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Box Office Theory's Top 100 Horror Movies: Vol. 2 | #1 has been revealed!

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35. The Conjuring (2013) (55 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #14 (-21)

 

Director: James Wan

 

Screenwriter: Chad and Carey W. Hayes

 

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ron Livingston, Lili Taylor

 

Synopsis: Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.

 

Box Office: 319.5M

 

Critical Reviews: 86% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 11

Average Position: 41st

Top 5 Placements: 1

Top 10 Placements: 2

 

 

James Wan’s final film on the countdown is perhaps his finest work to date: The Conjuring. Although it slipped about 20 spots from the previous countdown, making it right outside the upper third is still an impressive feat after it had two more spinoffs and another direct sequel. With The Conjuring, Wan proves to be the modern master of jumpscares by allowing tension to build throughout each scene and subverting the audiences’ expectations for the scares. What could have been a simple paranormal film has become a new horror classic thanks to James Wan, and now, the franchise will seemingly never end.

 

The Conjuring had the same number of submissions as it did in 2018, but the average position dropped from 20th to 41st. The Top 5 placement was on a reduced list; a full list would’ve gotten the film into the mid-20s.

 

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I'm shattered that Wait Until Dark came so close to making the list (well, comparatively at least) only to ultimately miss the cut. Not necessarily surprised, since it didn't make the 2018 list, but shattered nonetheless. I'm still at a last why that one wasn't stuck around in the cultural consciousness the same way as Charade or Breakfast at Tiffany's has, especially since it's aged quite a bit better than either of those two. If any of you haven't seen it, really go check it out. Although it's not completely accurate the "Audrey Hepburn in Rear Window" descriptor gives a pretty good sense for the feel of the movie, and it's every bit as intense as that Hitchcock masterpiece while also boasting one of the all-time great forgotten screen villains.

 

I'm also sad that I Walked With a Zombie didn't make the cut, but frankly I'm just happy that one made it as high as it did. If 1970's and 160’s arthouse horror has a tough time cracking the list, you can't exactly be surprised when one from the1940’s ones doesn’t.

Edited by Chrysaor
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4 minutes ago, Chrysaor said:

 

 

I'm also sad that I Walked With a Zombie didn't make the cut, but frankly I'm just happy that one made it as high as it did. If 1970's arthouse horror has a tough time cracking the list, you can't exactly be surprised when 1950's ones don't.

Honestly, I Walked with a Zombie was looking pretty solid to make the cut early on. Later lists didn't have it though, which ultimately cost it.

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34. Evil Dead II (1987) (57 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #15 (-19)

 

Director: Sam Raimi

 

Screenwriter: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel

 

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Richard Domeier

 

Synopsis: The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.

 

Box Office: 10.9M

 

Critical Reviews: 95% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 7

Average Position: 27th

Top 5 Placements: 1

Top 10 Placements: 3

 

 

Evil Dead II came in right below The Conjuring last time, so it’s fitting that the film is now one spot higher as they both fell from the Top 20. Sam Raimi’s sequel to The Evil Dead took the franchise in new directions with a lighter but still violent tone. The film follows many of the same beats as its predecessor, but thanks to a larger budget, Raimi is able to get more creative with his story.

 

Evil Dead II is the second film on the countdown to have three Top 10 placements after Cabin in the Woods. Although it received two fewer placements than it did in 2018, the film remained a passion pick with 5/7 placements in the 20s or higher.

 

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33. Aliens (1986) (58 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #21 (-12)

 

Director: James Cameron

 

Screenwriters: James Cameron, David Glier, Walter Hill

 

Starring: Sigourney Weaver

 

Synopsis: Fifty-seven years after surviving an apocalyptic attack aboard her space vessel by merciless space creatures, Officer Ripley awakens from hyper-sleep and tries to warn anyone who will listen about the predators.

 

Box Office: 183.3M

 

Critical Reviews: 97% on RT

 

Appearances on Other BOT Lists: 32nd on BOT’s Top 100 Films of All Time (2020), 5th on Top 100 Sci-Fi Films

 

Won Best Sound Editing and Visual Effects and Nominated for Actress (Sigourney Weaver), Art Direction, Editing, Score, and Sound Mixing at the Academy Awards

 

Submissions Received: 7

Average Position: 25th

Top 5 Placements: 1

Top 10 Placements: 2

 

 

The first film from the Alien franchise appears, coming in one spot lower than it did on the last Top 100 of All Time and 12 spots lower than the 2018 horror countdown. James Cameron’s Aliens takes the series in an action packed direction while maintaining the excellent creature design and intensity from the first film. Sigourney Weaver gets more space to grow as Ellen Ripley, and her performance in Aliens is perhaps the best she’s ever been. Although some don’t label Aliens as a horror film, that didn’t stop it from appearing again.

 

Aliens received two fewer submissions than it did in 2018 with an average position 13 spots lower. However, the majority of votes were high ranking, giving it one of the highest averages so far. I blame the lack of James Cameron stans for this drop.

 

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Edited by WrathOfHan
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32. Eraserhead (1978) (60 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #47 (+15)

 

Director and Screenwriter: David Lynch

 

Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates, Judith Roberts

 

Synopsis: Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

 

Box Office: 7M

 

Critical Reviews: 90% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 6

Average Position: 15th

Top 5 Placements: 1

Top 10 Placements: 3

 

 

David Lynch makes his second and final appearance on the list with his debut feature Eraserhead, coming in with the biggest increase from the 2018 countdown so far. Made on a low budget, Lynch creates intricate sets to showcase the horrors of domicility. As Henry Spencer travels between his apartment and visions to escape the screams of his child, confusion arises in the young man’s mind, culminating in an explosive awakening. Eraserhead gave audiences a glimpse at who Lynch was, and over 40 years later, new generations of cinephiles continue to discover his brilliance.

 

Eraserhead has the highest average so far at 15th, only dropping two spots from its 2018 average of 13th. The film received one more submission along with three Top 10 placements vs two Top 5 placements than the last time around. Considering the film barely made it onto the Top 50 last time, Eraserheads saw a fantastic boost.

 

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31. Bride of Frankenstein (1935) (60 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #36 (+5)

 

Director: James Whale

 

Screenwriters: William Hurlbut, John L. Balderston

 

Starring: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Thesiger, E. E. Clive

 

Synopsis: Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

 

Box Office: 2M

 

Critical Reviews: 98% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 7

Average Position: 19th

Top 5 Placements: 1

Top 10 Placements: 2

 

 

Bride of Frankenstein is the final UCM film to emerge onto the countdown, also marking James Whale’s third film on the list. The cinematic sequel to Frankenstein relies on unrealized concepts by Mary Wollstonecraft, which is alluded to in the film by a fictionalized prelude featuring her mother Mary Shelley. Without a firm source material like the first film, Bride of Frankenstein expands upon the first’s themes with an emphasis on the “creative” struggles of Dr. Frankenstein. These main ideas arguably tie into James Whale’s growth as a filmmaker as he initially struggled with his place in the horror genre. Fortunately for Whale, Bride of Frankenstein remains a classic monster film and is considered by many to be the best the subgenre has ever seen.

 

Bride of Frankenstein is the first film to increase its average position from 2018, going from 24th to 19th. It received the same number of submissions and took the top UCM spot from its predecessor Frankenstein.

 

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30. The Night of the Hunter (1955) (61 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #48 (+18)

 

Director: Charles Laughton

 

Screenwriters: James Agee, Charles Laughton

 

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Billy Chapin

 

Synopsis: A religious fanatic marries a gullible widow whose young children are reluctant to tell him where their real daddy hid the $10,000 he'd stolen in a robbery.

 

Box Office: 600k

 

Critical Reviews: 95% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 6

Average Position: 21st

Top 5 Placements: 2

Top 10 Placements: 3

 

 

Coming in at a strong increase from the 2018 countdown is Charles Laughton’s classic The Night of the Hunter. Featuring a towering performance from Robert Mitchum in arguably his best role, Laughton’s film tackles the genre through the eyes of a child. As the story progresses, we often see Pearl Harper’s perspective as Harry Powell returns to terrorize her family. By having that vulnerable view, Mitchum’s performance becomes even more terrifying, and this 1950s horror has influenced many directors across several generations for its craft.

 

Just like the 2018 countdown, The Night of the Hunter had nearly all of its submissions 25th or higher with an average position only two spots lower. I forgot to add this to my list and could’ve gotten it a few spots higher while dragging down the average if I did :sparta:

 

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A look ahead at the 20s:

 

The final new film will appear

5 films are in black and white

The final film with no Top 10 placements will appear at #29

The only two post-2000 films are from the early 00s

 

Here are the films that received 15-19 points (117-19 19, 120-24 18, 125-27 17, 128-43 16, 144-47 15)

Spoiler

 

117. Saw (2004)

118. Sleepy Hollow (1999)

119. Onibaba (1964)

120. Tremors (1990)

121. Unsane (2018)

122. Ringu (1998)

123. Paranormal Activity (2008)

124. Perfect Blue (1997)

125. Rec (2007)

126. My Bloody Valentine (1981)

127. Don't Look Now (1973)

128. Ravenous (1999)

129. Final Destination (2000)

130. Take Shelter (2011)

131. Werckmiester Harmonies (2000)

132. Young Frankenstein (1974)

133. ParaNorman (2012)

134. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

135. Mandy (2018)

136. Gaslight (1944)

137. The Devils (1971)

138. Salem's Lot (1979)

139. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

140. A Quiet Place Part II (2021)

141. The Wicker Man (1973)

142. Prometheus (2012)

143. Hellraiser (1987)

144. The Orphanage (2007)

145. Hour of the Wolf (1968)

146. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)

147. Overlord (2018)

 

 

The final film from 2018 that missed still hasn't appeared. What will it be?

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Aliens is actually my favourite film of all time but because it's less horror I favoured placement of the original over it. The Queen effects still blow my mind every time, it's one of the best realised creatures.

 

Evil Dead II is also one of my favourites, would have liked to see it higher. I freaking love Sam Raimi, his camerawork, editing, his sense of humour and tone. He offers everything I want from a ridiculously good time. 

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Right….lots of the things.

 

Us is beautifully shot in places, features a phenomenal central performance, plus good support performances and the first hour in general is pretty strong. On the other I am in the quarters that says the film completely falls to pieces in the second half and the movie is kind of broken as a result. Between the two Peele films plus the tightly controlled Candyman remake thats a firm 3/3 for films that have increasingly messy endings and I think having burned so bright he’s one, maybe two, incoherent endings away from the M Night treatment post-Lady in the Water.

 

The Lighthouse is excellent and only didn’t make my list due to recency adjustment and the fact I only  watched it once. Defoe is one of the 5-10 leading actors in the world and has been for 2 decades. He should easily have received more awards recognition for this. In a crowded field, Eggers is my most promising director in any genre tight now.

 

I have a complicated relationship with Raimi films, and I rate both Evil Dead II and the Remake quite a bit over the original Evil Dead, nevertheless could never complain about it being in a list like this. It’s important and ever-rewatchable.

 

Intriguing as to how and why House got into the conversation in the last few years. Seem to have been a youtube and vitality thing. I don’t have a problem with it. It’s a good, fun movie with high watchability which probably explains why it’s stuck. I don’t rate it as highly myself but if something like this is going to blow up, this is as good as any.

 

The Conjuring, as I say with Conjuring 2, has clearly done amazingly well to generate the popularity it has. It isn’t my thing by any means and it’s rather generic for my tastes but it’s probably that aggregation of what makes supernatural horror mechanisms work that have caused it to be so popular.

 

Glad to hear I Walked with a Zombie nearly made the list. Absolutely seminal/essential IMO.

 

Evil Dead II is a blast and just pips the remake for my favourite of the franchise. Raimi’s eclectic traits and directorial creativity benefit him here to the max, it’s the exact right tone for the cast and it’s a whole bunch of fun.

 

Aliens is my line-in-the-sand of “not a horror movie”. If the remit forewent Jurassic Park (which it specifically did, and Jurassic Park is universally not considered a horror film) then I would always argue it should forego Aliens since Jurassic Park is, in every aspect of its structure, far more of a horror film than Aliens.

 

I can’t dissociate Eraserhead with “Pretentious student film” in my emotional and visceral responses to it. It’s almost certainly not the film itself’s fault and entirely the fault of the kind of people I have met in my life who obsess over Eraserhead. I do like Lynch, it’s just sometimes life experiences override the ability to evaluate a film. I have similar relationships with the bands Muse and Manic Street Preachers.

 

Bride of Frankenstein is excellent. I honestly can’t remember if it was in my list but it probably should have been if it wasn’t.

 

Night of the Hunter is now rightly considered a classic both on this forum and elsewhere. It’s a well deserved accomplishment for Charles Laughton and the rest of the people who made them movie who, like with Peeping Tom, spend decades having their masterpiece trashed.

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Well since we are on a little bit of a break until the countdown begins again, let me tell you what I learned tonight by listening to the commentary on the Blu-ray of Cujo.

 

I realize Cujo did not make the countdown but for me it's one of my favourite horror movies. Be that as it may here's some interesting facts and tidbits that I learned from Louis Teague, the director of Cujo.

 

Jan Debont was the director of photography for Cujo and him and Lewis Teague had known each other while Teague was doing some work in Europe. Debont is well known for films like speed and twister.

 

The editor for the film was Neil Travis who would later go on to win an Oscar for editing dances with Wolves. 

 

The composer for the film with Charles Bernstein who also did the soundtrack for a Nightmare on Elm Street amongst many many other films. This film was loaded with talent and yet had a very modest budget of around four and a half million dollars. Compared to a film like Friday the 13th or Halloween the budget was enormous but in comparison to most modestly budgeted Hollywood films at the time it was considered to be a small budget movie.

 

There's one particular shot Lewis Teague was trying to perfect and it was essentially a ripoff of a scene in Jaws. Those are the directors words verbatim. He was having trouble figuring out a way to do it perfectly so he called Verna fields, the oscar-winning editor of Jaws and even though she was a bigwig at universal studios by this point, she called him back five minutes later and they spoke on the phone for about an hour discussing what he was doing wrong and how he could fix it.

 

Quentin Tarantino has even said that there are some shots in the film that he has used in his features because he liked them so much in Cujo.

 

The interesting thing about Cujo is that for about two-thirds the movie it's all character building and exposition. It's not until the last 30 minutes or so that the scary stuff really begins. The studio at first was adamant about speeding up the plot of the film to get to the gore. They initially got their way and when it played in front of an audience, they liked it but felt that it moved a bit too quickly. Eventually all the edited scenes were put back into the film.

 

Like many horror films from the 70s and 80s, Cujo did moderately well at the box-office but has gone on to become a favourite amongst horror lovers and has made millions and millions on home video. 

 

There were about a dozen different dogs used in the film and in one particular scene Dee Wallace actually got bit by one of the Saint Bernards. It was one of the scenes where she was wrestling with Cujo and the dog mistakenly bit her in the face. You can see the subsequent scar on her face for about the last 10 minutes of the movie.

 

Stephen King has gone on record as saying that Dee Wallace's performance is the best performance in any of his films that have been adapted. That's high praise considering you have Kathy Bates from misery, Michael Clarke Duncan and Tom Hanks from The Green Mile, and of course Shawshank Redemption.

 

Sheriff Bannerman appears as a sheriff in this movie and he's also the sheriff in the dark half, another Stephen King book and movie. When he gets killed by Cujo in this film it's Sheriff Alan Pangborn that is next up in the book and movie Needful Things. He becomes Sheriff because Sheriff Bannerman gets killed by Cujo.

 

Teague was trained by small budget legend Roger Corman.

 

I love a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on and making a movie and Lewis Teague's commentary on Cujo was well worth the Blu-ray purchase.

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29. 28 Days Later (2002) (61.25 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #20 (-9)

 

Director: Danny Boyle

 

Screenwriter: Alex Garland

 

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Megan Burns, Brendan Gleeson

 

Synopsis: Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

 

Box Office: 85.7M

 

Critical Reviews: 87% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 12

Average Position: 35th

Top 10 Placements: 1

 

 

Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later arrives at a slight drop from the 2018 countdown. Now that we’ve lived/are living through a global pandemic, the contrast between the London imagery at the beginning of Boyle’s film with the desolation we saw when COVID first shut us down feels eerily similar. The silence as Cillian Murphy walks the streets wasn’t far off from reality, but fortunately, we haven’t dealt with a zombie outbreak yet. 28 Days Later shines when it examines the relationships between its main ensemble as they survive the harsh, uncertain reality in front of them. Boyle has created one of the best zombie movies of all time and certainly the best this millennium.

 

28 Days Later received one more submission that it did in 2018 but with a much lower average position. The Top 10 placement was on a reduced list; with full points, it might’ve stayed flat from the last countdown. Also, I thought this was the last film without a Top 10 placement but forgot about the reduced scoring :sparta: That makes It Follow the last film to not have any Top 10 placements at #40 

 

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28. The Innocents (1961) (62 Points)

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Previous Ranking: N/A (NEW)

 

Director: Jack Clayton

 

Screenwriters: William Archibald, Truman Capote, John Mortimer

 

Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave, Pamela Franklin Martin Stephens

 

Synopsis: A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.

 

Box Office: 1.2M

 

Critical Reviews: 95% on RT

 

Nominated for Best Film and Best British Film at the BAFTAs

 

Submissions Received: 8

Average Position: 28th

Top 5 Placements: 1

Top 10 Placements: 2

 

 

The final new film on this year’s countdown is Jack Clayton’s The Innocents. One of the most influential horror films of the 1960s, The Innocents utilizes a variety of lighting and camera techniques to convey the mysterious atmosphere inside the central house. Deborah Kerr stands out as the governess Miss Giddens, whose psychological journey makes the experience all the more frightening. The Innocents was yet another film that showed audiences what the genre could be capable of going into a more taboo decade.

 

The Innocents saw a strong average position despite a somewhat small number of submissions for a film in the 20s (only one other film remaining had less than 10 submissions). With half of its placements in the top twenty, the film is comfortably in the countdown.

 

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27. Carrie (1976) (62 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #19 (-8)

 

Director: Brian De Palma

 

Screenwriter: Lawrence D. Cohen

 

Starring: Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, Piper Laurie

 

Synopsis: Carrie White, a shy, friendless teenage girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom.

 

Box Office: 33.8M

 

Critical Reviews: 93% on RT

 

Nominated for Best Actress (Sissy Spacek) and Supporting Actress (Piper Laurie) at the Academy Awards

 

Submissions Received: 13

Average Position: 38th

Top 10 Placements: 1

 

 

Brian De Palma’s Carrie stands as one of the director’s finest works. Based on Stephen King’s career-making novel, De Palma brings the author’s usual small Maine horror to life with a faithful adaptation. Featuring some of the darkest subject matter for a King story, Carrie combines a coming-of-age story with controversial examinations of religion and abuse. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie give two outstanding performances that received Oscar nominations, a rarity for genre roles. With perfect plotting and tension, De Palma’s Carrie remains a staple of the horror genre.

 

Carrie takes the running record for most submissions on the countdown with 13, up from the 10 it received in 2018. The average position dropped from 17th to 38th.

 

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26. The Haunting (1963) (65 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #35 (+9)

 

Director: Robert Wise

 

Screenwriter: Nelson Gidding

 

Starring: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, Russ Tamblyn

 

Synopsis: Hill House has stood for about 90 years and appears haunted: its inhabitants have always met strange, tragic ends. Now Dr. John Markway has assembled a team of people who he thinks will prove whether or not the house is haunted.

 

Box Office: 1.02M

 

Critical Reviews: 86% on RT

 

Submissions Received: 11

Average Position: 38th

Top 10 Placements: 2

 

 

Robert Wise’s The Haunting sees a healthy increase from the 2018 countdown. Thanks in part to Mike Flanagan’s recent adaptation, the original film based on Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been experiencing a resurgence in interest among modern audiences. The Haunting keeps Jackson’s psychological horror intact with some of the most innovative effects the genre has ever seen, making it arguably the 1960s scariest film. Wise’s The Haunting continues to influence filmmakers today and will remain a classic ghost story.

 

Similar to Carrie, The Haunting increased its number of submissions from 2018, and the average position didn’t drop too far from 27th to 38th.

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25. An American Werewolf in London (1981) (69 Points)

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Previous Ranking: #31 (+6)

 

Director and Screenwriter: John Landis

 

Starring: David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne, John Woodvine

 

Synopsis: Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

 

Box Office: 62M

 

Critical Reviews: 88% on RT

 

Won Best Makeup at the Academy Awards

 

Submissions Received: 10

Average Position: 28th

Top 10 Placements: 1

 

 

John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London makes its way into the Top 25, up from 2018. With this film, Landis subverted expectations that he was solely a comedy director by critiquing horror tropes while also creating terrifying transformation sequences. The intricate makeup and effects used throughout American Werewolf broke new ground for the medium, and the film will always have a place in cinematic history as the first film to win Best Makeup at the Oscars. American Werewolf is arguably the best werewolf film to be made in the past several decades, and nothing like it has been released since.

 

With only a 5 spot drop in its average placement, An American Werewolf in London has the best average retention of any repeat film so far. It also received two more submissions than it did in 2018 with a Top 10 placement this time.

 

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