While countless horror films release in theaters, home video, and via streaming services, there is usually one that, in some ways, defines the year of its release, and either immediately takes the world by storm, or sits quietly, waiting for its moment to strike. From the greatest horror films of all time to underappreciated gems, these movies speak volumes about the climates in which they were created, and they might even say something about you and your personality. For instance, those born in 1981 can consider themselves trailblazing, given that their film is Friday The 13th Part 2, AKA, the first in the series to feature Jason Voorhees as the main slasher. Day Of The Dead is a ferocious critique of America's military-industrial complex, but if you were born in 1985, it may represent your seemingly unending appetite. 1990 babies who've always felt like outsiders might strongly identify with the Tribes of the Moon depicted in Clive Barker's Nightbreed.
Whatever year you were born, there's a corresponding horror film that embodies everything about you.
- Photo: Warner Bros.One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting odd -- levitating, speaking in tongues -- her worried mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks medical help, only to hit a dead end. A local priest (Jason Miller), however, thinks the girl may be seized by the devil. The priest makes a request to perform an exorcism, and the church sends in an expert (Max von Sydow) to help with the difficult job.
- Actors: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn
- Released: 1973
- Directed by: William Friedkin
- When Sally (Marilyn Burns) hears that her grandfather's grave may have been vandalized, she and her paraplegic brother, Franklin (Paul A. Partain), set out with their friends to investigate. After a detour to their family's old farmhouse, they discover a group of crazed, murderous outcasts living next door. As the group is attacked one by one by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), who wears a mask of human skin, the survivors must do everything they can to escape.
- Actors: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail
- Released: 1974
- Directed by: Tobe Hooper
- Photo: Universal PicturesWhen a young woman is killed by a shark while skinny-dipping near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) wants to close the beaches, but mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) overrules him, fearing that the loss of tourist revenue will cripple the town. Ichthyologist Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) and grizzled ship captain Quint (Robert Shaw) offer to help Brody capture the killer beast, and the trio engage in an epic battle of man vs. nature.
- Actors: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
- Released: 1975
- Directed by: Steven Spielberg
- Photo: 20th Century FoxAmerican diplomat Robert (Gregory Peck) adopts Damien (Harvey Stephens) when his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick), delivers a stillborn child. After Damien's first nanny hangs herself, Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) warns Robert that Damien will kill Katherine's unborn child. Shortly thereafter, Brennan dies and Katherine miscarries when Damien pushes her off a balcony. As more people around Damien die, Robert investigates Damien's background and realizes his adopted son may be the Antichrist.
- Actors: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Leo McKern
- Released: 1976
- Directed by: Richard Donner