50 genuinely creepy horror movies

Odd List Sarah Dobbs 22 Jun 2012 - 07:40

They rely on atmosphere and suspense rather than gore and jump-scares. Here’s Sarah’s pick of 50 genuinely creepy horror movies…

Creepy isn’t the same as scary. Films can be scary simply by using loud noises and sudden movements to make their audiences jump; they can play on primal fears and physical reactions to give you a thrill. But creepy is harder to pull off.

To be effectively creepy, a film needs to establish a certain atmosphere; it needs to draw you in and make you care. It needs to give you something to think about when you’re trying to drop off to sleep at night; to make you wonder whether that creaking noise down the hallway was just the house settling, or something lurking in the shadows. Creepy stays with you. It gives you goosebumps.

I love most kinds of horror movies, but creepy films are probably my favourite. Or rather, my least favourite, because they give me nightmares and make me paranoid and afraid to look into mirrors in the dark. But I love ‘em. Here are 50 genuinely creepy movies (in no particular order). Enjoy the nightmares.

Cat People (1942)

Serbian immigrant Irena doesn’t have a friend in the world when she meets Oliver. He’s kind and attentive and they soon fall in love, despite Irena’s lack of physical affection. She’s convinced she’s living under a curse that will mean she’ll transform into a panther and kill any man she kisses, and despite seeing a (deeply inappropriate) psychiatrist, she can’t shake her beliefs. Oliver is initially patient but eventually finds himself falling for his much more reasonable colleague, Alice. There’s no way this love triangle can end happily and, well, it doesn’t. Cat People is sad as well as eerie, with an increasingly paranoid atmosphere enhanced by skilful shadow play.

The Nameless (1999)

Five years after her daughter Angela went missing, presumed dead, Claudia starts getting weird phone calls. A female voice claims to be Angela, and begs her mother to save her. A series of weird clues leads Claudia to investigate a weird cult… but when things slot into place too easily, it seems like someone might be luring her into a trap. Thematically, The Nameless is similar to Jaume Balaguero’s later film Darkness; there’s a similar feeling of hopelessness and despair, a creeping horror that doesn’t let up, topped off with a horribly downbeat ending. Brrrr.

Dead End (2003)

The Harrington family are driving home for Christmas when they decide to take a shortcut. Obviously, that turns out to be a bad idea. Picking up a mysterious hitchhiker is an even worse idea. Dead End isn’t a particularly original movie, and it does have a truly awful ending, but there’s something about its characters, its atmosphere, and the way it tells the well-worn story that’s really effective. And creepy, of course.

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

“It is happening, and no one is safe.” Night Of The Living Dead features some of the most brilliantly ominous radio broadcasts in all horror. When a group of strangers end up trapped in an isolated farmhouse together after the dead begin to rise, no one is in the mood for making friends, and it’s their own prejudices and stubbornness that leads to their downfall. (Well, that, and the fact that no one realised getting bitten by a ghoul would lead to death and reincarnation. Oops.) The zombie imagery is some of the most haunting ever committed to film, as vacant-eyed ghouls wander in and out of the shadows, chewing on dismembered body parts as they lurch around, constantly in search of fresh meat…

Candyman (1992)

Say his name five times into a mirror and the Candyman appears. Despite his sweet-sounding name, that’s not something you really want to do: Daniel Robitaille was a murdered artist, stung to death by bees in a racist attack, and so he tends not to be in a good mood when he shows up. Set in an urban tower block, this film demonstrates that horror can strike anywhere, not just in spooky old mansions in the middle of the countryside. It’s gory, grimy, and really quite disturbing.

M (1931)

A child murderer is stalking the streets of Berlin and, as the police seem unable to catch him, tensions run high. In an attempt to stop the nightly police raids, the town’s criminals decide to catch the killer themselves, and a frantic chase begins. Though there’s no actual onscreen violence, Peter Lorre is amazingly creepy as the whistling killer, and there’s a sense of corruption pervading the whole film. (Since both Lorre and Fritz Lang, the director, fled the country in fear of the Nazis soon after the film was made, it’s tempting to speculate on what M might be saying about Germany at the time, which only makes it all the creepier.)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

An early example of the found footage genre, The Blair Witch Project has been aped and parodied by everyone and their grandma, but there’s something unsettling about it that hasn’t quite gone away. Most of the film is improvised; the actors are really filming the scenes themselves, working from a loose outline of the plot, but without prior knowledge of what half the scares were going to be. That ambiguous ending lets you make up whatever explanation you like for the events of the film, which means whatever the scariest thing you can think of is, that’s what the film is about.

Ring (1998)

Ring isn’t a perfect film. It’s a bit too long and ponderous and there’s a bit too much irrelevant mysticism in there. But in terms of pure creepiness, it’s pretty damned effective. The idea of a cursed videotape was brilliant – who didn’t have zillions of unmarked VHS tapes lying around the house at the time? – and that climactic scene where the image on the screen crossed over into reality is bloodcurdling. Sneaky, too, since it managed to suggest that no one was safe. Especially not you, gentle viewer, because didn’t you just watch that cursed tape, too? An awful lot of people must have breathed a sigh of relief once their own personal seven-day window was over.

The Innocents (1961)

Based on Henry James’ The Turn Of The Screw, this film sees a young governess heading out to an isolated old house to take care of two young children who appear to be keeping secrets from her. Their previous governess died, along with another of the house’s servants, but their influence still seems to be lingering about. Or is it? Just like in the original story, it’s possible to read the ghosts either as genuine spectres or as the fevered imaginings of an over-stressed and under-sexed young woman. Either way, though, the film is terrifying.

The Skeleton Key (2005)

In a decaying house on an old plantation, an old man is dying. Caroline is hired as his carer, but although her job should be simple enough, she begins to suspect that something weird is going on - especially when she finds a secret room in the house’s attic filled with spell books and other arcane bits and bobs. Is the old man actually under a spell? Why does he seem so terrified of his wife? And might Caroline herself be in danger? The Skeleton Key is one of those films that’s far better than it has any right to be; it slowly ratchets up the tension to a crazy finale and ends on an incredibly creepy note.

Insidious (2010)

Insidious uses just about every trick in the book to creep out its audience, and for some people, that might seem like overkill. There are lurking monsters around every corner; there’s a child in peril; there are wrong-faced nasties; and there are screeching violins every five minutes. On repeat viewings, the plot doesn’t quite hold up (halfway through, the film switches protagonists, which is baffling) and the comedy relief seems grating rather than funny. But the carnival atmosphere, the nods to silent German Expressionist films, the demon’s bizarre appearance, that dancing ghost... there’s something brilliant about it, nonetheless.

Dark Water (2002)

Part of the initial wave of soggy dead girl movies, Dark Water is occasionally very daft, but still effectively creepy. Yoshimi Matsubara is a divorcee, forced by circumstances to move into a crumbling apartment block with her young daughter, Ikuko. Their new home isn’t in the nicest of areas, but it might be alright if it weren’t for the leaky ceiling – and, um, that creepy little girl lurking in the shadows, the one who’s never there when you take a second look. Directed by Hideo Nakata and based on a book by Koji Suzuki, Dark Water might not be as terrifying as Ring, but it’s still pretty eerie.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

The effects are dated, and the sequels utterly killed Freddy Krueger’s menace, but the first film is still creepy, in its way. The premise is amazingly disturbing – a dead child molester is attacking children in their dreams – and, combined with some of the deeply weird nightmare imagery in this film, it’s more than enough to give anyone a few sleepless nights. All together now: one, two, Freddy’s coming for you…

Uzumaki (2000)

Slowly, inexplicably, a small town is taken over by spirals. Some people become obsessed; others are killed, their bodies twisted into impossible positions. Uzumaki is a live action adaptation of the manga of the same name, and it’s incredibly weird. Unspeakably weird. Visually, it’s incredible, although the green filters look less interesting than they used to due to overuse by every horror and sci-fi movie since. Still, most films don’t go to the extremes that Uzumaki does.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Yup, it’s another soggy dead kid movie, but this time the kid is a boy and the action is set in civil war-era Spain. A young boy is sent to a creepy orphanage, where the other boys scare one another by telling stories about the resident ghost, Santi, who was killed when the orphanage was bombed. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, this isn’t your average ghost story – it’s a companion piece to Pan’s Labyrinth, but it’s much more of a horror movie than its better known counterpart.

The Vanishing/Spoorloos (1988)

Saskia and Rex are on holiday when Saskia suddenly, inexplicably, disappears. Rex dedicates his time to trying to find her, but to no avail. He can’t move on, can’t live with the uncertainty, so when Saskia’s kidnapper reveals himself and offers to show Rex what happened to her, his curiosity wins out. It’s a simple yet eerie story with an utterly devastating ending.

Audition (1999)

Takashi Miike’s Audition is more often described as extremely disturbing rather than creepy, but if you can get over that ending (which, let’s be honest, most of us watched through our fingers or from behind a cushion while shouting “NO NO NO NO NO” at the screen), the rest of the film may well creep you out. It starts off slow: a middle-aged man is thinking about dating again, but rather than trying to meet women via traditional methods, he holds a series of fake auditions for a non-existent movie. He meets Asami, a shy dancer, and starts wooing her – but Asami isn’t as sweet and innocent as she seems. Pretty much every character in this movie is an awful person, and the way they treat one another is disturbing on many, many levels.

One Missed Call (2004)

Also directed by Takashi Miike, One Missed Call is a parody of the endless string of soggy dead girl movies made in Japan at the time. But somehow it’s still really creepy. The premise is that, as the title suggests, teenagers are receiving missed calls on their mobile phones. The mystery caller leaves a horrifying voicemail: the sound of the phone’s owner screaming in agony. And since the call came from the person’s own phone, and appears to come from a few days in the future, it’s clearly a sign of impending doom. Sure enough, the kids all die just as the missed call predicted. There’s a nasty little backstory about evil little girls, and a bonkers televised exorcism, and generally, it’s a great film whether you love or loathe stories about scary dead kids.

The Last Man On Earth (1964)

You might’ve thought about how you’d survive the apocalypse, but have you ever stopped to consider whether it’s actually worth doing? In The Last Man On Earth, Vincent Price is the only survivor of a mysterious plague that’s turned the rest of humanity into walking corpses, hungry for his blood. Every day, he tools up and goes out to kill the bloodsuckers; every night, they surround his house and try to kill him. It’s a dismal way to live, and a depressingly eerie film. It’s based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend – so skip the Will Smith adaptation and watch this instead.

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Part melodramatic family drama, part psychological horror, A Tale Of Two Sisters is all scary all the time. When a pair of sisters return from a mental hospital, having been traumatised by their mother’s death, they find their new stepmother difficult to adjust to. The nightly visitations from a blood-dripping ghost don’t help, either. But as always in these kinds of films, nothing is what it seems – you might need a second viewing to get your head round the ending.

Night Of The Hunter (1955)

Robert Mitchum might have claimed not to be interested in movies or acting, but he’s great in this. As Harry Powell, a bizarrely religious conman, he’s terrifying, whether he’s preaching about the evils of fornication or chasing the children of his latest victim across the country in an attempt to steal a stash of money he knows they’re hiding. The use of light and shadow in this movie is just stunning; the first time Powell arrives at the Harper house is a particular highlight. Robert Mitchum’s singing voice isn’t half bad, either.

Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom was so controversial when it was released that it effectively ended director Michael Powell’s career. It’s violent, voyeuristic, and since it tells a story from the villain’s point of view; it’s entirely unsavoury. And it’s wonderful. It looks great, it has an amazingly twisted (and tragic) plot, and Carl Boehm is brilliant as Mark, the awkward, mild-mannered psychopath who feels compelled to murder as a result of his father’s deranged experiments. (That’s not a spoiler, by the way – but if I told you how he killed his victims, that might be.)

Psycho (1960)

Happily, 1960’s other movie about a disturbed serial killer was less of a career-killer. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is wonderful, sodden with guilt and tension right from the opening scene. It’s a shame that so many of its twists are so well-known now, because watching this without knowing what was going to happen must have been brilliant. It’s still great – beautiful to watch, genuinely tense and frequently unnerving – but it has lost some of its shock value over the years. (Also, the bit at the end where the psychiatrist explains everything in great detail is utterly superfluous.) Anthony Perkins’ final twitchy, smirky scene is seriously creepy, though.

City Of The Dead / Horror Hotel (1960)

Getting the timing of a holiday wrong can have disastrous consequences, as City Of The Dead illustrates. Nan Barlow is a history student who, under the tutelage of Christopher Lee’s Professor Driscoll, becomes fascinated with the history of witchcraft, and decides to visit the site of a famous witch trial… but she arrives in town on Candlemas Eve, probably the most important date in the witches’ calendar. Um, oops.

City Of The Dead is often compared to Psycho, and there are enough similarities between the films that you could assume it was a cheap rip-off – but though the campy US retitling supports that assumption, this was actually made before Hitchcock’s motel-based chiller. It’s definitely creepy enough to be worth watching on its own merits. 

Village Of The Damned (1960)

For no apparent reason, one day every living being in the English village of Midwich falls unconscious. For hours, no one can get near Midwich without passing out. When they wake up, every woman in the village finds herself mysteriously pregnant. Obviously, their children aren’t normal, and something has to be done about them… Based on John Wyndham’s novel The Midwich Cuckoos, Village Of The Damned is more of a sci-fi movie than a horror movie – but it’s super creepy nonetheless.

Dolls (1987)

Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon toned things down a bit for this creepy fairy tale, but not much. When a group of awful human beings are forced to spend the night in the home of a couple of ancient toymakers, they soon get their comeuppance at the hands of – well, the title gives that away, doesn’t it? You’ll never look at Toys R Us in the same way again.

The Woman In Black (1989)

When a reclusive old lady dies in an isolated house out in the marshes, a young lawyer is sent to sort out her estate. But there’s something weird about her house, and the townspeople aren’t keen on helping sort things out, either. The TV version of this movie is far, far creepier than the Daniel Radcliffe version; there’s one moment in particular that will etch itself on your brain and continue to creep you out for years after you see it…

The Perfume Of The Lady In Black (1974)

Beautifully shot with a great score, The Perfume Of The Lady In Black is a dreamy, unsettling film where nothing is ever as it seems. The wonderfully named Mimsy Farmer plays Sylvia, a scientist haunted by melancholy and hallucinations. She’s never quite recovered from her mother’s suicide, and when she goes to a party where talk turns to witchcraft and human sacrifice, her sanity starts to unravel. But are her problems really all in her head, or is there something else going on? The film doesn’t reveal its secrets until the very end, when all that creepiness pays off spectacularly.

May (2002)

May was always a weird child, and unfortunately she’s grown into a weird adult, too. Unable to form any meaningful relationships with the people around her – not even a class of blind children she thinks might be kinder to her than the people who can see how strange and awkward she is – May decides she’ll need to take this “making a friend” business into her own hands. Dark and twisted and incredibly gory, May is as sad and sweet as it is creepy. A lot of that is attributable to Angela Bettis, whose performance is adorably unnerving.

Nosferatu (1922)

In this unauthorised take on Dracula, the evil Count is depicted not as a tragic or romantic anti-hero, but as a horrifying embodiment of the plague – complete with an entourage of rats. Max Schreck makes a brilliantly weird-looking vampire, all teeth, ears and fingernails; his shadow is especially unnerving. Although the ending as presented seems a little abrupt, it’s conceptually horrifying – as is the fact that, due to a copyright claim filed by Bram Stoker’s estate, all but one copy of this movie was destroyed back in the 1920s.

Vampyr (1932)

In a spooky old inn, Allan Grey is visited in the night by an old man who leaves him a gift-wrapped book, with instructions to open it only on the occasion of the man’s death. Which turns out to be soon. The book explains that the town is plagued by vampires – and, helpfully, gives instructions on how to kill them. Vampyr is an early sound film, so while there is some sound and a little dialogue, most of the silent film conventions are still in place. It has a fairly straightforward, Dracula-esque story, but the plot’s not the point. It’s a deliberately strange film, full of disembodied dancing shadows and weird dream sequences; there’s something almost otherworldly about it.

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi is the definitive Dracula. With his eerie eyes and wonderful accent, he’s brilliantly threatening as the charming Count, but despite his iconic performance here, he’s not the creepiest thing about this film. Nope, that honour goes to Dwight Frye’s portrayal of Renfield, the lunatic spider-eater under Dracula’s control. He’s amazing, all awkward body language and hysterical laughter. Lugosi’s oddly cadenced speech has been emulated and parodied a zillion times, which takes away some of its power; Frye’s performance, on the other hand, is just downright disturbing.

White Zombie (1932)

A year after Dracula, Lugosi starred as Murder Legendre, an evil voodoo master, in one of the first ever zombie movies. The zombies here aren’t flesh-eating ghouls but obedient slaves, working tirelessly in Legendre’s mill. Even when one of them tumbles into a grinder, work doesn’t stop. When the plantation owner goes to Legendre for help winning the heart of the girl he loves, he’s handed a dose of the zombie potion – and now the only way to break Legendre’s spell over the innocent girl is to kill him. Lugosi is suitably menacing, and the drone-like zombies are properly eerie.

The Cursed Medallion/The Night Child (1975)

For a few years, in 1970s Italy, Nicoletta Elmi was the go-to creepy kid. She pops up in Mario Bava’s Bay Of Blood and Baron Blood, and in Dario Argento’s Deep Red, among others, but she’s never more creepy than she is in The Cursed Medallion. Here, she plays Emily, the daughter of an art historian who’s making a documentary on demons in paintings. She’s given a medallion but, as the title suggests, it’s cursed, and she ends up possessed by the spirit of a murderess. It’s atmospheric, lovingly photographed and, of course, Elmi is awesome in the lead role.

The Descent (2005)

A group of friends go off on a spelunking holiday, but get more than they bargained for when it turns out that the caves they’re exploring are dangerous in more ways than one. There’s enough time spent on character development that you really feel it when the group starts to get thinned out; there’s some incredibly painful-looking gore; and there are some amazingly freaky monsters. Watch it in a darkened room to make the most of its wonderfully claustrophobic atmosphere.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

The shine might’ve come off this movie because the Paranormal Activity franchise has become Lionsgate’s new one-every-Halloween cash cow, but there’s something deliciously creepy about this movie. Rewatching it now, even knowing when all the scares are coming, it’s still chilling. In a neat twist on the traditional haunted house story, Paranormal Activity’s entity haunts a person, not a house – so its victim can’t just pack up and move. The found footage conceit is used to great effect, making you stare intently at grainy nighttime footage of an empty room, straining your ears for distant footsteps, before making you jump out of your skin with a loud bang. (Pro tip: the movie has three different endings, so if you think you’re bored of it, try one of the others.)

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

So much of the effectiveness of a horror movie comes down to its sound design. A well-placed creak, groan, echo, or jangle can make the difference between something completely normal and something terrifying. New scary noises don’t come along very often, but Ju-on: The Grudge managed to come up with something unlike any other scary noise you’ve heard before. Its ghost makes a weird rattling, burping groan as she approaches; it’s kind of like a death rattle, kind of like a throttled scream, and it’s creepier than anything you’ve ever heard before. The film is relentless, light on plot and heavy on jump scares, but it’s that noise that’ll stay with you.

Julia’s Eyes (2010)

Julia and her twin sister, Sara, both suffer from the same degenerative disease – one that causes them to go blind. When Sara undergoes experimental surgery and subsequently kills herself, Julia suspects foul play – and, indeed, something weird seems to be going on, with whisperings about an invisible man lurking in the shadows. But as Julia gets closer to the truth, her own eyesight suffers more and more… The film restricts our vision almost as much as Julia’s; it’s almost unbearably claustrophobic, and ultimately heartbreaking.

The Eye (2002)

Another film about eyes and the horrors of going blind, The Eye follows Mun, a classical violinist from Hong Kong, as she undergoes an eye transplant. Although the transplant seems to be successful – Mun can see again – something isn’t right, because now she can see dead people. And most of them are terrifying. The ending is vaguely preposterous, but the rest of the film is creepy enough that it’s forgivable. 

Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Lucio Fulci’s Italian, unofficial sequel to Dawn Of The Dead features perhaps the creepiest zombies ever committed to film. When a boat turns up in New York harbour with only a zombie on board, investigative reporter Peter West sets out to find out where the boat came from and what’s going on. He ends up on the island of Matool, where the dead are returning to life to eat the flesh of the living… and they’re really, really gross. Zombie Flesh Eaters was initially classified as a video nasty in the UK, and it’s not difficult to see why. Its atmosphere elevates it above your average exploitation movie, though; there’s something really melancholy about it.

[REC] (2007)

When a local news crew decided to tag along with the fire brigade for an evening, they probably didn’t realise they’d end up fighting from their lives in a zombie-infested tower block. Co-written and co-directed by Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero (yup, him again), [REC] is a decent enough zombie movie, until the final reel, when it reveals an even more terrifying ace up its sleeve.

Let Me In (2010)

Although remakes are usually terrible, Matt Reeves’ take on this unusual vampire story was both respectful of and different from the original and, for my money, it’s creepier. Lonely tween Owen doesn’t have any friends until the equally strange Abby moves in next door. They embark on an odd friendship/proto-romance, but Abby has a secret: she’s a vampire. The use of a candy jingle is, against all odds, really eerie, and by paring the story down to its most essential elements (and getting rid of that daft cat scene) Let Me In makes for a scarier watch than Let The Right One In.

Carnival Of Souls (1962)

After a traumatic accident, weird things start happening to Mary. A strange man seems to be stalking her, though no one else can see him, and she feels irresistibly drawn to an abandoned pavilion out in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, the pavilion housed a carnival, but now it’s just an empty building… or is it? There’s nothing surprising about the plot of this movie to a modern audience – you’ll have the whole film worked out within about five minutes – but it is gloriously creepy. The climactic scenes at the carnival are pure nightmare fuel.

The Shining (1980)

Probably the most effective of all the Stephen King adaptations, The Shining plonks Jack Nicholson down in the middle of a creepy hotel and lets him do his thing. Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who gets a winter job as caretaker of The Overlook Hotel, where the isolation and/or ghosts send him out of his mind. There are so many creepy images in this film: the twin girls who just want to play, the woman in room 237, the lift full of blood, and, oh, lots more.

The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari (1920)

Appropriately, watching The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari feels like slipping into a nightmare. Caligari’s cabinet holds Cesare, the sleepwalker – a catatonic oracle able to answer questions of life and death with eerie accuracy. Is Caligari a hypnotist, a murderer, or both? It’s a strange story, made stranger with a twist ending, and rendered impossibly creepy by the Expressionist production design. The weird, distorted hand-painted sets give the film a crude, unreal beauty and, if anything, the passage of time has increased the film’s creepiness, because it’s so utterly unlike modern films.

The Exorcist (1973)

An obvious choice, but The Exorcist is genuinely creepy. It’s deceptively simple: the filming style is realistic, the locations are ordinary-looking and, by comparison to more modern horror movies, there aren’t many elaborate effects or stunts. But the film makes every scary moment count. It’s atmosphere is oppressive, claustrophobic – there’s an ever-present sense of dread throughout. It ought to feel more dated than it does, but even now, the demonic makeup and scratchy voice of the possessed Regan gives me goosebumps.

The Omen (1976)

Damien is probably the ultimate creepy child. Adopted by the Thorns when their own newborn dies, it doesn’t take long for his dark side to emerge: Damien is the Antichrist. There are so many iconic moments in this film, so many things that have shaped both the horror genre and our culture’s idea of evil; something about this film really struck a chord, and even now it’s pretty effective. Every death scene in this movie is memorable, but the suicide of Damien’s nanny at his birthday party particularly stands out. 

Ghostwatch (1992)

Originally shown on UK TV at Halloween, Ghostwatch scared a whole generation shitless. It’s presented as a live broadcast, starring familiar BBC faces: Michael Parkinson plays host, while Sarah Green and Craig Charles report from the scene as a normal family recount their experiences with the terrifying ghost they’ve dubbed “Pipes”. The shadowy figure of a man is glimpsed several times throughout the show, some appearances more obvious than others, and as viewers call in to share their own stories, things get weirder and weirder… Okay, this isn’t technically a film, but it is so amazingly creepy and brilliant that it couldn’t be left off the list.

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man is a wonderful mishmash of genres: it’s got humour, horror, singing and sex. It frequently teeters on the edge of absurdity. But at heart, it’s deeply creepy. When devout Christian Sgt Howie visits the isolated community of Summerisle, he thinks he’s investigating the abduction of a little girl – and the villagers certainly do seem to be acting suspiciously. But as his investigation continues, it becomes clear that something entirely different is going on. Howie runs headlong to his doom, and its final scene is downright spine-chilling.

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria is Dario Argento’s finest hour. It’s eyeball-meltingly beautiful to look at, all unnatural neon lighting and ridiculously lavish set design; the music is cacophonous, a never-ending wall of sound that doesn’t let up; and the plot is, well, it’s functional enough. Suzy, an American ballet dancer, flies to an exclusive dance school in Germany only to find herself in the midst of a murder investigation – and something weird is definitely going on with the teachers. If you haven’t seen Suspiria in a while, treat yourself to the Blu-ray. There’s nothing restrained about this movie, nothing ordinary; it sneaks up on you and worms its way into your brain. It’s brilliant.

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Dead of Night should be here! Just for the ventriloquist segment and the framing story :)

You forgot DON'T LOOK BACK with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie

Superb list!So many excellent creepy films I had forgotten about.I would suggest a few more creepy movies to consider.The Machinist, Eraserhead and my favourite creepy movie of all time nobody has heard about, Session 9.When I think of so many horror films I have seen, none of them ever made me lose sleep.After watching Session 9 I did not sleep for two nights!And there is hardly any blood or gore in the film.Check it out.

Oh I forgot one more mega creepy masterpiece which should be dying for a remake about now.The Medusa Touch.I saw this when I was about 7 or 8 in the 70s, and it was so creepy I did not feel right for a long time.I was so scare every time a plane flew by!

Blair Witch? Zzzz.....

What about The Sixth Sense? Especially the part where Bruce Willis turns up the tape recording, and the bit where the boy is locked in the cupboard at a party.

And The Others, with that creepy photo album...

Great list, some I need to still see. Mitchum
in Night Of The Hunter is a great mention, damn he was disturbing.

I really liked Session 9! I was absolutely thinking of this movie when I got to the bottom of the list!

Once again, I agree on Session 9! I saw it on Netflix and was super glad that I took the time to watch it. I remember a few times squirming in my chair waiting for what was going to happen.

Nah, it didn't do it for me.

Don't Look Now? Didn't forget it, I just don't like it.

See above re: Triangle. I hated it.

A good list,suprised no mention of polanskis apartment trilogy though.Oh,and dont look now.

Jacobs Ladder is one thats surely creepier than Suspiria (which I think is awesome though). UZUMAKI is insane
'The Ghoul' 1974 is a proper creepy film even if it was made well before my time and Rogue River is a complete mindfuck

Awesome list!!! I was devastated to get to the end of it, but I do now have many hours creeped out viewing ahead because of your picks. Also really appreciated your in depth descriptions that were completely void of spoilers. Thanks so much!!!!

Great list! Thank you :-)

Thank-you for this list.
I don't mind a good slasher movie, a fifty foot monster or a bit of torture porn but my love for the titles listed here that I've seen (14 of them) makes me a Horror Lover as opposed to a Gorehound.
Every bloody Horror magazine has the word 'gore' on the cover, but this is the guts and soul of the beast known as 'Horror' right here.

How can Let me in be on this list and not Let the Right one in!!??!? Let the RIGHT one in the list.

This list isn't complete without Session 9. Woefully underrated movie.

The wicker man, along with the remake by Mr. Cage, has to be the worst written horror movie in the entirity of the universe.

A few I would add: Shutter (Thai Version), Lake Mungo and Salem's Lot.

"They Live" scared me quite a bit as well

From Beyond (1986) , Re-animator and the recent "Antichrist".

You need to add the new film 'The Pact'. That is a truly creepy and paranoia inducing movie.

This is an excellent list. I personally think you have great taste in creepy films apart from a small handful I don't care for. I can overlook all of that since you have included films such as 'The innocents', 'May' and the original 'Night of the living dead'. A few I have not seen and will be sure to look for them.
I have a recommendation for you (in gratitude) ..have a look at 'Biutiful' sometime, with the marvelous Javier Bardem (No country for old men). It is subtitled (set in Barcelona), is thoroughly creepy, has memorable characters and some real depth to it.

Best.

There are about five movies I don´t like, but in general it´s a great list. I think you are missing Sam Raimi´s Evil Dead

Hoorah! I did a research project on Argento this year and was amazed to find out most horror scholars consider it terrible. It's awesome! It's to Suspiria as Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" is to "Three Sisters"

Thanks for this list. My wife asked for some more creepy movies after watching The Awakening, so this list is great.
One film (or series really) that I still can't bring myself to watch again after being genuinely freaked out by it as a kid in the 70's is The Omega Files.

You have great taste in horror films my friend I like that you chose from a broad range of films within the genre.As an example one of my favorite films on your list is "Vampyr" but I also loved "Dead End". Thanks also for reminding me about some great films I haven't seen in ages like "The Innocents" and the TV version of The Woman in Black which scared me silly when I first saw it.One film I enjoyed that I didn't see on your list was "Shadow of the Vampire". If you haven't seen it check it out.Willem Dafoe's Vampire is sensational.

Can anybody help me find a film I saw years ago. It's when a man and woman move into a new home, and the husband cuts his finger and blood drops on the floor boards and this man with now skin appears. And the more he kills he gets more skin.

Can anyone help me?

Pretty sure it's Hellraiser.

I've never seen Shadow of the Vampire, but I've just ordered a DVD. Thanks for the recommendation!

I watched Shadow of the Vampire and LOVED it. I didn't find it especially creepy, but it was just brilliant. Thanks!

I still dream about the scream and the dog. Where can i find the movie. I've been looking for it. Unsuccesfully

great movie Jacob's..

The topic is hot, very modern. There are some many elements that are disturbing in that film!

the problem is that It is been used as a blueprint for too many films. And the ending is really not scary. Still a great film

Absolutely

How weird I loved it and I bought it! See how tastes can be diverse!

I was so with you on a few of these and not so much on others but opinions are opinions right? then we got to Let Me In and you said "Let Me In makes for a scarier watch than Let The Right One In" So I set my computer on fire and threw it out the window. Unfortunately what has been seen can never be unseen and now I need a new laptop.

Taste is personal but really, what is The Wicker Man doing in this list? I really miss Jacob's Ladder and Don't look now

Can someone help me I am looking for a horror movie. I don't remember the name but it is about a mother and her daughter moving far away, living near a clif and water. The girl disappears and the mother keeps looking for her and end up in some parallel universe where she is in the house they live in, but as a ghost where she finds her daughter.

About 99% sure that's The Dark.

I would have thought that Triangle would have made it onto this list.

Very nice list with many of the films I like, too, and some I did not knew before. On my list are other Val Lewton films, too, such as "Isle of the dead" with Karloff. Very eerie atmosphere. "The uninvited" is quite good starring Ray Milland and a haunted house. The BBC produced some very good ghost stories (mainly M.R. James stuff). Murnau's "Faust" contains some beautiful atmospheric scenes. "Malpertuis" is not really scary, but very weird in its own way. "The awakening" is one of the newer films with creepy atmosphere.

nie

hi can u plz help me anybody....am searching for a film and i cant find it...its about two small girl(twins) who stay near a lake and one of the tw0 sisters die in the lake...her body is brought in the house by her grandma and grandpa.after a few seconds she wke up and say that she want her sister with her she stars to kill....plz help me find this film...thnks..

The Others is similar to The Innocents which is also a great creepy movie.

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