What are the best horror movies ever?
Welcome to the Best Horror Movies List otherwise known as Top 100 Horror Films of All Time, the sixth annual comprehensive list of the best in horror, getting better and more complete with each rendition. This best horror movie listing includes horror old and new, big-studio and independent, U.S. based and from abroad. Everything from creature features to silent films are part of the mix, compiled just for the most Discerning Horror Freaks.
In making of our Horror Freak News Top 100 Horror Films of all time, our attempt is rather that creating a ‘best of’ list for the sake of making a list, we hope it goes to good use. We have some suggestions in case the perfect use doesn’t come immediately to mind:
The Horror Novice:
This is the perfect way to move from horror newbie to bona fide Horror Freak – start at number 100 on the best horror movies list and work through to number 1. By the end you will have and incredible cross-section under your belt and likely be more well-read than most.
This list of the Top 100 Horror Films is the ideal basis for an absolutely comprehensive Netflix que or Amazon shopping extravaganza. Since you’re reading through this part, give us your Confessions of a Horror Movie Addict in the comments and get the gory details off your chest for all to see!
Certified Horror Freak:
Although this is the best, most comprehensive and absolutely most correct list of the Best Horror Films List to ever to exist on this planet, there will likely be questions or even rants and raves when one film or another is placed a certain way or is missing from the list. Please let us know in the comments section so we can make our next list even better!
So, here we go! On to the Best Horror Movies!
100. Suicide Club (2001, Written and Directed by Shion Sono)
Synopsis: Police officers investigate a string of mysterious suicides throughout Japan.
99. Cape Fear (1991, Directed by Martin Scorsese)
Synopsis: When attorney Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte) knowingly withholds evidence that would acquit violent sex offender Max Cady (Robert De Niro) of rape charges, Max spends 14 years in prison. But after Max’s release, knowing about Sam’s deceit, he devotes his life to stalking and destroying the Bowden family. When practical attempts to stop Max fail, Sam realizes that he must act outside the law to protect his wife and daughter in Martin Scorsese’s remake of the classic 1962 thriller.
98. Black Sheep (2006, Directed by Jonathan King)
Synopsis: Sheep-fearing Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to his brother’s (Peter Feeney) New Zealand farm, hoping his sibling will buy out his share of the property. However, what he finds are genetically altered sheep that prey on humans and turn their victims into undead, woolly killers. Shear madness ensues as Henry, an animal-rights activist (Danielle Mason) and a farmhand (Tammy Davis) set out to stop the rampaging animals.
97. The Mist (2007, Directed by Frank Darabont)
Synopsis “After a powerful storm damages their Maine home, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head into town to gather food and supplies. Soon afterward, a thick fog rolls in and engulfs the town, trapping the Draytons and others in the grocery store. Terror mounts as deadly creatures reveal themselves outside, but that may be nothing compared to the threat within, where a zealot (Marcia Gay Harden) calls for a sacrifice.”
96. Darkness Falls (2003, Directed by Jonathan Liebesman)
Synopsis: In Maine, the residents of Darkness Falls are all aware of the legend of Matilda Dixon, an old woman who was tragically murdered by a mob in the 1800s because the townspeople thought she was killing children. Now Darkness Falls has to contend with Matilda’s supernatural wrath. Childhood friends Kyle (Chaney Kley) and Caitlin (Emma Caulfield) return home to uncover the truth behind the legend after Caitlin’s little brother (Lee Cormie) has recurring nightmares about Matilda.
The Top 100 Horror Films list starts at the bottom, but that’s a bit misleading because every one of these films is spectacular. Suicide Club has been called “yet another reason to recognize Asian Horror”, Cape Fear is a remake that surpassed it’s classic original, Black Sheep has killer ewes and The Mist has… mist. We also see Darkness Falls holding on by a thread on the Best Horror Movies list – even the critics who pan this film admit it’s scary as hell.
95. Dead of Night (1945, Directed by Cavalcanti)
Synopsis: Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) goes to Pilgrim’s Farm to see a potential client. When he arrives at the house, he gets the feeling that he has been there before. Once inside, he meets a group of people who seem oddly familiar. He tells them that he has dreamt about each one of them and begins to list events that occurred in the dream. Walter’s revelations begin a conversation amongst the group, and each person admits to having experienced a strange, unexplainable event.
94. The Haunting (1963, Directed by Robert Wise)
Synopsis: This horror tale focuses on visitors to the secluded mansion of Hill House who have been called to the isolated location by Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson) as part of a study on insomnia. However, Marrow is really investigating fear, and he plans to scare the subjects, including the introverted Nell (Lili Taylor) and the seductive Theo (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Unfortunately for Marrow and everyone staying at Hill House, the manor is actually haunted by an evil spirit out to torment its guests.
93. Candyman (1992, Directed by Bernard Rose)
Synopsis: Skeptical graduate student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) befriends Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Williams) while researching superstitions in a housing project on Chicago’s Near North Side. From Anne-Marie, Helen learns about the Candyman (Tony Todd), a knife-wielding figure of urban legend that some of her neighbors believe to be responsible for a recent murder. After a mysterious man matching the Candyman’s description begins stalking her, Helen comes to fear that the legend may be all too real.
92. The Quatermass Xperiment (1955, Directed by Val Guest)
Synopsis: An astronaut returns to Earth after an experimental space flight afflicted by a strange fungus that transforms him into a murderous monster. After bullets and bombs fail to stop the creature, brilliant scientist Professor Quatermass becomes mankind’s last hope of survival.
91. Hostel (2005, Written and Directed by Eli Roth)
Synopsis: Best friends Josh (Derek Richardson) and Paxton (Jay Hernandez) decide to spend the summer after college graduation on an all-out backpacking trip across Europe. While stopping in Amsterdam to indulge their tastes for drugs and sex, they meet Oli (Eythor Gudjonsson), a like-minded traveler from Iceland. When the three bachelors set off to investigate enticing rumors of a Slovakian hostel in a city populated by lusty women, they find themselves drawn unwittingly into a deadly game.
Both Dead of Night and The Haunting have been rated 10 out of 10 by many people over the years, and they make their appearances in the Horror Freak News Top 100 Horror Films list. Candyman is a film that doesn’t always get it’s due, and The Quatermass Xperiment is both good on it’s own and signals the beginning of the heyday of Hammer Studios. Hostel is a controversial entry with Horror Freaks complaining both that it shouldn’t be included, and that it should be rated much higher. It effectively started the “torture porn” horror sub-genre in any case, and has earned it’s place on the list.
90. Scream (1996, Directed by Wes Craven)
Synopsis: Wes Craven re-invented and revitalised the slasher-horror genre with this modern horror classic, which manages to be funny, clever and scary, as a fright-masked knife maniac stalks high-school students in middle-class suburbia. Craven is happy to provide both tension and self-parody as the body count mounts – but the victims aren’t always the ones you’d expect.
89. Frankenstein (1931, Directed by James Whale)
88. Horror of Dracula (1958, Directed by Terence Fisher)
87. The Mummy (1932, Directed by Karl Freund)
86. Audition (1999, Directed by Takashi Miike)
I think the werewolves in Dog Soldiers are less goofy looking ‘in the moment’.
Now is the time in the list we get to Scream. 2011 saw a 4th installment of the film that brought budget back to horror in the 90s. A rash of absolute classics follow with Universal’s Frankenstein and The Mummy, and the Hammer classic Horror of Dracula – forming a horror movie monster hat trick. Asian horror shows itself again with the highly creepy and intense Audition.
85. Dog Soldiers (2002, Written and Directed by Neil Marshall)
84. The Lost Boys (1987, Directed by Joel Schumacher)
83. The Wolfman (1941, Directed by George Waggner)
82. [REC] (2007, Written and Directed by Jaume Balagueró)
81. Child’s Play (1988, Directed by Tom Holland)
Dog Soldiers is a great mix of commandos and werewolves, and the contrasting The Wolfman rounds out the hairy beasts for this segment. The Lost Boys continues to be a favorite over 20 years after the initial release, as does Child’s Play and the iconic “Chucky”. [REC], found footage horror from Spain had a huge impact and resulted in 3 (and counting) sequels to date.
80. Army of Darkness (1992, Directed by Sam Raimi)
79. The Ring (2002, Directed by Gore Verbinski)
78. Rose Red (2002, Directed by Craig R. Baxley)
77. The Legend of Hell House (1973, Directed by John Hough)
Army of Darkness is a horror/comedy that has almost universal support and love, and The Ring is listed by many horror freaks as the first movie to scare the crap out of them ever. Rose Red was made for TV and still hit a home run, and The Legend of Hell House is about as perfect and “by the book” a haunted house story as there ever was. The Top 100 Best Horror Movies Ever list is really starting to heat up now.
76. The Fog (1980, Directed by John Carpenter)
75. I Saw the Devil (2011, Directed by Jee-woon Kim)
74. Interview With The Vampire (1994, Directed by Neil Jordan)
73. The Uninvited (1944, Directed by Lewis Allen)
72. Phantasm (1979, Written and Directed by Don Coscarelli)
71. The Fly (1958, Directed by Kurt Neumann)
The Fog is a personal favorite of The Horror Czar of HorrorFreakNews.com (crush on Adrienne Barbeau, still?) and I Saw the Devil is considered a modern classic. Interview With the Vampire had questionable casting but Anne Rice’s story played out great, and The Uninvited is a classic ghost story that keys into the core of what makes those stories work. Finally with Phantasm and The Fly we add two horror films that bring very different things to the best horror movies list – as it should be.
70. Return of the Living Dead (1985, Written and Directed by Dan O’Bannon)
69. The Sixth Sense (1999, Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamaian)
Continuing on with Return of the Living Dead brought many a Horror Freak into the realm of zombie freak. You’ve gotta love a film that inspires the tender newbies to love those rotted flesh feasters. The Sixth Sense is on the fence regarding horror, but ghosts qualify and this film is an absolute classic. Onward and upward with the Top 100 Horror Films!
68. The Woman (2011, Directed by Lucky McKee)
67. Last House on the Left (1972, Written and Directed by Wes Craven)
66. Dead Alive (1992, Directed by Peter Jackson)
65. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola)
64. An American Werewolf in London (1981, Written and Directed by John Landis)
63. Evil Dead 2 (1987, Directed by Sam Raimi)
62. IT (1990, Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace)
The Woman rocketed to the list this year on the strength of outstanding direction by Lucky McKee and an electrifying performance by Pollyanna McIntosh. Then on to some older fare with the film that “broke” Wes Craven Last House on the Left, and the Peter Jackson gorefest Dead Alive. Classic monsters show up again with Dracula and An American Werewolf in London and Sam Raimi’s trilogy second Evil Dead 2 hangs on for dear life. And that clown from IT – still creepy after all these years. What is it about clowns?
61. Spider Baby (1968, Written and Directed by Jack Hill)
60. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, Directed by Robert Wiene)
59. Night of the Comet (1984, Written and Directed by Thom Eberhardt)
58. Tale of Two Sisters (2003, Written and Directed by Ji-woon Kim)
57. Nosferatu (1922, Directed by F.W. Murnau)
56. Poltergeist (1982, Directed by Tobe Hooper)
55. Dracula (1931, Directed by Tod Browning)
Spider Baby is great classic horror that came out the same year as George Romero’s zombie classic NOTLD, and Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is silent horror that helped set the stage for the scares to come. Night of the Comet is 80s horror/comedy with every period stereotype under the sun, and Tale of Two Sisters is great Asian horror that spawned a lackluster English-language remake. Then there’s Nosferatu, Poltergeist and Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, three classics from different periods that add great depth to the Top 100 Horror Films listing.
54. Peeping Tom (1960, Directed by Michael Powell)
53. Bedlam (1946, Directed by Mark Robson)
52. Event Horizon (1997, Directed by Paul Anderson)
51. Re-Animator (1985, Directed by Stuart Gordon)
50. Misery (1990, Directed by Rob Reiner)
The Top 50 Horror Films
49. Picture of Dorian Gray (1945, Directed by Albert Lewin)
48. The Beyond (1981, Directed by Lucio Fulci)
47. Village of the Damned (1960, Directed by Wolf Rilla)
46. Serpent and the Rainbow (1988, Directed by Wes Craven)
Picture of Dorian Gray is an awesome film with a theme that’s shown up many time in other horror over the years. The Beyond is Fulci at his off-the-wall best, and Village of the Damned is a fantastic example of the original being the best of the bunch. Serpent and the Rainbow is very interesting in how it pulls Haitian voodoo into the mix in a way that is very real to true believers.
45. Cemetery Man (1994, Directed by Michele Soavi)
44. Saw (2004, Directed by James Wan)
43. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006, Directed by Scott Glosserman)
42. Zombi 2 (1980, Directed by Lucio Fulci)
41. The Body Snatcher (1945, Directed by Robert Wise)
Saw was the first original horror idea to come along in a while (before it was run into the ground by a bunch of goofy sequels) and Behind the Mask is low budget Indie Horror that really hits the mark. Zombi 2 has an eyeball scene that must be seen to be believed, and The Body Snatcher is a no-brainer as a component of the list.
40. The Omen (1976, Director by Richard Donner)
39. Rosemary’s Baby (1968, Directed by Roman Polanski)
38. Bride of Frankenstein (1935, Directed by James Whale)
37. The Birds (1963, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock)
There is something about that Damien kid on a Big Wheel in The Omen that gets me every time. Then we have a trio of women serving up the scares in this segment of the Top 100 Horror Films list with Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby, Elsa Lanchester as Frankenstein’s bride and Tippi Hedren (who shows up at a horror convention here and there) in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
36. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957, Directed by Terence Fisher)
35. The Wicker Man (1973, Directed by Robin Hardy)
34. Ginger Snaps (2000, Directed by John Fawcett)
33. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971, Directed by Robert Fuest)
The Curse of Frankenstein, Hammer Studios, is a very different view of the Frankenstein monster than the Universal/Boris Karloff version, and helped to bring monsters back into the limelight with more gore and lavish surroundings. The Wicker Man takes ‘girl power’ to new heights, as does Ginger Snaps – a great new vision of the vampire legend. Vincent Price in The Abominable Dr. Phibes grabs us with the tag line “Love Means Never Having to Say ‘Your Ugly’”. Note: This particular line wasn’t in the film, but was used in advertising. If you say to the wrong uber horror nerd that it’s a line from the movie, they will berate you mercilessly. I speak from experience.
32. Hellraiser (1987, Directed by Clive Barker)
31. Let The Right One In (2008, Directed by Tomas Alfredson)
30. Shaun of the Dead (2004, Directed by Edgar Wright)
29. High Tension (2005, Directed by Alexandre Aja)
Margot Kidder and friend in Black Christmas, credited by many as the first film to use the modern slasher formula.
Interesting tidbit – Hellraiser was the first film ever reviewed and published by Best-Horror-Movies.com (The mother of Horror Freak News) so many years ago, and made that first ever Top 100 Horror Films list. What a classic. Let the Right One In is a new entry that swept vampire culture with a great new take, and Shaun of the Dead makes zombies accessible to all by mixing flesh feasters with romantic comedy. High Tension (aka ‘Haute Tension‘) might just take two viewings to make sense, and even then there are some leaps of faith required in this awesome gorefest from France.
28. Black Christmas (1974, Directed by Bob Clark)
27. The Orphanage (2007, Directed by J.A. Bayona)
26. Ringu (1998, Directed by Hideo Nakata)
The Top 25 Horror Films
25. The Hills Have Eyes (1977, Written and Directed by Wes Craven)
24. The Blair Witch Project (1999, Written and Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez)
23. 28 Days Later (2002, Directed by Danny Boyle)
22. The Thing (1982, Directed by John Carpenter)
The Hills Have Eyes has been sequeled and remade, but the original is still the creepiest. The Blair Witch Project effectively started the “found footage” subgenre of horror that remains alive and kicking today. 28 Days Later really made those “not a zombie zombies” kick major booty, and John Carpenter’s The Thing is the little remake that could – although the remake or, rather “prequel” in 2011 just couldn’t.
21. Silence of the Lambs (1991, Directed by Jonathan Demme)
20. May (2002, Written and Directed by Lucky McKee)
19. Aliens (1986, Directed by James Cameron)
Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal Lector are iconic, but it is whack-job James Gumm and his quest to become a female by wearing a flesh coat made from heavy chicks that is truly sick. May likes to cut on people too, but that’s just to collect her favorite parts of other people and construct the perfect friend for herself. Aliens is called “Sci-Fi” by many, but it’s all horror around here, and a great addition to the top 20 of the Top 100 best Horror movies Ever list.
18. Suspiria (1977, Directed by Dario Argento)
17. Jaws (1975, Directed by Steven Spielberg)
16. The Descent (2005, Directed by Neil Marshall)
15. Frailty (2001, Directed by Bill Paxton)
As we get well into the top 20 of the best horror movies list we get to the true classics, with The Descent being the most recent of the bunch. Between Suspiria, Jaws, The Evil Dead, The Howling and Texas Chainsaw Massacre we’re in the realm of films that all could have made top 10 with no trouble. It’s our rating methodology that put them where they are.
14. Evil Dead (1981, Directed by Sam Raimi)
13. The Howling (1981, Directed by Joe Dante)
12. Ju-On (2000, Written and Directed by Takashi Shimizu)
11. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974, Directed by Tobe Hooper)
Synopsis: When Sally (Marilyn Burns) hears that her grandfather’s grave may have been vandalized, she and her paraplegic brother, Franklin (Paul A. Partain), set out with their friends to investigate. After a detour to their family’s old farmhouse, they discover a group of crazed, murderous outcasts living next door. As the group is attacked one by one by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), who wears a mask of human skin, the survivors must do everything they can to escape.
And Now Horror Freaks, The Main Event:
The Top 10 Horror Films
10. Carrie (1976, Directed by Brian De Palma)
In this chilling adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel, withdrawn and sensitive teen Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) faces taunting from classmates at school and abuse from her fanatically pious mother (Piper Laurie) at home. When strange occurrences start happening around Carrie, she begins to suspect that she has supernatural powers. Invited to the prom by the empathetic Tommy Ross (William Katt), Carrie tries to let her guard down, but things eventually take a dark and violent turn.
9. Friday the 13th (1980, Directed by Sean S. Cunningham)
Synopsis: Crystal Lake’s history of murder doesn’t deter counselors from setting up a summer camp in the woodsy area. Superstitious locals warn against it, but the fresh-faced young people — Jack (Kevin Bacon), Alice (Adrienne King), Bill (Harry Crosby), Marcie (Jeannine Taylor) and Ned (Mark Nelson) — pay little heed to the old-timers. Then they find themselves stalked by a brutal killer. As they’re slashed, shot and stabbed, the counselors struggle to stay alive against a merciless opponent.
8. Dawn of the Dead (1978, Written and Directed by George A. Romero)
Synopsis: When her husband is attacked by a zombified neighbor, Ana (Sarah Polley) manages to escape, only to realize her entire Milwaukee neighborhood has been overrun by the walking dead. After being questioned by cautious policeman Kenneth (Ving Rhames), Ana joins him and a small group that gravitates to the local shopping mall as a bastion of safety. Once they convince suspicious security guards that they are not contaminated, the group bands together to fight the undead hordes.
7. Psycho (1960, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock)
Synopsis: Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, Sam Loomis (John Gavin), is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man with an interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.
6. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, Directed by Wes Craven)
Synopsis: In Wes Craven’s classic slasher film, several Midwestern teenagers fall prey to Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a disfigured midnight mangler who preys on the teenagers in their dreams — which, in turn, kills them in reality. After investigating the phenomenon, Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) begins to suspect that a dark secret kept by her and her friends’ parents may be the key to unraveling the mystery, but can Nancy and her boyfriend Glen (Johnny Depp) solve the puzzle before it’s too late?
5. The Shining (1980, Directed by Stanley Kubrick)
4. Night of the Living Dead (1968, Directed by Dean Lachiusa & George Romero)
Synopsis: The dead come back to life and eat the living. Several people barricade themselves inside a rural house in an attempt to survive the night. Outside are hordes of relentless, shambling zombies who can only be killed by a blow to the head.
3. Halloween (1978, Directed by John Carpenter)
Synopsis: On a cold Halloween night in 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murdered his 17-year-old sister, Judith. He was sentenced and locked away for 15 years. But on October 30, 1978, while being transferred for a court date, a 21-year-old Michael Myers steals a car and escapes Smith’s Grove. He returns to his quiet hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, where he looks for his next victims.
2. Alien (1979, Directed by Ridley Scott)
Synopsis: In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and attaches itself to one of the crew, causing him to fall into a coma.
1. The Exorcist (1973, Directed by William Freidkin)
Synopsis: When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
That’s it Horror Freaks, the Best Horror Movies of all time, Whether you are new to most (or even all) of these films or they are merely notches in arm of your favorite horror-watching couch