You are about to enter the third installment of the top 50 Halloween movies list. The rules are simple: Any horror sub-genre or horror based comedies are fair game. Contemporary and classic films are all in the mix.
30. "The Omen" (1976)
Little Damien (Harvey Stephens) is literally the anti-Christ in this film that effectively follows in the footsteps of its similarly themed predecessors, "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby.” Gregory Peck is the father who slowly comes to believe that his son is evil incarnate and ultimately comes to the horrifying realization that he will have to kill him. Little Stephens is one creepy kid, and director Richard Donner keeps the film tense throughout.
29. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)
A little girl escapes into a dark, dangerous fantasy world that still remains safer than the real world: war torn Spain in the 1940s. Writer/director Guillermo Del Toro uses his boundless imagination to craft a fairy tale in the tradition of such writers as the Brothers Grimm. After years of sanitizing such stories, we have forgotten how twisted and tormented fairy tales could be. This is fantasy that is very much for adults.
28. “The Birds” (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense classic is sure to make anyone do a double take whenever they see birds en masse. It is a credit to Hitchcock’s talent that he was able to squeeze every ounce of tension out of a silly premise of birds of the world uniting and attacking humanity. While some of the effects are dated, the film still manages to scare in a big way.
27. “Topper” (1937)
Not all ghosts are scary. Some are out for a good time. A high-spirited couple (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett) become genuine spirits after a car accident and decide that, to get to heaven, they must do a good deed. They set out to liven up the marriage of uptight banker Cosmo Topper (Roland Young). Screwball mischief ensues with nice ghostly effects and well-timed physical comedy. This sweet, good-natured fun inspired two sequels and a TV series.
26. “Interview With The Vampire” (1994)
This compelling adaptation of Annie Rice’s novel centers on the family dynamic that develops between a seemingly sophisticated, but callous vampire (Tom Cruise) and his two unwilling vampire converts (Brad Pitt and Kirsten Dunst). Rice’s allegory of vampirism as homosexuality is dulled slightly around the edges, but this elegant and sensuous gothic tale is still an engrossing showcase for all of its stars, particularly the villainous Cruise.
25. “The Wicker Man” (1973)
A police investigator (Edward Woodward) is sent to a remote island off the coast of Scotland to investigate a missing-girl claim. His Catholic faith comes in stark contrast with the pagan beliefs of the island’s inhabitants. An eerie, erotic and an oddly tuneful atmosphere creates a quiet tension that builds to a horrifying conclusion. The film also features a fantastic turn by Christopher Lee as the outwardly benevolent leader of the island.
24. "28 Days Later" (2003)
Following the tradition of George Romero’s zombie films, director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland, balance social commentary with scares. They also add humanity and beauty to the mix. The living dead are replaced with people infected with a virus that leaves them overcome by uncontrollable rage. Shot on digital video, the film has a gritty, realistic feel — especially in the opening scenes in which a character walks through a completely deserted London.
23. “Sweeney Todd” (2007)
Stephen Sondheim’s audacious musical is given the big screen treatment by Tim Burton in this gloriously moody and bloody take on the story of a vengeful, murderous barber (the exceptional Johnny Depp), whose victims get made into meat pies by his landlord (Helena Bonheim Carter). This is a truly unique experience that blends song, horror, black comedy, satire and tragedy into a gothic tapestry that at times attains brilliance.
22. "Carrie" (1976)
The first film based on a Stephen King novel is still one of the best. The put-upon title character (Sissy Spacek) uses her telekinetic powers to get revenge after a cruel prank. Director Brian DePalma keeps the film at the level of a teen drama for the majority of the film, but that is just setup for the now legendary prom scene, which is still just as effective today as when it first came out.
21. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)
Starting out like a documentary before shifting to a narrative film, this influential horror film introduced the world to the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and his truly peculiar family. With extreme close-ups, an effective use of shadows and light, and a chaotic style, the film still has genuine scares. The viewer is kept off guard by the quick and brutal deaths. Forget the sequels and remake; they don’t touch the creepiness on display here.