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21 Best Horror Anthology Movies


11. Campfire Tales (1997)

Campfire Tales
© New Line
Future stars (of varying degree) James Marsden, Christine Taylor, Christopher Masterson, Amy Smart, Ron Livingstone 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. Stories include:
  • 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 he was.
  • A biker seeks refuge at a house occupied by a mute woman and ghosts.
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10. Crooked House (2008)

Crooked House
© Tiger Aspect Productions

This centuries-spanning British anthology aired on BBC as a miniseries in three 30-minute episodes, each telling a ghost story from a different era set in and around the same cursed house and each creepier than the one before it. This is classic, old-fashioned haunted house stuff. Stories include:

  • The new owner of the spooky Geap Manor begins to hear strange noises behind the walls.
  • A costume ball at the Manor has an uninvited guest.
  • A museum creator finds that the demolished manor has a deadly legacy that's still alive today. 

9. Asylum (1972)

© Dark Sky Films
In this British film boasting devious twists (including one that foreshadows A Tale of Two Sisters and The Uninvited), an applicant for the head doctor position in an insane asylum is given a test: determine which of the patients is actually the former head doctor, who's now gone insane and assumed a new identity. Stories include:
  • A man murders his wife and cuts her up into pieces but doesn't count on her knowledge of voodoo.
  • A man orders a tailor to make a suit from a mystical fabric with supernatural powers.
  • A woman returning from a stay in a mental facility is greeted by her mischievous best friend, who's willing to resort to murder to help her recover.
  • A doctor transfers his soul into a mannequin in order to get revenge.

8. Kwaidan (1964)

© Criterion
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. Stories include:
  • A man lives to regret divorcing his wife in order to gain social status.
  • Two wood cutters 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 peform 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.
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7. Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night
© Anchor Bay
This groundbreaking and surprisingly trippy British film set the stage for the plethora of British anthologies that would follow in the '60s and '70s, helping to establish the now-standard anthology format, with a wraparound story and a twist ending to each tale. In it, a man tells to a group of strangers that he's dreamt about them all, which spurs them to relate their own experiences with the unexplained. Stories include:
  • A race car driver has an eerie premonition.
  • A young woman encounters a ghostly child at a Chirstmas party.
  • A man is haunted by the ghost of his golfing partner.
  • A man sees an alternate reality in an antique mirror.
  • A ventriloquist believes his brazen dummy is alive.
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6. Three...Extremes (2004)

© Lionsgate
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. Stories include:
  • 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.
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5. Trilogy of Terror (1975)

Trilogy of Terror DVD
© Dark Sky
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. Stories include:
  • 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.
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4. Creepshow (1982)

© Warner Bros.
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. Stories include:
  • 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.
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3. Black Sabbath (1963)

Black Sabbath
© Anchor Bay
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." Stories include:
  • 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.
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2. Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Tales from the Crypt DVD
© 20th Century Fox
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. Stories include:
  • 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.
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1. Trick 'r Treat (2009)

'Trick 'r Treat' movie poster.
© Warner Bros.
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 a jack-o-lantern 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.

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