My Top 10 Favorite Horror Films

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

I was asked recently to post a list of my top 10 favorite horror films. It should be a simple thing for any horror fan, right? Not really. There are at least a few ways one could proceed with compiling such a list. The most obvious way would be to generate a list of the horror films one has enjoyed the most over the years without considering any other criteria. This would be a list of one's personal favorites, reflecting nothing more than one's preferences. This is probably what most people mean when they talk about their favorite films.

Another approach would be to generate a list of what one considers to be the best horror films using criteria other than one's personal enjoyment. This could contain films one considers important, influential, or really well-done even if they weren't among one's personal favorites. If I was making this sort of list, Psycho (1960) would be on it even though it would not make a list of my personal favorites.

Yet another way to approach this task would be to come up with a list of films that, regardless of whether they are personal favorites or particularly high-quality films, scared the crap out of the person assembling the list when he or she first saw them. If I was putting a list like that together, it would contain films like The Blair Witch Project (1999) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) even though they would not be on my list of personal favorites.

In assembling the following list of my favorite horror films, I decided to go with the first approach. These are my 10 of my personal favorites without regard to any other criteria. I would not necessarily recommend some of them to others, and I would not argue that all of them are particularly good films. All of the films on this list are ones I have watched several times over the years, and most are in my collection.

Here are my top 10 favorite horror films:

  1. The Shining (1980)
  2. Halloween (1978)
  3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  4. Suspiria (1977)
  5. The Thing (1982)
  6. The Fog (1980)
  7. Hellraiser (1987)
  8. The Exorcist (1973)
  9. Alien (1979)
  10. Jaws (1975)

The top 5 were easy. Beyond that, things became more difficult. I considered many good options for #10 and finally just had to pick one. If it wasn't for The Walking Dead ruining zombie films for me, #10 probably would have been Dawn of the Dead (1978).

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