The horror genre is filled with iconic trailblazers. Halloween and Friday the 13th perfected the slasher formula while The Exorcist paved the way for possession and exorcism movies. But without George A. Romero's Creepshow, the horror anthology would likely not be what it is today. In this 1982 anthology, audiences were treated to a handful of ghastly and amusing stories penned by none other than Stephen King. The cult movie is applauded today for its gallows humor, colorful palette, and fadeless visuals.
Now, if you enjoy Creepshow, you should pay close attention. For here are ten other anthology movies — besides Creepshow 2, of course — that will leave you longing for more short-form horror.
10 Nightmares (1983)
These four self-contained tales explore the deepest, darkest recesses of our psyches. First, a wife's need for cigarettes puts her directly in harm's way. Then, a teen's obsession with an arcade game goes too far. Next, a priest's wavering faith is tested when he's chased by a demonic truck. And last but not least, a family's rat problem is far bigger than they ever expected.
Originally intended to be part of an untitled NBC pilot, the segments in Nightmares appear dated by today's standards yet these moody shorts achieve an illusory effect. One can't help but feel anxious after watching.
9 Horror Stories (2012)
When a teenager is abducted by an unhinged man, he forces her to tell him scary stories. Said stories include: two latchkey kids are terrorized by a stranger, a flight attendant's battle with a killer, stepsisters compete for a man while unaware of his ulterior motives, and a nurse who makes a difficult decision during a zombie outbreak.
From home invasions to zombies, this South Korean anthology offers a variety of stories. The consistency may be subjective, but it ends on a definite high note in Ambulance on the Death Zone. There are also two sequels worth checking out.
8 Tales That Witness Madness (1973)
Tales That Witness Madness might be less revered than Amicus' Asylum, a 1972 omnibus with a similar setup. Nevertheless, this anthology is equal parts inane and whimsical. It ultimately succeeds because it never takes itself too seriously. Every story is fantastical in both origin and outcome.
7 Trilogy of Terror II (1996)
In this followup to Dan Curtis' 1975 TV-movie Trilogy of Terror, three stories are witnessed. Like the previous film, one actress (Lysette Anthony) plays a different role in every segment. First off, an opportunistic widow enters her late husband's grave so she can access his wealth. Then, a grieving mother resorts to dark magic to revive her dead son. Finally, in a sequel to He Who Kills from the 1975 telepic, someone else awakens the killer fetish doll.
It seems sacrilegious to prefer the sequel, but Trilogy of Terror II is more uniform when it comes to pure entertainment value.
6 Terror Tract (2000)
A real estate agent desperate to make a good sale mistakenly tells potential buyers how the previous tenants of each house died: a woman's crime of passion takes a toll on her conscience, a family takes in a murderous monkey, and a teenager has a psychic link to a serial killer who wears a hag mask.
John Ritter is a delight as the host in this dark and twisted anthology. There's never a dull moment in this tour of suburban horror.
5 After Midnight (1989)
When a stunt goes too far in his psychology of fear course, a professor is forced to change his curriculum. However, he asks students to visit him after hours for an extracurricular lesson. At the professor's house, students share frightful anecdotes: a couple's car breaks down near a murder house, four teenagers are pursued by attack dogs, and an employee at an all-night phone messaging service crosses lines with a client's stalker.
This nightmarish anthology is such a perfect nightcap. After Midnight bides its time well until its hair-raising, well choreographed finale.
4 Campfire Tales (1997)
To keep their minds off their troubles following a car crash in the woods, four teenagers swap scary stories: a night of necking ends with a grisly discovery, a couple's honeymoon is under siege by an unspeakable evil, a child's online stalker pays her a visit on the eve of her birthday, and aman is trapped in a time loop after meeting a mute woman.
There are a few familiar faces in this teen-aimed collection of cautionary horror tales. Anyway, you'll likely have heard these stories before in some form or another. Nevertheless, these interpretations are both fun and compelling.
3 A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
A radio host tells his listeners creepy Christmas-themed stories: students exploring their school during the holidays release a sinister spirit, after illegally chopping down a Christmas tree, a couple brings home an insidious creature, a bickering family accidentally summons the malevolent Christmas demon Krampus, and Santa Claus battles his elves after they turned into zombies.
This anthology did for Christmas what Trick 'r Treat did for Halloween. It accomplishes its goal in spades by conjuring more than enough yuletide horror. It's an awfully clever assortment of ghoulish gifts begging to be unwrapped early.
2 Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Separated from their tour group, five people meet the Crypt Keeper. He tells them how they will all die: a wife contends with an escaped killer dressed as Santa Claus after murdering her husband, a man must come to terms with the consequences of his actions, the victim of a smear campaign is vindicated through supernatural means, a grieving mother wishes her dead son back to life, and the cruel director of a home for the blind finally gets his comeuppance.
Based on the comics of the same name, this medley of macabre premonitions is a classic in segmented horror.
1 Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
A boy being held captive by a witch postpones his own demise by reading aloud entries in a book called "Tales from the Darkside": a scorned college student makes a resurrected mummy do his bidding, an assassin is hired to kill a death-dealing cat so long as he never says a word to anyone, and a struggling artist attains wealth after he sees a gargoyle murder someone.
Like the original Creepshow, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie endures because of its indelible imagery and practical effects. It's one anthology that only improves with age.