Horror films are the best genre of film. Some delightful fright-filled flicks are chills meet social critique like Get Out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Night of the Living Dead. Others are just pure entertainment. But horror, elevated or not, sticks with you.
Horror anthologies are rare and hold a special place in my heart. As with The Twilight Zone series, you'll have cherished ones from the whole set. If horror anthologies are your favorite, or you're looking to explore that particular subcategory, here's a list to get you started with some of my favorites:
1 – Creepshow (1982)
Do you skip over the last story, “They're Creeping Up on You!” in this nightmarish film? Just me? Regardless of my hesitance to see the final horror because it might “give roaches ideas,” as my mom cautioned, Creepshow remains one of the best horror anthologies. Unsurprising when George Romero, a visual master of horror, and Stephen King, a master of written horror, come together to create an anthology as creepy as it is hard to ignore. Consisting of five stories with an additional prologue and epilogue, each froze my blood for different reasons.
“Father's Day” shows even someone as horrid as the “father” in the story can seek vengeance. How is that fair? “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” and “Something to Tide You Over” tap into body horror that makes your skin crawl in terror and innate fear of drowning, respectively. “The Crate” is memorable monster mayhem. You can take comfort if you're not the type to open random containers with chains around them. If you are, well, I advise you not to. Creepshow nailed it with the stories, and the music, with its child choir, will be stuck in your head for days after you watch it.
2 – Creepshow 2 (1987)
While not as impressive as the first, the follow-up to the 1982 gem, Creepshow 2, delivers a horrifyingly good time. The trio, which includes three alarming tales based on Stephen King stories and Tom Savini as The Creep, differs from the previous collection. “The Raft” is memorable because of its ending and is a warning not to crow about your victory until you're long gone. In “The Hitchhiker,” the phrase “thanks for the ride, lady” is menacing and comical, for the viewer at least.
3 – Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Starring Karen Black, the three stories each stands on their own.
It also includes one of the images that gave me nightmares as a child. They tap into different fears, from psychological to paranormal. The final story, “Amelia,” doesn't initially seem frightening. A killer, cannibal doll so small you can punt it like a football doesn't inspire chills. But this little thing is strong, and the ending leaves you checking for intruders that come up to your shins. It also makes you think twice about accepting your next invite to a family dinner.
4 – Tales From The Darkside (1990)
Directed by John Harrison, this anthology is a spin-off of a popular series of the same name. It features three stories told by a boy who is kidnapped in the prologue. The stories have humorous moments, but the scares are there too. Of the three tales, i.e., “Lot 249,” “The Cat from Hell,” and “Lover's Vow,” the first stands out because of the ending. It also has Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, and Julianne Moore. But the other two shouldn't be slept on, especially since “Lover's Vow” story's inspiration is a Japanese tale about Yuki-onna, a ghostly woman, but with a spin. The effects don't age well, but Tales from the Darkside is still a terrific entry point into the world of horror anthologies.
5 – Tales From The Crypt (1972)
It's a terrifying thought, death. Tales from the Crypt is a British horror film that explores death and judgment. Here there is some cohesion to the stories, as five strangers, lost in a catacomb, encounter a Crypt Keeper who tells them tales of how they will die. While not as chilling as others on this list, the fear is real. That idea that during the final judgment, we will come up lacking is hair-raising. There's a reason this film, decades later, has ninety percent approval ratings from critics on RottenTomatoes.
6 – Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Since horror anthologies are less prevalent, and the trailer for this looked phenomenal, I could not wait to watch this. It took time for it to be released to avoid competing with Rob Zombie's Halloween. But after seeing both, I think Trick' r Treat wins. Each story subverts expectations in horrifying and hip ways. All the stories center around Halloween night in this one town. Directed by Michael Dougherty, you get ghosties and beasties. Plus, if you're a fan of Dougherty, this should be in your collection alongside his other holiday horror, Krampus.
7 – Tales From The Hood (1995)
This incredible collection of stories focuses on Black experiences in America. Seeing issues like racism told through a horror medium just hits different. You end up yelling at the screen. In these stories, you don't pray for the survival of many people in danger. Here the storyteller is a funeral director, telling three drug dealers four stories while they're in the funeral home. At times funny, angering, and scary, Tales from the Hood by Rusty Cundieff is a must-watch since you get monsters, little dolls, and more.
8 – The Monster Club (1981)
Vincent Price is in this. Need I say more? Just seeing the monster genealogical chart on the wall is enough to make you tip your hat. It's the first time I heard of weregoo, werevamp, or humegoo. Here, a vampire (Vincent Price) attacks a man on the street. When he realizes the man is one of his favorite authors, he apologizes by inviting them to the Monster Club. Are the monsters in the club mostly made up of apparent people in costumes? Sure. It's camp. But delightful nonetheless. There are spooky stories of greed and bad luck. And it's funny and creepy hearing a girl chirp about how her mother was “dug up for great eating.” Plus, the club's hilarious, dramatic monster songs are laughably catchy.
9 – Tales of Terror From Tokyo and All Over Japan Volume 1 (2004)
Based on stories collected by the writers, it consists of eight tales, so there's something for everyone. One girl's story continues popping up throughout the film in various degrees of horror. It all starts with a surprisingly full elevator. Other disturbing accounts like the abandoned hospital a young couple sneaks into, the child with a stranger at the door only she hears, and a reporter listening to a group share peculiar stories remind me that numbers don't always mean safer. The low budget makes the film similar to popular VHS anthology series sans the found footage element.
10 – Black Sabbath (1963)
An outstanding horror anthology, Black Sabbath, includes supernatural and real-life scares. Black Sabbath has a trio of plots, each separate from the other. Starting with “The Telephone,” the movie eases you in with the tale of a young woman who receives strange phone calls and fears it's the man she put in jail. The second tale, “The Wurdulak,” is a test of love and common sense. But the last, “The Drop of Water,” leaves you with a visual you cannot get out of your head. Images get seared into your memory, and Black Sabbath delivers one for the ages.