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If you’re not familiar with the term, here’s a brief description – Anthology horror films are composed of a series of short films and usually are all connected through some sort of framing story.   Normally the framing story is somebody telling the stories to an audience – think Midnight Society in Are You Afraid Of The Dark. These types of films can be made in any genre, but horror lends itself quite nicely to these sorts of films. As each short begins you meet a new character or set of characters and over the next 10-15 minutes you realize the creepy situation that they are in and get a quick resolution. You don’t have to deal with the formula of setup, setup, setup, payoff – with these films it’s mostly just payoff. So anyway, here is our list of the Top 10 Anthology Horror Films Of All Time.

10.  V/H/S Viral

vhs viral

I considered added the V/H/S series as one listing but all 3 of the films have different directors and each one stands on it’s own. So let’s start with Viral. A stream of police cars chasing after a deranged ice cream truck driver has captivated the attention of the greater Los Angeles area. Dozens of teens flock to the streets with their video cameras and cell phones, hell-bent on capturing the next viral video. But there is something far more sinister occurring in the streets of L.A. As they’ll soon find out, these fame-obsessed amateur videographers, capturing salacious footage for the amusement of the public, are themselves the stars of the next big viral video – one where they face their own horrifying deaths.
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9. Tales From The Crypt

tales from the crypt

Five people get lost in a crypt and meet up with a strange crypt keeper who tells them stories of how they died.
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8. ABC’s Of Death 2

abcs of death 2

The twisted producers behind The ABCs of Death return with 26 more tales of necrosis in this sequel featuring contributions by Vincenzo Natali (Cube), Larry Fessenden (Beneath), Alexandre Bustillo (Livid), Rodney Ascher (Room 237), and Bill Plympton. As with the previous installment, The ABCs of Death 2 offers a different story of death for each letter of the alphabet, with each director given the complete freedom to develop their own distinctive vision.
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7. V/H/S

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A group of criminals scour a secluded country home for a mysterious videotape, and bear witness to scenes of unimaginable terror in this found-footage-style anthology horror film featuring segments from Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead), Ti West (House of the Devil), Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets), David Bruckner (The Signal), Adam Wingard (You’re Next, and Radio Silence). It seemed like a simple job; all they needed to do was enter the home, find the videotape, and deliver it to their boss. But from the moment they arrived, a sinister tension descended. Gaining access to the house, the young thugs discover a rotting corpse amidst a collection of vintage television sets, and stockpiles of VHS tapes. Somewhere amidst the stacks is the tape they seek, but with each new video they watch, the dread continues to build. The sights that they witness are too horrible for words, but the greatest shock is yet to come.

6. Creepshow

creepshow

Two of the most venerable names in the horror field, author Stephen King and director George A. Romero, present this anthology of original twisted tales inspired by the E.C. horror comics of the 50’s and 60’s (themselves a more direct basis for the popular Tales from the Crypt TV series). The five stories are framed within the pages of a comic book which a boy’s insensitive father has thrown in the garbage. The first tale, “Father’s Day,” features a zombie patriarch returning to claim his Father’s Day cake; “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill” stars King himself as a slack-jawed yokel whose discovery of a radioactive meteorite turns him into a walking weed; “Something to Tide You Over” presents a deadly-serious Leslie Nielsen as a cuckolded husband who plans an elaborate seaside revenge; “The Crate” unleashes its ferocious man-eating contents on the enemies of a meek college professor; and “They’re Creeping Up On You” pits obsessively-clean billionaire E.G. Marshall against a swarm of cockroaches in his sterile penthouse. The chapters are uniformly creative, filmed in garish comic-book colors, and Tom Savini’s makeup effects are quite memorable (particularly the monster from “The Crate”), though the campy treatment does become exhausting after two hours’ runtime. The final segment is the most impressive, thanks to Marshall’s over-the-top performance, though the planned scope of the cockroach invasion was drastically reduced (no doubt due to budget constraints).
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5. Histoires Extraordinaires A.K.A. Spirits of the Dead

Histoires extraordinaires A.K.A. Spirits of the Dead

Three directors each adapt a Poe short story to the screen: “Toby Dammit” features a disheveled drugged and drunk English movie star who nods acceptance in the Italian press and his producers fawn over him. “Metzengerstein” features a Mediveal countess who has a love-hate relationship with a black stallion – who, it turns out is really her dead lover. “William Wilson” tells the story of a sadistic Austrian student with an exact double whom he later kills.
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4. Trick r Treat

trick r treat

Prolific director Bryan Singer takes a turn towards horror as the producer of this Halloween shocker directed by X2 and Superman Returns screenwriter Mike Dougherty. With four interwoven tales concerning a high-school principal who moonlights as a vicious serial killer, a college-age virgin who’s saving herself for that special someone, a woman whose hatred of Halloween is only exceeded by her husband’s love of the mischievous holiday, and a callous group of teens who carry out an unforgivably cruel prank, this fall frightener mixes Tarantino-style storytelling with the kind of chills that can only occur on the darkest day of the year. Brian Cox, Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, and Leslie Bibb all star in a Halloween treat that’s sure to deliver a few nasty tricks.
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3. V/H/S/2

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The search for a missing teen leads two private investigators into a derelict house littered with mysterious VHS tapes in this sequel to the hit horror anthology V/H/S. As the detectives scan the videotapes in search of vital clues, what they find instead is a series of tales so shocking they are driven to the edge of madness. Genre specialists Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Jason Eisener, Edúardo Sanchez,Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, and Gareth Evans lead viewers on a terrifying ride into a world where your worst nightmares come true.
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2. Kwaidan

kwaiden

Kwaidan is an impressively mounted anthology horror film based on four stories by Lafcadio Hearn, a Greek-born writer who began his career in the United States at the age of 19 and moved permanently to Japan in 1890 at the age of 40, where he eventually became a subject of the empire and took on the name Koizumi Yakuno. Hearn became a conduit of Japanese culture to western audiences, publishing journalism and then fiction incorporating traditional Japanese themes and characters. “Black Hair,” the first tale, concerns a samurai who cannot support his wife; he leaves her for a life of wealth and ease with a princess. Returning years later, he spends the night with his wife in their now-dilapidated house, only to awake to a horrifying discovery which drives him insane. In “The Woman of the Snow” (deleted from U.S. theatrical prints after the film’s Los Angeles opening; it is on the DVD version), two woodcutters seek refuge during a snowstorm in what appears to be an abandoned hut. A snow witch appears and kills one of them but lets his partner free. Years later, the survivor meets and married a lovely young woman, only to learn her true identity. The most visually impressive tale is “Hoichi the Earless,” in which a blind musician is asked by the ghost of a samurai to play for his late infant lord at a tomb. The monks who house the musician cover him with tattoos to prevent any harm coming to him, but they forget his ears. He returns from the engagement with his ears cut off; however, his misadventure propels him to fame. “In a Cup of Tea” concerns a samurai who is haunted by the vision of a man he sees reflected in his tea. Even after he drinks from the cup, he still sees the man while on guard duty.
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1. Dead Of Night

dead of night

Considered the greatest horror anthology film, the classic British chiller Dead of Night features five stories of supernatural terror from four different directors, yet it ultimately feels like a unified whole. The framing device is simple but unsettling, as a group of strangers find themselves inexplicably gathered at an isolated country estate, uncertain why they have come. The topic of conversation soon turns to the world of dreams and nightmares, and each guest shares a frightening event from his/her own past. Many of these tales have become famous, including Basil Dearden’s opening vignette about a ghostly driver with “room for one more” in the back of his hearse. Equally eerie are Robert Hamer’s look at a haunted antique mirror that gradually begins to possess its owner’s soul, and Alberto Cavalcanti’s ghost story about a mysterious young girl during a Christmas party. Legendary Ealing comedy director Charles Crichton lightens the mood with an amusing interlude about the spirit of a deceased golfer haunting his former partner, leaving viewers vulnerable to Cavalcanti’s superb and much-imitated closing segment, about a ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) slowly driven mad when his dummy appears to come to life. Deservedly acclaimed and highly influential, Dead of Night‘s episodic structure inspired an entire genre of lesser imitators.

 

 

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