100 Best Horror Films of All Time - Featured

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.

Top Horror Movies

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 if you’re into that genre. 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)

Lutz Family Interview  •  The Amityville Horror

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 MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

The Amityville Horror may be well-known. However, as far as horror movies from the 70s go, it hasn’t aged particularly well.

BEST HORROR FILMS

99. The Strangers (2008)

Elements of Terror  •  The Strangers

A couple’s getaway is upended with masked strangers show up on their doorstep. The Strangers has a handful of genuinely terrifying moments, but for the most part, it’s a fairly by-the-books slasher movie, not really adding much to the genre.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Strangers doesn’t reinvent the wheel. However, it manages to get a few genuine scares out of its tried-and-true premise.

BEST HORROR FILMS

98. Paranormal Activity

Everything You Need to Know in Under 5 Minutes  •  Collider Videos

A simple ghost story told in a mockumentary style really kicked off the trend of found footage horror movies in the late 2000s. 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 OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Paranormal Activity isn’t first-class cinema. However, it’s effective at getting big scares out of little actions and influencing other found footage films.

Best Horror Movies Ever

97. The ABCs of Death (2013)

T is for Toilet  •  The ABCs of Death

Horror anthologies are special. Instead of just one story of terror, you get multiple ones. The ABCs of Death can be hit and miss, but you get to witness a breadth of filmmakers’ voices with some genuine beats of inspiration.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The ABCs of Death is mainly for hardcore horror fans. Anyone else may find many of the short films too disturbing and profane to handle.

Best Horror Movies to Watch

96. Pet Sematary (1989)

Behind the Scenes  •  Pet Sematary

“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 OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Pet Sematary is a worthwhile adaptation. Even if you’ve never read the book, the 1989 film still manages to conjure up a few decent scares.

Best Horror Movies List

95. Child’s Play (1988)

Making a Nightmare  •  Child’s Play

The soul of a serial killer goes inside a doll, which goes on to commit murder. Child’s Play walks that fine line between horror and comedy. The tonal balance doesn’t always work, but it manages to both scare and tickle audiences.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Some horror fans may consider Child’s Play a classic. But Chuckie never amounts to the same heights as other slashers from the 80s.

100 Best Horror Movies

94. Saw (2004)

Sawed Off  •  Behind the Scenes

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

Conclusion

Saw led the way for torture porn to come into the mainstream in the 2000s. It’s great if you’re into that, but to others, it’s mostly gore with no substance.

Best Horror Movies Ever Made

93. The Visit (2015)

The Making of  •  The Visit

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Visit is entertaining enough. With a decent blend of thrills and comedy, it’s a worthwhile watch, especially for those in their teens.

What is the Best Horror Movie?

92. V/H/S (2012)

You’re All Just Bait  •  V/H/S

Another horror anthology that’s a bit uneven. While the execution may leave something to 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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

V/H/S may be uneven. But it still manages to whip up some decent scares within the limitations of a found footage anthology series.

Top 100 Horror Movies

91. Zombieland

Goofs, Fails, and Everything You Missed  •  Zombieland

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 MOVIES

Conclusion

Zombieland is good, dumb fun. It doesn’t reach the same heights as other zombie comedies (we’ll get to that later), but it gets the job done.

Best Horror Films Ever Made

90. Cronos (1993)

Ron Perlman Interview  •  Cronos

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Fans of Guillermo del Toro will want to watch Cronos to complete his filmography. It’s rough around the edges, but it shows what del Toro would soon be capable of.

Best Horror Movies Ever Put to Film

89. Hush (2016)

Opening Scene  •  Hush

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 OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Hush has a fairly formulaic plot. However, with some unique storytelling decisions, the film rises above a crop of home invasion thrillers.

Best Horror Movies to Watch With Friends

88. Goodnight Mommy (2015)

Talking to the Directors of Goodnight Mommy  •  VICE

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 accept moms to do. These strong themes are wrapped in a tense psychological horror that leaves you unnerved.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Goodnight Mommy is disturbing in all the right ways. But if you have kids of your own, you may not look at them the same way again.

Best Horror Movies List, Ranked

87. Near Dark (1987)

Kathryn Bigelow Devours Twilight Whole  •  TIFF

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Near Dark has attained cult status for a reason. It’s expert blending of genres makes it stand out in a crowded field.

Best Horror Movies of All Time

86. Insidious (2011)

Insidious: Behind the Scenes  •  The Hollywood Reporter

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Insidious doesn’t have much else on its mind other than to scare you. And it mostly succeeds in that endeavor.

Ranking the Top Horror Movies

85. A Quiet Place (2018)

Breaking Down the Lantern Scene  •  Vanity Fair

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

A Quiet Place has an interesting concept that whips up some decent scares. It’s innovative enough to hold your interest even if there are some glaring problems staring at you in the face.

Examine What Is the Best Horror Movie

84. The Fog (1980)

The Making of The Fog  •  Horror Documentary

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Fog doesn’t reach the same horrific heights as Halloween. It’s a different kind of horror movie, more interested in instilling a sense of dread than providing outright scares.

100 Best Horror Films

83. Train to Busan (2016)

The Ultimate Action-Horror Film  •  Train to Busan

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Train to Busan gets the adrenaline pumping. It’s a fantastic zombie movie grounded in its characters.

Best Horror Films Ever in Film History

82. Don’t Look Now (1973)

What Does the Ending Really Mean?  •  WhatCulture

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 OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Don’t Look Now may be short on actual frights, but it’s a hauntingly beautiful horror film. It’s earned its place in the lexicon of great horror films from the 70s.

Best Horror Movies List for Filmmakers

81. IT (2017)

Go Inside the Making of Pennywise  •  POPSUGAR

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 EVER

Conclusion

Even though It comes out as a coming-of-age movie than a horror, it still ranks among the best Stephen King adaptations.


Best Horror Movies With Zombies

80. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Full Film  •  Night of the Living Dead

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

George Romero perfected the zombie movie with Dawn of the Dead. That being said, Night of the Living Dead is still a seminal work that introduced a new monster to the masses.

100 Best Horror Movies to Watch

79. Cat People (1942)

Trailer  •  Cat People

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Cat People doesn’t rely on ghosts or gore to scare you. Instead, it sets a scene and lets your imagination scare you.

Best Horror Movies for Film Directors

78. Hellraiser (1987)

Behind the Scenes  •  Hellraiser

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Pinhead is a horror icon. But in hindsight, it seems as though he just looks cool and doesn’t offer a whole lot else.

Counting Down to the 10 Best Horror Movies of All Time

77. The Conjuring (2013)

Behind the Scenes  •  The Conjuring

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

Conclusion

The Conjuring works well as a throwback to horror films of yester year. James Wan once again proves himself to be effective at generating scares out of tried-and-true formulas.

Best Horror Movies to Watch Alone

76. Crawl (2019)

VFX Breakdown  •  Crawl

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES EVER

Conclusion

Don’t go into Crawl with huge expectations. It’s dumb fun, and it exceeds in that manner.

Top Horror Movies for Film Enthusiasts

75. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Trick ‘r Treat  •  Talk Horror

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Trick ‘r Treat is a perfect film to watch on Halloween night. It’s not lofty or grand with its ambitions. It just aims to entertain and give you a few frights.

Listing the Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time

74. Black Sunday (1960)

Trailer  •  Black Sunday

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES EVER

Conclusion

The plot for Black Sunday is less important than the visuals. But when the visuals are this impressive, it’s still worth filmmakers to watch just to take in the art form.

21st Century Horror Films

73. Martyrs (2008)

The Cult Was Wrong  •  Renegade Cut

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 MOVIES

Conclusion

Martyrs is tough to get through even if you have an affinity for this kind of film. However, it’s stylishly shot enough for certain filmmakers to gain something out of the experience.

Best Horror Films for All Filmmakers

72. Gremlins (1984)

Behind the Scenes  •  Gremlins

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Gremlins is one wacky, zany ride. It’s a creature feature with political ideas on its mind, but above anything else, it’s just fun.

The Best Horror Movies Ever

71. [Rec] (2007)

Making Of  •  [Rec]

[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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

[Rec] hits hard with minimal resources. It has some brilliantly staged scares that promise to freak you out continually for 78 minutes.

100 Best Horror Movies to Watch

70. The Mist (2007)

The Visual FX of The Mist  •  The Horror of It All

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Mist serves as a powerful allegory for a post-9/11 America. It also serves up plenty of chills outside of the monsters.

Comprehensive Best Horror Movies List

69. Tremors (1990)

Tremors - re:View  •   RedLetterMedia

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Tremors understands the kind of film it needs to be. It’s a throwback to old-school monster movies, making for a fun time.

List of the Best Horror Movies Ever Made

67. Don’t Breathe (2016)

VR Horror Experience  •  Don’t Breathe

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Don’t Breathe is a taut thriller, more interested in pumping your adrenaline than outright freaking you out. The directing and handling of a blind antagonist are done exceptionally well.

Top Horror Movies Analysis

66. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

The Tragic Horror of Drag Me to Hell  •  Ryan Hollinger

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Drag Me to Hell shows Sam Raimi understands campy horror more so than almost anyone else. The tone may not be for everyone, but for fans of The Evil Dead, it’s a welcome return to form.

Reviewing the Best Horror Films

65. House of Wax (1953)

Unmasked  •  House of Wax

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Vincent Price and wax museums are a match made in horror movie heaven. The technical achievements of the film may overshadow the narrative itself, but it’s nonetheless a critical component in horror film history.

Extraordinary Horror Films

64. Eyes Without a Face (1962)

Reflections on the Horror Genre  •  The Cinema Cartography

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Eyes Without a Face shows how you can induce terror by showing very little. A basic storyline is transcended with stunning visuals and pure cinematic poetry.

Top Horror Movies for Directors

63. Mandy (2018)

Nicolas Cage Discusses Mandy  •  IndieWire

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Mandy is a psychedelic nightmare. It’s a trippy ride with visuals that burn themselves in your psyche.

StudioBinder’s Best Horror Films

62. The Descent (2006)

Deleted Scene  •  The Descent

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Descent works so well due to some outstanding performances and its claustrophobic environment. The first act sets everything up perfectly to have a solid hour of scares.

Outstanding Horror Films

61. The Changeling (1980)

Changeling Director  •  Scaring del Toro and Scorsese

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Changeling is effective at setting a mood. It’s a different kind of haunted house film that’s creepy as opposed to scary.

Best Modern Horror Films

60. Midsommar (2019)

How Ari Aster Unsettles You  •  Now It’s Dark

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 is creepy, but it’s a brilliantly constructed film with ample foreshadowing and symbolism.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Midsommar is a lot to take in. But with bright visuals hiding a sinister underbelly, it leaves you on the edge of your seat the whole time.

Best 90s Horror Movies

59. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Exploring The Blair Witch Project  •  GoodBadFlicks

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 HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

For better and worse, The Blair Witch Project led the way for the found footage phenomenon of the 2000s. Even without this influence, it’s still an effectively scary film that shows what you can accomplish with a little innovation.

Best Modern Horror Films

58. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Anatomy of a Scene  •  The New York Times

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a beautiful addition to the vampire mythos. What is lacks in plot it more than makes up for in style, creating something you’ll adore looking at for 104 minutes.

Best Vampire Horror Movies

57. The Lost Boys (1987)

The Untold Truth of The Lost Boys  •  Grunge

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

The Lost Boys is a seminal vampire film. It introduced the world to the concept of the “sexy vampire,” and pop culture has never been the same.

Top Horror Movies of 2019

56. Us (2019)

Us: Themes, Symbols, and Ending Explained  •  The Take

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Us works best as a metaphor. It has a lot to say about American society, and with some well-timed horror bits on display, it makes for an interesting addition to horror canon.

What Is the Best Horror Film?

55. Funny Games (1998)

Side-by-Side  •  Funny Games

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Funny Games isn’t for everyone. But if you’re OK with being a participant in the madness, you’ll find a horror film like no other. Watch the director's U.S. remake for an extra dose of meta.

Top Horror Movies List

54. The Orphanage (2007)

Trailer  •  The Orphanage

The way you look at a movie can drastically alter your enjoyment of it. As a horror film, The Orphanage may look tame compared to its contemporaries. However, as an adult fairy tale with horror elements, it’s extremely effective.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

The Orphanage has ghosts but not a ton of blood. It sets a chilling mood that will make you freak out the next time you hear the floorboards in your house creak.

Innovative Horror Movies

53. It Follows (2015)

It Follows: The American Nightmare  •  Digging Deeper

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 OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

It Follows does a great job of being a different kind of horror film in regards to theme, setting, and atmosphere. It encourages you to watch every inch of the frame to see where the monster could come next.

Best Horror Movies to Watch for Auteurs

52. Vampyr (1932)

Coffin Scene  •  Vampyr

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 MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

Vampyr is filled with innovative filmmaking techniques perfect for any horror filmmaker. It’s light on plot, but you’ll have a constant sense of dread and foreboding throughout.

Best Horror Films of the 2000s

51. The Host (2007)

Bong Joon-ho Discusses The Host  •  SBIFF

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Host is smarter than your average monster movie. It delivers the thrills and political commentary with equal amounts of gusto.

Sam Raimi’s Best Horror Films

50. The Evil Dead (1981)

The Untold Truth of Evil Dead  •  Looper

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Evil Dead is a classic. It’s scary, funny, and inspired a slew of campy, delightful sequels.

Judging the Best Horror Films

49. You’re Next (2013)

Death at Dinner  •  You’re Next

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

You’re Next is a film for horror enthusiasts who know the tropes of the genre. It throws some twists and turns your way, having a ball in the process.

Classic Horror Movies

48. Friday the 13th (1980)

Return to Crystal Lake  •  Making Friday the 13th - Pt. 1

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Friday the 13th seems rather quaint by today’s standards. However, you can’t deny its influence in creating a compelling slasher flick that rises above many others from the '80s.

1930s Horror Films

47. Freaks (1932)

Everything You Need to Know  •  Freaks

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Freaks has hardly aged a day. Its message still rings true, and it still delivers plenty of scares to make you jump out of your seat.

Almost to the Top 10 Horror Movies

46. Ready or Not (2019)

Gag Reel  •  Ready or Not

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 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

You have to take Ready or Not for what it is. And what that is is an incredibly thoughtful dark comedic take on a slasher film that makes you laugh one minute and hide in terror the next.

Best Japanese Horror Films

45. Audition (1999)

Audition  •  Renegade Cut

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Audition is a prime example of the great films you get out of the Japanese horror scene. It may not be as popular as The Ring, but it’s still worth a watch if you can find it.

Top Horror Movies in the 2000s

44. The Ring (2002)

Making Of  •  The Ring

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Ring gets more mileage out of haunting visuals than outright blood. It results in a tense, thrilling experience that leaves you looking over your shoulders.

Looking at the Best Horror Films of All Time

43. The Wicker Man (1973)

Five Facts  •  The Wicker Man

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 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Watch the Nic Cage version for the bizarre hilarity. Watch this version when you want a creepy horror throw-back.

Best Holiday-Themed Horror Movies

42. Black Christmas (1974)

Making Of  •  Black Christmas

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 HalloweenIt’s easy to see why it’s been remade several times as its story has remained relevant all these years later.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Black Christmas set the stage for future slasher films. While it seems dated today, it’s important to look at it as the influential piece it is.

Study of the Best Horror Films

41. Hereditary (2018)

Midsommar vs. Hereditary  •  Karsten Runquist

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Hereditary won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (much like Midsommar). However, if you’re up for creepy, disturbing visuals, you’ll find a horror film that’s elevated amongst other modern tales.

Horror Films Based on Stephen King Novels

40. Misery (1990)

Profanity Bothers Annie  •  Misery

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Misery proves you don’t need a spooky monster for an effective horror film. You just need a standout performance and a plot that feels all too plausible.

Classic Horror Movies

39. Dracula (1931)

Commentary  •  Dracula

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 DraculaIt remains a creepy, atmospheric film that changed how people thought of Dracula for years to come.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

The historical significance of Dracula cannot be overstated. It’s a product of its time, but it remains essential viewing for all horror filmmakers.

Hitchcockian Horror Films

38. The Birds (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock Discusses The Birds  •  The Solomon Society

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

The Birds is a film only Hitchcock could make terrifying. However, he did precisely that in spades.

Reaching the Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time

37. The Witch (2016)

Analysis and Explanation  •  The Witch

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Witch is a slow burn. But at a brisk 92 minutes, it holds your attention the whole way, setting up a chilling finale.

Ranking the Best Horror Movies to Watch

36. Repulsion (1965)

A British Horror Film  •  Repulsion

Repulsion is noteworthy for being one of the only horror films, even to this day, that features a female killer. With themes of sexuality scattered throughout, it makes for an intriguing film that was far ahead of its time.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Repulsion is fascinating for its originality. You’ll be terrified from the claustrophobia as much as the bouts of violence.

The Best Classic Horror Films

35. King Kong (1933)

Special Effects  •  King Kong

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 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

King Kong remains a classic for a reason. Despite advancements in special effects, it’s still a treat to watch.

Best 90s Horror

34. Scream (1996)

How Scream Ruined Horror Movies  •  WatchMojo.com

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

Scream was the shot of adrenaline the horror genre needed in the 90s. Even today, it’s fun to watch a horror movie not take itself too seriously while still offering plenty of scares.

Older Horror Films

33. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Film Analysis  •  The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

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 HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

To understand the horror genre, you need to know where it’s come from. Many of the tropes and archetypes still used today come from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, meaning every film student needs to watch it.

Best Satirical Horror Movies

32. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Woods  •  Movies With Mikey

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Cabin in the Woods is equal parts hilarious and scary. It pokes fun at the genre but clearly has a deep appreciation for horror greats that have come before.

Top Horror Movies to Add to Your Collection

31. Candyman (1992)

Breaking All the Rules for Horror  •  Candyman

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 HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

Candyman has more on its mind than just being a prototypical slasher movie. It’s easy to see why a sequel is being done in 2020.

Best Zombie Movies

30. 28 Days Later (2003)

The Rage Virus  •  28 Days Later Explored

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

28 Days Later gave the zombie genre a much-needed shot of adrenaline. Striking frames and thought-provoking themes help elevate it amongst the crop.

Classic Slasher Films

29. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Filming Locations  •  A Nightmare on Elm Street

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

Conclusion

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most inventive slasher films ever made. It gave the world an iconic film character and can still send shivers down your spine to this day.

Best Horror Movies List for Directors

28. Godzilla (1954)

Godzilla - The Soul of Japan  •  kaptainkristian

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 MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

Godzilla works due to its commentary on the political state of Japan at the time of release. It’s horrifying in a much more sobering sense than many other horror films to come out during that era.

Best Horror Remakes

27. The Fly (1986)

Behind the Scenes  •  The Fly

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 MOVIES

Conclusion

The Fly is just as disturbing today as it was in 1986. Cronenberg took a classic sci-fi film and infused his own sensibilities into it, creating something wholly his own.

Best Horror Comedies

26. An American Werewolf in London

Edgar Wright on An American Werewolf in London  •  BFI Events

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 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Blending tones of horror and comedy is tricky. An American Werewolf in London manages to find a balance where the comedic bits don’t take the fang out of any of the horror.

Best 1980s Horror Films

25. Videodrome (1983)

The Birth of Body Horror  •  Dr. Udru

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 MOVIES

Conclusion

Videodrome shows what Cronenberg would be capable of later in his career. It’s a haunting look at the future and has only grown more important to watch with the increasing prevalence of technology.

Best 70s Horror Films

24. The Omen (1976)

Side-by-Side Comparison  •  The Omen

There’s one basic tent of horror so many films get wrong: a good death. Many characters have died in film in such unoriginal, bland ways. The Omen in 1976 stands out for how it treats death and gives important characters memorable ways of going out.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

The Omen understands how to create suspense. In lieu of excessive gore, The Omen lets the atmosphere do most of the scaring.

Best Horror Film Classics

23. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

How Body Snatchers Films Reflect Their Decades  •  Georg Rockall-Schmidt

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Invasion of the Body Snatchers played off fears at the time of its release. In fact, it still has a lot to say about modern society.

100 Best Horror Films Ever Made

22. Evil Dead 2 (1987)

The Making of Evil Dead II

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Evil Dead 2 is a hoot, which isn’t something you can say about most horror films. The filmmaking in particular is a standout and shows how special effects and unique camera techniques can create something that feels different from everything else.

Fantastic Horror Comedies

21. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Why Shaun of the Dead is a Perfect Zombie Movie  •  Wow Such Gaming

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. 

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

It’s hard to dislike a film that’s pretty much a perfect horror-comedy hybrid. It gets so much right, and you’ll have a blast watching it.

Most Frightening Horror Movies

20. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Pan’s Labyrinth: Disobedient Fairy Tale  •  The Nerdwriter

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 MOVIES

Conclusion

There’s nothing quite like Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s a horror film wrapped up in a fairy tale but remains del Toro’s best work.

Best Horror Films From the 1930s

19. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

A Look Inside Bride of Frankenstein  •  Sean McDougall

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Bride of Frankenstein still managed to be surprisingly transgressive despite restrictions of the time. Even today, there’s ample symbolism and subtext for filmgoers to chew on.

20 Best Horror Films

18. Poltergeist (1982)

Hidden Depths of Poltergeist  •  Collative Learning

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

Poltergeist is the haunted house movie to end all haunted house movies. It’s chilling from start to finish with strong performances to anchor the plot.

Greatest Stephen King Adaptations

17. Carrie (1976)

What Makes Carrie So Scary  •  Entertain the Elk

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Carrie functions as a haunting modern parable. It’s a blood, frightening revenge tale that makes you want to be nicer to those who are a little different.

100 Best Horror Movies of All Time

16. They Live (1988)

They Live & The Truman Show Are the Same Movie  •  CineFix

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

They Live is still depressingly pertinent. John Carpenter created a horror film where the scariest part isn’t the aliens but the realization that sets into the audience the elite has played you for chumps.

Greatest Modern Horror Movies

15. The Babadook (2014)

The Babadook & Depression  •  That Movie Show

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Babadook has a way to get under your skin. With subtext that could be taken in a variety of ways, you’ll get something out of watching it other than being filled with anxiety.

All-Time Great Horror Movies

14. Suspiria (1977)

The Endurance of Suspiria  •  Fandor

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 HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Suspiria is one of the most important films a horror filmmaker could watch. It shows how creative you can get within the genre while still delivering on chills.

Best Recent Horror Movies

13. Get Out (2017)

The Philosophy of Get Out  •  Wisecrack

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Get Out is the kind of horror film we need going into the 2020s. We need more films that deliver suspense in addition to thought-provoking themes.

Best Slasher Movies of All Time

12. Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter: Simplicity is Engaging  •  StoryDive

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

There’s a reason slasher films have been trying to imitate Halloween for decades. It set the template, and few have been able to reach such heights.

Best Horror Thrillers

11. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

How to Terrify the Audience  •  The Closer Look

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

The Silence of the Lambs proved horror films were worthy of inclusion at the Oscars. It mixes thrills with suspense and black humor so effortlessly.

10 Best Horror Movies

10. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 

The Shocking Truth  •  Texas Chainsaw Massacre Documentary

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a gory film with surprisingly more on its mind than just violence. It pushes the envelope further than most horror films made today.

Ranking the 10 Best Horror Movies

9. Nosferatu (1922)

The Dark True Story Behind the First Vampire Film  •  History

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Nosferatu influenced a generation of horror filmmakers. It worked outside the box to create an enduring figure in horror cinema and shows what you can accomplish when you take the elements of something that already exists but put you own stamp on it.

Influential Horror Films

8. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Quentin Tarantino on Rosemary’s Baby  •  Yellow King Film Boy

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Rosemary’s Baby remains one of the classiest horror films ever made. Brilliant performances elevate the material that has a lot on its mind.

Best Horror Movies Analysis

7. The Shining (1980)

Quietly Going Insane Together  •  Lessons From the Screenplay

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

The Shining is one of Stanley Kubrick’s seminal works. It elevates the source material into one of the most terrifying things put to film.

What Is the Greatest Horror Movie Ever?

6. Jaws (1975)

How Spielberg Creates Tension  •  Jack’s Movie Reviews

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

Jaws is arguably the most “American” horror film ever made. It seeks to entertain and horrify, making for a thrilling ride from start to finish.

Top 5 Horror Movies

5. Psycho (1960)

How Alfred Hitchcock Manipulates an Audience  •  The Discarded Image

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Suspense and utter horror intertwine magnificently in Psycho. It’s a cinematic tour de force.

Reviewing the Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time

4. Alien (1979)

The Horror You Don’t See  •  Full Fat Videos

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.

100 BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

Alien has a simple premise: set a haunted house movie in space. It milks that premise for all it’s worth, delivering a thrilling horror film that expanded the zeitgeist’s imagination.

3 Best Horror Films

3. Dawn of the Dead (1979)

Making Of  •  Dawn of the Dead

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES, RANKED

Conclusion

Dawn of the Dead is equal parts zombie movie and social commentary. It’s also endlessly rewatchable.

Reaching the End of the Top 10 Horror Movies

2. The Exorcist (1973)

Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist  •  Documentary

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES

Conclusion

The Exorcist continues to terrify to this day. It’s one of the scariest experiences you can have with a movie.

The Best Horror Film of All Time

1. The Thing (1982)

The Fundamentals of Effective Horror  •  Jack’s Movie Reviews

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.

BEST HORROR MOVIES OF ALL TIME

Conclusion

The effects are groundbreaking. The horror and paranoia feels all too real. All these years later, The Thing is just as scary both in terms of its monsters and what it has to say about the world around us.

UP NEXT

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!

Up Next: Underrated Horror Movies →
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