Yesterday I turned 29 years old. In honor of this event, I have decided to take an idea that was presented by Alex Carlson, the owner of Film Misery, and tweak it a little bit for my particular tastes. Where Alex listed his favorite film from 1920 to today, I will be listing my favorite horror film of each year since I was born in 1986. Each year gets only one horror film that I love, but it also gets a horror film I may have missed out on. This second film is one that I believe may take over my top film of the year once I watch it, or one that I’ve just always wanted to see. I want to thank Alex for this really neat idea, and hope to continue this on my birthdays to come.
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (dir. John McNaughton)
This is one of the grimiest, dirtiest horror films I’ve ever seen based on a serial killer, and one that every serial killer enthusiast or horror fan needs to check out. Warning: it’s an intense experience.
Yet to See: Critters (dir. Stephen Herek)
Near Dark (dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
This is a better film than The Lost Boys in my book. Dark, violent, and humorous. An excellent combination.
Yet to See: Prince of Darkness (dir. John Carpenter)
Child’s Play (dir. Tom Holland)
I used to rent the hell out of this film back when Blockbuster was still renting VHS tapes. One of my childhood favorites.
Yet to See: The Blob (dir. Chuck Russell)
Pet Sematary (dir. Mary Lambert)
This is a film that has aged really well. I actually liked it better the last time I watched it last year than I did initially. Some great performances to boot.
Yet to See: Leviathan (dir. George P. Cosmatos)
Night of the Living Dead (dir. Tom Savini)
This is such a great zombie film. One of the best I’ve ever seen, in fact.
Yet to See: The Exorcist III (dir. William Peter Blatty)
Ernest Scared Stupid (dir. John R. Cherry III)
1991 may have been the worst year for horror films on this list, which is why this silly kids film finds itself at the top of the list. Still a fun movie, but if it had more competition, it wouldn’t be here.
Yet to See: The People Under the Stairs (dir. Wes Craven)
Dr. Giggles (dir. Manny Coto)
Thank God for my buddy Chris. Without Chris, I may have never gotten a chance to see this comedic horror gem. If you can find this, you need to see it. It’s a great, underrated horror flick.
Yet to See: Dead Alive (dir. Peter Jackson)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (dir. Adam Marcus)
Though this wasn’t the “final Friday”, it does represent the end of a certain type of Jason film, and I appreciate it for that.
Yet to See: Cronos (dir. Guillermo del Toro)
New Nightmare (dir. Wes Craven)
This was Craven’s meta testing ground before the meta masterpiece that was Scream came about. Very similar in style to Scream, but with one of our favorite horror icons from the 1980s.
Yet to See: In the Mouth of Madness (dir. John Carpenter)
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers – The Producer’s Cut (dir. John Chappelle)
The Producer’s Cut is a completely different film than the theatrical cut. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet because you don’t own the expensive box set from Scream Factory, you’ll be happy to know that a stand-alone disc is being released real soon.
Yet to See: Species (dir. Roger Donaldson)
Scream (dir. Wes Craven)
One of the finest horror films ever made, regardless of the year.
Yet to See: The Craft (dir. Andrew Fleming)
I Know What You Did Last Summer (dir. Jim Gillespie)
This is an obvious cash grab that was released because of the unexpected success of Scream, but I have loved it ever since I first saw it in theatres.
Yet to See: Perfect Blue (dir. Satoshi Kon)
Halloween H2O: Twenty Years Later (dir. Steve Miner)
This is my second favorite film in the series, behind only the original. The direction is brilliant, and the story completes a trilogy that consists of Halloween, Halloween II, and Halloween H2O. Try watching just these three in a row and you’ll appreciate it even more.
Yet to See: Blade (dir. Stephen Norrington)
Audition (dir. Takashi Miike)
This is one of the most unforgettable, disgustingly brutal horror films I have ever seen, and I absolutely recommend it as essential viewing for anyone interested in the genre.
Yet to See: eXistenZ (dir. David Cronenberg)
Scream 3 (dir. Wes Craven)
Likely the least liked film in the franchise – and one that I didn’t like when I watched in theatres in 2000 – but a film that I have grown to love over many, many repeat viewings.
Yet to See: Shadow of the Vampire (dir. E. Elias Merhige)
Jeepers Creepers (dir. Victor Salva)
The opening 20-minutes are some of my favorite in any film from this year.
Yet to See: The Devil’s Backbone (dir. Guillermo del Toro)
28 Days Later (dir. Danny Boyle)
This is a film that gets better each time I watch it. I found it decent the first time I watched it because I didn’t expect something as deep and intelligent as this. It took me getting a bit older to appreciate that this is truly a work of art.
Yet to See: May (dir. Lucky McKee)
House of 1000 Corpses (dir. Rob Zombie)
I’ll never forget the first time I watched this film. I fell in love immediately, and it cemented Rob Zombie as one of my favorite horror directors of the decade.
Yet to See: Undead (dir. The Spierig Brothers)
Shaun of the Dead (dir. Edgar Wright)
This is the zombie film by which all horror/comedies have been judged since its release. It’s one of my favorites, and most anyone who has seen it would agree.
Yet to See: Toolbox Murders (dir. Tobe Hooper)
The Descent (dir. Neil Marshall)
What more can I say about this horror masterpiece? It’s one of the strongest horror films of the decade, and should be essential viewing for all horror fans.
Yet to See: Isolation (dir. Billy O’Brien)
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (dir. Jonathan Levine)
One of the biggest tragedies in film is that this excellent independent horror film never saw the light of day in the United States until about 6 years after this. Don’t let the fact that US studios are too foolish to release a great film fool you, this is a great time.
Yet to See: The Host (dir. Joon-ho Bong)
The Mist (dir. Frank Darabont)
Likely my favorite Stephen King adaptation, and a great example of a character-driven horror film. Whether or not you like the end (and I do), it’s still a ride worth taking.
Yet to See: Teeth (dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein)
Let the Right One In (dir. Tomas Alfredson)
Believe the hype. This is one of the greatest vampire films ever brought to cinemas. The American remake is good, but the original is better.
Yet to See: Eden Lake (dir. James Watkins)
Zombieland (dir. Ruben Fleischer)
Arguably the best zombie film since Shaun of the Dead.
Yet to See: Carriers (dir. David Pastor and Alex Pastor)
Stakeland (dir. Jim Mickie)
The best film I watched during CSSC3, and a true indie horror gem. Vampire film fans, this is an absolute must-see.
Yet to See: I Saw the Devil (dir. Jee-woon Kim)
Final Destination 5 (dir. Steven Quale)
With how mediocre and forgettable the third and fourth film of this franchise are, I never expected this to be as great as it is. A perfect way to end this fun series.
Yet to See: The Woman (dir. Lucky McKee)
The Cabin in the Woods (dir. Drew Goddard)
I love the cast, the script, the direction, the humor, the gore, the everything. This is a complete horror film that begs for repeat viewings.
Yet to See: The Collection (dir. Marcus Dunstan)
The Purge (dir. James DeMonaco)
This home invasion film shocked me with its tension. Though the first sequel failed to deliver, the ideas presented in this film – specifically the 12 hours of anything goes – are ones I’d love to see in many more movies to come.
Yet to See: Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (dir. Christopher Landon)
The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent)
Though this may have been the victim of hype for some people, it’s still one the most tense and engaging horror films from last year. A perfect example of getting the psychological horror genre right.
Yet to See: It Follows (dir. David Robert Mitchell)
That’s right, folks. It is July and I have yet to see one horror film that has been released this year. This is mostly because I rarely get to the theatre, not because of a lack of interest. There are plenty I have been excited about but will be catching on home video.
Yet to See: Insidious: Chapter 3 (dir. Leigh Whannell) … and all the rest!
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.