Choosing the top terrifying movies of all time is a difficult process. After all, splatter movies usually evaluates itself in terms of blood and body parts spilled. That much gore is just too much for some people. Here are the top five blood-soaked horror films ever made.
1. Evil Dead II (1987)
The sequel to Sam Raimi’s 1981 classic, Evil Dead II is a wildly successful splatter movie. It’s energetic to the point of frantic, comical to the brink of farce, gory to the verge of parody and genuinely frightening.
It’s a testament to its manic energy that many of the film’s visual, stop-motion and prosthetic makeup effects, created by a small team led by Mark Shostrom, still look remarkable today. Ash’s Evil Ash makeup, Possessed Ed, and the possessed Henrietta are just a few of the incredible creations that made the film so fun to watch. In this sense, Evil Dead II is a bit like An American Werewolf in London and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 — sequels that shift their franchise tones toward comedy and self-reflexivity. It’s not a flawless move, but it does make the film a lot more entertaining to see.
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The Texas ChainSaw Massacre is one of the most infamous horror films of all time. It was a splatter classic that spawned many sequels, and the main character Leatherface is still a horror icon today. The original film tells the story of a group of friends who end up stranded in rural Texas. They are picked off one by one by a family of sadistic cannibals.
The film is considered by some to be the most important go movies 123 of all time, and was a big inspiration for several later films including John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (2003). It also earned a BBFC ban, but after the retirement of its director James Ferman it was recertified for home video and released on DVD.
3. The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist is an enduring shocker that’s been a staple in horror filmmaking for over a quarter of a century. Directed by William Friedkin, this psychological thriller centers on the possession of a young girl. When it was released in 1973, The Exorcist was a huge phenomenon and was considered one of the scariest movies to ever be made. Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist starred Linda Blair as the possessed little girl named Regan.
In a genre where horror films often rely too heavily on gore and special effects, The Exorcist remains an unmatched achievement in the art of suspenseful visuals and relentless depictions of demonic possession. With ten Academy Award nominations, this is one of the best horror films of all time.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1981)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a weird, twisted, and humorous film that is almost a parody of the original. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the sequel takes a different approach to slasher flicks and is an odd, goofy movie that isn’t as scary as the first one. The story takes place after the first film but tells us that the Sawyers have retreated to the countryside, where they are now a family of human meat caterers who live in a twisted carnival attraction. Stretch, a radio DJ, and Chop Top, a cop, are the only two people that get away from the Sawyers.
It was a controversial release but became a cult favorite on VHS. It’s an odd movie that is a bit of a splatter movie but is not overly gory or violent like other slasher movies of the time.
5. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Living Dead is a cult classic that birthed the zombie horror phenomenon and introduced a new level of terror to the genre. The film’s realism, biting potential for social commentary and merciless ending shocked audiences. The film’s power to unsettle is rooted in its use of cannibalism as a metaphor for exploitative power relations. It also draws on the metamorphosis narratives of Franz Kafka and other European writers.
In this respect, Night of the Living Dead is a “open work,” allowing its audience to attach its own meanings to it. As such, it can be a useful tool for scholars interested in discussing the social and political implications of disaster.