From 1950s horror to the present day – our guide to 12 of the spookiest horror films to watch this Halloween – if you dare!
The Hound of Baskervilles (1959)
The fact that this is a Sherlock Holmes adaptation does not decrease the sense of terror created by The Hound of Baskervilles. One of the most critically acclaimed Sherlock Holmes adaptation, this film sets the tone for decades of British rural horror.
Village of the Damned (1960)
This film from German director Wolf Rilla is one of the best films using the ‘strange village’ scenario. Set in the British village of Midwich, the eerie atmosphere and the scary performances make for a timeless classic of horror cinema. Creepy children with eyes that light up ominously is all you need to frighten anyone.
The Reptile (1966)
Cornwall hosts this classic from John Gilling as mysterious deaths haunt the small fictional village of Clagmoor Heath. As the mystery unravels, horror beckons for the villagers. A well-constructed story with beautiful imagery, the Reptile has stood the test of time as one of Gilling’s finest films.
Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968)
Filmed on the Norfolk coast near Waxham, this adaption of a story by writer M.R. James is one of the best British ghost stories of all time. Initially commissioned for television by the BBC, Whistle and I’ll Come to You brought rural horror to the small screen. A masterclass. While this film was remade in 2010, we don’t think you can beat this classic.
Witchfinder General (1968)
A cult film depicting witch-hunting in 17th century rural England, the scenes of torture in the movie shocked the audience when it first came out. An overseas success, Witchfinder General is often high up in reviewers’ lists of the greatest horror films of all time. Starring Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Robert Russell and Hilary Dwyer.
The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)
Set in 18th century England, The Blood on Satan’s Claw tells the tale of a village haunted by a demonic possession. Kids with patches of fur on their bodies. What more can you ask for? An absolutely terrifying movie by director Piers Haggard. The death of the main actor three months before the release added to the folklore of the film. The ruined church featured in the film is St James chapel in Bix Bottom, Oxfordshire. Other scenes were shot in Iver woods, Buckinghamshire and Pinewood studios.
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Wicker Man is possibly the greatest rural horror film ever made. Filmed in Scotland and directed by Robin Hardy and featuring the legendary Sir Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man was the pinnacle of the British rural horror genre that started in the late 1950s. It is incredible that it was a flop when it first came out in 1973. A real tragedy.
Dog Soldiers (2001)
Highlighting a resurgence of the British rural horror at the beginning of the century, the presence of Dog Soldiers on the list can be contested. While the movie is set in rural Scotland, it was not actually shot in the UK. However, taking the film for what it is, you would never know and you would still be terrified. A worthy cinematic work to restart the genre.
28 Days Later (2002)
Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland, this British post-apocalyptic horror film stars Cillian Murphy, who plays bike courier Jim who wakes from a coma to find a deserted London. Escaping to the British countryside while fleeing zombies infected with the ‘rage’ virus, this 2002 film is a worthy Halloween watch.
Eden Lake (2008)
Considered more of a thriller when compared to the horror of the movies on that list from the 60s and 70s, Eden Lake is still a worthy addition to the genre. Set in the English countryside, it depicts a romantic trip that takes a violent turn. With recognisable faces like Michael Fassbender and Jack O’Connell, Eden Lake is one for the ages.
A Field in England (2013)
With disturbing visuals and chilling sounds, A Field in England is shot in black and white in a 17th century England setting. One of the most absorbing films of this decade in the horror genre, it is fair to say that director Ben Wheatley has grabbed our attention. A terrifying addition to his collection.
Ghost Stories (2017)
The unsettling new film Ghost Stories starring Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse is likely to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Adapted from the popular stage production, this creepy tale of supernatural goings-on and family tragedy make for compelling viewing.