Posted on August 9, 2016

What Makes a Great Horror Movie?

Guest Post

Author: John Young

Horror movies have a fan base unlike any other. On our Twitter account, @gorehorcom, we ran weekly polls in an attempt to figure out what elements make for a great horror movie.

Like any group of horror fanatics, we wondered what makes some films better than others. This led us to use our Twitter account to engage in a little market research. What we did was run weekly polls to see what our followers’ favorite horror films are. After four rounds, we ran a final round to pick an overall winner. The poll results uncovered some interesting trends.

Best Horror Film of All Time

The overall winner for the best horror movie of all time was The Exorcist (1973). A close second and losing out by just 2 points was Halloween (1978). We wanted to know what made these two films so beloved. On Twitter we always send out a message to our new followers, asking them what their favorite horror films are. When results for the poll came in, the top two picks came as no surprise to us because we had already received so many messages about them.

2. exorcist


Based on the poll, the scariest horror movie of all time is The Exorcist. In round one, it crushed the competition. Once the movie had won the best movie of all time, we took the opportunity to read the comments. Our suspicion was that it took the top spot for the best horror film because it’s also the scariest. There are reports about how audiences reacted to the film at the time of its theatrical release. It was typical to see people leaving before it was over due to the intensity of the subject matter. Theater owners had to have medical personnel standing by to attend to health issues caused by watching the film. No other scary movie in history has invoked this kind of audience reaction.

Best Director

The next category we focused on was the most loved horror filmmaker of all time. We noticed a lot of messages about the The Thing (1982) created by John Carpenter, who also directed Halloween. The Thing was also one of the top choices in the poll for the scariest movie. We also noticed that it got a lot of retweets when we posted pictures of it. In the end, John Carpenter won best overall filmmaker by 5% over number two Wes Craven.

3. the thing

Freaky Theme Music

We wanted to see whether theme music was considered an important element of a horror movie, so we ran some classics by our followers: Jaws, Nightmare On Elm Street, and Halloween. The winner, as we suspected, was Halloween. The iconic score was composed by John Carpenter. The Exorcist also performed well even when compared with The Omen. Our feeling was that The Omen also had a classic score but the film did not have the same level of popularity as The Exorcist. Our conclusion was that music is an important element in creating fear: very scary films partner with great music to enhance the perception of fear.

4. halloween


We didn’t pick the name Gore Hor without a reason. We anxiously put a few classics such as Hellraiser (1987), Re-Animator (1985), and Dawn of the Dead (1978) to the test. We wanted to find out what our followers thought was the most gory. To our surprise, the winner was Cannibal Holocaust (1980). In fact, we discovered that the movie was so grotesque that it ended up in an Italian Court. The horror film evoked such strong reactions that it created an Exorcist type of controversy. This is exactly the kind of thing that keeps a horror film in fans’ hearts for years after its release.

5. Cannibal holocaust

What we learned from our polls is that a great horror movie combines amazing sound design with an incredible score. It also needs scares that are so terrifying the audience might need medical attention. Just as important is the gore, which should be so profuse that the authorities might consider taking action. We invite you to take a look at the weekly poll results on our Twitter account. You can draw your own conclusions or just find a film that polls high that you might have missed. The good news is that there are always new interesting films being created that push the boundaries of fear and test the limits of what is acceptable.

Written by: John Young


Twitter: @gorehorcom

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