The 100 best horror films: the list
The best horror films, as voted for by more than 100 experts including Simon Pegg and Roger Corman
By Derek Adams, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Sarah Cohen, Nigel Floyd and Tom Huddleston, with the generous support of everyone at FrightFest and Cine-Excess. Explore the individual top tens of every contributor.
Dir John Carpenter (Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis)
Is that a carving knife in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
John Carpenter doesn’t put a foot wrong in this seminal hack ’n’ slasher. From the opening scene of young psycho-in-the-making Michael Myers greeting his parents with bloodied knife in hand to his inevitable return to wreak more havoc a decade later, ‘Halloween’ ticks every box. The opening sequence is a masterclass in how to unsettle nerves. Utilising the then new Steadycam system, Carpenter was able to give us a perspective from the killer’s point of view. To say it ups the creepiness to new heights is an understatement – it’s watch-from-behind-the-sofa terrifying. But Carpenter didn’t stop there: making full use of his musical talents, he also wrote the main theme, an ‘Exorcist’-style piano ditty that sets the teeth on edge. For me, this is unquestionably the most visceral, terrifying and tense film in this poll. DA
What the experts said
‘This movie left me paranoid for a week.’
‘Although other films may be credited with originating the slasher genre, my money’s on John Carpenter’s classic of slow-burning, shock-spiked terror. There’s quite frankly not a superfluous frame in it.’
‘A simple concept executed perfectly. As the tension builds so does the body count, but is there really as much gore as we remember? Most of it is off screen, but with John Carpenter’s execution we feel like we have seen all.’