Horror films have been misunderstood for the past 10 years or so. Your idea of a horror film is probably something like this: a group of people go somewhere far, a few sex scenes in the beginning, and then everything goes wrong for no obvious reason. No build-up, no thriller, no nothing. I personally think that if a horror film is not a thriller as well, then it’s not a horror film. Here are my picks for top 10 horror films that combine both horror and interesting story lines:

10. The Evil Dead, 1981
I saw this a while back. The scariest thing about the film is its old-fashioned style. Tricks and effects are so primitive, you find them truly disgusting. This is probably Sam Raimi’s most successful work (maybe after Spider Man). He also produced other successful horrors, notably the well-known sequel, The Grudge.

[Trailer]

9. The Others, 2001
A woman with two photosensitive kids move to a new house where they have three mysterious and secretive servants. But it’s not long until strange activities start taking place. There is always something scary about kids in horror films. This is no exception. And the fact that they’re photosensitive gives more reason for darkness to be present most of the time.

[Trailer]

8. Dracula, 1992
This is an essential. As a kid, vampires had always been scary to me…and sometimes you can’t just get over the idea even as you grow up. F.F. Coppola’s Dracula (based on Bram Stoker’s novel) is an essential classic in horror. Maybe vampires are less scary now but you’d still enjoy the plot. This one features great talents such as Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, and a young Keanu Reeves.

[Trailer]

7. Saw, 2004

I remember James Wan’s Saw being a breakthrough in the horror film industry, introducing a quite different and interesting story of a twisted half-dead psychopath playing God. I think Saw is rather the bloody, disturbing type of horror. I find the theme music for the film brilliant as well. Though this one was a success, later sequels of the film didn’t introduce much to the storyline and were rather boring.

[Theme Music]

6. The Ring, 2002


Inspired by the Japanese original, Ringu, The Ring is the story of a videotape that kills whoever watches it in 7 days. This one, featuring Naomi Watts in the lead, has to do with mystery and thriller more than blood (unlike Saw or Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974)

[Trailer]

5- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2007.

A horror and a musical. We don’t see that often, huh? The genius duo, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, deliver (as usual) an amazing character and an interesting storyline. You sure don’t want to miss Depp going after revenge with a straight razor. Featuring the amazing Helena Carter, this has to be one of the best horror plots ever made. If you like this, then you might as well check Burton’s Sleepy Hollow with Depp in the lead.

[Trailer]

4. American Psycho, 2000


Deeply disturbed Patrick (well played by Christian Bale) is a New York businessman who kills out of jealousy and ego. Bale perfectly adopts a psychopathic outfit with genuine anger slips as he hunts his preys. And I can’t help but admire his music monologues. Probably one of the most interesting characters Bale has ever played. The film ends with a twist and some societal realizations.

[Music Monologue] *Spolier alert*

3. Silence of the Lambs, 1991


Academy award winning Antony Hopkins re-defines “creepy” as he helps young Jodie Foster solve her first case as an FBI agent. Hopkins, as psychotic Hannibal Lecter, plays his favorite mind game before he gives any information to Clarice. The script is extremely witty and the interplay is amazingly thrilling. The film won the five major Academy awards (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Script).

[Clarice meets Hannibal]

2. The Exorcist, 1973

Now this is scary. The film is so developed (in terms of tricks and effects) that you won’t believe it was produced in the 70s. It is the story of a young girl possessed by the devil. The scenes are so tense and the inclusion of religion always adds a twist. The fact that the book (on which the film is based) is inspired by true events makes it even scarier. The Exorcist has to be one of the scariest films of all time.

[Spider Walk Scene]

1. The Shining, 1980

“Here’s Johnny.” Winter has never been so scary. A family moves to live in an isolated hotel in winter as part of Johnny’s job (well played by the genius Jack Nicholson) where he develops an angry and violent attitude. The emptiness captured in every scene of the film is hypnotizing and typical of Stanley Kubrick films (think A Clockwork Orange). The Shining is so far my all time favorite when it comes to horror.

[Here’s Johnny Scene] *Spoiler alert*

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