For horror hounds the world over there’s only one thing more satisfying than a good horror movie and that’s a good horror anthology. After all, what other format offers such a blood-spattered bundle of mini scary movies that you can watch in one go? It’s like all our Christmases – or rather, Halloweens – have come at once!
Beyond the five horror movies for the price of one appeal of the horror anthology, there’s something they offer that other horrors just don’t. They bring together a treasure trove of talent from ensemble casts to multiple directors and often feature a number of different horror sub-genres – they’re practically a veritable feast of all things horror.
It goes a little deeper than that too and that’s because horror anthologies mimic the kind of communal storytelling we did as kids, gathered around a campfire or snuggled in sleeping bags trying to out-spook each other with the scariest stories we could think of. Except with better dialogue and story development, naturally.
And though the popularity of horror anthologies may have waxed and waned over the years, if a smattering of recent releases like Ghost Stories and XX are anything to go by the genre is still going strong.
So, in honour of the horror anthology let’s take a tour of the very best – from older offerings and recent additions to movies from its 80s heyday and foreign-language takes on the genre. All hail the horror anthology.
10. Dead Of Night
Let’s kick off this list with an oldie but a goodie from British cinema: an early but influential entry into the horror anthology genre that set the blueprint for many an anthology to come.
Released in 1945, Dead of Night was something of a rarity for its time when the norm was more morale-boosting, patriotic movies designed to keep Britain’s collective stiff upper lip stiff during the war rather than films meant to scare the heck out of audiences.
Nevertheless, it’s regarded by many (including Martin Scorsese) as one of the best horror movies today and it’s easy to see why. Bringing together the talents of directors including Alberto Cavalcanti and Charles Crichton, its five main stories feature classic horror themes including haunted antique mirrors, ghost children and a possessed ventriloquist’s dummy – themes that have been endlessly recycled in the horror genre since.
Even its framing story doesn’t let the film down with a delightfully dread-inducing tale that weaves Dead of Night’s various stories together and caps them with a creepy twist ending.
Dead of Night’s most memorable story is definitely ‘The Ventriloquist’s Dummy’. It stars Michael Redgrave as a possibly insane ventriloquist driven to murder after his sinister dummy Hugo takes on a life of its own and influenced a whole host of future demonic dummy horrors.