Okay I’ve tried to limit my looooong list of favorite horror (and some sci-fi horror) films to 31. Let’s face it, I love way more movies than this, but if I had to choose, right now I’m recommending these 31 movies for Halloween. You’ll notice, I’m not really into gore, so these movies are mostly movies I find scary and suspenseful. If you’re looking for buckets of blood, sorry but you’ll have to make your own list. Otherwise, I think you’ll find some creepy goodness here.
31 – The Lady in White – A classic ghost story and tale of childhood horror.
30 – The Others – This movie was nice twist on the classic ghost story. The kids in the movie are uber creepy.
29 – The Sixth Sense – This is really one scary ass movie, even if you know the ending there are still scenes that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
28- Young Frankenstein – Okay, it’s not so scary, but it’s still a masterpiece. You cannot watch this movie without realizing how quotable it is. “Sed a GIVE?!”
27 – Abott and Costello Meet Frankenstein – Why we’re looking at not so scary movies, check out the classic horror spoof. I love this movie. Watch for Lon Chaney playing the Frankenstein monster.
26 – I Married a Monster from Outer Space – This is just chock full of 50’s paranoia goodness.
25 – Island of Lost Souls – This movie is based on H.G. Wells’ “The Island of Dr. Moreau ” but I think they didn’t actually have permission to make that movie so they changed a few things and named it something else. It’s still a very good movie – the atmosphere is thickand creepy – you’ll like it! (if you want to watch the Island of Dr. Moreau I recommend the 1977 version with Burt Lancaster and Michael York. “Those who break the law, go back to the House of Pain!”)
24 – I Walked with a Zombie – If you want creepy atmosphere this one has it! Voodoo drums, mysterious women in long flowing gowns, brothers in love with the same woman – it’s sort of like a Hatian Jane Eyre!
23 – Nightmare Before Christmas – Maybe not terrifying, but anyone who loves Halloween loves Jack Skellington and wants to visit Halloweentown!
22 – The Blair Witch Project – I love this movie. I know some people can’t stand the shaky camera, but I love the panic and the diy feel of the whole movie.
21 – Pet Sematary – I remember seeing this movie at the drive in when it first came out. I still love it. It’s still scary and disturbing and it taught me the valuable lesson that, “Sometimes dead is better.”
20 – Whatever Happened to Baby Jane – Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, right there you know it’s going to be good. Throw in some insanity, a dead canary, sibling rivalry, and liquor deliveries . . . you’ve got a kick ass mix going.
19 – The Lost Boys – This is a story of “cool” vampires and diy VanHelsings who fight them to save their town. It has a great cast, some jump out of your seat scary moments, and some very creative vampire fighting techniques. Love this one.
18 – The Creature from the Black Lagoon – my dad said this movie scared the crap out of him as a kid, and after watching it you can see why. There’s moments of tension and dread, waiting for the unknown to “getcha” as well as some really ethereal underwater scenes.
17 – Salem’s Lot – Another one from Stephen King. This one is truly horrifying. I will never be able to get the image of that kid’s best friend knocking on the window trying to get into the bedroom . . . AFTER HE WAS DEAD!
16- Vampyr – This silent movie is really and truly scary. You won’t think it was made in 1932. It has this whole eerie atmosphere full of fear and dread. The images are truely haunting and beautiful.
15 – The Deadly Mantis – I’m a sucker for black and white movies with giant creatures where the National Guard comes in at the end and saves the day. I just love that moment where they realize what they have on their hands, priceless!
14 – The Mole People – This was one of my favorites from childhood. It tries to get all scientific on you at the beginning, but really it’s just horrifying mole people living far beneath the Earth’s surface! Awesome! (Oh, and Wally and the Beav’s dad, Hugh Beaumont is in it too).
13 – Psycho – You know the story. You know Norman Bates and Bates Motel. It still rocks. People should not try to remake this – what’s the point? This is it. Watch it.
12 – The Shining – Wow, I didn’t realize how much Stephen King I had on this list. He has some really good movies and some that well . . . didn’t fare as well *coughcujo* If you read the book, frankly I liked it better because it helps you understand why Jack Torrence is going crazy and that the Hotel is a “living” entity. I’m not sure that comes across so well in the movie. But throw out that book and the movie is an excercise in the mounting of tension and fear. It’s also really really creepy when Danny says in that horrible voice, “Danny isn’t here, Mrs. Torrance.” Oh crap.
11 – Cat People – I prefer the original version. There’s so much, I’m saying it again, atmosphere. Dark shadows, strange growling, a cat stalking it’s prey . . .
10 – Nosferatu – The first horror movie? Certainly the first vampire film. Based on the Bram Stoker novel, Dracula, the film makers didn’t have permission to make this movie and had to change the title. It’s so flipping scary. Really scary. The stuff that made you lay awake in the dark as a child terrified to move. That’s what this movie is. Even now as an adult I find it scary.
9 – Poltergeist – In high school I babysat for a kid with a clown doll that laughed when you squeezed it. (I have no idea why you would give a kid such a horrible toy, but to each his own.) Late at night when the boy would be sleeping and I would be out in the living room studying or watching tv I would hear this demonic cackle from the darkened bedroom . . . and I would think of the clown doll in Poltergeist.
8 – Fiend without a Face – This is such a wonderful, cheesy, 1950s movie. It terrified me as a child so I have a soft spot in my heart for it. If you’re watching it for the first time as an adult I doubt you’ll get the full effect. Most likely you’ll be laughing or perhaps asking, “WTF?” I can’t explain it, I just love it.
7 – The Thing from Another World – this is one of my all time favorite sci-fi/horror films. Even the credits are awesome. I love the scene where the scientist form a circle in the ice and realize, OH MY GOD, it’s a UFO burried in the arctic! Love that. I love that they accidentally blow up the ice and lose the UFO – ooops! I love the scene where the monster is on fire – the lighting is perfect. Oh, I just love the whole thing. I don’t mind the 1983 John Carpenter version, it’s good too, but do yourself a favor and watch the original.
6 – The Fly – this is another movie that I love everything about. Vincent Price rules doesn’t he? Sure, you could go with the Jeff Goldblum version, it’s not bad, but why watch an imitation when you can get the real thing? “Help me . . . Help me!”
5 – The Wolfman – This begins my countdown of the Universal movies. I just touched on the original ones because they’re the best and the “sequels” which are good, would take up too much of my limited countdown. So here’s the wolfman – he’s tortured, he hates what he’s become, no body plays pathos like Lon Chaney Jr.
4 – The Mummy – This movie is for nerd archaeologist in us all. Boris Karloff is tops as Ardath Bey a creepy OLD egyptian who’s actually the revived Egyptian Priest Imhotep who’s back to claim his long lost love. Atmosphere? Check. Creepy monster makeup? Check. Universal Monster magic? Check. Okay, we’re ready to go!
3- Frankenstein – We’ve got Boris again. He’s the man I tellya! This movie is based on Mary Shelly’s novel. It is different from the book, but it made the Frankenstein monster an icon.
2- The Bride of Frankenstein – I know it’s weird to put the sequel ahead of the original. I love them both, really, but for me Bride is just my favorite – by just a little bit. Boris Karloff plays the monster with such deep sympathy in this one. And then there’s Dr. Pretorius, who gave me nightmares as a child – soooo weirdly creepy! The Bride isn’t really even in the movie very long, yet she’s so striking and memorable that she became an icon too. Watch it and you’ll know why it’s a classic.
1 – Dracula – Yeah, for me, the top is Dracula. I love me some Bela Lugosi. LOVE him in this movie. He defined what vampires are for us. No longer just horrifying blood drinking undead ghouls, he made vampires sexy and refined. The wolf in sheep’s clothing so to speak. His accent, his mannerisms, that piercing stare. I could go on and on about this movie and Bela Lugosi, but I’ll stop and let you judge for yourself. Oh, and if possible, avoid the newer version with Philip Glass music in the background. I like some stuff from Mr. Glass, but I hated his music with this movie, it felt like it should have been billed as Philip Glass composes with Dracula in the background. It overwhelms the movie for me. I realize that the original movie has little background music, but personally I prefer it that way. It seems creepier to me.