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The 82 best horror movies of all time, ranked

We've picked the top horror movies ever and put them all into one list, now let's watch them fight for the number one spot.

Best horror movies; Alien, The Shining, and Get Out

What are the best horror movies? For over a century, horror movies have brought our deepest and darkest fears to life, making our hearts pound in delight, terrified of any late-night phone calls and jumping at the smallest sounds.

It is safe to say that when it comes to the best movies of all time, everyone loves a good scare, and few genres have been as successful as horror. Be it award winners, new movies, or massive money-making franchises like all the Halloween movies in order, you just can’t go wrong with some good old-fashioned terror. However, finding scary gems can be tricky on your own. So, to assist in creating some nightmares, our team of horror experts has put together a comprehensive list for all you horror hounds. Here are the 82 best horror movies of all time!

Best horror movies: Drag Me to Hell (2009)

82. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

After his work on the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that Sam Raimi had turned his back on horror forever. Thankfully, Drag Me to Hell proves that Raimi’s one true love will always be the scariest of genres.

A morality play at its heart, Drag Me to Hell follows Christine Brown, an assistant bank manager who chooses not to extend an elderly woman’s mortgage to impress her stern boss. Unfortunately, the woman turns out to be a powerful magician who curses Christine with a one-way trip to Hell.

While it lacks Evil Dead’s unhinged irreverence, Drag Me To Hell manages to be something of a spiritual successor to the franchise that made Raimi’s name, balancing high-camp absurdity with downright terrifying scares. Even more impressively, it manages to do so while maintaining a PG-13 certificate, no mean feat for a film as stylish and scary as this.

Best horror movies: His House (2020)

81. His House (2020)

Genuinely horrifying, His House is one of those films that’ll have even the most hardened of horror hounds hiding behind the sofa. The Netflix movie tells the story of Bol and Rial, a South Sudanese couple who struggle to adjust to their new life in a run-down council house outside of London after arriving as refugees.

Peeling wallpaper and dirty carpets aren’t the couple’s biggest problems, though. No, Bol and Rial appear to have attracted the attention of some twisted otherworldly presence known as an Apeth or a Night Witch.

While His House’s supernatural elements make for an unsettling watch, what separates this film from other streaming horrors is the way it manages to blend the refugee experience into the story. Indeed, some of the film’s most shocking moments come from the living, not the dead.

Best horror movies: Creature from the Black Lagoon

80. Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

We couldn’t write a ‘best horror movies list’ without shouting out Universal’s iconic creature features now, could we? And the ‘50s masterpiece, Creature from the Black Lagoon, is still one of the best monster movies of all time.

The film follows a group of scientists who venture into the Amazon, hoping to find the missing link between land and sea animals. Their research leads them to the proof they were after once they met a humanoid amphibian. The only problem is that this creature isn’t keen on intruders, and soon, it begins killing the crew in order to avoid capture and save its home.

Creature From the Black Lagoon will leave you terrified of open bodies of water but also sympathizing with its villain. There is also tense underwater camerawork, stunning costumes, and a great script filled with man vs nature themes – what more could you want? (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Creature from the Black Lagoon Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon IMDb score: 6.9

Best horror movies: Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man

79. The Wicker Man (1973)

Not to be confused with Nicolas Cage’s 2006 remake, the original The Wicker Man is a masterclass in folk horror. Directed by Robin Hardy and starring Christopher Lee, here is a movie with a unique setting, stellar performances, an amazing soundtrack, and (most importantly) a great mystery to keep you hooked.

We don’t want to give too much away since what makes The Wicker Man one of the best movies of all time is its premise and plot. But, as a quick summary, the ‘70s film follows a police officer who ventures onto an isolated Scottish island, hoping to find a missing girl.

But, the island in question is filled with some very naked and strange inhabitants who counter everything that our main (and very Christian) protagonist believes in. The Wicker Man is a classic, and trust us; every horror fan should watch it at least once. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Wicker Man Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • The Wicker Man IMDb score: 7.5

Best horror movies: Ginger Snaps

78. Ginger Snaps (2000)

Ginger Snaps is not only one of the best werewolf movies ever made, but it’s also one of the best body horrors themed around puberty that you can find, period (get it?) Directed by John Fawcett, the film follows two young teens with a fascination with death who get their world turned upside down once they are attacked by a lycanthrope.

In typical werewolf fashion, we see plenty of transformations and aggressive teens growling. But what makes Ginger Snaps so special is its unapologetic, gory practical effects and well of feminist subtext. Puberty is hard, and for many, it can appear to be a horrific and unnatural thing as your body changes before your eyes. Few films capture that terror more than Ginger Snaps. Truly a ten out of ten flick for anyone looking for strong female-centred horror. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Ginger Snaps Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • Ginger Snaps IMDb score: 6.8

Best horror movies: Annabelle Wallis in Malignant

77. Malignant (2021)

Malignant is possibly the most outlandish movie of James Wan’s career, and that’s saying something. The director is known for chilly The Conjuring flicks and jumpscare-laden Insidious films, but Malignant is his love letter to the genre that welcomed him with open arms.

In one of the best 2021 horror movies, a woman at the end of her rope after her abusive ex-boyfriend is brutally murdered by an unseen force, and the walls of her reality begin to fray as she experiences strange psychic events and is entangled in a mysterious string of slayings.

Half of the fun here is the homage to camp ’80s horror, and the other is the electric storytelling featuring an unmissable twist. Full of surprises without sacrificing heart — in the shape of sisterhood at the center of it — Malignant is thrilling and hammy in the greatest ways. Watch it, then grab a friend and watch them watch it. (Trudie Graham)

  • Malignant Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
  • Malignant IMDb score: 6.2
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76. The Witch (2015)

In The Witch, an exiled family is plunged into accusations, punishment, and disarray when harm begins to plague their children and land. And when the eldest, Thomasin, is beckoned by mysterious dark forces, their unit unravels.

The oppressive atmosphere of Robert Eggers’ New England folktale is enough to make us never want to revisit it, but the chill factor, creative take on the allure of witchcraft, and the condemnation of religious extremes claw us back.

Disturbing, wild, and sharply executed, if you’re looking for a unique slant on dark magic, the devil, and superstition, try The Witch out if you dare. (Trudie Graham)

  • The Witch Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • The Witch IMDb score: 7

Best horror movies: A teen girl holding up a haunted head by a well in House

75. House (1977)

House (also known as Hausu) is a wild horror comedy that’s as bonkers as a haunted fever dream. And when we say fever dream, we mean it. In this movie, you’ll see strange possessions, a love-lorn ghost, rivers of blood, and even a couple of characters who get turned into fruit. Basically, House is a delightfully unhinged and stylistic masterpiece that every horror fan with a soft spot for films like Evil Dead should watch at least once.

Directed and produced by Nobuhiko Obayashi, House follows a beautiful schoolgirl who travels to the countryside in order to visit her aunt with six friends. However, a quiet getaway turns sinister as deadly supernatural events begin to occur, and the girls are destroyed by their haunted surroundings one by one.

House is an experimental movie that leans into its themes over a traditional story. So, if you’re ready for pure scary fantasy or straightforward plotlines, dive into this film for your next movie night. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • House Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • House IMDb score: 7.3

Best horror movies: A man poking an alien pod in Invasion of the Body Snatchers

74. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Horror movies involving aliens are always a hoot and a half, but the 1950s film Invasion of the Body Snatchers still stands out as a genre gem when it comes to extraterrestrial paranoia. This is the film that made neighbors eye each other with suspicion back in the day, as it popularized stories about humans secretly being replaced by aliens.

Directed by Don Siegel, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a tense thriller that follows a man discovering that alien spores from out of space are growing pods – each producing an identical version of the humans around him.

These monsters have their victims’ personalities and memories but are devoid of emotion, and it soon becomes up to our hero to stop the silent invasion before the “pod people” completely take over. The story is iconic, harks back to Cold War fears of the period, and is one of the best alien movies you can watch today. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers IMDb score: 7.7

Best horror movies: Carey Elwes in Saw

73. Saw (2004)

Although many can’t hack(saw) it, we can’t pretend that this kind of physical horror exists and that it’s not beloved by some. For one, it allows audiences to indulge in their most intrusive thoughts and darkest imaginings. Saw was a new take on body horror movies and set aside the fantastical for the all-too-real.

The first movie is the best of the bunch, with a perfectly simple concept that was born of a budding director’s vision and lack of budget. Two men are locked in a dirty bathroom, chained to the floor, and are given the option to kill one another. You can probably imagine where the situation goes, and if you can’t, let’s just say that not all the limbs leave the room. (Jessica Cullen)

  • Saw Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
  • Saw IMDb score: 7.6

Best horror movies: Gage in Pet Sematary

72. Pet Sematary (1989)

The idea of Pet Sematary alone is creepy enough, but it’s also a chilling tale of what happens when we just can’t let the dead go. And, as the film teaches us: “Sometimes, dead is better.” When a husband and father suffer an unthinkable tragedy, he’ll do anything he can to fix what they’ve lost…even if it means playing God to do it.

What happens next is a chilling tale of love and loss, set amid the creepy setting of a children’s cemetery where they can bury their beloved pets. It was remade again in 2019, but we think there’s something slightly offbeat and clunky about the ’80s version that makes it that little bit more memorable. (Jessica Cullen)

  • Pet Sematary Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
  • Pet Sematary IMDb score: 6.5

Best horror movies: The cast of Final Destination

71. Final Destination (2000)

Final Destination will likely appeal to fans of Saw because it focuses on giving us the most imaginative and creative endings for its characters as possible. When a teen boy has a premonition that causes him and his friends to leave a soon-departing plane, they find that they’ve saved themselves from the crash that was set to happen. Basically, they’ve cheated death… And death ‘ain’t happy.

As they get picked off one by one, the deaths only become more gruesome and unpredictable. This turned into a franchise that became a parody of itself, but each installment is equally fun. That said, it’s the first movie that proves itself as genuinely eerie. Critics hate it; fans love it: you be the judge. (Jessica Cullen)

  • Final Destination Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
  • Final Destination IMDb score: 6.7

Best horror movies: Tim Curry as Pennywise in IT

70. It (1990)

Okay, we’ll fess up: there are two iterations of It on this list. Why? Well, because a killer clown stalking a group of kids over the years is one of the greatest horror concepts known to man, and because it’s been remade twice over. What’s more, it’ll soon be a TV series. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The 1990 version of Stephen King’s masterpiece was first made into a TV movie in 1990, which aired on ABC.

It’s corny, out-of-date, and a little cheap-looking, but my god, nothing compares to Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise. The man’s a character genius and throws himself wholeheartedly into becoming one of the scariest creations of King ever shown on screen. If you saw this when you were a kid, you’ll know just how much it ruined drains, balloons, and Chinese food for you. (Jessica Cullen)

  • It Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
  • It IMDb score: 6.8

Marines from Aliens search the compound for Xenomorphs

69. Aliens (1986)

This James Cameron follow-up to the sublime horror of Alien is loud and proud. Turning up the action turned out to be the right choice, as Aliens strikes out on its own to create its own unique identity in the franchise.

Brilliantly textured VFX, production design, and minis create a tangible aesthetic that drives home the stakes and danger of the whistling planet Ripley finds herself on. Upping the capitalism commentary present in the original, Aliens is dumb, fun, and smart in equal measure, made possible by a miracle script and a pressure cooker of a director.

If Alien is about the solitude of survival and man’s attempts to stave off an apex predator, Aliens is about the frantic desperation that comes with admitting humanity is on the weaker side. (Trudie Graham)

  • Aliens Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • Aliens IMDb score: 8.4
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68. The Invisible Man (2020)

People might be getting tired of allegory in elevated horror, but The Invisible Man remake starring Elisabeth Moss is a perfect example of how these kinds of stories can hit all the right marks. Unsettling, thick with menace, and anchored by Moss’ stunning performance as a woman who feels like her abusive ex is still around after his apparent death, it’s even better than the original.

It doesn’t hide its ideas behind layers of subtext, instead scrutinizing the idea of this classic monster through the lens of surviving toxic relationships. Its clever cinematography, use of negative space, and closely guarded mysteries make it a thrill ride. From the cold open alone, you know you’re in for a treat. (Trudie Graham)

  • The Invisible Man Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
  • The Invisible Man IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Prevenge

67. Prevenge (2016)

Clever and terrifying in equal measure, Prevenge is a comedy slasher that doesn’t resort to pastiche or farce. Instead, director Alice Lowe turns our own preconceptions of what we think a pregnant woman is capable of against us and tells an outrageous and darkly funny story about prenatal paranoia and fear.

The female reproductive system is an increasingly popular horror theme these days, for obvious reasons, and Prevenge is one of the first feature-length movies to go all the way with it. (Tom Percival)

  • Prevenge Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
  • Prevenge IMDb score: 5.9

Best horror movies: the cast of Lake Mungo

66. Lake Mungo (2008)

Those Australians sure do know how to make a horror movie. ‘Found footage’ horrors are nothing new, and certainly weren’t in 2008, but Lake Mungo may be one of the most effective imaginings of this format.

Taking place after the daughter of a family dies in a tragic drowning, the movie is depicted through home-shot footage and interviews with friends and family as everyone tries to cope with their grief, as well as some supernatural events they begin to experience. (Jessica Cullen)

  • Lake Mungo Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
  • Lake Mungo IMDb score: 6.3

Best horror movies: Tremors

65. Tremors (1990)

A love letter to creature features of the ’50s, Tremors tells the story of two handymen, played by Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward, who find themselves trapped in a no-horse town called Perfection by giant carnivorous worms.

It sounds exceptionally silly (And it is), but director Ron Underwood manages to keep the film thrilling by drawing humor from the odd characters who call Perfection home and not the terrifying situation they find themselves in. Indeed, several of the worms’ kills are so horrific that we promise you you’ll find yourself scanning the horizon for any well-placed rocks after watching. (Tom Percival)

  • Tremors Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
  • Tremors IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Creep

64. Creep (2014)

Found footage movies are ten a penny at this point, and vanishingly few live up to the greats in the genre, but Creep more than earns its title. Our hero is Aaron, a struggling videographer who finds himself in over his head when he takes a job working for Josef, a dying man who claims he wants to make a video diary for his unborn son.

What it lacks in gore and outright violence, Creep more than makes up for with its tense and chilling atmosphere, and director Patrick Brice shows exceptional skill in making the audience feel massively uncomfortable without resorting to bangs and boos. Basically, we promise you’ll never answer a Craiglist ad again after watching Creep. (Tom Percival)

  • Creep Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
  • Creep IMDb score: 6.3

Best horror movies: Oculus

63. Oculus (2013)

While Oculus isn’t Mike Flanagan’s first feature film, it’s arguably the horror movie that put him on everyone’s radar. Genuinely horrifying in the truest sense of the word, Oculus is a mind-bending and downright nasty film that will put you off looking in a mirror ever again.

Flanagan is known for using horror as an exercise in generational trauma, and he’s one of the best at it. Oculus is a precursor to his TV masterpiece, The Haunting of Hill House, in ways you’ll understand after seeing it. (Tom Percival)

  • Oculus Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
  • Oculus Next IMDb score: 6.5

Best horror movies: The Mist

62. The Mist (2007)

From the master of the Stephen King adaptation, Frank Darabont, The Mist is one of the few cinematic reimaginings that improves on its source material. Set almost entirely in a supermarket, this wonderfully macabre tale tells the story of David Drayton and his son Billy, who find themselves trapped in the store by a thick mist full of monsters.

Boasting one of the most harrowing endings in the history of modern cinema, it’s easy to overlook Darabont’s skill at manifesting an atmosphere of pure dread, without which that gut-punch ending just wouldn’t have worked. (Tom Percival)

  • The Mist Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
  • The Mist IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies - You're Next

61. You’re Next (2011)

Adam Wingard is now the director of choice for the MonsterVerse, helming Godzilla vs. Kong and its upcoming sequel. But more than a decade ago, he announced himself to genre fans with this witty, subversive spin on the best slasher movies.

Sharni Vinson is a top-tier ‘Final Girl’, who inadvertently ends up in the middle of a family reunion that goes south in a hurry when masked attackers start murdering everybody. It’s as funny as it is furiously bloody, with an Agatha Christie whodunnit edge, too. (Tom Beasley)

  • You’re Next Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
  • You’re Next IMDb score: 6.6

Best horror movies - The Black Cat

60. The Black Cat (1934)

In the 1930s, The Black Cat was a bit like the Avengers: Endgame of Universal’s horror output. This was the first of eight films to unite the most famous horror icons of the era: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Perhaps a better comparison than Avengers would be Freddy vs. Jason, but The Black Cat is way better.

It’s only an hour long but casts these two legends of the genre as men with a complex and antagonistic relationship. They play a high-stakes game of chess (both figurative and literal) en route to a violent finale. Even at 90 years old, it has the power to shock. (Tom Beasley)

  • The Black Cat Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
  • The Black Cat IMDb score: 6.9

Best horror movies - Revenge

59. Revenge (2017)

French director Coralie Fargeat gave the difficult, controversial rape-revenge genre a new spin with this utterly brutal saga. Matilda Lutz takes the lead as a woman fighting back against those who perpetrated acts of horrific violence against her.

Fargeat directs the thing with real style and Lutz delivers a performance of impressive physicality and sheer determination. In a very complex corner of horror, this movie stands tall. The rape-revenge subgenre is divisive, for good reason, and Revenge is exemplary in the ways it subverts tired, harmful tropes we’ve seen in it. (Tom Beasley)

  • Revenge Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
  • Revenge IMDb score: 6.4

Best horror movies - Crimson Peak

58. Crimson Peak (2015)

One of Guillermo del Toro’s most unfairly maligned works, Crimson Peak is a theatrical, over-cranked homage to gothic romance and ghost stories. It follows a young American author who is whisked away to a British mansion by her new husband, only to uncover various secrets.

Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, and Tom Hiddleston are all fully aware of the movie they’re making and they lean into it completely. By the time the final act splattered the snowy ground with blood, we were totally and utterly sold. (Tom Beasley)

  • Crimson Peak Rotten Tomatoes: 73%
  • Crimson Peak IMDb score: 6.5

Best horror movies - The Orphanage

57. The Orphanage (2007)

Before J. A. Bayona was directing massive set pieces in movies like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and TV series like The Rings of Power, he made this Spanish gem that trades on every parent’s worst nightmare: the sudden disappearance of their child.

Naturally, there are some ghosts too to amplify the horror and the gothic design of the titular building gives a real intensity to everything that’s happening. And that gut-punch ending? It’s a killer. (Tom Beasley)

  • The Orphanage Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
  • The Orphanage IMDb score: 7.4

Best horror movies - Onibaba

56. Onibaba (1964)

Kaneto Shindō’s masterful monochrome nightmare is a film built almost solely on atmosphere. You don’t get gallons of blood or shrieking jump scares, but you do get gradually and intensely creeped the hell out.

For its first half, it’s a drama about samurai, infighting, and affairs during a 15th-century civil war in Japan. But then, that horrifying mask arrives and we descend into the depths of terror. It’s unforgettable. (Tom Beasley)

  • Onibaba Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • Onibaba IMDb score: 7.9

Best horror movies - One Cut of the Dead

55. One Cut of the Dead (2017)

You’d be forgiven for thinking that every possible spin on the zombie movie has been done by now. But then Japanese filmmaker Shin’ichirō Ueda said, “Hold my blood-soaked beer” and gave us the gonzo chaos of One Cut of the Dead.

To spoil the unique structure of the movie would be a crime, but it’s fair to say that it follows the crew of a zombie movie as they find themselves actually inside a zombie movie. It’s hilarious, terrifying, and as inventive as cinema can get on such a tiny budget. A modern classic. (Tom Beasley)

  • One Cut of the Dead Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
  • One Cut of the Dead IMDb score: 7.6

Best horror movies - Videodrome

54. Videodrome (1983)

David Cronenberg maybe hit the peak of his oeuvre with this squishy, strange satire about the corrupting power of television. Yep, check the date. He made this way back in the early ’80s. The guy was very ahead of his time.

The movie follows a sleazy TV exec as he tracks down a violent broadcast that he believes could be the future of the medium. It only gets weirder and more disgusting from there. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Long live the new flesh. (Tom Beasley)

  • Videodrome Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
  • Videodrome IMDb score: 7.2

Best horror movies - The Haunting

53. The Haunting (1963)

Before the Mike Flanagan adaptation The Haunting of Hill House turned Shirley Jackson’s chilling novel into one of the best Netflix series, it gave us one of the most thoroughly chilling movies of the ’60s. This is an oppressive nightmare of a horror tale that cares about just one thing: scaring you senseless.

Julie Harris gives a stunning central performance. We’ve still never forgotten the spiral staircase stuff, and we’re suckers for a creepy opening voiceover. It’s enough to send a shiver down any spine. (Tom Beasley)

  • The Haunting Rotten Tomatoes: 87%
  • The Haunting IMDb score: 7.4

Best horror movies: Ghostface in Scream (1996)

52. Scream (1996)

If you click on this list, chances are that you like scary movies. And, with that in mind, you’d be prime as Ghostface’s next victim. Wes Craven’s Scream movies are downright iconic and have not only taken the horror genre by storm but also perfected the art of meta-movie commentary.

In one of the best 90s movies, we see a mysterious masked killer stalking the town of Woodsboro and slaying every teen who comes in contact with the final girl, Sidney Prescott.

There are nail-biting chase scenes, kitchen knife antics, and some stylish slasher kills to keep you hooked. Scream is tense, has a genuine jaw-dropping twist, and it’s easy to see why this franchise is still going strong decades later.

But be warned, every time I watch Scream, I end up locking my doors and jumping at every creek on the floor. This is pure home invasion nightmare fuel in the best possible way imaginable. To get started, find out how to watch the Scream movies in order. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Scream Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
  • Scream IMDb score: 7.4

Best horror movies: Dracula

51. Dracula (1958)

Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing — iconic in every sense of the word. Of the many, many adaptations of Dracula, Hammer Horror’s version is one of the most enduring, turning Bram Stoker’s book into a glorious, gothic fantasy.

Terence Fisher captures the decadence of the vampiric tale but gives a campy eroticism, too. Lee’s Dracula is flirtatious and sexy, even (perhaps especially) when covered in bright red blood, hunted by Cushing’s uptight monster hunter. The middle child of Hammer’s gothic trilogy, between Frankenstein and The Invisible Man, is a perfect entry point into the studio’s canon. (James Osborne)

  • Dracula Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
  • Dracula IMDb score: 7.2

The best horror movies: Heather Lagenkamp as Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street

50. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

You can’t talk about great horror movies without mentioning Freddy Krueger. If you were to build a Mount Rushmore of the best horror movie monsters, that fedora-wearing, knife-glove-wielding, sleep stalker would be one of the first in line for a spot.

The A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise may have seven movies to its name now, but none come close to the original. And if you really want to spook yourself, we’ve put together a little piece on the true story behind Freddy Krueger. Read it if you dare! (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
  • A Nightmare On Elm Street IMDb score: 7.4

The best horror movies: What We Do in the Shadows

49. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

This is a very controversial statement, but horror has many sub-genres, and there’s merit in a comedy movie that utilizes certain horror elements that pay homage to the genre instead of strictly following its beats. Long before Taika Waititi worked for the MCU, he was making fantastic little indie films such as this one.

The What We Do in the Shadows universe has since expanded into a hugely successful TV series, but the original movie is the blueprint upon which that was built. What We Do in the Shadows season 5 is streaming now if you want more from the darkly hilarious adventures from Staten Island. (Jakob Barnes)

What We Do in the Shadows Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
What We Do in the Shadows IMDb score: 7.6

Best horror movies: Donald Sutherland in Don't Look Now

48. Don’t Look Now (1973)

Don’t Look Now may not be the goriest or grizzliest movie on this list, but what it lacks in viscera, it more than makes up for in atmosphere. This is one of the most harrowing and chilling thrillers ever put to celluloid.

Part of its power is Nicolas Roeg’s use of film editing techniques to play with the viewer’s perception and keep them off balance. Still, the reason why the film is so terrifying is because, at its heart, Don’t Look Now is about a universal truth that grief is corrosive when you wallow in it. (Tom Percival)

  • Don’t Look Now Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
  • Don’t Look Now IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Jason Miller in The Exorcist 3

47. The Exorcist III (1990)

The Exorcist II might be considered one of the worst movies and certainly one of the worst sequels of all time. So, we aren’t going to blame you if you then gave up on the horror movie series and didn’t bother with The Exorcist III. But we’re here to tell you you’ve made a big mistake.

The Exorcist III is a worthy successor to The Exorcist. It explores the futility of life and religion through a procedural detective drama lens. It’s dour and depressing in the most suffocating way and even has one or two iconic jump scares. It’s a hugely underappreciated horror movie, but still, its legacy on cinema is impossible to describe: without The Exorcist III, there would be no Se7en. Do yourself a favor and check it out. (James Osborne)

  • The Exorcist III Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
  • The Exorcist III IMDb score: 6.5

Best horror movies: Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula

46. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a Francis Ford Coppola horror movie, is not what you’d expect. It’s a horror movie in the most unconventional sense, relying on atmosphere and disturbing (but grand) visual moments rather than outright terror. Gary Oldman’s Dracula is up there with the greats, and while there are some iffy English accents, it all fits into the high camp and glamour of this bloodthirsty flick.

If you’re not a fan of horror, this is one for you and a good introduction to the genre. But that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile of a watch for horror aficionados. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an underrated gem and a perfectly imperfect vampire movie. (James Osborne)

  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula IMDb score: 7.4

The best horror movies: Tippi Hedren in The Birds

45. The Birds (1963)

Most of us probably see a bird every single day, but for some people, the sight of a friendly little pigeon on the street could be enough to send them running for shelter. Those people will have seen Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Birds, that’s why.

The Master of Suspense did for avian animals what Steven Spielberg did for sharks, with his terrifying flock of ferocious birds causing havoc for Tippi Hedren and the inhabitants of Bodega Bay. (Tom Percival)

  • The Birds Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
  • The Birds IMDb score: 7.6

Best horror movies: Lori Cardille in Day of the Dead

44. Day of the Dead (1985)

After Dawn of the Dead, George A. Romero goes even darker still by taking humanity to the brink of extinction. A tense cabal of scientists and soldiers holed up in a bunker are, for all they know, what’s left of mankind.

Cities are gigantic hives of the undead, and everything continues to dwindle, patience included. Sarah, played by Lori Cardille, is largely failing to keep the peace with military bully Henry Rhodes, portrayed by an utterly despicable Joseph Pilato.

Envisioned as a grand blockbuster, Romero was forced to get smaller and more intimate when funding was slashed. All the better, as we sit with characters who’ve watched everything fall apart, fall apart themselves. Relentlessly dark but poetic in its struggles against the dying of the light. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • The Day of the Dead Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
  • The Day of the Dead IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Deborah Kerr in The Innocents

43. The Innocents (1961)

Based on the 1898 novella, The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents is one of the best ghost movies and psychological horrors ever to hit the big screen. Constantly playing with our perception of reality and sanity, this film perfectly captures the saying, “Your mind is just playing tricks on you.”

Directed by Jack Clayton, The Innocents follows Miss Gidden (Deborah Kerr), a governess who becomes convinced the two children she’s been charged with looking after are actually possessed by evil spirits. A mystery then unfolds as Gidden struggles to distinguish what is real and what is just her imagination and paranoia.

Besides giving us a chilling and captivating plot, The Innocents’ striking and claustrophobic atmosphere marked it as one of the standouts and a firm classic in the genre. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Innocents Rotten Tomatoes: (96%)
  • The Innocents IMDb score: 7

The best horror movies: Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in It Chapter One

42. IT: Chapter One (2017)

A movie that came with the pressure of not only adapting an epic Stephen King novel but also remaking a cult ’90s TV movie, the first part of Pennywise the Clown’s rebirth sure had a lot to live up to. Luckily, director Andy Muschietti and his team delivered and then some.

A brilliant young cast, including the likes of Stranger Things alum Finn Wolfhard, take on the terrifying threat of Pennywise the Clown (Bill Skarsgård) after a spate of missing children cases in the small town of Derry. Pennywise is sinister, sadistic, and has an insatiable hunger for small humans.

This is a modern remake that ticks all the boxes; IT Chapter One has some truly wild jump scares, a relentless sense of foreboding, and a little bit of comic relief, too. It’s just a shame Chapter Two couldn’t finish the job effectively. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • IT Chapter One Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
  • IT Chapter One IMDb score: 7.3

The best horror movies: Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin

41. Under the Skin (2013)

Jonathan Glazer crafted one of the most stylish and ethereal modern horrors with his adaptation of Michael Faber’s thought-provoking novel. Starring Scarlett Johansson as a mysterious creature not of this Earth, Under the Skin is a haunting exploration of what it means to be human.

The British director melds science fiction and horror in a twisted fashion with searing imagery that will stay with you long after the credits roll. If you enjoy a horror that gets you thinking and leaves you with some questions, Under the Skin will be right up your street. (Jakob Barnes)

  • Under the Skin Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
  • Under the Skin IMDb score: 6.3

Best horror movies: Tony Todd in Candyman

40. Candyman (1992)

Do you like bees? If the answer is yes, firstly, you are not Nic Cage, and secondly, Bernard Rose’s ‘90s horror movie, Candyman, will be right up your spooky street. Based on Clive Barker’s short story, The Forbidden, the flick follows a university student Helen Lyle, who is researching urban legends.

Her work leads her to the spirit of a tortured ghost of a slave from the 1800s who dies at the hands of a lynch mob. Commenting on systematic racism, as well as being packed with gory, psychological mind trips, Candyman is downright iconic.

The city of Chicago has never looked eerier and rarely has the horror community been hit so hard as we face the truths of generational cruelty. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Candyman Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
  • Candyman IMDb score: 6.7

Best horror movies: Begotten

39. Begotten (1990)

The strange opening scene of a figure strapped to a chair in an empty house spewing blood sets the tone of Begotten, an enigmatic piece of arthouse cinema. There are no words, literally, only environmental sounds for the company throughout the grueling ordeal.

That figure is God, according to the synopsis, who becomes Mother Earth. You can watch it with this information in mind or interpret it as you see fit. E Elias Merhige, who wrote, directed, and produced, casts narrative guidance aside, challenging viewers to find their own through-line. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • Begotten Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
  • Begotten IMDb score: 5.6

The best horror movies: Jennifer Lawrence in Mother!

38. Mother! (2017)

If you like horror movies full of religious allegories and extremely anxiety-inducing moments, then Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! is the one for you. This movie proved to be rather divisive upon release, but it’s a blistering take on the whole God-creating-Earth story.

Starring Jennifer Lawrence as the eponymous mother and Javier Bardem as her problematic husband, the pair go through a range of emotions as their home is invaded by a hell of a lot of people. It’s the kind of movie that will make you squirm and want to yell at the screen, but that’s a good thing, we promise. (Jakob Barnes)

  • Mother! Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
  • Mother! IMDb score: 6.6

Best horror movies: Return to Oz

37. Return to Oz (1985)

It seems every scene in Return to Oz has another strange creature or effect to haunt your psyche for years to come. In the Oz Dorothy returns to,  the inhabitants have been turned into statues in a coup led by the Nome King.

The Yellow Brick Road is shattered, now patrolled by gangs of giggling, wheel-handed wretches. They’re just the start of the terror writer and director Walter Murch has in store. An effects wiz, this would be his only time in the director’s chair, perhaps chilled by his own twisted fantasy. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • Return of Oz Rotten Tomatoes: 58%
  • Return of Oz IMDb score: 6.7

Best horror movies: Eyes Without a Face

36. Eyes Without a Face (1960)

The 1960 French movie Eyes Without a Face is gothic horror to the extreme and is guaranteed to give you nightmares about faceless figures haunting your homes and hallways. Directed by Georges Franju, the flick acts as a twisted fairy-tale obsessed with the concept of beauty and entrapment.

We watch a plastic surgeon continually lure victims into his home and then proceed to use his skills to steal their faces for his disfigured daughter against their will. Sounds pretty horrific, right? Well, that’s because it is, and after witnessing it, you will fully understand how understatedly disturbed that concept truly is.

Between madness, eerie poetic cinematography, and a minimalistic white mask that you can’t forget, Eyes Without a Face will leave you shaking in your boots. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Eyes Without A Face Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
  • Eyes Without A Face IMDb score: 7.6

Best Horror movies: Sissy Spacek in Carrie

35. Carrie (1976)

Adapted from Stephen King’s first novel, Brian Da Palma ditches the book’s epistolary style to instead focus on the eponymous Carrie (Sissy Spacek), a shy and bullied high school girl who discovers she has incredible telekinetic powers.

This is no superhero origin story, though. It’s an exploration of teen cruelty that ultimately ends in a bloody explosion of violence as Carrie turns her newfound abilities on her vicious tormentors. (Tom Percival)

  • Carrie Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
  • Carrie IMDb score: 7.4

The best horror movies of all time: Megan Fox in Jennifer's Body

34. Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Speaking of troubled teens, this gloriously gory 2000s movie was heavily misunderstood at the time of release, with both the film and its star Megan Fox, dividing opinions. Now, however, it’s safe to say Jennifer’s Body is iconic, and the tide has certainly turned in many people’s opinions on the film.

With tongue-in-cheek humor, gnarly kills, and plenty of razor-sharp social commentary, Jennifer’s Body is a fun, thought-provoking comedy horror that ticks every box you could ask for. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Jennifer’s Body Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
  • Jennifer’s Body IMDb score:7.4

Best horror movies: Bride of Frankenstein

33. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The glorious sets and effects imbue the classic Universal Monster movies with a timelessness that’s typified in the grimly romantic Bride of Frankenstein. Boris Karloff returns as the Monster, still terrorized by villagers at every turn. He tracks down Dr Pretorius and conspires with him to push Dr Frankenstein into making a female creature so the two can mate.

An even greater abomination of God rises from the experiment, the cold, shrieking Bride. Elsa Lanchester’s thousand-yard stare makes Karloff’s besotted performance even more saddening if such a thing is possible. A second fiery ending doubles down on the tragedy, and Lanchester’s double-casting as a narrating Mary Shelley shows director James Whale’s understanding of the base story. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • Bride of Frankenstein Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • Bride of Frankenstein IMDb score: 7.8

The best Horror movies: Night of the Living Dead

32. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

When it came to making the best zombie movies, nobody did it quite like George A. Romero. The legendary filmmaker is not only the king of the zombie movie, he practically wrote the textbook on the sub-genre, and it all started with his 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead.

It’s incredible to look back and see what was achieved all those decades ago, without the use of visual effects and fancy filmmaking techniques, just a tense story and disturbing visuals. This movie is proof that sometimes, less is more. (Jakob Barnes)

  • Night of the Living Dead Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
  • Night of the Living Dead IMDb score: 7.8

Best Horror Movies: Coraline

31. Coraline (2009)

This is the movie that has terrified children, and a fair share of adults, for over a decade. Whether it’s the button eyes, the lost souls, or the hundreds of tiny rodents, there’s something in Coraline that’ll be certain to horrify you in all the right ways.

However, it’s the visuals that are arguably the movie’s main attraction. They perfectly encapsulate the creepiness and, in some moments, the outright terror of the Other World. This is never more apparent than in the movie’s crescendo. The Other Mother’s transition into a huge spider-like form is, truly, nightmare fuel. One of the best scary movies for kids, hands down. (James Osborne)

  • Coraline Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • Coraline IMDb score: 7.7

Best horror movies: Rena Mandel in Vampyr

30. Vampyr (1932)

This misty vampire movie draws from Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic fiction, one of the key inspirations for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There’s less bloodsucking in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ethereal production, where a wandering cultist discovers demonic creatures preying on a small town, kept by an evil doctor in a nearby castle.

Shadows spring to life, and dark premonitions take hold in the dreamlike narrative, held together by elegant edits. A widespread shot of a man holding a scythe is but one of many striking images that are made all the more memorable by the experimental audio features. Haunting. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • Vampyr Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • Vampyr IMDb score: 7.4

The best horror movies: Garance Marillier as Justine in Raw

29. Raw (2016)

Move aside, David Cronenberg; there is a new master of body horror in town! French filmmaker Julia Ducournau burst onto the scene in 2016 with her grisly, cannibalistic coming-of-age directorial debut and hasn’t looked back since. She even won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2021 for her latest film, Titane.

Raw is an incredible sensory overload, with gloriously gory visuals, a blistering musical score, and a great story at the heart of it all. It might not be scary, but the horror genre is a broad spectrum, so if you’re looking for unsettling and shocking content, Raw is the movie for you. (Jakob Barnes)

  • Raw Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
  • Raw IMDb score: 7

Best Horror movies: The Cabin In The Woods

28. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Funny, scary, and delightfully meta, The Cabin in the Woods is a horror movie made for people who love the silly cliches and trappings of the spookiest genre. The film follows a group of college students who take a trip to the titular cabin in the woods and find themselves attacked by undead revenants — so far, so horror movie.

What separates Cabin in the Woods from your average blood-splattered slasher is the clever reveal that the scares are actually being deliberately manufactured. A delight from start to finish, Cabin in the Woods begins as a love letter to all your favorite silly horror tropes and ends with a gory massacre. Sounds ideal. (Tom Percival)

  • The Cabin in the Woods Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
  • The Cabin in the Woods IMDb score: 7

Best horror movies: Threads

27. Threads (1984)

Do you want to feel like absolute crap and be rattled by a new state of crippling fear for humanity? Well, step aside, Oppenheimer, because there’s a new (old) movie about the terror of nuclear war in town, and it’ll make you sick! In all seriousness, no movie has ever depicted the threat of atomic warfare so hauntingly.

At a time when the threat of nuclear war was hanging prominently in the minds of citizens everywhere, the BBC produced a film that explored what would happen if the UK was struck by a bomb. Although not strictly designed to have been a horror movie, Threads is one of the most horrific things you’ll ever see.

From the initial attack and sudden panic to the resulting wasteland that comes years later, it’s an examination of a man-made disaster that hits a little too close to home. (Jessica Cullen)

  • Threads Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
  • Threads IMDb score: 8

Best horror movies: Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby

26. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Sometimes, horror delivers you with a gut punch of tension and leaves you suspicious of everyone you meet. This is the case of Rosemary’s Baby, which follows the story of a young pregnant woman whose new neighbors start eyeing her up and grooming her for their ritual to birth the son of Satan.

Rosemary’s Baby falls into one of the most exciting time periods of horror — when women’s rights were at the forefront of the public’s mind. Rosemary’s Baby is a chilling look at the horrors and psychological turmoil of pregnancy, showing us a frightening depiction of becoming trapped by what society deems as a gift (even if it is literally the son of the devil), and losing control of your maternal body in the process.

Mia Farrow is utterly brilliant in the leading role, and from the flick’s writing, creepy lullaby score, and eerie atmosphere, it proves to be a timeless piece of scary cinema. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Rosemary’s Baby Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
  • Rosemary’s Baby IMDb score: 8

The best horror movies: Maika Monroe in It Follows

25. It Follows (2014)

Like any good horror movie, It Follows was conceived from the recurring nightmares its creator experienced as a child. This unique story of sexually transmitted stalkers is one of the most original and anxiety-inducing horrors of recent years and is so impressive in its creativity.

Incredible shot composition and use of negative space will leave you scanning the screen for where the next scare will come from. A wicked score and immaculate production design heighten the sense of dread. And, with an ambiguous ending, all kinds of disturbing questions will live on in your mind long after the credits roll. (Jakob Barnes)

  • It Follows Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
  • It Follows IMDb score: 6.8

Best horror movies: Shauna Macdonald in The Descent

24. The Descent (2005)

A claustrophobe’s worst nightmare, The Descent, follows a group of spelunkers who — after being led to an unmapped cave system – find themselves trapped underground in a pitch-black labyrinth of caverns and tunnels. Oh, and there are cannibalistic monsters after them as well.

The Descent is a harrowing but engrossing watch that plays on everyone’s instinctive fear of being trapped in the dark. The film gets grisly before the main characters go underground and only ramps up from there. We’d be remiss not to mention its gut-punch of a twist ending that’ll leave even the most courageous of film fans reeling. (Tom Percival)

  • The Descent Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
  • The Descent IMDb score: 7.2

Best horror movies: Rei Hance in The Blair Witch Project

23. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project was released in the late ’90s and ushered a new wave of folk horror and the found footage format obsession in the cinephile community. It’s the film that leaned into the eeriness of the wilderness and gave us some of the most iconic close-ups of crying faces ever seen.

A crew of student filmmakers hikes up to the Black Hills in Maryland, intending to make a documentary on the local Legend of The Blair Witch, but instead of completing their assignment, they end up disappearing. Three years later, the students’ equipment is found along with their recorded footage that, reveals a dark mystery about their fates.

Grossing nearly $250 million worldwide, The Blair Witch Project is one of the most profitable indie movies of all time and is still beloved today. It may be a simple storyline, but by playing with psychological vs. supernatural tropes, it is a horror that will have you hooked. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Blair Witch Project Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
  • The Blair Witch Project IMDb score: 6.5

Best horror movies: The Fly

22. The Fly (1986)

Sometimes, the remake blows its original source material out of the water, and that is the case for David Cronenberg’s The Fly. A remake of Kurt Neumann’s 1958 film of the same name, The Fly, amps up the horror from the ‘50s mystery script, giving us a stark and alarming look at the degeneration of a human being – which is guaranteed to haunt your dreams.

Loosely based on George Langelaan’s short story, the film follows the eccentric scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), who ends up turning himself into a fly-human hybrid when one of his experiments goes terribly wrong.

Here, we get a master class in body horror and practical effects as Seth watches his very being melt and transform into a horrific set of limbs before his eyes. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Fly Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
  • The Fly IMDb score: 7.6

Best horror movies: Dawn of the Dead

21. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

George A. Romero’s outsized sequel to Night of the Living Dead starts with a city apartment block under siege from the undead and police alike and only gets bleaker from there. A small group manages to hole up in a shopping mall while the world burns but finds that all shelter is temporary.

Considerably larger than its predecessor, Dawn of the Dead is just as much of a character drama. Such is key to Romero’s brand of terror: the mundanity that awaits us at the end of the world. Crude yet majestic effects and light-footed music make for a masterpiece that’s of its time yet solemnly ageless. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • Dawn of the Dead Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
  • Dawn of the Dead IMDb score: 7.3

Best horror movies: Hellraiser

20. Hellraiser (1987)

If you haven’t noticed already, we here at The Digital Fix love practical effects, so it was a no-brainer to add Clive Barker’s gory, supernatural classic Hellraiser to our list. Based on Barker’s 1968 novel The Hellbound Heart, the film has a perfect horror plot, full of murder and lust, and even features a group of trans-dimensional sadomasochists (known as Cenobites) who take torture scenes to a whole new level, all led by the iconic Pinhead.

Larry and his wife Julia move into a new house, but they aren’t alone. After some blood accidentally seeps into the floorboards, Larry’s brother Frank’s skinless and gooey corpse is revived. Affairs, graphic deaths, mysterious puzzle boxes, and Silent Hill-esque monsters dominate this movie.

Hellraiser stands as a top-notch spooky flick that aims to scare you by making you feel constantly repulsed at its brilliantly brutal practical effects. Few other films can leave you feeling as gloriously sick to your stomach as well as this movie can. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Hellraiser Rotten Tomatoes: 70%
  • Hellraiser IMDb score: 6.9

The best horror movies: Toni Collette in Hereditary

19. Hereditary (2018)

The feature debut of writer-director Ari Aster, Hereditary, is centered around a family’s trauma and blurs the boundaries between psychological and supernatural horror.

We all know fear is subjective, and not everyone will be scared by the same thing, but with this film’s immense variety of twisted material and sinister subtext, it’s a safe bet to say that no matter who you are, you’re going to be left frightened while watching it.

Aster’s script is steeped in dread and shows a family imploding in upon itself in one of the best displays of grief seen in modern horror. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Hereditary Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • Hereditary IMDb score: 7.3
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18. Us (2019)

Jordan Peele has established himself as one of the names to watch in modern horror, giving us some of the best-written stories of recent times, full of powerful social commentary. His passion for the genre is obvious, and his film, Us, is filled with everything horror fans latch onto and love.

You want bloody deaths? No problem. How about a creepy Twilight Zone-esque plot? Well, say no more. Following the story of a family who meets their murderous duplicates, viewers watch as the tight-knit unit confronts themselves and fights to survive. Us is about America, the darker side of human nature, mirror images, and takes the time to make us care about the characters before hitting us hard with violent action. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Us Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
  • Us IMDb score: 6.8

Best horror movies: Sigourney Weaver in Alien

17. Alien (1979)

The blip of the Motion Tracker echoing through the empty corridors of the Nostromo; who knew a simple sound could create such tension? Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, is a masterclass in fear, constantly pushing a terrifying situation further and further.

The crew of the cargo ship Nostromo is taken down one by one when hostile lifeform boards via the stomach of one of their colleagues. Suffer though the Xenomorph-bearer does; at least he gets out early. The rest are stuck in something between a slasher and a haunted house in space, surrounded by an empty vacuum. (Anthony McGlynn)

  • Alien Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • Alien IMDb score: 8.5

The best horror movies: The Ring

16. The Ring (1998)

Who doesn’t love some Japanese horror that’s guaranteed to keep you up at night? Hideo Nakata’s The Ring (better known as Ringu) is widely acclaimed for being an unnerving example of slow-burn terror done right and is the film we have to thank for popularising J-horror with international audiences.

At its core, the film is a mystery with a deadline, telling the tense story of a cursed videotape that will kill the viewer seven days after watching it. It’s an unsettlingly quiet movie, creepy throughout, and leaves you feeling emotionally scarred by the time you learn the truths behind its masterfully crafted story. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Ring Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
  • The Ring IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Poltergeist

15. Poltergeist (1982)

A Tobe Hooper movie on a ‘best of’ horror list is not a jump scare. Multiple Hooper movies, however… still not a shock in the slightest.

Poltergeist blends Hooper’s horror sensibilities with producer Steven Spielberg’s penchant for wonder and sentimentality. The movie is an arresting haunting story but also one of the best tacklings of the American family unit in its genre. Colorful, weird, and surprisingly funny, it’s a must for any horror fan. (Tom Percival)

  • Poltergeist Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
  • Poltergeist IMDb score: 7.3

The best horror movies: Bruce Campbell in Evil Dead 2

14. Evil Dead 2 (1987)

A true definition of a cult classic, Evil Dead II is one of the most “groovy” intersections of horror and black comedy you can find. Ash Williams and his girlfriend just wanted a quiet getaway; however, unsurprisingly, choosing to vacation in an abandoned cabin in the woods wasn’t the best idea. From ancient scriptures, demonic forces, chainsaws, and deafening shotguns, Ash finds himself fighting to survive a nightmare.

Unlike the first Evil Dead film, which takes itself quite seriously, the sequel is more playful, with even the more gruesome horror elements played for laughs. If you are a fan of practical effects and are looking for some top-tier, self-aware, cheesy acting, Evil Dead II delivers horror and comedy like no other. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Evil Dead 2 Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
  • Evil Dead 2 IMDb score: 7.7

The best horror movies: The Babadook

13. The Babadook (2014)

Seasoned horror fans may consider themselves desensitized to a good old fright, able to predict the jump scares and creepy storylines. The Australian monster movie, The Babadook, is the kind of film that will leave even veteran fans of the genre unsettled and shaking in their seats.

It’s about a single mother and her problem child, who one night finds a mysterious and disturbing storybook called The Babadook. It’s uncanny, melancholy, and will make your heart race every time you open your closet door. The Babadook is a well-written, brilliantly performed, and superbly directed psychological horror that’s rightfully earned its place on this list. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Babadook Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • The Babadook IMDb score: 6.8

The best horror movies: Midsommar

12. Midsommar (2019)

Ari Aster, straight off the back of his success with Hereditary, hits it out of the park again with more creepy cults and shocking scenes. Midsommar follows a couple on the rocks going to Sweden with their friends, expecting a lively mid-summer festival but instead ending up entangled with a violent pagan cult.

The A24 movie is a candid look at emotions, with an overarching theme of healing through trauma, albeit in a pretty messed up way. It’s a layered story that feels incredibly unique, and you may even go so far as calling it a morbid yet relatively positive horror film.

Not many other movies can make you squirm, torture its characters, and show stomach-turning deaths while simultaneously making you feel strangely optimistic by the time the credits start to roll. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Midsommar Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
  • Midsommar IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Halloween

11. Halloween (1978)

No one can deny that John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the most influential and well-known horror flicks of all time. Set in a normal-looking American neighborhood, serial killer Michael Myers (newly escaped from an asylum) returns home and begins to turn the once-quiet streets into his personal hunting ground.

In typical slasher fashion, it’s an unapologetic love letter to murder, with sexually active teenagers being the first to go. The premise is simple, focusing on paranoia and the terror felt when being stalked. Its emphasis on basic human instincts, paired with the iconic eerie soundtrack (composed and performed by Carpenter himself), makes Halloween go down in history as the must-watch John Carpenter movie. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Halloween Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
  • Halloween IMDb score: 7.7

Best horror movies: Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse

10. The Lighthouse (2019)

This psychological horror is a tense, entertaining tale of two men trapped together on the coast. Set during the late 19th century, a young man takes a contract job, working for a lighthouse keeper for a month on an isolated island near New England. His days are full of physically taxing work, while dark hallucinations consume his nights.

The movie’s portrayal of the breakdown of sanity and striking black-and-white imagery is impossible to look away from or forget. With Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe also giving powerful performances, The Lighthouse is unquestionably a modern standout that will leave you entranced by its chilling storytelling. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Lighthouse Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
  • The Lighthouse IMDb score: 7.4

Best horror movies: Eihi Shiina in Audition

9. Audition (1999)

Directed by Takashi Miike, Audition will leave you shocked, nauseous, and throwing your expectations about horror and gender out the window. Tonally few other films feel as well structured or thought out, as the horror is skillfully seeded throughout before hitting you at the end like a tonne of bricks.

Telling the story of a widower who lets his friend set up a fake movie audition in order to scout a potential wife, the film follows his relationship with the ‘perfect woman’ that increasingly becomes more strained due to a dark past. Quiet scenes have never felt so unnerving, and violent depictions of torture are never as terrifying as they do here. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Audition Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
  • Audition IMDb score: 7.1

Best horror movies: Jessica Harper in Suspiria

8. Suspiria (1977)

Visually, it doesn’t get better than Suspiria. The Italian cult classic is one of the most stylish and gory supernatural horrors ever. It’s a spooky slasher story about a ballet dancer who enrolls as a student at a prestigious German academy. After arriving, she soon realizes her new school seems to be a front for sinister forces and witchcraft.

Suspiria is packed with imagery that feels special, with each grisly murder getting under your skin. After watching it, you’ll be left an emotionally confused mess as the film does a superb job of scaring you senseless while also leaving you in awe at its strangely beautiful cinematography. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Suspiria Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
  • Suspiria IMDb score: 7.3

Best horror movies of all time: David Naughton as David Kessler in An American Werewolf in London

7. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

If you were completely absorbed by the spectacularly horrific visual effects in The Thing, then An American Werewolf in London is the best possible follow-up. Similarly visceral, An American Werewolf in London does just as it says on the tin and follows the story of American backpacker David as he begins the slow and painful transformation into half-man half-wolf after being bitten in a gruesome attack on the moors of England.

With a killer soundtrack, truly horrendous transformation effects that will send shivers up your spine, and a scene in what is quite possibly the world’s creepiest pub will keep this John Landis werewolf movie in your mind forever. Just remember to keep an eye on the full moon. (Jessica Cullen)

  • An American Werewolf in London Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
  • An American Werewolf in London IMDb score: 7.5

The best horror movies: Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

6. Get Out (2017)

Jordan Peele certainly made his mark on the horror movie scene with his directorial debut. Get Out is a thrilling, chilling portrayal of the racial tensions between an African American (Daniel Kaluuya) and his white girlfriend’s family, who ultimately look to exploit him and auction him off to the highest bidder.

Get Out features one of the best plot twists in movie history and is one of the sharpest, most incisive horror movies of the modern era. Peele combines genuine scares with uncomfortable humor to prove that he is more than capable of making the jump from comedy to horror. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Get Out Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
  • Get Out IMDb score: 7.8

Best horror movies: Janet Leigh in Psycho

5. Psycho (1960)

The film that shocked the world with a twist ending that went down in cinematic history, no best-of-horror list is complete without Alfred Hitchcock’s anxiety-inducing masterpiece Psycho. The film opens on a rainy night with a woman on the run who checks into the Bates Motel.

There, she meets Norman Bates, a young, traumatized man under his mother’s thumb. Here, we have something you don’t often see: a charming killer, seemingly harmless and all the more terrifying as a result.

As Norman’s damaged psyche slowly exposes itself, and Hitchcock continually subverts audience expectations, you can’t help but feel a sense of growing nervousness and dread while watching Psycho. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • Psycho Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
  • Psycho IMDb score: 8.5

Best horror movies: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

An iconic slasher, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is not only terrifying but introduces the world to one of the most famous figures in the horror community, the cannibal Leatherface. Directed by Tobe Hooper, the film was famously banned in several countries due to its extreme violence, and to this day, it still stands as a stomach-turning gorefest that’ll leave those brave enough to watch it shaking and sleepless for days.

The story follows a group of unsuspecting victims who, after picking up a hitchhiker, get tangled up in a bloody struggle for survival once their van breaks down. As the young folks venture into a creepy farmhouse in search of gas, they encounter deadly cannibals who have a particular taste for head cheese. A true horror gem, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a surefire way to make you scream. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre IMDb score: 7.4

Best horror movies: The Exorcist

3. The Exorcist (1973)

We couldn’t leave out one of the most acclaimed films on our list of the top scary picks of cinema, now, could we? The Exorcist is widely known as ‘the horror movie to watch’ even if you aren’t a fan of the genre because, yes, it is just that good.

Directed by William Friedkin, the flick follows the story of a 12-year-old girl who gets possessed by a mysterious entity (spoiler alert, it’s a demon). The Exorcist is expertly written to craft feelings of pure anxiety and terror as we see the actors fully embrace their supernatural roles in a scarily believable performance.

On top of being just plain terrifying in its atmosphere and tone, The Exorcist was also the first horror movie ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, making it a trailblazer for the genre. So yeah, watch it, and then rewatch it again. (Emma-Jane Betts)

The Exorcist Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
The Exorcist IMDb score: 8.1

Best horror movies: Kurt Russell in The Thing

2. The Thing (1982)

When you talk about the standout horror classics, there are no ifs, buts, or maybes: John Carpenter’s The Thing has to be in the conversation. The ‘80s science fiction movie, with its paranoid atmosphere and gruesome practical effects, gives us a straight dose of gory nightmare fuel while making us eye our friends and even pets with suspicion.

Set in an Arctic base, a parasitic alien starts killing off the crew members while shapeshifting into their identities, making trusting even your closest friends an impossible task. The Thing boasts some of the best practical effects ever seen on the silver screen, which cemented its place in cinematic history as one of the best body horror movies of all time. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Thing Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
  • The Thing IMDb score: 8.2

Best horror movies: Jack Nicholson in The Shining

1. The Shining (1980)

Deeply psychological and intimidating, The Shining (loosely inspired by the Stephen King novel of the same name) is a bona fide classic. It’s a movie everyone has at least heard of, with many horror enthusiasts continuing to praise it as their all-time favorite, and for good reason.

The Shining takes the term ‘stir crazy’ to a whole new level, as Jack Torrance and his family end up stranded in the ominous Overlook Hotel with a supernatural force that slowly tears them apart.

Directed by the visionary auteur Stanley Kubrick, its cinematography, script, and well of subtext have generated a mass of fan conspiracies over the years but cemented its place in history as one of the creepiest cinematic experiences you can have. (Emma-Jane Betts)

  • The Shining Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
  • The Shining IMDb score: 8.4

And there you have it! The best horror movies of all time. For more from the world of horror, check out the best horror movie of 2023 now streaming or our guides to the best Netflix horror movies and best Amazon Prime horror movies.

For more movie night fun, here are our guides on how to watch all of the Saw movies in order, the Hellraiser movies in order, and the list of the best Halloween movies of all time.

If you want to know more about the best of the best, see why Stephen King called The Shining “insulting” and see how Steven Spielberg has been waiting decades to make one Stephen King movie.