Monsters of the night have stalked mankind long before Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger ever took form, or at least that's what these films want us to accept. From ancient vampires to the unforgiving bubonic plague, these films show that horror and blood have followed mortals around for their entire existence. While families huddled in their castles, with swords and shields to protect them, monsters stalked the night.
Of course, we're used to modern horror film tropes, where a group of teenagers are picked off one by one as a metaphor for puberty and punishment for sexual activity. We're used to the demented supernatural murderers who cant ever seem to be defeated for long-running franchises. But the monsters in these films are older and more cunning than any that have come after them. These are barbarity and hatred given form. Often the form of Vincent Price.
Whether evil wears the face of a mortal man or an immortal creature, it has been coming for us for a long time. So without further ado, here are 10 of the best horror films set in medieval times.
10. Season Of The Witch
Nicholas Cage's gloriously daft horror-action film Season of the Witch is certainly entertaining, if by no means critically regarded. In 14th Century Germany, two knights (Cage and the undeniable Ron Perlman) have deserted the endless wars of the Smyrniote Crusades and have returned home, only to find the land ravaged by the Black Death.
A local cardinal (played by horror legend Christopher Lee) entrusts the two knights to escort a young woman accused of witchcraft to a remote monastery. The cardinal believes that the monks there can determine if this girl is truly a witch and if so, can lift the curse of the plague sweeping Europe using her.
The two knights and a ragtag band of other dubious personalities begin the journey to the remote monastery, beset by ghostly visions and giant wolves along the way. Much action and adventure and attempts at setting up a chilling atmosphere are had along the way, with the various performances being just strong enough.
Despite being critically mauled and almost laughable in places, this film still ranks up here for just how fun it can be at times, if not as harrowing as its potential would allow it to be. The supernatural elements are more entertaining than scary, and the central roles by Cage and Perlman are fairly standard but not done badly.
Still, it's worth a watch.