Too often, horror gets a bad rap as a home to mindless teen murder sprees and black cat jump scares. Sure, it can be, and sometimes those can be a lot of fun, but horror has also been home to some of the most innovative, beautiful filmmaking in the history of the medium. There’s plenty of factors to the equation. Horror, on principle, embraces the weird and odd, offering room for filmmakers to indulge their wildest ideas. Then there’s the matter of budgeting, horror is traditionally a low-budget genre, and when costs are low, freedom is high. One pattern that emerges no matter the budget, the filmmaker, or the inspiration, these films tend to be the product of vision and ambition. They’re not the products of studio cash grabs or international forecasts, they’re the films made with passion by an inspired creative team. And of course, they’re all beautiful.
The visually stunning horror film has a proud tradition, dating back to the very first in the genre and it has endured in the century since, each year offering at least a couple exciting new additions. It’s not that making ugly horror movies is easy — making movies is never easy, but finding the place where aesthetic beauty, emotional artistry, and primal fear all come together is a spectacular feat. And it can be accomplished in so many ways. Some horror films are stunning for the creature effects and makeup work. Some boast elaborate costuming or art design. Weirdly, a lot of them are vampire films. Often they are the product of exceptional cinematography and framing, and all of them are the product of gifted filmmakers with decisive vision.
It should go without saying, but this is nowhere near a comprehensive list. I could think of 20 more films that would fit just off the top of my head. Think of this as a starting ground, a conversation starter, and some of my personal favorite horror films to look at, and be sure to sound off in the comments with your favorites.