1.) The Wicker Man
Not even a dismal recent remake could tarnish the true terror of the original. As a folk horror masterpiece perhaps the scariest thing is not the apocalyptic ending but the covert cosiness of the island’s young and not-so-young inhabitants as they gang up on poor Sergeant Howie.
Another trip into unknown territory – this time a group of friends travel in the remote American wilderness but far from being a back-slapping all buds together journey of self-discovery – it descends into weirdness and horror. There are some truly grisly scenes and the banjo segment has gone down into cinematic folklore.
3.) Carnival of Souls
This is a true oddity from the 1960s and in black and white with a haunting score it could be a lost episode of The Twilight Zone, if it were not for the almost German Expressionistic scenes which must have had an influence on David Lynch. Its low budget and sometimes hammy acting remain part of its charm.
Aren’t you glad you’re not American? Because if you were you would have had to endure the hell of High School which would be terrifying for any of us, let alone the naïve daughter of a bible-thumping ma. In this adaptation of a Stephen King novel poor Carrie is humiliated and teased by her peers but they do not know that this waif has special powers.
5.) Scream of Fear
Horror wouldn’t be horror without an outing from Hammer and this is a tense thriller starring Christopher Lee at his most imposing. It is about a young paralysed woman who keeps thinking she finds her father’s corpse in the house but it always disappears before anyone else sees it.
6.) Les Diaboliques
Simone Signoret turns in a vampish role in this psychological thriller set in boarding school in France. Hitchcockian in tone, there is a real feel of menace in the air as two put-upon women (the wife and mistress) hatch a plan to wreak revenge on their shared interest and tormentor – the school’s headmaster.
It doesn’t matter if you watch this once or one million times, it still shocks. Textbook performances, a winning script and a creepy score all conspire to make this one of – if not the – best horror films of all time. The shower scene remains a classic and, let’s not forget, it was considered sacrilege to kill your star so early on back in those days.
8.) Peeping Tom
Panned on its release, Peeping Tom is now considered rightly to be a post-modern master of horror. Similar in many ways to Psycho it centres on a shy young man’s interest in filming but his films tip over into the macabre and his victims are all defenceless women.
9.) Dr Terror’s House of Horrors
A camp classic portmanteau horror film starring titans of terror Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. It starts, as all good horrors innocuously enough, on a train and a mysterious stranger opens his pack of Tarot cards and proceeds to tell the stories of each of the travellers.
10.) Let the Right One In
Bang up to date is this 2008 horror vampire film which has a heart at its bloody core. The stark and beautiful Swedish landscape of this film must take credit for much of its eeriness as well as the acting from the young cast. Don’t be put off by the subtitles!
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