Around this time of year, I like to get in the spirit by watching a bunch of horror movies. If you don't know where to start when it comes to horror, here are some of my absolute favorites from 25+ years as a fan of the genre. These are the ones you have to see.

  • 10

    'Hellbound: Hellraiser 2'

    I couldn't not invite old Pinhead to the Halloween party. These movies never really received the right treatment as far as budget goes, but the first two came close. The production value looks like a Saturday night SyFy movie by today's standards, but there are still some gruesome, hair-raising moments within.

  • 9


    Unfortunately, the Wes Craven slasher film has been beaten into the dirt by copycats like 'Valentine' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer.' Hell, even the sequels ripped off the original in ways that almost tarnished its memory. Regardless, Scream reinvented the cliched formula for horror films (inventing new cliches, unfortunately) and is a must on any horror essential list. You will never go another Halloween without seeing someone rocking a Ghostface mask.

  • 8


    The first Candyman film was super creepy. It's too bad that each sequel got worse and the title character never became as iconic as he deserved to be. Candyman is a horrific twist on fairytales and features a 6 and a half foot dude in a trenchcoat ripping people from groin to gullet -- enough said.

  • 7

    'Phantasm 2'

    This 1988 sequel to the 1977 original dropped all the gender-bending awkwardness from the first film and kept all the things that worked -- the flying balls (cooler than they sound), the cemetery setting, and, of course, The Tall Man. The protagonists even have cool toys in Phantasm 2, including a bad ass HemiCuda and a quadruple barrel sawed-off shotgun.

  • 6

    'Fright Night'

    This is the type of film people just don't make anymore -- a fun horror movie that has both good comedy and solid horror. The amount of camp and gore are balanced perfectly in this vampire next door romp. The recent remake was good, but failed to capture the magic of its predecessor. The 1985 version does have its fair share of cheese and dated effects, but is still a fun watch. Awesome death: I won't spoil it like the theatrical preview for the film does, but the last death in the film is pretty rad.

  • 5

    'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3: Leatherface'

    The first 'Chainsaw' is much more difficult to watch (but better), the second was more of a comedy, and the third meets somewhere in the middle - balancing the horror with a much darker humor making for a more accessible movie. Viggo Mortensen heads up a cast of mostly unknown actors as Leatherface takes center stage with a more brooding, less comedic performance -- he also has a big ass chainsaw in this one.

  • 4

    'Day of the Dead'

    When it comes to zombie films, George A. Romero was the man (despite the fact that his last two sucked). Most people will tell you that his 1978 'Night of the Living Dead' sequel 'Dawn of the Dead' is the ultimate, I disagree. I was always more partial to the third in the series -- 'Day of the Dead.' The film takes place in an underground lab or something... but who cares about that? This flick has some of the grossest zombie effects ever, compliments of horror masters Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero. Awesome death: the movie's stereotypical douche gets ripped to shreds by zombies who treat him like a buffet.

  • 3

    'Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers'

    Everybody talks about how great the original 'Halloween' was, but I have the feeling it's one of those "had to be there" things. I found the original kind of boring, honestly. There was too much stalking and not a lot of killing. The fourth installment of the franchise is more of a pure slasher flick. Hell, I think they kill off more people than were even in the original. Even though the story doesn't jive with later installments -- Jamie Lee Curtis' character has died leaving behind a daughter, we learn in later films she entered witness protection and took a son with her, but not her daughter? Nice parenting -- this is still my favorite Michael Myers film. Awesome death: Mikey pushes his thumb into a dude's head, then snaps his neck.

  • 2

    'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

    Many fans of the series will say 'Dream Warriors' is their favorite Nightmare, but everyone knows that the original is one of the scariest films ever made. Even if you watch it today, there are only a few moments that look cheesy and dated (the stretched out arms scene at the beginning comes to mind). The remake tried hard, but could not scare up the sheer terror that the original brought forth. 'Nightmare on Elm Street' is easily one of the best horror flicks ever made, a great story idea that was only watered down with every new installment. Awesome death: Johnny Depp gets sucked into his bed, which then starts pouring blood in the opposite direction gravity would allow.

  • 1

    'Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter'

    Now we all know that the subtitle is an outright lie (there were eight films that followed), but this is hands down the best 'Friday' there is. As a kid, Jason was always my favorite horror dude and this was his darkest and most menacing outing in the series. Friday four packs excellent old school horror FX, compliments of Tom Savini, the best Jason death scene in the series, and even a few named actors like Crispin Glover and a young Corey Feldman. The best part about four is that they give you an incredible recap at the beginning, so even if your new to the series you've seen pretty much all you need to in the first five minutes. Awesome death: Jason delivers a hacksaw throat cutting followed by a 180º head twist.