Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 1968): Under seige from shuffling zombies, strangers trapped in an isolated house and a shocking ending in which the hero meets his death at the hands of trigger happy rednecks, not flesh-eating monsters!
The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973): Takes a long time to get going but this is still the best posession of an innocent little girl film that exists. Still terrifying, shocking and convincing nealy 40 years on.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974): Very slowly builds a sense of dread but chosen mainly for the final half hour. Once poor Sally ends up at the dinner table with the mad family, this is very scary, tense stuff!
A Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984): Utterly terrifying for any 10 year old who has to go to sleep every night with fears of Freddy fresh in mind.
Scream (Wes Craven, 1996): Funny, clever, gory and an unbeatable 8 minute opening of horror movie geek heaven.
The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, 1999): Clearly inspired by Cannibal Holocaust but far less nasty and with better acting, 'less is more' direction and an incredibly detailed backstory created by the website etc.
The Others (Alejandro Amenabar, 2001): Creepy ghost story with some great scares and a brilliant twist that is surprisingly emotional.
28 Days Later (Danny Boyle, 2002): Beautiful digital photography and running rage-infected uber-zombies. Final half hour is ridiculously exciting!
Dawn of the Dead (Zack Snyder, 2004): Proof that horror remakes aren't all complete crap. Blasphemous maybe but for me this beats the original. Stylish, funny, less of the satire but more running zombies!
Wolf Creek (Greg Mclean, 2005): If you want your horror to be truly horrific, look no further. Grim, nasty and sadistic, this film takes it time getting to know its pleasant backpacking trio of characters. Wolf Creek has a movie monster so sick and twisted and a last half hour of rape, torture and murder that you will never forget this film.
And just because top 10s are so hard to do, here's another 5 that just missed out:
The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973): Brilliant ending!
Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987): Hilarious!
Switchblade Romance (Alexandre Aja, 2003): Bloody disgusting!
Saw (James Wan, 2004): Twisted and clever, like Jigsaw!
Rec (Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza, 2007): Mock-doc frights from Spain.
But what do you think?
Can't believe there's no horror from before the 70s?
Have I missed your favourite classic monsters; Frankenstein, Dracula?
Disgusted that Jaws or Rosemary's Baby isn't here?
Missing Hitchcock, Kubrick or Argento?
What about Jason, Michael or Chucky?
What's your favourite horror movies? Go on tell me!