10. Dawn of the Dead (Original)

dawn-of-the-dead I really enjoy George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, but as far as zombie movies are concerned his follow-up, Dawn of the Dead, tops the list. Launching into its sordid story with but the slightest of explanations, this film is at once a thrill ride and a languid mood piece: Ken Foree exudes calming authority as Peter, the SWAT team leader who anchors a foursome of refugees who hole up in a shopping mall after humanity discovers 'there's no more room in hell.' While much has been made in subsequent years of the film's running anti-consumerist commentary, the film proves to be much more interesting as a character study than a treatise on the dangers of too much shopping; but a healthy dose of gore, combined with some wicked humor and considerable invention on the part of the filmmakers makes this Dawn a sunrise you'll want to watch all day and night.

9. Frankenstein

Frankenstein

Based on the Mary Shelley novel about a mad scientist who reanimates dead tissue, this is a lasting film that helped to define the horror genre early on. Featuring Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster, it is a masterpiece of mood. The characterization of the monster makes him utterly human, making for a rare sympathetic character in horror cinema. Who can forget the famous line "It's alive!" or the monster throwing a young girl into the pond when he runs out of flower petals?

8. Evil Dead 2

Evil Dead 2

Sam Raimi's sequel to the low-budget splatterfest The Evil Dead surpasses its predecessor by leaps and bounds, if only because its humor is intentional rather than inadvertent. But more than merely leavening the gore with a heaping dose of gags, Raimi attacks horror convention with surgical precision, eviscerating a decade of slasher-movie clich├ęs (much less otherworldly terrors) and employs inventive, frenetic camerawork to create an all-new template that few if any could decipher, much less put to proper use. Bruce Campbell, meanwhile, proves to be the most game – not to mention shameless – leading man in the history of the movies, offering one relentless, self-deprecating sight gag after another; but together they craft a new vision of horror that transcends the limitations of box office or budget with creativity and enthusiasm. We guarantee this is the most fun you will ever have being frightened.

7. An American Werewolf in London

An_American_Werewolf_In_London-cdco.jpg image by horrorman

An American Werewolf in London, the 1981 film from director John Landis, stars David Naughton, Griffin Dunne and Jenny Agutter as two American tourists in London who are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists. The movie is a favorite among horror fans for its meshing of straight-up scares with intentionally funny and ironic moments.

6. Poltergeist

Poltergeist

Family-friendly director Steven Spielberg teamed up with cult horror director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) for this creepy 1982 haunted house flick. Directed by Hooper, and co-written by Spielberg, Michael Grais & Mark Victor, Poltergeist contains a great mix of creepy moments and special effects to create a very smart and entertaining horror movie. An excellent example of the film's spooky tone is the scene in which 5-year-old Carole Anne (Heather O'Rourke) declares "They're here..." (which was also the focus of the film's one-sheet).

5. Halloween

halloween

The film that gave birth to the modern American slasher film. Unfortunately, it also gave birth to some pretty poor imitators and an endless string of '80s horror sequels that could never live up to their originals. But that's besides the point. Director John Carpenter made a star and scream queen out of Jamie Lee Curtis and crafted a frightening scare-fest that helped boyfriends get closer to their girlfriends in theaters and living rooms to this day. It remains the best work Carpenter ever did, and that score is positively unforgettable and creepy. Maybe best of all, the film created an iconic boogeyman out of a repainted Captain Kirk mask. I know I always found Shatner pretty scary.

4. Jaws

jaws

The production of Jaws hit several snags, and the animatronic shark that was created for the movie failed, resulting in the haunting snippets of the shark and the implied terror it was causing. This resulted in a tight, suspenseful film that more than stands the test of time. Filled with classic moments (the opening death, the exchange of scar stories) and lines ("We're going to need a bigger boat"), Jaws is both dramatic and chilling, and is responsible for a couple generations' worth of irrational fear of the water. Among Steven Spielberg's early works, this is the crowning achievement, and one of the most terrifying and well-cast pieces of horror cinema around.

3. Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby
Featuring a young and vibrant Mia Farrow (Woody Allen's longtime wife), Rosemary's Baby is the horrifying account of a woman who believes she has been impregnated by Satan himself. Trapped in an apartment building with overzealous neighbors and boxed in by a demanding husband, this is almost more of a psychological thriller than horror film. Directed by Roman Polanski before his exile from America, it stands with Chinatown as one of his great contributions to cinema.

2. The Exorcist

The-Exorcist

Faithfully based on William Peter Blatty's 1971 best-selling novel of the same name, The Exorcist tells a story of a young girl (Linda Blair) who's possessed by demons. Masterfully directed by William Friedkin (previously known for The French Connection), the film features horrifying and sensational scenes, some nauseating special effects (pea soup, anyone?), and great acting (12-year-old Blair steals the show, while Jason Miller and Max von Sydow also turn in wonderful performances, as the preists attempting to exorcise the demons). The film's creepy title tune, "Tubular Bells," became a #1 single on the Billboard charts, and The Exorcist went on to win two Academy Awards (for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound) and another eight nominations, including Best Picture.

1. The Shining

shining

An absolute masterpiece of atmosphere and tension, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining isn't merely the top choice on IGN's list of horror movies, but my personal genre favorite: Jack Nicholson comes unhinged – perhaps permanently – as the failed novelist and hotel manager who succumbs to madness after spending a long winter cooped up in the creepy confines of the Overlook Hotel, and offers one of cinema's most indelible portraits of suspense ever created. Unlike so many others on this list, Kubrick's film is surprisingly light on gory action; the first time I watched it I had to stop it halfway through, and nothing of note had yet happened. But once it shifts into high gear, racheting anticipation with multiple storylines including Jack's wife, child, and a helpful hotel employee played by Scatman Crothers, there's no suppressing its irresistible, nail-biting allure: from the dismembered twins to the disguised, canoodling partygoers in Room 237, The Shining offers frights that last long after the film is finished.

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