From a pool of strong contenders, Poltergeist emerged as the defining film of an 80s childhood.
Four years after he put aside the satirical, political experiments that defined his early career to make his first true thriller, the macabre and meticulously Hitchcockian Sisters (1972), Brian De Palma released Carrie and nearly perfected his horror technique.
In 2009, Sam Raimi, the beloved cult-horror auteur of the Evil Dead films turned idiosyncratic mainstream genre director, unexpectedly released his best post-trilogy horror film.
A paragon of queer perversity, Edgar G. Ulmer’s unfathomable Universal horror hit gave major stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff two of their greatest roles. In the first of many films together, the erstwhile Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster play a pair of intensely bonded frenemies locked in an epic sadomasochistic pas de deux.
One of the few great, truly original ghost stories of the 21st century, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others somehow manages to combine elements and touchstones of classic supernatural horror without ever descending into pastiche.
One of the most beloved horror movies of the 1940s that didn’t have the name Val Lewton attached to it, Paramount’s The Uninvited is a classy, atmospheric chiller that remains transgressive to this day.
Though it’s perhaps not as widely known as the other B-horror films that Val Lewton produced for RKO between 1942 and 1946, The Seventh Victim is the cycle’s poetic pinnacle.
The horrible miracle of John Carpenter’s The Thing is that it manages to absolutely terrify the viewer while also being patently, grotesquely absurd.
No other horror movie has ever matched the elemental perfection of Jaws. There are the other summits of the genre, for sure, but even such cornerstones of horror as Psycho, The Shining, Carrie, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre don’t quite attain the primal ingeniousness of Steven Spielberg’s shark tale.
Paperhouse has many frightening scenes, but one stands out as particularly scary for its brevity and almost inexplicable terror.