It’s hard to find another movie, horror or otherwise, that’s as overwhelming to the senses as Suspiria. The tale of witches causing anguish at a ballet academy is filtered through a brightly colored, dazzling set. And featuring a nightmarish soundtrack by the band Goblin, this Italian flick is a unique piece of cinema that is sure to leave you thinking about it long after it’s terrifying climax.
Of all the movies on this list, this one may be the most valuable to filmmakers of any genre. What defines The Thing isn’t its groundbreaking, to this day unparalleled, practical special effects. Rather, it’s the use of tension and mistrust between characters to create one of (if not the best) Mystery-Sci Fi-Horror movies of all time.
Henry Portrait of Serial Killer
This film is probably going to leave you with a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach. Few films take such a vulnerable, unabashed look into mind of a killer, and still remain so sinister. This movie is (basically) a character study of a serial killer trying to find love. I wonder how that goes?
An American Werewolf in London
This movie is unexpectedly chilling. It changes tempo on the turn of a dime, in a way that truly shocks the audience. And the legendary transformation has been inspiring makeup artists and filmmakers decades after its inception. But all of the effects in this movie are impressive and there is a lot of inspiration in its grim gore.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The most influential precursor to Slasher Cinema there is. And notoriously grizzly in its violence, this movie practically feels like a found footage film at times. The actor’s emotions are real and the visuals are grating. I feel this film is best enjoyed when you don’t know what to expect so I’ll leave it to you to uncover it’s darkness.
Originally, The Exorcist was not this list, but further thought made that out to be a mistake. So here it is! And what can be said about The Exorcist that hasn’t been said before. A wholly necessary film for any self proclaimed “movie buff” to have seen, The Exorcist transcends the title of “horror movie.” From the performances, to the music, to non-stop horror show that is the final 30 minutes of the film. Denying the influence of The Exorcist on horror is like denying the influence of Star Wars on Sci Fi.
The most recent movie on this list, It Follows is masterpiece of simplicity. The mundane concept of a monster that is perpetually following you doesn’t seem like the most interesting affair. But this simple concept is made horrific and claustrophobic in It Follows. The realism of the writing and acting lends itself to a modern viewer and remains stripped down without losing a shred of terror.
There is no “slow burn” horror film quite like Audition. In fact, if you so happened to miss the last 20 minutes, you might think it was just a weird love story. And that is certainly one of its defining qualities; a man in mourning auditions different women to be his new lover. A study in shocking an audience, this movie tricks its viewers into a sense of comfort then gives them an intense slap in the face.
One of the more obscure flicks on this list, Black Christmas is another precursor to the Slasher. This is the first movie to combine the elements of a final girl, red herrings, and young adults fighting for their life in a small house with a killer on the loose. Such elements would become defining features of the genre. Adding this film to your watch list is a must for anyone interested in horror history. And no other movie will make you so scared to pick up the phone
The Shining might have the most iconic moments in a single horror film. This is a movie that’s imagery is designed to stick with the viewer for life. The Overlook Hotel is closed for the winter and the Torrance family is watching over it in. Artistic camera framing, and a tense, slow burning plot gives this movie its cutting edge. Few people watch this movie and aren’t phased by its intense imagery, a true classic amongst classics.
By Gray Bigler