What are the best horror movies of all time? For over a century, horror films 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. We can all agree that getting scared to the point where you’re left screaming is just plain fun.
But let’s not get it twisted; it takes a lot for a movie to make someone truly shake with terror. There’s nothing more disappointing for horror fans than cheap jump scares and tired stories ruining your valuable spooky time. So to make sure your movie nights are certifiably disturbing and goosebump-inducing, we’ve curated a list of the best horror films for all your ghoulish and ghastly needs.
Whether it is the gory slashers you know from ‘80s movies or the mind-boggling psychological thriller movies of the 2000s, we’ve made sure our top picks will leave everyone who dares to watch them cowering behind their seats. So if you’re ready, and aren’t too squeamish, here are our picks of the best horror movies you can watch right now.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
Day of the Dead (1985)
After Dawn of the Dead, George A Romero’s goes yet 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.
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 utilises 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. Who needs legendary MCU characters when you have hilarious vampires?
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 to ever 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.
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 cargo ship Nostromo are 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.
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 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.
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.
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 gruelling 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.
If you like your 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.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The Blair Witch Project released in the late ’90s and ushered a new wave of folk horror and the found footage format obsession in the cinephile community. It is the film that leaned into the eeriness of the wilderness, and gave us some of the most iconic closeups of crying faces ever seen.
A crew of student filmmakers hike 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.
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.
It: Chapter One (2017)
A movie which came with the pressure of not only adapting an epic Stephen King novel, but also of 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.
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 reaches.
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.
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.
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 diving 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 humour, gnarly kills, and plenty of razor-sharp social commentary, Jennifer’s Body is a fun, thought-provoking comedy horror which ticks every box you could ask for.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The glorious sets and effects work 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 terrorised by villagers at every turn. He tracks down Dr Pretorius, and conspires with him to push Dr Freankenstein 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.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
When it comes to the undead, 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.
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, made all the more memorable by the experimental audio features. Haunting.
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 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.
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 neighbours start eyeing her up, and grooming her for their ritual to birth the son of Satan.
Directed by Roman Polanski, 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. Although it was released pre-Roe v. Wade, 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 as 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.
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.
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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 favourite silly horror tropes and ends with a gory massacre. Sounds ideal.
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.
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.
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.
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 find 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.
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 humour, to prove that he is more than capable of making the jump from comedy to horror.
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, 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.
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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 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.
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 favourite, 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.
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.
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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 most unforgettable body horrors of all time.
The feature debut of writer-director Ari Aster, Hereditary is centred 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.
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.
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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.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a Francis Ford Copolla horror movie, is not what you’d expect. It’s a horror movie in the most unconventional sense, relying on atmosphere and disturbing 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 into the genre. But, that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile of a watch for horror aficionados. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is an an underrated gem.
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.
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 the cinema is impossible to describe: without The Exorcist III, there would be no Se7en. Do yourself a favour and check it out.
The Babadook (2014)
Seasoned horror fans may consider themselves desensitised to a good old fright, able to predict the jump scares and creepy storylines. The Australian horror movie, The Babadook, is the kind of film that will leave even veteran fans of the genre unsettled and shaking in their seats.
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It’s about a single mother and her problem child, who one night find 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.
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 film 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.
No one can deny John Carpenter’s Halloween is one of the most influential and well-known horror flicks of all time. Set in a normal-looking American neighbourhood, serial killer Michael Myers (newly escaped from an asylum) returns home and begins to turn the once-quiet streets into his personal hunting ground.
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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 slasher.
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.
Directed by Takashi Miike, Audition will leave you shocked, nauseous, and have you 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.
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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 never as terrifying as they do here.
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 enrols as a student at a prestigious German academy. After arriving, she soon realises 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 at scaring you senseless while also leaving you in awe at its strangely beautiful cinematography.
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 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.
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.
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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 fight 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.
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, traumatised 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.
The Texas Chain Saw massacre (1974)
An iconic slasher, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is not only terrifying but introduced 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, still stands as a stomach-turning gorefest that’ll leave those brave enough to watch it shaking and sleepless for days.
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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.
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.
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. Colourful, weird, and surprisingly funny, it’s a must for any horror fan.
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 is 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 movie in your mind forever. Just remember to keep an eye on the full moon.
And there you have it! The best horror movie of all time. If you are still after thrills and chills, here is our list of the best spy movies. We also have a guide breaking down the best new movies 2023 has to offer.