2010 is the dawn of a new era in the horror realm. Last decade we were given some great horror films from great filmmakers, which I did my darnedest to properly represent in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade entries. 2010 also marks another opportunity to express my appreciation for great horror, as I will give to you what I personally feel to be the top 25 horror films of the last 25 years, from 1985 to 2010. In my most firm belief these films are not only forever horror classics, but films that bring joy and horror to all fans who view them. Keep in mind, while some of these films may be better “films” than others ahead of them, I am basing my rankings on the quality of horror given to us, not “film” quality. I now give you, the top 25 horror movies of the last 25 years, along with a few honorable mentions worth…mentioning. Ps. Because this post embodies 25 years of films, there will be 10 honorable mention films instead of my usual 5 honorable mention films.
– Known as Dario Argento’s last GREAT film, this macabre twist on The Phantom of the Opera(while not a direct remake) comes with excellent horror thanks to great execution, stunning visuals, and a pretty cool score given this flick takes place in an opera house. In my opinion, this flick’s antagonist is thee true PHANTOM of the opera, heh. Read my full review for this film here: Opera
– This flick came in pretty much completely under the radar when it debuted in 1997, and what a shame. Before we had the “wake-up-in-a-strange-room-with-no-clue-how-you-got-there” scenario with Saw, we got it with Cube. Very ahead of its time, Cube perfectly blends psychological paranoia with mystery, and all with horrific undertones and horrific results. This flick is a true under-appreciated hidden gem. Read my full review for this film here: Cube
23. Shaun of the Dead
– While The Return of the Living Dead did the “zombie shout-out comedy” first, by about 19 years, Shaun of the Dead gave us a fun experience that stands on its own thanks to a much different setting and different(witty) humor. Read my full review for this film here: Shaun of the Dead
22. The Return of the Living Dead
– This flick is every zombie fan’s dream. A true homeage to the zombie sub-genre, it was THIS film that first introduced running zombies, way before Danny Boyle’s “infected” hit the screen running. Combining both great horror and awesome laughs, this flick is a true reminder that zombies RULE. Read my full review for this flick here: The Return of the Living Dead
21. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
– I am still rejoicing over the thought that such an iconic director, Francis Ford Coppola, would finally enter the horror genre after giving us such amazing classics like The Godfather I & II, and Apocalypse Now. It is seldom that we get great directors to do their work in this genre, and this film shows that without any previous horror experience a formidable director can give us a classic. PLUS, Keanu didn’t suck in this. Oh, and did I mention the sequence in which we first see the Count is one of horror’s greatest scenes EVER? Read my full review for this film here: Bram Stoker’s Dracula
20. Drag Me To Hell
– In 2009 Sam Raimi returned to the demon-infused horror genre after 1992’s Army of Darkness, and with fantastic results. Drag Me To Hell is what we fans of 80s horror have been waiting for from the modern horror realm. Lots of gross-out effects and gags, great demon action, and Sam Raimi’s expert touch on direction make this flick a very enjoyable and awesome horror film. Read my full review for this film here: Drag Me To Hell
– This flick came out of nowhere in 2005 as part of Project Greenlight and gave us a fun, gore-filled ride from start to finish. We get some creative looking creatures in this film that come with their own ridiculous antics as we watch a plethora of different characters fight for survival…and die violently trying. Read my full review for this film here: Feast
– Honestly, this film is a monster. When this flick first came out I was enamored right from the get-go at how captivating and gritty this film is. Not since Se7en(I know I say this a lot) had the “moral complex” been used so expertly in horror, but this time with a killer who serves a vengeful and enlightening purpose. Five subsequent sequels later and another one the way, this is definitely the “series” of the last 25 years. Jason, Michael, and Freddy had the 70s(Michael) 80s and 90s, and now Jigsaw has the 2000s. Read my full review for this film here: Saw
– In 1987 we were given a film that brought us one icon, Arnold “GET IN DA CHOPPA!” Schwarzenegger, and created another icon, a hunter from another planet playing a deadly game with the human race. Together, these icons gave us one of the coolest hunter vs. hunted battles of all time, and spawned a positive sequel and some OK pseudo-sequels. Whether you like this film or not(as you should), you’ll never forget who “Predator” is, I promise you that. Read my full review for this film here: Predator
16. Battle Royale
– This Japanese flick is not outright horror like the rest of these films, BUT comes with a plot so horrific it is scary in its own right. How many other films involve a country’s government deciding they are fed up with the youth and implement a new program to “fix” things, a program in which one 8th grade class will be sent to an isolated island in which they must kill each other off, and only the last boy/girl standing shall return. Yeah, not many other countries have the guts to make a film like this, and many hard-to-watch scenes come with this awesome flick.
– The very first time I laid eyes on this watch I immediately fell in love with this flick, and how could I not? This concoction from Italian horror maestro Dario Argento(writer) and Lamberto Bava(director) gives us demon fans everything we could ask for. Excellent demon action complimented with great gore and transformation scenes, utter cheezyness we all can appreciate, and a setting so genius it makes this film stand on its own compared to all other demon flicks…it takes place in a movie theater! This has to be one of the most fun films on this list, and one of the few that makes me think “Damn, I really wish I was there…”. Read my full review for this film here: Demons
14. The Descent
– This flick came out of nowhere in 2005 and gave us quite possibly the very most claustrophobic horror film of all time. Just the idea of being deep inside an uncharted cave system with no way out is scary enough, and throw in some blood thirsty cave dwellers and you have true horror. Plenty of gore, scares, and an all-female cast(which means no macho males to save them), this flick pushes its characters to extreme boiling points and pushes the viewer to cover their eyes on many occasions. Read my full review for this film here: The Descent
– Director Stuart Gordon made his name with this H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, and also gave us one of horror’s greatest icons…actor Jeffrey Combs. The storyline is a great one, as this is not the usual zombie/infected type horror film but one involving medically-induced re-animation. Yes, originality always gets points in my book. Quirky direction and an awesome story make this film an ever joy to watch. Oh, and the immense amount of gore doesn’t hurt. Read my full review for this film here: Re-Animator
12. The Fly
– David Cronenberg hit a career high in excellence with his 1986 remake of the 1958 classic, The Fly. Jeff Goldblum gives a terrific performance in this horror/sci-fi masterpiece which comes with excellent direction and phenomenal visuals that show Cronenberg’s prominence in horror/sci-fi sexual horror. After getting this close to the Musca domestica, you may never look at your common housefly again. Read my full review for this film here: The Fly
11. 28 Days Later
– 28 Days Later comes with one of the scariest plots of all time. Think about it: you wake up from a coma in an abandoned hospital. You make your way about the facility and notice that no other human life exists around you, which gets worse when you make your way outside. “Missing” posters adorn the city of London, and you still have yet to see another person, until the “infected” show up. Honestly, just thinking about being in that situation gives me chills, and director Danny Boyle excellently delivers the horror. Read my full review for this film here: 28 Days Later
10. The Silence of the Lambs
– This film is an obvious inclusion for several reasons; great story, an iconic performance from Anthony Hopkins, and great direction from non-horror director Johnathan Demme. This film gives us one of horror’s greatest serial killers, Hannibal Lecter, who was not even the focus of this film but stole the show thanks to Anthony Hopkins’ performance. This may be the best horror “film” of the last 25 years. Read my full review for this film here: The Silence of the Lambs
9. Let The Right One In
– This Swedish horror film is what Twilight should have been had it stayed true to vampire lore and given us true undying love. The conflict is real, the vampire action is subtle yet horrific, and this film is shot so beautifully you truly appreciate its “art house” element. Switch off that Twilight nonsense and watch some real vampires. Read my full review for this film here: Let The Right One In
8. Dead Alive
– Do I even have to explain this film? Before Peter Jackson was giving us epic Hobbit trilogies he was giving us epic and cheesy gorefests, and this one is his finest. Properly deemed “THE GORIEST FRIGHT FILM OF ALL TIME”, this flick is a true joy to watch and comes with some pretty suffocating laugh sequences as well. Read my full review for this film here: Dead Alive
7. Cemetery Man
– This under-appreciated Italian horror film has one of horror’s finest storylines, and comes with so much more than what appears on screen. This flick perfectly blends zombies, romanticism, and surrealism into an expertly executed concoction from Dario Argento protégé Michele Soavi. Read my full review for this film here: Cemetery Man
– This Spanish film was awarded the #1 spot in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade post, and with great reason. POV horror films are starting to get a bit old now, but this film manages to always exhibit a great amount of true horror that never relents. We get a nice twist on the “infected” sub-genre, one that you never seem coming and only makes the on-screen horror even scarier. Read my full review for this film here: REC
5. Day of the Dead
– This is George A. Romero’s last TRULY great film and it remains a classic in zombie/horror lore due to its awesome content and utterly amazing ending sequence, which I believe to be the greatest sequence in zombie history. Romero gave us the first usage of zombie learning abilities, which came along with his excellent use of social-commentary that attacks just how stupid and brash some brainwashed military junkies can be. Read my full review for this film here: Day of the Dead
4. Army of Darkness
– As much as I adore Dead Alive, THIS is the most fun film in this list. Sam Raimi continues his Evil Dead trilogy with this horrific medieval/fantasy-influenced flick that brings along Bruce Campbell as Ash “Don’t Call Me Ashley” Williams with plenty of laughs. From the get-go to this flick’s awesome climax, this action packed horror film gives us what few horror films these days give us…unless they come from Sam Raimi himself(Drag Me To Hell…anyone?). Read my full review for this film here: Army of Darkness
– I have always been a fan of any horror film with religious elements, and it is only fitting that a film focusing on the “7 Deadly Sins” would be as awesome as this film. We get an iconic serial killer thanks to Kevin Spacey’s performance as the “John Doe Killer” accompanied by David Fincher’s excellent direction. We all remember films/books by their beginnings/conclusions, well this flick has what I believe to be the coolest opening credits EVER and more importantly…one of the most horrific climaxes of all time, in ALL genres. Read my full review for this film here: Se7en
– Clive Barker has made his name mainly as a writer/artist, but it was this debut directing effort from Mr. Barker that brought us one of the most hell-ish and awesome horror films of all time. As if his antagonist character “Pinhead” wasn’t awesome enough, we get plenty of hell-induced action with a hint of venereal sado-masochist deviance thrown in. Read my full review for this film here: Hellraiser
1. Evil Dead II
– Yes, THIS is the best horror film of the last 25 years. Sam Raimi’s sequel to the awe-inducing The Evil Dead gives us the same evil antics but with a greater production value and more slapstick hijinks. The demons are plentiful in this flick, as is the gore and carnage they can cause and create. But wait, this flick gets better. We also, much like the majority of the films in the list, get an iconic climax that is horrific, and even comes with some comedy as well. Read my full review for this film here: Evil Dead II
Honorable Mention: Close But Not Good Enough…
– The ultimate beer n’ wings flick, Intruder comes to us from long time Sam Raimi friend Scott Spiegel, and even gives us Sam Raimi himself in a full supporting role, as you can tell from my very spoiler-esque picture above(heh). This is definitely one of the most underrated horror slasher film of all time, and it is a shame this film has not received the full attention it deserves. From start to finish, this flick rocks. Read my full review for this film here: Intruder
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
– This is in my opinion the most fun film in the Friday the 13th franchise, and it comes with the series’ most iconic moment…Jason’s Frankenstein’s monster-esque resurrection via lightning. It sounds cheezy, and it is, and it is awesome. We get plenty of kills, great gore, and an all-around fun feel that makes this flick one of my favorite horror films of the last 25 years. Read my full review for this film here: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
– Before he gave us Child’s Play, director Tom Holland gave us Fright Night, one of the coolest vampires flicks of all time. Vampires seem to be somewhat of a trend here in this post, and that is because these flicks have persevered over the decades and remain fan favorites. Focusing more on conflict and creepiness, Fright Night stands out over some of the more “fun” vampire flicks because this film has what it takes to leave you feeling a bit uneasy about your new neighbor who just moved in…Read my full review for this film here: Fright Night
Night of the Creeps
– Night of the Creeps is a joy to all horror fans because it embodies everything we love to see in these films, and then some. We get a sweet story, nice gore, intense one-liners, and numerous shout-outs to horror’s greatest directors. Cheezy horror is always great horror, and Night of the Creeps brings the cheeze. Read my full review for this film here: Night of the Creeps
The Lost Boys
– The Lost Boys gives us everything we expect, and love to see in an 80s vampire film. It’s fun, gives us awesome vampire action, sweet visuals, and it is relate-able for teens and young adults of the time with its great feel and use of 80s comics as well. Joel Schumacher gave us his only outright horror film, one he most likely will never top.
– Few things are scarier than inanimate objects coming to life, ESPECIALLY if that object is a Good Guy doll. Director Tom Holland scared the sh*t out of me in as a kid thanks to this film re-running on late night television(I knew my mom told me to go to sleep early for a reason), yet I thank for him for such an awesome horror film. Chucky has remained an iconic character in horror lore, and for obvious reasons. Read my full review for this film here: Child’s Play
From Dusk Till dawn
– What? More vampires? Yes, thanks to this awesome Robert Rodriguez B-movie-esque flick from a Quentin Tarantino script, we get more vampires. From Dusk Till Dawn may be the goriest vampire flick of all time, and that is because we don’t get into the vampire action until about halfway through the runtime, which says a lot about the amount of gore that ensues in the latter half of the film. Freakin’ cool in every aspect, we get awesome characters, great direction, excellent dialogue, and a cast of fun-to-watch actors(George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, Harvey Keitel), this flick is a must see and an obvious inclusion into this post. Read my full review for this film here: From Dusk Till Dawn
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
– My second favorite of the Halloween series, this flick gives us some of the best Michael Myers action there is. An excellent performance from George P. Wilbur, “The Shape” shows us the true tenacity and depravity that he embodies in his search to kill his only living relative to date…his 7 year old niece. It is seldom that a sequel retains its fanfare over the decades, as you can tell from the few sequels on this list, but this film has no problems doing so. Read my full review for this film here: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Trick ‘r Treat
– This flick has won the hearts of millions of horror fans since its NON-theatrical 2008 release, and its subsequent 2009 DVD release. Yes folks, this amazing Halloween(the holiday, not the movie)-themed film sat on the shelves for a gratuitous amount of time while utter crap was wide-released in theaters. I will honestly say that I believe Trick ‘r Treat to be the greatest Halloween holiday film of all time(Halloween is not about the holiday, out-rightly), and it brings the spirit of the pagan season regardless of the season. Read my full review for this film here: Trick ‘r Treat
– Creature films have a special place in my heart, as well as vengeance-themed films. Throw in Lance Henriksen and FX guru Stan Winston as director, and I’m in love. While there may be some films out there with better production than this one, this flick gives us a great watch with a very low-budget and a simple storyline. We watch a father seek vengeance against a group of immature teens who take away the only love and joy left in his simple life…his young son. If you like watching naive stupid teens get what they deserve, in the most horrific of ways(look at the pic above), then you will love this film. Read my full review for this film here: Pumpkinhead
There you have it folks, these 25 films and 10 honorable mentions are the best 35 horror films of the last 25 years. While some of these newer films are excellent and potentially better than some of the earlier released films listed here, only time will tell if they will remain as infamous as the earlier released films on this list. I have provided a few statistical breakdowns based on certain horror demographics:
80s films(1985-1989): 9 of the top 25. 7 of the 10 honorable mentions. A total of 16 of the 35 films, a whopping 45.7%.
90s films(1990-1999): 7 of the top 25. 2 of the 10 honorable mentions: A total of 9 of the 35 films, 25.7%
00s films(2000-2009): 9 of the top 25. 1 of the 10 honorable mentions. A total of 10 of the 35 films, 28.6%
Sequels: 2 of the top 25. 0 of the honorable mentions. A total of 2 of the 35 films, 5.7%
Zombie/Infected/Re-animated films: 8 of the top 25. 1 of the honorable mentions. A total of 9 of the 35 films, 25.7%
Demon films: 5 of the top 25. 1 of the honorable mentions. A total of 6 of the 35 films, 17.1%
Vampire films: 2 of the top 25. 3 of the honorable mentions. A total of 5 of the 35 films, 14.3%
Slasher films: 1 of the top 25. 3 of the honorable mentions. A total of 4 of the 35 films, 11.4%
Creature films: 5 of the top 25. 2 of the honorable mentions. A total of 7 of the 35 films, 20%
Serial Killer films: 3 of the top 25. 0 of the honorable mentions. A total of 3 of the 35 films, 8.6%
Remakes: 1 of the top 25. 0 of the honorable mentions. A total of 1 of the 35 films, 2.9%
Sam Raimi has the most films in this post: 3.
Sam Raimi is the only director to appear on the top 25 more than once.
Tom Holland appeared on the honorable mentions twice.
Sam Raimi and Tom Holland are the only directors to appear more than once.
Sam Raimi has two films in the top 5.
Dario Argento is featured twice as a writer in this post(Opera, Demons)
Sam Raimi is featured three times as a writer in this post(Drag Me To Hell, Army of Darkness, Evil Dead II)
Thanks for reading.