Czech film ‘The Cremator’ among Letterboxd’s top 10 horror movies ever made

A few years back, I ranked Juraj Herz’s 1969 classic The Cremator (Spalovač mrtvol) at the top of my list of the best Czech horror films ever made. Looks like I’m not the only fan.

Users on Letterboxd, a popular social networking service that allows members to rate, review, and chart the movies they’ve seen, have ranked The Cremator among the top horror films on the platform. Among movies with enough qualifying votes, The Cremator scores a 4.16 out of five stars, ranking 7th in the Letterboxd list of highest-rated horror movies on the platform.*

The Cremator is in pretty good company: the top half of the Letterboxd list is comprised of (almost) unimpeachable classics, with The Silence of the Lambs, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and John Carpenter’s The Thing tied at the top of the list with an average review score of 4.31. The Silence of the Lambs narrowly takes the top slot on decimal points.

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is next with a 4.29 average score, followed by Rosemary’s Baby and Get Out, which are tied with The Cremator at 4.16.

The bottom half of the list features some unexpected foreign flare: after the Czech horror classic comes the 1981 Filipino film Kisipmata and 1971’s Demons and 1964’s Kwaidan, both from Japan. I can wholeheartedly recommend Masaki Kobayashi’s haunting Kwaidan, a collection of Japanese folk horror, but need to catch up with the other two.

A platform designed for cinephiles to discover new movies and share recommendations, Letterboxd has slowly gained traction since being introduced in 2011 but exploded in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic, doubling its user base from around 1.7 million to over three million in the past eighteen months.

The Cremator has gained wider appreciation abroad thanks to its release through the Criterion Collection, a North American label that specializes in acclaimed foreign and art house films. In addition to Criterion blu-ray and DVD releases, The Cremator is available to stream on The Criterion Channel in the United States and Canada.

In the Czech Republic, the movie is available to stream (with English subtitles) on the Aerovod platform.

Directed by Juraj Herz, The Cremator takes you inside the mind of a deranged crematorium worker (an unforgettable Rudolf Hrušínský) who operates the ovens at an extermination camp for the Nazis during WWII.

While not a traditional horror film – it’s often called a pitch-black comedy – The Cremator is a stark and memorable portrayal of the banality of evil, and a landmark from the Czech New Wave that utilizes real-world horrors to get deep under our skin.

Read more about The Cremator here, and discover more local horror in my 2017 rundown of the top 15 Czech horror movies ever made.

These are the top 10 highest-rated horror movies according to Letterboxd users:

10. Kwaidan (1964): 4.14
9. Demons (1971): 4.14
8. Kisapmata (1981): 4.16
7. The Cremator (1969): 4.16
6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968): 4.16
5. Get Out (2017): 4.16
4. The Shining (1980): 4.29
3. The Thing (1982): 4.31
2. Psycho (1960): 4.31
1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991): 4.31

*Letterboxd scores/rankings valid as of October 4, 2021.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at

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