As Halloween draws near, you’ll undoubtedly see dozens of lists analyzing the scariest, goriest, and even the funniest of horror films. Nostalgia surrounding the spooky holiday conjures a breathless excitement to seek and share the movies that toy with our deep-seated fears. If you’re new to the horror genre, we don’t want you to feel left out of the fun. We’ve created a list of 50 essential films that will educate and entertain you all month long. Each week, we’ll be counting down to number one and exploring a breadth of titles. Whether you’re looking for a creepy tale to watch on Halloween night, or you’re interested in honing your horror knowledge, check out the first ten of our must-see movies below.
50. Near Dark
Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 vampire tale Near Dark is one of the most underrated horror films of our time and a fine example of the Academy Award-winning director’s early works. Combining an incredibly talented cast, darkly comedic moments, and atmospheric cinematography with western grit — all set to a hazy Tangerine Dream synth score — Bigelow brings blood-soaked sex and violence to the forefront. Twilight this is not. A roving band of moonlit killers — played to perfection by Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein, and company — don’t succumb to an existential crisis over their feeding frenzy. It’s f*ck, torture, kill — quick and dirty, leaving nothing but bloodshed and a trail of dust behind. The underlying story of star-crossed lovers (one human, the other not) sinks you seductively into the madness.