Top 50 horror Movies of All Time

Maybe you don't think of horror movies as an option when you just want to chill in front of the TV. It's true, murder, mayhem, and supernatural terror don't strike some people as relaxing enjoyment. But for some, watching the protagonists deal with monumental problems make it that much easier to face getting groceries or cleaning the bathroom. Or maybe they just get a thrill from getting spooked.

Next time you need a bit of an escape, consider queuing up a few of these terrifying shows — what many have deemed the best horror movies of all time. If you don't see your favorite on the list, you might need to start recommending it to more friends!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

A cannibal family in rural Texas terrorize a group of traveling youths. This movie is iconic in the genre because it utilizes ordinary objects for horror. Much of the family’s home décor is actually made from the skin of their victims.


The Exorcist (1973)

A young girl is possessed by a demon, causing her to spew green vomit and speak in tongues. A priest is brought in to try and force the entity out of her. This film is perhaps the most iconic demon possession movie in history.

The Exorcist

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

A murder spree is committed at the behest of a hypnotist. Shadowy buildings hover menacingly in the background at chaotic angles as roads veer off in random directions. Ceilings close in on characters in this surreal masterpiece.


Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero’s original black-and-white zombie nightmare. The gritty film shows how terrifying a wave of the dead can be, especially when the ghouls trying to eat your brain were once your friends and family.

Die Nacht Der Lebenden Toten

Alien (1979)

A space crew wakes up early from their hibernation shortly after receiving a distress signal. A facehugger infects a member of the crew, leading to a violent alien birthing itself through his chest. It then tries to murder everyone else on the ship.


Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu re-tells Dracula through silent film. This imaginative recreation of the vampire story is celebrated because of its stunning visuals. Count Orlok, in particular, is one of the most striking and iconic vampires in film history.


The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Hannibal Lecter assists an FBI agent from his maximum security prison cell. It’s never clear what he’s thinking, but Lecter always manages to provide clues. Helping with Buffalo Bill’s apprehension may just be another one of his schemes, however.


The Thing (1982)

You can feel the paranoia as a team of researchers in the Arctic encounter an extraterrestrial being that can change forms. Everyone begins to turn on one another. Are the characters we see really the researchers or something else?


The Omen (1976)

He doesn't know if yet, but the son of a diplomat is in fact the antichrist. This atmospheric film shows grisly death scenes carried out by demonic forces protecting a young boy who isn’t even aware of his own power.


Carrie (1976)

This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel shows the depressing coming-of-age of a girl with telekinesis. The outside world keeps pushing her as she develops her powers. The bullied girl is finally pushed too far and gets psychic revenge on everyone.


Evil Dead II (1987)

This horror comedy is the sequel to the first Evil Dead. While vacationing with his girlfriend in a cabin, a man finds recordings of ancient texts being read. Once the recording ends, a horde of demons are set loose to rain terror on him.


Freaks (1932)

This pre-Code gem follows the lives of performers in an exploitative sideshow. When someone wrongs one of the performers, the rest of the carnival denizens unite to exact revenge. This strangely empathetic film shows that monsters come in many forms.


Hellraiser (1987)

Based on Clive Barker’s The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser is about a demon summoned by a puzzlebox leading to hell. The Cenobites thrive on suffering and they’re here thanks to a woman trying to bring back her former lover with fresh blood.


Martyrs (2008)

Two women who suffered childhood abuse pursue vengeance on their tormentors. They stumble upon a cult with darker intentions than they could possible imagine. The film pushes the lines of extreme pain as the cult looks for salvation through torture.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

A small town doctor suspects something is amiss in his community. People are acting strange and slightly robotic. A friend presents him with a pod person growing from his pool table. How do you stop aliens who look just like you?


Poltergeist (1982)

A new gated community is built on top of a former cemetery. The disturbed spirits find ways to get through to the physical world and terrorize the people who woke them. For one family, it involves getting at their child through the TV set.


Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Set in a shopping mall where a small group of survivors have barricaded themselves against a wave of zombies. It’s not just the undead they have to worry about, however. Several of them start to get cabin fever in the worst climate imaginable.


Frankenstein (1931)

Mary Shelly’s classic tale of reanimation is put on the screen with Boris Karloff starring as the lumbering monster. Dr. Frankenstein reanimates the body of a large dead man, creating something he can’t control.


Black Sunday (1960)

A witch burned at the stake returns from the dead after a few hundred years to reap vengeance on her killer’s descendants. The witch, Asa, had a particularly horrible death because they hammered a mask with spikes to her face before torching her.


The Devil's Rejects (2005)

Otis, Baby, and Captain Spaulding are three wanted killers in this sequel to House of 1,000 Corpses. After the police raid their farmhouse, the members of the Firefly family go on a killing spree, culminating in a violent clash with authorities.


Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Doctors exploring the Amazon during a geology expedition uncover an amphibious humanoid. The creature is of the same species as a fossil they’re studying and could be a missing link between land creatures and sea life. Will the creature be tamed?


House on Haunted Hill (1959)

This film is action horror spiced with humor and outlandish effects. It follows the events of a dinner party gone wrong. A secretive millionaire invites an eclectic group of individuals to his house for a haunted evening none of them are expecting.


Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The parents of Elm Street burned a child murderer alive after he was released on a legal technicality. He’s come back in the form of a dream phantom. All the neighborhood kids are now dying in their sleep.


Get Out (2017)

Rich white people kidnap black people and brainwash them into being their host bodies under mind control. A photographer visiting his girlfriend’s family notices something off about all the locals. Can he escape before his body and mind are stolen?


Eyes Without a Face (1960)

A plastic surgeon becomes obsessed with saving the appearance of his daughter after she is disfigured in an accident. He starts killing women and stealing their faces for a transplant. Her body inevitably rejects the grafts of the victim’s skin.


Suspiria (1977)

A ballet student from America travels to Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy. The school is home to ancient forces of evil that try to consume her. This movie is the first installment of Argento’s Three Mothers Trilogy.


Audition (1999)

The film starts out as a drama with a comedic bent. It's about a widower who holds auditions for a new wife. The viewer is misled and unprepared for the horror that comes from the movie's female antagonist.


The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg remakes this classic with a double dose of gore. Jeff Goldblum is a scientist who transforms himself into a fly while testing his new teleportation machine. The film has intense shots of the metamorphosis process.


I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

A nurse travels to the island of St. Sebastian to attend to a wealthy planter’s sick wife. The wife can walk, stare into the distance, and that’s about it. The community believes she’s a zombie cursed by her past infidelities.


Rosemary's Baby (1968)

A woman is impregnated by Satan himself and gives birth to the antichrist. Her husband and neighbors, who are Satanic cultists, gaslight her throughout most of the film. The coven has made a pact with the devil and her baby is the prize.


Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

A new companion is made for Frankenstein. Unfortunately, she has no interest in being a companion. Nobody gets what they want and everyone goes down in this visual classic that makes us wonder if some things belong dead.


The Wicker Man (1973)

A cop arrives on a small island to investigate the disappearance of a little girl. What he finds on the island will burn into the viewer’s memory, especially during the climactic ending scene.


The Conjuring (2013)

A fictionalized account of real paranormal investigators. Ed and Lorrain Warren investigate the haunted home of the Perron family. This is the first film in what has since become known as “The Conjuring Universe”.


Candyman (1992)

An unsettling re-telling of Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden. The Candyman is a hook-handed horror of urban legend. This figure is actually a son of slaves who pays a grisly price for falling in love with the white woman he was hired to paint.


The Spiral Staircase (1946)

A sadistic serial killer with a superiority complex goes on a killing spree that specifically targets disabled women. He’s targeting a mute maid, who doesn’t seem to have a mouth, at least not to him — the viewer sees her through his eyes.


The Fog (1980)

The wronged ghosts of Antonio Bay are rolling through the mist of the Pacific ocean to reign terror on nearby residents. This movie asks the viewer how much guilt people bear for the crimes of their ancestors.


The Haunting (1963)

This film centers on a woman named Eleanor who joins a group of paranormal investigators to study a haunted mansion. The movie is shot using experimental angles to create disturbing effects viewed through the perspective of the unstable protagonist.


Jacob's Ladder (1990)

A Vietnam War veteran desperately tries to go back to normal society after living through the nightmare of battle. The entire film gradually builds tension through the distorted world of Jacob’s visions.


Let the Right One In (2008)

A bullied 12-year-old boy befriends a child vampire after she moves into his building. The muted colors and shadow effects create a hazy background that pulls the viewer into the film.


The Village of the Damned (1960)

George Sanders stars as a professor in the English village of Midwich. His wife, along with all the other woman in town, was impregnated by alien forces. They all give birth to children with platinum hair, radiating eyes, and a hive mind.


The Hunger (1983)

David Bowie stars in this film about immortality and its shortcomings. John starts to age rapidly, despite being turned 200 years ago. His significant other leaves him for the doctor who was planning to help him.

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Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Francis Ford Coppola recreates a classic horror story with added sensuality. The film is made on a sound stage without the use of visual effects. The visual layout of the film makes it hard to look away.


Days Later (2002)

28 days after a virus ravages England, survivors struggle find safety in the aftermath. Unlike other zombie movies, the living dead in the film are fueled by rage, making them faster, stronger, and harder to escape.


Cat People (1942)

A Serbian woman convinces herself that she is the heir of a feline lineage. She can transform into a cat whenever she's aroused or infuriated. The camera angles and sound effects create a uniquely supernatural presence that permeates the entire film.


Hangover Square (1945)

A pianist kills women during his sleepwalking sessions. He wakes up and has no memories of the killing. The film questions what could be lurking inside everyone and if he can still be responsible for something he has no memory of doing.


Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

Based on one of America's worst serial killers. Henry Lee Lucas is constantly moving across the country, avoiding police detection as he goes. He’s joined by Otis, a former prison associate, and the two go on a massive killing spree.


Raw (2016)

Justine is a vegetarian and a vet student who discovers an unsettling craving during a school hazing. She’s forced to go through a ritual that ends in her eating raw liver, which leads a desire for higher organisms on the food chain.


Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Edgar Allen Poe’s classic tale told through Roger Corman. Vincent Price plays Prince Prospero, whose past is coming back to bring a plague on him. Everything in this movie is saturated with vibrant colors and the film pops out of the screen.


The Vanishing (1988)

A man searches for his girlfriend after she disappears from a gas station. She vanishes without a trace, setting up a series of gut-punching events. It's three years later and he's still looking.


Carnival of Souls (1962)

Mary is the only survivor of a drag race. She emerges from the dark waters and enters a world that’s more ominous than the one she knows. Now she finds herself trapped in a mysterious stretch of nowhere.

Carnival of Souls (1962)
Directed by Herk Harvey
Shown: Candace Hilligoss
Nathan, Heywise Staff

Article WriterNathan, Heywise Staff

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