With the nights getting longer and children across the UK about to mimic their American counterparts on Halloween Eve by donning creepy costumes in return for sweets, we at Total Film felt it was the perfect time to rifle through the long, gory history of movie horror and pick out our Top 50. Some are terrifying. Some are horrifying. Some are just plain revolting. But every one of the films on our list is a raw, visceral and highly disturbing shocker.
For the comprehensive rundown (and to find out which films scare the pants off horror maestros like David Cronenberg, George Romero and Wes Craven), pick up the November 2005 issue of Total Film, on sale now.
Disagree with our list? Or is your favourite horror movie missing? Go to the Total Film forum to air your views...
1 THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE 1974
Cutting deep: Tobe Hooper takes horror to the bleeding edge.
2 HALLOWEEN 1978
Hawks meets Hitchcock as the slasher cycle finds true Shape...
3 SUSPIRIA 1977
Sighs and whispers (and screams) in Argento’s baroque bloodletter.
4 DAWN OF THE DEAD 1978
George A Romero’s definitive document of the walking dead.
5 THE SHINING 1980
Loving family man tries to put an axe through his son’s head.
6 PSYCHO 1960
Come on up to the house. Oh, and don’t mind Mother...
7 THE WICKER MAN 1973
Creeping pagan terror on a remote Scottish island.
8 ROSEMARY’S BABY 1968
The horny Devil hits home and hearth...
9 DON’T LOOK NOW 1973
Nicolas Roeg’s clammy elegy to love and loss.
10 CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 1980
Horror doesn’t get any harsher than this.
11 THE THING 1982
Snatched bodies and reheated Cold War paranoia.
12 CARRIE 1976
Memo to all bullies – Stop. Picking. On. The. Quiet. Ones.
13 THE EXORCIST 1973
The Devil rides into the mother of all religio-horrors.
14 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT 1999
If you go down to the woods today... take a camcorder.
15 WITCHFINDER GENERAL 1968
Lyrical English landscapes are painted red with torture.
16 THE HAUNTING 1963
You are invited to a born-bad house. Bring your own ghosts.
17 THE EVIL DEAD 1981
Five go bloody in the woods in Raimi’s splatter-punk debut.
18 PEEPING TOM 1960
Cameraman fi lms as he kills. Such a nice young man...
19 ALIEN 1979
The ultimate hack’n’slash bad-boy monster.
20 BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN 1935
Karloff’s monster lumbers towards matrimony.
21 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 1968
A bunch of amateurs stake out a home in horror history.
22 CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE 1944
A haunting, shivery study of childhood loneliness.
23 SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE 2003
Modern horror grows some bloody big balls.
24 A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 1984
Horny teens get fingered by the son of a thousand maniacs.
25 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON 1981
More than just a shaggy dog story.
26 NIGHT OF THE DEMON 1957
Cat People helmer brings that ol’ black magic to Blighty.
27 HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER 1986
String vests and death by screwdriver.
28 BAY OF BLOOD 1971
Everyone kills everyone else in once-banned video nasty.
29 AUDITION 1999
A woman’s revenge, served with relish by Takashi Miike.
30 SHIVERS 1975
Zombies run riot in an early slab of Cronenberg meat.
31 THE INNOCENTS 1961
Subtle scares in Henry James’ clammy ghost tale.
32 THE DEVIL RIDES OUT 1968
It’s Christopher Lee versus soul-stealing Satanists!
33 LES DIABOLIQUES 1955
Murderous schemes in a French boarding school.
34 DEAD RINGERS 1988
Love, addiction, separation. Nausea guaranteed.
35 INFERNO 1980
Blood and thunder in Argento’s frenzied trip of the brain.
36 MARTIN 1977
Growing pains for bloodsucking teen sociopath.
37 THE HOWLING 1981
A tongue-in-cheek werewolf pic that likes its meat rare.
38 VAMPYR 1932
Gather, darkness: a vampire film like no other.
39 CANDYMAN 1992
Dare you to look in the mirror and say his name five times! No? Thought not...
40 THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES 1966
City quack investigates dying country bumpkins.
41 SCREAM 1996
Wes Craven rewrites the slasher textbook.
42 TARGETS 1968
Trad horror confronts modern terror in Bogdanovich’s debut.
43 THE SECT 1991
Infernal pits, Devil-worship and the son of Satan!
44 THE DESCENT 2005
Six chicks with picks. Be afraid, be very afraid.
45 BRAINDEAD 1992
Quite possibly the bloodiest movie ever made.
46 HOUR OF THE WOLF 1968
Father Merrin must exorcise a few demons of his own.
47 ERASERHEAD 1977
David Lynch presents an argument for sterilisation.
48 NEKROMANTIK 1987
Dead and loving it in a truly sick flick.
49 THE BEYOND 1981
Director Lucio Fulci goes to Hell and back.
50 HELLRAISER 1987
Demonically kinky splatter-smut in Clive Barker’s deviant debut.