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The 20 Best British Horror Films of All Time

Brexit is scary, but these movies are scarier.

Under the Skin

“Under the Skin”

Courtesy of A24

15. “An American Werewolf in London” (1981)

Rick Baker won the first-ever Academy Award in the makeup category for his standard-setting work in John Landis’ horror/comedy, and it’s easy to see why. There are laughs amid the screams, but don’t get too comfortable: This is still a violent, disturbing experience with a high body count. Watch it now before the younger Landis remakes it so you can claim to have always preferred the original.

 

14. “Village of the Damned” (1960)

Those eyes! Children have never been creepier than they are in “Village of the Damned,” in which demonic youngsters with glowing eyes take control of a scenic British hamlet. The central mystery — a whole town falls asleep, and months later, the women are pregnant under dubious circumstances — is terrifying, and the ending is pitch black. Incredibly-named director Wolf Rilla films the events with a steady hand, and isn’t afraid to make the symbols of purity, like childbirth, terrifying. Pro tip: Skip John Carpenter’s disastrous 1995 remake.

 

13. “Frenzy” (1972)

Unlike some of his more high-profile efforts, Alfred Hitchcock’s penultimate film was produced on the other side of the pond. The Master of Suspense turned his attention to a serial killer in London whose exploits were inspired by a few real-life killers from the English capital in “Frenzy,” resulting in some of the most upsetting scenes he ever directed. You may never look at neckties the same way again.

 

12. “Dracula” (1958)

With all due respect to Bela Lugosi, this Hammer Horror classic is fondly remembered by many as featuring the definitive Dracula performance. None other than Christopher Lee plays the Count himself — if you only know the late, great thesp from “Lord of the Rings” or his heavy metal career, get thee to the nearest castle and indulge in some pulpy genre thrills.

 

11. “Ghostwatch” (1992)

Before “Paranormal Activity” and “The Blair Witch Project,” there was this BBC mockumentary about a TV crew who spend the night in a supposedly haunted house. There they find not only the two little girls who claim to be visited by a malicious spirit but persuasive evidence of the spirit world itself — the kind that refuses to stay in the walls and burrows its way into the mind, body and soul of anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby.

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Comments

George B

I find it interesting that Event Horizon and Under the Skin beat Shaun of the Dead. I feel like Shaun had a bigger impact on cinema and culture… not to mention a better critical response (92 on Rotten Tomatoes as opposed to 24 and 85 respectively), better soundtrack and an extremely quotable script.

Dennis Harvey

Several films here that really aren’t British beyond having a UK director or some other element, a couple that barely qualify as horror at all, and bizarre omission of a few outstanding titles that qualify on both counts, like “The Witchfinder General” and “Raw Meat.”

    Toadliquor

    Dennis Harvey is completely correct. This list is pretty awful as far as being representative of British horror. And also, The Devils is NOT a horror movie!

Eric Jennings

Rubbish. Dead Of Night anybody?

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