Alien (1979) – Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic is more intimate and spooky than James Cameron’s more action oriented sequel, and still visually stunning/stomach churning today.
Halloween (1978) - A seminal slasher masterwork, and a model of effective simplicity, Michael Meyers’ first romp serves to reinforce long dormant fears of dark rooms and streets.
The Shining (1980) – Kubrick’s imagistic chiller from Stephen King’s novel, is more creepy and admirable these days than it is actually frightening, but it is a horror film from Stanley Kubrick, putting it heads above most of the genre.
Candyman (1992) – A haunting, visceral and well-directed story about the power of myths, with Tony Todd’s genuinely eerie presence as the titular vengeful spirit and a compelling lead in Virginia Madsen help elevate this Clive Barker adaptation.
The Thing (1982) – some truly outstanding effects and makeup combined with a grippingly tense atmosphere create some sickening scares in John Carpenter’s remake of the 1958 classic.
Dead Alive (1992) – This outrageous and hilarious gore-fest from New Zealand’s Peter Jackson, of future Lord of the Rings fame, is a paramount of kinetic inventiveness and ingenuity.
Cabin In The Woods (2012) – Joss Whedon’s awesome comedic dissection of the entire genre and its well-worn conventions is a surprising and rewarding viewing for both die hard horror fans and people plain fed up with the played-out antics of psychotic slashers and ghost children.
Night Of The Living Dead (1968) – Just plain unsettling, George Romero’s black and white classic is packed with creepy atmosphere and droves of the pasty recently dead.
That’s the story on the best horror films. If you’d like to lobby on why the first Nightmare is best or gripe about your favorite obscure J-Horror flick being so egregiously left out, feel free to make your own list.