Time Out London Presents The 100 Best Horror Films: Start by Watching Four Horror Classics Free Online


Though no more rife with for­mu­la and cliché than any oth­er genre, hor­ror movies gen­er­al­ly don’t fare well with crit­ics. Or as Time Out Lon­don’s Tom Hud­dle­ston puts it: “Hor­ror cin­e­ma is a mon­ster. Mis­treat­ed, mis­un­der­stood and sub­ject­ed to vicious crit­i­cal attacks.” This has nev­er slowed the fan­base for a moment, and as Hud­dle­ston also acknowl­edges, the genre offers “film­mak­ers out­side the main­stream” the chance to make “a big cul­tur­al splash.” Some of the most fas­ci­nat­ing and famous out­sider direc­tors in recent his­to­ry honed their craft in hor­ror: David Cro­nen­berg, John Car­pen­ter, arguably David Lynch. Then there are the vet­er­an cin­e­ma auteurs who made hor­ror films now and then, every one an instant clas­sic (Kubrick, Hitch­cock) and those rare fig­ures, the crit­i­cal­ly beloved hor­ror-auteurs like Guiller­mo del Toro, who has re-invig­o­rat­ed the genre with his fairy tale sen­si­bil­i­ties.

All of these direc­tors and sev­er­al dozen more turn up on Time Out Lon­don’s “The 100 best hor­ror films,” cho­sen by “hor­ror enthu­si­asts” and prac­ti­tion­ers like del Toro, Roger Cor­man, Simon Pegg, Alice Coop­er, and over 100 more. Near the end of the list at num­ber 96 is del Toro’s first Mex­i­can fea­ture Cronos. Near the top at num­ber 5 is Rid­ley Scott’s per­pet­u­al­ly ter­ri­fy­ing space hor­ror Alien. Every pos­si­ble vari­a­tion on the genre, from its silent begin­nings to its cur­rent gris­ly incar­na­tions, from hor­ri­fy­ing non-hor­ror films like Pasolini’s Salo to mod­el mas­ter­pieces like Inva­sion of the Body Snatch­ers, gets a nod. The list may sur­prise, infu­ri­ate, or intrigue you, but if you have any inter­est in hor­ror, it will undoubt­ed­ly keep you read­ing for some time, and prob­a­bly also track­ing down some of the obscure, for­got­ten clas­sics to see them for your­self. You’ll find the four below free online. They’re also list­ed in the “Noir, Thriller, Hor­ror and Hitch­cock” sec­tion of our list of 635 Free Movies Online:

Car­ni­val of Souls (1962)

Num­ber 40 in the rank­ings, Time Out Lon­don describes this film, “shot in three weeks for a pal­try $33,000,” as made up of “the mono­chrome weird­ness of David Lynch’s first fea­ture, ‘Eraser­head’, or the ghoul­ish zom­bie night­mare that is George Romero’s ‘The Night of the Liv­ing Dead’” with its “eerie atmos­pher­ics, off-kil­ter images and dis­ori­en­tat­ing dream sequences.”

Nos­fer­atu (1922)

Per­haps unfair­ly placed at num­ber 22, Murnau’s unof­fi­cial, expres­sion­ist take on Bram Stoker’s nov­el fea­tures a crea­ture named Count Orlock, a mon­strous­ly ugly vil­lain alien to audi­ences who learned to be seduced by dash­ing Drac­u­las. Despite its rel­a­tive­ly low rank­ing, giv­en its pedi­gree, Nos­fer­atu is still laud­ed as “cer­tain­ly the most influ­en­tial” hor­ror movie by Time Out: “So many keynotes of the genre emerge ful­ly formed here: the use of light and shad­ow, threat and ten­sion, beau­ty and ugli­ness, a man in grotesque make-up threat­en­ing an inno­cent girl.” The film, remark­ably, “remains a deeply unset­tling piece of work.”

Freaks  (1932)

Com­ing just before Nos­fer­atu at num­ber 21, Tod Browning’s Freaks is the oppo­site of an exploita­tion flick. Instead of turn­ing its unusu­al sub­jects into objects of fear and pity, Brown­ing cre­at­ed “a ten­der, humane tale of love and betray­al” that hap­pened to fea­ture a cast of “sideshow freaks,” most of them ama­teurs, and most “fine actors.” “What makes ‘Freaks’ a hor­ror film,” writes Time Out, “is its dis­turb­ing macabre end­ing […] though of course the real hor­ror here is the cru­el­ty of the so-called ‘nor­mals.’”

Night of the Liv­ing Dead (1968)

Ranked 13, George Romero’s 1968 film has earned a place high in the esti­ma­tion of any hor­ror fan. As the Time Out edi­tors write, “mod­ern hor­ror cin­e­ma start­ed here.” The low-bud­get zom­bie movie “blazed a trail for all those to fol­low […] with its rad­i­cal­ly sub­ver­sive approach to genre con­ven­tions, uncom­pro­mis­ing­ly nihilis­tic social vision and Viet­nam War-inspired polit­i­cal anger.”

Spend some time perus­ing the rest of Time Out Lon­don’s list. It’s sure to gen­er­ate some epic online squab­bles, and sev­er­al hun­dred sug­ges­tions from fans for films that didn’t make the cut.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Where Hor­ror Film Began: The Cab­i­net of Dr. Cali­gari

The 10 Great­est Films of All Time Accord­ing to 846 Film Crit­ics

21 Free Hitch­cock Movies Online 

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.