Top 13 horror films on Blu-ray

If you hadn't already realised, it's Halloween on 31 October, making this the perfect season for getting re-acquainted with the best horror films ever made. We've hunted down the top 13 horror films available on Blu-ray for your viewing pleasure. Of course, to get the best out of the spooky tales, you really need to see them in high definition. Not only will the picture be more defined, but Blu-ray's excellent performance on dark scenes means that you won't er, be left in the dark when it comes to the nocturnal nuances that actually make up the vast majority of these films. Grab yourself some popcorn, a slice of pumpkin pie and sit back and prepare to be scared...

 

Halloween

First released:
1978

Price:
£5.49

Fear factor:
10/10




John Carpenter's 1970s cult classic is a masterclass in how to make a really terrifying film on a shoestring budget. Set in the fictional suburban town of Haddonfield, Illinois, the film begins with 6-year old Michael Myres brutally murdering his older sister on Halloween night. Fast forward 15 years and the grown-up Myres escapes from a psychiatric hospital and returns to the town to terrorise teenager Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her pals. The only person with any hope of stopping his killing spree is his psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence).



The film is packed with carefully paced set pieces that have you jumping out of your skin at regular intervals, while the haunting score, penned by the director himself, will also keep you on the edge of your seat. As the knife-happy Myres spends much of the time lurking in the shadows, this is a good one to watch on Blu-ray as the details in even the darkest scenes won't descend into inky blackness. This is horror cinema at its best, but we would advise you to avoid the 2007 remake like the plague.


Night of the living dead

First released:
1968

Price:
£6.99

Fear factor:
8/10




This independent film from the late 60s was also made on a tiny budget, but that didn't stop it cementing director George A. Romero's reputation as a horror movie legend. The film tells the story of a bunch of survivors who hole up in a remote farmhouse to try and escape the horde of flesh-eating zombies outside. Shot in black and white, the film manages to get away with a fair bit of visceral gore that probably would've looked a bit over the top in colour. The Blu-ray treatment has certainly worked wonders with the film, adding a distinct sharpness to the ageing monochrome visuals.

As well as being applauded as being one of the first mainstream films to star an African-Amercian actor as the lead character, the film is also famously said to be an allegory of 1960s America, referencing Vietnam, Cold War politics and the civil rights movement. Crikey. And there you were thinking it was all just about a load of zombies...


The Orphanage

First released:
2007

Price:
£6.93

Fear factor:
9/10




This subtitled Spanish horror flick was produced by Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro and is a ghost story that's more about psychological fear than blood and guts. The story sees a woman bringing her family back to live at her childhood home - a former orphanage which she intends to re-open as a home for troubled children. It all goes swimmingly until her son makes a new friend. This kicks off a chain reaction of events that promises to reveal the sinister secrets from the orphanage's disturbing history.



The film is beautifully shot and manages to evoke a sense of fear from even the most mundane of everyday objects. The sumptuous cinematography looks brilliant in hi-def and also makes the subtitles that little bit clearer to read. As scary films go, this really is bleak - don't say we didn't warn you.


The Exorcist

First released:
1973

Price:
£11.99

Fear factor:
7/10




Adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name, this 1973 flick about demonic possession was one of the most commercially successful horror films at the box office and continues to rank highly in lists of the top horror films. A 14-year old Linda Blair stars as Regan MacNeill, a young girl who appears to possessed by an evil force. Not having much luck with the local doctors, her mother consults the help of a priest instead.

It's certainly a very dark and disturbing movie, but the fact that the most famous elements of the film (the projectile vomiting, the rotating head) have been aped to within an inch of their lives really does lessen the fear factor for modern audiences.

 

Suspiria

First released:
1977

Price:
£12.93

Fear factor:
8/10





Directed by Dario Argento, this might sound like arty farty Italian cinema, but it's actually very brutal and scary and kicks off with one of the nastiest murder scenes we've every set eyes on. When an Amercian ballet student enrols at a prestigious dance academy in Munich, she experiences a series of strange happenings that lead her to believe that the school's staff are in fact a coven of witches.

The arthouse credentials mean that although the film is expertly shot, it can drag a little in places if you're used to a more frenetic pace in your movies. However, there are plenty of scares to keep you on your toes  along with some very disturbing death scenes. Another highlight is the unsettling soundtrack, provided by Italian prog rock band Goblin.

 

The Evil Dead

First released:
1981

Price:
£11.93

Fear factor:
6/10




One of the original video nasties, this slightly controversial film is packed to the rafters with blood and gore and succeeded in awarding cult status to its star, Bruce Campbell. With Spider-Man director Sam Raimi at the helm, this low-budget flick sees a group of five friends heading off for a short holiday in a creepy, isolated cabin in the woods. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it all goes downhill when the gang find and play a tape of demonic incantations. Gradually, the buddies become possessed one by one, leaving the square-jawed hero, Ash (Campbell), to take care of business using an array of handy weapons including a shovel and a chainsaw.



The special effects are excellent for the time, and are given a new lease of life when viewed in hi-def. Despite all the controversy, the film is actually darkly comic and more likely to make you laugh than really scare you.

 

The Thing

First released:
1982

Price:
£9.99

Fear factor:
8/10




Marking the second entry for John Carpenter in our Blu-ray lineup, this film is a loose remake of the 1951 classic, The Thing from Another World. While the original is more of a sci-fi encounter, The Thing ramps up the horror, both with its ground-breaking special effects and with the psychological suspense. Long-time Carpenter collaborator Kurt Russell stars as a member of an American scientific research party in Antarctica. The isolated group are slowly picked off by a shape-shifting alien that takes on the appearance of those that it kills.

The film's snow-laden setting really benefits from a hi-def viewing, which is just one reason that it's an essential for any Blu-ray collection. Along with its grotesque, yet impressively innovative special effects, the film succeeds in scaring the audience out of its wits thanks to the claustrophobic sense of paranoia that it creates as the group turns on each other when they realise that any one of the them could be the killer.


Nightmare on Elm Street

First released:
1984

Price:
£11.93

Fear factor:
7/10




The quintessential 1980s slasher film, Nightmare on Elm Street was directed by horror film stalwart Wes Craven and introduced the world to one of horror cinema's most memorable characters - Freddy Krueger. As a child murderer, Krueger was burned alive in a boiler room by the vengeful parents of his victims. Now he stalks the children of his killers in their dreams, where he brutally murders them with his custom-made, knife-wielding glove.

Another 80s video nasty, this movie is packed with over-the-top gore, mainly thanks to the slaying of promiscuous teens - an essential element of any slasher film. Although a series of inferior sequels lessened the terrifying impact of Krueger's character, the original film is still a classic that looks all the better for its hi-def makeover.

 

An American Werewolf in London

First released:
1981

Price:
£9.99

Fear factor:
8/10



It may be a horror comedy, but that doesn't make this classic film any less scary. David Naughton and Griffin Dunne star as two American tourists on a backpacking trip to England. The holiday is dramatically cut short when the pair are attacked by a werewolf and one of them is mauled to death. Not traditionally a subject for hilarity, but writer and director John Landis manages to get plenty of laughs in, nonetheless.

The film is famous for its extraordinary special effects during the werewolf transformation scene which were so good that they earned make-up FX guru Rich Baker an Oscar. There's also a particularly frightening scene filmed on the London Underground, which is very hard to get out of your head if you're on a deserted tube platform late at night.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

First released:
1974

Price:
£5.99

Fear factor:
9/10




Based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein, this independent film directed by Tobe Hooper introduces another classic horror film character in the hulking shape of Leatherface. Along with his dangerously unhinged family of cannibals, the masked killer hunts down and kills a young group of friends that are unfortunate enough to have strayed into the wrong part of rural Texas at the wrong time.

Although there is a fair bit of gore, much of it is actually implied, rather than shown on screen, and the chainsaw makes only a fleeting appearance. The Blu-ray version improves the sharpness of the film, while still managing to retain some of the grainy quality of the original transfer. The film spawned several sequels, but none of them have been able to muster the disturbing impact of the original.

 

Psycho

First released:
1960

Price:
£10.37

Fear factor:
10/10



Directed by legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, this disturbing film was also loosely based on the serial killer Ed Gein. The film begins with Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) stealing $40,000 from her employers and doing a bunk. While on the run, she makes the unfortunate decision to rest for the night at Bate's Motel, run by a Mr Norman Bates and his, er, mother.

Although most people will know the plot of the film long before they ever get round to seeing it, 1960s cinema audiences were not so well-acquainted with the story and were lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that was a film about a woman who steals some money (although perhaps the film's title might have given them a slight clue). Not only does this film break numerous cinematic conventions (such as killing off the star halfway through), but it also produced one of the most famous film scenes of all time, in the shape of "the shower scene". The whole thing is neatly tied together with Bernard Herrmann's jarring score.

 

The Shining

First released:
1980

Price:
£9.87

Fear factor:
6/10




Directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the novel by horror scribe Stephen King, this unsettling film stars Jack Nicholson as a writer who takes his wife and young son to live at an isolated hotel for the winter season where he has accepted a job as the off-season caretaker. Almost immediately, the son starts to exhibit physchic tendencies, while Nicholson's character gradually descends into madness, driven by a malevolent, unseen force.



This is another film that has been subject to numerous parodies over the years, making the famous door-smashing/"Here's Johnny" scene more comical than scary. And the plot doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, but there are some terrific scenes that will get your heart racing.

 

The Omen

First released:
1974

Price:
£11.69

Fear factor:
8/10

This atmospheric film stars Gregory Peck as an American ambassador living in London who discovers that his son, Damien, is in fact the antichrist. Priest Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) and photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner) both think they know what's going on and so, inevitably, they both meet rather grisly ends.

The film is packed with violent deaths, although thankfully there is very little gore. The real scares come from the feeling of dread that the film creates, especially the feeling that evil is omnipresent. And that music...

We've told you what we think are the scariest movies around, but what's the one film that gave you nightmares as a kid? Let us know in the comments box below.