In honor of the VOD release of V/H/S yesterday, here is my top ten list of Horror Anthology films to satiate your craving for more.
10. Campfire Tales
Future stars (of varying degree) James Marsden, Christine Taylor, Christopher Masterson, Amy Smart, Ron Livingston and Jacinda Barrett star in this impressive, genuinely scary little film, about teens stranded in the woods by a car accident who occupy their time telling each other scary stories that explore some familiar urban legends with interesting twists.
- Teen lovers parked in a car encounter a hook handed killer
- Newlyweds in an RV end up camping in an area frequented by nocturnal creatures
- A 12-year-old girl befriends someone on the Internet who turns out not to be who she said she was
- A biker seeks refuge in a home occupied by a mute woman and ghosts
9. Black Sabbath
This scary and atmospheric Italian film features director Mario Bava’s bold, colorful direction and contains one of the most nightmare-inducing scenes of all time in the tale “The Drop of Water.” Well, at least it induced nightmares before I became desensitized.
- A woman receives mysterious threatening telephone calls. (The storyline was changed for the American release to eliminate a lesbian subplot and to turn it into a less sensical ghost story.)
- A traveler takes refuge with a family whose patriarch may be a vampire.
- A nurse learns the repercussions of stealing from a deceased medium.
Four gorgeous, dreamlike ghost stories adapted from traditional Japanese folk tales, told at a slow, surreal pace. Includes early representations of the ghostly female with long black hair that has become so prevalent in modern Japanese horror movies like Ringu and Ju-on: The Grudge.
- A man lives to regret divorcing his wife in order to gain social status.
- Two wood cutter take refuge in a hut inhabited by a ghostly woman who kills one of them and makes the other promise never to speak of the incident. (Later adapted in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.)
- A blind musician must perform for ghosts while covered in tattoos to prevent them from harming him.
- A samurai is haunted by the reflection of a man in his cup of tea.
7. Trilogy of Terror
They don’t make network TV movies like they did in the ’70s. This deliciously dark entry aired on ABC and features three tales written by Richard Matheson whose only tie to each other is that each stars Karen Black in a distinctly different role.
- A reclusive teacher is seduced by a student with evil intentions.
- A prudish twin plots her free-spirited sister’s demise.
- In the most famous story, a woman fights for her life against a murderous “Zuni fetish doll” that comes to life.
6. Three Extremes
Three renowned directors from Hong Kong (Fruit Chan), Korea (Chan-Wook Park) and Japan (Takashi Miike) team for a trio of artistic, thoughtful, yet profoundly disturbings stories, evidence that “extreme” horror doesn’t have to involve backwoods serial killers torturing victims for 90 minutes. Even though there is nothing wrong with that.
- An aging actress tries a mysterious food rumored to keep people young.
- A successful movie director and his wife are held captive by a man with a grudge.
- Young twin circus performers encounter tragedy when jealousy tears them apart.
5. Twilight Zone: The Movie
Horror, science fiction, fantasy and comedy combine in this enjoyable series of stories that channel the tone of the classic ’60s TV show — in part because three of the four tales are remakes of Twilight Zone episodes. Big-name directors like Steven Spielberg, John Landis and Joe Dante lend their talents. This one left an impring
- A racist gets a taste of his own medicine when he’s mysteriously transported in time and space.
- A magical old man visits a nursing home claiming to have discovered the power of eternal youth.
- A boy with special powers terrorizes his family.
- A reworking of famed “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” in which a nervous airline passenger (John Lithgow) sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane.
4. Tales from the Hood
What could be a campy concept — an African American horror anthology centered on life (and death) in “the hood” — is treated with a surprisingly effective straight face. Dripping with social commentary, it touches upon issues of police brutality, child abuse, gang crime and the legacy of racism, anchored by a wraparound story propelled by the delirious performance by Clarence Williams III as a loony mortician dealing with three troublemaking gang members.
- A victim of police abuse returns from the grave for revenge.
- A young boy is visited by a vicious monster
- A racist senator is tormented by a doll possessed by the soul of a former slave.
- A violent gang member endures a radical rehabilitation process.
3.Tales from the Crypt
A prototype for horror anthology movies, this British film inspired the ’90s HBO TV show and embodied the devilish anthology success of Amicus Studios during the ’60s and ’70s.
- A woman (Joan Collins) murders her husband on Christmas Eve, but as she tries to dispose of the body, she must deal with a maniac dressed as Santa.
- A man who left his wife for another woman gets into a car accident with his mistress.
- A man responsible for his neighbor’s suicide receives a nasty Valentine’s Day gift.
- A variation on the classic “Monkey’s Paw” tale in which a woman uses a magical figurine to make wishes that don’t turn out as she’d planned.
- Residents in a home for the blind take revenge on their new hard-nosed director.
Combining the talents of horror masters George Romero (who directed) and Stephen King (who wrote), this fun and frightening movie captures the essence of the ’50s horror comic books that inspired it.
- A murdered man returns from the grave to get revenge on his money-grubbing relatives.
- A hillbilly is infected by an organism from a meteorite that lands near his home.
- A wealthy man kills his cheating wife and her lover, but they don’t stay dead for long.
- A monster in a crate provides a henpecked man with an opportunity to get rid of his wife.
- A germophobic man encounters roaches in his apartment.
1. Trick r’ Treat
A near-perfect blend of horror and dark humor, with a series of tales that take place in a small town one Halloween night and intertwine back and forth rather than playing out as separate stories.
- A young couple breaks the rule about not blowing out jack-o-lanterns before midnight and suffers the consequences.
- A high school principal tries to conceal a dark secret buried in his backyard.
- A crabby old man discovers the perils of refusing to give candy to trick-or-treaters.
- A group of trick-or-treaters explores the local legend of the Halloween School Bus Massacre and find out that on Halloween, the dead don’t always stay that way.
- A young lady searching for Mr. Right comes across a tall, dark and dangerous stranger.
Well there you have it folks. I am aware that I may get some grief about the placement of the number one and number two spot. Well, too bad. My list. I do what I want. Enjoy.
Also, if there are any that I missed, feel free to mention them. There are not that many out there and I am always looking for an anthology film I have not seen.