The 50 Classic Horror Movies Every Scary Film Buff Must See

Brb, sleeping with the lights on forever.

A Horror Bucket List for Scary Movie Buffs

If you're looking for a movie to bring the chills in a serious way, you need to start with the classics. Yes, there are some amazing modern horror movies, but there's something about the staying power of the classics and their ability to scare generation after generation  without  fancy CGI monsters. Which isn't to say that there aren't also some modern movies that have become instant horror classics , too. Over the years, our collective definition of horror movies has changed and evolved, from the old school Universal creature features to modern social and psychological horror movies like Jordan Peele's  Get Out . If you consider yourself a true aficionado of all things horror, you'll appreciate everything the genre has to offer.  

Whether you're looking for classic monster movies like  The Bride of Frankenstein , iconic slashers like  Friday the 13th  and  Halloween , sci-fi scares like  Alien  and  Invasion of the Body Snatchers , or hilarious meta horror movies like  Scream  and  Cabin in the Woods , we have you covered. Here are some of the most classic horror movies of all time that any self-respecting scary movie buff  needs  to see.

1. 'Psycho' (1960)  

When you think of classic horror, what's the first image that comes to mind? If it's the raised knife of  Psycho 's famous shower scene, you're not alone. More than 50 years later, this Hitchcock classic is still thoroughly terrifying. 

2. 'The Exorcist'  (1973) 

The demonic possession film has become a sub-genre of its own and the OG entry in the category is 1973's  The Exorcist . 

3. 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)

Adulting is scary enough on its own without adding demonic elements, like giving birth to the literal spawn of satan. That's the premise of 1968's  Rosemary's Baby  though and it's as horrifying as it sounds.

4. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984) 

A monstrous murderer who comes for you in your dreams and kills you in your sleep? It's a real nightmare and, appropriately, the premise for the '80s classic. 

5. 'Carrie' (1976) 

Stephen King's supernatural horror novel became a classic scary movie when it was released in 1976, highlighting the horrors of adolescence, puberty, and high school in general. 

6. 'Saw' (2004)

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that reinvents its entire genre.  Saw  was that movie for horror. 

7. 'The Shining' (1980)

All work and no play makes people go literally insane and attempt to murder their families—at least, that's the lesson in 1980's  The Shining.  The Kubrick adaptation of Stephen King's book is a psychological mind trip—in the best and scariest of ways, of course. 

8. 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' (1956)

The best of horror sci-fi asks a terrifying "what if" and then answers it in a way that haunts us. In  Invasion of the Body Snatchers , people are horrified to find that their loved ones have been taken away and replaced by emotionless, lookalike alien invaders.

9. 'Scream' (1996) 

Scream  was the meta look at horror movies that horror fans had been waiting for—but also a pitch perfect scary movie in its own right. The '90s hit became an instant classic.

10. 'Cabin in the Woods' (2012)

Speaking of meta horror movies, 2012's  Cabin in the Woods  deconstructed, well, basically the entire concept of horror—and raised some existential questions about good and evil in the process. 

11. 'Nosferatu' (1922)  

It doesn't get much more "classic" than this.  Nosferatu  is a scarefest from 1922 that basically set the standard for vampire movies for the next century. 

12. 'The Conjuring' (2013)

This modern classic about a family who moves into an isolated farmhouse is scary enough to have spawned a whole bunch of spin-offs (you can thank this film for the  Annabelle  series, for example) that will probably outlive us all. 

13. 'The Thing' (1982) 

The scariest horror movies explore what it's like to be truly trapped with a monster—and in  The Thing , Antartica provides the horrifying remote setting for a series of attacks from a shape-shifting beast. 

14. 'Alien' (1979)

In space, no one can hear you scream. That becomes an issue when your space ship is overtaken by a ruthless killing machine hellbent on taking out your entire crew, one-by-one. 

15. 'The Birds' (1963)

Hitchcock has gone down in history as  the  master of horror, and for good reason. In 1963's  The Birds , regular, average, not-monstrous birds turn on a whole town, viciously attacking them. It will make you scared to go outside for weeks. 

16. 'Bride of Frankenstein' (1935) 

If for no other reason than to truly understand the slew of pop culture reference it spawned,  Bride of Frankenstein  should be required viewing for all film buffs. 

17. The Grudge' (2006)

It's thanks to this Sarah Michelle Gellar-led film that you still can't hear that distinctive rasping sound without your heart racing. Admit it—it still haunts your nightmares.

18. 'The Haunting' (1963) 

One of the original haunted house stories,  The Haunting  is just as terrifying today as it was in the '60s. 

19. 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991) 

If you're a fan of psychological horror, then you have to see  The Silence of the Lambs , which puts the psychological aspect front and center, via iconic villain Hannibal Lecter and his conversations with FBI profiler Clarice Starling.

20. 'Final Destination'

How can you escape when the thing chasing you is death itself? For the most part, you can't. And when you try, death gets  very  creative about murdering you—at least according to this franchise about a group of friends who cheat death and then find themselves hunted down one-by-one by it. 

21. 'The Evil Dead' (1981)

If you've ever wondered where the "group of young people are attacked at a remote cabin in the woods" trope gained its popularity, you clearly haven't seen  The Evil Dead  yet, and that needs to change ASAP. 

22. 'The Omen' (1976)  

Sometimes the antichrist doesn't come through your own womb. Sometimes you inadvertently adopt him. That's the premise of  The Omen , one of the earliest (and scariest) "terrifying child terrorizes a family" movies. 

23. 'Poltergeist' (1982) 

There are haunted house movies and then there's  Poltergeist , which will leave you researching your neighborhood to make sure it wasn't built on top of any graveyards or sacred burial grounds. Plus, reading about the franchise's infamous "curse" will send you down an internet rabbit hole all on its own. 

24. 'Halloween' (1978) 

When it comes to slasher flicks, it doesn't get much more classic than the original  Halloween , which made the idea of a masked murderer the gold standard in scary movies and crowned Jamie Lee Curtis the Scream Queen. 

25. 'I Know What You Did Last Summer' (1997)

Some of the best horror movies lean into the camp that's inherent to the genre and few do it better than  I Know What You Did Last Summer , a teen slasher flick about a group of friends who are stalked by a hook-handed killer after covering up an accidental murder they commit during a hit and run. 

26. 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) 

This low-budget horror phenomenon changed the game in scary movies, set box office records, and paved the way for the found footage genre going forward. 

27. 'Jaws' (1975)

The original  Jaws  should be a camp fest, but even with an infamously malfunctioning mechanical shark as its villain, the Steven Spielberg classic is scary enough to make you jump, even today. 

28. 'Get Out' (2017)

Classics can be released any time. Case in point: Jordan Peele's game-changing social thriller  Get Out , which achieved instant classic status when it was released in 2017. 

29. 'An American Werewolf in London' (1981)

Werewolf movies are hard to get right, but that's part of what makes 1981's  An American Werewolf in London  such an achievement. 

30. 'The Ring' (2002)

For many millennials, this 2002 classic was our first experience of being really and truly scared out of our minds. Naomi Watts stars as reporter Rachel Keller, whose niece dies grotesquely after watching a videotape. Rachel watches the videotape, as do her estranged partner and kid...and the rest is horror movie history.

31. 'The Fly' (1986)

This horror movie stars Jeff Goldblum as a scientist who invents a teleportation device and tests it out—not realizing that a fly is also along for the ride. What follows is a truly horrifying transformation as Jeff becomes part fly, part man. 

32. 'Misery' (1990) 

In  Misery , we get a look at fanatic devotion gone very, very wrong. The movie (which is yet another Stephen King adaptation) focuses on an author who is left seriously injured after a car crash and rescued by a retired nurse who turns out to be one of his biggest fans. She brings him home to nurse him back to health—and to keep him prisoner forever. 

33. 'Happy Death Day' (2017)

If you ever wondered what  Groundhog Day  would be like as a slasher, this movie is your answer. 

34. 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974)

If slashers are your thing, then this 1974 classic, about a group of friends who are terrorized by a crazed family in the middle of nowhere in, well, clearly Texas, is a must-see. 

35. 'It' (2017)

The Stephen King classic will reinforce every clown fear you've ever had. 

36. 'The Strangers' (2008)

Home invasion movies strike a chord because the idea of horror coming into our homes and invading our safest space is uniquely terrifying.  The Strangers  takes the concept to the extreme, following a couple who are terrorized by a group of invaders who target them at random. 

37. 'Let the Right One In' (2008)

This Swedish vampire movie is fairly modern, but it's also a must-see for anyone who considers themselves a connoisseur of horror classics. It expertly blends classic themes with sophisticated psychological thrills. 

38. 'Friday the 13th' (1980)

Summer camp was never the same after the release of this slasher classic. 

39. 'A Quiet Place' (2018)

What would you do in a world where making any noise at all meant certain death? That's the surprisingly-terrifying premise behind John Krasinski's instant-classic  A Quiet Place. 

40. 'Child's Play' (1988)

A murderous doll, possessed by the spirit of a serial killer? Nothing not scary about that. 

41. 'The Witch'

A secluded Puritan family living in the woods? Supernatural forces? Demonic-like goats!? Sign us up for this terrifying flick starring Anya Taylor-Joy.

42. 'Midsommar'

Ladies, never, I repeat,  never,  follow your crappy boyfriend when he wants to study an isolated cult in the middle of nowhere. It will only end badly. 

43. 'Hereditary'

After the matriarch of the Graham family dies, the clan begin to discover she as hiding (and, passed down) a few sinister secrets. 

44. 'The Purge"

A new cult classic,  The Purge  takes place in an alternate-universe America where all crime, including murder, is legal for one night.

45. 'Paranormal Activity' (2009)

An update on the found-footage trope using home security cameras, watch Paranormal Activity and you'll never look at your Nest or Ring camera the same way again.

46. 'Candyman' (1992)

This cult classic about the Candyman, a man covered in bees who appears when you say his name five times, just got an update from Nia DeCosta and Jordan Peele. But don't worry, the original is also absolutely terrifying.

47. 'Us' (2019)

What if a version of you, living underground your whole life, decides it wants to take your place? Jordan Peele's second film strikes a new terrifying chord.

48. 'The Babadook' (2014)

A young widow and her son are terrorized by a monster out of a mysterious picture book in this psychological flick praised as one of the best horror film of the 2010s.

49. 'Don't Breathe' (2016)

In this flipped home invasion film, a group of thieves get the surprise of their lives when they target a blind man who's not as helpless as he seems.

50. 'Train to Busan' (2016)

Commuters on a South Korean bullet train have to survive a zombie apocalypse when the infection starts spreading through the train. A great choice if you're looking to scream and cry.

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Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.

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The 50 Best Ghost Movies of All Time

The 50 Best Ghost Movies of All Time

When we set out to create a list of the best “ghost movies,” we didn’t quite realize at the start exactly how diverse that list would eventually be.

We began with horror cinema in mind. Sure, there are hundreds of classical cinematic ghost stories and haunted house tales, right? They stretch back all the way back to 1944’s The Uninvited , through The Amityville Horror and onto The Conjuring and others—it’s not like there’s a shortage of malevolent spectres out there.

But then, in assembling the list, it became clear that this was another beast entirely from our recent ranking of the 50 best slasher movies of all time. Even more so than our list of the best zombie movies, “ghosts” have been co-opted into seemingly every genre, and they all belong on a list of the “best ghost movies.” After all, A Christmas Carol revolves entirely around its visiting ghosts, doesn’t it? So does Field of Dreams and its ghostly major leaguers, or the title character of Beetlejuice . So yeah, there’s plenty of horror on this list—but there’s also plenty more ghost movies suitable for fans of every genre, from romance to comedy to science fiction.

Here then, are the best ghost movies of all time:

50. Casper (1995) Director: Brad Silberling

Casper is a relic of the infancy of CGI, and thus is a little strange to watch today—compared with the likes of Jurassic Park , its effects have a much harder time holding up, which renders some of its ghostly characters a bit less effective. Still, this is a memorable yarn for younger audiences, one that is surprisingly morose and mature at times in terms of its depictions of death and grief. In fact, death happens quite a bit in Casper —no surprise, I guess, in that it’s a film about ghosts, but it really stacks some bodies nevertheless. A strong cast, anchored by Christina Ricci, Bill Pullman, Brad Garrett and a wonderful Eric Idle help it rise above the muck, and even get a wee bit philosophical. You can certainly do worse for a weekend afternoon on the couch with the kids. — Jim Vorel

49. The Woman in Black (2012) Director: James Watkins

There’s not much to this 2012 modern Hammer Horror film—nothing unique about it, but it’s quite competently assembled. With that said, you could argue that simply producing a ghost story this traditional in 2012 offered a bit of novelty. Daniel Radcliffe, fresh off his final Harry Potter appearance, took a role playing “an adult” as Arthur Kipps, a Victorian era lawyer who travels to the country to negotiate the sale of a house that is revealed to be haunted by the spirit of the Woman in Black. This CGI specter has a particular fondness for targeting children, and the film becomes a mystery in the “placate this restless spirit and set her free” mold. It offers a few fun twists and turns, and evokes classic British haunted house movies of the past, as Radcliffe stalks through dark, cobwebbed rooms with a flaming candelabra to light his way. The ending is a bit derivative of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell , but all in all this is a better-than-average classical ghost story. —Jim Vorel

48. Stir of Echoes (1999) Director: David Koepp

Stir of Echoes is one of those movies where any discussion of it always tends to revolve around another film from the same year that received far more attention—in this case, that film is The Sixth Sense . Because it had the misfortune of hitting theaters a month after M. Night Shyamalan’s ghost thriller set box offices ablaze, and because it contains several of the same elements—including a young boy who can communicate with the dead— Stir of Echoes was widely derided at the time as knowingly derivative, but that assessment was never really fair. Unlike The Sixth Sense , which leans so heavily on atmosphere and tension, Stir of Echoes is more of a true popcorn thriller, a supernatural whodunit that sees Kevin Bacon descending into frothing hyperactivity after having the doors of his perception thrown wide open during a botched hypnosis session. Today, the film’s growing fandom seem to be trying to reclaim its status as an underrated horror classic, but the reality is that Stir of Echoes is an effective, classical potboiler full of themes that have been common in ghost movies for as long as we’ve had ghost movies. It does have the warm likability of Kevin Bacon going for it, though, and that’s enough to make it worthwhile. — Jim Vorel

47. Extra Ordinary (2020) Directors: Mike Ahern, Enda Loughman

It can be difficult to organically thread “romance” into horror-comedy, broadening a film to equally weigh a third major genre, but it’s the quirky relationship fodder where Extra Ordinary ultimately displays its greatest strength. This Irish indie never truly takes the frightening side of paranormal investigation seriously—it’s a true comedy all the way, and probably stronger for it—but it’s the unexpectedly quiet, thoroughly human lead performances that make it memorable. Those come from Irish actors Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward as two unassuming but uniquely talented people, imbued with abilities that allow them to touch the spirit plane rather more easily than they’re able to socialize with living, breathing humans. Higgins in particular really owns the character of Rose Dooley, imbuing her with a good-natured and immediately relatable soft-spokenness on top of an aura of melancholy that belies her ability to bring closure to spirits stuck in limbo. The scenes the two have together contain a certain warmth, a feeling that two people have been brought together who complete one another nicely—if only Ward’s ex-wife wasn’t still in the picture (in poltergeist form). Nevertheless, it’s Will Forte’s charismatic performance as washed-up prog rock star/demonic cultist Christian Winter that is likely to draw more U.S. viewers to Extra Ordinary , given that he’s the film’s most recognizable star. He makes the most of the opportunity to play another deeply eccentric character in a career that has been full of them, although his performance almost feels like something from a different movie when compared to the more grounded focus on the relationship between Higgins and Ward. That central duo, and their emerging rapport, make Extra Ordinary a heartfelt, breezy entry that gets a lot of mileage from very few moving pieces. — Jim Vorel

46. Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) Director: Takashi Shimizu

The Grudge , along with Ringu (not on Netflix streaming), are the two most prominent examples of “J-horror” (Japanese horror) from their time period to make an impact in the American psyche, as both were soon adapted into American versions. There’s nothing particularly revolutionary in its interconnected series of tales involving people menaced by the ghosts of a murdered family, but damn if its depiction of the child spirit of “Toshio” in particular didn’t become a symbol of the entire J-horror genre. Its stories of punishment may be on the conventional side, but the appearance and art direction that went into creating its creepy kid have been an undeniable influence on pretty much all the ghost movies that have come along since. — Jim Vorel

45. The Amityville Horror (1979) Director: Stuart Rosenberg

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The original Amityville Horror might be one of the least striking or unique films to ever inspire more than a dozen follow-ups—seriously, there are to date 16 films that have been made with “Amityville” in the title. Its story is basic and primordial—family moves into a new house, but things go bump in the night. Every haunted house trope is well-represented, from secret rooms and unseen hands to disembodied voices and spiritual possession. If anything, the film overloads itself with concurrent, dueling reasons for the haunting, ranging from “Indian burial ground” to “site of Satanic rituals,” never really settling on a central theme. It’s just a pure popcorn haunting picture, famous for its blood-oozing walls but otherwise merely competent as your standard bit of October distraction. Perhaps it was the iconic shape of the house itself that seared itself into the cultural consciousness? No matter the reason, The Amityville Horror has been hard to shake, and has given us five new “Amityville” films in the last three years alone. — Jim Vorel

44. Mama (2013) Director: Andy Muschietti

Although there’s nothing particularly original about Mama , familiar elements come together to great effect. The first shot, for example, is of a car with the door open, empty but running, the radio blaring news. It’s a visual that brims with implication, arresting in its simplicity. There are any number of classic and not-so-classic horror films that explore the inherent eeriness of children, but Andrés Muschietti manages to make the kids seem otherworldly and dangerous with just body movement and a few staging tricks. It may sound a little film-school haughty to say there’s a visual vocabulary at work in something like this, but the thought put into the composition really comes through. Muschietti also gets some solid performances out of his actors, especially Jessica Chastain. It’s hard not to sympathize with her character, Annabel, thrust into the “mother” of all bad fostering situations. — Dan Kaufman

43. The Legend of Hell House (1973) Director: John Hough

Each generation gets a haunted house movie that reflects the filmmaking mindset of the day, and for the 1970s that may well be The Legend of Hell House . Taken here is the basic format of something like House on Haunted Hill or The Haunting , with tweaks that drive it into the grindhouse era—classical spooks as informed by the work of Herschell Gordon Lewis. A doctor gathers a team of psychics to take on the evil of a haunted house, and the house doesn’t disappoint—it pretty much declares war on the characters right from the get-go, but the plot is complicated by all of the researchers simultaneously plotting against one another. There is considerable cheese factor to these proceedings; just try not to chuckle when Roddy McDowell lists the reasons for the house’s haunting as “murder, vampirism, cannibalism, drug addiction, alcoholism, sadism and mutilation,” as if everything on that list is of equal offense. Still, Hell House can boast a semi-lurid Richard Matheson screenplay, lush cinematography and nice colors for the era—a slightly exploitative twist on the standard haunted house formula. — Jim Vorel

42. 1408 (2007) Director: Mikael Håfström

Even at its time of release, 1408 didn’t exactly command the high-profile treatment of top-tier Stephen King adaptations, but it’s a sneaky-good, high-concept ghost story all the same, and one that features one of the only John Cusack performances worth watching in the last 15 years. Cusack is playing a cynical charlatan of sorts here, a paranormal investigator and hack of a writer (a typical King protagonist!) who doesn’t believe a word of anything he’s ever written—until setting foot into Room #1408, that is. It’s a self-contained descent into madness as the evil hotel room sets its reality warping powers against Cusack, tormenting him with specters of the room’s previous victims, as well as taunting him with the demons of his own past. It all builds to a surprisingly poignant conclusion that offers some hope of peace in the afterlife—a rare case where the “theatrical ending” to a film is considerably more effective than the “director’s cut” ending included with the home video release. Breezy, entertaining and even a bit scary at times, 1408 is a well above-average example of big studio, PG-13 horror, and one that deserves credit for perfectly executing a deceptively simple premise. — Jim Vorel

41. Session 9 (2001) Director: Brad Anderson

You will certainly have no trouble finding ardent supporters of Session 9 as an “overlooked gem” of a horror movie, if you dig into the online world of horror fandom. It’s often mentioned alongside the likes of Lake Mungo as an indie psychological/supernatural film that achieves a lot on a shoestring budget, but it’s also not without its faults and narrative inconsistencies. Its plot revolves around a team of asbestos removers who are clearing out an abandoned insane asylum, which might lead you to believe you know where the story is headed—rest assured, you do not. This is not a typical haunted house feature, filled to the gills with apparitions and jump-scares. Instead it’s a mind-bending, often confusing psychological thriller that is constantly asking the audience to reconsider the nature of reality and a possibly unreliable viewpoint character. Is everyone going insane? Which characters are actually alive or dead? What the hell is going on with the timeline? Session 9 is not the kind of thing you throw on in the background as idle, Halloween-season entertainment. You better sit tight and pay attention, and you might still have to come back for a second viewing in the hopes of making every thread come together. — Jim Vorel

40. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) Director: Mike Flanagan

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While the first Ouija was a workmanlike, paint-by-numbers cash grab without a single original touch, its prequel, directed by tried-and-true horror fan and prolific genre filmmaker (with three quality releases in 2016 alone) Mike Flanagan, bears the aesthetic of ’60s horror. From the use of the era’s Universal logo to a faded, sepia-pastel look, Origin of Evil bears witness to Flanagan having fun with the creative possibilities of the project. As intriguing as all that stuff is for genre purists and cinephiles, the whole thing would still crumble if the overall tone and performances didn’t match Flanagan’s ambitions. Thankfully, he delivers a wholly satisfying piece of PG-13 horror that deftly mixes the modern sensibilities of the genre with tried-and-true stylistic approaches from its, er, origins. —Oktay Ege Kozak

39. His House (2020) Director: Remi Weekes

Nothing sucks the energy out of horror than movies that withhold on horror. Movies can scare audiences in a variety of ways, of course, but the very least a horror movie can be is scary instead of screwing around. Remi Weekes’ His House doesn’t screw around. The film begins with a tragedy, and within 10 minutes of that opening handily out-grudges The Grudge by leaving ghosts strewn on the floor and across the stairs where his protagonists can trip over them. Ultimately, this is a movie about the inescapable innate grief of immigrant stories, a companion piece to contemporary independent cinema like Jonas Carpignano’s Mediterranea , which captures the dangers facing immigrants on the road and at their destinations with brutal neorealist clarity. Weekes is deeply invested in Bol and Rial as people, in where they come from, what led them to leave, and most of all what they did to leave. But Weeks is equally invested in making his viewers leap out of their skins. — Andy Crump

38. The Entity (1982) Director: Sidney J. Furie

The Entity is an early ’80s supernatural thriller that certainly pushed a few buttons at the time of its release, but would likely have been forgotten all the same if it hadn’t secured one famously avowed supporter in the form of Martin Scorsese. The great director has repeatedly drawn attention to The Entity by calling it one of the scariest horror films of all time, and given the subject matter it’s not too hard to see why—the idea of being attacked, especially in a sexual way, by an invisible force is the ultimate in helplessness. Based on the real-life case of a woman named Doris Bither, who claimed to have been repeatedly attacked by the vindictive spirits of three men, it’s a squirmy knot of psycho-sexual energy that feels like a lingering entry in ’70s-era grindhouse horror, with a twist of ’80s sci-fi. Certainly not for the faint of heart, its tagline is particularly disconcerting: “Based on a true story … that isn’t over yet.” — Jim Vorel

37. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) Director: Kim Jee-woon

A Tale of Two Sisters is a complex, somewhat confusingly wrought Korean horror-thriller, a twisting morass of relationships and family drama that clashes against a possible supernatural threat. One of Korea’s highest-grossing horror films of all time, it combines a Hitchcockian vein of psychological/mental torture with a classical ghost story that almost invokes classic Hollywood, i.e. The Innocents or The Uninvited . It follows a pair of sisters, as the title would suggest, as the elder is released from a mental institution and back into the messed-up family dynamic that put her there. From there, the film asks many questions: What are the true motivations of the sisters’ cruel stepmother? What has been plaguing the younger sister? Is the father complicit in murder? What really happened to the sisters’ birth mother as she wasted away from illness in their now-haunted home? It’s certainly a film that almost necessitates repeated viewings, as its twisting plot development is rather tough to grasp the first time through. At times, it almost carries the world-weariness and sense of encroaching inevitability of a Shakespearean tragedy. — Jim Vorel

36. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Ghostly romances aren’t terribly common on this list, outside of entries that you’d expect to find such as the titular Ghost , but there are a few of merit. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir stands out as a classic ’40s romantic fantasy, following a young widower who moves with her young daughter into a seaside home, where she meets the cantankerous, rough-around-the-edges ghost of its former sea captain owner. Slowly, a most unlikely romance blooms between the two, as our protagonist (Gene Tierney) uses the life experiences of the captain (Rex Harrison) to write a best-selling memoir. It’s all fairly straightforward, replete with the kinds of “misunderstandings” and false starts you’d expect in most romances of the period, but Harrison is rather dashing as Captain Gregg, and the bittersweet ending is the stuff of Golden Age Hollywood glitz and glamor. It’s an excellent “ghost movie” for date night, provided you’re dating a historical film buff. — Jim Vorel

35. The Frighteners (1996) Director: Peter Jackson

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The Frighteners , along with films such as Dead Alive and Heavenly Creatures , make one wonder what kind of career Peter Jackson would have continued having had he not been tapped to bring The Lord of the Rings to life, becoming Hollywood royalty in the process. Few directors have had such a weird knack for horror and gross-out humor as early career Jackson—he’s in a company shared by the likes of early career Sam Raimi in that regard. The Frighteners was his first major film for the North American market, and it’s a weirdo blend of fantasy, horror and comedy that would likely find admiration from the likes of Guillermo Del Toro. Michael J. Fox was a blessing for Jackson to land as the lead; he gives protagonist Frank Bannister his typical charm and inherently likability in what ended up being his last feature-length leading role. It’s a tale of supernatural revenge, and one that benefits from some frenzied character acting from the likes of Jake Busey and a supremely twitchy Jeffrey Combs as an FBI agent who has been pushed far over the brink. If you do watch The Frighteners , be sure to check out the blooper clip of Michael J. Fox repeatedly calling the “Judge” character “Doc!”, to his chagrin. It’s perfectly adorable. — Jim Vorel

34. Candyman (1992) Director: Bernard Rose

The oeuvre of Clive Barker tends to dwell on dualities and sensuality—pleasure and pain, heaven and hell, brilliance and insanity. They’re all present in Candyman , as they are in other Barker adaptations such as Hellraiser as well, forming a tangled web of romance, abuse and psycho-racial wounds. “Romance” might be an odd word to hear in this instance, but it’s appropriate— Candyman is unusual among slashers/ghost movies for its deep themes of race and taboo, especially as they pertain to sex and love. On the surface an exploration of an urban legend about the ghost of a lynched slave with a hook for a hand, on a deeper level Candyman functions as both a sumptuous gothic romance (aided by its Philip Glass score) à la Crimson Peak and a biting condemnation of government negligence and urban decay in Chicago’s poorest slums. Sometimes Candyman is noir; sometimes it’s sexy; sometimes it’s just plain gross. Tony Todd, as the titular character, has a certain mesmerizing quality that waltzes daintily on the line between farcical and terrifying, while Virginia Madsen as the protagonist actually allowed herself to be hypnotized by her director on set to properly convey the sense of falling under the Candyman’s spell. In terms of uniqueness alone, Candyman earns its own strange, little corner in the slasher (and ghostly) canon. — Jim Vorel

33. The Fog (1980) Director: John Carpenter

If you’re a horror fan, it’s hard not to love the basic premise of The Fog , with its billowing clouds of white vapor that bring swift death along with them. John Carpenter’s follow-up to Halloween had a somewhat larger budget to work with, and the practical effects look great as a result, although it wasn’t as successful at the box office. Regardless, The Fog is a superior film from a production standpoint, reuniting Carpenter with Jamie Lee Curtis, albeit in a less important role. It concerns a Californian coastal town that is celebrating its 100th anniversary when dark secrets from the 1800s begin to emerge. Turns out that the “city fathers” committed some pretty serious crimes against humanity, and now a crew of restless revenants has returned to dish out some much-deserved revenge. Caught up in the madness is Adrienne Barbeau, Carpenter’s wife of the time, debuting on screen in the role that would make her a scream queen figure for decades. There’s simply a great sense of atmosphere in The Fog , especially in the dense, otherworldly way that the glowing banks of fog move throughout town, amplified by a signature John Carpenter synth soundtrack. Anyone who knows Carpenter would be able to pick out his unique style immediately. —Jim Vorel

32. Ghost (1990) Director: Jerry Zucker

In the “friendly ghost stuck in the earthly plane with unfinished business” camp, Patrick Swayze’s 1990 star vehicle Ghost also has elements of romance, comedy, mystery, and extreme early 90s cheesiness (wow, those special effects are mind-boggling). But for all its earnestness and overuse of tight shots of Demi Moore shedding tears, there’s something lovable about it. Is it the tastiness of the idea that people taken from our lives before their time might indeed still be accessible, might even be watching over us? Is it the parody-provoking yet oddly heart-tugging use of the Righteous Brothers’ gorgeous recording of “Unchained Melody?” Is it Whoopi Goldberg’s annoying yet hilarious turn as a fraud psychic who is terrified when she finds herself actually channeling a ghost? Every time you want to write this movie off, something genuinely sweet or genuinely intriguing or genuinely funny reels you back in. Every time you get reeled back in you find yourself thinking “Why am I watching this?” It’s dated, and it’s no auteur tour de force but it has a certain lightness of … well, yeah, of spirit. Get a glass of wine, ignore the special effects demons and just go along for the ride as Patrick Swayze avenges his own murder and finds the most elusive ghost of all: closure. — Amy Glynn

31. House on Haunted Hill (1959) Director: William Castle

Every William Castle movie has its own campy charms, but House on Haunted Hill is the guy’s masterpiece. It’s got it all: Vincent Price at his goofiest, a big spooky house, a mystery and a profoundly non-frightening walking skeleton. The gimmick this time around was referred to by Castle as “Emergo,” and it amounted to a plastic skeleton on a pulley system being flown over the audience—not his most creative, but shameless enough that only Castle would stoop so low. To me, this is the quintessential 1950s horror film, even though it comes at the end of the decade. It’s totally tame by today’s standards but has some fun, over-the-top performances, a bit of witty dialog and a large helping of cheese. I can watch this thing over and over without ever getting tired of it. It’s like horror comfort food. The colorized version is even more fun, replacing the static black-and-white original with an unrealistic palette of color-coded characters you will remind you of the cast of Clue . —Jim Vorel

30. The Innkeepers (2011) Director: Ti West

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When you’re working in indie horror, a big part of success is learning how to turn your budgetary limitations into a positive—to rely less heavily on effects and setting and more on characterization and filmcraft. Ti West understands this better than most, which is part of what made his earlier House of the Devil so effective. The Innkeepers has some of the same DNA, but it’s rawer and more “real,” following the mostly unremarkable exploits of two friends (Sara Paxton and Pat Healy) as they work in a dingy old bed & breakfast and conduct nightly paranormal research in their place of business. They’re well-cast and feel like two of the most “real people” you’re likely to see in a horror film—West, acting in moments like a horror-tinged Tarantino, enjoys lingering on them during their conversations and small-talk, which builds a sense of casual camaraderie to what are supposed to be long-time co-workers. Of course, things do eventually start going bump in the night, and the film ratchets up into a classically inflected ghost story. Some will accuse it of being slow, or of spending too much time dawdling with things that are unimportant, but that’s “mumblegore” for you. Ultimately, the reality imbued into the characters justifies the time it takes to give them characterization, and you still get some spooky “boo!” moments in the film’s final act. —Jim Vorel

29. Under the Shadow (2016) Director: Babak Anvari

For most of the film, Babak Anvari is crafting a stifling period drama, a horror movie of a different sort that tangibly conveys the claustrophobia of Iran during its tumultuous post-revolution period. Anvari, himself of a family that eventually fled the Ayatollah’s rule, has made Under the Shadow as statement of rebellion and tribute to his own mother. It’s a distinctly feminist film: Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is cast as the tough heroine fighting back against greater hostile forces—a horror movie archetype that takes on even more potency in this setting. Seeing Shideh defy the Khomeini regime by watching a Jane Fonda workout video, banned by the state, is almost as stirring as seeing her overcome her personal demons by protecting her child from a more literal one. —Brogan Morris

28. Hausu (1977) Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi

Oh, how to describe Hausu ? Anyone who has seen this crazed Japanese mishmash of horror, comedy and fantasy knows this is no easy task—it’s simultaneously as simple as saying “It’s about some girls who go to a haunted house,” and much more complicated. Hausu has often been described as being “like Jaws , but with a house,” but the comparison isn’t exactly accurate—where Spielberg’s film is classic adventure, Obayashi’s is like a bad acid trip, sporting trippy, day-glo color schemes and mind-bending visuals. Animated cats, disembodied flying heads and stop-motion monsters are all par for the course as Hausu goes for the jugular, seemingly trying to overwhelm the viewer with an all-out assault on the senses. As a piece of modern camp spectacle it’s top tier, but it would be a shame to overlook the genuinely imaginative visual effects and how they would seem to presage the likes of Evil Dead 2 in the years to come. If there’s another film where a woman is eaten by a living, evil piano, I haven’t yet seen it. — Jim Vorel

27. The Conjuring (2013) Director: James Wan

Let it be known: James Wan is, in any fair estimation, an above average director of horror films at the very least. The progenitor of big money series such as Saw and Insidious has a knack for crafting populist horror that still carries a streak of his own artistic identity, a Spielbergian gift for what speaks to the multiplex audience without entirely sacrificing characterization. Several of his films sit just outside the top 100, if this list were ever to be expanded, but The Conjuring can’t be denied as the Wan representative because it is far and away the scariest of all his feature films. Reminding one of the experience of first seeing Paranormal Activity in a crowded multiplex, The Conjuring has a way of subverting when and where you expect the scares to arrive. Its haunted house/possession story is nothing you haven’t seen before, but few films in this oeuvre in recent years have had half the stylishness that Wan imparts on an old, creaking farmstead in Rhode Island. The film toys with audience’s expectations by throwing big scares at you without standard Hollywood Jump Scare build-ups, simultaneously evoking classic golden age ghost stories such as Robert Wise’s The Haunting . Its intensity, effects work and unrelenting nature set it several tiers above the PG-13 horror against which it was primarily competing. It’s interesting to note that The Conjuring actually did receive an “R” rating despite a lack of overt “violence,” gore or sexuality. It was simply too frightening to deny, and that is worthy of respect. —Jim Vorel

26. Oculus (2013) Director: Mike Flanagan

When one hears that the central focus point of Oculus is a haunted mirror, you expect a fairly self-contained ghost story, but this recent release proved to be a surprisingly ambitious concept from a promising horror director, Mike Flanagan. It simultaneously juggles accounts of the mirror’s evil influence in two timelines, following the same characters as children and adults. The segments as children feel a tad by-the-books, but the pleasantly over-the-top performances in the adult portion are particularly enjoyable, as a young woman attempts to scientifically document and then seek revenge upon the source of her family’s misery. The film begins to peter out just a bit by the end, as the two stories become intertwined to the point of confusion in an attempt to blur the lines of reality, but in general it’s a stylish, creepy horror flick that goes out of its way to defy conventions. Look no further than the soul-sucking ending, which leaves the door wide open to all sorts of future possibilities if Flanagan ever wants to revisit the concept. —Jim Vorel

25. Ringu (1998) Director: Hideo Nakata

The Best Horror Movie of 1998: Ringu

The Hollywood remake of Ringu decided to use spectacle where Nakata’s understated original used simple, bone-deep dread. The latter is a less visceral experience, but a far, far more unsettling one. Opening on the deadly haunting of a teen girl, the film then follows Asakawa (Nanako Matsushima), a local TV reporter who files stories about urban legends. Trouble is, the campfire story about the VHS tape that curses you with death in seven days isn’t just a story. Filled with arresting imagery, chilling sound design, and cinematography that conveys the fear and paranoia of its doomed and desperate protagonists, it is easy to see why this progenitor of the “J-horror” genre took the West by storm. — Kenneth Lowe

24. Grave Encounters (2011) Directors: Colin Minihan and Stuart Ortiz, “The Vicious Brothers”

It’s hard to understand why Grave Encounters doesn’t have a better reputation among horror geeks, who largely seem to be aware of it but deride the found-footage movie as either derivative or cheesy. In our own estimation, it’s one of the best found footage offerings of the last decade, and certainly one of the most legitimately frightening, as well as humorous when it wants to be. It’s structured as a pitch-perfect parody of inane TV ghost-hunting shows, in the style of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures , and imagines the satisfying results of what might happen when one of these crews full of charlatans is subjected to a genuinely evil location. But Grave Encounters goes beyond what is expected of it—you hear that premise and expect some frantic, handicam running around and screaming in the dark, but it delivers far more. The FX work, on a small budget, is some of the best you’re ever going to see in a found-footage film, and the nature of the haunting is significantly more mind-bending and ambitious than it first appears. We’ll continue to defend this film, although you should steer clear of the less inspired sequel. — Jim Vorel

23. Carnival of Souls (1962) Director: Herk Harvey

Carnival of Souls is a film in the vein of Night of the Hunter : artistically ambitious, from a first-time director, but largely overlooked in its initial release until its rediscovery years later. Granted, it’s not the masterpiece of Night of the Hunter , but it’s a chilling, effective, impressive little story of ghouls, guilt and restless spirits. The story follows a woman (Candace Hilligoss) on the run from her past who is haunted by visions of a pale-faced man, beautifully shot (and played) by director Herk Harvey. As she seemingly begins to fade in and out of existence, the nature of her reality itself is questioned. Carnival of Souls is vintage psychological horror on a miniscule budget, and has since been cited as an influence in the fever dream visions of directors such as David Lynch. To me, it’s always felt something like a movie-length episode of The Twilight Zone , and I mean that in the most complimentary way I can. Rod Serling would no doubt have been a fan. —Jim Vorel

22. The Canal (2014) Director: Ivan Kavanagh

This indie Irish horror film announces Ivan Kavanagh as a serious talent and remarkably skilled director—it’s the kind of film you might watch on a streaming service with zero expectations, only to be completely blown away. Nominally a “ghost story” of sorts about a man who discovers a century old grisly crime that occurred in his house, it’s actually much more of a psychologically intense minefield—the sort of film that Polanski would have made, if there actually were ghosts in Repulsion . Combining elements that remind one of The Shining ’s superb sound design with the surrealist, red-and-blue color palette of a film by Dario Argento, it is impeccably put together and beautiful to look at. The story, unfortunately, gets just a little bit too literal and wraps things up a bit neatly in the last 15 minutes, but the movie crafts an extremely effective web of dread and genuine fear through its entire runtime. Here’s hoping that we see another horror film from Kavanagh at some point. — Jim Vorel

21. Crimson Peak (2015) Director: Guillermo del Toro

Crimson Peak is a deeply human picture where the ghouls shuffling in the back of del Toro’s mind happily serve as window dressing instead of as antagonists. People, not monsters, have always been del Toro’s central fascination. He just happens to have a pronounced fetish for all things ectoplasmic and phantasmagoric, though his supernatural tastes match his preference in thespians. Here, he has assembled the comely trio of Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain to play out his film’s mortal conflicts, which makes good sense: In del Toro’s world, the dead necessarily look just as stunning as the living. Sue the man for placing high aesthetic value on the visual scheme of the fiends haunting his pictures. Like The Devil’s Backbone , used here as del Toro’s self-reference point, Crimson Peak takes the “haunting” part to heart, with a ghost yarn wrapped up in Victorian-era romance that’d make du Maurier, Brontë, Bava, and Perrault beam with pride from beyond the grave. — Andy Crump

20. A Christmas Carol (1984) Director: Clive Donner

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It wasn’t so much a question of whether A Christmas Carol belonged on a “ghost movies” list (the ghosts drive the whole story!), but which version to choose, it being a tale that has been told on screen so many times. There’s innumerable good options to choose from, from the 1951 classic with Alastair Sim, to the Muppets rendition, to the surprisingly good TV version in 1999 with Patrick Stewart. But we decided to go with the George C. Scott version, because really, what other actor seems so perfectly born to play the cantankerous old Ebenezer Scrooge than Scott, he of the perpetual sour face? This Christmas Carol is a happy middle ground between versions—more accessible (and spookier) than the Alastair Sim one, and more serious-minded than The Muppets, although that’s always a good time. True to Dickens’ original story, and with the perfect Ebenezer behind it, this is as close to the definitive version of the tale as we’ve yet come. — Jim Vorel

19. The Uninvited (1944) Director: Lewis Allen

There are no shortage of “ghost stories” in the cinematic encyclopedia that hail from before 1944, but The Uninvited threw a significant wrench into convention by making the somewhat risque (at the time) decision of ultimately portraying its own haunting as real . Before this point, ghosts and hauntings in movies were typically revealed as the work of charlatans, Scooby Doo -style, but The Uninvited instead took these gothic trappings and welded them to an emotionally affecting family mystery/drama. The action takes place at a seaside mansion that has been home to violence in the past, and threatens to be again, as the descendents of the original victims (and perpetrators) return to have the sins of their forebears visited upon them. Classical, spooky cinematography give the film an air of refinement, similar to what you’d see in Val Lewton’s Cat People or 1961’s The Innocents . — Jim Vorel

18. The Others (2001) Director: Alejandro Amenábar

The Others is a stately ghost thriller that is classical in structure, sumptuous in appearance and somewhat familiar in its plotting. Borrowing heavily from the modus operandi of gothic horror literature and Hammer horror productions of the ’60s, it’s hard not to look at Nicole Kidman here and see her as doing an impersonation of Deborah Kerr in The Innocents , except playing a mother rather than “governess.” Still, The Others takes the bones of that kind of story, in the mold of The Turn of the Screw and adds a few more modern layers—an absent husband who mysteriously returns; a pair of servants who seem to know more than they let on; a few genuinely creepy scenes involving the children. It was rightly praised upon release as a stylish throwback in an era that was considerably more dominated by monsters and slashers, and its period piece setting gives it a certain timeless quality, 20 years later. The best ghost stories age well, and The Others is doing exactly that. — Jim Vorel

17. Lake Mungo (2008) Director: Joel Anderson

And speaking of found footage, here’s another entry in the genre that has had considerably more positive critical attention. Lake Mungo could scarcely be more different from something like Grave Encounters —there are no ghosts or demons chasing screaming people down the hall, and it’s chiefly a story about family, emotion and our desire to seek closure after death. You could call it a member of the “mumblegore” family, without the gore. It centers around a family that has been shattered by a daughter’s drowning, and the family’s subsequent entanglement in what may or may not be a haunting, and the mother’s desire to determine what kind of life her daughter had been living. Powerfully acted and subtly shot, it’s a tense (if grainy) family drama with hints of the supernatural drifting around the fraying edges of their sanity. If there’s such a thing as “horror drama,” this documentary-style film deserves the title. — Jim Vorel

16. Field of Dreams (1989) Director: Phil Alden Robinson

There’s a little fantasy in most sports dramas, overcoming impossible obstacles and peaking at the magical moment to carry the day. But Field of Dreams , adapted from W.P. Kinsella’s novel Shoeless Joe , isn’t a story of athletic prowess or winning the day. It’s a story of believing in the magic of sports. It’s a story of fathers and sons, of the hard work of play, of disconnecting from the worries of the real world to play a game of catch. In other words, it’s about baseball , the only sport that can turn an Iowa cornfield into a little slice of heaven. Of course Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones’ buddy journey to belief is sentimental; America’s pastime is nothing without sentiment. The major leagues may wish that all it took was new state-of-the-art taxpayer-subsidized sports complexes outside of their traditional downtown locales to spike attendance, but in 1989 we all believed. “If you build it, they will come…” — Josh Jackson

15. A Ghost Story (2017) Director: David Lowery

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Turns out the perfect opportunity for an existential dilemma is when you no longer exist. With a cheeky title like A Ghost Story , it’s no surprise that David Lowery’s movie isn’t a typical tale of paranormal activity—but even that won’t prepare you for the film’s unpredictable, emotional odyssey through love, death, longing and time. It might even be one of the most epic sub-90-minute movies ever made. In it, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star as a couple, perhaps married, identified in the credits as C and M, respectively. They live in a simple, old house. He’s attached to it, she wants to move. We get a sense of friction because of that conflict, but we’re also offered genuine affection, especially when the two cuddle after a startling bang on C’s piano wakes them in the middle of the night. Then, just as we’re getting to know them via mumbled dialogue and C’s songwriting, he dies unexpectedly in a car accident. In the aftermath, the movie takes its time to reveal its bold intentions. Writer/director Lowery is already comfortable with both indie projects ( Ain’t Them Body Saints ) and high-profile Disney joints (2016’s Pete’s Dragon ). Perhaps this success has given him the freedom to do a small, low-budget film and not worry about whether people will call it pretentious or boring. A Ghost Story ’s dialogue is quiet and sometimes hard to make out, takes are long and deliberate, and the cinematography is muted, not to mention in the out-of-favor (albeit still used) 1.37:1 Academy aspect ratio. With these elements, Lowery captures time in its vastness and loneliness—because it is, after all, the most dramatic difference between the living’s and the dead’s points of view, something that’s taken for granted in most movies (pacing problems and flashbacks aside). C, of course, “wakes up” from death as a sheet-festooned ghost, for whom time becomes more and more significant as he lingers, and as the camera lingers along with him. A Ghost Story isn’t a haunting so much as a witnessing. —Jeremy Mathews

14. We Are Still Here (2015) Director: Ted Geoghegan

We Are Still Here never wants for scares. It might actually be the single most terrifying movie of 2015, even next to David Robert Mitchell’s acclaimed and unsettling It Follows . But Geoghegan handles the transition smoothly, from the story of running away from tragedy We Are Still Here begins as to the bloodbath it becomes. There’s no sense of baiting or switching; the director flirts with danger confidently throughout. Plus, there’s that New England winter to add an extra layer of despair. The elements forebode and forbid in equal measure. The weather outside is frightful … and the carbonized wraiths in the basement even more so. In the end, this is one haunted house that won’t be denied. —Andy Crump

13. The Beyond (1981) Director: Lucio Fulci

The Beyond may be the best of Lucio Fulci’s non-zombie movies. Which isn’t to say there aren’t any zombies in it, but it’s not a Romero-style zombie movie, like the former. The Beyond is the middle entry in Fulci’s “Gates of Hell” trilogy, and takes place in and around a crumbling old hotel that just happens to have one of those gates to Hell located in its cellar. When it opens, all Hell—of course—starts to break loose in the building, in a film that combines a haunted house aesthetic with demonic possession, the living dead and ghostly apparitions. As with so many of the other films in this mold, it’s not always entirely clear what’s going on—and honestly, the plot is more or less irrelevant. You’re watching it to see demons gouge people’s eyes out or watch heads being blown off, and there’s no shortage of either. Thinking back to Lucio Fulci movies after the fact, you won’t remember any of the story structure, you’ll just remember the ultra gory highlights, splattering across the screen in a way that continues to influence filmmakers to this day. —Jim Vorel

12. Personal Shopper (2017) Director: Olivier Assayas

The pieces don’t all fit in Personal Shopper , but that’s much of the fun of writer-director Olivier Assayas’s enigmatic tale of Maureen (Kristen Stewart, a wonderfully unfathomable presence), who may be in contact with her dead twin brother. Or maybe she’s being stalked by an unseen assailant. Or maybe it’s both. To attempt to explain the direction Personal Shopper takes is merely to regurgitate plot points that don’t sound like they belong in the same film. But Assayas is working on a deeper, more metaphorical level, abandoning strict narrative cause-and-effect logic to give us fragments of Maureen’s life refracted through conflicting experiences. Nothing happens in this film as a direct result of what came before, which explains why a sudden appearance of suggestive, potentially dangerous text messages could be interpreted as a literal threat, or as some strange cosmic manifestation of other, subtler anxieties. Personal Shopper encourages a sense of play, moving from moody ghost story to tense thriller to (out of the blue) erotic character study. But that genre-hopping (not to mention the movie’s willfully inscrutable design) is Assayas’s way of bringing a lighthearted approach to serious questions about grieving and disillusionment. The juxtaposition isn’t jarring or glib—if anything, Personal Shopper is all the more entrancing because it won’t sit still, never letting us be comfortable in its shifting narrative. —Tim Grierson

11. The Orphanage (2007) Director: J.A. Bayona

It seems safe to say that director J.A. Bayona was more than a little influenced by Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone when he laid out The Orphanage , but the film also channels a more stately, gothic brand of horror rather than the dusty, dingy realism of Del Toro’s Spanish Civil War ghost story. Here we have something with a bit more grandeur—a crumbling, seaside mansion that would look out of place if it didn’t have a ghost. Belén Rueda is fantastic as Laura, a woman who moves into the orphanage where she grew up with her husband and young son, before being drawn into the secret history of both the house and the other former orphans who once lived there alongside her. Deep-seated emotion and the impossible desire to protect loved ones from the inevitable permeate the film, but once the home’s restless spirits become active, it’s also quite chilling. Tomás (Oscar Casas), the sack-masked young boy you’ll no doubt see on the DVD cover of The Orphanage , cuts an iconic figure among child ghosts, but it’s the things left unseen that make The Orphanage chilling. The scene featuring a reprise of the knock-knock game once played by the orphans is almost unbearably tense. —Jim Vorel

10. Beetlejuice (1988) Director: Tim Burton

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After a little vacation, Barbara and Adam Maitland find some uninvited guests in their homes. Okay, so maybe they died, and maybe their house was sold to some poor, unsuspecting (but equally annoying) couple—that doesn’t mean Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin have to like it. After some failed haunting attempts, the Maitlands make the mistake of hiring a “bio-exorcist” Betelgeuse (played perfectly by a never-more-revolting Michael Keaton) to fumigate the place of the living. As this situation tends to go, the hired gun gets out of control, and we’re left with Tim Burton’s wacky vision of a ghoul gone really bad. Its good humor and (sort of) likable antagonist make this one the rare cinematic ghost story that most of the family can enjoy, although Keaton certainly tosses out a few veiled adult jokes for the ages. — Tyler Kane

9. The Sixth Sense (1999) Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Featuring great performances by Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, along with a legitimately chilling atmosphere, The Sixth Sense was nothing short of a phenomenon when it hit multiplexes in 1999. Critical examination aside, it truly is a frightening film, from the scene where Cole is locked in a box with an abusive ghost to the little moments (I always found the scene where all the kitchen cabinets and drawers open at once while off-screen to be particularly effective). For better or worse, though, this is the defining film of M. Night Shyamalan’s career, and its success was a double-edged sword: It bestowed the “brilliant young director” label on him, but also pigeonholed his personal style as a writer to the extent that his next five features at least were all reshaped by the aftershocks of The Sixth Sense . Rarely has the danger of success been so clearly illustrated for an artist—Shyamalan crafted a scary film that still holds up today, and then spent most of the next decade chasing that same accomplishment with rapidly diminishing returns that have only recently been rehabilitated with the likes of Split . — Jim Vorel

8. The Devil’s Backbone (2001) Director: Guillermo Del Toro

Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth has been widely celebrated as one of the Mexican fantasist’s most beautifully macabre masterpieces, but it was that movie’s earlier “sister film,” The Devil’s Backbone , that was his most chilling (and personal) work in the horror genre. Against a similar backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, and again told from the perspective of a young child (Fernando Tielve), The Devil’s Backbone is less about escaping from a world of horrors via either imagination or the existence of a faerie realm, and more about confronting those personal terrors in the starkness of reality and with all the limitations of being virtually powerless. Santi, the young ghost haunting this Spanish orphanage, is a mystery, a cipher whose desires are alien to us, brackish as the ghostly water consistently weeping from his wounds. Slowly ratcheting up the tension as an unexploded bomb from the war merrily ticks away in the courtyard as a living memento of the violence around them, The Devil’s Backbone combines some of the chilling, ghostly scares of J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage with the sense of childhood secrecy and pacts that Del Toro understands so well (a la Stephen King). It remains his purest horror film. —Jim Vorel

7. Ghostbusters (1984) Director: Ivan Reitman

As the slew of ’80s merchandise and a cartoon series would prove, Ghostbusters had mass-appeal with kids. The film followed a team of parapsychologists—played by Dan Aykroyd, the late Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray—who tackle big-ghost issues in New York City. Sure some of the effects are dated, but this one has staying power, and near-infinite quotability. And although the bad guys come from beyond the grave, they’re also kid-friendly, with the begging-to-be-a-plush-toy Slimer and a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Pass this classic comedy along to the next generation, while more or less ignoring the middling remake, which was neither as good or bad as fans or detractors made it out to be. —Tyler Kane

6. The Changeling (1980) Director: Peter Medak

George C. Scott tempers his natural irascibility to play a melancholy composer grieving for his recently deceased wife and daughter in Peter Medak’s conflation of haunted house movie and supernatural whodunit. Dubbed one of the scariest movies of all time by Martin Scorsese, The Changeling deals the terror out in spades, with Medak playing up the tightening fear of the unknown with the precision of a horror maestro. (Indeed, it’s amazing Medak had never even been near the genre before.) Having moved into a new home, a century-old manor also occupied by the restless spirit of a young boy, Scott’s John Russell digs to discover the tale of an institutional cover-up, and of power wielded monstrously in the name of financial gain. The Changeling may be a showcase for an effortlessly magnetic veteran lead, but it’s also a mystery thriller that engrosses as it frightens. What begins as another haunted house story ends as a commentary on the history of America: a nation built not just on hard work, but also on blood and not-always-heroic sacrifice. —Brogan Morris

5. The Haunting (1963) Director: Robert Wise

scary ghost movies old

Director Robert Wise purportedly hoped to experience paranormal phenomena during the filming of this adaptation of a Shirley Jackson novel, and disappointingly never did. Nonetheless he left viewers with a fairly chilling and highly stylish imagined experience. Anthropology professor Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) investigates reports of psychic phenomena at the spooky New England mansion called Hill House. His entourage consists of two ESP-gifted-but-very-different-women, Eleanor and Theodora (Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, respectively), as well as skeptic and Hill House heir Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn). Johnson and Tamblyn both give great performances, but the heart of the film is the high-voltage and high-contrast acting by Harris and Bloom, who both respond to the house’s various presences in very different ways. Wise creates a tapestry of unease and suspense with an allusive, suggestive directorial style that leaves a lot of room for speculation as to how much of what we’re witnessing is genuinely paranormal and how much is driven by the distorted perceptions of the troubled characters—especially of Harris’s Eleanor, a distraught caregiver desperate to escape the clutches of her overbearing family. Wise, along with cinematographer Davis Boulton, uses wide-angle lenses and infrared photography, as well as incredibly creepy sets, to create a sense of unreality and distortion; unexpected angles serve to keep us off-kilter. In turn, The Haunting is a gooseflesh-inducing study in detachment from reality and a masterful deployment of ambiguity. The ghostly phenomena might be real or might be in the characters’ heads, and the sense of uncertainty is what creates profound unease. —Amy Glynn

4. Poltergeist (1982) Director: Tobe Hooper

They’re heeeeeeeeeere… Steven Spielberg’s first big success in the producer’s chair (and notionally directed by Tobe Hooper) was released concurrently with ET: The Extraterrestrial and could arguably be seen as the dark side of a dyad about alienation in suburbia. Nonetheless, it retains the Spielberg Feel Good Stamp even as a horror film. The Freelings are a “typical” unassuming middle class family living in a peaceful suburb that becomes not-so-peaceful as the house is caught in the grip of supernatural disturbances. The pet canary dies. There are bizarre weather events. Youngest-kid Carol Ann (Heather O’Rourke) stands entranced in front of the TV in one of the most iconic moments in horror film history, lit by a mysterious beam of green light while the room begins to shake. As Carol Ann is repeatedly drawn to the television, where she begins to talk to “the TV people,” and eventually gets sucked into a dimensional vortex in the closet, father Steve (Craig T. Nelson) consults parapsychologist Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Straight). Lesh finds she’s in over her head and calls for an exorcist. The anatomization of the “happy family” is lavishly paced, making the ensuing horror all the more vivid. Not the deepest movie ever made, certainly, but an enduring classic of the genre, a highly detailed take on the “unassuming regular-Joe family savaged by invisible menace” trope, and still pretty damn creepy. —Amy Glynn

3. Kwaidan (1964) Director: Masaki Kobayashi

Ghost stories don’t get much more gorgeous than the four in Masaki Kobayashi’s sprawling Kwaidan . Between two acerbically political and widely lauded samurai epics, Hara-kiri (1962) and Samurai Rebellion (1967), Kobayashi led what was then Japan’s most expensive cinematic production ever, an anthology film with its parts loosely connected by Lafcadio Hearn’s collection of Japanese folk tales and Kobayashi’s intuitive penchant for surreal, sweepingly lush sets. In “The Black Hair,” a selfish, impoverished ronin (Rentaro Mikuni) abandons his wife to marry into wealth, only to realize he made a dire mistake, plunging him into a gothic nightmare of decay and regret. “The Woman of the Snow” follows a craftsman (the always welcome Tatsuya Nakadai) doomed to have everything he loves stolen from him by a patient bureaucratic specter. The movie-unto-itself, “Hoichi the Earless,” pits the titular blind monk musician (Katsua Nakamura) against a family of ghosts, forcing the bard to recite—in hushed, heartbreaking passages on the biwa—the story of their wartime demise. Rapt with indelible images (most well known, perhaps, is Hoichi’s skin completely covered in the script of The Heart Sutra to ward off the ghosts’ influence), “Hoichi the Earless” is both deeply unnerving and quietly tragic, wrung with the sadness of Kobayashi’s admission that only forces beyond our control hold the keys to our fates. The fourth, and by far the weirdest, entry, “In a Cup of Tea,” is a tale within a tale, purposely unfinished because the writer (Osamu Takizawa) who’s writing about a samurai (Noboru Nakaya) who keeps seeing an unfamiliar man (Kei Sato) in his cup of tea is in turn attacked by the malicious spirits he’s conjuring. From these disparate fairy tales, plenty of fodder for campfires, Kobayashi creates a mythos for his country’s haunted past: We are nothing if not the pawns of all those to come before. —Dom Sinacola

2. The Innocents (1961) Director: Jack Clayton

There are few sights in gothic horror more instantly iconic than the female protagonist, dressed in a flowing nightgown, wandering the halls of a pitch-black Victorian country mansion at midnight, flaming candelabra in hand, brushing cobwebs out of the way as she searches for the source of a mysterious sound. That’s Deborah Kerr in The Innocents , one of the greatest of all gothic chillers. Based on Henry James’ Turn of the Screw , it concerns the young governess with a love for children as she finds herself in a challenging new locale, caring for two orphaned kids whose rich uncle has no room in his heart for family members. From the opening moments, the ghostly presence of the past is palpable, and the stage is set thematically by the repeated musical motif of “O Willow Waly,” which is chilling to hear even without the context of the film. There’s a mystery to be unraveled here, but The Innocents is a cinematic feast even if you’re watching on mute, featuring cinematographer Freddie Francis’ experimentation with deep focus and loving shots of the country mansion that hides a secret past. The child actors, meanwhile, are nothing short of phenomenal—it may be the best performance by a couple of kids in the entire history of the genre. Martin Stephens in particular, as the troubled and oddly mature young boy Miles, is spellbinding, forcing Kerr’s Miss Giddens to question the possibility of supernatural influence from beyond the grave. It’s a beautiful ghost story best viewed by candlelight. —Jim Vorel

1. The Shining (1980) Director: Stanley Kubrick

The 50 Best Horror Movies on HBO Max Right Now (Oct. 2022)

Stephen King famously hates Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his novel The Shining , which is difficult to understand until you actually read King’s original book, whereupon things become much more clear. Kubrick, ever the mad genius, largely rejected the emotional core of King’s story because he saw within the bones of The Shining an opportunity for a journey into the heart of visually and sonically inspired terror that few films have ever come close to replicating. Unlike in King’s novel, Jack (Jack Nicholson) is never treated with any kind of sympathy or pathos in the eyes of the audience—he’s a creep from the very first moment we meet him during his job interview, and he only gets worse from there, with the implied threat of his physical violence toward Danny (Danny Lloyd) and Wendy (Shelley Duvall) hanging over every scene like the sword of Damocles. His madness is alluded to masterfully through some of the most iconic visual and especially sound editing in cinema history—few horror films, or any film in general, has ever used sound as unnervingly as The Shining . Go watch The Witch , and the aural comparisons are obvious. This movie, like The Exorcist , seeps into your bones, infecting every perspective you have on the horror genre for the rest of a lifetime. It’s a monumental film. —Jim Vorel

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55 Best Classic Horror Movies of All Time

From new horror films to those with a decades-long cult following.

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And while there's pleasure in unearthing an obscure horror film from the depths and going into it without any expectations, the classics — well, they're classics for a reason. They've stood the test of time because they have that extra something special about them, be it a performance by a cinema great like Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi's, an unforgettable special effect, a music sting that stays with you long after the movie is over or something so gnarly and gruesome you have to cover your face with your hands when you watch. The best, all-time classic horror movies on this list have one or a combination of these things, starting franchises , pioneering new genres and generally living on in the lives of horror fans.

Looking for more great, scary movies? Check out these Good Housekeeping guides:

Best Ghost Movies | Best Witch Movies | Best Vampire Movies | Best Werewolf Movies | Best Scary Movies for Kids

Nosferatu (1922)

a scene from the classic horror movie nosferatu featuring the titular creature leering in black and white

There's just something about Dracula stories: They've been captivating audiences since movies were first made, and are still being made today. (See: This year's The Last Voyage of the Demeter and Renfield .) F.W. Murnau's offers a silent, German Expressionist take on the vampire tale that still sends shivers down the spine.

Psycho (1960)

the poster for the classic horror movie psycho featuring norman bates and marion crane looking frightened

While several of Alfred Hitchcock's movies really ratchet up the suspense, Psycho is the most horrific. It follows a young woman who goes on the run after stealing some money — and happens to stop at the exact wrong motel. The classic strings in the Bernard Herrmann musical score are still shorthand for "something scary is happening" today.

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Rosemary's Baby (1968)

the poster for the classic horror movie rosemary's baby, featuring a baby carriage gleaming in green

For those who aren't fans of gore or jump scares, Rosemary's Baby goes for more of a slow-burn, unsettling dread that gets more intense as the movie goes on. It follows a young, pregnant woman, played by Mia Farrow, who gradually realizes that forces are conspiring behind her back about her unborn baby's future.

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RELATED: 15 Best Psychological Thriller Movies That Will Make You Question Everything

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

the poster for the classic horror movie a nightmare on elm street,  which features freddy krueger menacing a young woman in bed

Freddy Krueger, Wes Craven's signature horror creation, is the stuff of nightmares to be sure, with his scarred face and bladed glove. But, as the franchise goes on, Freddy almost becomes the hero of the series — or at least he's a character audiences love to see again and again. Which is a lucky thing, because after this first film, he goes on to be in seven other movies, a reboot and a TV series .

RELATED: How to Watch the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Movies in Order

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

the poster for night of the living dead, featuring people cowering from zombies

There would be no zombie-movie genre if it were not for the great George A. Romero, who used zombies as a subtle commentary on mass culture. After this first feature, Romero went on to direct Dawn of the Dead , Day of the Dead , Land of the Dead , Diary of the Dead , Survival of the Dead and the upcoming Twilight of the Dead .

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Dracula (1931)

the poster for the classic horror movie dracula, released by universal in 1931

With respect to Nosferatu, when people think of Dracula, they think of the inimitable Bela Lugosi's turn as the Universal monster. And, after watching this film, it's easy to see why he made such an impression.

Suspiria (1977)

suspiria poster

In this Dario Argento film, an American is invited to study at a prestigious German academy, only to find that there's nefarious doings behind-the-scenes. The movie isn't dark and shadowy like most horror films, but the bright colors don't save audiences from the big frights.

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The Witch (2015)

the witch poster, featuring a black goat

Robert Eggers heightened, highly stylized movie follows a Puritan family who is banished from their community. Forced to struggle against nature on their own, the members of the family start to suspect supernatural forces for their downfall. It's an example of what's being called "A24ror," or horror films from the studio A24, which favor slower paces and more arthouse styles. (See also: Ari Aster's Hereditary and Midsommar .)

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Eyes Without a Face (1960)

eyes without a face poster

If you think that older movies don't have the power to shock, disturb or scare the way new ones do, Eyes Without a Face (also known as Les Yeux Sans Visage ) proves they absolutely do. The French film follows a doctor who, guilt-ridden after causing an accident that disfigured his daughter, lures women to his home to try to graft their faces onto hers.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

the poster for an american werewolf in london

This movie is worth it for the werewolf transformation alone — it won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Makeup, which was done by the legendary Rick Baker.

The Mummy (1932)

the mummy poster

What would a list of classic horror movies be without a mummy? While most recent mummy movies go for action or adventure, this one — starring Boris Karloff again — goes deeper, with Imhotep seeking the reincarnated soul of his true love.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

the poster for the classic horror movie the blair witch project, which features an extreme closeup of a young girl

Three film students are intrigued by the Blair Witch legend and head into a Maryland forest to film a documentary about it. They never return, but their terrifying video was unearthed. This movie kicked off the "found footage" craze in horror movies, inspiring many imitators that followed.

The Birds (1963)

the poster for the classic horror movie the birds, featuring a mother and daughter running away from killer birds

Another Hitchcock great: When Melanie meets Mitch at a pet store in San Francisco, she decides to buy him the birds that he was looking for in an effort to gain his interest. When she arrives to deliver the gift, birds of all kinds become enraged and begin to attack.

The Exorcist (1973)

an image from the classic horror movie the exorcist featuring a man standing in the light of a streetlamp

When a young girl becomes possessed and starts to behave in disturbing ways, her mother seeks out help from a local priest, but things take a deadly turn as soon as he arrives. Can his faith save him? A new Exorcist movie, The Exorcist: Believer from director David Gordon Green, comes out this year.

Halloween (1978)

a poster for the classic horror movie halloween, which features laurie strode holding a knife while michael myers looks at her from outside a window

John Carpenter, another master of the horror genre, directs this movie, about the unstoppable Michael Myers and the lengths he will go through to get revenge on his family. Even though this came out in 1978, the Halloween franchise is still ongoing: Halloween Ends came out in 2022.

RELATED: Here Is How to Watch Every 'Halloween' Movies with Michael Myers in Order

Ganja & Hess (1973)

the poster for the classic horror movies ganja and hess, featuring the silhouettes of two faces

Dr. Hess Green, an anthropologist, goes to do research with his assistant on the Myrthians, an ancient African nation that has a thirst for blood. One night, his unstable assistant attacks Green and stabs him with a Myrthian dagger, ultimately turning him into a vampire.

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Scream (1996)

the poster for the classic horror movie scream, featuring the faces of the young cast

A serial killer targets a group of teenagers by making them play along in his wicked games, throwing the whole town into a frenzy. Also created by Wes Craven, this movie is almost an anti-horror movie, since it calls out the conventions and tropes of the genre as it goes along. And it's still running them down: Scream VI came out this year; another is on the way .

Frankenstein (1931)

the poster for the classic horror movie frankenstein featuring the monster's face looming over the scientist

It's Boris Karloff in his signature role, taking on another larger-than-life Universal monster. Four years later, Karloff and director James Whale reunited for the sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein .

The Haunting (1963)

the poster for the classic horror movie the haunting, featuring young people looking frightened

A group of investigators stays at the 90-year-old Hill House that is supposedly haunted. As they learn about the house’s history and the people that have died within it, they start to witness paranormal activity that haunts them throughout the night. Hill House has a hold on people: There was a remake in 1999 with Owen Wilson and Lili Taylor, along with The Haunting of Hill House series on Netflix.

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The Shining (1980)

a movie poster for the classic horror movie the shining, featuring a silhouette of jack torrance holding an axe

After newly sober writer Jack Torrance goes to an isolated hotel with his family to help with his writer’s block, his son begins to see horrific forebodings. Soon after, Jack becomes manic, leading the family into heightened fright. Pay attention to the pattern on the carpet in the hotel: Once you notice it, you'll recognize it everywhere, from rugs to pillows to purses .

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The 50 Best Classic Horror Movies of All Time

They might be relics, but they can still scare you silly

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The Amityville Horror (1979)

classic horror movies

The Birds (1963)

1963, american actor tippi hedren and a group of children run away from the attacking crows in a still from the film 'the birds' directed by alfred hitchcock photo by universal studiosgetty images

Alfred Hitchcock let the visual effects fly in his 1963 aviary apocalypse starring Tippi Hedren in her debut acting role. She plays Melanie Daniels, a socialite who follows a handsome lawyer to a bayside town where seagulls, crows, and other feathered fowl take out their rage on human flesh. Though it may sound ridiculous to suggest that a film about killer birds is terrifying, the legacy of its bizarro nature can’t be denied: The Birds remains one of the spookiest thriller-horror hybrids to have ever infected the genre. Watch Now

Ganja & Hess (1973)

classic horror movies

Playwright Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess, an experimental vampire tale that wowed critics at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973, has a story to tell—and not just its cinematic narrative about an anthropologist named Hess who gets stabbed with a cursed dagger then finds himself immortal and in love with his assistant’s wife, Ganja. Behind the scenes , the film was heavily edited, chopped for time, and released as a Franken-picture the director wouldn’t even put his name on. Luckily, the Museum of Modern Art has restored Gunn’s initial vision, and you can view it in its original glory today. Watch Now

Cat People (1942)

classic horror movies

Parisian director Jacques Tourneur tapped into felinophobia for this haunting fantasy that transforms the irrational fear of cats into a purring vehicle for a truly disturbing mystery. French actress Simone Simon stars as Irena Dubrovna Reed, a Serbian national and sketch artist who falls in love with a New York man while harboring a wild secret: She just might be a devilish cultist who can shapeshift into a panther. Watch Now

Psycho (1960)

classic horror movies

Maestro Hitchcock perfected the power of suggestion with his infamous shower scene starring Janet Leigh. Though graphic in nature, we never actually see blade penetrating flesh, and yet it’s impossible to shower without worrying a rube with mommy issues is on the other side of the curtain. Watch Now

The Shining (1980)

jack nicholson in 'the shining'

Stanley Kubrick’s all-time critics’ favorite is the ultimate horror film. So what if it butchers a narrative from the brilliant mind of Steven King? And so what if it’s set in a resort hotel of impossible proportions? Jack Torrance, his family, and his descent into madness is a seminal work that has given oxygen to some of the most enduring conspiracy theories of our time. People are still trying to figure it out. Watch Now

Dead of Night (1945)

classic horror movies

A relatively obscure horror anthology film, Dead of Night is anchored by the déjà vu had by an architect at a party whose recurring nightmare seems to be bleeding over into reality. Over the course of the night, he and the other party guests, who have all starred in his dream, take turns swapping disturbing and unhinged ghost stories—until, of course, the suspense is capped off with a stellar twist ending. Watch Now

Gaslight (1944)

classic horror movies

Golden-era actress Ingrid Bergman ( Casablanca ) stars in a film of suspense, madness, and mind games helmed by George Cukor ( A Star Is Born , the Judy Garland version). And though its horrors don’t borrow from the traditional scare tactics of the ‘40s—no wolf men, Franken-monsters, or mummified terrors here—it explores the scariest presence there is: a manipulative husband. Watch Now

Spider Baby (1967)

classic horror movies

We’re not sure which we like better: the winning title, Spider Baby, or its runner-up, The Maddest Story Ever Told . A pitch-black comedy that holes up with a brood of deranged siblings whose brains are slowly turning to mush, Jack Hill’s story of deviant inbred cannibals spawned the concept of crazy killer families that the genre plays up in classics like House of a Thousand Corpses, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and The Cabin in the Woods . Watch Now

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

classic horror movies

The title alone is a terrifying thought. Let alone the fact that leading man Vincent Price is the sole survivor outrunning the zombies that are now invading what’s left of the planet after a global epidemic wipes out the human race. If it sound a little like Will Smith’s walking dead movie, that’s because I Am Legend is the 2007 remake. Watch Now

Carnival of Souls (1962)

classic horror movies

Rickety rides, funhouses that aren’t fun, black magic: the carnival can be a terrifying place. In this less-is-more horror delight, a woman seemingly drowns, then stumbles out of the river, moves to Utah, and can’t shake a phantom who wants her to dance in the carnival of souls. Watch Now

The Haunting (1963)

arm, photography,

Robert Wise’s haunted-house chiller based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House locks two women in a mansion and watches as they both lose their minds to fear. Now, its rating says G, but don’t let that convince you to watch in the dark. The film’s sound and effects will make you want to leave the lights on. Watch Now

Duel (1983)

vehicle, motor vehicle, car, automotive exterior, automotive window part, windshield, glass, family car, classic car,

A Spielberg classic you may have missed, this made-for-TV movie was the director’s gateway horror thriller for Jaws . An elementary plot with a master behind the wheel, Duel is every motorist’s nightmare: a faceless trucker in a tractor-trailer terrorizes a business man in the desert. The end game? Death for one or the other. Watch Now

The Omen (1976)

classic horror movies

Animals, kids, clowns: they’re a horror director’s essentials. Here, Richard Donner uses a pint-size spawn of the devil to elicit his screams. Everyone’s favorite father figure, Gregory Peck, takes the lead as an American ambassador trying to figure out if his son is the Antichrist. Watch Now

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

classic horror movies

It’s German. It’s silent. But Robert Wiene’s monochromatic chiller still delivers the screams. Arguably the first horror movie ever in the can, it’s a highly-stylized nightmare about murder, madness, and somnambulism. You'll recognize its influences all over Tim Burton’s resume. Watch Now

Nosferatu (1922)

classic horror movies

Another German Expressionist horror staple, Nosferatu is the first surviving film to introduce a vampire to the big screen. Though its legacy is shrouded in a copyright horror story of its own (for ripping off Bram Stoker’s Dracula ), Nosferatu is the one to thank for the “I vant to suck your blood” camp we crave. Watch Now

Dracula (1931)

classic horror movies

Before Christopher Lee donned the infamous collared cape, Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi sank his fangs into the role of the “epitome of evil” in Tod Browning’s haunter. Not only did this Dracula establish the aesthetics of the villain, but he and Browning helped catapult the supernatural genre onto American soil. Watch Now

Frankenstein (1931)

classic horror movies

The tale of the godless Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster who goes on a rogue killing spree dates back to 1831, a century before director James Whale adapted Mary Shelley’s fright fest for the screen. But its influence remains alive and continues to breed many a contemporary redux. Watch Now

The Wolf Man (1941)

classic horror movies

Bushy yak hairs, a fog machine, and a perfected moon howl, and the wooliest of the Universal Monsters was born. The film that launched a thousand lupine transformations had a release date that fell just two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and despite critical finger-wagging, it achieved blockbuster status. Watch Now

Les Diaboliques (1955)

classic horror movies

Touted as the greatest thriller Hitchcock didn’t direct, Les Diaboliques is French suspense with a famous final twist. More “who’s doing that?” than whodunit, the plot follows two scorned women after they drown the sadist who wronged them in the bathtub—then go mad thinking he’s still alive. Watch Now

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DeAnna Janes is a freelance writer and editor for a number of sites, including Harper’s BAZAAR, Tasting Table, Fast Company and Brit + Co, and is a passionate supporter of animal causes, copy savant, movie dork and reckless connoisseur of all holidays. A native Texan living in NYC since 2005, Janes has a degree in journalism from Texas A&M and  got her start in media at US Weekly before moving on to O Magazine, and eventually becoming the entertainment editor of the once-loved, now-shuttered DailyCandy. She’s based on the Upper West Side.

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The Best Old Horror Movies Of All Time

The best old horror movies of all time not only include some of the most influential and important films the genre has ever seen, but also some genuine works of art that still stand the test of time to this very day. Modern horror movies are great, but they have nothing on the old-school classics. Early horror movies tapped into our deepest fears of the unknown, combining compelling, unique stories with outstanding character acting. Whether it's zombies, ghosts, vampires, or other supernatural creatures , this list of old horror movies includes some of the greatest frightening films ever made.

What makes for a truly outstanding horror movie? Bottom line, it scares the living daylights out of us by tapping into some dark, primal fear we have. The best older horror movies manage to chill, thrill and terrify by exposing us to monsters, both real and imagined. If you're looking to delve into classic horror movies, this is a great place to start.

Be sure to vote up the best old horror movies of all time, and for more spooky fun, check out these lists of the best horror books and of course, the greatest horror films ever made !

Frankenstein

Frankenstein

A progenitor of the classic horror genre, Frankenstein  (1931) masterfully employs the themes of science run amok and the perils of playing God. Based on Mary Shelley's Gothic novel, the film introduces us to Dr. Henry Frankenstein as he ambitiously attempts to create life from the dead, ultimately resulting in the iconic and tragic character of the Monster. The chilling atmosphere, unforgettable performances, and themes of societal rejection and fear of the unknown solidify Frankenstein  as a cornerstone of horror cinema.

  • # 162 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 83 of 351 on The Best Movies Based On Books
  • # 16 of 90 on The 90 Best Black And White Movies

Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein

Undoubtedly one of the finest horror sequels ever produced, Bride of Frankenstein  (1935) expands upon the themes of its predecessor while seamlessly weaving in elements of dark humor and deeper character development. Director James Whale once again explores the consequences of tampering with nature and human life while introducing the titular Bride, an equally tragic and terrifying figure. The film's enduring appeal stems from its evocative expressionist visuals, its compelling exploration of morality and loneliness, and the unforgettable performances of Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester.

  • # 217 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 31 of 116 on The Best Horror Movie Sequels
  • # 7 of 15 on 15 Horror Movie Villains Whose Bad Acts Were Motivated By Love

Nosferatu

Arguably the first true horror film, Nosferatu  (1922) has left a lasting impression on the genre through its haunting visuals and chilling portrayal of vampirism. Directed by the visionary F.W. Murnau, this silent classic employs expressionistic cinematography and makeup effects to convey a sense of unsettling dread that echoes through the annals of horror. Themes of forbidden desire, lurking danger, and the inescapable grasp of death intertwine with Max Schreck's ghastly performance as Count Orlok to create an inimitable cinematic experience.

  • # 2 of 86 on The Best Silent Movies of All Time
  • # 741 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies
  • # 158 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

Dracula

As one of the most iconic films in horror history, the 1931 adaptation of Dracula , directed by Tod Browning, epitomizes vampire lore and the timeless terror of the undead. With Bela Lugosi's legendary performance as the titular Count, the film expertly uses its gothic setting, atmospheric storytelling, and dread-inspiring characters to craft a tale that continues to haunt audiences nearly a century later. Themes of seduction, immortality, and human vulnerability elevate Dracula  to its rightful place among the pantheon of classic horror cinema.

  • # 139 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 82 of 351 on The Best Movies Based On Books
  • # 23 of 57 on The Best Horror Movies Based On True Stories, Ranked

The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man

Considered one of the definitive werewolf films, The Wolf Man  (1941), from director George Waggner, explores the primal terrors of transformation and loss of control. The heartrending performance of Lon Chaney Jr. as the tormented protagonist Larry Talbot highlights the themes of humanity versus animal instinct and the dangers of dabbling with ancient curses. Supported by evocative cinematography and unforgettable makeup/effects, The Wolf Man  stands as a prime example of atmospheric horror storytelling.

  • # 203 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 11 of 16 on The Most Terrifying Figures In Horror With The Lowest Kill Counts
  • # 3 of 20 on What Are The Best Universal Monster Films?

The Mummy

Unearthing the fears of eternal damnation and ancient curses, The Mummy  (1932) is a masterclass in slow-building dread and atmosphere. Directed by Karl Freund and starring the incomparable Boris Karloff as the resurrected Imhotep, the film delves into the terror of tampering with the afterlife and the destructive power of obsession. From its eerie opening scene to its tragic conclusion, The Mummy  remains a touchstone of classic horror cinema.

  • # 113 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 7 of 16 on The Most Terrifying Figures In Horror With The Lowest Kill Counts
  • # 45 of 87 on The Best Halloween Movies For Kids

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Paranoia takes center stage in Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers  (1956), an enduring tale of alien doppelgängers replacing humans. This sci-fi horror masterpiece touches upon themes of conformity, loss of identity, and the erosion of humanity, all delivered through chillingly effective storytelling. Its allegorical undertones and sense of creeping fear have inspired countless imitators, but none can replicate the unique blend of terror and social commentary that make Invasion of the Body Snatchers  an unforgettable classic.

  • # 338 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 74 of 176 on The 150+ Best Movies With Aliens
  • # 58 of 109 on The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

One of the earliest and most enduring examples of gothic horror, The Phantom of the Opera  (1925), directed by Rupert Julian, adapts Gaston Leroux's novel into an iconic tale of love, obsession, and terror. Lon Chaney's transformative performance as the titular Phantom drove home the themes of romantic fixation and the dark underbelly of artistic expression. The film's striking visuals and evocative set pieces, particularly the iconic unmasking scene, combine with an operatic score to create a haunting and unforgettable horror experience.

  • # 13 of 86 on The Best Silent Movies of All Time
  • # 257 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 118 of 351 on The Best Movies Based On Books

House on Haunted Hill

House on Haunted Hill

A quintessential haunted house tale, House on Haunted Hill  (1959) is a testament to the enduring power of director William Castle's gleefully macabre sense of humor. Utilizing the themes of greed, isolation, and supernatural dread, the film boasts a memorable performance by Vincent Price as the eccentric millionaire who invites guests to survive a night in his sinister abode. House on Haunted Hill  remains a beloved entry in the horror canon due to its atmospheric tension, diabolical twists, and unshakable sense of eerie fun.

  • # 40 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 22 of 109 on The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
  • # 7 of 20 on 20 Of The Most Entertaining Haunted House Movies Ever Made

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Creature from the Black Lagoon

A pioneering example of monster horror, Creature from the Black Lagoon  (1954) explores humanity's deep-seated fears of the unknown lurking just beneath the surface. Directed by Jack Arnold, the film derives its chilling atmosphere from the eponymous Creature's haunting design and the claustrophobic setting of the Amazonian jungle. Themes of scientific discovery gone awry, man versus nature, and the timeless terror of the "other" elevate Creature from the Black Lagoon  to the status of a classic horror masterpiece.

  • # 147 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 10 of 16 on The Most Terrifying Figures In Horror With The Lowest Kill Counts
  • # 8 of 13 on Horror Movies Adapted Into Broadway And Off-Broadway Musicals

House of Wax

House of Wax

A pioneer of 3D horror cinema, House of Wax  (1953) embraces themes of obsession, artistic expression, and the macabre fascination with death. Directed by André De Toth and featuring a captivating performance by Vincent Price as the sadistic sculptor, the film combines striking visuals and atmospheric storytelling to create a sinister world of waxen nightmares. Its effective use of suspense, mystery, and gruesome reveals has solidified House of Wax  as a fundamental entry in the horror genre.

  • # 120 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 53 of 111 on The Greatest Movie Remakes Of All Time
  • # 6 of 22 on The Most Important 'Firsts' In Film History

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man

Infusing psychological terror with dark humor, James Whale's adaptation of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man  (1933) explores themes of power, corruption, and isolation. Featuring groundbreaking special effects for its time, the film tells the story of Dr. Jack Griffin, whose descent into madness is fueled by his newfound invisibility. Claude Rains' mesmerizing performance, coupled with Whale's masterful direction and keen exploration of the darker corners of the human psyche, makes The Invisible Man  a timeless horror classic.

The Fly

Innovative and disturbing, The Fly  (1958) is a classic horror film that delves into themes of scientific hubris, transformation, and existential fear. Directed by Kurt Neumann and featuring a chilling performance by Vincent Price, the film showcases groundbreaking creature effects and a palpable sense of dread as it unfolds its tragic tale of a scientist who inadvertently merges his body with a housefly. With its unflinching exploration of the consequences of unchecked ambition, The Fly  remains a classic of both the horror and sci-fi genres.

  • # 163 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 14 of 51 on The Greatest Classic Sci-Fi Movies
  • # 75 of 207 on The Scariest Movies Of All Time

Horror of Dracula

Horror of Dracula

Horror of Dracula is a chilling and timeless classic that expertly captures the essence of old horror movies, utilizing spine-tingling tropes that are still gripping today. Directed by Terence Fisher and released in 1958, this Hammer Films production rejuvenated the vampire genre with its rich atmosphere, engrossing plot, and Christopher Lee's unforgettable portrayal of Count Dracula. The film masterfully upholds Gothic traditions by depicting a haunted castle, lurking shadows, and brooding intensity to create an unsettling environment that cleverly manipulates the viewers' imaginations. Horror of Dracula serves as a superb example of how old horror films captivated audiences with evocative storytelling and subtle suspense, rather than relying on gratuitous gore or shock value.

  • # 262 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 14 of 64 on The Best Horror Movie Remakes Of All Time
  • # 14 of 17 on Film Fans Share The Movie Mistakes They Found In Their Favorite Thrillers And Chillers

The Thing from Another World

The Thing from Another World

A chilling precursor to the paranoia-fueled horror films of the 1950s, The Thing from Another World  (1951) taps into the fear of extraterrestrial invasion and scientific overreach. Directed by Christian Nyby (with uncredited input from Howard Hawks), the film adroitly balances character-driven tension with a palpable sense of isolation and dread. Its menacing, otherworldly antagonist and efficient storytelling have contributed to its lasting impact on the horror and sci-fi genres.

  • # 288 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 105 of 176 on The 150+ Best Movies With Aliens
  • # 26 of 42 on The Best Snowy Thriller Movies, Ranked

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Delving into the duality of human nature and the battle between good and evil, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1931) delivers a chilling exploration of psychological horror. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, the film features a harrowing performance by Fredric March as the doomed doctor who unleashes his monstrous alter ego upon the world. Its innovative use of camera techniques, expressionistic visuals, and unflinching exploration of the human psyche make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  an enduring classic in horror cinema.

  • # 227 of 351 on The Best Movies Based On Books
  • # 82 of 265 on The Best Duos of All Time
  • # 6 of 42 on The Best Horror Movies About Evil Doctors And Surgeons

King Kong

A landmark of both horror and adventure filmmaking, King Kong  (1933) captures the imagination with its groundbreaking special effects, iconic monster, and themes of man versus nature. Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the film balances its thrilling set pieces with a poignant exploration of the titular giant ape's longing for companionship and struggle against societal fears. With its enduring impact on pop culture and the horror genre, King Kong  remains a classic that continues to thrill and inspire.

  • # 93 of 675 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars
  • # 34 of 41 on The 100+ Best Movies Streaming On The Criterion Channel

Freaks

Unsettling and deeply empathetic, Tod Browning's Freaks  (1932) is a landmark of horror cinema that explores the darker side of human nature and the concept of the "other." Set within the world of a traveling sideshow, the film eschews traditional horror tropes in favor of presenting the true grotesqueries of human behavior. With its unforgettable cast of real-life sideshow performers, haunting imagery, and unflinching examination of societal cruelty, Freaks  remains a powerful and influential piece of horror history.

  • # 246 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 84 of 127 on The 100+ Grossest Movies Ever
  • # 67 of 77 on The Best Movies with Only One Word for a Title

Them!

A quintessential example of the 1950s giant monster craze, Them!  (1954) skillfully taps into the collective fear of nuclear fallout and its terrifying repercussions. Directed by Gordon Douglas, the film uses the giant, mutated ants as a potent symbol of mankind's hubris and the potential consequences of scientific advancement run amok. With its thrilling set pieces, sense of creeping dread, and provocative themes, Them!  holds a unique place in the pantheon of classic horror cinema.

  • # 211 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 108 of 176 on The 150+ Best Movies With Aliens
  • # 73 of 136 on The 100+ Best Disaster Movies Of All Time

The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Unleashing the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes onto the moors of Dartmoor, The Hound of the Baskervilles  (1959) skillfully melds horror and mystery in a tale of supernatural dread and human greed. Directed by Terence Fisher, the film benefits from the compelling chemistry between Peter Cushing's Holmes and André Morell's Dr. Watson as they investigate the ominous legend surrounding the titular hound. Its atmospheric visuals, chilling score, and intriguing themes distinguish The Hound of the Baskervilles  as a standout entry in both the horror and detective genres.

The Blob

An enduring parable of Cold War angst and the fear of unstoppable forces, The Blob  (1958) is a prime example of sci-fi horror done right. Directed by Irvin Yeaworth, the film imbues its titular monster with a palpable sense of dread as it engulfs and assimilates everything in its path. Its effective use of suspense, isolation, and creeping terror combines with a youth-centric perspective to create a film that resonates with audiences to this day, solidifying The Blob  as a classic of the genre.

  • # 142 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 78 of 176 on The 150+ Best Movies With Aliens
  • # 58 of 136 on The 100+ Best Disaster Movies Of All Time

The Curse of Frankenstein

The Curse of Frankenstein

Breathing new life into Mary Shelley's iconic tale, The Curse of Frankenstein  (1957) reimagines the classic story with a fresh, vibrant aesthetic and a newfound emphasis on psychological horror. Directed by Terence Fisher and featuring standout performances from Peter Cushing as Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the Monster, the film ambitiously explores the darker corners of ambition, desire, and obsession. With its lush visuals, innovative storytelling, and provocative themes, The Curse of Frankenstein  marks a turning point in the history of horror cinema.

  • # 4 of 13 on 13 Essential Hammer Horror Movies For Fans Of Fright
  • # 18 of 20 on The 20 Best Horror Movies That Start With C
  • # 28 of 84 on The 80+ Best '50s Sci-Fi Movies, Ranked

Son of Frankenstein

Son of Frankenstein

A worthy successor to its iconic predecessors, Son of Frankenstein  (1939) delves deeper into the themes of legacy, ambition, and the psychological ramifications of scientific meddling. Directed by Rowland V. Lee, the film introduces us to the titular protagonist as he grapples with the weight of his father's notorious experiments and their monstrous consequences. With its Gothic atmosphere, strong performances from Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and thoughtful exploration of its central themes, Son of Frankenstein  stands as a vital chapter in the saga of one of horror's most enduring characters.

  • # 121 of 161 on The Best Movie Sequels Ever Made
  • # 9 of 20 on What Are The Best Universal Monster Films?
  • # 29 of 79 on List of 75+ Famous Monster Movies, Ranked

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

A landmark crossover event in horror cinema, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man  (1943) expertly merges the themes and mythology of its iconic monster franchises. Directed by Roy William Neill, the film weaves together the tragic stories of the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster while skillfully balancing elements of horror, suspense, and pathos. This ambitious and atmospheric confrontation between two titans of terror stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of these classic characters and their tales of dark, primal fear.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

A landmark in the evolution of horror, The Hunchback of Notre Dame  (1923) explores themes of obsession, societal cruelty, and the grotesque with unflinching intensity. Directed by Wallace Worsley and featuring a transformative performance by Lon Chaney as the titular hunchback, the film remains as heart-wrenching and thought-provoking today as it was upon its release. Its striking visuals, powerful storytelling, and vivid exploration of human nature make The Hunchback of Notre Dame  an enduring classic of the horror genre.

  • # 12 of 86 on The Best Silent Movies of All Time
  • # 117 of 351 on The Best Movies Based On Books
  • # 8 of 51 on The 50+ Best Movies In Public Domain

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Often considered the quintessential example of German Expressionism, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  (1920) is a pioneering work in both horror and art cinema. Directed by Robert Wiene, the film uses its unsettling atmosphere, unique visual style, and twisted narrative to explore themes of insanity, control, and the blurred lines between reality and illusion. With its lasting impact on the horror genre and cinema as a whole, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari  remains an essential and unforgettable entry in the canon of classic film.

  • # 219 of 248 on The 200+ Best Psychological Thrillers Of All Time
  • # 342 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 449 of 675 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

House of Frankenstein

House of Frankenstein

An ambitious and atmospheric monster mash, House of Frankenstein  (1944) brings together iconic horror figures such as Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein's Monster in a thrilling tale of revenge and redemption. Directed by Erle C. Kenton, the film skillfully weaves its various plotlines and thematic elements into a cohesive narrative that exemplifies the best of Universal's classic monster movies. Its sense of macabre fun, memorable performances, and evocative atmosphere make House of Frankenstein  a cherished entry in the horror genre.

The Old Dark House

The Old Dark House

A masterclass in atmospheric horror, The Old Dark House ( 1932) uses its claustrophobic setting and eccentric characters to explore themes of isolation, paranoia, and the dark secrets that lie behind every door. Directed by James Whale, the film creates a palpable sense of dread as its ensemble cast finds themselves trapped within the titular abode, wherein the horrors of human nature take center stage. Combining dark humor, suspenseful storytelling, and unique character development, The Old Dark House  is a cornerstone of classic horror cinema.

  • # 362 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 27 of 30 on The Best Movies On Shudder
  • # 17 of 18 on Underrated Horror Movies That Flopped At The Box Office

The Black Cat

The Black Cat

A chilling exploration of wartime trauma and supernatural revenge, The Black Cat  (1934) stands as one of Universal's most atmospheric and intriguing horror offerings. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, the film benefits from the dynamic chemistry between horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi as they navigate a tale of obsession, murder, and the haunting specter of the past. With its moody visuals, inventive plot, and evocative exploration of human cruelty, The Black Cat  remains an underrated gem of horror cinema.

  • # 21 of 55 on The Best Horror Movies About Cults and Conspiracies
  • # 2 of 12 on The Most Disturbing And Downright Weird Moments From Classic Horror Movies That Rival Modern Films
  • # 100 of 214 on The Best Movies by Universal Studios

White Zombie

White Zombie

A seminal work in the history of zombie cinema, White Zombie  (1932) delves into themes of obsession, control, and the sinister power of the living dead. Directed by Victor Halperin and featuring a mesmerizing performance by Bela Lugosi as the voodoo master, the film establishes many of the tropes and aesthetics that would go on to define the zombie genre. Its atmospheric visuals, chilling score, and provocative exploration of humanity's darkest fears make White Zombie  an essential classic of horror cinema.

  • # 291 of 387 on The Best Horror Movies Of All Time
  • # 80 of 125 on The Top 100+ Zombie Movies Of All Time
  • # 22 of 51 on The 50+ Best Movies In Public Domain
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Classics That Scared People In New Ways

15 Seriously Scary Ghost Movies (And How To Watch Them)

Ghoul from Grave Encounters

Whether or not you believe in ghosts, few would deny that the mere idea of being in a haunted house is unsettling. For that reason, there are many great horror movies based on the premise of sharing a home or any isolated area with a deceased individual’s spectral remains, yet some are more frightening than others. If you are looking for a truly terrifying supernatural movie night, these scary ghost movies should do the trick.

The Shining (1980)

While trying to finish a novel, a recovering alcoholic author ( Jack Nicholson ), his wife (Shelley Duvall) and young son (Danny Lloyd) become caretakers of a desolate Colorado hotel where a sinister presence threatens to tear them apart.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: While the author himself was not a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of his 1977 novel , The Shining is considered to be among the best Stephen King movies — if not the best — for its unrelentingly eerie atmosphere and aimlessly unique depiction of hauntings.

Stream The Shining on Max . Rent or buy The Shining on Amazon .

The Changeling (1980)

A recently widowed music professor (Academy Award winner George C. Scott) becomes wrapped up in a disturbing mystery about his new home — a long-vacant mansion in Seattle — with guidance from the ghost haunting it.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: One of Martin Scorsese’s favorite horror movies is The Changeling , which is acclaimed as one of the best horror movies that address grief in a profound way in addition to its top-notch scares.

Stream The Changeling on Tubi . Stream The Changeling on Peacock . Stream The Changeling on Plex . Rent or buy The Changeling on Amazon .

Poltergeist (1982)

A real estate agent (Craig T. Nelson) and his wife (JoBeth Williams) tries to rescue their youngest daughter (Heather O’Rourke) from the evil spirits that have invaded their home and abducted her into their realm.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Hailing from producer Steven Spielberg and director Tobe Hooper, Poltergeist is an essential haunted house movie — not just for its indelibly frightening elements, but also for its emotionally grounded depiction of parents longing to find their missing child.

Stream Poltergeist on Max . Rent or buy Poltergeist on Amazon .

The Sixth Sense (1999)

A child psychologist ( Bruce Willis ) with his own dark past tries to help a young boy (Haley Joel Osment) come to terms with his disturbing gift.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Arguably M. Night Shyamalan’s best movie , the clever and frightening classic The Sixth Sense has a unique set of rules about the afterlife which, once you see the killer twist ending , you’ll never think of the same way again.

Rent or buy The Sixth Sense on Amazon .

Stir Of Echoes (1999)

After agreeing to be hypnotized by his sister-in-law at a party just for a laugh, it quickly proves to be no laughing matter for the man ( Kevin Bacon ) as he begins to see visions of a girl who is dead. 

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Because it was released not long after The Sixth Sense and bore similar themes of ESP and paranormal activity , writer and director David Koepp ’s intense adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel Stir of Echoes did not get the attention it deserved, and rarely has since then.

Stream Stir Of Echoes on Tubi . Stream Stir Of Echoes on Plex . Stream Stir Of Echoes on Freevee through Amazon .

Session 9 (2001)

Relations between the somewhat normally close-knit crew of an asbestos removal company grow sour as they race to complete a job at an abandoned mental hospital with a dark past that slowly comes to light.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From director Brad Anderson — who also co-writes with star Stephen Gevedon — and also starring CSI : Miami star David Caruso, Session 9 is yet another unfairly overlooked horror movie with some really good scares and a chilling final act.

Rent or buy Session 9 on Amazon .

1408 (2007)

A grieving father who specializes in disproving supernatural phenomena ( John Cusack ) puts the legend of an hotel room with a supposedly deadly curse to the test, only to find a reason to believe.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From director Mikael Håfström, 1408 is another haunted hotel story from author Stephen King that mostly plays out like a spooky one-man show, while also starring Cusack’s future Cell co-star, Samuel L. Jackson .

Rent or buy 1408 on Amazon .

The Orphanage (2007)

During a visit to the foster home where she grew up, a woman (Belén Rueda) and her husband (Fernando Cayo) accidentally lose their young son (Roger Príncep) and turn to unusual measures in hopes of finding him.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From producer Guillermo del Toro and writer and director J.A. Bayona, the Spanish-language thriller The Orphanage is already spine-tingling as a missing child story, but its ghostly elements make for an unforgettable frightening experience.

Rent or buy The Orphanage on Amazon .

Lake Mungo (2008)

A family from Australia recalls in interviews the strange events that would begin to plague their home shortly after their teenage daughter drowned to death.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: From writer and director Joel Anderson, and one of the most unlikely After Dark Horror Fest entries, Lake Mungo is an overlooked supernatural drama that's so mysteriously compelling, delicately constructed, and convincingly acted, no one could fault you for assuming this faux documentary was real.

Stream Lake Mungo on Tubi . Stream Lake Mungo on Plex . Rent or buy Lake Mungo on Amazon .

Grave Encounters (2011)

The typically skeptical crew of a docuseries that explores notorious sightings of alleged hauntings find the irrefutable evidence they never thought they would after locking themselves in an empty insane asylum.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Part satire of paranormal investigation reality series like Ghost Adventures , and another part relentless nightmare fuel, Grave Encounters is another relatively underrated found footage thriller featuring some of the most unforgivably frightening supernatural entities you could imagine.

Stream Grave Encounters on Freevee through Amazon . Stream Grave Encounters on Tubi . Stream Grave Encounters on Plex .

Insidious (2011)

A teacher (Patrick Wilson), his wife (Rose Byrne) and their children begin to suffer from very strange and disturbing circumstances after their eldest son (Ty Simpkins) mysteriously falls into a coma.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Writer Leigh Whannell and director James Wan of Saw fame already turned the haunted house genre on its head with the unique concept of Insidious , but rarely had a film of this kind been so visually arresting and indelibly frightening at this time either.

Stream Insidious on Max . Rent or buy Insidious on Amazon .

The Pact (2012)

After her sister goes missing not long after the death of their mother, a woman (Caity Lotz) begins to suspect that the secret behind her disappearance is tied to the unexplainable events she begins to experience in her childhood home.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: If you have never seen or heard of writer and director Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact , I highly recommend it to people who enjoy engrossing mystery stories that do not hold back on high-stakes frights.

Stream The Pact on Tubi . Rent or buy The Pact on Amazon .

The Woman In Black (2012)

A widowed legal practitioner (Daniel Radcliffe) is shocked to learn that an abandoned manor in a small London village is haunted by a vengeful spirit who struck fear in the locals.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Based on the novel by Susan Hill, The Woman in Black is one of Daniel Radcliffe’s best movies outside of the Harry Potter franchise in the way it harkens back to a forgotten era of gothic tales of the unexplainable, but with haunting imagery for audiences of any generation to get spooked by

Stream The Woman In Black on Paramount+ . Rent or buy The Woman In Black on Amazon .

The Conjuring (2013)

A family calls upon the help of famed paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) to help rid their new Rhode Island home of the evil presence inhabiting it.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: While the more memorable antagonists in any of the Conjuring Universe movies are of the demonic sort, director James Wan’s original that started it all has its fair share of great and grandly creepy ghostly moments.

Stream The Conjuring on Max . Rent or buy The Conjuring on Amazon .

Ouija: Origin Of Evil (2016)

A mother of two (Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson) who makes a living as a fake medium (Elizabeth Reaser) adds a new element to her performance that turns out to be much more real than she could have envisioned.

Why it is a seriously scary ghost movie: Some of the earliest proof of writer and director Mike Flanagan’s expertise in horror storytelling was the surprisingly taut and viscerally unsettling Ouija: Origin of Evil — a prequel to an almost universally reviled generic teen thriller from 2014.

Stream Ouija: Origin Of Evil on Netflix . Rent or buy Ouija: Origin Of Evil on Amazon .

If these ghost movies do not manage to scare you, we hope they at least warm your spirit as a horror fan.

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Jason Wiese

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.

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Screen Rant

15 old horror movies that are still scary today.

Horror movies have been around since the early days of cinema, and some classic films have not lost their ability to give audiences nightmares.

When people think of seriously scary movies, the earliest they tend to span is usually the '70s and '80s. The images of Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface tend to come to mind. But just because something is older or well-used, that doesn't mean it has no merit. People were just as horror hungry in the early days of the genre.

RELATED:  The 10 Best Horror Movie Sequels According To IMDb

There are plenty of movies that make our blood run cold from before the age of modern horror, some even before the age of color. Just because the film lacks gruesome effects doesn't mean it can't be scary. Here are ten vintage horror flicks that are still scary today.

Updated October 6, 2020:  Although they might lack CGI effects, animatronic monsters, death traps, and ludicrous amounts of blood, violence, nudity, and profanity like some of their modern contemporaries, the horror films of yesteryear can be just as terrifying if not more than the macabre masterpieces of today. The gold and silver ages of the horror genre might rely on monsters of the mind, science gone mad, and unseen entities in creepy castles and decrepit old crypts, but through their use of atmosphere, presentation, and practical effects, they can stand with the best of them without sacrificing scares or substance.

The Mummy (1931)

It might be the shortest of the universal Monster Series, but   The Mummy   has a more unsettling edge than something like Dracula or Frankenstein. Imhotep might not tear through an angry mob of villagers, turn into a bat, or become a man-eating monster when the moon is out, he has a hypnotic and sinister presence courtesy of the great Boris Karloff.

Not to mention, the mummy himself has one of the most disturbing origins ever seen in a vintage horror movie. Not only is Imhotep mummified and buried alive right on camera, but the slaves who buried him are impaled and killed with spears so as not to reveal the location of his tomb. That's some disturbing material for 1931.

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

It might be a silent film, but  The Man Who Laughs  is one of the strangest and most frightening films to be released before the age of sound. Based on the Victor Hugo novel of the same name, the film is certainly what one would call visually eerie.

RELATED:  The Top 50 Horror Movies Of All Time, Ranked (According To IMDb)

The film that inspired Batman's Joker features Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine, a man whose face is disfigured from childhood with a permanent rictus grin. While the plot of the film itself is more of a tragic love story with disfigurement, freak shows, and sensual scandals, Gwynplaine's permanent smile is nothing short of nightmarish.

Night of the Living Dead

There's not a horror aficionado out there who doesn't know about George Romero's zombie masterpiece,  Night of the Living Dead .  The undead stars of this black and white creature feature might lack some of the viscera and over-the-top makeup effects that their modern equivalents possess, but they still have an appetite for flesh that is absolutely horrifying.

Needless to say, the film was an underground success that went from a modest monster movie to an instant horror classic. Without it, the zombie genre as fans know it today might not even exist. And they all owe it to Mr. Romero

The Black Cat

Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were two of horror's biggest players back in the 1930s. Alone, they brought moviegoers some of the most famous monsters ever put to film. But together, they were a fearsome force that chilled the spines of every viewer.

The Black Cat  features Lugosi as a doctor who escaped from a prison camp on a quest for vengeance against Karloff's Satanic cult leader who murdered his wife. Loosely inspired by the Edgar Allan Poe story of the same name, the film features scenes of torture, ritual sacrifice, and other disturbing imagery. Needless to say, it's a must-watch for Poe fans.

Without Count Orlok there would be no Count Dracula, plain and simple. Often regarded as the first horror movie ever made,  Nosferatu  features one of the most iconic and most visually terrifying vampires ever put on film, thanks to the German expressionist movement.

Max Schreck as the infamous Orlock is truly the star of the show, having perhaps the most bat-like features out of any adaptation of Dracula. There's not a monster fan out there who doesn't recognize the pointy ears, fangs, and gaunt pale figure of this shadowy bloodsucker. In short, the film was ahead of its time in terms of visuals and the terror.

The Haunting (1963)

What better way to get things rolling than a classic haunted house flick?  The Haunting,  brought to us by horror legend Robert Wise, is a chilling adaptation of Shirley Jackson's  Haunting of  Hill House ,  but the scares are more subtle than guys in ghoulish costumes. It's more about what remains unseen than right in front of you.

The film depicts the interactions of a group of people in a supposedly haunted house, but unlike most haunted house flicks, the ghosts are all atmospheric and the presence of the poltergeists is debatable. It's still a spine-tingling film nevertheless.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

We take you from one breed of haunted house flick to another with the Vincent Price-led  House on Haunted Hill . One part supernatural horror flick, one part murder-mystery, the film is one of the best made by famed horror director, William Castle, and is equal parts kitschy as well as creepy.

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With jump scares, fiendish traps, an eerie setting to tie the whole thing together, and a marvelous performance by the master of horror, Vincent Price,  House on Haunted Hill  has more than enough to satisfy the hungriest of horror hounds among us. Come for the party, stay for the ghosts.

Eyes Without a Face (1960)

This freaky French fright-fest makes our toes curl just talking about it. In  Eyes Without a Face,  a series of murders takes place just outside Paris. The victims are all women who have had their faces removed, sparing the eyes. The murders are the work of a mad scientist trying to transplant women's faces onto that of his deformed daughter.

Though it was made in 1960, the black and white film still has a touch of gore to go that extra mile for its bodily horror. To say the film is disturbing is an understatement. If you don't mind subtitles, give this one a try.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

We know what you're thinking, how come we haven't mentioned other Universal Monsters on this list? While Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man are all iconic creatures of the night, they all have some element of humanity about them. The Gill-Man, on the other hand, is a pure predator.

RELATED:  10 Most Underrated Horror Films Of The Last 20 Years

One of the few classic monster flicks that actually has a handful of scares,  The Creature from the Black Lagoon  lurks the waters of the Amazon river and strikes with little warning. Even when the guy gets caught by the party of explorers, you know its just a waiting game until he escapes. Definitely a creepy creature feature.

The Thing From Another World (1951)

Before John Carpenter got his hooks into this sci-fi classic, it was one of the most frightening creatures ever to fall to earth. Sci-fi flicks were still evolving at this time and  The  Thing from Another World  was the first film to get people to follow that famous sage advice, "watch the skies."

Though the titular "Thing" isn't exactly what we'd call scary, the film itself is highly suspenseful. The film also represents the present fear of nuclear war that was a heavy influence on sci-fi/ horror  at that time. With the idea of missiles and bombs from overseas hitting your backyard at any time, it was impossible not to watch the skies.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Yet another sci-fi masterpiece that got under people's skin in the '50s,  Invasion of the Body Snatchers  filled audiences with fear and paranoia long before the '70s remake did. When a race of pod-people begins replacing human victims with alien doppelgangers, it spells trouble for the people of earth.

Paranoia and panic ensue as the population doesn't know who to trust. Just as  The  Thing from Another World  represented the world's fear of the nuclear bomb, so did  Invasion of the Body Snatchers  represent the fear of a communist takeover. Amazing how art imitates life, isn't it?

Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Blood is its avatar and its seal. Roger Corman made psychedelic films before psychedelic officially took over, and there are few greater examples than  Masque of the Red Death.  One of Corman's many Edgar Allan Poe pictures,  Masque of the Red Death  is definitely one of the scariest in both the series and Vincent Price's career.

RELATED:  10 Horror Movies With Low Rotten Tomatoes Scores That Are Actually Great

A bloodier tale than Poe's original, this interpretation mixes in Satanic rituals, human sacrifice, a blood plague, and even a gruesome murder inspired by Poe's  Hop-Frog.  For 1964, this was a film that definitely had viewers shocked with awe and terror.

Though not a horror movie in the conventional definition, Fritz Lang's  M   helped shape the modern thriller by incorporating sounds, music, and shadows to create a sinister and suspenseful film. As well as being horror actor Peter Lorre's first starring role, it definitely made the skin of many viewers crawl.

M  puts the viewer in the mind of a child-murdering psychopath on the run from a citywide manhunt. With intense uses of paranoia, mob justice, and psychological dilemmas, it's a chiller that grabs you by the throat and shows how vicious and brutal justice can be.

Psycho (1960)

How do you make millions of audience members afraid of taking a shower? Use a knife, a screeching violin, and a bottle of Hershey  syrup . Alfred Hitchcock's terrifying masterpiece,  Psycho,  was the film that sparked the slasher genre. Next to  The Birds,  it is arguably Hitchcock's greatest film.

The tale of Norman Bates is as chilling as your early horror villains get. Is he insane, possessed, or something in between? Maybe he's just a victim of some psychological torment, or maybe "Mother" is still the one pulling the strings. It scared audiences in the '60s, and it still gives us the creeps today.

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)

Contrary to what we said regarding  M,  you don't need sound to create an outrageously scary film.  Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages  is a silent, black-and-white nightmare that will keep you up even though it's nearly a century old. There are many ways we can describe this film, but they wouldn't be 100% correct.

At its core,  Haxan  is a series of sequences involving the concepts of witchcraft, hell, demonic activity, and deals with the devil. Scenes of medieval science, demonic bacchanals hosted by Satan, and various practices of witchcraft ensue. It's hard to pinpoint an exact plot, but it still haunts our dreams.

NEXT:  10 Best Versions Of Dracula, Ranked

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The 20 best haunted house films of all time, ranked

From The Innocents to Paranormal Activity, most of these haunted house movies will have viewers leaving all their lights on at bedtime.

Georges Méliès' Le Manoir du diable (1896) deserves much reverence for its impact on scary movies over the years, and even though the silent film is only a few minutes long, The House of the Devil marks the beginning of the horror genre. Released as The Haunted Castle in the United States, Méliès' motion picture is the precursor to all haunted house movies.

Films in the following century like The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Old Dark House (1932), and Rebecca (1940) certainly presented creepy, decrepit manors, but their walls were haunted by earthly threats. However, The Uninvited (1944) creates the supernatural template by which horror films like The Haunting in Connecticut (2009), Crimson Peak (2015), and Hereditary (2018) still follow today.

Now, enjoy EW's ranking of the 20 best haunted house movies of all time.

20. The Amityville Horror (1979)

Not even Fixer Upper 's Chip and Joanna Gaines can salvage your house when its walls start bleeding. George Lutz ( James Brolin ) and his wife, Kathy ( Margot Kidder ), get the deal of a lifetime when they buy a home in the quaint, seaside town of Amityville, N.Y. — but their new digs come with a sordid history and house full of haunting horrors.

The Amityville Horror , a somewhat underrated flick, is based on the real-life Lutz's unsubstantiated claim that the house was actually haunted. The Dutch Colonial-style home still stands in Amityville, but its address has been changed from 112 Ocean Ave. to 108 Ocean in order to throw off curious tourists.

Where to watch The Amityville Horror : Max

19. The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Irena isn't Casper, but she certainly is a friendly ghost, and she still haunts her husband Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) and his new wife, Alice (Jane Randolph). However, Irena only allows Oliver and Alice's daughter, Amy (Ann Carter), to see her when the Reeds' lonely child wishes for a friend.

The film marks the first directing credit for Robert Wise (later of 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still and 1965's The Sound of Music glory), since he was uncredited for directing additional sequences in The Magnificent Ambersons two years prior. While virtually every character — and performer — from 1942's Cat People returns, The Curse of the Cat People is, to this day, argued by most film historians as being a sequel in name only.

Where to watch The Curse of the Cat People : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

18. Paranormal Activity (2007)

Do not wait around for the entity haunting your house to fully possess you or your partner. Don't do it! Filmmaker Oren Peli 's supernatural take finds a young couple ( Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) haunted by an unseen force, as the audience watches the couple chronicle the ghost's movements via their home security cameras.

The movie cashed in on the found-footage phenomenon that 1999's The Blair Witch Project proved to be a potential gold mine. Paranormal Activity grossed more than $193 million worldwide, and it only cost $15,000 to produce. Steven Spielberg saw the original cut of the film prior to its release in which Katie dies, and convinced Peli to reshoot the more ominous ending where Featherston simply goes missing.

Where to watch Paranormal Activity : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

17. Beetlejuice (1988)

Barbara ( Geena Davis ) and Adam ( Alec Baldwin ) Maitland might be dead, but they don't have any intention of sharing their home with its new residents, the Deetz family — parents Delia ( Catherine O'Hara ) and Charles (Jeffrey Jones) and their goth icon daughter, Lydia ( Winona Ryder ). When the Maitlands' attempts to frighten the Deetzes away fail miserably, Barbara and Adam turn to the mysterious and mischievous Beetlejuice ( Michael Keaton ) to rid them of the living.

Keaton's portrayal as the unscrupulous "ghost with the most" garnered him a Saturn Award nomination, even though he appears on screen for less than 15 minutes, and the actor acknowledges Beetlejuice as his favorite film from his own library of work.

Where to watch Beetlejuice : Max

16. The Others (2001)

While the living and dead coexist in Beetlejuice , The Others teaches horror fans a different life lesson: Sharing isn't always the answer. Grace ( Nicole Kidman ) and her two children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), live together in a Gothic country house in the aftermath of World War II, but it seems increasingly likely their Bailiwick of Jersey home is haunted.

The Others offers scary movie enthusiasts one of the genre's most memorable twists, and it's unlikely the filmmakers really wanted audiences to laugh at the very last shot of the film. It's hard not to chuckle, though, and the comedic moment certainly lends itself to the storytelling. The Others also marked the final time Kidman worked with her then-husband, Tom Cruise (executive producer), prior to their divorce.

15. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren (Vincent Price) is throwing a party, and he promises each of his guests $10,000. The catch: They have to spend the night in a haunted house and survive until morning. Filmmaker William Castle couldn't afford to pay Price the salary the actor had become accustomed to, so he offered him a percentage of the profits to land the horror movie maestro as a cast member.

House on Haunted Hill also features one of Castle's vaunted gimmicks: Emergo . When the skeleton terrorizes Mrs. Loren (Carol Ohmart) on screen, a plastic skeleton would swoop over the heads of audiences all across the country. Ever the showman, Castle wanted to give moviegoers something even better and more exciting than 3-D could ever deliver decades later.

Where to watch House on Haunted Hill: Amazon Prime Video

14. Scrooge (1951)

While there have been many fine adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol , Alastair Sim's performance as the miserly, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge elevates this version to must-see status. With Christmas soon approaching, Ebenezer's old friend, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), returns from the grave to offer Scrooge a chance at redemption through the haunting of three spirits.

Invariably and inexplicably, A Christmas Carol is absent from many best-of haunted house lists, but Dickens' tale is the preeminent example of this type of supernatural story. Now, despite the positive critical and fan response to this 1951 version, there is a famous bit of dialogue omitted from this particular film: "If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

Where to watch Scrooge : Plex

13. Poltergeist (1982)

The real estate market is always a monster, but the Freeling family lucks out and gets a good deal on a nice house. There's just one little catch: The home was built on a Native American burial ground. And those spirits are not happy about the new tenants. Poltergeist pairs two Hollywood heavyweights, with Steven Spielberg behind the story and Tobe Hooper in the director's chair — and the result is pure movie magic.

The infamous TV scene , with Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), is well-known, but it's nothing compared to what happens to the television in the last shot of the movie. No spoilers here, but viewers are bound to roll with laughter. Drew Barrymore auditioned for Spielberg for the role of Carol Anne, but, despite not landing the part, it was her Poltergeist tryout that led to her being cast in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

Where to watch Poltergeist : Max

12. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon 's heartbreaking horror film gives audiences valid reasons to avoid adultery. Su-mi (Im Soo-jung) returns home from a mental facility after her mother dies, but there's a strange family dynamic between her father and stepmother, Eun-joo (Yum Jung-ah). Su-mi is also very protective of her younger sister, Su-yeon (Moon Geun-young).

The film's twist is one of those watercooler moments that rivals any horror movie ending. Without spoiling the climax, A Tale of Two Sisters uses the haunted house motif almost as a window dressing to obscure the psychological aspects at play in this immensely enthralling, supernatural flick.

Where to watch A Tale of Two Sisters : Kanopy

11. The Conjuring (2013)

Lorraine Warren ( Vera Farmiga ) and her husband, Ed ( Patrick Wilson ), are paranormal investigators hellbent on helping the Perron family as they're haunted in their own farmhouse. The Warrens were real people who dedicated their lives to exploring the paranormal (or as some see it, duping the vulnerable), and they also investigated the real-life mystery of the Amityville house purchased by George and Kathy Lutz.

The Perrons, too, were not just characters, and The Conjuring is based on what happened to them in their Rhode Island home. The Perrons often visited the set while the film was being shot, and Farmiga and Wilson met with the Warrens to further their understanding of the characters they were portraying.

Where to watch The Conjuring: Max

10. The Orphanage (2007)

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again , but Laura (Belén Rueda) doesn't heed the novelist's advice. Rather, Laura takes her family back to the closed orphanage she was adopted from with the hopes of reopening it to help children with disabilities. But things take a bizarre turn when her son, Simón (Roger Príncep), goes missing.

The Orphanage , which also features a cameo from producer Guillermo del Toro as the doctor attending to Laura in the emergency room, received a standing ovation when it premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival . Filmmaker J. A. Bayona found inspiration for The Orphanage from watching 1961's The Innocents and 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind .

Where to watch The Oprhanage : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

9. We Are Still Here (2015)

One hundred and twenty years of haunting and horror isn't going to stop Anne Sacchetti ( Barbara Crampton ) and her husband, Paul (Andrew Sensenig), from buying a rural home, but perhaps they're blinded by the death of their son, Bobby. It isn't long before the couple realizes the house is alive — and it is hungry for a blood sacrifice.

We Are Still Here is loaded with homages to other horror films, and one of the most obvious is the appearance of the home's original residents, the Dagmars. They look like the vengeful ghosts in John Carpenter 's The Fog (1980), and the stair scene is a clear nod to Nancy ( Heather Langenkamp ) trudging up the staircase in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Where to watch We Are Still Here : Amazon Prime Video

8. The Haunting (1963)

Very few horror films evoke a creepier vibe than 1963's The Haunting , even with its black-and-white cinematography. Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) assembles a team to investigate the paranormal activity of the Hill House in Massachusetts — but escaping the haunt unscathed may prove futile.

The film is based on the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House by author Shirley Jackson. Director Robert Wise was coming off his immense success with West Side Story (1961), which he codirected with Jerome Robbins , while another west-sider joined him for the Hill House horror: Actor Russ Tamblyn , who portrayed Riff in West Side Story , tackles the role of Luke Sanderson.

Where to watch The Haunting : Max

7. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) starts her life anew when she buys a cottage in a quaint, seaside village, but her house is purported to be haunted by a seaman, Capt. Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is by far the most romantic of the haunted house films, and its storytelling — rather than fright and fear — makes it one of the top supernatural tales of all time.

Natalie Wood portrays Lucy's daughter, Anna, when she's a child, and the actress shot to stardom later that same year by appearing in Miracle on 34th Street . The screenplay for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was also adapted by Amanda Duff, and she claimed Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were originally courted to play the lead roles.

Where to watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

6. Lake Mungo (2008)

Alice Palmer's (Talia Zucker) drowning isn't the end of her tragedy when it comes to her family trying to cope with their loss and move on. Instead of closure, the Palmers are plagued by unexplained sightings of Alice, and, later, an even more mysterious, bloated-faced doppelgänger emerges.

Lake Mungo is chilling from start to finish, employing a mockumentary and found-footage style of filmmaking to exude an atmosphere of realism and tension that is supremely frightening to the senses. The fun of Lake Mungo , without spoiling the film's well-executed jump scare, is its use of modern technology to frighten audiences when they least expect it.

Where to watch Lake Mungo : AMC+

5. Hausu (1977)

Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) and her friends find themselves facing off against a haunted house that murders its victims like a serial killer straight out of a slasher film. The same studio that produced the Godzilla franchise, Toho, masterminds one of the most horrifying and disturbingly humorous psychedelic films to date.

Hausu's over-the-top subject matter isn't for everyone, but horror fans — particularly of Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) — will find the movie resonating with them. The success of Jaws (1975) inspired Toho to make Hausu , and none of the lead actresses were trained thespians. Rather, the seven women were all models.

Where to watch Hausu : Max

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

Before becoming the "this is my boomstick" housewares expert of S-Mart, Ash Williams ( Bruce Campbell ) makes the unfortunate mistake of spending his vacation in a haunted house with some friends. There, they find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the cabin, also known as the Book of the Dead, and all hell breaks loose into two sequels (1987, 1992), two remakes (2013, 2023), and a TV series Ash vs Evil Dead .

If you don't know what the "tree scene" is, you'll never get that imagery out of your head after watching The Evil Dead for the first time. It's one of the most appalling and unforgettable scenes to appear in any horror film, ever. The Evil Dead was the feature film debut for both Campbell and his best friend since high school, director Sam Raimi .

Where to watch The Evil Dead : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

3. The Uninvited (1944)

Rick (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) make the spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a lovely seaside home, and, as a result, Rick meets and becomes quite taken with young Stella (Gail Russell). The Uninvited is one of the first full-length haunted house movies, making it a cornerstone model moving forward for all other films to follow.

While Martin Scorsese called it one of the scariest movies of all time , The Uninvited kindles a wonderful romance between Rick and Stella. In fact, the serenade Rick writes and plays for his love, "Stella by Starlight," was composed specifically for the movie. However, it became a sensation when lyrics were later added, and it was even performed by Frank Sinatra .

2. The Innocents (1961)

Miss Giddens ( Deborah Kerr ) is hired to be a governess for Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her older brother, Miles (Martin Stephens), once he returns from boarding school. While Giddens takes an almost instant liking to Flora, she soon fears the children's secretive bond when Miles returns. And things grow even more disconcerting when Giddens begins seeing things and hearing voices.

The film is based on Henry James' 1898 horror novella, The Turn of the Screw , and both Truman Capote and William Archibald won the Edgar Allan Poe award for their screenplay. Jack Clayton directed and produced The Innocents , and he later went on to direct Hollywood icon Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby in 1974.

1. The Changeling (1980)

It's hard to have your car break down on the side of the road and not think about The Changeling . John Russell ( George C. Scott ) watches helplessly as his wife and daughter are cut down by a tow truck in the snow. Russell moves on and buys a house once owned by the family of Senator Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas), but he soon realizes he's not as alone there as he previously felt.

The character of John Russell is a music composer, but Scott wasn't musically inclined. Even so, the actor practiced the piano pieces Russell plays so that he could actually tickle the ivories on screen. Also, the actress who portrays historical society agent Claire (Trish Van Devere) was Scott's wife in real life, and they made five feature films while they were married, as well as a made-for-TV movie and a play.

Where to watch The Changeling : Peacock

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50 Classic Scary Movies Guaranteed to Put You in the Spooky Spirit

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While Halloween is just around the corner, it isn't really spooky season until you turn on a classic scary movie. Or ten. Sure, we love the holiday-themed favorites like Hocus Pocus and Casper , but sometimes we need an older, time-tested flick to really chill us to the bones. From Silence of the Lambs to the Children of the Corn , here 50 scary movies guaranteed to have you sleeping with the lights on.

The 65 Best Halloween Movies of All Time

childs play

1. ‘child’s Play’ (1988)

Who’s in it? Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent

What’s it about? Before there was The Cult of Chucky (or any of the other sequels/prequels or remakes), there was Child’s Play, a story about 6-year-old Andy who learns that his toy doll, Chucky, is the serial murderer that is terrorizing his town. Unfortunately, neither the police (nor his own mother) believe him.

candyman

2. ‘candyman’ (1992)

Who’s in it? Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley

What’s it about? This blood-covered slasher flick focuses on graduate student Helen Lyle when she unintentionally brings to life the Candyman, a hook-handed figure who fillets anyone who says his name five times (this one is not for those who have a fear of bees because there’s a lot of them). It’s also worth mentioning that Jordan Peele has his own version coming in the not-too-distant-future.

poltergeist

3. 'poltergeist' (1982)

Who’s in it? JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Craig T. Nelson

What’s it about? It doesn’t get much more iconic than this malevolent film about otherworldly forces that invade a suburban home in California. These evil entities transform the house into a supernatural sideshow centered on the family's young daughter. We’re not going to lie, the special effects still hold up, even today.

silence of the lambs

4. ‘the Silence Of The Lambs' (1991)

Who’s in it? Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney

What’s it about? Known as one of the most terrifying movies of all time, the film follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling as she ventures into a maximum-security asylum to pick the diseased brain of Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist turned cannibal. The 1991 piece is based on a handful of real-life serial killers, so if stalkers and cannibals aren’t your thing, we recommend giving this one a pass.

children of the corn

5. ‘children Of The Corn’ (1984)

Who’s in it? Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong

What’s it about? Based on Stephen King’s namesake story, the movie examines a gory ritual in which the town’s children murder all the adults.

halloween

6. ‘halloween’ (1978)

Who’s in it?

What’s it about? As the first movie in the Halloween franchise, it introduces viewers to serial killer Michael Myers (Nick Castle) as he terrorizes the innocent residents of Haddonfield, Illinois.

the shining

7. ‘the Shining’ (1980)

Who’s in it? Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd

What’s it about? When a struggling writer becomes a caretaker at an isolated hotel, he uncovers secrets about the property’s dark past. (Creepy children included.)

carrie

8. ‘carrie’ (1976)

Who’s in it? Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving

What’s it about? Adapted from another Stephen King tale, Carrie follows Carrie White, a teenage outcast sheltered by an overbearing, religious mother, who unleashes her powers after being humiliated by her classmates.

the excorcist

9. ‘the Exorcist’ (1973)

Who’s in it? Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair

What’s it about? When Regan starts acting bizarre, her parents seek medical attention only to realize she’s been seized by the devil. Turns out, getting the devil out of here is way harder than they expected.

the boogeyman

10. ‘boogeyman’ (2005)

Who’s in it? Barry Watson, Emily Deschanel, Lucy Lawless

What’s it about? As a child, Tim (Aaron Murphy) is haunted by the memory of his father being dragged away by the boogeyman. Years later, he’s forced to face his fears as an adult (Barry Watson).

the sixth sense

11. ‘the Sixth Sense’ (1999)

Who’s in it? Haley Joel Osment, Bruce Willis, Toni Collette

What’s it about? Cole is too scared to tell anyone about his supernatural abilities. That is, until he meets Dr. Malcolm Crowe, who uncovers the truth.

the blair witch project

12. ‘the Blair Witch Project’ (1999)

Who’s in it? Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard

What’s it about? Through archived footage, three film students embark on a wild journey as they search for answers about a local murderer named Blair Witch.

the conjuring

13. ‘the Conjuring’ (2013)

Who’s in it? Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston

What’s it about? Two paranormal investigators are enlisted to help a family who recently moved into a new house. The problem? It has a supernatural presence. Cue the nightmares.

rosemarys baby

14. ‘rosemary's Baby’ (1968)

Who’s in it? Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon

What’s it about? A young couple is desperate to conceive a baby. When they finally do, the mother suspects an evil cult is plotting to steal the newborn.

nosferatu

15. ‘nosferatu: A Symphony Of Horror’ (1922)

Who’s in it? Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim

What’s it about? The silent German horror film follows Thomas Hutter, who gets sent on a business trip to an isolated castle in Transylvania. However, things take a turn for the worse when he learns that his so-called client, Count Orlok, is a vampire.

texas chainsaw massacre

16. ‘the Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

Who’s in it? Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger

Who’s it about? Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths and must survive the terrors of Leatherface and his family.

insidious

17. 'insidious' (2010)

Who’s in it? Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Ty Simpkins

What’s it about? A suburban family moves away from everything they know in an attempt to leave behind their haunted house. However, they soon learn the home isn’t the root of the problem—their son is. Staring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, Insidious centers on paranormal entities and possession, if you’re into that sort of thing.

horror

18. ‘the Amityville Horror’ (1979)

Who’s in it: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger

What’s it about? Reportedly based on a true story, the film follows a now-possessed husband on a mission to murder his wife and children after they move into a home in habited by evil spirits.

psycho

19. ‘psycho’ (1960)

Who’s in it? Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles

What’s it about? A Phoenix secretary embezzles money from a client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. You probably know this one for the infamous shower scene.

misery

20. 'misery' (1990)

Who’s in it? James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth

What’s it about? The movie focuses on an author who is left seriously injured after a car crash. He quickly notices something odd about the retired nurse who rescued him: She's a stalker.

the haunting

21. ‘the Haunting’ (1963)

Who’s in it? Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson

What’s it about? Based on Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting of Hill House , in this thriller two women are locked in a mansion as they both lose their minds to fear.

dracula

22. ‘dracula’ (1931)

Who’s it it? Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners

What’s it about? Count Dracula hypnotizes a British soldier, Renfield, into becoming his mindless slave. Together, they travel to London and prey on victims in the nighttime.

frankenstein

23. ‘frankenstein’ (1931)

Who’s in it? Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff

What’s it about? You know the story. But this original tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his man-made Monster (made out of dead body parts) who goes on a rogue killing spree, is sure to give you chills.

creep

24. ‘creep’ (2014)

Who’s in it? Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass

What’s it about? Exploiting the potential horrors of Craigslist, this indie thriller followers videographer Aaron as he takes a job in a remote mountain town and quickly realizes his client has some pretty disturbing ideas for his final project before he succumbs to his inoperable tumor. Clearly, the name is fitting.

alien

25. ‘alien’ (1979)

Who’s in it? Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

What’s it about? After a space crew is harassed by a mysterious life force, they quickly realize that the creature’s life cycle has simply just gun. .

jaws

26. ‘jaws’ (1975)

Who’s in it? Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss

What’s it about? What’s more horrifying then a great white shark who terrorizes the waters of a local beach town? The fact that it’s based on a true story, that’s what.

deliverance

27. ‘deliverance’ (1972)

Who’s in it? Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty

What’s it about? This 1972 film about a foursome who decides to venture down a rural Georgia river quickly takes a turn for the worse due to rapids and unwelcoming locals.

the invisible man

28. ‘the Invisible Man’ (1933)

Who’s in it? Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan

What’s it about? Not to be confused with Elizabeth’s Moss 2020 film of the same name, this one follows a scientist who makes himself invisible, but in doing so, he starts to terrorize those around him.

night of the living dead

29. ‘night Of The Living Dead’ (1968)

Who’s in it? Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman

What’s it about? A group of people isolate themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast. Think of it as the O.G. zombie movie.

pans

30. ‘pan's Labyrinth’ (2006)

Who’s in it? Ivana Baquero, Sergi López, Maribel Verdú

What’s it about? Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning fairy tale tells the story of a young girl in early Francoist Spain, 1944 to be exact, who becomes encased in her own dark fantasy world to escape her sadistic army officer stepfather.

dont be

31. 'don't Be Afraid Of The Dark' (2010)

Who’s in it? Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison

What’s it about? Horror fans will love Guillermo del Toro’s reimagining of the 1973 television movie. When young Sally Hurst and her family move to a new home, she discovers they aren’t alone in the creepy mansion. In fact, strange creatures also live there and they don’t seem too happy with their new guests. It’s important to note that the original film terrified del Toro as a young boy, so we’re going to say make sure the kids are asleep when you turn this one on.

nightmare on elm street

32. ‘a Nightmare On Elm Street’ (1984)

Who’s in it? Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund

WHat’s it about? Director Wes Craven incited fear with this classic slasher film, which follows Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) as he stalks teenagers in their dreams.

dont look now

33. ‘don’t Look Now’ (1973)

Who’s in it? Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason

What’s it about? A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter and quickly become convinced that she is trying to contact them from the other side.

devils advocate

34. ‘devil’s Advocate’ (1997)

Who’s in it? Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron

What’s it about? A young NYC attorney learns that the head of his firm might have sinister intentions. With ample suspense and creepy vibes, there’s a surprise twist we totally didn't expect.

bodysnatchers

35. ‘invasion Of The Body Snatchers’ (1978)

Who’s in it? Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum

What’s it about? When strange space seeds come to earth, mysterious pods begin to grow and invade San Francisco, California, where they create creepy clones of the residents.

the ring

36. ‘the Ring’ (2002)

Who’s in it? Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox

What’s it about? A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it. Not to mention, there’s a few sequels.

the birds

37. ‘the Birds’ (1963)

Who’s in it? Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy

What’s it about? A small Northern California town starts experiencing some weird happenings when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. This one will definitely have you panicked the next time you walk through a group of pigeons.

the train to busan

38. ‘train To Busan’ (2016)

Who’s in it? Yoo Gong, Soo-an Kim, Yu-mi Jung

What’s it about? A business man and his daughter hop on a train just as the world is taken over by a zombies. And we’re not going to lie, these flesh-eaters are terrifying (and super contagious).

the evil dead

39. ‘the Evil Dead’ (1981)

Who’s in it? Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor

What’s it about? Director Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead tells the tale of a group of teenagers who turn into flesh-eating zombies during a visit to a cabin. Lesson learned: Don’t read old books that could possibly reawaken the dead.

scream

40. 'scream' (1996)

Who’s in it? David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox

What’s it about? After a series of mysterious deaths overtakes a small town, a group of teens becomes the target of a masked serial-killer psycho and must find a way to stay alive.

the thing

41. 'the Thing' (1982)

Who’s in it? Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David

What’a it about? Taking place in Antarctica, The Thing tells the story of a research team who is haunted by a shapeshifting creature that takes the shape of his victims before he attacks them.

the omen

42. 'the Omen' (1976)

Who’s in it? Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens

What’s it about? Mysterious deaths surround an American diplomat and his wife after they adopt a young child, forcing them to to question whether or not the young boy is the Antichrist.

the fly

43. 'the Fly' (1986)

Who’s in it? Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz

What’s it about? A scientist invents a teleportation device and decides to test it out. However, he failed to realize that a fly is also along for the ride. Do you see where this is going?

it

44. ‘it’ (2017)

Who’s in it? Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard

What’s it about? Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, It follows a group of bullied kids who band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children.

suspiria

45. ‘suspiria’ (1977)

Who’s in it? Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci

What’s it about? A young American dancer gets more than she bargained for after she joins a German ballet school plagued by murders. The is a remake (starring Dakota Johnson) but the original critically acclaimed.

the bride of frankenstein

46. ‘the Bride Of Frankenstein’ (1935)

Who’s in it? Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive

What’s it about? In Mary Shelley’s follow up, she reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein. And this time, he builds his monster a mate.

sinister

47. ‘sinister' (2012)

Who’s in it? Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone

What’s it about? True-crime writer Ellison Oswalt discovers a box of Super 8 videotapes depicting several brutal murders that took place in his new home. However, what seems to be the work of a serial killer turns out to be not as straightforward as it seems. Warning: This one had us sleeping with the lights on for weeks and is definitely not for children.

cat people

48. ‘cat Peopl’e (1942)

Who’s in it? Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard

What’s it about? A young woman's sexual awakening brings horror when she discovers her urges transform her into a black leopard. Yup, we’re serious.

house of wax

49. ‘house Of Wax’ (1953)

Who’s in it? Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk

What’s it about? A wax museum owner seeks revenge after he miraculously survives a fire. Now, he refills his museum with dead bodies of his victims that he stole from the morgue.

the wolf man

50. ‘the Wolf Man’ (1941)

Who’s in it? Claude Rains, Warren William, Lon Chaney Jr.

What’s it about? A man is attacked by a (you guessed it) were wolf and then becomes one every time there’s a full moon.

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More Stories You'll Love

11 “Eco-Horror” Movies that Shocked the 1970s

In the 1970s, a new breed of scary movie came clawing its way into theaters, and with “eco-horror” cinema, film lovers got to experience a darker side of Mother Nature.

By Mark Mancini | Jan 9, 2024

A scene from 'Frogs' (1972).

What did Richard “ Tricky Dick ” Nixon have to do with an obscure little horror film about giant, man-eating rabbits? More than you’d probably think. 

It all goes back to the rise of environmental activism after World War II , as issues like pollution, deforestation, and laws around endangered species all became hot-button issues. Books like the 1962 call-to-arms bestseller Silent Spring by Rachel Carson contributed, too, as the tome linked a sharp decline in wild bird populations to the overuse of DDT, then a commonly used insecticide.

Silent Spring sold a million copies within two years and underscored how significant these mounting concerns over environmental safety were, while disasters like the 1969 Cleveland-area river fire triggered an even greater outcry. In response, then-President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, and Earth Day was born that very same year. 

Hollywood kept pace with the times, and a new breed of scary movie came clawing its way into theaters. Dubbed “eco-horror” cinema , films in this genre pit mankind against Mother Nature and often imagine a world where human greed, hubris, or just plain old carelessness have pushed the environment to its absolute limit. Something’s got to give, and when the proverbial dam finally breaks, the human characters within a film are often left to the mercy of everything from killer bugs to mutant fish. 

Today, the 1970s are fondly remembered as the golden age of eco-horror. Here are 11 must-see titles from that bell-bottomed decade that you don’t want to miss.

1. Frogs (1972) 

Some might say revenge is a dish best served slimy. Sam Elliott —sans mustache—stars in this oddball morality tale from director George McCowan. Elliott plays wildlife photographer Pickett Smith, a guest at the island mansion of Jason Crockett (Ray Milland), a cranky Southern millionaire who is hosting a birthday party around the 4th of July. The only problem? His guests keep getting murdered by frogs, snakes, spiders, alligators, and the like. You can hardly blame the animals for lashing out though; as the audience soon learns, Crockett has polluted the land with dangerous pesticides.

Frogs had its critics when it came out in 1972, but the movie felt topical. Pesticides were all over the news that year, which is when the EPA issued a crackdown on DDT . The film’s marketing campaign underscored its conservationist message; in the official trailer , the narrator notes: “Suppose nature gave a war … and suppose that the polluters, the species on Earth called man, were the enemy in that war.”

2. Night of the Lepus (1972) 

Based on The Year of the Angry Rabbit by Russell Braddon, Night of the Lepus just might be the greatest lagomorph horror movie ever made. (Granted, there’s not much competition.) The plot gets rolling when an ill-conceived lab experiment creates a horde of bloodthirsty rabbits. Did we mention that each one’s about the size of a forklift, too? Because yeah, that’s also a factor here—and the effects team used a combination of live rabbits, miniature buildings, and the classic “grown-man-in-a-killer-bunny-suit” technique to pull it off.

Clearly, none of this is great news for the Arizona town these hopping carnivores decide to invade. “The script was quite good,” said actress Janet Leigh ( Psycho ), who stars in the flick. “The only thing that nobody had the foresight to see was that even if you make a rabbit 6 feet tall, he’s still an Easter Bunny. You just want to burst out laughing because you have this herd of giant rabbits that are supposed to be menacing, and they’re bunny rabbits. There was nothing we could do to make them frightening.”

3. Grizzly (1976) 

Grizzly is considered one of the first Jaws copycats—though it takes the action to dry land, exchanging the killer shark for a killer bear. Instead of slaughtered beachgoers, we get a cast of perfectly edible campers at a forested national park.

Shot in Clayton, Georgia, Grizzly was a financial hit (if not a critical one), reportedly grossing $30 million against its $750,000 budget. A sequel, titled Grizzly II: Revenge , began production in 1983, but wouldn’t end up being released until almost four decades later, in 2020. Speaking of that latter movie: It’s got an early attack scene which includes not one, not two, but three future celebrities: George Clooney, Charlie Sheen, and Laura Dern. 

4. The Food of the Gods (1976)

You are what you eat, and when it comes to The Food of the Gods , that’s exactly what you’re in for. The 1976 grindhouse flick centers around a mysterious ooze that, if consumed, turns animals into giants. When a Canadian farmer discovers the stuff, he uses it to grow extra-large chickens. But his birds aren’t the only ones who take a liking to the goo. Before long, the area is swarming with colossal rats and wasps that—surprise!—decide to go on a killing spree.

The Food of the Gods , which was adapted from a 1904 H.G. Wells novel, used prop animal heads for certain shots. Other scenes involved live rats scuttling over miniature sets à la Night of the Lepus . And in case you were wondering, critics absolutely tore this movie to shreds: Roger Ebert gave it a one-star rating while his longtime partner Gene Siskel awarded it just one half of a star in his scathing Chicago Tribune review . Ouch.

5. Squirm (1976) 

Squirm was inspired by a childhood science experiment. As kids, director Jeff Lieberman and his older brother once used electrified model train gear to draw wriggling earthworms out of the soil in their backyard. Good thing those creepy crawlies didn’t feast on human flesh—unlike the very angry, very hungry worms who eat their way through a Southern town in Lieberman’s directorial debut.

MGM released this gorefest horror flick in 1976. Fast-forward to 1999, when the cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured (and picked on) Squirm in a season 10 episode. Lieberman wasn’t pleased. “I don’t care about goofing on the movie, I tell the audience to goof on the movie,” he explained to Birth. Movies. Death. in 2013. “What I was furious about is that some jerk at MGM sold it to them. They pay so little.” Lieberman owns a percentage of the film and believed getting the Mystery Science Theater treatment would “cheapen the value of the movie from then on.” 

6. Day of the Animals (1977) 

A shirtless Leslie Nielsen fights a bear in this movie and— spoiler alert —he loses. That might be one of the big takeaways from 1977’s Day of the Animals , which was directed by William Girdler , who had made Grizzly only a year prior.

This time, Girdler had a whole menagerie of killer beasts to work with, as Day of the Animals shows helpless people being devoured by dogs, swarmed by rats, and, in one case, pushed off a cliff by some grouchy hawks. You might call that cruelty, or you might call it karma. According to the movie, those critters only started murdering people because they were literally driven insane after mankind weakened the Earth’s ozone layer. ( Ozone depletion and the products responsible for it had become a serious issue by the 1970s; a 1974 scientific research paper about this very topic won a Nobel Prize for its authors.)

7. Orca (1977) 

“Nature’s greatest pricks.” That’s how Captain Nolan, played by Richard Harris, describes Orcinus orca , a marine mammal better known as the killer whale . He’s got no love for the species; after slaughtering a pregnant female near the coast of Nova Scotia, Nolan is stalked to the ends of the Earth (literally) by its vengeful mate.

Orca was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, who was fresh off his 1976 King Kong remake, starring Jessica Lange. Hoping to outgross Jaws , De Laurentiis ordered scriptwriter Luciano Vincenzoni to “[find] a fish tougher and more terrible than the Great White.” We won’t say how, but at one point in this movie, the titular whale manages to set a coastal village on fire. Oh and while you’re here, keep an eye out for a young Bo Derek, who makes a pre- 10 (1979) appearance in the flick.    

8. Empire of the Ants (1977)

Empire of the Ants is another eco-horror flick inspired by an H.G. Wells story, and it has a lot in common with The Food of the Gods . Both movies are about creatures who grow to unnatural sizes when their diets change; this time we get to see giant ants (“gi-ants?”) that’ve bulked up by eating radioactive waste.

Empire of the Ants and The Food of the Gods were also directed by the same person: B-movie legend Bert I. Gordon. He created the visual effects for both films as well, and Empire tricks the eye by merging close-up ant footage with wider shots of the human characters. “Of course, we never saw our foes [the ants],” said actor Robert Pine in an interview with film historian Tom Weaver. “To show you the importance of the human beings in this picture, there was an 11-week shooting schedule … five weeks for the human beings and six weeks for the ants.” 

9. Piranha (1978) 

How’s this for a backhanded compliment? Steven Spielberg himself called Piranha “the best of the Jaws ripoffs.” Ripoff or not, the 1978 film by director Joe Dante offers up some biting political commentary: It’s all about a Texas river system that gets infested with genetically altered super piranhas .

Turns out, the creatures were top-secret bioweapons the U.S. government had engineered for the Vietnam War. “Our goal was to develop a strain of this killer fish that could survive in cold water and then breed at an accelerated rate,” admits their creator, a beleaguered scientist played by Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) alumnus Kevin McCarthy. One of the hardest scenes to shoot featured actress Belinda Balaski, whose character is dragged underwater and eaten alive. Crew members had to pull her across a swimming pool with a long rope—after she’d already been covered in rubber piranhas . What a trooper!   

10. The Swarm (1978) 

By now, you may have noticed a trend of “nature strikes back” movies that somehow managed to bag celebrity talent. The Swarm cast perennial Oscar darling Sir Michael Caine in the lead role, and his interest was purely financial: Caine said he only took the job because his mother “needed a house to live in.” (He said the same thing for his appearance in 1987’s critically reviled Jaws: The Revenge , claiming: “Then I made Jaws 4 because [my mother] was lonely and I needed to buy her a bigger house, which she could live in with all of her friends. It’s that simple.”)

A box-office bomb about invasive African killer bees, The Swarm had a theatrical runtime of 116 minutes, though a longer, 156-minute cut of the film is now available on home video. It’s estimated that somewhere between 15 million and 22 million live bees were used in the production. Some of them reportedly even pooped on Caine . 

11. Prophecy (1979) 

When a New England paper mill starts illegally dumping mercury, the wildlife doesn’t react too well. Enter Katahdin, a mutated bear who goes after lumberjacks and campers. The carnage eventually leads an EPA representative to the scene, along with his pregnant wife (played by Talia Shire, of Rocky fame).

Though most critics panned this 1979 film from director John Frankenheimer ( The Manchurian Candidate ), it won over novelist Stephen King . “I must admit here that I not only liked Prophecy , I actually saw it three times … For me, settling into Prophecy is as comfortable as settling into an old easy-chair and visiting with good friends,” King wrote in his 1981 nonfiction book, Danse Macabre .

Prophecy helped start the decades-long trend of American films shooting on location in Vancouver, Canada to capitalize on tax incentives and low production costs. Our pal Katahdin is yet another monster brought to life by costumed actors: One of the suit performers who portrayed the beast onscreen was the late Kevin Peter Hall . An actor of great stature, standing over 7 feet tall, Hall would go on to play Harry the lovable sasquatch in Harry and the Hendersons and the man-hunting creatures in the first two Predator movies. 

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75 of the scariest horror movies of all time

scary horror movies

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If horro r is your jam, then we're here to lend a hand (arm ... or leg ) in the goosebump department .

From ghosts and witches to demonic possessions and vampires , we've compiled a comprehensive collection of bone-chilling films sure to leave you shaking in your shoes.

That's right, we've gathered the scariest horror movies of all time including films like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "The Exorcist," "The Ring" and other terrifying tales to help plan a movie marathon that'll leave you checking for monsters and serial killers under the bed.

What makes a proper horror film? Well, according to David E. Tolchinsky, professor of radio-TV-film at Northwestern University, a well-done horror movie is one that has deeply-felt fear at its core.

“Sometimes good horror films aren’t scary when you watch them, but they stay with you for a long time and scare you in your dreams, ” Tolchinsky tells TODAY.com in an email.

Tolchinsky also says that a good horror movie is one that makes you feel uncomfortable or has dramatic effect even without the supernatural elements, like the sadness of a suffering child or failed marriage in “The Sixth Sense” or the racism at the core of “Get Out.”

The bottom line? Whether it's gory, frightening, thrilling or creepy, if it scares the pants off you , mission accomplished.

So, settle in with a bowl of popcorn and get ready to pull the covers over your head because fright night is here ... and there's no turning back. In no particular order, here they are, the scariest horror movies of all time.

'Donnie Darko' (2001)

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) has got issues with just about everyone. Even so, the loner strikes up a love relationship with Gretchen (Jena Malone) and a finds a freaky new pal in the form of a guy dressed up as a rabbit. Yep, you read that right. A bunny. From there it all goes downhill. This 2001 classic horror film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore and Mary McDonnell. This is horror for deep thinkers.

‘Infinity Pool’ (2023)

Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman star as James and Em Foster, a couple enjoying a beach getaway but all is not what it seems at their paradise retreat. There’s a sinister plot involving seduction and death brewing and it’s positively criminal. Who'll make it out alive? The answer might surprise you in this total creeper of a film.

'The Blackening' (2023)

Taking a page from the "Scream" playbook, Dewayne Perkins' "The Blackening" pokes fun at horror movie tropes while scaring the pants off you at the same time. The plot revolves around a group of friends who vacation together over the long Juneteenth weekend only to discover they're being stalked by a serial killer on a deadly mission.

'Knock at the Cabin' (2023)

What would you do if you were asked to save the world, but at the cost of your family's lives? "Knock at the Cabin" poses exactly that question and learning the answer will keep you on the edge of your seat. This M. Night Shyamalan thriller stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge.

'The Menu' (2022)

Starring Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy, fine dining has never been more terrifying than in "The Menu," a horror movie and dark comedy that explores just how far a chef is willing to go to prepare a one-of-a-kind meal.

'M3GAN' (2022)

After Cady (Violet McGraw) loses her parents in a tragic car crash, her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) creates Megan, an AI toy companion to keep Cady safe from harm. Before long, Megan develops a mind of her own. Anyone who gets in her way better watch out.

'Scream VI' (2023)

Courtney Cox reprises her role of Gale Weathers in "Scream VI," the sixth installment in the "Scream" franchise. She's joined by Jenna Ortega playing Tara Carpenter and the pair, along with other Ghostface survivors, attempt to make a fresh start. But, of course, things don't go as planned after Ghostface resurfaces yet again.

'The Invisible Man' (2020)

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), flees an abusive relationship only to discover that despite the death of her controlling ex-lover, she still can't escape his torment. What Cecilia can't see might be more terrifying than what she can.

'It Follows' (2014)

A teen hookup results in abduction and a sinister curse that only ends when passed on to someone else. High-schooler Jay Height (Maika Monroe) must beat the clock and fend off supernatural stalkers if she hopes to survive.

'Jacob's Ladder' (1990)

"Fatal Attraction" director Adrian Lyne presents this 1990 horror film about Jacob Singer, a Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) who struggles to separate reality from his tortured past. Verging on the edge of madness, Singer attempts to discover the truth about who he is and how to stop the nightmares.

This recent release from A24 takes place in 1979 and follows a group of young filmmakers who travel to a remote cabin in Texas in order to make an adult movie. Things go nightmarishly wrong when their elderly hosts turn out to be anything but welcoming.

'Nope' (2022)

Brother and sister horse wranglers, Otis and Emerald Haywood, investigate some supernatural happenings and try to capture evidence of UFOs in Jordan Peele's sci-fi thriller "Nope."

'Halloween' (1978)

Nearly 45 years after its release, John Carpenter's "Halloween" still remains the gold standard for all horror movies. After escaping from a mental hospital, Michael Myers returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night and goes from house to house on a bloody killing spree.

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968)

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her actor husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into a new apartment on Central Park to start a family. Things go south, however, shortly after Rosemary becomes pregnant. Something’s brewing in the neighborhood and it just might be satan. Ruth Gordon and Ralph Bellamy also star in this 1968 classic.

'Prometheus' (2012)

Ridley Scott directs this prequel to "Alien," a deep-space expedition to a distant planet goes awry when scientists discover an ancient alien species known as "The Engineers." Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba star in this sci-fi horror film.

'Orphan' (2009)

After losing a child, Kate and John Coleman (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) adopt 9-year-old Esther. It all seems too good to be true until it's discovered that Esther isn't what she seems. At all. Manipulative and sociopathic, Esther has her own hidden agenda and soon everyone's lives are in danger.

'Orphan: First Kill' (2022)

Born with a rare disorder that makes her appear much younger than she is, Leena (Isabelle Fuhrman) escapes from an Estonian psych ward. She heads to the U.S. where she assumes the false identity of "Esther," the missing daughter of wealthy couple Tricia and Allen Albright (Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland).

‘Alien’ (1979)

In space, no one can hear you scream — and everyone’s screaming, like a lot in this sci-fi horror movie that stars Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, an astronaut battling a shape-shifting stowaway.

'The Exorcist' (1973)

Made nearly 50 years ago, "The Exorcist" still holds up and remains one of the scariest movies of all time. It's film that you can't unsee once you've seen it — including Regan's (Linda Blair) 180-degree head turn. Truly terrifying, the plot revolves around a young girl who becomes possessed by an evil demon.

'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)

The flesh-eating zombie movie that launched a thousand imitations, George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" remains just as gruesome and unsettling as it was back in 1968. The original black-and-white version remains the best, so don't settle for anything else.

'Hereditary' (2018)

If you've ever enjoyed sticking your head out the window while riding in a car, you will absolutely never do it again after watching "Hereditary." Starring Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne, this horror movie is beyond disturbing. But it also gets at universal themes, like what we inherit from our family and parts our ourselves we can't run away from.

'The Witch' (2015)

In 17th-century New England, a Puritan family settles on an isolated patch of land near a forest inhabited by a witch. An infant goes missing. Then, the family's eldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) starts acting ... strange. This takes the whole Hansel-and-Gretel thing to a new level.

'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' (1974)

Don't even think about eating before watching this gruesome '70s horror movie about a family that makes a career out of carving strangers up with a chainsaw. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is a staple in the slasher horror genre, so prepare yourself before meeting the villain called "Leatherface."

'Midsommer' (2019)

During the eternal daylight of Sweden's summer season, a small village celebrates its once-every-90-years summer festival. A group of vacationing friends travel to the town to participate only to find out that the festival activities are more grisly than they could have ever imagined.

'The Cabin in the Woods' (2011)

A friends' getaway to a remote cabin in the woods turns into a nightmare after it becomes overrun with killer zombies. To make matters worse, it's all part of a sinister science experiment controlled by an underground laboratory.

'Us' (2019)

A relaxing beach trip turns into the fight of their lives after an unsuspecting family is stalked by murderous versions of themselves. This Jordan Peele film is a masterclass in suspense and mystery. Who are the tethered? What do they want? What do they say about human nature? These are the questions you'll be chewing on. And you'll never listen to the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" the same way again. Promise.

'Hellraiser' (1987)

With tons of truly horrifying imagery and torture, this '80s horror film is about a puzzle box that unleashes a group of demons looking for blood and flesh sacrifices.

'Saw' (2004)

Two men wake up imprisoned in a strange bathroom, a dead body between them, and no idea how they got there. It's all part of the Jigsaw Serial Killer's sadistic plan that involves – yep, you guessed it – the grisly use of a hacksaw.

'Evil Dead' (1981)

There are no holds barred in this '80s horror classic. Chock full of completely gory, gruesome scenes, the plot revolves around a group of friends who plan a retreat at a remote cabin in the Tennessee woods and, as so often happens in horror movies, they accidentally wake the dead while they're at it.

'An American Werewolf in London' (1981)

A backpacking trip in Britain gets, uh, hairy after two Americans are attacked by an unidentifiable creature while walking at night. During a full moon. One dies, the other is injured, and instead of getting better, he discovers a whole new set of problems. “An American Werewolf in London” is the first film to win an Oscar for “Best Make-up,” a category created the same year the movie was released.

'The Conjuring' (2013)

"The Conjuring" is based on the real-life work of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson play the paranormal investigators in this movie — and in all its many sequels, including an entire spin-off about a demonic doll.

‘The Conjuring 2’ (2016)

In this 2016 sequel to "The Conjuring," ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren travel across the Atlantic to help a London mom with a frightening supernatural problem. An evil spirit has been haunting her home and, worse, possessing her children. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star in "The Conjuring 2."

'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)

Along with "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th," "Nightmare on Elm Street" is a seminal addition to the slasher film genre. Freddie Krueger, the series' razor-blade-gloved murderer, is a horror icon. This is a must for anyone looking to check off all the horror movie classics.

'The Ring' (2002)

If you watch it, you're dead within seven days. Journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) seeks to understand why when her niece and three friends die mysteriously after viewing the "cursed" videotape. Of course, she watches it, then must beat the clock in order to survive. It's worth watching both the American remake and the 1998 Japanese original.

'It' (2017)

This Stephen King movie (adapted from the book by the same name), is a PSA on why to never, ever allow your paper boat to be swept into a storm drain. Every 27 years, It emerges to prey on the people of Derry, Maine. The most recent "It" adaptation divides King's long novel into two parts: One following a group of middle schoolers taking down the monster, and another when they're adults summoned back to do it all over again.

'The Fly' (1986)

Years before Jeff Goldblum played a mathematician in "Jurassic Park," he played a scientist in "The Fly" who inadvertently swaps DNA with a fly and, in extremely gruesome detail, becomes one.

'Insidious' (2010)

After moving into a new house, the Lambert family's oldest son, Dalton, suffers a fall that leaves him in a coma. In the months that follow, supernatural events begin to occur. Despite moving houses again, the family's troubles persist until a ghost hunter figures out that Dalton is captive in an alternate realm called "The Further."

'Child's Play' (1988)

It goes without saying that dolls with knives are unsettling — and "Chucky" sets the mold. Chucky is a red-headed toy possessed by a serial killer on a mission to murder everyone it encounters.

'Sinister' (2012)

Writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and his young family move into a new house, but only Ellison knows that it's the scene of a ghastly murder. Horrible things happen after he discovers a box of snuff films in the attic and Ellison soon realizes his family is caught in a "sinister" plan.

'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

Three film students traipse out into the Maryland woods looking for a mythical witch and find way more than they bargained for. Meta and scary, "The Blair Witch Project" is a horror-film must. An indie film, "The Blair Witch Project" cost only $60,000 to produce and went on to earn nearly $250 million at the box office.

'Cloverfield' (2008)

Filmed cinéma vérité style, this "found-footage" movie chronicles a group of friends and their desperate attempt to stay alive after an alien-like monster attacks New York City.

'10 Cloverfield Lane' (2016)

The unofficial sequel to "Cloverfield," this follow-up features John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as survivors of the alien apocalypse, trapped together in an underground bunker. A tense psychological thriller, the film will keep you guessing right up until the end.

'The Haunting' (1999)

"The Haunting" follows a group of insomniacs who stay at a spooky old mansion as part of a sleep study. When the lights turn off, that's when they realize they're not alone in the mansion.

'Paranormal Activity' (2007)

Another horror movie filmed in a "found footage" style, "Paranormal Activity" is about Micah and Katie, a husband and wife who find themselves at the mercy of a demon who stalks them as they sleep.

'Friday the 13th' (1980)

Kill, kill, kill ... now, now, now. An evil serial killer wearing a hockey mask is murdering the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, one by one. Is it the ghost of Jason, a young boy who drowned in the lake years before? Or something much worse? This 1980 film features Kevin Bacon as a young camp counselor prior to his breakout role as "Ren" in the movie "Footloose."

'Friday the 13th Part 2' (1981)

The second movie in the "Friday the 13th" franchise ends up being nearly as fun as the first when sole-surviving camp counselor, Alice, returns to Camp Crystal Lake only to find out that the murdering is far from over.

'War of the Worlds' (2005)

What begins as a freaky lightening storm turns out to be the end of the world in this sci-fi horror film, which features alien octopods rising from the ground and using human blood to fertilize the earth ... and Tom Cruise in a starring role.

'The Babadook' (2014)

After reading a terrifying bedtime story about a boogie monster named "Mister Babadook," a son and his mother discover that he's real – and living in their house.

'Scream' (1996)

Wes Craven, writer and director of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," directs this 1996 horror film that parodies other horror films. Playing off slasher film tropes (think "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th), "Scream" pokes fun at the genre, while still being a worthy contender.

'The Thing' (1982)

If you're planning a trip to Antarctica, "The Thing" is sure to make you reconsider. An old-school classic, this scary horror movie stars Kurt Russell as MacReady, an arctic researcher trapped with a killer alien able to disguise itself as his teammates.

'The Shining' (1980)

All work and no play makes Jack (Jack Nicholson) a dull boy and, unfortunately, it also puts him in an extremely bad mood. Maybe it's the work — or maybe it's the spirits at the Overlook Hotel, where Jack and his family are staying over the course of a long winter. Stanley Kubrick's 1980 take on Stephen King's book "The Shining" is both thought-provoking and scary.

'The Lost Boys' (1987)

There's only one problem with living in the California beach town of Santa Carla – all the damn vampires. Campy, scary and gory, "The Lost Boys" is a classic.

'A Quiet Place' (2018)

What's worse than aliens taking over the world? Aliens with super-sonic hearing that take over the world, then killing anything that makes a sound. This is unfortunate for Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) who must protect their young family – and keep them extremely quiet – if they hope to survive.

'Salem's Lot' (1979)

A two-part miniseries released in the '70s, "Salem's Lot" is based on the Stephen King novel by the same name and is available to stream on Amazon . Despite being a bit dated, it still packs some super-serious scares in this tale of a small New England town overrun by vampires.

‘Get Out’ (2017)

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is heading to meet his girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents for the first time. And if he's being honest, things feel kind of weird. This groundbreaking Jordan Peele movie, which is also a commentary on race in the U.S., is a good reminder of why you should always listen to that little warning voice in your head telling you something's wrong, before it's too late.

'The Amityville Horror' (1979)

Before putting a deposit down on your dream house, make sure there isn't a massive fly infestation or pig with glowing eyes floating outside your bedroom window. More important, however, double check with the realtor that no mass murders have occurred there that'll lead to evil spirits stalking your family, as what happens in "The Amityville Horror," inspired by a real crime.

'The Mothman Prophecies' (2002)

This slow-burn horror movie, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, isn't full of gore or jump-scares. Instead, it's a psychological thriller that promises to haunt you for days, maybe weeks, after watching it.

'What Lies Beneath' (2000)

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a husband and wife who own a very nice lakeside cottage. Too bad it's haunted – or at least Pfeiffer thinks it is. Apparitions appear and supernatural events occur, but only when she's by herself. Are they real or is it all in her head?

'Psycho' (1960)

After absconding with $40,000, an embezzling woman books a room at a motel managed by a guy with significant mommy issues. Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" defines the horror movie genre along with rendering showers unsafe for the rest of all time.

"The Sixth Sense" (1999)

Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) sees dead people. A lot of them, actually. That's when child psychologist, Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) intervenes to help. If the twist hasn't been spoiled for you, watch it before it is.

'Signs' (2002)

Turns out farms can be surprisingly scary places, especially when uninvited visitors hide among the corn stalks and your baby monitor picks up transmissions from outer space. This M. Night Shyamalan film is a terse, sci-fi thriller.

'World War Z' (2013)

From start to finish, it's nonstop action in this epic battle between the dead and undead. Brad Pitt stars as a United Nations investigator who must figure out how to stop the zombie apocalypse before it's too late.

'Fright Night' (1985)

What's the deal with Charley's (William Ragsdale) creepy new neighbors? They keep strange hours and own a coffin for starters. Beyond that, a lot of women are turning up dead in mysterious ways. Are his neighbors — gasp — vampires? Charley enlists the help of a vampire hunter to find out.

'Poltergeist' (1982)

All is well with the Freeling family, until youngest daughter, Carol Anne, starts a conversation with a blank TV screen. In this movie written by Steven Spielberg, the Freelings rely on each other to survive their newly-haunted house.

'The Omen' (1976)

Is it a girl, a boy or the antichrist? Unfortunately, for Robert and Katherine Thorn (Gregory Peck and Lee Remick), the result is not the one they're hoping for Born with the devil's "666" on his head, it seems the couple's adopted son isn't just difficult, but comes to them straight from hell.

'The Descent' (2005)

A group of women head to the Appalachian Mountains to go cave-diving and end up trapped inside a cave after it collapses. As they try and navigate their escape, they discover that they're not alone down there. The movie is chilly, and not only because it's set in a cave.

'Candyman' (1992)

Within the mythology of this movie, saying the name "Candyman" five times while looking in a mirror unleashes a throat-slashing monster. Still, everyone does it anyway to find out if the urban legend is real, including research student, Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), who finds out the hard way that it is. "Candyman" was remade in 2021.

'The Purge' (2013)

America is a crime-free utopia thanks to once-a-year "purge" that allows people to commit any and all crimes (including murder) during a 12-hour grace period known as "the purge." Ethan Hawke stars as a wealthy businessman who must protect his family when their security measures fail.

'28 Days Later' (2002)

After a chimp carrying a deadly virus is freed from an experimental lab, the world pretty much dies off in 28 days, except a handful of survivors, including Cillian Murphy ("Peaky Blinders"). Along the lines of the "Walking Dead" or "I am Legend," it's kill or be killed in this zombie flick.

'The Ritual' (2017)

When one of their friends is murdered in a robbery, a group of men take a hiking trip to Sweden in his honor. Things deteriorate after they become lost in the woods and realize they're being hunted by a sadistic cult seeking human sacrifices.

'Fresh' (2022)

This recent release stars Daisy Edgar Jones as Noa, a young woman trying to navigate the dating scene. After finally meeting the perfect guy, she discovers he wants something more from her than just a relationship. He wants her flesh. Heads up, the "ew" factor is off the charts with this one.

'The Strangers' (2008)

After attending a wedding, a couple stays at a remote vacation home which turns nightmarish when they're assaulted by a trio of strangers bent on murder and mayhem. "The Strangers" plays on the palpable fear of a home invasion.

'The Haunting in Connecticut' (2009)

Problems arise after a family moves to a Victorian home that once served as a funeral parlor. From ghostly apparitions to unexplained injuries, things unravel as supernatural forces take over.

'The Black Phone' (2021)

Finney (Mason Thames), a 13-year-old boy, is abducted by “The Grabber,” a crazed child-killer (Ethan Hawke), who locks him in a basement with a mysterious black phone. Even though it’s disconnected, the phone rings and Finney discovers that all its callers are all unearthly.

'Hush' (2016)

A bout with bacterial meningitis leaves Maddie (Kate Siegel) deaf and mute at the age of 13. After penning a successful novel, Maddie leaves New York City for a desolate cabin in the woods where she’s stalked by a masked killer bent on making her his next victim.

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Sarah is a lifestyle and entertainment reporter for TODAY who covers holidays, celebrities and everything in between.

15 Best Paranormal Movies That Will Haunt You in Your Sleep

Not for the faint of heart!

Horror stands as one of cinema's oldest and most ambitious genres, and it has cultivated a passionate fan following off the back of its ability to leave viewers a terrified, trembling mess. One of its most viscerally horrifying subgenres comes in the form of paranormal movies, with films focusing on unnatural beings like ghosts, spirits, and demons which invade our nightmares and pique our superstitions and fears.

With impeccable special effects, agonizingly suspenseful storytelling, and an ingrained sense of terror that forces us to keep watching no matter how much we want to look away, great paranormal horror films have served as one of the genre's defining pillars for decades . From timeless classics from over 50 years ago to modern masterworks that reinvent the terror for new generations, it was much more than mere jump scares that made these films the iconic hits that they are today.

15 'The Others' (2001)

Directed by alejandro amenábar.

A twisty, winding psychological horror, The Others excelled as a subversive haunted house horror movie that coasted on Nicole Kidman ’s compelling central performance. Taking place in 1945, it follows a devoted Catholic who moves to the English coast with her two young children who suffer from a rare photosensitivity disease while waiting for word on her husband in the war. As odd occurrences start to transpire around the house, Grace (Kidman) starts to believe something paranormal could be at work.

With an elegance that isn’t necessarily characteristic of horror, not to mention an intelligent and engrossing screenplay to boot, The Others excelled with its narrative nous alone. However, with The Others also boasting a magnetic, atmospheric chill that can have an immersive effect , it is shocking as it is tight and tidy to be an impressive and underrated horror flick.

Rent on Amazon Prime

14 'Suspiria' (1977)

Directed by dario argento.

One of the greatest horror movies of the 1970s which distinguished itself with a rich sense of style, Suspiria has become a true classic of the genre. It follows Suzy Bannion ( Jessica Harper ), an aspiring ballerina from America who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy, where her stay becomes plagued as a mysterious and malevolent entity haunts the establishment, sparking an idea that a supernatural conspiracy could be at play.

While the film has some genuinely unnerving scenes, what truly made it stick in the viewers’ minds was its breathtaking visual display, with Dario Argento using color to striking effect , creating a surreal atmosphere of gripping intensity. The end result is a strangely beautiful horror film that excels as an aesthetically entrancing masterpiece with a solid horror story to boot.

Watch on Tubi

13 'Poltergeist' (1982)

Directed by tobe hooper.

Poltergeist made television a thing to be feared. When the youngest of the Freeling family, Carol Anne ( Heather O'Rourke ) begins chatting with the static on the TV, there is something wrong. Eventually, the rest of the house becomes a horror show as well and it is overrun by malevolent ghosts who want to abduct Carol Anne.

Released in 1982, Poltergeist has become a timeless horror classic with its consistently terrifying tone which remains just as scary today as it was the day it was released. In addition to being a terrific paranormal horror film, Poltergeist is also one of the all-time great haunted house movies , one that not only gave viewers nightmares, but left them in a cold sweat when their television sets went to static as well.

Poltergeist

Rent on Apple TV

12 'Smile' (2022)

Directed by parker finn.

The directorial debut of Parker Finn , adapting his 2020 short film Laura Hasn't Slept into a feature-length horror hit, Smile proved to be incredibly effective as an unnerving, creepy demon possession flick. It follows Rose ( Sosie Bacon ), a psychiatrist who believes she is being haunted by a supernatural threat after she witnesses the bizarre and harrowing suicide of one of her patients.

Smile 's use of jump scares, mounting suspense, and eerily off-putting performances offered more than enough horror to keep audiences awake at night for fear of what they would see in their dreams. As a fresh entry into the world of horror cinema, Smile was a landmark box office success, making well over $200 million worldwide, and has a sequel scheduled to be released in October .

Watch on Amazon Prime

11 'Last Night in Soho' (2021)

Directed by edgar wright.

While it isn't classified as a horror film, Edgar Wright 's ghost story draws clear inspiration from the genre while creeping under audiences' skin with much more than just evil spirits. Last Night in Soho follows Eloise ( Thomasin McKenzie ) a clairvoyant girl who moves to London to attend a fashion course at an illustrious arts school where her connection to the area's ugly past threatens to drive her mad as she begins experiencing the life of an aspiring singer who had her room in the 1960s.

While the film's ghoulish, faceless ghosts can certainly garner a fright, it's Last Night in Soho 's thematic focus on misogyny and abuse that made it particularly striking . It also didn't hurt that the film had a spectacular soundtrack of '60s hits , flaunted Wright's trademark dedication to style, and served as a wonderful testament to classic horror which fans could both adore and fear.

Last Night in Soho

10 'talk to me' (2023), directed by danny and michael phillipou.

The modern age of horror cinema has seen a number of stunning instant classics arise, but few have had such immediate success as Talk to Me . Following a group of friends as they conjure spirits with an embalmed hand for thrills, its sudden shift to paranormal terror has entrenched it among the best and most popular horror movies to be made in recent years.

The debut film of Michael and Danny Philippou , it hearkens back to classic horror movies from decades past while being imbued with some new ideas that make it completely of its time. Further enhanced by its aspirational dramatic heft, Talk to Me is a deeply unsettling film capable of rattling even the most hardened horror fans and is destined to become one of the best paranormal horror movies, if not of all time, then of its era at the very least.

Rent on Amazon

9 'Paranormal Activity' (2007)

Directed by oren peli.

An ingenious mix of simple yet suspenseful narrative, low-budget innovation, and the haunting, invasive feeling exuded from its home-camera gimmick, Paranormal Activity is a true masterpiece of found footage horror . As one of the 21st century's earlier horror hits, it focuses on a young couple who move into a new house where a series of strange happenings inspire Micah ( Micah Sloat ) to set up cameras to document what is occurring.

Steadily building the tension as the weird events that occur become increasingly hostile, much of the film's agonizing torment actually stemmed from the lingering moments where nothing was happening. A stressful, heart-stopping horror film, Paranormal Activity remains an acclaimed hit of the genre and one of the most intense and terrifying paranormal horror films of all time.

Paranormal Activity

Watch on Max

8 'The Ring' (2002)

Directed by gore verbinski.

An American adaptation of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu , The Ring fast became a horror hit in the early 2000s. It follows Rachel ( Naomi Watts ), a journalist covering the death of four teenage girls who investigates a cursed videotape that kills people seven days after they watch it, and must find answers to save herself after she views it out of curiosity.

Fascinatingly, the film went into production without a finished script, but it found momentum in Gore Verbinski's arresting atmospheric suspense and Watts' outstanding central performance . The Ring tapped into the internet phenomenon of chain mail horror years before it bled into the mainstream consciousness, becoming a superstitious, paranormal hit of urban legend terror and nightmarish visual terror.

7 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)

Directed by roman polanski.

A true timeless classic of horror cinema which was famous for its terrifying, psychological impact which saw it linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled, Rosemary's Baby mixes demonic horror with family drama to horrifying effect . It focuses on Rosemary Woodhouse ( Mia Farrow ), the wife of a stage actor who moves into an apartment building with her husband where strange occurrences plague her as she falls pregnant, leading her to grow suspicious of her neighbors.

With a violent and overbearing satanism an underlying threat throughout Rosemary's Baby , it gradually builds a sickening dread as the sinister plot of the complex’s tenants unfolds. Powered by Farrow’s phenomenal central performance, Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t just thrive as one of the scariest paranormal movies of all time, but as a great example of female-led cinema as well.

Rosemary's Baby

Watch on Paramount+

6 'The Conjuring' (2013)

Directed by james wan.

Throughout the 2010s, the horror genre had a massive resurgence, with more genre films becoming mainstream hits the longer the decade went on. One of the great, early major success stories for 2010s horror was 2013's The Conjuring which follows a family who move into a haunted house and turn to demonologists Ed ( Patrick Wilson ) and Lorraine Warren ( Vera Farmiga ) to investigate the curse's origin.

A suitably terrifying picture, The Conjuring is a flawless example of haunted house horror and proved to be such a hit with fans that it spawned a successful extended franchise. Further adding to the nightmarish horror of the demonic evil and the visual frights, The Conjuring was reportedly based on true events that the real-life Warrens investigated in the 1970s.

The Conjuring

5 'the babadook' (2014), directed by jennifer kent.

A cult hit of an Australian horror movie that has gradually built up its audience as the years have gone on, The Babadook served as the directorial debut of Jennifer Kent . Following a widowed single mother as her son begins to act strange and speaks of a monster coming to get him, it focuses on an ominous picture book called "Mister Babadook" and the monstrous evil that comes to life from within it.

The film won international praise not only for its horror mastery, but also for its depiction of grief and loss which gave it a heart-wrenching story of family woe as its core. As for its terrifying magnificence though, Kent masterfully manufactured a truly shaking horror film without having to rely on jump scares or copious gore to leave audiences dreading the titular villain long after the movie had finished.

The Babadook

Watch on Hulu

4 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

Directed by eduardo sánchez and daniel myrick.

Still standing as the magnum opus of the found-footage subgenre over two decades after its release, The Blair Witch Project remains one of the most viscerally terrifying movies ever made. It follows three film students who seek to make a documentary about the legend of the Blair Witch, and venture into the supposedly haunted woods to find out more about the myth only to find themselves lost and being stalked by a wicked and malevolent force.

The low-budget documentary approach gave The Blair Witch Project a jarring, grounded realism which elevated the horror by only giving audiences a very narrow viewpoint of what was unfolding. It allowed the imagination to run wild with all manner of dreadful thoughts, and also led to a very real sense of motion sickness which made many patrons in theaters physically ill .

The Blair Witch Project

3 'hereditary' (2018), directed by ari aster.

A groundbreaking debut from modern horror maestro Ari Aster , Hereditary became an instant classic with a startling reputation as being one of the greatest and scariest movies ever made . The famed horror flick follows a grieving family mourning the loss of an elderly relative who begins to fear they are being haunted by a demonic entity as they discover more of their disturbing ancestry amid a series of worrying occurrences.

The narrative takes some deeply disturbing turns to build an unbearable sense of dread which serves as an embodiment of nightmarish terror. Hereditary 's commentary on loss, guilt, and family is brilliant, not only in its depth but also in how it works into the horror , further enhancing it as the story unfolds right up until its scarring ending which has undoubtedly led to nightmares for millions of viewers around the world and marked Hereditary as one of the best supernatural horror movies ever made.

2 The Shining (1980)

Directed by stanley kubrick.

As one of the most renowned horror movies of all time, The Shining has endured for decades as a genre-defining masterpiece capable of generating an immense and weighted sense of dread that hangs heavy over the audience. From acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick , it follows a young family who relocates to the remote Overlook Hotel to serve as the resort’s winter caretakers where the patriarch begins to go mad as the hotel’s violent intent unravels.

With a runtime of 146 minutes, the film utilizes an agonizingly slow pace to draw out every ounce of dread and eerie suspense. It may not be the most immediately terrifying movie, but The Shining does prove to be an exhausting, lingering nightmare that can haunt viewers long after the credits roll .

The Shining

1 'the exorcist' (1973), directed by william friedkin.

When young Regan ( Linda Blair ) becomes possessed by a demon, her family calls for an exorcism to vanquish the evil. As Regan's condition worsens, she wreaks havoc on her household as she battles the demon for power over her very being, all while two Catholic priests work tirelessly to exorcise the demon from her body.

The Exorcist broke barriers for the genre, becoming an instant and lasting phenomenon that incited widespread fanfare and spectacle while also inspiring derision and even legends of a cursed production. Despite all the hysteria surrounding the film though, the one thing about The Exorcist that has endured is its masterful execution of paranormal horror, something that has made the movie the scariest film of all time in the eyes of many who have seen it.

The Exorcist

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22 Best Horror Movies to Watch for a Good Scare - Netflix Tudum

Horror Movies to Stream

22 Horror Movies to Watch When You Want a Good Scare

Horror never goes out of style, but the genre has become one of Hollywood’s most reliable moneymakers in recent years, lighting up the box office and giving viewers at home endless options for crowd-pleasing frights. It’s full of rich traditions that can be resurrected, reinvented, or subverted entirely. Some of the best directors working today are horror acolytes who  have an uncanny ability to scare the masses . 

David Harbour in 'We Have A Ghost'

Whether you want a classic ghost story, a thought-provoking social thriller, or an unbridled adrenaline rush, we’ve got you covered. These 22 films are best watched at night with the lights turned off. Just be careful not to spill your popcorn everywhere when you leap off the couch in terror. 

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two people standing on the porch of a dilapidated house.

If you want to watch a found footage horror movie…

Creep

Mark Duplass and director Patrick Brice put an invigorating spin on the 2010s’ found footage craze with  Creep , a two-hander about a videographer (Duplass) hired to record what he’s told is a diary meant for a dying man’s (Brice) unborn child. At first, the guy seems charming. Then his eerie eccentricities start to show, and a sense of dread takes over. Maybe he’s not who he says at all.  In a taut 77 minutes, Creep  becomes an ominous battle of wills between two strangers in a dimly lit house. ( Its sequel , starring Desiree Akhavan, is also available on Netflix.)

If you want to a watch a classic horror movie…

Jaws

Nothing would be the same without  Jaws — not summer blockbusters, not Steven Spielberg’s career, not the intense fear some people still have of the ocean. The two-note theme that signals the shark’s approach is still one of the scariest pieces of music ever written. But what’s most striking about  Jaws all these years later is how withholding it is. The movie is a slow burn, concentrating on character building over cheap thrills. A lot of it is just three guys swapping stories on a boat. That makes it all the more startling. Like the worst fears,  Jaws ’   menace can come when you least expect it. 

If you want to watch a funny horror movie…

David Harbour in We Have a Ghost.

We Have a Ghost

Happy Death Day ,  Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse and  Freaky established Christopher Landon as one of the best directors of horror comedies working today. His ability to blend teen-friendly screams with sophisticated meta commentary about the genre makes him a perfect fit for  We Have a Ghost , which Landon adapted from a short story by Geoff Manaugh. It’s about a family that moves into a home  with a (mostly) friendly poltergeist (David Harbour) residing in the attic. Rising star Jahi Di’Allo Winston ( Queen & Slim ) plays the lead, with Anthony Mackie as his father,  Jennifer Coolidge as a big-haired TV medium and Tig Notaro as a horror writer determined to capture the ghost. 

 Jamie Foxx as Bud in Day Shift.

Jamie Foxx as a pool cleaner whose real calling is hunting vampires? Yes please. J.J. Perry, a mixed martial arts master and longtime stuntman with movie credits that include  Mortal Kombat  and  Iron Man ,   made his directorial debut with this raucous romp. In order to get out of debt and pay for his daughter’s tuition, Foxx’s hard-up Bud Jablonski must return to his slaying ways. He recruits an old buddy (Snoop Dogg) to help him out, and from there, Bud’s anti-bloodsucking adventures escalate. By the time a vampire ( Karla Souza from  How to Get Away with Murder ,  also available on Netflix ) captures his family, Bud means business. 

Vampires vs. the Bronx

Vampires vs. the Bronx

Lorne Michaels produced this acclaimed romp, so you know its comedy plaudits are legitimate. Really, though:  Vampires vs. the Bronx is a hilarious and clever standoff between a group of winsome teenagers and the bloodsuckers that have invaded the titular New York City borough where they live. Plenty of horror hits lean on social commentary, but   this one tackles gentrification in ways that actually feel novel. It’s also incredibly charismatic, brimming with jokes that keep the messages from feeling too heavy-handed. 

If you want to watch a supernatural horror movie…

Lili Sepe and Maika Monroe in It Follows.

It Follows helped to set off a wave of horror  indies that made the 2010s a landmark decade for the genre. The premise came to writer-director David Robert Mitchell through a recurring nightmare, which he spun into a movie indebted to  Night of the Living Dead  and  Halloween . Shape-shifting, zombielike specters stalk one college student after the next, passed along like an STI until their vulnerable targets can find a way to stave them off. The film has an edge-of-your-seat unpredictability that treats terror as an everyday menace.  It Follows also provided a breakout role for lead actor Maika Monroe, who has since appeared in  Honey Boy and  Watcher . 

Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak.

Crimson Peak

Guillermo del Toro has made monster movies his signature, but he went in a ghostlier direction with  Crimson Peak.  One of the most opulent haunted-house movies ever made, it’s a gothic saga in the style of Henry James. Mia Wasikowska plays an early 20th-century novelist whisked away by a handsome suitor (Tom Hiddleston) who lives in a spooky mansion with his demented sister ( Jessica Chastain ). Dark things have happened there, and they will continue to happen when Wasikowska arrives. As del Toro’s work tends to go,  Crimson Peak is a parade of immaculate production design that emphasizes the romantic and the grotesque in equal measure. 

Ruth Wilson in I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

Oz Perkins is best known as Dorky David from  Legally Blonde , but he’s also a gifted horror director — a fitting career path for the son of Anthony Perkins, aka Norman Bates himself. His second feature, after 2015’s  The Blackcoat’s Daughter , follows a live-in nurse (Ruth Wilson) caring for a novelist (Paula Prentiss) who spends her final days in a large, remote house. During her stay, the caretaker discovers ghostly secrets nestled throughout the estate.  I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House , which Perkins wrote while processing his relationship with his own father, is an atmospheric slow burn brimming with gothic tension. 

Avin Manshadi and Narges Rashidi in Under the Shadow.

Under the Shadow

Under the Shadow debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, after which it became one of the most celebrated horror movies of 2016. It’s a politically conscious supernatural story about a former medical student (Narges Rashidi) in war-torn Iran. When her young daughter (Avin Manshadi) insists that she senses some sort of insidious spirit in their house, things start to go bump in the night. Blending Islamic mythology and real-world terrors,  Under the Shadow is guaranteed to induce chills with its nightmarish take on oppression. 

Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù as Bol Majur in His House.

Another splashy Sundance title with political undercurrents,  His House  follows a Sudanese family who seek asylum in Britain. The home where they take shelter is a decaying shanty on the outskirts of London, surrounded by racist neighbors and paranormal sights. Wunmi Mosaku received a BAFTA nomination for her performance as a mother striving to preserve her native culture while assimilating within a community that doesn’t want her there. Her character’s fear is palpable, with possible terrors lurking in every corridor. This is a haunted-house movie with grand thematic significance that never skimps on the subgenre’s creeping pleasures. 

If you want to watch a slasher horror movie…

Maya Hawke as Heather in Fear Street Part 1: 1994.

Fear Street Part 1: 1994

Sink your teeth into the first entry in Netflix’s trilogy based on R.L. Stine’s popular book series. Leigh Janiak directed all three movies, winning praise for her invigorating take on the paranormal frights Stine unleashed upon the fictional town of Shadyside. An ancient witch’s curse plagues the city, where a group of teenagers must ward off resurrected killers in between mall hangouts.  Fear Street Part 2 winds back to 1978, and  Part 3 returns to Puritan times to explore the black magic that was a prelude to Shadyside’s murderous murk. 

The Strangers

The Strangers

If you’ve seen the slasher classics —  Halloween and  A Nightmare on Elm Street and the like — you’ve more or less seen them all. Try as they might, movies have struggled to reinvigorate this grisly subgenre.  The Strangers is a key exception. Where most slasher films focus on the body count, this one is all about quiet suspense. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a strained couple spending time at a remote cabin where three masked intruders come a-knockin’ late at night. Over 85 terrifying minutes, these perpetually calm killers stalk the pair through their property simply because, well, they can.  The Strangers twists the notion that anyone is ever truly safe behind closed doors, and what’s scarier than that? 

Ma

Sue Ann Ellington is not your average serial killer. She’s really just an opportunist with a highly specific vendetta dating back to high school. So she befriends a group of teenagers, insists they call her “Ma,” hosts ragers in her basement, and then slowly uses the kids to enact an elaborate revenge scheme best left unspoiled. As the eponymous villain, Octavia Spencer plasters on a smile that’s frightening in the way it conceals the simmering rage that emerges as things escalate.  Ma was directed by Spencer’s longtime friend Tate Taylor, who also cast her in  The Help  and  Get on Up .  

Sydney Park as Makani Young in There’s Someone Inside Your House.

There’s Someone Inside Your House

After establishing his horror bona fides with the  Creep  movies, director Patrick Brice went full-throttle on the slasher genre. The aptly titled  There’s Someone Inside Your House ,  adapted from a 2017 novel of the same name by Stephanie Perkins, follows an exchange student (Sydney Park) who’s still adjusting to life in a new town when her classmates start getting slaughtered left and right. High school, with its pent-up emotions and impressionable teenagers, has always been the perfect backdrop for a serial-killer showdown. These particular murders contain an added bite because the assassin wears masks that resemble the faces of the victims. 

If you want to watch a psychological horror movie…

Carla Gugino in Gerald’s Game.

Gerald’s Game

Like many who have read the Stephen King novel, director  Mike Flanagan once called  Gerald’s Game  “unfilmable.” But he pulled off the impossible, adapting a book that largely takes place inside the protagonist’s head. That would be Jessie Burlingame ( The Fall of the House of Usher ’s Carla Gugino), handcuffed to a bed in an isolated lake house after her husband (Bruce Greenwood, also in Usher ) has a sudden heart attack while attempting to spice up their sex life.  Gerald’s Game is a riveting survival movie in which Jessie hallucinates a version of herself who’s capable of escaping her situation. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Madeline Brewer in Cam.

After career-making performances in  Orange Is the New Black ,  Hemlock Grove and  The Handmaid’s Tale , Madeline Brewer got the star vehicle she deserved. In  Cam , she plays a performer on an OnlyFans–esque website where her online persona, Lola_Lola, is ascending in popularity — until a doppelgänger steals her likeness, her account and her sense of self.  Cam , written by Isa Mazzei, a former camgirl who poured her own experiences into the film, doesn’t belittle sex work or internet culture. Instead, Mazzei scripted a gripping psychodrama about identity that set up a bright career for director Daniel Goldhaber, who also made this year’s  How to Blow Up a Pipeline . 

Get Out

Six years later, it’s hard to overstate  Get Out ’s influence. A box-office juggernaut that made off with four Oscar nominations (and one win), it’s one of the most quoted blockbusters of the past decade. The movie also announced Jordan Peele as horror’s next great auteur, a turn that came as a surprise given his comedy roots. Then again,  Get Out is very much indebted to Peele’s sense of humor. He brings a winky sense of satire to this unsettling psychological thriller about a young photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) who discovers his white girlfriend’s parents (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are running a sinister scheme that preys on Black bodies. It’s still as entertaining, clever, and significant as it was in 2017.

Us

If  Get Out anointed Peele one of Hollywood’s next big directors,  Us confirmed that he was no one-hit wonder. His sophomore movie, released in 2019, is more conceptually ambitious, sketching an alternate reality full of doppelgängers and deception. It starts as a home-invasion thriller, with look-alikes stalking a family of four on vacation — and ends somewhere far loftier. Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and the rest of the cast play dual roles, each of them deliciously inhabiting both hero and villain.  Us didn’t get the same awards-season attention that  Get Out did, but it ensured no one would ever doubt Peele again.

Run Rabbit Run

Run Rabbit Run

One month after HBO’s  Succession  came to a buzzy close, Sarah Snook was back with another master-class performance. In  Run Rabbit Run , she plays a fertility doctor named Mia whose 7-year-old daughter (Lily LaTorre) develops supernatural fixations and claims she’s actually the sister Mia lost as a kid. Set amid a moody stretch of Australia, the movie’s atmosphere grows eerier as Sarah’s emotional state deteriorates. After seeing Snook play a cold-blooded shark on TV for so many years, it’s a wonder to watch her in a role this vulnerable. 

If you want to watch a horror movie with monsters…

Rafe Spall as Luke, Sam Troughton as Dom, Rob James‑Collier as Hutch and Arsher Ali as Phil in The Ritual.

You never know what you’ll find in the woods. The four friends in  The Ritual certainly didn’t. After setting out on a Swedish hiking trail, they happen upon cryptic symbols in the trees and a human effigy that can’t bode well for their safety. Indeed, things get worse from there — extremely worse. Based on Adam Nevill’s 2011 novel of the same name, this suspenseful creature feature directed by David Bruckner ( The Night House ) blends supernatural mythology and plain old vacation terror for a feature-length wilderness freak-out. 

Brianne Tju in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.

47 Meters Down: Uncaged

Shark thrillers made a comeback in the late 2010s, reminders of how petrifying open water can be. After the success of  47 Meters Down  in 2017, director Johannes Roberts concocted another oceanic fright fest, this time involving teenage girls on an ill-advised dive to see ancient Mayan ruins. There they also discover hungry great whites — and naturally, not everyone survives the trek.  47 Meters Down: Uncaged ’s bright young cast includes Sophie Nélisse, Corinne Foxx (daughter of Jamie) and Sistine Stallone (daughter of Sylvester). 

El Conde

This is a different kind of monster movie. There’s no shark, no aliens, no Godzilla — just Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator who indicted, tortured, and executed thousands during his 17-year presidency. Director Pablo Larraín, best known for the unconventional biopics  Jackie and  Spencer , picks up after those events, during the period when Pinochet lived mostly in seclusion. Larraín presents the former leader (played by an imperious Jaime Vadell) as a 250-year-old vampire who’s finally decided it’s time for him to die. Blending Gothic black-and-white horror with dark comedy,  El Conde is a macabre satire that finds Pinochet’s children angling for their inheritance as their father’s corruption is laid bare. 

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100 Scariest Movies of All Time

Want a thrill? Draw your curtains and settle in for a list of the greatest fright films sure to keep you up at night.

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1. The Exorcist (1973)

R | 122 min | Horror

When a young girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two Catholic priests to save her life.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Ellen Burstyn , Max von Sydow , Linda Blair , Lee J. Cobb

Votes: 448,828 | Gross: $232.91M

The scariest movie of all time. It will scar you for life, and leave you haunted by the effects.

2. Hereditary (2018)

R | 127 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Toni Collette , Milly Shapiro , Gabriel Byrne , Alex Wolff

Votes: 367,541 | Gross: $44.07M

Hereditary is a new horror landmark that puts a unique face on things that go bump in the night.

3. The Witch (2015)

R | 92 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.

Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy , Ralph Ineson , Kate Dickie , Julian Richings

Votes: 293,995 | Gross: $25.14M

This movie combines classic horror and generally scary arithmetic to create a NEW and great film. The Witch is a really atmospheric film with an elaborate build-up of suspense and eerie themes throughout; it's not like other horror films because the characters are rich in depth and their personalities are more complex for a horror movie character.

4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

R | 83 min | Horror

Five friends head out to rural Texas to visit the grave of a grandfather. On the way they stumble across what appears to be a deserted house, only to discover something sinister within. Something armed with a chainsaw.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: Marilyn Burns , Edwin Neal , Allen Danziger , Paul A. Partain

Votes: 180,660 | Gross: $30.86M

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is by far one of the SCARIEST movies I've seen. This horrific film is very gory and disturbing and very chaotic and suspenseful. The film exhausted me, as the chase scenes are really intense and are part of a lot of the film.

5. The Babadook (2014)

Not Rated | 94 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A single mother and her child fall into a deep well of paranoia when an eerie children's book titled "Mister Babadook" manifests in their home.

Director: Jennifer Kent | Stars: Essie Davis , Noah Wiseman , Daniel Henshall , Hayley McElhinney

Votes: 243,785 | Gross: $0.92M

The Babadook is dark, eerie, creepy, and scariest of all, metaphorically psychological. It's the looming threat of insanity that drives this film. This movie is extremely well made, and is extremely twisted.

6. High Tension (2003)

R | 91 min | Horror

Best friends Marie and Alexia decide to spend a quiet weekend at Alexia's parents' secluded farmhouse. But on the night of their arrival, the girls' idyllic getaway turns into an endless night of horror.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Cécile de France , Maïwenn , Philippe Nahon , Franck Khalfoun

Votes: 76,977 | Gross: $3.68M

"Haute Tension" is appropriately gruesome and shocking and does not take the wise cracking, action movie based horror movie approach that so many recent horror films have taken. The film is well made and paced and builds up the suspense to a crescendo and does not overstay it's welcome.

7. Get Out (I) (2017)

R | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya , Allison Williams , Bradley Whitford , Catherine Keener

Votes: 679,640 | Gross: $176.04M

While the story does have its comedic aspects, it is well balanced with thrills, spooks, and mature storytelling with a very interesting and twisted plot.

8. Sleep Tight (2011)

Not Rated | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cesar, a miserable man who works as an apartment concierge, takes a special interest in an attractive woman who lives there. He goes to great lengths to trouble her.

Director: Jaume Balagueró | Stars: Luis Tosar , Marta Etura , Alberto San Juan , Petra Martínez

Votes: 46,120

I don't think I've ever hated a character more than I hate the concierge. And considering this is a "horror" movie, that's a good thing! I didn't find it to be over the top in any way; the film was extremely tense. Not typical horror, but definitely unsettling. Good acting and unique storyline.

9. Evil Dead (2013)

Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.

Director: Fede Alvarez | Stars: Jane Levy , Shiloh Fernandez , Jessica Lucas , Lou Taylor Pucci

Votes: 195,206 | Gross: $54.24M

This remake finds many way to bow to the original, aside the obligatory visual quotes. The use of practical effects, notably, in an era of CGI- filled movies, is extremely refreshing. The gore feels painful, makes you cringe, churned my stomach. It successfully palliates a somewhat shallow characterization that makes it difficult to root for the characters.

10. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

R | 87 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Five years after the events of the first film, a summer camp next to the infamous Camp Crystal Lake is preparing to open, but the legend of Jason is weighing heavy on the proceedings.

Director: Steve Miner | Stars: Betsy Palmer , Amy Steel , John Furey , Adrienne King

Votes: 76,660 | Gross: $21.72M

Friday the 13th part 2 is a great horror film and is the best in the series. Has its share of sex drugs and blood easy to follow with a great opening. Amy Steel gives a good performance as our heroine and the rest of the cast is fine as well.

11. Midsommar (2019)

R | 148 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A couple travels to Northern Europe to visit a rural hometown's fabled Swedish mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Florence Pugh , Jack Reynor , Vilhelm Blomgren , William Jackson Harper

Votes: 387,477 | Gross: $27.33M

Set in broad daylight, during the time of Northern Europe's midnight sun, this horror movie isn't about getting the creeps so much as it is about the slow, methodical unmasking of horrors most human.

12. Suspiria (I) (2018)

R | 152 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz , Tilda Swinton , Doris Hick , Malgorzata Bela

Votes: 90,001 | Gross: $2.47M

Suspiria is incredibly well filmed with such a style that makes it feel old with an awesome soundtrack! Glorious eerie vibes in many parts which is nice. Very much reminds me of Black Swan just very different and more terrifying.

13. Goodnight Mommy (2014)

R | 99 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Twin boys move to a new house with their mother after she has face-changing cosmetic surgery, but under the bandages is someone the boys don't recognize.

Directors: Severin Fiala , Veronika Franz | Stars: Lukas Schwarz , Elias Schwarz , Susanne Wuest , Hans Escher

Votes: 59,069 | Gross: $1.17M

A creepy little horror-thriller for the discerning horror fans who don't crave cheap, gimmicky thrills!

14. Martyrs (2008)

R | 99 min | Horror

A young woman's quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child leads her and a friend, who is also a victim of child abuse, on a terrifying journey into a living hell of depravity.

Director: Pascal Laugier | Stars: Morjana Alaoui , Mylène Jampanoï , Catherine Bégin , Robert Toupin

Votes: 104,503

Intense, disorienting, unsettling, upsetting, polarising - Martyrs is all these things, but it is also intelligent, moving and strangely transcedent. If you want to be put through the wringer by a film, make it this one. This is not an easy film to watch, but it is a valuable film to watch.

15. Them (2006)

R | 77 min | Horror, Thriller

Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise... they're not alone... and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night.

Directors: David Moreau , Xavier Palud | Stars: Olivia Bonamy , Michaël Cohen , Adriana Mocca , Maria Roman

Votes: 31,843

Very tense, uneasy and suspenseful, especially if watched alone at night. Great use of environment to terrify you. I'm interested in researching to see what real life case this is based. Ending was great.

16. Psycho (1960)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Anthony Perkins , Janet Leigh , Vera Miles , John Gavin

Votes: 709,791 | Gross: $32.00M

"Psycho" has one of the best scripts you'll ever find in a movie. The domestic conflict is well-known. But nothing shocks like the experience itself. Anthony Perkins' skillfully crafts his performance as Norman Bates, avoiding a ranting, raving, drooling, murder-happy, manic characterization; instead his performance as Norman is subtle, creepy, cool, and unsettling.

17. The Lighthouse (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Robert Pattinson , Willem Dafoe , Valeriia Karaman , Logan Hawkes

Votes: 248,117 | Gross: $0.43M

Driven by its stars' maniacal performances, The Lighthouse makes for an impeccably crafted, though thematically uneven, blend of horror and humor.

18. Us (II) (2019)

R | 116 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A family's serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Lupita Nyong'o , Winston Duke , Elisabeth Moss , Tim Heidecker

Votes: 334,558 | Gross: $175.08M

A family's serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.

19. The Shining (1980)

R | 146 min | Drama, Horror

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Jack Nicholson , Shelley Duvall , Danny Lloyd , Scatman Crothers

Votes: 1,090,657 | Gross: $44.02M

This is Stanley Kubrick's classic vision of Stephen King's horror tale of madness and blood.

20. The Devils (1971)

R | 111 min | Biography, Drama, History

In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier's protection of the city of Loudun from the corrupt Cardinal Richelieu is undermined by a sexually repressed nun's accusation of witchcraft.

Director: Ken Russell | Stars: Vanessa Redgrave , Oliver Reed , Dudley Sutton , Max Adrian

Votes: 17,934 | Gross: $1.13M

This film is the only film I've ever seen, regardless of genre, to take the viewer into the pit of hell and to hold her/him there unrelenting, uncompromising, and to make the viewer feel as s/he has actually experienced hell. It's bleak, horrifying, shocking, disgusting and thoroughly delicious.

21. Mother! (2017)

R | 121 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence , Javier Bardem , Ed Harris , Michelle Pfeiffer

Votes: 245,967 | Gross: $17.80M

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

22. The Dark and the Wicked (2020)

Not Rated | 95 min | Horror

On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family.

Director: Bryan Bertino | Stars: Marin Ireland , Michael Abbott Jr. , Julie Oliver-Touchstone , Lynn Andrews

Votes: 21,618

23. REC (2007)

R | 78 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Directors: Jaume Balagueró , Paco Plaza | Stars: Manuela Velasco , Ferran Terraza , Jorge-Yamam Serrano , Pablo Rosso

Votes: 194,063

This is an excellent example of how found footage films should be done. Totally uses the instant and immersive quality of the medium to its full potential. What's more, it's a movie that makes a late game turn that takes it from "very good" to "very great." The last ten minutes elevate the movie to a whole new level of creepy.

24. Halloween (2007)

R | 109 min | Horror

After being committed for 15 years, Michael Myers, now a grown man and still very dangerous, escapes from the mental institution and immediately returns to Haddonfield to find his baby sister, Laurie.

Director: Rob Zombie | Stars: Scout Taylor-Compton , Malcolm McDowell , Tyler Mane , Brad Dourif

Votes: 129,672 | Gross: $58.27M

Rob Zombie is a die-hard, old school horror/exploitation fan of all the original horror films that paved the way to today's disturbing and desensitized Internet and television generation.Zombie goes for stark reality and exposes a statement on the worst of our twisted society, merging that concept with Carpenter's original tale of "pure" evil incarnate about a little boy transformed into a mindless but calculated killing machine without motive or purpose. A frightening concept indeed, and its handled by a cast of genre veterans as well as talented newcomers in a modern day exercise of murder and mayhem.

25. Repulsion (1965)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister's boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Catherine Deneuve , Ian Hendry , John Fraser , Yvonne Furneaux

Votes: 56,628

"Repulsion" is a great example of how to make a truly scary movie: The trick is not to fill the screen with monsters or indestructible serial killers, it is to portray fear in a way that will be familiar to the audience. It is clear from early on in the film that the lead character, Carol, played brilliantly by an extremely young-looking Catherine Deneuve, is not exactly normal.

26. Jaws (1975)

PG | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Thriller

When a killer shark unleashes chaos on a beach community off Cape Cod, it's up to a local sheriff, a marine biologist, and an old seafarer to hunt the beast down.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Roy Scheider , Robert Shaw , Richard Dreyfuss , Lorraine Gary

Votes: 650,732 | Gross: $260.00M

'Jaws' is the original summer blockbuster, setting the standard by which all others are measured. It's the Michael Jordan of cinema: there will never be another 'Jaws,' simply because the film so profoundly changed the way movies are made and marketed.

27. Barbarian (2022)

R | 102 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems.

Director: Zach Cregger | Stars: Georgina Campbell , Bill Skarsgård , Justin Long , Matthew Patrick Davis

Votes: 172,414

28. Eraserhead (1977)

Not Rated | 89 min | Fantasy, Horror

Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Jack Nance , Charlotte Stewart , Allen Joseph , Jeanne Bates

Votes: 125,444 | Gross: $7.00M

Creepy, stylistic masterpiece! It's a descriptive story about a literal hell on earth, a "dream of dark and troubling things." The sounds, the texture and "the weirdness" all contribute to the sense of impending doom being trapped in the hell that is everyday life for some people.

29. Children of the Corn (1984)

R | 92 min | Horror, Thriller

A young couple is trapped in a remote town where a dangerous religious cult of children believes that everyone over age 18 must be killed.

Director: Fritz Kiersch | Stars: Peter Horton , Linda Hamilton , R.G. Armstrong , John Franklin

Votes: 56,658 | Gross: $14.57M

There is not a boring moment in this film that would put you to sleep. There are many jolts, winces and frights. And even though the "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" fella never shows his face, you will definitely feel it's presence.

30. Maniac (1980)

18+ | 87 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

A psychopathic man goes on a killing and mutilation spree in New York City.

Director: William Lustig | Stars: Joe Spinell , Caroline Munro , Abigail Clayton , Kelly Piper

Votes: 19,871

A well-crafted and disturbing movie. Mind blowing in the 80's. A New York City that we will never see again. Solid slasher flick.

31. Baskin (2015)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

A squad of unsuspecting cops go through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.

Director: Can Evrenol | Stars: Mehmet Cerrahoglu , Görkem Kasal , Ergun Kuyucu , Muharrem Bayrak

Votes: 12,168

Baskin is a passionate and well-made horror. It is an ultra-violent and bizarre descent into Hell

32. House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

R | 89 min | Horror

Two young couples traveling across the backwoods of Texas searching for urban legends of murder end up as prisoners of a bizarre and sadistic backwater family of serial killers.

Director: Rob Zombie | Stars: Sid Haig , Karen Black , Bill Moseley , Sheri Moon Zombie

Votes: 92,346 | Gross: $12.63M

Rob Zombie has created a homage to 1970's exploitation/horror films, and he has been extremly successful in achieving that goal. The film borrows largely from Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Last House on the Left, with his own little bits of original demential thrown in and an assortment of other horror film references.

33. X (II) (2022)

R | 105 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth , Jenna Ortega , Brittany Snow , Kid Cudi

Votes: 161,034

34. V/H/S (2012)

When a group of misfits are hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin , David Bruckner , Tyler Gillett , Justin Martinez , Glenn McQuaid , Radio Silence , Joe Swanberg , Chad Villella , Ti West , Adam Wingard | Stars: Calvin Lee Reeder , Lane Hughes , Adam Wingard , Hannah Fierman

Votes: 67,529 | Gross: $0.10M

A nightmare world on videotape. A terrific collection of "found footage" horror!

35. It Follows (2014)

R | 100 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter.

Director: David Robert Mitchell | Stars: Maika Monroe , Keir Gilchrist , Olivia Luccardi , Lili Sepe

Votes: 264,655 | Gross: $14.67M

It Follows is subtle and thought provoking - you never know where this thing is and it moves so slowly that you don't know when it will appear, and this uncertainty in waiting is what real suspense is all about.

36. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

R | 81 min | Horror, Mystery

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

Directors: Daniel Myrick , Eduardo Sánchez | Stars: Heather Donahue , Michael C. Williams , Joshua Leonard , Bob Griffin

Votes: 281,344 | Gross: $140.54M

This might be one of those "You had to be there" type of films that younger viewers may take for granted. When I saw this in '99 I left the theatre terrified (which rarely happens to me, then or now) and it still packs quite a punch.

37. Evil Dead II (1987)

R | 84 min | Comedy, Horror

Ash Williams, the lone survivor of an earlier onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits, holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Bruce Campbell , Sarah Berry , Dan Hicks , Kassie Wesley DePaiva

Votes: 179,967 | Gross: $5.92M

This film, is without a shadow of a doubt, one of finest, most imaginative comedy horror films ever made. Raimi, has put all the aspects of the film together in masterful fashion. The camera work and sound effects are pulsating, and the timing is perfection. And in Bruce Campbell, the film as a lead actor who gives an exceptional performance.

38. The Descent (2005)

R | 99 min | Adventure, Horror, Thriller

A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.

Director: Neil Marshall | Stars: Shauna Macdonald , Natalie Mendoza , Alex Reid , Saskia Mulder

Votes: 243,237 | Gross: $26.02M

It's a roller coaster ride of tension and fear. So often these days horror movies just aren't scary, they make you jump they have a little bit of atmosphere and that's it, well this film was scary. It was tense, well acted, and the director made great use of the setting to scare the hell out of you.

39. Open Water (2003)

R | 79 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

Based on the true story of two scuba divers accidentally stranded in shark infested waters after their tour boat has left.

Director: Chris Kentis | Stars: Blanchard Ryan , Daniel Travis , Saul Stein , Michael E. Williamson

Votes: 56,115 | Gross: $30.61M

Open Water is a film that asks its viewers to place themselves at the heart of the movie; to feel the desperation, the hopelessness and the absolute terrifying ordeal. And for a change the movie is shot in a way that allows the viewer to feel as if truly there.

40. Se7en (1995)

R | 127 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Morgan Freeman , Brad Pitt , Kevin Spacey , Andrew Kevin Walker

Votes: 1,768,319 | Gross: $100.13M

Se7en is by far one of the most inventive, well-written, and cerebral films in recent history. The film, blending a well put together combination of dark visual style, intense plot development, and polished acting, remains tight and focused throughout, from beginning to end, never straying outwards into unimportant issues, or resorting to typical Hollywood clichés.

41. The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

Not Rated | 91 min | Horror

Inspired by the fictional Dr. Heiter, disturbed loner Martin dreams of creating a 12-person centipede and sets out to realize his sick fantasy.

Director: Tom Six | Stars: Laurence R. Harvey , Ashlynn Yennie , Maddi Black , Kandace Caine

Votes: 42,306 | Gross: $0.12M

This movie is depraved and sick. One of the grossest movies I have ever seen. Far better than the original. The actor that plays Martin had the perfect look and demeanor for the role and really did a fantastic job. A new breed of super villain.

42. Bug (2006)

R | 102 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Ashley Judd , Michael Shannon , Harry Connick Jr. , Lynn Collins

Votes: 37,480 | Gross: $7.01M

A completely unique and intense cinema experience. The film is very disturbing...I would describe it as a dark comedy that gets darker and darker and darker...calling it horror is too limited although there are horror elements to it. It reminds me of Cronenberg or early Polanski (Repulsion). But comparisons don't really do it justice. It's exciting to see that there are directors that still have guts. I was exhilarated and disturbed by the end of this film.

43. Funny Games (2007)

R | 111 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Two psychopathic young men take a family hostage in their cabin.

Director: Michael Haneke | Stars: Naomi Watts , Tim Roth , Michael Pitt , Brady Corbet

Votes: 102,758 | Gross: $1.29M

So many horror movies are predictable and formulaic that it's a pleasant surprise to come across one that actually makes an effort to break free of its bonds and make its own way in the world. And, indeed, "Funny Games" busts through the horror movie conventions with an almost ruthless determination.

44. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

R | 97 min | Horror, Thriller

Kirsty is brought to an institution after the horrible events of Hellraiser (1987), where the occult-obsessive head doctor resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites and their demonic underworld.

Director: Tony Randel | Stars: Doug Bradley , Ashley Laurence , Clare Higgins , Kenneth Cranham

Votes: 55,436 | Gross: $11.09M

The best Hellraiser of all! Kirsty is brought to an institution after the horrible events of Hellraiser (1987), where the occult-obsessive head doctor resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites and their demonic underworld.

45. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

R | 107 min | Horror, Thriller

A traveling family falls victim to a group of mutated cannibals in a desert far away from civilization.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Ted Levine , Kathleen Quinlan , Dan Byrd , Emilie de Ravin

Votes: 181,452 | Gross: $41.78M

Shocking. Disturbing. At times hard to watch. All words to describe the horror of being forced to watch Michael Moore take his shirt off. But these terms also accurately describe this brutally vicious upgrade on Wes Craven's 1977 low-budget horror classic.

46. Hostel (2005)

R | 94 min | Horror

Three backpackers head to a Slovak city that promises to meet their hedonistic expectations, with no idea of the hell that awaits them.

Director: Eli Roth | Stars: Jay Hernandez , Derek Richardson , Eythor Gudjonsson , Barbara Nedeljakova

Votes: 189,231 | Gross: $47.33M

This movie dispenses with much of the clever, self-congratulatory repartee made so popular in horror films since Scream and its imitators. It opts instead for the old fashioned horror staples of nudity, terror, blood and tension.

47. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

R | 98 min | Horror

After picking up a traumatized young hitchhiker, five friends find themselves stalked and hunted by a deformed chainsaw-wielding loon and his family of equally psychopathic killers.

Director: Marcus Nispel | Stars: Jessica Biel , Jonathan Tucker , Andrew Bryniarski , Erica Leerhsen

Votes: 151,094 | Gross: $80.57M

this is a terrifying, shocking, emotional thrill of a movie. It may not be up to the standards of the 1970s version, but to be fair, nothing is. The acting is quite well done. The film takes advantage of the time its being made in and the budget, with this version having much better production values, its much more gory but not at the cost of story telling.

48. Friday the 13th (1980)

R | 95 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A group of camp counselors trying to reopen a summer camp called Crystal Lake, which has a grim past, are stalked by a mysterious killer.

Director: Sean S. Cunningham | Stars: Betsy Palmer , Adrienne King , Jeannine Taylor , Robbi Morgan

Votes: 155,528 | Gross: $39.75M

This is a classic film, put in theaters in the 1980's; this is what horror film was all about back in the day! It demonstrated the importance of setting the tone in horror movies, making the audience themselves feel as if they too were being stalked.

49. Alien (1979)

R | 117 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

The crew of a commercial spacecraft encounters a deadly lifeform after investigating a mysterious transmission of unknown origin.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Sigourney Weaver , Tom Skerritt , John Hurt , Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 936,218 | Gross: $78.90M

This is one of the finest science fiction films ever made. Everything is so carefully and expertly constructed to the point that repeated viewings are just as good as the first. Also, the atmosphere, along with the amazing sets, is real shocker and few movies have managed to create the same kind eerie feeling.

50. Frailty (2001)

R | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A mysterious man arrives at the offices of an FBI agent and recounts his childhood: how his religious fanatic father received visions telling him to destroy people who were in fact "demons."

Director: Bill Paxton | Stars: Bill Paxton , Matthew McConaughey , Powers Boothe , Matt O'Leary

Votes: 89,781 | Gross: $13.10M

This is a great movie with an awesome twist. A great and really eerie psychological thriller.

51. The Thing (1982)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Kurt Russell , Wilford Brimley , Keith David , Richard Masur

Votes: 458,895 | Gross: $13.78M

The Thing is a peerless masterpiece of relentless suspense, retina-wrecking visual excess and outright, nihilistic terror

52. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

PG-13 | 99 min | Horror

A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.

Director: Sam Raimi | Stars: Alison Lohman , Justin Long , Ruth Livier , Lorna Raver

Votes: 215,713 | Gross: $42.10M

It took Sam Raimi to bring fun back to the horror genre, and I'm so glad he did. In a sea of 'torture porn' and 'found footage' garbage, this is a rare jewel that makes you realize what you've been missing as a horror fan.

53. As Above, So Below (2014)

R | 93 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

When a team of explorers venture into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.

Director: John Erick Dowdle | Stars: Perdita Weeks , Ben Feldman , Edwin Hodge , François Civil

Votes: 109,007 | Gross: $21.20M

This film is fantastic; an epic journey through hell to purgatory and back again. It is filled with mythology, history, adventure, faith, demons, torture, religious awakenings & the repentance of sins.

54. Green Room (2015)

R | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

A punk rock band is forced to fight for survival after witnessing a murder at a neo-Nazi skinhead bar.

Director: Jeremy Saulnier | Stars: Anton Yelchin , Imogen Poots , Alia Shawkat , Patrick Stewart

Votes: 137,346 | Gross: $3.22M

Director Jeremy Saulnier exercises high pressure suspense and astonishing realism in this white-knuckle thriller.

55. The Omen (1976)

R | 111 min | Horror, Mystery

Mysterious deaths surround an American ambassador. Could the child that he is raising actually be the Antichrist? The Devil's own son?

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Gregory Peck , Lee Remick , Harvey Stephens , David Warner

Votes: 129,258 | Gross: $4.27M

This movie plays with the intellect. It is frightening for what is not seen. From the grey overcast that blurs the skies of London and the dead stillness of the great Pereford mansion that houses the ill-fated Thorn family to the deepest recesses of civilization in the hollow underground of an ancient excavation site, the film effectively captures the viewer's interest and draws them into a world that is on the verge of the ultimate disaster - the birth of the anti-Christ.

56. The Wicker Man (1973)

R | 88 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A puritan police sergeant arrives in a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl, who the pagan locals claim never existed.

Director: Robin Hardy | Stars: Edward Woodward , Christopher Lee , Diane Cilento , Britt Ekland

Votes: 90,620 | Gross: $0.06M

There is a distinct air of menace flowing throughout The Wicker Man, a distinct feeling of unwelcome and unkind put across in the most brilliant of manners because everyone acts so nicely. Then there is the awful feeling you get at certain points when you realise the character of Sergeant Howie (Woodward) is in actual fact a policeman and what might happen if he hadn't been. The Wicker Man is really a mere exercise in suspense on the surface but I think it toys with other, more political ideas during the core of the film before substituting everything and just focussing very briefly on the religious aspects it raises.A puritan Police Sergeant arrives in a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl, who the Pagan locals claim never existed.

57. Jeepers Creepers (2001)

R | 90 min | Horror, Mystery

A brother and sister driving home through isolated countryside for spring break encounter a flesh-eating creature which is in the midst of its ritualistic eating spree.

Director: Victor Salva | Stars: Gina Philips , Justin Long , Jonathan Breck , Patricia Belcher

Votes: 140,569 | Gross: $37.90M

"Jeepers Creepers" is supposed to be your average monster-movie but turns out to be a very scary and above all a very entertaining film, whose script ist cleverly written and which has some sharp and enjoyable dialogues. The cast is also stunning, especially Gina Philips and Justin Long in the leading roles of Trish and Darryl. "Jeepers Creepers" provides some terrific pictures you will not forget.

58. The Devil's Rejects (2005)

R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

The murderous, backwoods Firefly family take to the road to escape the vengeful Sheriff Wydell, who is not afraid of being as ruthless as his target.

Director: Rob Zombie | Stars: Sid Haig , Sheri Moon Zombie , Bill Moseley , William Forsythe

Votes: 105,067 | Gross: $17.04M

"The Devil's Rejects" is a sick, ruthless, grab you by the throat and don't let go horror movie. Which is exactly what it sets out to do and it succeeds brilliantly. While the movie is sadistic and violent, the characters are extremely well developed and the movie is extremely well written.

59. Event Horizon (1997)

R | 96 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A rescue crew is tasked with investigating the mysterious reappearance of a spaceship that had been lost for seven years.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Laurence Fishburne , Sam Neill , Kathleen Quinlan , Joely Richardson

Votes: 194,558 | Gross: $26.67M

'Event Horizon' is very much an atmospheric sci-fi horror. It does not rely on gore (although there is enough of that) but rather it is the creepy atmosphere that engages the viewer. Andersen successfully creates a tense, depressing, and claustrophobic atmosphere. The suspense and pace are well maintained.

60. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

R | 98 min | Fantasy, Horror

An anthropologist goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people into zombies.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Bill Pullman , Cathy Tyson , Zakes Mokae , Paul Winfield

Votes: 27,397 | Gross: $19.60M

One of Wes Craven's best, "Serpent and the Rainbow" is as much a psychological thriller as a horror movie. Some horror fans may find it too slow (it takes its sweet time to come to a climax) but it's worth it... the journey is entertaining and interesting. This is a polished, professionally filmed movie with higher production values than the average for its genre.

61. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Teenager Nancy Thompson must uncover the dark truth concealed by her parents after she and her friends become targets of the spirit of a serial killer with a bladed glove in their dreams, in which if they die, it kills them in real life.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Heather Langenkamp , Johnny Depp , Robert Englund , John Saxon

Votes: 259,274 | Gross: $25.50M

A Nightmare on Elm Street, one of the scariest movies of all time, and one of the scariest in the 80's. It also introduced one of the scariest villains of all time, Freddy Krueger, one of the ultimate boogeymen that you know who he is just by his name. Wes Craven brought us one of the most terrifying ideas, what would happen if your nightmares were real? That if you died in your dream, you died in real life?

62. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Unrated | 95 min | Adventure, Horror

During a rescue mission into the Amazon rainforest, a professor stumbles across lost film shot by a missing documentary crew.

Director: Ruggero Deodato | Stars: Robert Kerman , Francesca Ciardi , Perry Pirkanen , Luca Barbareschi

Votes: 60,245

'Cannibal holocaust' is a haunting, beautifully filmed masterpiece. It is a spattering of mostly laughable eroto-horror, and it hits the mark. It contrasts powerful, horrific imagery with a gorgeous, melodic soundtrack. The most impressive aspect of the film, however, is it's remarkable super-realism.

63. The Fly (1986)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jeff Goldblum , Geena Davis , John Getz , Joy Boushel

Votes: 198,889 | Gross: $40.46M

David Cronenberg redefined what we think of as creepy with this brilliant film. The makeup special effects and grossouts are top notch, but what is most surprising about The Fly is that it turns out to be a very well acted and emotional love story. It greatly surpasses the original '58 version.

64. Audition (1999)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Ryo Ishibashi , Eihi Shiina , Tetsu Sawaki , Jun Kunimura

Votes: 87,958

Beautifully shot and orchestrated, it is both a subtle personal drama and one of the most genuinely horrifying things I have seen.

65. 28 Days Later (2002)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Cillian Murphy , Naomie Harris , Christopher Eccleston , Alex Palmer

Votes: 438,241 | Gross: $45.06M

It's true that sometimes minimalism can be more effective than overblown bravado, and it's definitely true for this movie. It's the scenes of complete silence which get to you the most; an entire metropolis empty. The grainy picture serves to add a documentary-style quality to the film, which makes the whole situation seem almost too real to bear. Definitely a wise choice to film this on digital video.

66. Vivarium (2019)

R | 97 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

Director: Lorcan Finnegan | Stars: Imogen Poots , Danielle Ryan , Molly McCann , Jesse Eisenberg

Votes: 71,748

67. Cabin Fever (2002)

R | 93 min | Horror

Five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.

Director: Eli Roth | Stars: Jordan Ladd , Rider Strong , James DeBello , Cerina Vincent

Votes: 82,759 | Gross: $21.16M

Cabin Fever is a very good 80's style, Splatter, B-movie. It shies away from the self referencing humor plague that Scream started and succeeds in being a very strange splatter/comedy.

68. The Visit (I) (2015)

PG-13 | 94 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Two siblings become increasingly frightened by their grandparents' disturbing behavior while visiting them on vacation.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: Olivia DeJonge , Ed Oxenbould , Deanna Dunagan , Peter McRobbie

Votes: 148,055 | Gross: $65.21M

This was one of the rarest horror movies that managed to keep me totally scared and mostly uncomfortable from start to finish in years and years. I don't get this new trend of hating everything Shiamalan does. This new movie is one of the best horror concepts I've come across in a very long time and uses simplicity to the best effect.

69. The Amityville Horror (1979)

R | 117 min | Horror

Newlyweds and their three children move into a large house where a mass murder was committed. They start to experience strange, inexplicable manifestations which have strong effects on everyone living in or visiting the house.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: James Brolin , Margot Kidder , Rod Steiger , Don Stroud

Votes: 43,945 | Gross: $86.43M

The movie remains a creepy gem from my young days... Everyone misses the point that the real 'star' of the movie is the house! The building is both attractive and sinister - truly gothic in the importance of the setting.

70. Poltergeist (1982)

PG | 114 min | Horror, Thriller

A family's home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: JoBeth Williams , Heather O'Rourke , Craig T. Nelson , Beatrice Straight

Votes: 177,624 | Gross: $76.61M

"Poltergeist" is a top of the pick, no holds barred, roller coaster ride through the supernatural world and back to ours.

71. Ichi the Killer (2001)

R | 129 min | Action, Crime, Drama

As sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searches for his missing boss he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of achieving.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Tadanobu Asano , Nao Ômori , Shin'ya Tsukamoto , Paulyn Sun

Votes: 59,450 | Gross: $0.02M

Takashi Miike's "Ichi the Killer" is a masterpiece of insane cinema.This film is surely challenging-filled with enough sadistic violence and rape to satisfy fans of Japanese harrowing cinema.

72. Silent Hill (2006)

R | 125 min | Horror, Mystery

A woman, Rose, goes in search for her adopted daughter within the confines of a strange, desolate town called Silent Hill.

Director: Christophe Gans | Stars: Radha Mitchell , Laurie Holden , Sean Bean , Deborah Kara Unger

Votes: 241,735 | Gross: $46.98M

The atmosphere was perfect, the acting was on point, the creatures were amazing, well, everything was amazing.

73. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

R | 84 min | Horror

Angela Baker, a shy, traumatized young girl, is sent to summer camp with her cousin. Shortly after her arrival, anyone with sinister or less than honorable intentions toward her gets their comeuppance.

Director: Robert Hiltzik | Stars: Felissa Rose , Jonathan Tiersten , Karen Fields , Christopher Collet

Votes: 37,395 | Gross: $11.00M

Really fun and over the top. This film is a classic and hard not to appreciate! Also loved the ending.

74. The Strangers (2008)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.

Director: Bryan Bertino | Stars: Scott Speedman , Liv Tyler , Gemma Ward , Alex Fisher

Votes: 141,388 | Gross: $52.60M

The suspense is wound like a tight wire and it just pulls more and more until you feel like it's going to snap right at you - and it does.

75. The Ring (2002)

PG-13 | 115 min | Horror, Mystery

A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it.

Director: Gore Verbinski | Stars: Naomi Watts , Martin Henderson , Brian Cox , David Dorfman

Votes: 370,865 | Gross: $129.13M

This movie makes you realize why so many other movies fail to be scary...not enough psychological elements. What this movie does right is that it skips the gore, and blood, and over-the-top overacting crazed lunatics that seem the norm in horror movies.

76. Paranormal Activity (2007)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

Director: Oren Peli | Stars: Katie Featherston , Micah Sloat , Mark Fredrichs , Amber Armstrong

Votes: 253,822 | Gross: $107.92M

What you can't see is always scarier than what you can.

77. Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.

Director: Adrian Lyne | Stars: Tim Robbins , Elizabeth Peña , Danny Aiello , Matt Craven

Votes: 116,626 | Gross: $26.12M

Jacobs Ladder is one of those rare films that throws you and your mind about like a ragdoll before giving you a bitter conclusion that turns everything upside down again. Forget Donnie Darko, that was mere childs play, this film is something else. Jacobs Ladder provides an experience so intimidating, brutal, wonderful and beautiful unparalleled to this day. This is something you have never seen or experienced before in film, and will probably never experience again.

78. Raw (2016)

R | 99 min | Drama, Horror

A young woman, studying to be a vet, develops a craving for human flesh.

Director: Julia Ducournau | Stars: Garance Marillier , Ella Rumpf , Rabah Nait Oufella , Laurent Lucas

Votes: 87,591 | Gross: $0.51M

Deeply disturbing and hard to watch. That's why its so great!

79. Wrong Turn (I) (2003)

R | 84 min | Horror, Thriller

Chris and a group of five friends are left stranded deep in the middle of the woods after their cars collide. As they venture deeper into the woods, they face an uncertain and bloodcurdling fate.

Director: Rob Schmidt | Stars: Eliza Dushku , Jeremy Sisto , Emmanuelle Chriqui , Desmond Harrington

Votes: 129,643 | Gross: $15.42M

This movie WORKS on many levels. Good actors, a solid storyline that doesn't drag, great make-up and visual affects, and fast paced directing make this movie a must see for the serious horror fan. Wrong Turn is a great throwback to the classic horror movies of the 70's and 80's, with the an excellent production budget which a lot of the older classics simply could not afford to have.

80. Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016)

PG-13 | 99 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

In 1967 Los Angeles, a widowed mother and her daughters add a new stunt to bolster their seance scam business by inviting an evil presence into their home, not realizing how dangerous it is.

Director: Mike Flanagan | Stars: Elizabeth Reaser , Lulu Wilson , Annalise Basso , Henry Thomas

Votes: 72,152 | Gross: $35.14M

Ouija (2014) was terrible, but this prequel takes off in an entirely new direction with its mesmerizingly weird compositions and rhythms and wicked humor. Stylistic.

81. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

R | 101 min | Action, Horror

A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Sarah Polley , Ving Rhames , Mekhi Phifer , Jake Weber

Votes: 269,327 | Gross: $59.02M

What is so amazing about this movie is that it's [re]creators have also managed to tap into what will surely be the unanimous expectations of the target audience. There are no unwanted and unnecessary messages of family values, cheese, cuddles, and love will conquer all, which is fabulous because it leaves far more room for classic lines like, "Tell him to shoot Burt Reynolds" and then the ketchup-tastic head shot that follows.

82. Pearl (2022)

R | 103 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

In 1918, a young woman on the brink of madness pursues stardom in a desperate attempt to escape the drudgery, isolation, and lovelessness of life on her parents' farm.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth , David Corenswet , Tandi Wright , Matthew Sunderland

Votes: 87,397

83. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Director: Drew Goddard | Stars: Kristen Connolly , Chris Hemsworth , Anna Hutchison , Fran Kranz

Votes: 444,889 | Gross: $42.07M

I've never seen anything like this movie before. It's a combination of everything. It's taken everything from every other Horror Movie and thrown it all into this movie. But what is really impressive is the fact that the movie has it's own (original) plot.

84. Saw (2004)

R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there, and soon discover they're pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.

Director: James Wan | Stars: Cary Elwes , Leigh Whannell , Danny Glover , Ken Leung

Votes: 460,821 | Gross: $56.00M

From the first minute to last this film twists and turns you till you feel rather poorly. Just like 'Se7en', the all-round Grittiness that director James Wan creates disgusts and enthralls. Just like 'Se7en', there is a H U G E twist that makes your blood curdle.

85. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Horror

Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.

Director: John Landis | Stars: David Naughton , Jenny Agutter , Joe Belcher , Griffin Dunne

Votes: 118,570 | Gross: $30.57M

Great 80's classic.Contains what is still the best werewolf transformation scene out there. Make-up was well done.

86. Hellraiser (1987)

R | 94 min | Horror, Thriller

A woman discovers the newly resurrected, partially formed, body of her brother-in-law. She starts killing for him to revitalize his body so he can escape the demonic beings that are pursuing him after he escaped their sadistic underworld.

Director: Clive Barker | Stars: Andrew Robinson , Clare Higgins , Ashley Laurence , Sean Chapman

Votes: 138,547 | Gross: $14.56M

A great horror flick that'll send legit chills up your spine. This film not only marks Clive Barker's feature length debut but it introduces the world (and pop culture) to Pinhead!

87. Let the Right One In (2008)

R | 114 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

Director: Tomas Alfredson | Stars: Kåre Hedebrant , Lina Leandersson , Per Ragnar , Henrik Dahl

Votes: 225,245 | Gross: $2.12M

Let the Right one In is like no other vampire movie that I have ever seen. It is smarter, scarier and more nuanced. It doesn't feel like a thriller, it feels like literature.

88. Cannibal Ferox (1981)

93 min | Adventure, Horror

Three friends set out to disprove cannibalism on a trip to the Amazonian jungle, where they meet two men trying to escape a vicious cannibal tribe.

Director: Umberto Lenzi | Stars: Giovanni Lombardo Radice , Lorraine De Selle , Danilo Mattei , Zora Kerova

Votes: 10,654

Director Umberto Lenzi pulls out all the stops in this barbaric,sadistic shocker.

89. Re-Animator (1985)

Unrated | 84 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi

After an odd new medical student arrives on campus, a dedicated local and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue.

Director: Stuart Gordon | Stars: Jeffrey Combs , Bruce Abbott , Barbara Crampton , David Gale

Votes: 70,563 | Gross: $2.02M

finally a horror camp classic that deserves to be called a horror camp classic. Re-Animator is one of those fun horror movies that is so over the top that it is just a lot of fun to watch.

90. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.

Director: André Øvredal | Stars: Brian Cox , Emile Hirsch , Ophelia Lovibond , Michael McElhatton

Votes: 135,474 | Gross: $0.01M

And a simply wonderful throwback to the 1970s when horror was, well, horror -- and not based on gimmicks like "found footage" but rather genuine scene-setting, story building, audience engagement, and full-tilt creepiness. Probably destined to become a classic.

91. 1408 (2007)

PG-13 | 104 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A man who specialises in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

Director: Mikael Håfström | Stars: John Cusack , Samuel L. Jackson , Mary McCormack , Tony Shalhoub

Votes: 290,850 | Gross: $71.99M

A truly great horror film, with outstanding performances by both Samuel L. Jackson and Cusack.

92. Mirrors (I) (2008)

R | 110 min | Horror, Mystery

An ex-cop and his family are the target of an evil force that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Kiefer Sutherland , Paula Patton , Amy Smart , Cameron Boyce

Votes: 112,961 | Gross: $30.69M

It's one that gets better and better as the movie goes. It keeps you wondering and there is pretty much no foreshadowing at all. I really didn't know what was going to happen from minute to minute.

93. The Last Exorcism (2010)

PG-13 | 87 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A troubled evangelical minister agrees to let his last exorcism be filmed by a documentary crew.

Director: Daniel Stamm | Stars: Patrick Fabian , Ashley Bell , Iris Bahr , Louis Herthum

Votes: 51,813 | Gross: $41.03M

At the top of the basket of the "mockumentary".

94. Child's Play (1988)

R | 87 min | Horror, Thriller

A struggling single mother unknowingly gifts her son a doll imbued with a serial killer's consciousness.

Director: Tom Holland | Stars: Catherine Hicks , Chris Sarandon , Alex Vincent , Brad Dourif

Votes: 114,976 | Gross: $33.24M

"Child's Play" is wonderfully original-a great concept (the soul of a serial killer in the puppet)and villain(Chucky!)are perhaps the keys to it all. Plenty of shocks and scares,pretty good acting and lots of violence.

95. His House (2020)

TV-14 | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

Director: Remi Weekes | Stars: Sope Dirisu , Wunmi Mosaku , Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba , Matt Smith

Votes: 47,512

96. The Last House on the Left (2009)

R | 110 min | Horror, Thriller

After kidnapping and brutally assaulting two young women, a gang unknowingly finds refuge at a vacation home belonging to the parents of one of the victims: a mother and father who devise an increasingly gruesome series of revenge tactics.

Director: Dennis Iliadis | Stars: Garret Dillahunt , Monica Potter , Tony Goldwyn , Michael Bowen

Votes: 99,172 | Gross: $32.75M

This was gruesome and twistedly faithful to the original in spirit and effect.

97. I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

R | 108 min | Horror, Thriller

A writer who is brutalized during her cabin retreat seeks revenge on her attackers, who left her for dead.

Director: Steven R. Monroe | Stars: Sarah Butler , Jeff Branson , Andrew Howard , Daniel Franzese

Votes: 91,756 | Gross: $0.09M

Anyone who watches the film with an open mind will indeed find a powerful and angry film, one that takes no prisoners, nor does it try to play it safe for the safety and comfort of the audience. It was meant to shock, horrify, and provoke strong reactions and discussions.

98. The Lords of Salem (2012)

R | 101 min | Horror, Thriller

Radio DJ Heidi is sent a box containing a record--a "gift from the Lords". The sounds within the grooves trigger flashbacks of her town's violent past. Is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem, Massachusetts?

Director: Rob Zombie | Stars: Sheri Moon Zombie , Meg Foster , Bruce Davison , Jeff Daniel Phillips

Votes: 32,067 | Gross: $1.16M

A fun take on rock 'n' roll as the devil's music, with momentary flashes of brilliance.

99. The Howling (1981)

After a bizarre and near deadly encounter with a serial killer, a television newswoman is sent to a remote mountain resort whose residents may not be what they seem.

Director: Joe Dante | Stars: Dee Wallace , Patrick Macnee , Dennis Dugan , Christopher Stone

Votes: 39,670 | Gross: $17.99M

The original classic. A little dated in some respects, but you can't beat analog special effects!!

100. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos | Stars: Barry G. Bernson , Herb Caillouet , Bill Camp , Raffey Cassidy

Votes: 178,030 | Gross: $2.29M

They have you terrified at what was going to come out of someones mouth in just about every scene. I dont know if I liked it or hated it. I appreciated they made Me squirm for a couple hours.

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  1. All Classic Ghost Movies

    On New Year's Eve, the driver of a ghostly carriage forces a drunken man to reflect on his selfish, wasted life. Director: Victor Sjöström | Stars: Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg, Astrid Holm. Votes: 13,821. 4. The Headless Horseman (1922) Not Rated | 75 min | Comedy, Drama, Horror.

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    Top 100 Classic horror movie list. This list is contains the best Horror movies from the 60s and older. ... Ghost (18) Stabbed To Death (18) Supernatural Power (18) Telephone Call (18) Castle (17) Cat (17) Deception (17) ... A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a horde of flesh-eating ...

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    Pulse (2001), Wind Chill, The Uninvited (2009), The Bunker, Grave Encounters 2, A Tale Of Two Sisters, They Wait, Ghost Ship, The Haunted (1991), White Noise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, House On Haunted Hill (1959), Death Ship, Half Light, Mama, Haunted (1995), What Lies Beneath, The Woman In Black (1989), The Innkeepers, Crimson ...

  4. 50 Best Ghost Movies Ever Made

    A Ghost Story (2017) A24. For those looking for a more offbeat, unconventional ghost tale, this acclaimed A24 film centers around a recently deceased man who returns as a ghost (yes, white sheet ...

  5. The 50 Classic Horror Movies Every Scary Film Buff Must See

    5. 'Carrie' (1976) Stephen King's supernatural horror novel became a classic scary movie when it was released in 1976, highlighting the horrors of adolescence, puberty, and high school in general ...

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    builds upon the groundwork of. expertly builds upon Ridley Scott's. The Evil Dead. #347 of 772 on The Most Rewatchable Movies. #155 of 403 on. #21 of 387 on. 26. Pet Sematary. Horror, Thriller.

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    Muschietti also gets some solid performances out of his actors, especially Jessica Chastain. It's hard not to sympathize with her character, Annabel, thrust into the "mother" of all bad ...

  8. 55 Best Classic Horror Movies of All Time

    The Birds (1963) Universal Pictures. Another Hitchcock great: When Melanie meets Mitch at a pet store in San Francisco, she decides to buy him the birds that he was looking for in an effort to ...

  9. The 50 Best Classic Horror Movies of All Time

    The Haunting (1963) Robert Wise's haunted-house chiller based on Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House locks two women in a mansion and watches as they both lose their minds to ...

  10. 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time

    The Silence of the Lambs (1991)95%. #5. Critics Consensus: Director Jonathan Demme's smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

  11. The Best Old Horror Movies And Classic Scary Films, Ranked

    Horror of Dracula is a chilling and timeless classic that expertly captures the essence of old horror movies, utilizing spine-tingling tropes that are still gripping today. Directed by Terence Fisher and released in 1958, this Hammer Films production rejuvenated the vampire genre with its rich atmosphere, engrossing plot, and Christopher Lee's ...

  12. 15 Seriously Scary Ghost Movies (And How To Watch Them)

    1408 (2007) A grieving father who specializes in disproving supernatural phenomena ( John Cusack) puts the legend of an hotel room with a supposedly deadly curse to the test, only to find a reason ...

  13. 15 Old Horror Movies That Are Still Scary Today

    Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) Contrary to what we said regarding M, you don't need sound to create an outrageously scary film. Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages is a silent, black-and-white nightmare that will keep you up even though it's nearly a century old.

  14. The 20 best haunted house films of all time, ranked

    Now, enjoy EW's ranking of the 20 best haunted house movies of all time. 01 of 20. 20. The Amityville Horror (1979) Everett Collection. Not even Fixer Upper 's Chip and Joanna Gaines can salvage ...

  15. The 25 Best Classic Monster Movies for Old Hollywood Horror

    Dracula (1931) & Drácula (1931) One of the most iconic "Universal Horror Movies" - a cavalcade of tragic and beautiful and frightening creatures, whose blockbuster franchises kept the studio ...

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    A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a masked killer who targets her and her friends by using scary movies as part of a deadly game. Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich. Votes: 383,051 | Gross: $103.05M

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    While Halloween is just around the corner, it isn't really spooky season until you turn on a classic scary movie. Or ten. Sure, we love the holiday-themed favorites like Hocus Pocus and Casper, but sometimes we need an older, time-tested flick to really chill us to the bones.From Silence of the Lambs to the Children of the Corn, here 50 scary movies guaranteed to have you sleeping with the ...

  18. 11 "Eco-Horror" Movies that Shocked the 1970s

    11 "Eco-Horror" Movies that Shocked the 1970s. In the 1970s, a new breed of scary movie came clawing its way into theaters, and with "eco-horror" cinema, film lovers got to experience a ...

  19. The 75 Scariest Movies of All Time

    An old-school classic, this scary horror movie stars Kurt Russell as MacReady, an arctic researcher trapped with a killer alien able to disguise itself as his teammates. 'The Shining' (1980)

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  21. Best Classic Golden Age Horror Movies (1920-1952)

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    The Orphanage (2007)87%. #11. Critics Consensus: Deeply unnerving and surprisingly poignant, The Orphanage is an atmospheric, beautifully crafted haunted house horror film that earns scares with a minimum of blood. Synopsis: Laura (Belén Rueda) has happy memories of her childhood in an orphanage.

  23. 15 Best Paranormal Movies That Will Haunt You in Your Sleep

    A twisty, winding psychological horror, The Others excelled as a subversive haunted house horror movie that coasted on Nicole Kidman 's compelling central performance. Taking place in 1945, it ...

  24. 22 Best Horror Movies to Watch for a Good Scare

    Run Rabbit Run. One month after HBO's Succession came to a buzzy close, Sarah Snook was back with another master-class performance. In Run Rabbit Run, she plays a fertility doctor named Mia whose 7-year-old daughter (Lily LaTorre) develops supernatural fixations and claims she's actually the sister Mia lost as a kid.

  25. 11 Old Scary Movies That Are Still Terrifying Today

    Some old scary movies don't feel scary anymore. Here are 11 exceptions. The post 11 Old Scary Movies That Are Still Terrifying Today appeared first on MovieMaker Magazine. You're creeped out ...

  26. 100 Scariest Movies of All Time

    The scariest movie of all time. It will scar you for life, and leave you haunted by the effects. 2. Hereditary (2018) R | 127 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery. 7.3. Rate. 87 Metascore. A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.