News

The 16 Scariest Horror Anthology Segments

With Ghost Stories releasing this week in New York and on VOD, we look back at the best parts of other horror compilations.

by | April 18, 2018 | Comments

There’s something very appealing about short stories — they’re to-the-point, filled with twists, and you can get through a bunch of them in one sitting. Yet when it comes to movies, only horror films seem to consistently warrant the anthology treatment. Oh, sure you’ll find a few comedic anthologies like New York Stories, The Ten, and the cult classics Kentucky Fried Movie and Amazon Women on the Moon. But for the most part the “cinematic omnibus” is the domain of the scary storytellers, and genre fans certainly seem to enjoy the format – doubly so when one or two of the terror tales stand out as something truly special.

With that in mind, we’ve cooked up a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster of horror anthologies; a collection of the best segments from much-loved horror compendiums, curated scream-by-scream and featuring established classics along with more recent frights. We’ve created this list partly because IFC Midnight’s kick-ass import Ghost Stories is about to hit theater screens and VOD — trust us, it’s great, and currently sits at 88% on the Tomatometer — but also because, well, there’s just something very appealing about scary-AF short stories.

So enjoy this massive anthology menu composed of the best of the best horror anthology segments. And, yes, we had enough left over for a Volume 2.


“The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” from Dead of Night (1945)

Arguably the Casablanca of horror anthology films, Dead of Night showcases a strong handful of creepy and darkly amusing tales, but it’s probably best remembered for its masterful story about a ventriloquist who is convinced that his dummy is not only alive but incredibly malicious. Fans of flicks like Magic (1978) and Dead Silence (2007) will certainly enjoy this mini-movie.


“The Telephone” from Black Sabbath (1963)

Mario Bava kicks of his celebrated anthology with a simple yet enjoyably twisty tale of two women, a mysterious phone caller, and a stalker who may or may not actually exist.


“Frozen Fear” from Asylum (1972)

Amicus Productions released seven anthology horror films between 1965 and 1974 (most of them quite entertaining), but this is the one my parents rented as a kid, and it scared the living hell out of me – particularly this simple story of murder, voodoo, and a bunch of dismembered body parts. The stories in this anthology get weirder as the film progresses, and then, of course, it all ends on a nifty little twist. If you enjoy this one, check out Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965), Tales from the Crypt (1972), and Vault of Horror (1973).


“Amelia” from Trilogy of Terror (1975)

The first two stories in this TV movie –  based on the works of the great Richard Matheson – are passable, if a bit forgettable, but the third tale absolutely terrified an entire generation. Basically, a woman gets attacked, chased, and terrorized by what’s referred to as a “Zuni fetish doll,” and if you thought Chucky was a nasty plaything, wait until you get a load of this tiny monster.


“The Crate” from Creepshow (1982)

(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

The collaboration between Stephen King and George Romero would, not surprisingly, lead to one of the finest horror anthologies of all time, but if we’re picking the best of this fantastic crop, we’re going with this story about a ravenous crate-bound monster who leaps out and devours anyone who gets too close. It’s a wonderful blend of jolts, dark comedy, and gruesome bits of gore.


“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” from Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

This uneven adaptation features at least two fantastic tales: Joe Dante’s “It’s a Good Life,” about a spoiled kid who has godlike powers, and this simple story of a man, an airplane, and a horrible monster that nobody else can see. William Shatner played the troubled passenger in the original Twlight Zone episode, but here he’s played by the great John Lithgow.


“Quitter’s Inc.” from Cat’s Eye (1985)

On the whole, this King-penned anthology is a fairly slight affair, but it does feature a cat (which I love) and it does have a segment in which the ever-sleazy James Woods is stalked by the employees of a very ominous anti-smoking group. We mainly included this one for the cat.


“The Raft” from Creepshow 2 (1987)

This sequel may lack the polish, cast, and budget of its predecessor, but it does deliver at least one very memorable tale. It’s a simple story about a bunch of horny teenagers who find themselves trapped on a raft when a giant slimy… something surrounds them. The rest of the story is just a bunch of shocks, gore, and random devourings. Fun stuff.


“Cat from Hell” from Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)

George Romero adapts a Stephen King story, which makes this a Creepshow reunion of sorts. The story follows an old man who hires an “exterminator” because he is convinced his kitty cat is a ruthless killer… and let’s just say it: he’s right.


“Boys Do Get Bruised” from Tales from the Hood (1995)

(Photo by Savoy Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

A kind of darker take on the “magical kid” story from the Twilight Zone movie, this one’s about a boy who can seemingly injure people by destroying pictures of them. His abusive stepfather is about to discover this dark power.


“Dumplings” from Three… Extremes (2004)

A vain woman desperately wants to cling to her youth, so she acquires some very suspect “dumplings” from a mysterious old lady. And things get very ugly from there. There’s also a feature-length version of this disturbing story from the same director. Neither are for the faint of heart.


“The School Bus Massacre” from Trick ’r Treat (2007)

In some anthologies, the best chapters jump straight out at you. In the case of the fan favorite Trick ‘r Treat, it is a very tough call to just pick one. This short earns the nod for being both legitimately disturbing and creepily amusing – like an old horror comic. It’s about a bunch of kids who tell a campfire tale to play a prank, but, of course, things backfire in the most ironic fashion.


“10/31/98” from V/H/S (2012)

Three guys show up to the wrong house, expecting a Halloween party but stumbling across some freaky occult rites, and then do all they can to get the hell out while the cult members (and the house itself) start freaking out in highly unexpected ways. Not much in the story department here, true, but there’s a lot of clever filmmaking going on.


“Safe Haven” from V/H/S/2 (2013)

(Photo by Magnolia Pictures)

This miniature masterpiece may just be the finest “found footage” horror movie you’ll ever see. It begins as an investigation into a creepy Indonesian cult and quickly devolves into a nightmare that feels like a cross between Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft.


“Easter” from Holidays (2016)

This twisted little tale is light on plot, but makes up for it by tapping deeply into the fear of being little and seeing a creature that should be really cute… but really isn’t. Plus, let’s be honest: The Easter Bunny is only slightly less disturbing than clowns and ventriloquist dummies.


“The Way In” and “The Way Out” from Southbound (2016)

No good horror anthology is complete without a fitting “wrap-around” segment that ties all the short stories together, and this great indie flick has a very creepy one indeed. It’s about two guys who are being chased across the desert by some freaky floating creatures, and it’s pretty nifty how this prologue and epilogue manage to add an extra layer of eerie fun to an already very impressive collection.


Ghost Stories opens this week in limited release and on VOD. Read reviews for it here.

Tag Cloud

RT History Awards Tour zombies best Chernobyl rotten movies we love green book MSNBC YouTube Premium Mary poppins independent Adult Swim E3 foreign cinemax versus stop motion films Spring TV social media boxoffice Hulu hollywood Apple TV Plus Holiday APB TV Hallmark Christmas movies Emmy Nominations Ghostbusters nature hispanic dc streaming Awards BET Super Bowl toy story BBC America VH1 Esquire Summer all-time SXSW TIFF Hallmark remakes Interview NBC Tumblr Disney Christmas cats screenings Shondaland Stephen King Lifetime Freeform children's TV Tubi nfl USA Arrowverse IFC superhero Brie Larson 2015 facebook child's play San Diego Comic-Con Cosplay werewolf unscripted miniseries Amazon Prime dceu parents History theme song Photos Reality mockumentary Amazon Prime Video Pet Sematary Song of Ice and Fire Women's History Month Star Trek Rom-Com Fall TV concert Nat Geo reviews Watching Series Lifetime Christmas movies IFC Films Video Games breaking bad Calendar Thanksgiving Paramount travel spain indie E! Superheroe Horror Ellie Kemper cartoon Extras HBO Go hist disaster Oscars ratings dark Endgame Grammys comedies spanish language 2020 007 Character Guide true crime Music TCA teaser supernatural scary movies See It Skip It Writers Guild of America Binge Guide police drama DC Universe WarnerMedia Musical GoT period drama vampires WGN Rock CMT blaxploitation Television Critics Association mutant canceled TV shows Sci-Fi binge television Infographic HBO Action strong female leads 71st Emmy Awards 4/20 halloween Spike New York Comic Con french critics franchise Baby Yoda BAFTA animated YouTube The Academy halloween tv nbcuniversal Showtime FOX Reality Competition AMC Drama Family emmy awards ITV aliens Red Carpet FXX Peacock documentaries A&E Travel Channel Food Network Mary Tyler Moore Netflix transformers Box Office Polls and Games Anna Paquin blockbuster worst Warner Bros. Walt Disney Pictures Pixar Comics on TV name the review Biopics Holidays Amazon Marathons game show National Geographic chucky adaptation 72 Emmy Awards Kids & Family sag awards talk show zero dark thirty Fox News crime drama Rocky Vudu CBS All Access Countdown romance YA twilight CNN Fantasy Superheroes rotten GLAAD composers LGBT Television Academy Classic Film war what to watch Animation thriller dogs The CW Black Mirror Apple crime science fiction MTV American Society of Cinematographers asian-american spinoff canceled psycho TCA 2017 The Arrangement BBC One TLC batman FX on Hulu video on demand TCA Winter 2020 anthology archives Disney+ Disney Plus die hard screen actors guild MCU Netflix Christmas movies golden globes quibi CBS sitcom TBS Set visit crossover richard e. Grant Marvel Television cars festivals kids Black History Month Trophy Talk crime thriller Martial Arts joker medical drama cooking tv talk classics Podcast Heroines scorecard discovery Winners historical drama sports 2019 elevated horror a nightmare on elm street spanish Sundance TV Land Sony Pictures dragons natural history worst movies Cannes Fox Searchlight romantic comedy 20th Century Fox Marvel comic slashers Shudder technology laika ghosts Paramount Network cops docudrama universal monsters Trailer DirecTV japanese Nickelodeon football Star Wars harry potter The Witch Discovery Channel The Walking Dead Winter TV Valentine's Day series Crackle revenge VICE Britbox OWN jamie lee curtis Tarantino USA Network documentary Comic Book Pop TV cancelled television TruTV Mindy Kaling Lionsgate psychological thriller Mystery Amazon Studios Hear Us Out Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Rocketman cancelled toronto news serial killer TV renewals TNT Musicals renewed TV shows Film game of thrones LGBTQ The Purge award winner cancelled TV series venice reboot Captain marvel spider-man 21st Century Fox El Rey south america Cartoon Network Western Film Festival italian SundanceTV Logo ABC 2018 Sundance TV Disney streaming service Nominations fast and furious adventure GIFs movies RT21 PaleyFest anime Masterpiece DC Comics Pride Month sequels political drama stand-up comedy 45 2017 biography NYCC Marvel Studios DC streaming service witnail robots spy thriller comics latino obituary Disney Plus directors criterion justice league Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Sundance Now Year in Review mission: impossible diversity politics Disney Channel Acorn TV Certified Fresh ABC Family casting festival Pirates TCM Emmys Tomatazos dramedy Schedule X-Men Turner Comedy satire christmas movies indiana jones SDCC FX zombie Epix cancelled TV shows VOD Starz BET Awards CW Seed Universal Best and Worst sequel singing competition finale Teen Toys 2016 Trivia Lucasfilm ESPN Avengers Turner Classic Movies A24 Mary Poppins Returns PlayStation BBC Premiere Dates Academy Awards Bravo space Crunchyroll movie Creative Arts Emmys Elton John HBO Max book OneApp cults Opinion Dark Horse Comics Mudbound comiccon TCA Awards Syfy Election stoner Funimation YouTube Red Country Quiz DGA PBS free movies Comedy Central video Spectrum Originals President Sneak Peek doctor who Pop based on movie First Reviews Apple TV+ 24 frames Ovation First Look Columbia Pictures