Each horror movie connoisseur has their own list of the scariest movies they’ve ever watched. While these lists often have different films in them, there are a few which appear more often than others.
These are usually ones that have cemented themselves in the moviegoers’ psyche over the years because of their genius and innovative take on the horror genre.
After pouring over numerous top lists by famous critics, we’ve compiled the top 10 best horror movies of all time.
Top 10 Best Horror Movies of All Time
10. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The slasher film subgenre owes much of its inspiration in the seminal film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).
Notable horror film director Tobe Hooper’s breakout film follows a group of teens being chased by an inbred murderous family in the backwoods of Texas. It introduced the world to one of the film’s most notorious killers, Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding mountain of a man with an even bigger appetite for killing and torture.
The film is notable for elevating the horror genre to new levels of gore and sadism.
9. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
A contrast to the outward violence and terror featured in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is the quiet horror that permeates Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968).
Based on a novel of the same name, the film follows the story of the titular Rosemary, a young housewife who finds herself in the center of an insidious plot orchestrated by her opportunistic husband and a group of nosy neighbors.
Polanski takes us on a slow ride with Rosemary as she slowly uncovers the truth behind her neighbor’s unusual behavior and the terrifying history of the building she lives in.
8. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935) is a classic film of the monster movie genre of the 1930s.
But what sets it apart from its ilk, is its bold decision to defy customs to make a best horror film that uses humor. Some critics even went as far saying that the film is a comedy just as much as it’s a horror film
Actor Boris Karloff reprises his role as Frankenstein’s monster with Elsa Lanchester assuming the role of his ‘bride’ in this sequel to the 1931 hit Frankenstein.
The film builds on a subplot in the Mary Shelley novel where Dr. Frankenstein is pressured and coerced into creating a mate for his monster.
7. The Shining (1980)
Master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick adapts a novel by famous horror author Stephen King in The Shining (1980), one of the best horror movies ever.
The Shining (1980) chronicles the story of a family trapped in an insidious hotel over a winter. All hell breaks loose when the father Jack Torrance finally snapped and decided to kill his wife and kid.
Although it received lukewarm praise upon its initial release, the film experienced a resurgence when it was revisited by critics years after. Now, it holds a high position in the horror canon and is believed to be the best film adaptation of a King novel (despite protests from the writer himself).
6. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The world is first introduced to the infamous cannibal serial killer with a doctorate, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in Silence of the Lambs (1991).
The movie builds fear upon its viewers through the use of psychology and deduction which Lecter both use for helping the police solve murders and as a murder weapon as well.
The film holds the honor of being the only horror movie to ever win Best Picture at the Oscars. Further proof of its excellence is the other four Oscars it won in the same year, a feat only a few movies have achieved.
5. Alien (1979)
Set several centuries into the distant future, Alien follows the story of a crew on a mining vessel who become hosts to some bloodthirsty aliens which goal seems to be to eliminate all of them.
Some may say that Alien (1979) is a fresh take on the slasher movie genre that became popular in the 1970s mix with elements of sci-fi movies. Instead of a superhuman killer, director Ridley Scott introduces us to something scarier.
Watch as Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, outsmart and outwit the alien monster that boarded her crew’s craft in this dark film set in space.
4. Jaws (1975)
We’re sure every movie buff has seen this legendary film at least once in their lives.
Dubbed as the first ever blockbuster film, Steven Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) is a monster movie set on an island terrorized by one determined and bloodthirsty shark.
It features the iconic scoring by John Williams and stars the late Roy Scheider as a local sheriff trying to overcome his fear of the water to take down the shark that’s wreaking havoc in his community.
This is the film that spawned three sequels and the plethora of shark and water monster movies that all sought to emulate its brilliance.
3. Psycho (1960)
Psycho (1960) is perhaps the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock’s most known work. Psycho is one of the best horror movies of all time.
The film is seminal as it is considered to be the first slasher film to ever be made. Its legacy lives on to inspire other horror movie greats until today.
Psycho tells the story of Norman Bates a secluded man with serious mommy issues running a roadside motel. With a limited budget, Hitchcock crafted a horror classic with memorable horrific scenes often referenced in other media. Who can forget that disturbing and gut-wrenching ending scene?
2. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) is one of the first and remains one of the best movies of the zombie horror subgenre.
The film’s ‘Zombocalypse’ catches a group of people trapped in a country house near a cemetery on the night of the literal living dead. It features the classic image of the slow-moving, brain-hungry zombie who walks the Earth craving human flesh.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
The number one spot goes no other than the scariest movie ever made, The Exorcist (1973).
Catholic or not, this terrifying story of a little girl possessed by a demon scared everyone who watched it. What’s scarier is that the story is actually based on a true story of a young boy’s demonic possession and subsequent exorcism in the 1940s.
The film features Linda Blair as 12-year old Regan who accidentally invited evil after playing with an Ouija board.
Agree with the order of our Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time? Which movies do you think should have ranked higher?