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Top 10 Best Horror Movies Panned By Critics

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Owen Maxwell

Just because they're frightening treasures, doesn't mean that everyone sees them that way. For this list, we're looking at horror films that were slammed by the press upon their release, but are now considered essentials or even spawned their own franchises. We're basing our picks on a mix of amazing filmmaking, outrageous critiques, and concepts that were ahead of their time. Our list includes "Alien" (1979), "The Exorcist" (1973), "Halloween" (1978), "Saw" (2004), "Friday the 13th" (1980), and more! Join WatchMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Best Horror Movies Panned By Critics.

Check out the voting page for this list and add your picks: https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Best+Horror+Movies+Panned+By+Critics. Special thanks to our user owenmaxwell for suggesting this idea!

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Script written by Owen Maxwell

Top 10 Best Horror Movies Panned By Critics


Just because they're frightening treasures, doesn't mean that everyone sees them that way. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Horror Movies Panned By Critics.





For this list, we're looking at horror films that were slammed by the press upon their release, but are now considered essentials or even spawned their own franchises. We're basing our picks on a mix of amazing filmmaking, outrageous critiques, and concepts that were ahead of their time.


#10: "Saw" (2004)



When two men are chained in a room by the serial killer Jigsaw, it's a race against time to either lose a limb or die. “Saw” follows elaborate puzzles and a police hunt, as our heroes get closer to freedom and the killer's true identity. By adding an appropriate punishment to each victim's trap, the film set up an intriguing concept. Many critics, however, deemed the movie far too confusing and considered the acting borderline comedic. Roger Ebert even called the film “of a lower order” for hiding its murderer. However,with intriguing storytelling that set up multiple sequels, the original “Saw” still holds up today and has actually become a cult classic.



#9: "Peeping Tom" (1960)



In the voyeuristic terror of “Peeping Tom,” a cameraman films women's fears as he kills them. The flick's brilliant point-of-view murder sequences and cinematography made it a template for the slasher genre. However, most of the film press in 1960 deemed the film overtly sexual and far too violent. One of the earliest victims was a popular star at the time, which some saw as tasteless. Director Michael Powell was revered before the movie, but he faced an uphill battle working in the industry after it. Though its sympathetic view of a killer was controversial at the time, Powell eventually saw his biggest critics praise “Peeping Tom.”


#8: "Predator" (1987)



An undercover search and rescue mission turns deadly after an alien starts hunting down mercenaries. As the world's best soldiers realize they're out of their league, “Predator” transforms from high-octane action into cerebral horror. While this genre mash-up is fun and subversive, contemporary reviews described the film as dull and derivative. Several writers also took issue with film's masculine energy, though the special effects were widely loved. Complaints about the movie's empty story have also improved over the years, and it is now seen as atmospheric. The amazing character design and exciting filmmaking have helped “Predator” age quite gracefully and considered an action classic.




#7: "Halloween" (1978)



Escaped lunatic Michael Myers returns to his hometown in time for Halloween and starts killing people across a neighborhood. “Halloween” focuses on a small story, while letting its innovative camera-work and haunting score shine through. Though it's considered to be a highly influential film now, critics initially cited it for ripping off countless films. Some reviewers actually disliked its point-of-view perspective and called the movie childish. Public opinion started to favor the film, however, and called its kills disturbing but not overtly violent. “Halloween's” quick cult status not only produced sequels and remakes, but also most notably kick-started Jamie Lee Curtis' career.





#6: "Friday the 13th" (1980)



Few names are as well-known in horror as Jason Voorhees, but when “Friday the 13th” came out, the film was considered mindless. The slasher film sees a group of camp counselors slowly killed off by a mysterious murderer. The press deemed the movie a meritless cash-in at the time, and violent to the point of eliciting disgust. Gene Siskel infamously gave the film no stars and encouraged his fans to send hate-mail to Paramount's parent company Gulf+Western. The movie's clever use of perspective, a chilling score, and believable acting, however, helped “Friday the 13th” last and build one of terror's biggest franchises.





#5: "The Exorcist" (1973)



This film sees a little girl being possessed, forcing her mother and some priests to try everything to save her. Though “The Exorcist” is generally regarded as one of the best horror films of all time, it had plenty of haters when it was released. The intense violence and language of the movie bothered reviewers at the time, who went so far as to call the film ‘evil’ in some cases. Along with digs calling the film vile or too occult, critics also claimed it was worse than the book. While “The Exorcist” was too ahead of its time for the press, its public popularity helped slowly turn opinions throughout the years.


#4: "Alien" (1979)



After answering a distress call from a foreign planet, the crew of the Nostromo are hunted down by a horrific monster in “Alien.” This premise didn't work for everyone, as the film gained negative attention for being creatively bankrupt. Though Roger Ebert eventually came around on the movie, he initially said it was just a haunted house film in space. Several writers even highlighted its amazing production as a way to hide its lack of substance. “Alien” is now widely praised for its minimalist horror thanks to Ridley Scott's direction and a creature design scary enough to survive its sequels.





#3: "The Thing" (1982)



John Carpenter's “The Thing” set a benchmark for special effects in movies and its moody filmmaking has been ripped off again and again. The story of a shape-shifting alien on an Antarctic research base, however, wasn't received very well by anyone at the time. Between disappointed comparisons to the 1951 original and distaste for the depressing tone, the film even suffered commercially upon release. While the monster effects are now seen as creepy and realistic, critics called it overproduced and unbelievable at first. Though it was disliked enough to change Carpenter's career trajectory, “The Thing” has inspired filmmakers and fans alike.




#2: "Psycho" (1960)



Whether it's the shower scene, the acting, or the music, 'Psycho' has stuck with audiences through the years. The film follows visitors to the Bates Motel that end up dead after meeting Norman. For 1960, however, the movie was just too gory for critics. Time called the movie gruesome and nauseating, and considered the shower scene as eerily graphic. Legendary film reviewer C. A. Lejeune famously walked out before the movie's ending and resigned following her review. Time later admitted its detractions were many of the movie's strengths. Once considered a blot on Alfred Hitchcock's career, “Psycho” is one of his most loved features.





#1: "The Shining" (1980)



This is the story of the Torrance family’s stay as winter caretakers of the Overlook Hotel, only to be driven crazy by its tormented spirits. Stanley Kubrick transforms Stephen King's novel into a brooding and atmospheric tale of murder. This pacing, however, led many critics to call the film pointless, with others calling Jack Nicholson's acting parody material. King himself has repeatedly hated on Kubrick's version and even made his own film adaptation. It also notably received no Oscar or Golden Globe nominations and nearly won a Razzie Award. Over time, however, “The Shining” has become a go-to for horror fans because of its slow and unsettling energy.
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