Saturday, October 22, 2016

11 Top Horror Movie Lists

October is a special time for horror movie lists. Everybody loves to read lists. I would wager that, if a day of the week started with the letter L, the internet would have its own List Lokisday, or whatever. But sometimes it's hard to choose which lists are worthy of attention. That is why I have put together a list of 11 top horror movie-related lists for the Halloween season.

Of course, evaluating lists of movies is highly subjective. Some lists are detailed and informative, while others are more visually oriented. Some are formatted as slideshows that you have to click your way through, which many might consider annoying. In putting together my list, I have tried to keep an open mind and evaluate the lists solely on the important aspects: the quality of the movies included and how well the web page is formatted. Again, however, this is highly subjective. Please let me know if you disagree, and feel free to add your favorite lists in the comments.

Following time-honored tradition, I will rate each list on a scale from 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent) using the following icons:

Without further ado, except possibly clicking the "Read More..." link below, here is my list of 11 horror movie-related lists, in no particular order.

1. First, we have the HitFix Ultimate Horror Poll listing what are purported to be the top 100 horror movies of all time.

This list was developed by asking over 100 critics and filmmakers to rank horror movies, so you know it must be a high-quality list. Indeed, it would be difficult to argue with the heavy-hitters identified here, starting with The Exorcist, The Shining, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

The web page is visually appealing, but somewhat marred by several banner ads.

Surprising Inclusions:  The list has 100 items (and in fact its rankings go all the way up to 225) so an evaluation of surprising inclusions is difficult. However, we can look at some of the rankings that are a little surprising. For example, some movies that were not considered successful when released are ranked very highly: The Shining is at #2 and The Thing is at #6 (just above Halloween), for example. Other films whose high rankings might be considered surprising include Don't Look Now (#12), Suspiria (#13), and The Innocents (#26). On the other hand, some film classics have relatively low rankings, such as King Kong (#75, below Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein) and Hammer's Dracula/Horror of Dracula (#85, well below Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula at #57).

Surprising Snubs: There are 100 movies here, or 225 on the full list, but it doesn't include every classic. Re-Animator, The Wolf Man, Phantasm, and Friday the 13th are excluded from the top 100. Disappointingly, no Frank Henenlotter films are included.

Overall, I would conclude this is a very solid, highly entertaining list, definitely one to consider when you're looking for a reliable list of horror movies. On a scale from 1 to 10, this list rates an 8.

2. Rotten Tomatoes includes a list of the top 100 horror movies as well.

The ratings are taken from Rotten Tomatoes' averaging of critic reviews, so we can be sure they are perfectly valid and reliable. This list is sorted by some kind of adjusted score, which leads to some unusual rankings, like The Bride of Frankenstein (100% positive reviews, ranked at #6) ranking below King Kong (98% positive reviews, ranked at #4).

Visually, this list is uninspired, as it is basically just a text list of film titles with no commentary. Despite being a big-budget list from a major website, it looks like a low-budget affair with poor visuals and little inventiveness.

Surprising Inclusions: Despite the top 2 films in the list coming from the silent era (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Nosferatu), many of the top 25 films in the list are modern, including The Babadook, Let the Right One In, Pan's Labyrinth, The Witch, and Drag Me to Hell. The documentary Room 237 (Note: Not a horror movie) ranks at #37, above Halloween (#39) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (#40). While I enjoy such films as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (#99), Berberian Sound Studio (#96), Guy Maddin's Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (#91) (Note: A ballet, not a horror movie), and A Field in England (#86), I am not certain they belong among the top 100. Similarly, I am sure that Grindhouse (#84), Chronicle (#75), This is the End (#74) (Note: Not a horror movie), and Let Me In (#56) do not belong.

Surprising Snubs: Alien is not included here, though Aliens is. Hellraiser, Jaws, The Thing, and Friday the 13th are absent.

Though purporting to be a list of the top 100 horror films, the Rotten Tomatoes list is confusing and far from definitive. Combined with its lack of visual flair, I have to say that the uneven quality of the list itself relegates this list to the "rotten" side of the ubiquitous Tomatometer. On a scale from 1 to 10, this list rates a 4.

3. The writers at have been prolific at creating horror movie lists this Halloween season. Four writers have created lists of 31 films to span the month of October.

These are all slick, high-budget lists with professional design and only a handful of distracting ads.

Choosing one of the four lists for this list is difficult. All four include some classics and some overlooked treats. Instead of discussing surprising inclusions and surprising snubs, we shall look at the high and low points of each list.

Gregory Burkart’s list starts on a clever, quirky note with Jose Monica Marins’ At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul. This is a bold move, and he follows it skillfully with Spider Baby. His list continues with a solid mix of obscure movies and classics, and I applaud the inclusion of Fade to Black, as well as the original Dawn of the Dead, which sometimes gets overlooked.

Rebekah McKendry’s list starts just as boldly with Argento’s underrated Inferno, following it with the equally underrated Popcorn, Messiah of Evil, and Pieces. How could a list start better? Later, it includes the unforgettable Lake Mungo, and I found no weak films on the list. This list is satisfying from start to finish.

Rob Galluzzo’s list starts off strong as well, with a combination of Trick ‘R Treat and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. It also includes the highly underrated Mute Witness. However, interspersed with the classics are some films I feel are overrated, including A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, and Cabin in the Woods. This list is a rollercoaster ride with spectacular highs and lows.

Elric Kane’s list, on the other hand, has only one misstep: the inclusion of Savini’s lackluster remake of Night of the Living Dead rather than the original. Aside from that questionable choice, his list includes the highly entertaining gems Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2, God Told Me To, Shadow of the Vampire, and The Devil Rides Out. As a capper, his final pick is The Thing from Another World because that is the film on TV on Halloween night in Halloween, a highly satisfying climax.

In a close call among four excellent lists, it comes down to a tight race between Rebekah McKendry’s list and Elric Kane’s list. Despite the impressive quality of both lists, I must choose Elric Kane’s as the best all-around list of the group. On a scale from 1 to 10, it rates a 9.

4. Speaking of Blumhouse’s Rebekah McKendry, she has recently been compiling lists of the scariest movies of past decades. Again, choosing one of the lists for this list was difficult, but I found her list of scariest movies of the 1980s the best.

Here is the list of 10 films: The Shining, The Evil Dead, Dead and Buried, Possession, The Thing, Sole Survivor, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Hellraiser, and Pet Sematary.

Surprising Inclusions: Sole Survivor and Dead and Buried are surprising but worthy entries. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is also sometimes overlooked.

Surprising Snubs: Friday the 13th is not included here, a snub I feel is justified. (I find it interesting that the Friday the 13th series shows up on so few of these lists of good or bad movies, considering the number of fans these films have.) Other movies from the 1980s that I find scary include An American Werewolf in London and Maniac (sporadically), but this list of 1980s movies is hard to argue with.

On a scale from 1 to 10, it rates an 8.

5. The professors of Faculty of Horror published a list of one horror movie for each day of October.

This list is visually appealing, perhaps the cleanest of all the lists, and it deserves extra points for including no distracting ads.

Like all lists, this one has a lot of subjective picks, making it difficult to evaluate. But evaluate it I shall, by looking at the low points and the high points. For every high point on this list (Ginger Snaps, Pontypool, Creep) there is a lackluster entry (Prom Night, Wyrmwood, The Gate). In the end, however, the list is more than redeemed by the final pick for October 31, which I shall identify in the next paragraph.

Surprising Inclusions: This list has a shocking twist at the end. For Halloween, the Faculty of Horror list chooses Nobuhiko Obayashi's Hausu/House. Hausu! Possibly the perfect Halloween movie, and one I had not seen on other lists. This list receives an undisclosed number of extra credit points for such a stroke of genius.

Surprising Snubs: I could quibble with the absence of an Evil Dead or Evil Dead-related film on this list, but I will not. The presence of Hausu, not to mention (or re-mention) the aforementioned Pontypool, would cover over a multitude of sins, or however that saying goes.

On a scale from 1 to 10, this list receives a 9.

6. Den of Geek presents its list of 64 creepy horror movies.

This focus on creepiness is a welcome change from the typical list of 10 best or 10 worst. The list begins with a narrative about the difference between scary and creepy. I read most of it. It sounded reasonably informative.

This list loses some points because the web page includes too many ads. Otherwise, however, it is appealing and easy to read.

Surprising Inclusions: I must say that most of the list is surprising. The focus on creepiness rather than quality is refreshing. The author, Sarah Dobbs, does an excellent job describing the films and explaining why they are creepy. Here is a list of some of the surprising entries: Nina Forever, Robin Redbreast (with which I am unfamiliar), As Above So Below, Baskin, and Spider Baby. While it does include some traditional horror films (Night of the Living Dead, Cat People, The Uninvited, The Amityville Horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street), I award it extra points for the quirkiness of some of its non traditional picks: Carnival of Souls, The Vanishing, A Tale of Two Sisters, Night of the Hunter, Peeping Tom, and Dolls.

However, I must subtract some points for the following errors in judgment: including Dead End (an unfortunate affair despite the presence of the estimable Ray Wise), and choosing Let Me In over Let the Right One In.

Surprising Snubs: Excluding Let the Right One In could be considered a snub. Otherwise, however, this list of 64 creepy films is quite effective.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this list rates an 8.

7. IGN published a list of the top 25 horror movies of all time.

They use overall quality, impact on the genre, legacy potential, fright/creepy factor, and an editor's choice option to choose their films. In other words, a subjective list. However, this list is in agreement with most of the other lists discussed here with its inclusion of The Exorcist, Psycho, Jaws, Alien, The Shining, Bride of Frankenstein, Rosemary's Baby, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc.

The IGN web page is quite good. The ads are kept to a minimum.

Surprising Inclusions: The Babadook might be considered a surprising inclusion in the top 25 horror films of all time, but it does appear on several of these lists, and I must say I find the film quite good. To its credit, this list also includes Let the Right One In over the remake Let Me In.

Surprising Snubs: Hellraiser and Friday the 13th are not included here. I would say that the absence of any of the Evil Dead films is the biggest oversight. This could be considered a cardinal sin in some circles.

The IGN list is a fairly solid, if generic and unsurprising list. If Evil Dead or Evil Dead 2 were added, it could be considered a fine-to-excellent list of modern horror classics. As it is, it rates a 6.

8. A website called has published a list of 10 of the best classic horror movies.

Its focus on classic movies is refreshing and informative. However, this list loses several points for being formatted as a slideshow requiring clicking through images for each of its 10 films. This design strains patience, but let us see if the quality of the list can overcome its format.

Because the list is only 10 films, I will list them here: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Freaks, The Black Cat, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, Cat People, The Thing from Another World, The Innocents, Carnival of Souls, and The Masque of the Red Death.

Surprising Inclusions: I suppose The Black Cat is something of a surprise, but justified by its teamup of Lugosi and Karloff. I find the inclusion of The Wolf Man delightful, as I believe this is considered (erroneously) to be one of the lesser Universal efforts. The Innocents is a somewhat odd choice as well. The Masque of the Red Death, though included in several other lists, seems an odd choice because it is the only color film in the group.

Surprising Snubs: The lack of Dracula and Frankenstein is a bit surprising, especially considering the inclusion of The Wolf Man. Otherwise, however, this is an interesting if uninspired list.

On a scale of 1 to 10, it rates a 7.

9. ReelRundown presents a list of the 25 worst horror movies of all time.

(Interestingly, the URL indicates the post's title is more modest: "some of" the worst horror movies rather than the 25 worst).

Lists of bad movies are often entertaining, though just as often they show a critic's lack of respect for the work of nontraditional filmmakers. After all, is any film truly bad?

The answer is yes.

The ReelRundown list does include some movies that can only be considered failures. For example, The Beast of Yucca Flats, The Creeping Terror, and Hobgoblins are all indefensible. However, the list also includes movies that are intentionally comedic such as Blood Diner and Dr. Giggles, both of which are fairly successful at fulfilling their creators' modest intentions.

Visually, the web page is fine, but again it is dotted with advertisements that detract somewhat from the content.

Surprising Inclusions: The author, Anna Marie Bowman, clearly includes Paranormal Activity to get a reaction from her readers, as this film, though not universally praised, is not generally considered to be on the same level as the films of Ed Wood, Uwe Boll, or Bill Rebane, whose films are included in the list. Some other movies on this list include films initially considered failures but that are now being reappraised: Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows and Halloween III: Season of the Witch, for example. I would also argue that Gus van Sant's Psycho remake and Jaume Collet-Serra's House of Wax reimagining do not belong on this list.

Surprising Snubs: The list covers standard "bad" movies such as Manos: The Hands of Fate, Robot Monster, and Plan 9 from Outer Space. When it comes to a list of bad movies, a snub is difficult to define, so I will refrain.

I would conclude by saying this list is uneven and not particularly helpful. The movies it lists are, in general, entertaining, some for the reasons the filmmakers intended and others for reasons the filmmakers could not control. On a scale of 1 to 10, this list rates a 5.

10. A website called Movie Pilot presents a list called "Be Very Afraid: 10 of the Best and Worst Horror Films."

The innovation here--including both a list of good films and a list of bad films--is quite exciting. In fact, based on the title of the post, I originally thought the author would include both good and bad films in one list, somehow. Instead, he posts two lists on the same page, which is still innovative and worth a point or two. Unfortunately, the web page is filled with distracting ads, causing the lists to lose a few points.

Surprising Inclusions: I must confess I never expected a list of best horror films to include the film V/H/S. As V/H/S was the first film listed, I had to re-check the heading to make sure I was reading the list of best films and not the list of worst films. To reiterate, the author of these lists considers V/H/S to be one of the best horror films available.

The list of best films is heavily weighted toward modern films, illustrated by its inclusion of both the 1982 and the 2011 versions of The Thing, but not the original The Thing from Another World. It includes films such as Alien, It Follows, Sinister, and The Babadook (which has shown up on many of these lists).

The list of worst films is also weighted toward modern films. It includes The Conjuring, Oculus, You're Next, and Paranormal Activity. Many of these films have ardent supporters, and I do not believe any of them are generally considered bad movies. The list of worst films also includes the 2013 Evil Dead remake, an inclusion with which I personally disagree strongly.

Surprising Snubs: Given the focus on recent films, scores of classic films are snubbed. In fact, the "best" list does not include any of the mainstays of the other lists: The Exorcist, Psycho, Jaws, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, etc. While this is refreshing in its own way, I can only conclude that this is the most personal and subjective of all the lists discussed here. As a result, I doubt this list would apply to anyone but its own author.

On a scale of 1 to 10, it rates a 4.

11. Horrorpedia's list also looks at horror movies that are in their estimation the worst of all time.

The approach here is not to make fun of these films: "Smug comedic critics can easily deride the efforts of inept moviemakers as it is easy pickings. Yet, that adds no value to a genuine awareness of the limitations of budgets, or the ambitions of would-be movie-makers, or the fact that some bad films are simply fun anyway." This list is truly an honest attempt to identify the worst horror movies.

In execution, this is simply a massive list of bad horror movies. On the positive side, this allows for some interesting discoveries, as most readers will probably not have seen all the films referenced here--I had never heard of films such as Bikini Monsters, The Beast That Killed Women, Midget Zombie Takeover, or dozens of other films on this huge list. On the negative side, this is a huge list and it includes anything that might remotely be considered bad, so it is somewhat difficult to take in. Still, it represents an enormous effort and a clear love of films, both good and bad.

While the list is visually simple, it is interspersed with ads for books and movies. The content is relevant but the ads are somewhat annoying.

Surprising Inclusions: Many of the listed films are surprising because of their obscurity (Spiders 2: Breeding Ground, Skin Eating Jungle Vampires, Centipede Horror).

Some are surprising because of their filmmakers (Rollin's Zombie Lake, Jackson’s Meet the Feebles, Becker’s Lunatics: A Love Story, Gordon’s The Food of the Gods, Dohler’s The Alien Factor).

Some are not surprising at all, and had to be included on such a list (Woodchipper Massacre, Troll 2, Robot Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Manos The Hands of Fate, Monster A-Go-Go, The Horror of Party Beach, Boardinghouse, Birdemic: Shock and Terror).

And I must object that the lists includes some excellent films (Teenagers from Outer Space, Silver Bullet, Night of the Demon, Neon Maniacs, The Last Slumber Party, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Invasion of the Blood Farmers, Don’t Go in the Woods).

Surprising Snubs: I believe this list is so long that a snub would be difficult to identify. I did notice that Death Bed: The Bed That Eats is not included, so that is something.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this list rates an 8.

We come to the end of our list of 11 top horror movie lists. There were some highs and some lows, but I hope you will find something here to meet your list-reading needs. Remember, I would be glad to hear about your favorite lists in the comments. It is always a pleasure to discover a new or underrated list of horror movies.