Horror fans, both casual and serious, can be divisive over gore. For those in favor of it, the amount of blood and visceral carnage can make or break a movie. Then for people who detest the red stuff, they gravitate towards horror movies that have little to no violence.
Which is the right choice then? Gore or no gore? To no surprise, there is no right answer. As horror hounds, we love what we love, and there is no denying what draws us to the fold. Now, if you like gore, we've got five recommendations for you. But, don't feel left out if you like bloodless horror as we have five picks just for you, too.
10 Not Gory: When a Stranger Calls (2006)
To cover a costly cellphone bill, high school student Jill babysits at a strange, isolated house. There, she receives a series of menacing phone calls from a man whose physical location is too close for comfort.
Despite its polished veneer, the When a Stranger Calls remake is virtually sanitary compared to its inspiration. That 1970s gritty aesthetic had been stripped away so that this new film could appeal to a younger, mainstream audience. There is hardly any on-screen violence other than some hair-pulling and a fireplace poker scene that will have you cheering. Maligned reputation notwithstanding, this is a more than adequate, if not slightly safe, thriller that implies terror more than shows.
9 Gory: Macabre
A group of friends on the road meets a woman claiming to have been robbed. So, they give her a ride home. As a token of her gratitude, the stranger serves them dinner. The night soon takes a deadly turn, forcing the guests to fight for their survival.
Macabre is also known as Rumah Dara in its native country of Indonesia. It is based on a short film by the same directors, Timo Tjahjanto and Kimo Stamboel. This slasher is done grindhouse style, and it is definitely one of the bloodiest films to come out of East Asia. It is so violent that Macabre was banned in Malaysia.
8 Not Gory: The Others
After moving her family to the English coast during World War II, a devout mother named Grace fears something is not right with her new home. Grace and her two children, who each have a rare sensitivity to light, are being threatened by a malevolent force.
The Others is a return to a vintage kind of horror that shirks violence and banks on creating a chilling atmosphere. This creepy ghost story led by Nicole Kidman conveys dread without ever spilling any blood. That is definitely no easy feat for a filmmaker in horror today.
7 Gory: Baskin
A group of off-duty police officers responds to a distress call that leads them to an abandoned building. Inside, they are subjected to a series of surreal horrors.
Baskin is the feature-length version of a Can Evrenol's Turkish short of the same name. It is a nightmarish anteing-up of a theme previously found in other uncanny horror movies like the original A Nightmare on Elm Street, Bad Dreams, and The Cell. On top of that, there is some ritualistic butchery that will leave you absolutely unsettled, to say the least.
6 Not Gory: Ghostwatch
On Halloween night, a live television show sends a reporter to a council house in Northolt, Greater London. A single mother and her two daughters claim there have been supernatural incidents in the home. The show host and reporter have their doubts, but evidence suggests there is truth to their story after all.
Ghostwatch is a notorious faux BBC documentary that was presented as a real-life television special in 1992. Meaning audiences were led to believe this was not staged. Far from it. Gullible viewers fell under the movie's spell, and a series of controversies spawned from the event. As a result, Ghostwatch has yet to re-air in the United Kingdom.
5 Gory: Bone Tomahawk
Set in the Old West, a town's civilians are abducted by a group of people from a cannibalistic clan living in nearby caves. Now, it is up to an elderly sheriff and some of his peers to save the captives.
Bone Tomahawk is not a thoroughly gory film. In fact, stretches of this western lack any blood or the innards you want to see. Once the story progresses to the heroes going on their rescue mission, we inch closer and closer to the savage scenes that have been praised in horror circles.
4 Not Gory: The Blair Witch Project
In recovered footage, we see three film students who visited the Black Hills forest in search of the infamous Blair Witch. But when one of them loses the map, the trio is forced to stay in the woods overnight. This triggers arguments and paranoia. In addition, they start to worry that the legend of the Blair Witch is really true.
In what feels like an understatement, The Blair Witch Project was a huge success back in 1999. The campaign alone — that the events of the movie were true — was brilliant, and it impacted horror in a new and exciting way. Without The Blair Witch Project, the found-footage sub-genre would not be what it is today. As for gore, there is little to virtually none. Yet it still terrified a whole generation of moviegoers.
3 Gory: The Burning
A summer camp caretaker suffers extensive burns after campers play a prank on him. Five years later, the man has undergone unsuccessful skin grafts and is left in an extraordinary amount of pain. Now, he returns to another camp — wrapped in bandages and brandishing a pair of garden shears — in hopes of killing the staff.
The Burning is partly inspired by the urban legend of Cropsey, a boogeyman-like entity central to New York folklore. This 1981 slasher was in development prior to the eerily similar Friday the 13th, but it wasn't released until after the latter film struck box office gold. Nevertheless, The Burning sports some top-tier practical makeup effects thanks to Tom Savini.
2 Not Gory: What Lies Beneath
After her daughter leaves for college, a housewife named Claire struggles to find something to occupy her free time. She then starts to hear voices or see apparitions in her home. Her husband dismisses them as delusions, but something is happening to Claire. Perhaps even warning her of something more sinister to come.
What Lies Beneath is half a ghost story and half gaslighter. Altogether, it's one-hundred-percent terrific. Critics were mixed on this, but Michelle Pfeiffer's performance was commended, and many enjoyed the Hitchcockian influences. While there are jump scares and frightful sequences, gore is nowhere to be found.
1 Gory: Braindead
A domineering mother is bitten by a rabid Sumatran rat-monkey at the zoo, and in turn, she changes into a flesh-eating zombie. Her son Lionel tries to shield her from others, but he really should be worrying about everyone else's safety. Things finally come to a head when a party at the house invites more unsuspecting victims.
Peter Jackson's horror-comedy Braindead (or Dead Alive in North America) is a tour de force of slapstick horror. It is a risible zombie flick that will undoubtedly test susceptible viewers' gag reflexes.