Horror movie

21 Best Horror Movies Of All Times

Introducing the classics you've come to love and dread as well as new additions to the bloody business of cinema

What are the best horror movies of all times? It appears an impossible task to offer an all-encompassing answer, one that caters to all preferences, and an Internet search is sadly not very conclusive. As a result, we have decided to select a wide array of horror movies from different decades and themes, different styles and origins, and compile a list of the most important creepy creations.

21 best horror movies of all times

We will explore a list of the 21 Best Horror movies in the history of the seventh art - a selection of films ranging from the 1920s up to the new millennium.  

1. The Birds, 1963

This Alfred Hitchcock classic, one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinemaThe Birds tells the story of a city that is inexplicably and violently attacked by birds. 

The dark atmosphere, one of the main traits of the movie, coupled with Hitchcock's cinematic talent make for a progressively terrifying build-up. 

2. The Exorcist, 1973

The demonic possession of teenager Regan MacNeil is undoubtedly one of the most memorable scenes in the history of cinema. 

Nowadays, however, The Exorcist could appear outdated and even amusing to a younger audience, but at the time of its release, it was ranked as the scariest movie at all times  amassing an impressive number of viewers at the 1973 premiere.  


3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari), 1920

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is considered a masterpiece of German Expressionism  that reached its peak in the 1920s and one of the most influential films of all time. 

This dark, anxiety-inducing silent movie is considered the cornerstone of its genre and boasts one of the first attempts at a twist ending. 

4. The Thing, 1982

The Thing, a remake of The thing from another world 1951,directed by the legendary John Carpenter introduces the idea of a parasitic extraterrestrial life-form that assimilates and then imitates other organisms. The movie goes on to present a series of attacks on a team of unsuspecting scientists in Antarctica. 

Looking past the special effects and  Carpenter's directorial talent of making art out of gore, the movie's intrinsic value is the skill with which it plays on its characters' paranoia. The scientists have no way of knowing which of their colleagues is real and which are trying to murder them.    

5. Martyrs, 2008

Martyrs is a French psychological horror drama film that sparked many controversies due to its explicit use of violence. For some, it might represent a deep and meaningful experience while for others a traumatic event (a mild one at that.)

Together with Haute tension (2003), À l’intérieur (2007) o Ils (2006), Martyrs is one of the leading titles of French horror,  part of New French Extremity, a collection of transgressive films that emerged at the turn of the 21st century. 

6. Alien, 1979

Ridley Scott's Alien is one of the most acclaimed horror movies of all times, respected by everyone within the genre. The design of the extraterrestrial, created by artist H. R. Giger, is one of the most memorable in the history of horror cinema. 

Although not many viewers are aware, violence and sexual aggression are recurring themes in Alien,  and we can find evidence of this in the vicious attacks as well as certain phallic-shaped body parts of the creature. 

7. Dawn of the Dead, 2004

George A. Romero's trilogy that began with Night of the Living Dead (1968) symbolized the progenitor of the zombie horror  subgenre that has become so popular nowadays. 

A clear example of zombie fascination is  Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake of the second movie of the trilogy. This film has earned its spot on the 21 Best Horror Movies list due to its vital role in creating zombie cinema history as well as its undeniable gruesome qualities.  

8. The omen, 1976

The Omen, starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in one of the best examples of evil children horror films. The movie tells the story of little Damian, the adoptive son of a married couple who terrifies everyone from his parents to the animals around him. 

9. Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

Nightmare on Elm Street represented the birth of Freddy Krueger  (Robert Englund), one of the key characters in horror cinema as well as Johnny Depp's big screen debut. 

We explore the last moments of life of a group of teenagers who gets chased after and killed by the now infamous villain. 

10. Onibaba, 1964

Onibaba is a Japanese horror film set during a civil war in the 14th century, it uses the mythological image of a demon that feasts on humans. 

11. The Changeling, 1980

A composer that tragically loses his family looks for refuge in a reclused house and tries to regain his inspiration to work again. Nevertheless, strange things start happening, bizarre incidents surrounding one of the rooms on the top floor of the house. 

The Changeling is the emobodiement of gothic haunted houses films, perfectly portraying the sinister air of doom.  

12. Funny games, 1997

Although some critics don't technically classify it as a horror film, Michael Haneke's Funny Games does, in fact, deliver quite a scary punch. 

A pair of young men psychologically torture a family of three  and do so without any apparent reason. Director Haneke uses this technique to draw attention to our responsibility as viewers when it comes to recreating the very same violence that we criticize in media outlets. 

13. Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)

Who can kill a child is a classic Spanish horror movie directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, an important filmmaker in the Iberian Peninsula. 

The main characters, a British couple, are visiting  an island which appears to be inhabited only by disturbed children; and it doesn't take them long to realize what happened to all the adults. 

14. The Shining, 1980

In his 1980 remake, cinematic genius Stanley Kubrick manages to perfectly capture the original novel of Stephen King, master of horror literature. 

One of the most memorable qualities of the film, considered a leading example in the genre, is Jack Nicholson's outstanding performance as a demented family man.  His brilliant acting coupled  with the setting and bloody atmosphere, make The Shining into a truly unique experience. 

15. Repulsion, 1965

Repulsion is one of Roman Polanski's best psychological horror films. The movie causes fear using very few elements and focuses on the main character's fear of sex - masterfully performed by Catherine Deneuve.

16. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956

American cinema in the 1950s reflects the palpable paranoia that its citizens suffered regarding a potential "communist ideological invasion" as an impending consequence of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. 

The SciFi films featuring alien life forms of the decade are a perfect example and Invasion of the Body Snatchers stands out for being one of the best horror films of all times. Not only that but the film also suggests reflection about the fear of communism, as well as offering a critique of science fiction movies of the 50s.   

17. Jaws, 1975

Jaws was one of the first blockbusters by the famous Steven Spielberg. The movie generated a wave of shark phobias which endure to this day making it one of the best horror movies in existence. 

18. Psycho, 1960

Our top 21 Best Horror Movies welcomes another masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock, this time Psycho. The captivating element of the film is represented by Anthony Perkins' portrayal of the solitary motel manager Norman Bates, a boyish yet deranged character.

The horror cult movie inspired the TV series Bates Motel (2013-2017) which explores the formative years of Norman Bates  and how his complicated bond with his mother forged a serial killer.

19. Carrie, 1976

Carrie is another eerie masterpiece based on a novel by Stephen King, in this case, directed by Brian de Palma (Scarface, Mission Impossible, The Untouchables.)

The film uses puberty as a pivotal element in its plot, mainly the onset of menstruation, in an original cinematographic approach  which set a new standard for the horror films of the 70s.  

20. Hour of the Wolf, 1968

Hour of the Wolf is a significantly different horror movie to the ones we've already listed. This movie could qualify as a psychological thriller, a subgenre of the psychological drama. 

The surrealist film represents the notable work of Swedish  Ingmar Bergman, one of the most revered directors in the history of cinema. Once again we witness one of his fierce and strange pictures, made famous alongside his other films The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. 

21. Saw, 2004

Directed by James Wan, Saw is a low-budget horror movie which had an incredible international success at the box office when it was released. 

Many critics suggest that Saw's influence was partly responsible for the development that American horror cinema has experienced in the last two decades.