I’ve done something similar to this before. In 2020, I did a longer list that was about 50 films and I did 2 parts of it but I think now, 2 years later, I think I played it safe. A lot of the choices there were typical of what everyone else would say and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all share similar ideas and choices when it comes to horror.
However, I never sat down and actually thought of my favorite movies of all time. Even in general, outside of horror, like what are my favorites? How do I determine my favorite? Is it nostalgia? Is it the feeling of the first time I saw it and I immediately fell in love? Is it different, unique, and stands on its own? Is it influential? Fun? What emotions do I attach to it? And the biggest part of all, is it re-watchable? Do I want to watch the movie over and over and not get bored of it? For example, one of my favorites (in general) is Star Wars. I enjoy the original trilogy (Empire Strikes Back) and I really like the prequels (RotS is my fave of those) and I can watch all of them over and over and have fun. I cannot say the same for the sequels.
Other favorites are The Lion King, Moulin Rouge, the original West Side Story, Clue, Labyrinth, Akira, Clueless, The Wizard of Oz… I’m seeing a theme, I love musicals. If you don’t know, besides horror, musicals are my ultimate top tier genre. Like I have my limits, I’m not watching CATS, but see, it was easier to talk about my favorite overall movies and yet with horror, it’s difficult.
I like many different kinds of horror, I’ve discussed those. But narrowing them down and being brutally honest about them, it’s hard. But I am gonna try to limit them to just 20. I think that’s a good number for range and if I limit to 10, I’ll have an extra 10 for honorable mention but I feel as though they are better than honorable mentions. They belong at the top so let’s get into it!
Oh these are not numbered so it doesn’t matter how to rank them.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1983): The practical special effects are still amazing.
Hellraiser (1987): Pleasure and pain, Frank and Julia, and a favorite final girl: Kirsty.
Creepshow (1982): Possibly one of the first anthology movies I’ve seen? It holds a special spot.
Demons (1985): It’s gory, visually stimulating and made me go “ew” many times. I had fun!
Deep Red (1975): If you want to look at another Argento film that isn’t Suspiria, I’d rec this one.
Carnival of Souls (1962): Underrated film, well worth your time.
Return of the Living Dead (1985): BRAAAAAAAAAINSSSSSS!
Hereditary (2018): This movie has permanently scarred me, changed me forever.
Alice, Sweet Alice (1976): It has an ending that is… I’m still trying to figure out if a main character’s hands are “clean”.
Phantasm (1979): A FEVER DREAM. The Tall Man is a great antagonist.
The Craft (1996): Witches, they are teenagers, lots of drama. I love this movie so much.
Night of the Demons (1988): The vhs cover art haunted me as a kid. Now as an adult, I fucking love this movie.
Cat People (1942): There was an internal connection with this movie for me. Deep down I am a cat lady.
The Blair Witch Project (1999): I will DEFEND this movie til the end of time!
The Fog (1980): Ghost pirates!
Re-Animator (1985): Fun, love Herbert West and all the good head. Good good head.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992): Visually, it’s stunning. My personal favorite Dracula interpretation
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): It’s filthy, grimy, dirty, you want a shower after.
Evil Dead 2 (1987): A good balance of horror and comedy. I really like it.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975): It’s a fever dream in a musical.
For those who haven’t seen any of these, I didn’t want to spoil it. I love these movies on different levels. Some are parts of my growing up, some are representing my favorite subgenres like supernatural and ghosts/hauntings. We can all like what we want, that’s why movies are great (art in general), it’s all subjective.
Now this isn’t to also say that some of your favorites aren’t on my list because I don’t like them. I do like most horror movies I’ve seen and you’d know when I absolutely think one is TRASH so if you haven’t noticed, Halloween, Friday the 13th or Psycho aren’t on my list but I don’t dislike them. They would be further down in my top 30s-40s.
What are YOUR unfiltered favorite horror movies of all time, like your personal catalog? What would you recommend to someone who isn’t a fan of horror?