Cinema has always tended to operate in cycles, and what’s popular now probably won’t interest audiences anywhere near as much ten years in the future, and that’s always how the business has worked. However, no matter what the current hot genre is, people always seek out the primal thrills that come with watching something designed entirely to scare them out of their seats. This is why we’ve ranked the top horror movies of all time.
Horror is never going to go out of fashion, and constant sub-genres spring up all the time to put new twists on the formula, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the greatest titles ever made run the entire spectrum.
50. Train to Busan (2016)
The zombie genre has always been one of the most fertile creative grounds for filmmakers interested in the horror genre, and Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan is one of the finest examples.
The bare-bones plot follows a man and his daughter trapped on a high-speed train during the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, and the movie fully maximizes the potential of the premise.
Gripping, thrilling, action-packed, and entirely unique, Train to Busan embraces the tropes of the zombie movie and horror at large to craft a stunningly original and socially prescient gory thriller.
49. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Ana Lily Amirpour described her feature debut as ‘the Iranian love-child of Sergio Leone and David Lynch, with Nosferatu as a babysitter’, which pretty much says everything about A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
A monochromatic horror movie with lashings of almost every other genre under the sun, the end result is a startlingly original and incredibly effective exercise in stunning simplistic efficiency.
Trying to describe A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is an almost impossible task, but it would be an understatement to say that there’s never been anything like it in the history of horror cinema.
48. Host (2020)
Both the shortest and most recent entry on this list, the 56-minute Host arrived on VOD at the end of July, but don’t be put off by the narrative involving the current global health crisis we’ve all grown tired of.
Six friends hold an online séance, only to discover they’ve accidentally invited a malevolent presence into their homes, with the action unfolding almost entirely via one terrifying group Zoom call.
A masterclass in wringing every possible drop of tension out of a relatively thin premise, Host has instantly marked director Rob Savage out as a talent well worth keeping an eye on in the future.
47. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Sam Raimi’s return to the realm of supernatural horror that launched his career in the first place was a hotly anticipated event, and showed a decade of Spider-Man movies hadn’t dulled his creativity.
Denying an old woman’s request for a loan extension doesn’t go to plan when loan officer Christine ends up being cursed by a demonic presence that comes looking to claim her soul.
A fitting continuation of the pulpy, self-aware but still scary movies Raimi used to churn out on a regular basis, Drag Me to Hell is vastly improved by the filmmaker’s considerable increase in skill and experience.
46. Repulsion (1965)
Roman Polanski’s English-language debut sees a young manicurist suffering from a pathological fear of male interaction, before she begins suffering hallucinations that swiftly turn to madness.
A combination of European art-house aesthetic with the more traditional production values of a British or American production, Repulsion was a stellar calling card for the young director.
The psychological horror will stay with you for days, as the themes at the center of the story pack just as much of a punch as the surreal and disorientating imagery that haunts the main character.(Source: Wikipedia)
45. Hereditary (2018)
It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that Toni Collette’s central turn in Hereditary is one of the greatest single performances in the history of horror, and that’s just one of the movie’s many successes.
The basic setup is something that’s been seen a thousand times before, as a family unravel a mystery surrounding the death of their grandmother that leads to a terrifying turn of events.
However, Ari Aster positively revels in defying genre conventions and audience expectations, delivering a haunting, harrowing, unsettling, and completely riveting psychological trip.
44. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
One of the most influential horror movies ever made, George Franju’s literary adaptation was hugely controversial at the time, but still managed to leave a seismic impact on the genre.
A doctor is troubled with guilt after an accident led to the disfigurement of his daughter, so along with his assistants he kidnaps young women in an attempt to perform a successful face transplant.
That’s surprisingly risky content for a movie released in 1960, and the censors were unsurprisingly aghast. More squeamish audience may have been disgusted, but Eyes Without a Face’s standing and legacy only grows with each passing decade.
43. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari might be 100 years old, but it still casts a shadow over horror cinema to this day, and is an undisputed landmark of the genre with a suitably legendary reputation.
A revolutionary movie for horror, cult films and art-house cinema all at once, Robert Wiene’s expressionist masterpiece is still being studied and dissected by students and scholars a century later.
When it comes to tracing film from the earliest days of the moving picture to the art-form we know today, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a pivotal moment in the evolution of an entire medium.
42. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The second and by far best adaptation of the source novel, 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is highly regarded in both the sci-fi and horror genres, nailing both with equal aplomb.
The discovery of a mutated corpse causes Donald Sutherland’s Matthew Bennell to join the dots between strange occurrences and the bizarre behavior of those around him, as he discovers something truly sinister is afoot.
Atmospheric, genuinely frightening and packed with big names giving great performances, Invasion of the Body Snatchers set the benchmark for Hollywood remakes and the scary sci-fi.
41. The Descent (2005)
The Descent is not a recommended watch for anyone who suffers from even the slightest fear of enclosed spaces, and the unnerving claustrophobia is the movie’s greatest strength.
Neil Marshall’s tale of six friends on a cave-diving mission that goes horribly awry uses impenetrable darkness as the backdrop to a nerve-shredding exercise in tension.
The reveal of the creatures themselves could have sunk The Descent if it was placed in lesser hands, but the buildup to the big reveal makes it all the more satisfying when the heroines get their revenge.
40. The Witch (2015)
Opting for slow-burning suspense over jump scares and more straightforward horror, The Witch is a compact and immaculately crafted period piece that relies on imagination to instill a sense of dread.
The youngest son of a farming family disappears, and they blame their eldest daughter, leading to accusations of witchcraft as the mystery deepens and a series of revelations soon come to light.
Anya Taylor-Joy is incredible in her first major leading role, and while the stylistic and aesthetic merits of The Witch are there for all to see, it’s the moments that get under your skin that leave the longest-lasting impression.
39. 28 Days Later (2002)
28 Days Later directly caused a resurgence in the zombie movie, and almost every worthwhile entry that followed adopted the sprinting undead popularized in Danny Boyle’s gripping thriller.
An intimate character piece that just happened to be set against the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse, the movie’s deft subversion of genre conventions saw Boyle in his element.
The ensemble cast is phenomenal across the board, and the set-pieces don’t disappoint either, and by the time the credits roll you’ll find yourself with a pair of seriously sweaty palms.
38. The Birds (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t called the ‘Master of Suspense’ for no reason, and while The Birds isn’t what you’d call a straightforward horror movie, it incorporates plenty of the standard tropes.
Of course, with such a legendary director at the helm things are far from straightforward, and it proved to be fairly divisive among critics when it first arrived, although its reputation has only increased over time.
Turning our harmless avian friends into the terrifying villains of a thriller sounds laughable on paper, but Hitchcock took the concept and put his own unique spin on the material to great effect.
37. Hellraiser (1987)
Like almost every other horror franchise that spawned multiple sequels, Hellraiser succumbed greatly to the law of diminishing returns, but it hasn’t diluted the impact of the original in the slightest.
Clive Barker directs the film adaptation of his own novella, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s got a great handle on what makes it tick, and maximizes the bone-chilling terror.
Pinhead became an icon, but there’s much more to Hellraiser than just a marketable frontman, and the movie is much smarter and boasts a much sharper edge than you might expect from a gory horror flick.
36. The Ring (1998)
Anyone with even a passing interest in the genre knows the basic setup about a haunted video that will result in death seven days after anyone has been unfortunate enough to clap eyes on it.
Hugely influential in both Eastern and Western horror, Ring took a high concept premise and twisted it into a supernatural parable on modern society packed full of dread, anxiety and an inability to look at a VHS the same way again.
35. Don’t Look Now (1973)
The works of Daphne du Maurier have proved fertile ground for the horror genre over the decades, and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now is one of the finest adaptations of the author’s short stories.
A grieving couple travel to Venice after the tragic death of their daughter, where the wife meets two sisters who claim to be in communication with the spirit of the recently passed child, and things unsurprisingly get pretty freaky.
A hugely controversial movie at the time, Don’t Look Know is still being unpacked and analyzed almost 50 years later, and is now held up as a seminal masterwork that’s influenced everything from American Horror Story to Hereditary.
34. Jaws (1975)
Jaws isn’t a horror movie in the strictest sense of the word, but it does boast one of the greatest jump-scares in history that still gets people jumping out of their seat no matter how many times they’ve seen it.
Steven Spielberg’s proto-blockbuster transforms into an action-packed thriller during the third act, but up until then the titular shark is an unseen and unnerving force of nature that can’t be stopped.
Plenty of horror villains lurk in the darkness before bursting into life and devouring their pray, and in that respect Bruce has more in common with the likes of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees than you might think.
33. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It seems hard to believe given how quickly he wormed his way into the public consciousness, but Robert Englund’s instant icon Freddy Krueger only has seven minutes of screentime in his debut outing.
The notion of a serial killer who can get you in your dreams is a scary thought no matter how old you are, and Freddy’s hypnotic charisma made him an altogether different type of bad guy.
Some of the effects haven’t aged particularly well, but A Nightmare on Elm Street still holds up as an inventive and imaginative spin on a slasher genre that was approaching saturation point at the time.
32. A Quiet Place (2018)
Very few movies are capable of reducing a packed theater to absolute deathly silence, and there wasn’t the crunching of a single snack to be heard throughout A Quiet Place’s brief 90 minutes.
The idea of creatures that hunt by sound is inherently frightening, and John Krasinski makes the most of the bare-bones concept in a phenomenal exercise in sound design and expectation.
Audiences would jump at the crack of a branch or the rustling of a leaf, as they became fully invested and deeply immersed in the story of a family’s desperate fight for survival against the odds.
31. Audition (1999)
Takashi Miike is one of the most prolific filmmakers of the modern era, but his work tends to be an acquired taste, and the often difficult to stomach Audition marks one of his more accessible efforts, which is saying something.
A widower dives back into the dating pool, auditioning potential girlfriends. After entering a relationship, he discovers his new love is harboring some seriously dark and twisted secrets.
Audition is not for the faint of heart, and some of the gorier scenes are hard to watch, but the psychological elements are every bit as harrowing as the grisly scenes of torture.
30. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Modern audiences might not be quite as enamored with The Blair Witch Project given the relative lack of excitement and action, but it was nothing short of revolutionary at the time it was released.
One of the first movies to harness the power of the internet as a marketing tool, the low budget horror had a massively successful viral presence before the term had even been properly defined.
Many people were convinced that what they were watching was 100% real, and that blurring of the lines saw The Blair Witch Project become one of the most successful independent movies ever made.
29. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
A psychological horror wrapped up in the trappings of a prestige drama, The Silence of the Lambs was an instantly iconic movie, one packed full of classic moments that remain embedded in the fabric of popular culture.
Just the third movie in history to scoop the ‘Big Five’ at the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay, Jonathan Demme’s classic was a phenomenon at the time.
Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling’s relationship is a dynamic that’s often been replicated but never bettered, and the balance between all-out horror and tense drama is masterfully handled throughout.
28. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Quite possibly the most self-aware horror movie ever made, The Cabin in the Woods is both a love letter to the genre and a merciless takedown of the standard formula that served it for decades.
In the wrong hands it could have easily devolved into pretentious self-indulgence, but co-writer and director Drew Goddard shows a knack for balancing the frights and gore with lashings of hilarity.
The Cabin in the Woods sat on the shelf for over two years before finally getting released, and fans were treated to an irreverent, intelligent, and massively entertaining stroll down a well-worn path.
27. It Follows (2014)
The premise of It Follows is breathtakingly simple, yet still manages to conjure up an entirely fully-formed mythology around it in the space of just 100 breathless minutes of sheer unending dread.
A sexually transmitted curse opens itself up to all sorts of subtext, as a teenage girl is forced to deal with Death taking human form and coming for her unless she can pass it on before it gets too late.
Fight or flee and sacrifice or self-preservation are the prevailing themes, but the action doesn’t slow down for a second, and you can bet a lot of people were checking behind them to see if anyone was getting too close after seeing It Follows.
26. Poltergeist (1982)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Tobe Hooper directs a story co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg in a supernatural horror that lives up to the marriage of two distinctly different talents.
Spielberg wanted to direct but was contractually unable to, but Hooper marked the perfect vessel for infusing The Beard’s love of family-orientated narratives with bursts of pure supernatural terror.
The impressive special effects service the story instead of overpowering it, and the family always remain the focus, when Poltergeist could have easily gone for the jugular in terms of jump scares instead.
25. The Innocents (1961)
Henry James’ novella The Turn of the Screw is one of the most heavily adapted tales in horror, but The Innocents is arguably the best version of a story that’s been told countless times before.
The setup is familiar, with a governess looking after two orphans in a sprawling Victorian mansion before the supernatural begins to creep into her life, but The Innocents succeeds with the execution.
Director Jack Clayton ratchets up the tension with each passing scene, and the thick layer of atmosphere almost becomes unbearable as things continue to go bump in the night until it reaches a crescendo.
24. The Babadook (2014)
Writer/director Jennifer Kent may have embraced the titular entity becoming an unlikely icon in the LGBT community, but that’s definitely not what she had in mind when creating The Babadook.
Like many horror movies before it, the plot sees a mother refusing to believe her child can see a sinister presence, before it enters her life to such a degree that she can’t deny it anymore.
The Babadook shows a lot more patience than the majority of Hollywood horrors, and developing the characters makes the set pieces hit much harder when the big bad arrives to cause havoc.
23. Let the Right One In (2008)
Let the Right One In did lead to one of the better American remakes of an international horror success, but Matt Reeves’ Let Me In still paled in comparison to Tomas Alfredson’s original.
The unique friendship between 12 year-old Oskar and the mysterious Eli is the backdrop for a haunting and ethereal genre piece that doesn’t skimp on the bloodletting by any means.
The young leads are fantastic in their roles and sell everything with the utmost conviction, and Let the Right One In also boasts the most striking cinematography to be found in the long and illustrious history of the vampire movie.
22. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein is still named as one of the best sequels ever made 85 years after it was released, which says everything about the movie’s timeless qualities.
Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein gets his bride in the form of Elsa Lanchester, with the actress also pulling double duty as Mary Shelley, and takes one of the novel’s subplots and turns it into the basis for a classic horror.
Gothic horror doesn’t get much better than The Bride of Frankenstein, and many of the movie’s signature moments have gone on to permeate pop culture and are recognizable to a lot of people who won’t have even seen it.
21. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
There hasn’t been a single zombie movie as influential as George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, which saw the filmmaker double down on the tricks and tropes he learned on Night of the Living Dead.
A bigger, better and all-round superior sequel, Dawn established many of the plot and character beats that would go on to become staples of the shuffling undead genre forevermore.
An increased budget yields more gory practical effects, but Dawn of the Dead also doubles as a biting social satire as the masses descend on the mall without a unique thought between them.
20. The Wicker Man (1973)
The Nicolas Cage remake is absolutely hilarious for all the wrong reasons, but the infamous disaster still couldn’t taint the legacy of Robin Hardy’s legendary original by association.
Edward Woodward descends on a Scottish island village to try and find a missing girl, only to be met with resistance by the locals, who soon reveal they have seriously sinister intentions of their own.
Everything about The Wicker Man is precision engineered to unsettle the audience, and a game cast sell the more outlandish aspects of the story, even as things take a wild turn during the third act.
19. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
American backpackers get attacked by a wolf, but only one of them survives, although he might have been better off meeting the same fate as his friend given what happens next.
An American Werewolf in London is best known for the incredible practical effects used for the transformation scenes, but John Landis’ horror comedy packs a whole lot of bite even when the hirsute title character isn’t onscreen.
The wild tonal jumps take a bit of getting used to, but once you’re strapped in and along for the ride there are few movies that have managed to balance the funny with the frightening quite as well as An American Werewolf in London.
18. The Fly (1986)
David Cronenberg didn’t earn a reputation as cinema’s pre-eminent purveyor of grotesque body horror for no reason, and The Fly went on to become the biggest hit of his entire career.
Jeff Goldblum is excellent as Seth Brundle, who ends up merging his DNA with a common housefly and soon devolves into a terrifying monster grappling with his natural instincts.
The makeup effects are tactile to the point of being disgusting, but it all works in the movie’s favor, with the gore never overwhelming the tragedy that acts as the beating heart of the narrative.
17. Carrie (1976)
Stephen King is one of the most frequently adapted authors in history, but the first movie based on his work also happened to be based on his debut novel, and is still one of the best.
Brian De Palma shoots Carrie with the stylistic verve that would go on to become one of his filmmaking trademarks, while Sissy Spacek’s lead performance is one of the genre’s all-time best.
The subtext is hardly handled with subtlety, but that only serves to make the story more relatable and powerful, even when telepathic powers begin manifesting and the blood begins to flow.
16. Scream (1996)
After the 1980s slasher boom had almost run the sub-genre into the ground completely, horror was in dire need of rejuvenation, and Wes Craven’s Scream provided that shot in the arm that was so desperately required.
Smart, subversive, self-aware and most importantly of all scary, Scream is a postmodern classic that finds a cast of characters more than aware of horror tropes still managing to fall victim to them.
Of course, Scream almost instantly led to a number of copycat films, but none of them managed to match never mind top Craven’s phenomenal reinvention of the genre that he built his reputation on.
15. Halloween (1978)
Halloween is one of the most important horror movies ever made, and the original remains a chilling low budget thriller that holds up ten times better than any of the sequels.
Made on a shoestring budget, John Carpenter used the limitations to his advantage and built a well-oiled machine that doesn’t have a single trace of fat on its narrative bones, moving briskly from one set piece to the next.
By the time the credits rolled, Jamie Lee Curtis was Hollywood’s new scream queen and Michael Myers was an icon, and over 40 years later they’re still headlining box office smash hits under the Halloween banner.
14. Dracula (1931)
Bram Stoker’s novel has been done to death ten times over across the last century, but Tod Browning’s 1931 classic is still the first one that comes to mind when many people think of Dracula.
Bela Lugosi is arguably still the definitive interpretation of the character, and many of the mannerisms and costume choices he brought to the role were accepted as the standard from then on out.
The actor may have suffered from typecasting in the long run, but there’s worse things to be remembered as than the most iconic portrayal of one of pop culture’s most enduringly popular figures.
13. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)
There are few things more terrifying in horror movies than a puzzle box mystery that the audience can’t seem to unravel quicker than the characters, and there’s genuine fear in being kept in the dark.
A father and son duo of coroners investigate the death of a mysterious woman, but the better they do their jobs, the more they end up fearing for their lives as something sinister lurks around them.
A two-handed chamber piece that just happens to be an absorbing, malevolent and relentlessly sinister horror movie, The Autopsy of Jane Doe deserved to find a much bigger audience than it did.
12. Evil Dead II (1987)
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead II is part sequel, part remake and part parody, but somehow managed to juggle such disparate elements and combine them into a stone-cold horror-comedy classic.
With a bigger budget, the director let his imagination run wild, and Bruce Campbell’s square-jawed Ash firmly entered the conversation as one of the genre’s most quotable and charismatic leading men.
Stop motion animation, prosthetics, buckets of blood, and everything but the kitchen sink were thrown into the mix, and it was inevitable that Evil Dead II ended up spawning a massive cult following.
11. Get Out (2017)
Horror movies rarely if ever get recognition during awards season, so the fact Get Out score four Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor and Original Screenplay should tell you all you need to know.
Jordan Peele won the latter trophy, and the former comedian made a shockingly accomplished feature film debut by diving into sociopolitical horror and pulling out something truly special.
Given the filmmaker’s background there’s obviously a steady supply of humor, but Get Out ever loses focus of the central narrative pitting an unwitting man against a sinister community with a dark secret.
10. Nosferatu (1922)
E.W. Murnau was forced into making what’s essentially a bootleg ripoff of Dracula, which ironically turned out to receive more lasting acclaim than any movie starring the Count.
Definitely not an adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel wink wink, Nosferatu changes the title, names of the characters, and many other details, but the major plot beats are suspiciously familiar.
All copies were ordered to be destroyed following a legal ruling in favor of the author’s estate, but luckily some survived, and over the last century Nosferatu has been lauded as a benchmark for horror, populist, expressionist, and just all-round cinema in general.
9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Many pearls were clutched across the country when The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974, with the faint of heart appalled by the grisly violence and heavy amounts of gore.
Marketed as being based on a true story certainly helped pique the curiosity, and Tobe Hooper’s lo-fi approach gave everything a tangible quality, and you could almost smell the stench coming off Leatherface and his family.
Banned in several countries and pulled from many theaters following complaints, all of this ultimately worked in its favor, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre wound up casting a shadow over the genre that many modern titles still can’t seem to escape.
8. The Thing (1982)
Far too many classic movies have bombed at the box office after first being released, only to find themselves slowly earning an overdue reputation as an undisputed great, and The Thing is one of them.
The practical effects are the centerpiece of the sci-fi horror, but the cast of gruff characters take their underwritten roles and give them personalities and character traits, adding as much realism as you could to the tale of a shape-shifting alien assimilating other lifeforms.
John Carpenter is on top form as he pull out every trick in his esteemed playbook to craft nonstop entertainment that doubles as an all-out gore-fest, and it seems impossible to believe The Thing was savaged by critics during its first run in theaters.
7. Suspiria (1977)
A young American dancer arrives in Berlin to audition for a dance company, but accusations of witchcraft soon see things take a truly bizarre turn as things head deeper underground.
Trying to describe Suspiria is a very difficult task, but Dario Argento’s masterpiece is as easy to praise as it is difficult to quantify, with the horror maestro never bettering the existential and surreal terrors on display.
An assault on the senses that won’t win over everyone, those who strap in and buckle up for the ride will experience a horror movie like no other, as well as one of the most inventively imaginative and visually daring.
6. Alien (1979)
Ridley Scott’s original may have gone on to launch a blockbuster action-orientated franchise that’s still going strong, but Alien is as simple as a haunted house movie in space.
The bare-bones concept and the striking production design combine to see Scott create something that feels familiar, but offers something completely new thanks to the sci-fi trappings and creative boundaries that can be pushed within the genre.
The Alien series has spawned five sequels and two crossovers, but if you ask any longtime fan to name a single moment from any of the movies, then nine times out of ten it’ll be Scott’s first installment that comes up first.
5. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Roman Polanski’s psychological horror is one of the genre’s heaviest movies in terms of sheer thematic weight, and balances the director’s art-house sensibilities with more commercial trappings.
Paranoia, women’s liberation, religion and the occult are all weaved into the story of a woman who slowly starts to believe that her child is the Antichrist after a horrific conception.
Far-fetched but also realistic with its depictions of a crumbling marriage and crippling isolation, Rosemary’s Baby is a milestone for the horror genre that still packs a punch over 50 years later.
4. The Omen (1976)
Richard Donner’s classic is a slow burner that plays its cards close to the chest, drip-feeding information to the audience and causing them to question what’s really going on.
A series of mysterious events and grisly deaths follow the changeling child taken in by Gregory Peck’s ambassador after his own son dies shortly after birth, with his wife being none the wiser.
The plot stretches the limits of plausibility even for the horror genre, but the cast sells it with such conviction that the outlandish twists and turns work even better for being played completely straight, as Peck soon realizes he’s made a mistake that could cost him and his family dearly.
3. The Exorcist (1973)
One of the defining movies of the 1970s, The Exorcist caused outrage and controversy in equal measure when it was released, but also became a global phenomenon that captured the imagination of audiences around the world.
The publicity only made people want to see The Exorcist even more, and they were rewarded with an intelligent and cerebral horror that told a story in broad strokes but made each sweep of the brush as potent as possible.
A critical and commercial success, The Exorcist was the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars and reigned as the highest-grossing R-rated entry in the genre for over 40 years.
2. Psycho (1960)
Psycho would never work in today’s internet-savvy era where spoilers are telegraphed months in advance and audiences rarely if ever go into a hotly anticipated new movie completely cold.
Only Alfred Hitchcock would think of killing off the biggest name in his cast early on, before revealing Psycho as the prototypical slasher after the first act painted it as a crime thriller.
There’s so many iconic moments crammed into the 109 minutes running time that it almost beggars belief at how heavily it infiltrated pop culture, especially when it marked relatively uncharted territory for the ‘Master of Suspense’ at the time.
1. The Shining (1980)
A lot of filmmakers could have turned Stephen King’s source novel into a good movie, but only the idiosyncrasies of Stanley Kubrick could have yielded one of the very best ever made, making it number one on our list of the top horror movies of all time.
Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall’s lived-in appearance had as much to do with Kubrick’s exacting standards and desire for perfection as it did with their characters slow mental deterioration.
Like all of Kubrick’s films, The Shining has been pored over and picked apart for decades, and even now there’s still plenty to unpack from a bone-chilling exercise in psychological terror that marks a master at work.