Top 10 British horror films

While any mention of scary films inevitably provokes imagery of famous, overseas productions like Psycho, The Exorcist and the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, British film companies have also done a very good job of giving far more than a few people a lot of sleepless nights after watching their horrific creations. Welcome to our Top 10 of the UK's most terrifying films.

28 days of horror

Although lumped in with the many zombie-themed films that have surfaced in the last decade, Danny Boyle's 2002 creation, 28 Days Later, has nothing at all to do with the dead returning to life. Rather, in this particularly scary trek across a ravaged UK, the stars of the film have to fight off hordes of people infected by what becomes known as the "Rage Virus." It's a man-made concoction that, once in the bloodstream, turns previously pleasant folk into violent, deranged maniacs - not unlike what happens at closing time on a Friday night after a skin-full!

Sacrifice in Scotland

Nearly forty-years after it hit the screens, Anthony Shaffer's The Wicker Man has lost none of its unsettling power. It stars Edward Woodward as a policeman who travels to a remote Scottish island where a girl has gone missing. Cue a great tale, with Christopher Lee on top form as the deranged Lord Summerisle, that revolves around paganism, ancient traditions resurrected for the 20th Century, and a group of people far removed from today's world. It ends in terrifying, fiery, human sacrifice and is the sort of film that makes you wonder: "Could it really happen?" Maybe it could!

Not so innocent

While today's terror-themed films are invariably filled with bright-red blood and gore, there's something to be said for those old, black-and-white productions of yesteryear that used to scare cinema-goers witless. One of them was The Innocents. It hit the screens in 1961 and is a fear-fest of jumpy moments, dark shadows, a mysterious old house and - at the heart of the story - a couple of creepy kids who may or may not be possessed by evil spirits. Played by Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin, the duo are enough to put anyone off from ever becoming a parent!

The dead walk

Forget The Walking Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead (and pretty much everything else with "Dead" in the title!) and say "Hello" to The Plague of the Zombies. One of the many great horror movies produced by Hammer Films in the 1960s, this is a dark tale of the dead rising up and attacking the living. And it's a film most memorable for one of the finest, scariest moments in the history of zombie movies: a tension-filled, dream-like scene in which reanimated corpses surface out of the dirt of an old, foggy, Cornwall churchyard. Zombie-tastic!

In the dead of night

Yep, they don't make them like they used to! Way back in 1945, Ealing Studios produced Dead of Night, a film that revolves around a man who finds himself in a never-ending nightmare at an old house in the country, where a group of people sit around talking about their own supernatural experiences. While the Christmas-themed tale of a young boy murdered by his sister is particularly atmospheric, the one most guaranteed to spark off nightmares is that of the psychotic Hugo - a ventriloquist's dummy with a look on his face that will give you chills!

A howling good time

While werewolf-themed films have been a staple part of the horror-genre for decades, it was a certain film of 1981 that really caught people's attention. Its name was An American Werewolf in London and it was the then-groundbreaking special-effects of Rick Baker that turned the film into a scare-filled classic. Chaos breaks out across London after a young American is bitten by a werewolf and becomes a full-moon monster himself. With more than a few moments of dark humour added for good measure, and an early appearance by Rik Mayall, this is one that still stand the test of time.

Terror in black

Although the 2012 film, The Woman in Black, starring Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe had more than a few people on the edges of their seats, arguably far superior is the 100-minutes-long, made-for-TV version that was broadcast on ITV on Christmas Eve, 1989. Absolutely oozing menace, the film - based on author Susan Hill's 1983 novel of the same title - is a masterful example of how to make a perfect slice of Gothic, fear-filled and terror-inducing tension. With key settings including a bleak marsh, an eerie graveyard, and a big old house, how can you go wrong? Well, you can't!

A demonic night

With American actor Dana Andrews in the title role and Peggy Cummins providing the glamour, Night of the Demon is a 1957 film that, for more than half a century, has been capturing new and devoted fans by the year. It all focuses on a devil-worshipper named Julian Carswell (played by Niall MacGinnis, who absolutely steals the show from Andrews and Cummins) who attracts the attentions of Andrews' character, a scientific sceptic, Dr. John Holden. A monster from Hell, a dimly-lit mansion, satanic rites and fear-filled woodland are just some of the ingredients in this devilishly good tale!

Counting down to destruction

Who would have thought that a piece of animation starring two old-age-pensioners could create deep terror? Not many. But it happened, in 1986, when Raymond Briggs' When the Wind Blows reached UK cinemas. Adapted from Briggs' novel, it tells the story - from the perspective of Jim and Hilda Bloggs, a nice old couple who live in Sussex - of a catastrophic nuclear-attack on the UK by the Soviets. Visually very disturbing, the film captures the nightmarish scenario of what life, and death, would be like for us Brits after the four-minute warning. Here's a clue: it wouldn't be good.

Horrors of the underground

The London Underground can be a stressful place at the best of times - and particularly so when rush-hour kicks in! So, imagine if, as well as pushing and shoving your fellow travellers, you're forced to take on a band of Martians, too. That's the premise of Quatermass and the Pit: a 1967 movie from Hammer Films. An intelligent, well thought out piece of sci-fi, its plot revolves around an ancient, alien spacecraft discovered deep in the bowels of the London Underground and the disaster that strikes those that get too close to it. There's something terrifying below the capital...

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About the Author

Nick Redfern is the author of many books on UFOs, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Hollywood scandal and much more. He has worked as a writer for more than two decades and has written for the Daily Express, Military Illustrated and Penthouse.