Every film buff has their list of the best horror movies of all time, some of them gory and some of them of the smarter, thriller kind. But most critics and film aficionados agree on a handful of horror films made in the 1970s and 1980s as being the very best horror movies of all time. So which are these select best horror movies of all time? Read on to find out!
The Exorcist is perhaps the most recognizable horror film produced by Hollywood to date (though Alfred Hitchcock may beg to differ, of course). Directed by William Friedken and adapted from the novel by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist tells the story of a young girl possessed by a demon and her mother’s desperate attempt to rid her daughter of the horror that plagues her. The film features many A-list stars, including Linda Blair, Jason Miller and Ellen Burstyn. The film was so successful that at the time of its release it was ranked the highest grossing film of all time (currently, that title held by James Cameron’s Avatar, of course). It was also nominated for 10 Academy Awards and continues to be highly regarded by anyone with a penchant for cinema that scares.
Directed by Brian De Palma and starring Sissy Spacek as the titular heroine, Carrie is based on Stephen King’s novel about a teenage girl with few friends or allies who discovers she has a special power that makes itself known when she becomes angry. Her power is known as psionic and includes a variety of psychic powers. The film was well received by critics at the time of its release and did thundering business at the box-office, earning nearly $34 million for a budget of less than $2 million. The film has since spawned a sequel and a television remake, though neither are held in the same esteem at De Palma’s 1976 classic.
Not everyone knows that Halloween was Jamie Lee Curtis’s film debut. Released back in 1978, the film was directed by John Carpenter and tells the story of a six-year-old boy in Illinois who kills his teenage sister. He is sent to live in an asylum where, upon his release 15 years later, he appears hellbent on committing further murder. A psychiatrist follows the young man to try to prevent the murders from happening. As one may expect, the film was the object of a fair deal of scrutiny by critics who feared that the film encouraged its viewers to be violent (particularly violent against women). Whatever assessment one makes of the film, it continues to be a popular horror classic every October 31.
Yet another horror classic inspired by a Stephen King Novel, The Shining was directed by master director Stanley Kubrick and starred Jack Nicholson. Nicholson stars as Jack Torrance, a man looking for work as a caretaker at a hotel. Torrance arrives at the hotel with his wife and young son in tow, unaware that the hotel he is moving his family into in haunted. His son, however, possesses the ability to sense the haunted presence. Though the film is now regarded as a classic, it received something of a critical drubbing at the time of its release, becoming one of the few Kubrick films to earn no Academy Award or Golden Globe nominations.
One of the few horror films involving Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist recounts the tale of a suburban family whose home is haunted ghosts. Though the ghosts at first appear to be relatively harmless, they eventually turn vengeful and violent, stealing the youngest child who shares a special bond with the ghosts. The film was directed by Tobe Hooper and starred Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams.