The 11 Chicest Horror Movies of All Time
There is no shortage of inspired sartorial moments in horror. From The Birds to Carrie, A Clockwork Orange to An American Werewolf in London, villains and femme fatales alike abound, routinely festooned in the most iconic of costumes. There is Gregory Peck's restrained elegance in the 1976 classic The Omen; the Overlook Hotel's Gatsby-era partygoers in The Shining; Bette Davis and Joan Crawford's dilapidated glamour in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?; the entire library of 1960s Italian gore... With so many contenders to choose from, which fright films are topping our bill for most enviable sense of style? Keep scrolling to find out.
Grace Kelly breezes into Jimmy Stewart's bachelor pad just after he's described her as, "too perfect, too beautiful, too talented, too sophisticated, too everything but what I want." She lives up to the hype and then some, christening her arrival with takeout from fictional upscale New York eatery 21. Wine bucket and waiter in tow, she holes up for a night in with photographer boyfriend, L.B. Jeffries (Stewart), to discover he's entirely preoccupied with spying on his neighbors. The underlying arc of the film follows Stewart's character's paranoia as he comes to grips with his own fear of commitment—set against the backdrop of a voyeuristic murder, of course.
The neo-noir mystery written and directed by David Lynch may not fall squarely into the category of horror, but it's eerie enough to make our cut. Porcelain-skinned bombshell Isabella Rosellini smolders, crooning at nightclubs, and getting mixed up with all the wrong thugs. Laura Dern's youthful naïveté serves as foil to the femme fatale. All angora sweaters and breezy pastels, her feminine charm steals the show with its sleek and dewey romanticism.
Directed by Tony Scott and starring David Bowie, Catherine Deneuve, and Susan Sarandon, this erotic triller follows a love triangle between a doctor specializing in aging research and a modern vampire couple. Bowie and Deneuve as immortal lovers—need we go on? As a vampire companion bent on securing eternal youth alongside his immortality, Bowie is a natural. His chiseled cheekbones and androgynous sex appeal feel sublime and otherworldly in any age.
Mia Farrow's iconic pixie cut shall live on in the annals of horror-fashion lore for eternity. As an unassuming New Yorker who unwittingly gives birth to what may or may not be the anti-Christ, Farrow's waifish allure and mod wardrobe remain fantastically in vogue through even the most unsettling of encounters with the occult. The film itself is equally stylish and masterfully paced.
Ah, Tilda. She can do no wrong. Jim Jarmusch's vampire love story casts Swinton and the babe-ly Tom Hiddleston as vampire lovers in this timely modern romance. What occurs therein is the paradigm of horror chic. A depressed musician reunited with his immortal beloved, Hiddleston sizzles next to Swinton. It's the rare breed of grandiose melancholia that will make you want to read Proust in a smoking jacket for centuries on end. They might be the most wildly cool dangerous liaisons of any lifetime.
Well before Pharrell was decked out in Vivienne Westwood millinery, Kurt Russell was ensconced in an ice palace with fantastically covetable accessories. John Carpenter's The Thing is a slow burn, building to a Hitchcockian crescendo of a finale after one tense ride. As far as sci-fi horror goes, it doesn't get any better than a remote arctic tundra setting wherein Russell saves the day. In fact, we're here to suggest he may just best Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween for the title of most ultimate horror movie babe ever.
Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, this cool-as-hell flick follows a lonesome female vampire as she navigates the streets of the fictional Iranian ghost town, Bad City. Romantic, thoroughly modern, and culturally resonant, it is a deeply sophisticated debut from a promising female filmmaker. Amirpour's directorial prowess has a spaghetti western influence: The drama unfolds in a stark town as eerie and shrouded in mystery as the story's heroine.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Bram Stroker's Dracula gives us the gift of Gary Oldman in head-to-toe gray monochrome. The 1992 adaptation of the literary classic is delightfully dripping in macabre costumery. We also get Winona Ryder as the object of his misguided immortal affection, in a parade of Victorian taffeta and tiny hats. With Coppola's sweeping cinematography, we're loving this one for background ambience at our next party.
Bret Easton Ellis's sardonic novel takes a bite out of Wall Street culture, trailing in its wake all the yuppie greed of late-eighties New York. The film adaptation sees Christian Bale, Chloë Sevigny, Jared Leto, and Reese Witherspoon decked to the gills in pristine and polished ensembles. Sevigny slays in blonde-on-blonde muted tones, cementing her it-girl status in our hearts both on and off screen. A Manhattan businessman moonlighting as a serial killer, Bale's Patrick Bateman is chiseled, hunky, and unhinged, whether making reservations at Dorsia, powering through a formidable morning skin routine, or casually yielding a chainsaw.
Crimson Peak, the latest offering from masterful filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, is a gothic Victorian romp through a haunted mansion filled with things that go bump in the night—and killer clothes. Ethereal beauties Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska traverse the spooky halls with billowy sleeves and drapery worthy of a couture catwalk. Del Toro's 2006 fantasy, Pan's Labyrinth, is equally stylized and brilliant. As a world-builder, the Mexican screenwriter, producer, and novelist certainly ranks among the most refined visual storytellers of our time.
A bouffant buoyed by electricity, white satin full-length gloves, and a cape dress deserving of Tom Ford’s dreams are just a few trappings of this classic horror mainstay. Every fashion girl worth her salt will gleefully rally behind a fellow risk-taker who's not afraid of a signature look. Frankenstein's betrothed is living it up in head-to-toe alabaster in a dim and musty castle. What could possibly be more chic than eschewing practicality for a bit of high-drama style?
It's not technically horror. We know. Nevertheless, A Perfect Murder, the 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock's classic Dial M for Murder, is irresistible. Gwyneth Paltrow's Chanel vamp pout sees the quintessential '90s glamour girl through multiple bleach-blonde haircuts as the discontented New York socialite wife of Michael Douglas's character. Clad in the deep-crimson hue so signature and beloved at the time, Paltrow reprises Grace Kelly's staring role. Whether she's lending ingenue sex appeal to cable-knit sweaters or rolling around in the sheets with a young Viggo Mortensen, the always immaculate GP is a sight to behold.