Crash Reports: The UK’s Top Ten Horror Films

I’ve had the pleasure of watching 200 British horrors, though the latest, SCHIZO (1973) proved to be a formulaic bore with an ending you could see coming a mile away, regardless of how wonderful the cinematography and color. So be it.

What follows is my top ten UK productions, with a list of co-productions that follows. To 171-1202063344-werewolf-still-from-dog-soldiers
avoid what many might consider the usual suspects, I have avoided Hammer (save one that is rarely mentioned in such lists), which in many ways, I’m still catching up on, though I must say that I love Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee – and probably every “Hammer Girl” ever to appear on screen.

The top ten movies are listed in chronological order.

 

Peeping Tom (1960) – 4. 5 stars

Michael Powell’s intense horror thriller involves a serial killer photographer that outshines Hitchcock’s PSYCHO of the same year. Due to the controversy of the subject matter, Powell found it difficult to work in England for several years. However, he left us with a strong and provocative film that continues to give us the chills.

 

Plague of the Zombies (1966) – 3. 5 stars

Sadly, this is Hammer’s only zombie film, but it brings great atmosphere together with one wonderfully macabre tale. An outbreak brings strong young men to their deaths in Cornwall, and Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell) and his daughter (Diane Clare) travel to the village to resolve the mystery. This is one of zombiedom’s most over-looked features.

 

The Legend of Hell House (1973) – 4. 5 stars

The great John Matheson adapted his own book for John Hough’s film, which delivers suspense and thrills in colorful style with one of horror’s best soundtracks. The story involves four souls visiting a haunting home to prove there is life after death, but will they survive to offer their evidence to the benefactor who sent them?

 

From Beyond the Grave (1974) – 4 stars

This anthology from Amicus features the great Peter Cushing as the Proprietor who always has what the patron needs. Think Charles Dickens’s “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop” combined with televisions ill-named “Friday the 13th – The Series”. A strong set of stories with one Hell of a great cast. This often over-looked horror should not be missed.

 

Possession (1981) – 4. 5 stars

Your nerves will shatter at the intense performances of Isabelle Adjani (who needed medical treatment after the film wrapped) and Sam Neill. The story centers on the break-up of a marriage and its psychological unraveling, which mirrors director Andrzej Zulawski’s own marital demise. Make certain to have your therapist on speed dial.

 

Hellraiser (1987) – 4. 5 stars

Clive Barker’s fantasy/horror of Cenobite induced chaos, is feast for any gorehound who loves a great story to boot. If curiosity killed the cat, it certainly killed many a human along the way, and no one can seem to resist the fascinating puzzle box that opens up a world where the Cenobites are angels to some, and demons to others – though most likely the latter.

 

Lair of the White Worm (1988) – 4. 5 stars

Bram Stoker’s novel must have bored Ken Russell to tears, who seemingly captured what some might consider drug-induced surreality to create one Hell of a trippy film. A small group of souls battles the D’Ampton Worm once more, and the enticing woman (Amanda Donohoe) who caters to the beast. Enjoy the romp, and be amazed at what Stoker couldn’t do with words.

 

Dust Devil (1992) – 4. 5 stars

An intriguing mystery/thriller from Richard Stanley, the film follows shattered souls put out of their misery by a bottom-feeding entity. The cinematography mirrors the hopelessness of the people who unwilling wait for the Dust Devil, and the ending brings satisfaction as few horrors do. If you like something heady and psychologically engaging, this is one to watch.

 

Dog Soldiers (2002) – 4. 5 stars

Writer and director Neil Marshall must have been disappointed in the werewolf subgenre when he created this action thriller feast. In the film, a squad of British soldiers training in the Scottish Highlands comes face to hairy face with a werewolf pack. Using a house as their Alamo, they make their last stand. Definitely a go-to horror for any fan.

 

Triangle (2009) – 5 stars

In this head-trip of a mystery, we follow a woman (Melissa George) as she indulges in her own sort of GROUNDHOG DAY to right a wrong in her life. But the film is not as simple as that especially when supernatural terror comes into play. Feel free to create your own map between past, present, and future to determine a way out – if you can. Sorely under-appreciated.

 

Excellent UK co-productions:

The Haunting (UK/USA, 1963), Alien (USA/UK, 1979), The Shining (UK/USA, 1980), Lifeforce (UK/USA, 1985), eXistenZ (Canada/UK, 1999), and The Lords of Salem (USA/UK/Canada, 2012).

(DOG SOLDIERS still from Gaming Trend.)

4 Replies to “Crash Reports: The UK’s Top Ten Horror Films”

  1. Great list, Bill! Spot on bro. Love Dog Soldiers and I need to track down Triangle. I know you suggested it to me at one point. It is overlooked, no? The rest are great and I have never seen Dust Devil. Sounds cool. Gotta check that out. Good work man!

    1. I’d love to know what you think of DUST DEVIL and TRIANGLE. The latter usually falls into the “love it or hate it” category – but it messed with my head, and that’s enough for me. I’ve watched it over a dozen times, and I keep catching new things about it. DUST DEVIL is something else…

      Vic, thanks for checking out the list and for leaving another great post!

      1. I had to the pleasure of watching Triangle once a couple of years back but never re-visited it. Looking forward to Dust Devil. I think I have an old dvd copy but never checked it out. Happy to see From Beyond the Grave get props. Great Amicus flick.

        1. Thanks, Vic! FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE is one of my favorite anthologies. Great acting, great tales – and always a pleasure to see Peter Cushing.

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