Dangerous, dark and down-right fantastic, the British Horror genre is one that has created some of the most grueling and terrifying filmic experiences in cinematic history. Known for it’s gritty realism and often unhappy endings, it’s a genre that Hollywood has tried and failed to imitate, and unsurprisingly so, considering how ‘anti-hollywood’ the constructs of British Horror are.
In no particular order, here are ten of our favourite British Horror Films.
1. THE HAUNTING (1963) – Robert Wise
Poster art for THE HAUNTING (1963)
A timeless ghost story that is cinematic proof that you don’t need CGI or gore to give someone the chills. This film follows the story of Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson) as he investigates the mysterious Hill House Mansion to further his research in proving the existence of ghosts and the paranormal.
2. 28 DAYS LATER (2002)- Danny Boyle
Alternative poster art by graphic designer, Lloyd Stas. Check more of his work out here.
Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital bed, alone and unaware of the chaos that has ensued around him. He leaves the hospital and walks around the streets of an abandoned London. A plague has taken over the city, and it is left to Jim and a small group of survivors to escape the hoardes of the undead and find their way to a supposed sanctuary.
Might sound familiar and full of zombie film cliches, but only because it was this film that started it all.
‘THE’ film to reboot the zombie franchise, it was Boyle who made waking up in a post-apocalyptic hospital the niche, and the norm for the zombie universe today.
3. THE DESCENT (2005)- Neil Marshall
The cover shoot the girls were promised didn’t quite go to plan.
A group of fun-seeking adventurers go on a caving expedition that they are sure will change their life. But of course, it does so in the most horrible of ways.
Lara Croft should take notes from these women.
Fantastic scares and great acting. Little trivia for you about this film: director Neil Marshall never showed the cast what the “monsters” looked like until they shot the scene their characters discover them. Therefore, real screams- real fear, people!
4. THE WICKERMAN (1973) – Robin Hardy
Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk.
A case of western-man goes in to save villager people, this film tells the story of Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward) as he receives an anonymous letter requesting his assistance in a case with a missing girl, on a small Scottish island called Summerisle.
Forget the remake ever happened. This cult classic is chilling, captivating and entirely tragic.
5. EDEN LAKE (2008)- James Watkins
If you go down to the woods today…
A harrowing film to instil ‘chav-fear’ into anyone who watches it, this story is about couple, Jenny and Steve (Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender) who are disturbed on their romantic evening away by a group of yobbish teenagers with nothing but malicious intent.
A horrible story, a horrible ending, and a great horror film.
6. THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) – Terence Fisher
A Hammer Horror classic
Duc de Richeleau, played by horror king Christopher Lee, along with his friend Rex (Leon Greene) discover the son of an old friend has fallen in arms with the forces of Evil and is about to be baptized into the service of hell.
A highly entertaining action-thriller, with a healthy and happy dose of Satanic horror and old-school black magic.
7. THE LAST HORROR MOVIE (2003) – Julian Richards
A terrifically brutal and disturbing film following the story of Max Perry (Kevin Howarth) a disturbed wedding photographer, partial to cannibalistic tendencies and torture.
Part of the Raindance alumni, The Last Horror Movie, premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in 2003 and won Jury Prize for Best UK Feature. Shocking, brutal and made on a micro budget, filmmakers take note, this is a masterclass in how to do horror, for a fraction of the price. The Last Horror Movie is being re-released on DVD today.
8. PSYCHOMANIA (1973) – Don Sharp
Biker gangs. Riots. Bad jokes. Perfection.
A group of bikers, who call themselves ‘The Living Dead’, spend their days terrorizing their local community in whatever way they can. After making a deal with the devil, they believe that if they are to kill themselves with faith in the agreement, they will survive and live an eternal life. But of course, it doesn’t go exactly to plan.
A unique balance of scary and entertaining- again, another great example that you don’t need blood and guts and gore to pull off scary.
9. VAMPIRE CIRCUS (1972) – Robert Young
19th Century Europe. A circus emerges amongst the fear of a rising plague, and the people are happy for the distraction. This take a horrible turn for the worst, as the true nature of the circus comes to light as children begin disappearing, one by one.
Very underrated and very good. Creepy and reminiscent of any modern ‘village’ story out there today.
10. VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960)- Wolf Rilla
Damn your eyes!
Set in the English village of Midwich, peculiar happenings cause everyone and everything to fall into a deep sleep in the middle of the day. Months later, the woman of the village are pregnant, and they give birth to blond-haired and glowing-eyed children of uncertain paternity that are intent of controlling those around them.
Minimalistic, intelligent and a very effective Sci-Fi horror flick. The kind of atmosphere that M. Night Shyamalan probably wishes he could’ve created in a few of his films…
If interested in any of the above, check out the links before!