Of psychos, vampires and haunted rings... Mario Bava, the godfather of Italian horror, uses the anthology format to display his range. There’s classic giallo (‘The Telephone’) and an ethereal ghost story (‘The Drop of Water’). But ‘The Wurdulak’ is another beast entirely. Adapting Tolstoy’s novella, Bava masters the realm of gothic horror: all howling winds, pulsing doom and a gaunt Boris Karloff as its glowering vampire. It’s Bava’s haunted bonsai: a masterpiece in miniature. The film went on to inspire Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and the name of a certain Brummie metal band.
Horror anthologies have existed from the earliest days of the movies. In 1919, Austrian director Richard Oswald bundled together a series of, well, eerie tales, inaugurating a subgenre that persists today. It can be a brilliant way to experience a good cinematic scare – in short, quick shocks, like picking a spiked treat from a box of cursed chocolates, popping it in your brain, then moving to the next one.
Of course, in some instances, episodic horror can amount to half-assed vignettes tossed off by directors in between longer, more serious projects. In the best horror anthologies, though, each story is a tight, tense nightmare, packing enough scares into scant runtime to rival any feature-length fright. Here are 11 of the best collections, as chosen by horror author Simon Crook.