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21 Best Horror Anthology Movies

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With its range of stories packed into a limited time frame, the anthology is one of the most fun types of horror movies; plus, it's great for viewers with ADD. Here are 20 (or so) of the best anthology horror movies that have been made to date.

21. Dead of Night (1977)

Dead of Night DVD
© Dark Sky
This is a budget, made-for-TV effort, but it's effective thanks to solid acting (including a young Ed Begley, Jr.) and writing from the legendary Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, Stir of Echoes), plus direction from Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows, Burnt Offerings). Stories include:
  • A man buys a vintage car that transports him back in time.
  • A doctor tries to prove that the marks on his wife's neck aren't from a vampire
  • The highlight, about a distraught mother who attempts to bring her son back from the dead, would later be remade in Trilogy of Terror II.
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20. Body Bags (1993)

Body Bags
© Artisan
Although it doesn't live up to the potential that the teaming of directors John Carpenter (Halloween) and Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) promises (also, Wes Craven, Roger Corman and Sam Raimi make cameos), this cable TV movie still proves entertaining, alternately chilling and fun. Stories include:
  • A young female gas station attendant works alone on the graveyard shift as a crazed killer roams around town.
  • A balding man (Stacey Keach) receives an experimental hair transplant.
  • A baseball player (Mark Hamill) receives an eye transplant from a killer and begins to see what the killer saw (predating The Eye by a decade).
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19. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)

Tales from the Darkside
© Paramount
Based on the '80s TV show produced by George Romero, this semi-continuation of the Creepshow films features a darkly humorous wraparound story of a woman holding a boy captive, fattening him up for dinner. He tells her three stories to delay his "evisceration." Co-written by Romero and Stephen King, it's worth watching just to see a man swallow a live cat. Stories include:
  • A college student (Steve Buscemi) cheated out of a fellowship gains revenge by raising a mummy.
  • A rich old man hires a hitman to kill an elusive cat.
  • A man who witnesses a gargoyle kill someone in an alley promises to never speak of it in exchange for his life.
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18. Strange Frequency (2001)

Strange Frequency DVD
© Paramount
This horror-comedy movie aired on VH1 and thus incorporates an inventive musical theme in each story. It's fun and lighthearted with good production value and a solid cast that includes Judd Nelson, Eric Roberts, John Taylor (of Duran Duran) and Danny and Christopher Masterson. Stories include:
  • A pair of rockers find themselves in a hellish disco.
  • An ex-hippy preys on Gen X hitchhikers whose musical tastes turn his stomach.
  • A prima dona rocker who trashes his hotel room meets his match in the world's cleanest maid.
  • A musical talent scout has an otherworldly ability to discover the next big thing

17. Night Gallery (1969)

Night Gallery
© Universal
This TV movie served as the pilot for the television show Night Gallery, written and hosted by The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling. It features acting greats like Roddy McDowall, Ossie Davis and Joan Crawford, not to mention the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg. Stories include:
  • A greedy heir who kills his uncle is haunted by visions of him returning from the grave.
  • A rich blind woman pays a down-on-his-luck gambler for his eyes.
  • A Nazi war criminal hiding in South America yearns to escape into a mystical painting in a museum.

16. Nightmares (1983)

Nightmares
© Anchor Bay
These well-made, tense tales -- featuring early roles from Emilio Estevez and Lance Henriksen -- were originally scheduled to air on TV but were deemed strong enough for the big screen, and justifiably so. Stories include:
  • A chain-smoking woman goes out for a pack of cigarettes while a serial killer is on the loose.
  • A teen addicted to a mysterious video game finds out what happens when he gets to the end.
  • A supernatural take on the Steven Spielberg movie Duel with a disillusioned priest engaging in a game of cat and mouse with a sinister pickup truck.
  • A man-versus-giant rat tale that predates the similar Of Unknown Origin...by two months.
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15. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Twilight Zone
© Warner Bros.
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. Stories include:
  • 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 the famed "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet," in which a nervous airline passenger (John Lithgow) sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane.

14. After Midnight (1989)

After Midnight
© MGM
A psychology professor teaching a class on fear offers his students an opportunity to "experience real fear" at his home one night. They tell each other scary stories and eventually become involved in their own personal nightmare. Stories include:
  • A stranded couple take refuge in a creepy old house where five people were murdered.
  • Four teenage girls out on the town late one night end up at a run-down gas station with a deranged attendant and his vicious dogs.
  • A woman working the night shift for a telephone messaging service is stalked by a caller.
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13. Tales from the Hood (1995)

Tales from the Hood
© HBO
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. Stories include:
  • A victim of police abuse returns from the grave for revenge.
  • A young boy is visited nightly 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.
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12. From a Whisper to a Scream (AKA The Offspring) (1987)

From a Whisper to a Scream
© MGM
Twisted and gory, this film features one of the last roles of Vincent Price's career, starring as a librarian who explains to a reporter, via four stories, the evil nature of the town of Oldfield, Tennessee. Stories include:
  • A man begins to live out his violent fantasies of murder and (eek) necrophilia, until his past comes back to haunt him.
  • A criminal discovers that an old swamp dweller possesses the secret to immortality and tries to steal it from him.
  • Sideshow carnival performers toil under the iron fist of a witch who promises them pain and suffering if they ever leave.
  • During the Civil War, three murderous Union soldiers get their comeuppance from a group of Southern orphans whose parents were killed by Northern soldiers.
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