One third of a century ago, Stanley Kubrick released The Shining and changed the face of modern horror. Except that he didn’t, at least not initially. The Shining was a critical dud and, at first, a financial disappointment. (Kubrick even got nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director.) But over the years, the movie has, to understate mightily, gained in stature. And its release seemed to us like a good cutoff point for our journey through the ensuing 33 years of horror cinema. After all, 1980 is an important turning point in the genre: The wild wild west of exploitation cinema (which gave us such titles as I Spit on Your Grave) had been largely tamed, the colorfully gruesome artistry of giallo (Suspiria, Deep Red) was on the wane, and Hammer Studios (home of Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed) had pretty much become extinct. Meanwhile, slasher movies were becoming slasher franchises, and the Age of Spielberg and the Age of Video were upon us.
And so, we’ve gone over the ensuing years and selected the best horror films of this era. The parameters for the list are similar to the ones we used in our rundown of the 25 Best Action Movies Since Die Hard. The films included here are those we consider to be the best, not necessarily the most influential or seminal or representative. (There are, for example, lots of terrible and very popular slasher movies that did not make the cut.) And because there were two of us putting this together, we found the films we agreed on — mostly, with a few notable disagreements. Enjoy. And yell at us about what we missed in the comments section.