10) Gremlins (1984)
Gremlins is not your typical horror flick. It is debatable whether it is a true horror film as it employs elements of comedy as well. However, that doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable time. From the movie’s adorable mascot to the terrifying and nightmare-inducing antagonists, the Gremlins, the story will have you laughing, just as long as you don’t eat after midnight.
This classic low budget horror film follows the plot of five college kids making a trip to an abandoned cabin surrounded by woods. During the night, they come across an ancient occult book known as the 'Book of The Dead' along with a tape recorder that is filled with chants to raise the dead. What follows after is a blood and gore filled disaster as one by one, the group become possessed by demons until Ash, the films protagonist, is left to fight his way through the horrors of the book. Despite its low budget, the film rose to cult status due to its highly publicised banning in Britain. The film’s Ash Williams, became a horror movie hero appearing in other media such as 'Evil Dead 2', 'Evil Dead: Army of Darkness' and 'Ash vs The Evil Dead'. This is one B movie you won't want to sleep with the lights off after.
Frankenstein is one of the most influential horror stories ever created in the black and white era. The classic story follows an obsessed scientist, Dr Henry Frankenstein who creates a monster. When the monster escapes and accidentally kills a young girl by the river, the town goes on a hunt to find the monster and its creator to bring them to justice. This film will not fail in delighting you with its surprising emotive scenes and tragic end.
“All work and no play can turn us into monsters”. This is exactly, what happened in the Stephen King adaptation of ‘The Shining’. A family of three take a winter job at the isolated mountain-based hotel - The Stanley. Jack Torrance, the father, hopes that this peaceful yet ominous place will give him the solitude he needs to continue his writing. Yet, with the hotel’s history of its previous caretaker murdering his family and Jack’s son, Danny, beginning to have visions called a “shining”, it all goes downhill. It is a gripping horror story that comes with an outstanding performance by Jack Nicolson and showcases Kubrick’s distinct style. This story is a journey into madness you won’t forget.
No matter how bad your prom might have been, nothing tops the iconic prom scene in ‘Carrie’. Again, another adaptation of a Stephen King classic. Carrie is a shy and difficult teenager who suffers at the hands of her classmates and her religiously fanatical mother. When two of her classmates engineer a prank to have her humiliated at prom, Carrie lashes out in a horrific display of telekinetic powers that she exhibits throughout the film. A classic look at supernatural powers and the cruelty of being a high school teen.
5) Friday the 13th (1980)
Compared to today’s standards of films, Friday the 13th isn’t the best on the list. However, what makes this film important is that it started an infamous and long-running franchise. When Camp Crystal Lake reopens after years of bad luck, the counsellors all begin to die, one by one by an unseen murderer. While it’s not one of the best films narratively, it has a creative vision that couldn’t be matched by anyone other than Wes Craven and even though he’s not in this one as the murderer, Jason Voorhees is one of the most iconic slashers in horror movie history.
Directed and written by John Carpenter, the man responsible for another horror classic known as ‘The Thing’. This movie follows how an escapee from a mental asylum - who was put there for murdering his sister on Halloween - decides to wreak havoc once he escapes. ‘Halloween’ also spawned several sequels such as ‘Friday the 13th', along with creating the horror movie legend: Michael Myers. Much like movies from this era, it was a major influence on the horror genre we know and love today. Its sense of tension and terror will have you unable to sleep, fearful of Myers creeping in your room at night as it still holds up as one of the classics from the 70s.
3) Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922)
Nosferatu came from the silent era of film and is held as one of the most iconic films in media history. Long before sparkling vampires, Max Schreck gave a magnificent performance as the vampire known as Nosferatu. Hutter, a real estate agent, arrives at the Carpathian Mountains where he goes to finish a sale with Herr Orlok. Paying no attention to the warnings by the locals, he journeys to the castle where he finds, that Orlok is no mere mortal but the now iconic Nosferatu. The film gives a feel that no other horror movie can recreate. The atmosphere of constant hostility, foreboding and dread, is reiterated by Shreck’s performance and the overall visuals from the castle. It might not be as scary as the others on this list but brings more than just fear. It is a symphony of dread and terror that only this stylised film can bring.
Based on a book by William Peter Blatty which is derived from the accounts of a real-life exorcism, ‘The Exorcist’ follows the horrors of what happens when a young girl named Regan starts behaving strangely. When Priests are called in to help, they are convinced she is being possessed by the devil and they fight it with the help of an exorcist. ‘The Exorcist’ may not be an amazing film by today’s standards but at the time it launched a whole new era of horror films and was one of the scariest films of the time. It was even met with reports of people running out of the cinema and fainting from fear. It is often heralded as the scariest film of the 20th century and possibly even of modern times. Even if you might not think so, it is definitely a classic that cannot be missed.
1) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven created a horror masterpiece with ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. Everything about this film is just a fun scary experience. Like many films on this list, by today’s standards, it might not even be that scary but the script is filled with Robert Englund’s stand up performance as the horror icon, Freddy Krueger. The film follows a group of teenagers who are terrorised by Freddy Krueger that kills his victims by getting them in their dreams. It spawned many sequels (not all of them were good) and a remake of the same name. It is a bizarre journey, that looks into the concept of not being able to escape your own dreams, even if your dreams are trying to kill you. This is one classic that you won’t be falling asleep afterwards.