17. The Babadook
A monster movie about a monster book, a fictional literary figure that awakens to haunt an unsuspecting single mother and her young son. Or is it? That is what makes The Babadook so terrifying, you are forced to ask yourself throughout, is there really a monster or is it the mother’s own cracking psyche.
It may appear to be just another throwaway horror film, but in reality, The Babadook is a masterfully crafted study of grief, psychology and parenthood that proves even in their dilapidated state of cheap jump scares and gore porn, modern horror can still be great.
16. Pan’s Labyrinth
Few directors have balanced fantasy and horror like Guillermo Del Toro did in his part Gothic, part political allegory, which is also one of the most unique and remarkable pieces of cinema in recent memory.
If you are wondering why it sits at this spot on the list, it is simply because it is concentrated more on emphasising the monsters that take the shape of humans rather than the literal ones we imagine. But the ones we do imagine are still pretty terrifying, from the giant toad, to the pale man and even the apparent good guy the Fawn seems to move with an unnerving otherworldly quality.
15. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
The original transformative horror film is remarkably relevant and fear inducing even today. The silent film is scandalous and tense with plenty of extraordinary camera techniques to create the effect of a horrific metamorphosis such as intricate cross fades and dark implications.
It also features a deeply impressive and expressionistic performance by Fredric March that captures the tortured intelligence of Jekyll and the vile animalistic nature of Hyde to create one of the most shocking makeovers from the silent era.
You know the competition is tough when John McTiernan’s science fiction, action, horror, war film only makes it to 14. This is Schwarzenegger in his prime, at the height of his powers and facing off against one of the deadliest movie aliens of all time as he and his team of commandos fall prey to an extra-terrestrial hunter.
Watching it again, it is surprising how much time it takes to build suspense rather than all out action, the atmosphere is claustrophobic, even in the outdoor environment, to create some amazing primeval carnage.
The funniest, most horrific and at times most adorable Christmas present you could ever receive. Joe Dante’s film begins as a meditation on the long term responsibility of having a pet (maybe a stretch for reading into things too much) but ends in complete and utter anarchy.
That is not an insult in any sense though as it is completely terrific. The creatures themselves have drawn a number of allegories and interpretations such as the dangers of consumerism and teenage angst, but as interesting as that is, what we all love most is the Christmas themed carnage. We know the rules that go with Gremlins, but we are very glad they were broken.
12. The Host
A prime example of a modern day, large scale monster movie as a mutated creature wreaks havoc across the shores of South Korea. It features a lot of classic tropes from shocking collateral damage and the occasional attack on high level bureaucracy, but like the best monster movies, there is a touch of human drama.
The real secret of The Host is that the monster is not the real story, it centres on a dysfunctional family that tries to survive the carnage, and the result is a disaster film that is occasionally comical and at other times endearing.
11. Jurassic Park
Spielberg revolutionised mainstream blockbusters many times and in 1993 he used ground breaking CGI techniques to bring nature’s own monsters. The conflict between science and nature is drawn into the central stand and examined under the cloak of that usual Spielberg magic.
Combined with numerous memorable characters, pieces of dialogue and moments that have permeated pop culture as well as the fact that those amazing effects remain amazing today through a seamless blend of CGI and practical effects.
10. An American Werewolf in London
Few have blended horror and comedy as well as John Landis did in his blood soaked, hysterical masterpiece. Yes, there is that transformation scene, which remains the most incredible in all of cinema history, but consider the other endearing elements of the film such as its well-crafted characters, brilliant soundtrack and marvellous one liners.
Then there is how its moments of horror are genuinely frightening and strike fear into the hearts of many a viewer. This only makes the comedy even funnier, the two elements contrast and complement each other in the process.
There have been so many vampires in cinema from the iconic Bela Lugosi to the more recent teen fiction craze. This version is one that is unmarred by clichés and tropes, it is perhaps the eeriest and most expressionistic of all the interpretations of a vampire in film.
It came from Max Shreck who moved with such an unnatural and unnerving style that he even sparked on set rumours that he really was one of the undead. It may not be as horrific in the modern sense of the genre, but the artistry and masterful craftsmanship behind it makes Nosferatu truly exceptional.