Sort of. Time Out London recently polled filmmakers, critics, actors, and people who just plain love horror (professionally) to come up with a list of the 100 Best Horror Films. It’s not a bad list, to be sure: there are the usual suspects on there, but a lot of weird, unexpected things came up, too. So we wanted to make lists of our own!
I love making lists, so I didn’t foresee how hard this would be. My only real rule was only one film per filmmaker. This is both a list of my favorite horror films, and what I think are the best horror films ever, so it’s a little lopsided, maybe. I can’t really decide on a number order, so here, in alphabetical order, it is:
The Beyond (Lucio Fulci, 1981)
Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971)
Female Vampire (Jess Franco, 1973)
Hour of the Wolf (Ingmar Bergman, 1968)
The Living Dead Girl (Jean Rollin, 1982)
Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
Tenebre (Dario Argento, 1982)
Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)
Some of these might be controversial (to nerds): Isn’t Female Vampire more pornography than horror? (Maybe, but with Lina Romay’s performance and some of Jess’ best direction, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong here.) Is Tenebre really Argento’s best? (I strongly say yes.) Isn’t Psycho sort of obvious? (Sure, but when I finally saw it a few years ago, it actually scared me, having lost none of its charm or its effectiveness over 50 years and knowing the ending.) Goddamn, wasn’t the period from 1978-1982 amazing for horror films? (You’re telling me.) But I’m happy with this list. Close calls: Deep Red (I almost, almost disregarded my one-film-per-director rule for that one), Peeping Tom, Possession, The Ordeal (Calvaire), The Descent.
I hate making lists. I’m gonna be awake all night tonight thinking of replacements and alterations.
The Night Of The Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
Black Sunday (Mario Bava, 1960)
Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1964)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest, 1971)
Vampyros Lesbos (Jesus Franco, 1971)
The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971)
Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)
Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983)
Jacob’s Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990)
I could easily add The Hitcher, Last House on Dead End Street, Messiah of Evil, Halloween, The Evil Dead, Haxan, The Reincarnation of Isobel, Begotten, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the list goes on and on. This is in no way whatsoever a ten “best” list or even necessarily a ten “favorite” list, it’s ten films that over the years I’ve viewed a lot, thought about a lot, stole ideas from a lot, had my aesthetic shaped by a lot. I might do a couple more lists of ten with tighter themes to make myself feel better. I barely consider The Night of the Hunter to be a horror film in the strict sense, but for my money it’s one of the most dreamlike films (by which I mean it obeys a kind of occult logic all its own) I’ve ever seen, and for me the thing I love the most about horror is falling into another world, of entering a film and living inside it, so I couldn’t not include it.