The 100 best horror films – contributors T-Z

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View the top ten lists of horror films chosen by the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Rob Zombie

Black titles are clickable and denote top 100 placing

Chris Tilly

Chris Tilly is a writer, film buff and all-round diamond geezer whose storied career has included work for this very website, among many others. He is currently gainfully employed by IGN Movies UK, where he seems to spend all his time hanging out with Mark Wahlberg and The Muppets.

Tony Timpone

Journalist and film programmer Tony Timpone edited Fangoria magazine until 2010. He produced the TV show The 100 Scariest Movie Momentsí and regularly appears on TV and radio.

‘“Jaws” is the movie that kept me out of the water… and in the theatre. I saw this movie again and again in the summer of ’75. “Cat People” brought maturity and intelligence to the monster movie, rising above the increasingly childish Universal cycle. “The Omen” made me do what 12 years of Catholic school education failed to do: read the Bible! Everything clicked in “Alien”, a “haunted house movie in space,” and director Ridley Scott set the standard for sci-fi horror. Other monster creators have been ripping off Giger’s creature esigns ever since.’

Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro is the Mexican writer-director and genre afficionado whose work blends horror and fantasy to astounding effect. His films include ‘Cronos’, ‘The Devil’s Backbone’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the ‘Hellboy’ series. He is currently working on monster movie ‘Pacific Rim’, due for release in 2013.

Reg Traviss

Reg Traviss is the British director of ‘Joy Division’, serial killer slasher ‘Psychosis’ and prison thriller ‘Screwed’.

  1. Madman (Joe Giannone, 1982)
  2. Witchboard (Kevin Tenney, 1986)
  3. Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Deardon, Robert Hamer, 1945)
  4. Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004)
  5. The Witchfinder General (Matt Reeves, 1968)
  6. Basket Case (Frank Henenlotter, 1982)
  7. Children of the Corn (Fritz Kiersch, 1984)
  8. Asylum (Roy Ward Baker, 1972)
  9. Twins of Evil (John Hough, 1971)
  10. The Hills Have Eyes (Alexandre Aja, 2006)

Jovanka Vuckovic

Jovanka Vuckovic is a multi-talented powerhouse of horror: a writer and editor-in-chief for Rue Morgue magazine, a visual effects whiz with a Gemini Award under her belt, a writer and director (her first short, ‘The Captured Bird’, was produced by Guillermo del Toro) and an occasional actress, appearing as a zombie in both Zack Snyder’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ and Romero’s ‘Land of the Dead’.

‘Honourable mention: the “Drop of Water” segment from Mario Bava’s “Black Sabbath” gave me nightmares for years. For cinephiles, top ten lists are never easy to write. For horrorphiles, it’s doubly hard because there are so many sub-genres to consider: slasher, zombie, vampire, werewolf, ghost, exploitation, nature-runs-amok, Kaiju, buried alive, haunted castle, cannibal clan, psychological, body horror, Lovecraftian, Attack of the Killer Whatever and on and on – which are themselves often subdivided by country, director or decade on collector’s shelves! For me, the task is further complicated by my definition of horror, which is fairly broad and includes the vast grey area of films that are not characterised by traditional horror tropes yet elicit intense feelings of dread. How does one pick just ten from that chasm of films? Of course, it goes without saying that we all love heavy hitters such as “Alien”, “The Shining”, “Jaws”, “The Exorcist”, “Psycho”, “King Kong” and “Bride of Frankenstein”, but what about the lesser known but equally strong foreign titles such as Belgium’s “Calvaire” (2004) or Mexico’s “Santa Sangre” (1989)? What about short films? And how on earth do I respectfully exclude Lucio Fulci or Dario Argento?! Decisions, decisions…’

Calum Waddell

Calum Waddell is a writer and critic whose works include ‘Minds of Fear’ and ‘Taboo Breakers’, as well as articles for the likes of SFX and Bizarre. He also works closely with the great Arrow DVD label.

James Watkins

James Watkins’s second film, Victorian ghost story ‘The Woman in Black’, shot to the top of the UK box office on release earlier this year. He is also the director of controversial but highly regarded ‘hoodiesploitation’ chiller ‘Eden Lake’.

‘“Alien” is the perfect horror film. Tension tooled with the precision of a Swiss watch. A study in slow-burn suspense, in the values of silence. “The Vanishing” has one of the scariest endings of all time. And “Dr Phibes” terrified me as a child – try enjoying the camp, crazy oddity of this film in a double bill with “Theatre of Blood”.’

Ti West

Ti West is an American writer-director whose third film, minimalist chiller  ‘House of the Devil’, is regarded as one of the last decade’s key horror movies. His new film ‘The Innkeepers’ received glowing reviews in the US, and will be released in the UK this summer.

Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley is one of the most exciting new talents in British film. His debut, ‘Down Terrace’, blended comedy and crime to exhilarating effect, while his second film, 2011’s ‘Kill List’, is quite simply the best British crime-horror crossover ever made.

‘What is a horror film? “Come and See” is strictly a war film but it scared me rigid. “Scum” is oppressive and harrowing in a way that vampires and ghouls never can be. I will never watch “Don’t Look Now” again. Even writing the title makes me feel ill. I’ve gone soft since becoming a father. And I’d put a lot of my anxiety and nightmares as a kid down to “Threads”. It still packs a punch today. We had real worries in the ’70s and ’80s!’

Stephen Woolley

Stephen Woolley is the British producer whose work in the horror genre includes ‘The Company of Wolves’, ‘Hardware’, ‘Dust Devil’ and ‘Interview with the Vampire’. He made his directorial debut with ‘Stoned’ in 2005.

‘...and no list could be complete without Argento’s giallo masterpiece “Deep Red”. Lists of any genre present an insolvable dilemma. So often the movies we love are laudable because they subvert the expected. This is often the case with horror, which has strict tramline rules that now are regularly broken in a post-modern new age “Scream” style. Nowadays, the monsters of the genre are touchy feely sensitive beings from “Twilight” to “Hellboy”, so we have to create more monsters that are nastier than the actual monsters so that instead of being destined to damnation they – our hero monsters – have to escape the real baddies – usually humans – to fight another day. So in light of our amoral attitude to evildoers, the deluge of TV comic strip-inspired horror soap and the explicit nature of horror porn violence like “Saw”, much of what we found scary, one genuinely feels is lame to a modern audience. Doesn’t “Let The Right One In” and its cute hip pre-pubescent vamps simply negate the limp wristed efforts of Bela Lugosi’s Dracula? I watched “Psycho” recently with a 14-year-old who was convinced that Janet Leigh was alive after the shower sequence because the blade did not actually penetrate the flesh! So my list is totally subjective, not the greatest goals ever scored but the goals that affected me most . Also, here are my top ten Brit horrors: “The Ghoul”, “Dead of Night”, “Peeping Tom”, “The Innocents”, “Repulsion”, “Don’t Look Now”, “Dracula”, “The Devil Rides Out”, “The Damned”, “Witchfinder General” and “Company of Wolves”.’

Brian Yuzna

Brian Yuzna wrote and directed ‘Society’, a remarkable satirical horror movie which sits at number 78 on our list. He has produced a number of classic horror movies. including ‘Re-Animator’, ‘From Beyond’ and, um, ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’, and his work as a director also includes ‘Re-Animator 2’, ‘The Dentist’ and ‘Progeny’.

‘“Nosferatu” is the only really great vampire movie and is still nightmarish and creepy; and its version of Dracula is the closest to Bram Stoker’s literary version – an evil blood sucking beast, not the matinee idol white bread versions that have dominated the history of cinema. “Bride of Frankenstein” is by consensus the best of the Universal horror movies. Still a great and entertaining film, it has the classic Karloff, the essential mad doctor, fantastic art direction and Dr. Pretorius – who states what is the soul of the horror genre: a world of “gods and monsters”. “Suspiria” reminds me of how obvious and boring most horror has been since then. “Phantasm” is perhaps not the obvious pick among the great ‘70s horrors, but I love how it follows the scary rhythms of a nightmare rather than plodding in the tracks of the conventional.’

Federico Zampaglione

Federico Zampaglione is the writer-director behind furious Italian redneck slaughter movie ‘Shadow’.

Jason Zinoman

Jason Zinoman is a writer and horror expert who reviews for The New York Times and other publications. His book on the ’70s American horror scene, ‘Shock Value’, is in shops now.

Rob Zombie

Rob Zombie translated his status as the frontman for Grammy-nominated heavy metal band White Zombie into a movie career when he wrote and directed ‘House of 1,000 Corpses’. He has gone on to direct a number of ferociously bloody horror pictures including ‘The Devil’s Rejects’, the remakes of ‘Halloween’ and ‘Halloween 2’, and his new film ‘Lords of Salem’.

‘“Cannibal Holocaust” is  vile, disgusting and totally brilliant.  A one of a kind film experience… thank God. “Freaks” is the pre-code classic by the mad master Tod Browning. Who would have thought that using real human oddities would be considered "bad taste"? It is a miracle this film exists, no studio would ever even consider making this today. But seriously, ask yourself, "can a full grown woman truly love a midget?" I could have picked “The Phantom Of The Opera” or “West Of Zanzibar”  for my Number 5, but I went with a hunch! Something with  the legendary Lon Chaney had to be on this list. A grand spectacle beyond imagination with no fucking CGI! And in “The Devils”,  the genius of Ken Russell just explodes. Judith Crist called it a "grand fiesta for sadists and perverts". I guess that's why I love it.’


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1 comments
Lea Kirkendall
Lea Kirkendall

Excellent article and insight into films that I haven't seen or heard of. Definitely worth checking into. Now, on to Netflix to see what I can watch. Thanks for the article. I passed it onto others who are horror movie fans like me and appreciate the well made movies.