Have you ever wondered what the best horror movies are? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Of course, everyone’s a critic, and we’re sure you have your own thoughts on this matter. Still, time and time again, many horror movies keep showing up on people’s favorites. The best ones have intelligent writing, break new ground for the genre, and, of course, find clever ways to create tension and scare people out of their seats. So, pull out your tub of popcorn and get comfortable, here are the 25 Best Horror Movies Of All Time.
The Cabin in the Woods
At first glance, The Cabin in the Woods might seem like the most unoriginal horror movie of all time, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Using a meta-narrative concept, Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon cleverly critique horror cliches while also creating likable characters and truly terrifying horror scenes in the process.
Let Me In
Written and directed by Matt Reeves, Let Me In is about a boy who becomes friends with a girl. Oh, and she’s also a vampire. The film deftly explores their deepening friendship with all the terrifying tension and manipulation that comes with it. And since it’s a vampire flick, you can be assured there’s a fair amount of gore and violence.
While it’s hard to say if IT will stand the test of time, it does a great job adapting a part of the beloved novel by Stephen King. By keeping the heart and soul of The Losers intact and effectively making Pennywise the Clown a terrifying force, the movie is certainly worth the watch.
By taking its time and gradually building tension without showing the monster, The Conjuring accepts that less is more. It’s a creepy and well-crafted haunted house horror that knows exactly what it’s doing every step of the way.
Yeah, the gimmick got really old over time, but the first Paranormal Activity was a surprisingly effective and simple horror film about a ghost haunting a married couple. By using the found-footage method, Oren Peli depended more on the imagination of his audience rather than over-the-top special effects.
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The Omen (1976)
The Omen made in 1976, not the remake, is about a boy who is marked by Satan to be the anti-Christ and his parents’ downward spiral in dealing with it. Richard Donner creates a terrifying atmosphere and uses that to scare us rather than resorting to cheap tricks. However, perhaps what makes the movie scarier is the horrible things that happened to the actors during production.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Written and directed by Sam Raimi, The Evil Dead practically started the cabin in the woods trope. With a group of teenagers heading out to a spooky cabin in the middle of nowhere, they awaken a demon in the process and fight to survive it. While some might find its over-the-top gore and frights lame, it’s hard to deny The Evil Dead is an enduring horror classic.
One word: hobbling. Powered by a terrifying, not to mention awarding-winning, performance by Kathy Bates, Stephen King’s Misery is every novelist’s worst nightmare. When a famous author is rescued from a car crash, he soon discovers the person who rescued him is his number one fan, but she’s not happy about his latest novel and wants him to change it. When he refuses, she refuses to let him leave and tortures him in the process.
The Silence of the Lambs
While more a detective thriller than a horror movie, it felt like a crime to ignore the nigh-perfect craft of The Silence of the Lambs. Beautifully written and well-acted, the terrors of both a disturbed serial killer and the cannibal Hanibal Lecter make it a scary ride for both the faint of heart and the veteran horror fan.
There’s nothing quite like a David Lynch film, and his first feature Eraserhead really set a horrific and surreal tone. Living in an industrial nightmarish landscape with his demanding girlfriend and goblin baby that’s constantly screaming, Henry Spencer tries to survive.
Produced by Steven Spielberg, the original Poltergeist is a modern horror classic and saw commercial and critical success on its release, terrifying the masses in the 80’s. Much of its content went on to influence many of the haunted house horror movies we watch today.
When Michael Myers kills his sister at the age of 6, he’s sent to a psychiatric hospital for fifteen years. However, one Halloween, he breaks out and wants to kill again. John Carpenter’s Halloween is a horror classic that helped set up the modern horror film and made Michael Myers a horrifying boogeyman.
The Babadook not only rejects the horror tropes that are all too common in horror movies today, but it goes deeper, providing a compelling and satisfying story and subtext that’ll make you think well after the movie is over. Horror fans tired of the same-old will want to see this one.
John Carpenter’s The Thing is a remake of the 1950’s version and lives up to it and then some. It’s darker and more terrifying than the original and uses fantastic special effects to create the thick tension. It’s engaging from start to finish.
Dawn of the Dead
Arguably, both the original and remake of Dawn of the Dead count as great horror films. In this case, we’ll just stick to the original. Released in 1979, the zombie film helped usher in and remains inspiration for a wave of zombie movies. It’s also not just a brainless monster movie but has plenty to say about materialism.
Green Room is a no-holds-barred and rather uncomfortable gorefest about a punk rock band that gets in trouble with neo-nazis after playing a show for them. Patrick Stewart shines as the neo-nazi kingpin, and the storytelling excels at putting you in the characters’ shoes, making it an even more white-knuckled experience.
From the horrifying shower scene all the way to the grisly prom, Stephen King’s Carrie is a shocking look at modern teen angst and cruelty with a dark supernatural twist.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
What makes A Nightmare on Elm Street so engaging and terrifying is its boogeyman Freddy Krueger. He doesn’t come for you during the day like most monster movies. Instead, he enters your dreams and tries to kill you in your sleep, wielding a glove with sharp claws.
In space, there’s no one to hear you scream, and Alien definitely incites fear and screams with its gritty sets, creepy facehuggers, and killer Xenomorphs that bleed acid. To this day, it still stands apart as a unique survival story, making you wonder who will die next and who will make it out in the end. Plus, the iconic chest-bursting scene still gives us nightmares to this day.
Psycho alone has made major contributions to modern horror. With its unsettling score, eerie setting, and creepy hotel manager Norman Bates, Hitchcock does what he does best for the film and injects plenty of suspense and thrills. From Bates Motel to the shower murder scene, so many parts of Psycho are iconic.
Directed by Roman Polanski, Rosemary’s Baby is considered one of the best horror films ever made. Mia Farrow’s performance helps give a convincing portrait of a woman convinced her baby might be the devil’s. The feelings of paranoia and anxiety only grow worse until the eventual climax.
The Witch doesn’t give audiences cheap tricks and jump scares. Instead, it provides a slow burn story with tension so thick you might go crazy before the end. With its intelligent writing, critiquing religious and familial paranoia, The Witch reveals the true horror, a family’s fanaticism pushing their daughter toward the very evil they wanted her to avoid.
Based on the novel of the same name, The Exorcist is considered by some to be the scariest horror movie of all time. A little girl named Regan becomes demon possessed, and a Catholic priest comes to her house to perform an exorcism. The make-up, special effects, and graphic events combine into one bone-chilling fright show.
Even though it’s relatively new, Get Out made waves for its intelligence, originality, and unsettlingly creepy story. Its ability to terrify while also providing levity and social commentary make it a unique and truly amazing horror film. Time will tell if this movie will have a long shelf life, but we think there’s a good chance people will be talking about it for years to come.
Upon its release, The Shining wasn’t exactly warmly received, but over time it became generally accepted as the best horror movie of all time. With Stanley Kubrick’s solid direction combined with Jack Nicholson’s fantastic performance of a man gone insane, the movie can be watched over and over and still have the same horrifying effect.