Martyrs, your not the only person to suggest it should be higher. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t think it was quite as good as most people seem too.

    As for Silence of the Lambs, well, another tough one. I don’t believe films ever fit into just one genre, its more about scales and percentages. Silence of the Lambs fits nicely into the horror / thriller category, however, after some thought I felt it was far closer to a thriller, so decided to exclude it.

    Henry: Portrait of a serial killer. I think every horror fans has a couple of films that they possibly *should* like, but just don’t. For me, Henry is one of those films. I just can’t get into it.

    Thanks for your comment, some really good feedback for when I re-write this list.

    • 

      All fair points. I agree, it’s great to see so many opinions populate these replies. Good luck with the revised list, seems like this subject will keep you busy for a while yet.

  39. 

    Creature with the Atom Brain I am very pleased to see Cube in here, loved that film! But how could you miss Cube Zero? I mean common! *Rolls eyes* Awesome List!

  40. 

    I am a movie NERD and there are some on here that even I haven’t seen! Thanks for kickin’ in my OCD, I guess we know what I’m doing with the rest of my weekend…great read, thanks.
    Michael E./The Deadz

  41. 

    I would have ranked Session 9 higher on the list. That movie was so unsettling to me I almost walked out.

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