What are the best horror movies of all time? From zombies to your nextdoor neighbor, films have found fear from a wide variety of sources over the decades.
In this blog, we’re providing all of you filmmakers out there with the definitive list of the best horror films ever made. We’ll discuss what makes each film so scary and why it’s worth watching. We’ll even point you in the right direction, so you know where to watch these films if you ever feel like scaring yourself.
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Top Horror Movies of All Time
What makes a great horror movie?
Ranking films is inherently subjective. What’s scary to one person may look benign to another. That’s why in addition to looking at the fright factor of each film, we’ll also discuss other components, such as acting and directing.
There’s also something to be said about how a horror movie influences the zeitgeist at large. Both The Exorcist and Saw influenced plenty of films that came after them, and like them or not, there’s something to be said about movies that impacted filmmakers for years.
These lists always inspire some form of debate. Ultimately, it’s good to look at this list as a jumping off point for which horror films you should watch next. You’re bound to find plenty of classics you’ve seen before, but we also made sure to include some hidden gems you may not be familiar with. Pack your bags because it’s time we head into the woods with no cell service.
REACHING THE TOP 10 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME
100. The Amityville Horror (1979)
The Amityville Horror is based on supposedly true events. While many of the film’s details can be disputed, there’s no denying that telling the public your ghost story is real is effective. It was a massive hit upon first release and spawned a slew of sequels. Sometimes the best marketing for your film is to let the public scare themselves for you.
BEST HORROR FILMS
A simple ghost story told in a Cinéma Vérité style really kicked off the trend of found footage horror movies in the late '00s. While the sequels had mixed results, the original is still a highly suspenseful story that has you scouring the screen trying to see where the ghosts will pop up next.
Best Horror Movies to Watch
96. Pet Sematary (1989)
“Sometimes dead is better.” A family discovers a burial ground’s dark secret when tragedy strikes, and the father believes there’s a way to bring his child back from the dead. Pet Sematary depicts the lengths people might go for their loved ones, and it isn’t always a pretty sight.
100 Best Horror Movies
94. Saw (2004)
Jigsaw sets up a series of deadly trials to determine who is worthy of life. Saw tries to be profound but ends up muddling its message more times than not. Perhaps it works better as an allegory for American practices of torture in the 2000s, but it delights in its nihilistic streak too much to come across with any sincere message.
Best Horror Movies Ever Made
93. The Visit (2015)
You won’t find The Sixth Sense on this list since it’s more thriller-y than horror. But M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit is a proper horror film, and it’s rather effective. Two kids are dropped off at their grandparents’ house, and not everything is as it seems. It’s a pleasant surprise, and it shows Shyamalan can still deliver thrills with the right material.
What is the Best Horror Movie?
92. V/H/S (2012)
Another horror anthology that’s a bit uneven. While the execution may leave something to be desired, there are still plenty of effective scares on this tape with films directed by the likes of Adam Wingard and Ti West. “Amateur Night” is a highlight and perfectly proves how some horror stories are better told when condensed.
Top 100 Horror Movies
Zombieland pokes fun at the cliched zombie flick to hilarious results. The Bill Murray bit is fondly remembered for a reason. It’s classic comedy, and it gets to the bottom of a question most people have when watching zombie movies, namely, “What are all the celebrities doing during all this?” It’s a roaring good time.
Best Horror Films Ever Made
90. Cronos (1993)
Cronos is Guillermo del Toro’s feature-length directorial debut. It’s an essential watch for del Toro fans because it showcases everything he would go on to explore in his later films. Just like The Shape of Water offers a twist on the creature from the black lagoon mythos, this film offers a twist for the vampire genre, giving something unique to filmmakers.
Best Horror Movies Ever Put to Film
89. Hush (2016)
The filmmakers behind Hush originally considered making a completely silent film. It could’ve worked with the plot being a deaf-mute woman being the target of a home invasion. However, the concept was quickly discarded when realizing how having absolutely no dialogue when they realized it would be much harder to build up tension. It just goes to show how you always need to be open to different ideas during production.
Best Horror Movies to Watch With Friends
88. Goodnight Mommy (2015)
A mother who’s just undergone plastic surgery returns home with her two children turning on her, believing her to be someone else. Goodnight Mommy carries on a tradition from the 2010s where horror films are centered around motherhood and what we do and don’t expect moms to do. These strong themes are wrapped in a tense psychological horror that leaves you unnerved.
Best Horror Movies List, Ranked
87. Near Dark (1987)
Near Dark shows just what you can do when you combine two seemingly disparate genres. Director Kathryn Bigelow wanted to create an unconventional Western, so she added vampires to the mix. It proved to be effective in this tale of vampires traveling across America searching for human blood.
Best Horror Movies of All Time
86. Insidious (2011)
James Wan wanted to make a horror film that didn’t rely on so much gore like his previous film, Saw. The result is Insidious. The film proves it’s worthwhile to challenge your sensibilities as a filmmaker and just because you can do one thing well does not mean you have to stay in that wheelhouse. Wan went from torture porn to a haunted house film, and he still manages to get some effective scares out in the process.
Ranking the Top Horror Movies
85. A Quiet Place (2018)
You need to make what you know. When director John Krasinski read the script for A Quiet Place, he was taken by the elements of parents protecting their children, something he was familiar with since his second child was just born. The fantastical elements of aliens may not be relatable, but a story about a father protecting his family is something many people can relate to.
Examine What Is the Best Horror Movie
84. The Fog (1980)
If you learn one thing from watching John Carpenter’s films, you learn the man understands the impact music can have on horror. Music can set a mood better than most exposition can. The Fog picks up from Halloween and has a haunting score that sets the mood for a band of ghost sailors to wreak havoc on a small seaside town.
100 Best Horror Films
83. Train to Busan (2016)
Yes, there’s plenty of zombie action in Train to Busan. But the film really soars in the relationship between Seok-woo and his daughter, particularly the moments where Sang-hwa proves himself to be a better father figure. The zombies make scenes tense, but the knowledge that Seok-woo may not be capable of caring for his daughter only amps things up even more.
Best Horror Films Ever in Film History
82. Don’t Look Now (1973)
Don’t Look Now is a wonderful showcase of how you can take from other filmmakers’ work and make it your own. There’s a scene in Don’t Look Now that perfectly matches a shot from one of Alfred Hitchcock’s films. However, the film uses these similarities as jumping off points, building an effective ghost story that also serves as a meditation on grief.
Best Horror Movies List for Filmmakers
81. IT (2017)
You know what’s going to happen in the opening scene of IT. That doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking when Georgie meets Pennywise. It shows how you can still craft an effective scene even when the audience knows what will happen. It only lasts a few minutes, but you’re in utter terror the entire time, and that’s how the film begins.
Best Horror Movies With Zombies
80. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
The copyright on Night of the Living Dead was never filed, allowing everyone to watch the film freely, such as on YouTube as evidenced above. A seemingly innocuous gesture paved the way for zombies as we know them today to form. Filmmakers were free to make zombie movies akin to George Romero’s. So if you ever film a zombie flick yourself, thank whoever forgot to file the copyright.
100 Best Horror Movies to Watch
79. Cat People (1942)
There are a lot of reasons why Cat People is an influential horror film. Above all else, it brought the world the concept of the Lewton bus, a horror technique where a moment of tension is dissipated in a single startling moment. In the movie, it’s the hissing of a bus. In other horror movies, it may be a cat jumping out of a closet. Creating one cinematic technique would be enough on its own, but Cat People also proves to be a taut psychological horror film.
Best Horror Movies for Film Directors
78. Hellraiser (1987)
Clive Barker decided to direct Hellraiser when he was continuously disappointed with adaptations of his other work. It goes to show that sometimes you need to know when to take the reigns and do something when no one else steps up to the plate. The result is a sadistically filmed horror movie that’s dark, disturbing, and surprisingly emotional.
Counting Down to the 10 Best Horror Movies of All Time
77. The Conjuring (2013)
Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga met with Lorraine Warren to learn more about her experiences. They ended up taking in information they couldn’t have known otherwise, leading to far better performances. It goes to show the importance of talking to people with more experience than you when you need it so that you can tell a more truthful film. Even if that film involves evil spirits.
Best Horror Movies to Watch Alone
76. Crawl (2019)
One thing that takes you off guard with Crawl once you’re finished watching it is how simple the story is. A girl and her dad are trapped in a basement, and alligators are running loose. It’s as simple as that. There’s no mythology. Instead, the focus goes on the relationship this girl had with her dad prior to all of this. It makes for a blood-pumping thrill ride with enough humanity to have you rooting for the family.
Top Horror Movies for Film Enthusiasts
75. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Director Michael Dougherty made an animated short in 1996 called Season’s Greetings. It served as a precursor for Trick ‘r Treat, and it would take nearly 10 more years for the feature-length film to come to fruition. It can take a while to make any movie, but the important lesson is to have persistence. You may just end up with a cult Halloween night classic.
Listing the Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time
74. Black Sunday (1960)
Black Sunday is a masterclass in how to use chiaroscuro well in film. Even though the film’s in black and white, director Mario Bava proves to be a master in filming shadows, light, and motion. It all results in the epitome of Italian Gothic horror with a style few films have been able to replicate.
21st Century Horror Films
73. Martyrs (2008)
Martyrs is significant for its role in the 21st century New French Extremist movement, which is associated with bestial violence, sexual decadence, and psychological horror. Make no mistake, this film is not easy to get through, and we wouldn’t recommend anyone with a delicate sensibility to watch it. It takes tortune porn even beyond Saw, so watch at your own peril.
Best Horror Films for All Filmmakers
72. Gremlins (1984)
Gremlins came about during a time where horror-comedies were growing in prevalence. Ghostbusters and Monster Squad proved the formula could work, but rather than use pre-existing monsters, Gremlins pushed forward with its own mythology. It took a popular trend and made it seem fresh and different. Genres come in and out of style, but when you create something so wholly unique as Gremlins, your movie can stand the test of time.
The Best Horror Movies Ever
71. [Rec] (2007)
[Rec] comes in at a brisk 78 minutes. While it may seem short, its runtime proves how you can get the maximum amount of horror when you streamline the film so efficiently. The reduced length makes [Rec] feel like a rollercoaster ride where every second you’re filled with adrenaline, never overstaying its welcome and making you realize you’re watching a movie.
100 Best Horror Movies to Watch
70. The Mist (2007)
The Mist shows how you can have a more powerful film by straying away from the source material. We won’t give away spoilers, but the ending of the film The Mist is heartbreaking whereas the novel leaves the conclusion more ambiguous. As a result, The Mist shocked even fans of the book while ultimately remaining true to the source material.
Comprehensive Best Horror Movies List
69. Tremors (1990)
Establishing the rules of your film universe are critical. Tremors understands this, laying out the rules for the Graboids early on, and then letting the characters go wild working around said rules. The rules are kept simple with no real mythology behind the monsters, and that works to the fun, campy, B-movie nature of the film.
List of the Best Horror Movies Ever Made
67. Don’t Breathe (2016)
Director Fede Alvarez spoke about why he decided to make the antagonist blind in Don’t Breathe. He said, “Sometimes you naturally give them powers and make them more menacing than a normal person, so we thought what if we do the other way around and take his eyes out and make him a blind person.” Taking away one of his senses, putting him at somewhat of a disadvantage just makes him all the more terrifying for how it deals with the band of kids who enter his home. It’s an effective twist on a classic formulate, and it works in spades.
Top Horror Movies Analysis
66. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Many horror films could be considered “morality tales,” but few get it as right as Drag Me to Hell. The main character sins, despite wanting to do good, and must pay a price for it. It makes for a well-rounded, engaging film that never feels preachy, just showing how the folly of people’s ways can lead them astray.
Reviewing the Best Horror Films
65. House of Wax (1953)
If you watch House of Wax in 3D as intended, you’ll notice one scene where it looks like a shadow from off-screen enters the frame. It’s a clever effect that’ll send chills down your spine, making a very strong argument for how 3D can be properly incorporated into films.
Extraordinary Horror Films
64. Eyes Without a Face (1962)
One of the worst things a film can be is forgettable. When Eyes Without a Face was released back in 1962, critics’ reactions ranged from praise to outright disgust. If you’re going to make a horror film, you want something that elicits some kind of reaction one way or the other so that at least people are talking about it afterward.
Top Horror Movies for Directors
63. Mandy (2018)
Mandy ends with Nicolas Cage fighting a demon with a chainsaw, and the demon also has a chainsaw. It’s a moment of utter madness and insanity that’s the climax of a slow-paced but visually stunning descent into madness. It’s a brilliant scene that rewards you and pays off everything set up prior in the film.
StudioBinder’s Best Horror Films
62. The Descent (2006)
The Descent has one of the best movie posters out of any horror film out there. It’s an artistic achievement, showing off the cast creating the shape of a skull with their bodies. Everything from the tone to the premise is captured in a single image, an outstanding achievement in and of itself without even considering the tense, thrilling film itself.
Outstanding Horror Films
61. The Changeling (1980)
Director Peter Medak wanted to make a horror movie that focused more on creating a chilling atmosphere than opting for cheap scares. He succeeded with The Changeling, a film that manages to draw out the terror in the exposition and fill you with a sense of unease along the way.
Best Modern Horror Films
60. Midsommar (2019)
There’s a scene in Midsommar where Dani speaks to her boyfriend’s buddies, but we only see her reflection on the TV. It shows how disconnected she is with this group of supposed friends. Such shots don’t exist in the Swedish commune where Dani, and all her pain, is welcome with open arms. Midsommar's plot and secrets are certainly creepy and unsettling, but it’s a brilliantly constructed film with ample foreshadowing and symbolism.
Best 90s Horror Movies
59. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Much of the dialogue in The Blair Witch Project is improvised. While the filmmakers had a 35-page screenplay, the actors had to handle much of the heavy lifting. While improvisation with amateur actors can be a risk, it ultimately works in the film’s favor as it gives off a more naturalistic vibe as though these are real people in the woods.
Best Modern Horror Films
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) acquired its funding through Indiegogo. It serves as a lesson to filmmakers that crowdfunding platforms can be highly effective at getting your movie made, especially when it’s so stylishly shot and beautifully rendered.
Best Vampire Horror Movies
57. The Lost Boys (1987)
The right cast can make or break a movie, and The Lost Boys has arguably one of the best casts you could’ve asked for in the 80s. Dianne Wiest came off hot off an Academy Award win, and Kiefer Sutherland had just starred in the hit coming-of-age film Stand by Me as the angsty bully. There’s a lot of style in The Lost Boys, but ultimately, the cast elevates the material to new heights.
Top Horror Movies of 2019
56. Us (2019)
The opening scene of Us sets up everything you need to know for the rest of the film. It establishes concepts of “the double” that play significantly throughout the film. And if you pay attention, you’ll be primed for the twist that comes at the end. It’s economical storytelling at its finest.
What Is the Best Horror Film?
55. Funny Games (1998)
Horror movies don’t typically break the fourth wall. Then again, Funny Games isn’t like most horror movies. A character frequently looks at the camera and addresses the audience. Characters ruminate on story structure. Amongst all the frights, it’s a film that forces you to engage in the story and actively wonder what these men are going to do next.
Innovative Horror Movies
53. It Follows (2015)
It Follows seems to be a parable for STDs. When you dig deeper, you’ll find it’s an exploration of the inevitability of adulthood and how all of our innocences are lost eventually. If you dig deeper than that, you can likely find layers upon layers of meaning, making for a horror film that rewards you with each rewatch.
Best Horror Movies to Watch for Auteurs
52. Vampyr (1932)
Vampyr may be light on scares, but its influence on filmmaking cannot be overstated. Much of the film has a soft focus photography technique utilizes, giving the entire picture an almost dream-like aesthetic. It gives the impression you’re watching a nightmare unfold in front of you, and you’re helpless to do anything. It makes for an unsettling film and a critical juncture in the context of vampire movies.
Best Horror Films of the 2000s
51. The Host (2007)
When you watch all of Bong Joon-ho’s films, you notice a persistent theme of economy and income inequality throughout. While his famous 2019 film Parasite shows working class people clawing at each other, The Host shows what’s possible when working class people work together to defeat a common threat. HIs films are practically a lesson in economics, each one showcasing a slightly different financial viewpoint.
Sam Raimi’s Best Horror Films
50. The Evil Dead (1981)
The Evil Dead’s production was ripe with misfires. The crew got lost in the woods, and several crew members sustained injuries. While you should do everything in your power to keep your crew safe, accidents will happen. The best you can do is push through and hope you end up with something as splendid as The Evil Dead.
Judging the Best Horror Films
49. You’re Next (2013)
There’s a moment in You’re Next where you realize the film is pivoting to something else entirely. The movie set itself up as a standard home invasion with some humor thrown in for good measure, but then, it takes a turn to become its own beast. It’s a refreshing addition to the genre, and one that has plenty of fun turning convention on its head.
Classic Horror Movies
48. Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th was written by Victor Miller who would go on to write for various soaps like All My Children. It just goes to show the range screenwriters can have and what you can accomplish when you step out of your comfort zone. The result can be an enduring slasher classic that would go on to inspire a host of other films.
1930s Horror Films
47. Freaks (1932)
Many contemporary horror fans may be quick to dismiss movies from the 1930s because they probably wouldn’t seem that scary by today’s standards. Freaks from 1932 proves them wrong. Not only does it provide ample scares, but it has a powerful message about the need for solidarity in the face of oppression.
Almost to the Top 10 Horror Movies
46. Ready or Not (2019)
2019 had a lot of films about class warfare. While people may be more prone to talk about Parasite or Joker in that context, you can’t deny Ready or Not also delivered a powerful message about the lengths the ultra-wealthy will go to in order to retain their fortunes. That message just happens to be in an entertaining-as-heck thrill ride.
Best Japanese Horror Films
45. Audition (1999)
Director Takashi Miike once said of his films, “I really believe that it's hard to remake of any of my work." That’s certainly true with Audition, which has such a singular vision it’s hard to see anyone else ever remaking it. Even though it was a popular Japanese horror film in the 90s (and remaking those kinds of films was popular for a time in Hollywood) it remains its own beast.
Top Horror Movies in the 2000s
44. The Ring (2002)
The Ring was set in Seattle due to its wet, washed-out aesthetic. It worked well for the style of the film and serves as a good reminder of how you should know how the setting will influence the final product. The result is a creepy, atmospheric remake that drills into your psyche.
Looking at the Best Horror Films of All Time
43. The Wicker Man (1973)
Music plays an incredibly important role in The Wicker Man. Songs accompany many pivotal moments in the film, and the music was so influential, it spawned a music festival held in Scotland. There’s more than one way to make an influential film, and your movie could inspire things you never thought were possible.
Best Holiday-Themed Horror Movies
42. Black Christmas (1974)
Don’t get it twisted. There are some truly terrible Christmas-themed horror films out there. But Black Christmas proves you can use wholesome settings for more than some cheap irony. Its noteworthy for being one of the earliest slasher movies, going on to inspire such greats as Halloween. It’s easy to see why it’s been remade several times as its story has remained relevant all these years later.
Study of the Best Horror Films
41. Hereditary (2018)
Many horror scenes don’t land because we never really get a chance to see how the frights impact the characters. There’s a scene in Hereditary (you’ll know it when you see it) where after something traumatic happens, the camera lingers on the character responsible at length. It’s haunting, putting you in his shoes for the duration, making his decisions and mindset throughout the rest of the film relatable.
Horror Films Based on Stephen King Novels
40. Misery (1990)
Misery has only gained more relevance as a depiction of fan culture. In an age where fans harass and smear artists for not delivering on a certain film or album, Misery feels like a foreboding prophecy of what was to come. A stellar performance from Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes doesn’t hurt either.
Classic Horror Movies
39. Dracula (1931)
It’s incredible to take a character who’s been in the public consciousness for years already and completely transform. It would be tantamount to a film completely reinventing who Batman is and how he talks and having it influence a generation of projects. But that’s precisely what Bela Lugosi accomplished with Dracula. It remains a creepy, atmospheric film that changed how people thought of Dracula for years to come.
Hitchcockian Horror Films
38. The Birds (1963)
Building suspense is a critical aspect of any horror film, and The Birds got this down to a science. There’s a looming dread over the characters practically the entire time, and those moments are punctuated by the titular birds enacting horror. Hitchcock proved you can build suspense out of anything, even birds.
Reaching the Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time
37. The Witch (2016)
Despite being set in the 1630s, The Witch is a horror film with all too relevant themes to today. From religious extremism to feminism, The Witch touches on a vast breadth of themes, all of which come out of haunting, horrific set pieces.
The Best Classic Horror Films
35. King Kong (1933)
There’s much to talk about with 1933’s King Kong. Perhaps the most interesting and most overlooked is how this tale has entered the zeitgeist as a modern fairy tale. People know the story as well as they know that of Cinderella. It’s an amazing feat for what boils down to a horror flick.
Best 90s Horror
34. Scream (1996)
If there was anyone suited to deconstruct the horror genre, it’s Wes Craven. It’s interesting watching Scream as a double feature with Wes Craven’s New Nightmare as both films seek to showcase the flaws of the genre while adding to their respective mythos. In fact, New Nightmare could even be viewed as a sort of rough draft for Scream with Craven testing the limits of how much fun you can poke at horror.
Older Horror Films
33. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Many would consider The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to be the first true horror film. With ample subtext and a twist ending, which would become the norm in the genre, it’s clear its influences still reach far and wide. A century later, there’s still something for audiences to get out of this silent film.
Best Satirical Horror Movies
32. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
The Cabin in the Woods might just be one of the most important horror films to come out in recent memory. Among a stock of found footage and torture porn films, The Cabin in the Woods had the cajones to redirect course and say, “This isn’t working.” It made clear to audiences that horror films have the power to be better, and it paved the way for a more self-aware form of horror film that was more willing to transgress conventions.
Top Horror Movies to Add to Your Collection
31. Candyman (1992)
For many of the scares in Candyman, characters react not through screaming but by becoming hypnotized. It makes for a different aesthetic in the film to where it’s not bogged down by excessive screaming. It’s a unique take and one that makes the titular character seem all the more freaky.
Best Zombie Movies
30. 28 Days Later (2003)
Some of the most striking scenes in 28 Days Later are when the protagonist is walking around London streets, completely empty. The crew had to use smaller, handheld cameras so that they could quickly film before sunrise and before traffic had to resume. That shaky cam aesthetic is seen throughout the film and actually works to its advantage by giving the film a rawer feel.
Classic Slasher Films
29. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven actually pitched the idea for this movie to Disney, who wanted him to tone it down so that it would be suitable for kids and preteens. Can you imagine a PG-rated Nightmare on Elm Street? Fortunately, Craven remained true to his convictions and was able to make his slasher classic.
Best Horror Movies List for Directors
28. Godzilla (1954)
The reason the first Godzilla film works is because it’s a case study in how nuclear warfare impacted Japan. In most of the American films to come out since, Godzilla acts as a savior of sorts to Americans or is just a basic destructive force. The original, with all of its powerful subtext, makes Godzilla a still-pertinent horror film.
Best Horror Remakes
27. The Fly (1986)
Anyone interested in monster makeup needs to watch 1986’s The Fly. Seth Brundle’s transformation from slight rash to full-blown mutant fly is incredible for how detailed and gradual it is throughout the film. It’s suitably grotesque and complements the downright disturbing film where Cronenberg’s body horror sensibilities are on full display.
Best Horror Comedies
It may be comedic in parts, but An American Werewolf in London (1981) still manages to be downright horrifying. That terror tends to be punctuated with silly pop songs playing over the scene that relate to the moon in some way. It’s an interesting choice, but it ultimately works for the merging of tones and themes for the 1981 film.
Best 1980s Horror Films
25. Videodrome (1983)
Multiple versions of the ending were conceived. Ultimately, the decision on which ending to use came down to David Cronenberg’s personal religious beliefs, and you can see that in the pessimistic, downer ending. It may be bleak, but it’s perfect for a film like Videodrome that expertly uses special effects to create a body horror masterpiece.
Best Horror Film Classics
Remakes get a bad wrap. When done well, they can explore themes found in the original in new, interesting ways, making the film relevant to a modern audience. That’s precisely what 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) accomplished, making for a powerful allegory for Red Scare paranoia.
100 Best Horror Films Ever Made
22. Evil Dead 2 (1987)
Evil Dead 2 is a template for how to do sequels well. It takes the ideas of the first and amplifies them to 11. It increases the gore and slapstick comedy to create something that’s balls-to-the-wall insanity.
As a result, it feels so much fresher and the rare horror sequel that surpasses the original.
Fantastic Horror Comedies
21. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Shaun of the Dead has some of the best writing of any film ever. Every character serves a purpose. Every beat is set up. Every line of dialogue is important. It works as a great horror film and a great comedy because you feel for these characters and root for them to survive.
Most Frightening Horror Movies
20. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Guillermo del Toro got the idea for Pan’s Labyrinth through lucid dreaming in his youth. The result is a horrifying tale blended with fanciful fantasy elements. It makes for a wholly unique tale that brings together elements of a fairy tale into that of a horror film with terrifying animatronic and practical creations.
Best Horror Films From the 1930s
19. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Bride of Frankenstein had a hard time getting passed through the Hays Code, meeting various objections due to the perceived sacrilegious nature of the picture. With some minor edits, it was approved and became an influential film in the horror genre. It’s aged amazingly well having come out nearly a century ago, still managing to whip up scares and thoughtful subtext.
20 Best Horror Films
18. Poltergeist (1982)
There was some dispute upon release over who had more creative control over Poltergeist: Steven Spielberg or Tobe Hooper. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. We were left with a horror classic with an incredible script and plenty of frights that continue to resonate.
Greatest Stephen King Adaptations
17. Carrie (1976)
The supernatural qualities of the film may be scary, but the true horror of Carrie lies in the inherent cruelness of being an outcast in high school. Carrie is so frightful for how relatable it is. It’s become depressingly prescient in an era of school shootings and how some kids take revenge on their peers.
100 Best Horror Movies of All Time
16. They Live (1988)
They Live functions as a horror critique of ever-expanding income inequality in America. It’s no wonder why the film has held up so well after several decades with its central thesis still being surprisingly prevalent. It’s one of the smartest horror films ever made with plenty on its mind other than the scares.
Greatest Modern Horror Movies
15. The Babadook (2014)
Director Jennifer Kent used stop motion for the titular motion, working to great effect. Any time you actually see the creature move, it takes on a surreal appearance that’s still believable and looks genuine. It all makes for one of the most sinister films of the 2010s that revitalized the genre, taking the scares away from cheap jump scares.
All-Time Great Horror Movies
14. Suspiria (1977)
Style oozes out of every corner of Suspiria. From the production design to the score, which was designed by prog rock band Goblin, Suspiria takes on an almost ethereal quality. It’s like descending into a nightmare that has remained the centerpiece of Italian supernatural horror.
Best Recent Horror Movies
13. Get Out (2017)
Get Out is brilliant for how it masterfully weaves together a variety of tones. It’s both scary and hilarious while bringing together a slew of political undertones. With all that, nothing feels tacked on.
The tone never feels uneven. Everything works together, making for not just one of the best horror films but one of the best films period of the 21st century.
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12. Halloween (1978)
One of the most interesting aspects of Halloween is how critics have interpreted its central themes over the years from feminist critiques to the film being a parable of the immorality of teenagers. In the end, John Carpenter has dismissed such critiques. It all goes to show that even when you just set out to make a slasher film, people will read into it in all kinds of ways if it’s great enough.
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11. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
There’s a fine line between a horror film and a thriller. The Silence of the Lambs masterfully walks the line, placing you in a state of suspended terror punctuated by moments of depravity. Anthony Hopkins is a figurative demon, coming across as all too real. You can tell yourself Freddie Krueger could never exist. But Hannibal Lecters walk among us.
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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) gave the slasher genre numerous components future films would try to replicate. From a faceless killer to the idea of power tools as weapons, Halloween owes a debt to Tobe Hooper’s seminal film. It’s a shocking piece of exploitative horror film common in the '70s but remains chilling to watch today.
Ranking the 10 Best Horror Movies
9. Nosferatu (1922)
Nosferatu is an unauthorized adaptation of Dracula with Count Orlok taking the place of Dracula. Even without the rights to the book, it proved to be a more influential film than Dracula. Without the confines of a book, the film was able to create its own niche in pop culture and develop a lasting horror icon.
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8. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
There’s a chilling effect that runs down your spine during the final scene of Rosemary’s Baby. She accepts her role as the mother of Satan’s child. The heroine makes it through the movie alive, but the son of Satan lives through it, entering our world now and making society a darker place.
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7. The Shining (1980)
Despite being one of the most highly influential horror films ever, The Shining was nominated for Worst Director and Worst Actress at the Razzies. It just goes to show sometimes you need some distance to truly appreciate a work of art, and the descent of Jack Torrance certainly needed some time to grow on the zeitgeist and become a horror touchstone.
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6. Jaws (1975)
Jaws is a rare horror film you find yourself going back to time and time again. The terror is very much there, but it also has a summer blockbuster quality to it. It’s just as much exciting as it is horrifying, which no doubt played a big role in the film continuing to be studied and appreciated all these years later.
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5. Psycho (1960)
Psycho is the reason we have movie showtimes. Prior to its release, movie theaters ran films and news reels on a continuous loop. Insisting people see the film from start to finish, Hitchcock demanded the film play at set times, changing the movie industry forever. It’s not only a brilliant film. It helped validate movies as an art form, making people engage with them more intimately.
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4. Alien (1979)
The Xenomorph is perhaps the most beautiful horror movie monster ever created. There’s an elegance to its design and simplicity into its biology. It also delivered the chestburster scene, which will forever be studied by filmmakers wanting to know how to create tension with a satisfying payoff.
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3. Dawn of the Dead (1979)
Dawn of the Dead takes ideas from Night of the Living Dead and expands and explores them thoroughly. It’s also a lot more fun and engages more in wish fulfillment than its predecessor, which is more concerned with exploring the utter tragedy of human downfall.
You’re favorite of the two may differ, but for our money, Dawn of the Dead is the best zombie film ever made.
Reaching the End of the Top 10 Horror Movies
2. The Exorcist (1973)
When The Exorcist was first filmed, there were reports of audience members fainting and vomiting in their seats. How many horror movies made today can say that? The Exorcist is perhaps the most frightening horror movie of all time, merging the genre with a prestige picture. Without this film, many others wouldn’t exist.
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1. The Thing (1982)
It’s hard ranking the top 10 horror movies because almost any of them could take the top spot. For our money, The Thing does everything right. It’s genuinely frightening with superb practical effects. It has ample socio-political subtext, keeping it relevant to this day. It does everything right, and pound for pound, it’s the perfect horror movie.
The Most Underrated Horror Movies
Congratulations on making it through our "monster" list of the Best Horror Movies of All Time! But if you made it this far, why not go a little further? The movies we just ranked all have something in common — they are generally considered to be the best of the best. But there is a group of neglected horror movies that deserve more attention. That's why we put together this list of fright flicks that people don't talk about nearly enough. Maybe one day they'll end up making it onto this list!