The 100 best horror films – contributors S

View the top ten lists of horror films chosen by the likes of Reece Shearsmith and Tom Six

Black titles are clickable and denote top 100 placing

Josh Saco

Josh Saco is the madman behind cinema-hopping film club Cigarette Burns, whose stated mission is ‘to return forgotten and obscure cult classics to the cinema screens of London.’ Who’d argue with that?

  1. Horrors of Malformed Men (Teruo Ishii, 1969)
  2. Viy (Georgi Kropachyov, Konstantin Yershov, 1967)
  3. Alice, Sweet Alice (Alfred Sole, 1976)
  4. Deep End (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1970)
  5. Faust (FW Murnau, 1926)
  6. The Beyond (Lucio Fulci, 1981)
  7. Who Can Kill a Child? (Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1976)
  8. Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
  9. House of the Devil (Ti West, 2009)
  10. Ils (Them) (David Moreau, Xavier Palud, 2006)

'“Horrors of Malformed Men” was banned for years in Japan and even now is not embraced. A twist on “The Island of Doctor Moreau” it’s packed full of experimentation, cult appeal and malformed men. “Viy” is one of the very few Soviet era horror films, an adaptation of a Gogol short story. Visually stunning and witty it’s a true gem of a film.  Children are terrifying, and one of the finest examples of the late ’70s craze of evil children films is “Alice, Sweet Alice”. It  kicks off with an astonishingly brutal killing and doesn’t let up. Jaw dropping and unsettling in equal parts. in “Who Can Kill a Child?” an English couple find themselves holidaying on an island of evil children and are faced with the most difficult decision. It features what is arguably one of the most traumatising death scenes ever.'

Angel Sala

Angel Sala is the director of the Sitges Film Festival in Barcelona, one of the world’s oldest and most respected celebrations of genre cinema.

Eduardo Sanchez

In 1999, Eduardo Sanchez and his co-director Daniel Myrick revolutionised horror with ‘The Blair Witch Project’, which not only kickstarted the current fad for ‘found footage’ movies but basically invented online viral movie marketing. Since then, he’s directed a number of films including ‘Altered’ and ‘Lovely Molly’, and there are persistent rumours of ‘Blair Witch 3’.

‘I  watched the directors cut of “The Exorcist” a few years back and it killed me. That spider walk they added made me shit my pants.  I bought the DVD but even the making-of doc scared me to death.  I ended up giving that DVD away. They captured something during the shooting of that film that just wasn't right. If any movie had any kind of real supernatural collaboration to it, this is it. I never want to see it again, but I will have to soon. And “The Amityville Horror” is the classic haunted house tale that's actually scary.  Red eyes in the window, flies, blood coming out of the walls!  And when the father has to go back in to save the dog!  Holy shit, that fucked me up. And “Boggy Creek” is a semi-documentary, sort of experimental film that is still the creepiest film about Bigfoot ever made.  Hyper-realism and sound design is to be paid attention to – the pioneer in first-person atmosphere that heavily influenced “Blair Witch”.’

Louis Savy

Louis Savy is the director of the annual Sci-Fi London festival, bringing global science fiction to a UK audience. The next event kicks off on May 1, 2012.

(in no order)

John Shackleton

John Shackleton is the co-writer and producer of British horror movie ‘Panic Button’. He has also written and directed a number of short films.

Reece Shearsmith

Reece Shearsmith is an actor and writer most famous for horror-infuenced TV comedy shows ‘The League of Gentlemen’ and ‘Psychoville’. He also appeared in ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘The Cottage’ and ‘Burke and Hare’.

‘“Rosemary’s Baby” is probably the best study of evil operating in the modern world. Polanski's film gives us completely real people living next door to very ordinary Devil Worshippers. John Cassavetes is perfect as the husband who forfeits his wife to Satan to better his own career. And Ruth Gordon as insistent Satanist Minnie Castavet, is probably the best depiction of the insidious nature of Evil, you are ever likely to see. I think “Exorcist 3” is one of the great horror films. It’s brilliantly written, with an extremely funny script by William Peter Blatty, as well as some truly shocking moments of terror. George C. Scott is particularly brilliant, with  great support from Brad Dourif maintaining yet another one of his impeccable variations on Evil. And “King of Comedy” is just a deeply unpleasant film. This is real horror, depicting the kind of desolation that these days is presented to us every Saturday night  as our most watched entertainment.’

Francesco Simeoni

Francesco Simeoni is the manager of Arrow Films, a UK-based label specialising in stunningly packaged, lovingly detailed reissues of horror classics, particularly the work of Dario Argento and George Romero.

Tom Six

Dutchman Tom Six has one of the foulest minds in modern entertainment: not only did he write and direct zeitgeist-grabbing sick-flicks ‘The Human Centipede’ and its sequel, he also played a key role in inventing ‘Big Brother’. He is currently hard at work on ‘The Human Centipede 3: Final Sequence’.

  1. Saló (Pier Palo Pasolini, 1975)
  2. Crash (David Cronenberg, 1976)
  3. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)
  4. Nekromantik (Joerg Buttgereit, 1987)
  5. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
  6. Boxing Helena (Jennifer Lynch, 1993)
  7. Teeth (Mitchell Lichtenstein, 2007)
  8. Haze (Shin'ya Tsukamoto, 2005)
  9. The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
  10. The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez, 1999)

David Slade

British born writer/director David Slade made his name with two attention-grabbing features in the 2000s: ‘Hard Candy’ and the ferocious vampire thriller ‘30 Days of Night’. He hit the big leagues with ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ in 2010.

‘There are many kinds of horror films, but broadly speaking, I throw them recklessly into two categories. One I call the “Fun Horror” film. You have a few scares, some moments of queasy viscous horror, then you can rest easy in the knowledge the monster is dead or out there sated for the moment licking its wounds to return in the next sequel. I am aiming largely at films prevalent in the ’80s, but also the “torture porn” genre whose intent is to dare you, to fulfil your morbid fascination but ultimately say little about the state of things. Then there’s the type of horror film that is truly “Horrific” – more often than not visceral rather than viscous, aimed directly at you rather than the warning shot over your head. These films say something about the human condition, the state of society and our desire to experience extremes of imagery and storytelling, and as a result are rarely made in the studio system. While I enjoy all forms of the genre, I tend to take my horror very seriously. But ten is not enough, so the honourable mention list includes “Freaks”, “Trouble Every Day”, “The Exorcist”, “The innocents”, “Suspiria” and “Kill List”.’

Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith is the British writer-director behind ‘Creep’, ‘Severance’, ‘Triangle’ and ‘Black Death’, four of the most inventive and striking homegrown horror flicks of the past decade. He is currently working on an epic TV miniseries entitled ‘Labyrinth’, from the bestselling book by Kate Mosse.

Jen & Sylvia Soska, The Twisted Twins

Jen and Sylvia Soska made their wiriting and directing debut in 2007 with ‘Dead Hooker in a Trunk’. They have since set up their own film company, Twisted Twins Productions, to make and promote horror movies, with a focus on films by women.

  1. American Psycho (Mary Harron, 2000)
  2. Funny Games (Michael Haneke, 1997)
  3. The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
  4. Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999)
  5. Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
  6. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
  7. Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)
  8. Man Bites Dog (Remy Belvaux, Andre Bonzel, Benoit Poelvoorde, 1992)
  9. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
  10. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

‘“American Psycho” is  one of the greatest horror satires ever made. The controversial Bret Easton Ellis novel turned into a film by Mary Harron is violent, fun, and disturbing all at the same time.  “Martyrs” is a female-driven bloodbath that will please even the most gore hungry fans with hauntingly dark undertones. The film delves into what makes a victim and the power exchange between people who victimize and those they inflict their torture upon. The same goes for “Audition”  – most often we see the female characters in a horror film as the helpless victim. This film leads you in one direction, skillfully hinting at a darker storyline for the otherwise meek and slight Asami until the final 15 minutes where we are introduced to a merciless monster. A perfect personification of the irrational rage of a woman scorned.’

Richard Stanley

Richard Stanley is the writer and director of British horror classics ‘Hardware’ and ‘Dust Devil’. His career was almost destroyed by the machinations of Hollywood following an abortive attempt at ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’, though he has recently bounced back with a segment in portmanteau gorefest ‘The Theatre Bizarre’.

(In chronological order)

‘Of course it's a very partial list. These are films that I have watched over and over again. They are not necessarily chosen for their technical merits but rather because I find them consistently entertaining. There is a vast difference between my personal favourites and what I consider to be the best made horror films, or movies like “Come and See” or “Apocalyspe Now” that actually deal with the theme of “horror”. To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz – it is impossible for words to describe what horror is. For some of us it can simply be the day to day experience of our hum-drum lives, for others the fear of the irrational, the unknown, the inevitability of our deaths and the implacable mystery of what may or may not lie beyond...’

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens is a film scholar and author whose works include ‘Abel Ferrara: The Moral Vision’ and ‘Monte Hellman: His Life and Films’.

  1. Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973)
  2. The Driller Killer (Abel Ferrara, 1979)
  3. Dawn of the Dead (George A Romero, 1978)
  4. La Vie Nouvelle (Philippe Grandrieux, 2002)
  5. Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! (Monte Hellman, 1989)
  6. Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)
  7. Lisa and the Devil (Mario Bava, 1973)
  8. Dillinger Is Dead (Marco Ferreri, 1968)
  9. Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)
  10. God Told Me To (Larry Cohen, 1976)

Travis Stevens

A former film critic, producer Travis Stevens is the founder of Snowfort Pictures, whose films include Adam Wingard’s ‘A Horrible Way To Die and  ‘What Fun We Were Having’, and The Butcher Brothers’ ‘The Thompsons’ and ‘The Aggression Scale’.

‘Growing up in the woods of Vermont, “Friday the 13th Part 2” had a huge impact, just because of how relatable it was. Try walking home when you’re 100 per cent convinced someone is watching you.  Terrifying. Jason is my favorite horror superhero. “Inside” is such a fresh, contemporary setting and story. And the simple shot revealing Beatrice Dalle for the first time as she emerges from the shadows is one of the most chilling images I've seen in 15 years. “The Fly” is a simple, commercial concept in which director David Cronenberg smuggles big ideas, shocking visuals and the abstract but universal fear of your body turning against you.’

Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan is the writer-director responsible for popular modern splat-coms ‘2001 Maniacs’ and its sequel ‘2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams’. Tim chose to spice up the poll by listing the ‘Top 10 Queer Fear Horrors’.

(In chronological order)

  1. Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1935)
  2. Dracula’s Daughter (Lambert Hillyer, 1936)
  3. The Brides of Dracula (Terence Fisher, 1960)
  4. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
  5. The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963)
  6. Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1970)
  7. Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975)
  8. Sleepaway Camp (Robert Hiltzik, 1983)
  9. Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (Jack Sholder, 1985)
  10. Fright Night (Tom Holland, 1985)

In “Bride of Frankenstein”, openly gay auteur James Whale arguably made the first horror “masterpiece” by transcending the genre with a sequel that seamlessly blends both tragedy and comedy. In Whale’s world, it is the lack of love and acceptance which shapes the reluctant demon, a thinly veiled metaphor for Whale’s compassion of those, like himself, forced to exist on the fringe. “Psycho” is the final word on the subject of Oedipal boys. Anthony Perkins dons his mummified mother’s outfits and wigs then slaughters naked woman in his motel shower, basically dressing up so he can get it up. “Dr. Kinsey will see you now, Mister Bates…” And whether intended, subliminal or audience projected, “A Nightmare on Elm St 2” is a creepy chronicle of gay teen angst. The young protagonist’s locker room encounter with a leather clad gym teacher truly defines “jumping the shark”.’