101 Best Horror Movies of All Time

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101 Best Horror Movies of All Time

From Universal monsters to modern serial killers, creature features to slasher flicks — these are the films that keep us forever screaming in the dark
David Fear, A.A. Dowd, Stephen Garrett, Katie Rife, Tim Grierson, Jason Bailey, Keith Phipps, Kory Grow, Esther Zuckerman, Robert Daniels, Noel Murray By
horror get out scream michael myers the exorcist halloween the birds jaws scary

Art by Matthew Cooley. Images: Cinematic Collection/Alamy Stock Photo; Fotos International/Getty Images; Universal Pictures/Everett Collection; Courtesy Everett Collection; Courtesy Everett Collection

Do you lượt thích scary movies ?

Of course you do! Freaking out with your fellow audience member when something shocking happens, or jolting together as one during a primo jump scare, is one of the great pleasures of going to the movies. And over the past 100-plus years, the art form has figured out almost every possible way to frighten us, unnerve us, make our hair stand on us, chill us, thrill us and touch upon our most primal of fears. Then, just when you think it’s safe to go back to the theater, something else comes along that reminds us that there are always new ways to come us screaming in the dark. If you can count on the movies for anything, it’s that there seems to be an exhaustible supply of scares.

Naturally, everyone who helped cobble together the 101 best horror films of all time like scary movies. A lot. So we’ve gathered all of the old-school monster movies and modern serial-killer thrillers, the creature features and the slasher flicks, the canon-worthy creepfests from Universal and Hammer and A24, and come up this definitive list (or our definitive list, at least) of the greatest the genre has to offer. Just remember, as you read this list: It’s only a movie. Say that 101 times in a row, and you may just it make through this list…alive!

  • ‘The Abominable Dr. Phibes’

    The Abominable Dr. Phibes
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Part The Phantom of the Opera, part The Ten Commandments, this revenge fantasy follows a disfigured concert organist ( the inimitable Vincent Price ) as he exacts biblical vengeance on the doctors he thinks killed his wife by reenacting Egypt’s Old Testament plagues. Playing opposite Joseph Cotten, Price gives a memorably sinister performance, since for most of the movie Phibes is wearing a mask to look lượt thích his face so sánh he can’t move his lips — & when he takes the mask off, he’s a fleshless ghoul … with Vincent Price’s unforgettable voice. A rare horror movie aware of its own camp value, The Abominable Dr. Phibes was marketed with an anti-Love Story tagline : “ Love means chưa bao giờ having to say you’re ugly. ” — K.G.

  • ‘Ganja & Hess’

    Ganja & Hess
    Image Credit: King Lorber, Inc.

    rồng before đen horror became the primary conduit for đen folks to interrogate the daily traumas associated with organized religion, identity và assimilation, writer-director Bill Gunn dared to fit these weighty subjects in one extremely alluring, ahead-of-its-time film. Dr. Hess ( Duane Jones ) is an anthropologist who becomes a vampire after his assistant, George Meda ( Gunn ), stabs him with an ancient African dagger. Hess ultimately murders his assistant & takes Meda’s widow, Ganja ( Marlene Clark ), as a lover. The pair embark on steamy, sticky sex scenes lathered in blood, và some lusty killing sprees. Nearly 50 years since its release, it still feels strikingly modern. — R.D.

  • ‘Cronos’

    Image Credit: October Films/Everett Collection

    There’s is a device — a sort of clockwork scarab — that, should you unlock it & its spindly, metal legs clamp onto you, may give you the gift of immortality. There’s a catch, however, as the antique store owner ( Federico Luppi ) who’s stumbled across this ancient artifact soon finds out. It involves the regular consumption of blood. A unique spin on the vampire movie ( something you would have thought near-impossible by this point ), Guillermo del Toro’s debut movie plays fast và loose with religious iconography, horror-movie tropes, pulp-lit tales of mystery và imagination, & mythology in the most exciting of ways. It’s a perfect introduction to his mix-and-match sense of the macabre, as well as proof that nobody plays a genre-movie heavy better than Ron Perlman. — D.F.

  • ‘Blood and Black Lace’

    Blood and Black Lace
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Mario Bava has given the world the prototype for the giallo movie in 1963, with his black-and-white thriller The Girl Who Knew Too Much. The next year, he’d give the subgenre it’s first bona fide masterpiece. After a female Model is murdered, her bosses và peers begin to fret end a diary the woman kept, & that detailed everyone’s most sordid secrets. Everyone is trying to find the book before its revelations are discovered — including her killer, who is more than willing to slay everyone at the modeling agency in the process. The phối of graphic violence with lurid, eye-popping màu sắc & an abundance of stylish touches ( the killer’s outfit of fedora, trenchcoat & eerie faceless mask is tres slasher chic ) would become staples of these pulpy Italian horror movies into the 1970 s, but Bava got there first. And, many would argue, did it best. — D.F.

  • ‘Martin’

    Image Credit: Libra Films

    Martin believes he’s an 84 – year-old vampire, though he looks 25. He swears he needs to drink blood to survive, but is he just another psycho killer ? Much as his victims try, garlic & crucifixes just don’t keep him away. Throughout the movie, Martin asks for help và understanding but receives little, driving him to kill more often — và thus making a statement about mental health a thời gian when people would say, “ get kết thúc it ” to people with problems. “ What I’m trying to show in Martin is that we can’t expect the quái dị to be predictable, ” filmmaker George A. Romero once said. That uncertainty, coupled with gory scenes of Martin sedating people & imbibing their blood, engineered by special-effects wiz Tom Savini, is what made the low-budget film an instant cult cơn bão. — K.G.

  • ‘The Blob’

    The Blob
    Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

    Director Irvin Yeaworth’s kitschy, low-budget creature feature about an amorphous, man-eating hunk of Jello from outer space is pure B-movie heaven. A romping teen flick with beach movie vibes — there’s even a catchy theme tuy nhiên by Burt Bacharach và Mack David — it kicks off with Steve Andrews ( a still very green Steve McQueen ) & his girlfriend Jane ( Aneta Corseaut ) cruising the Pennsylvania countryside. Then they see a comet streak across the sky, at which point the tiêu đề “ character ” emerges to consume a man in front of them ,. Despite their pleas to the town’s jaded adults, they aren’t believed until it’s too late. Similar to most 1950 s movies, the air of the Cold War hangs heavy above this one. ( So it’s a force that keeps spreading và consuming everything in its path ? Hmm. ). Even more chilling to modern audiences, however, is the dire ecological ending : The blob can be contained if Antarctica remains frozen và intact. Uh-oh. — R.D.

  • ‘The Black Cat’

    the black cat
    Image Credit: Abramorama/Everett Collection

    Having already made horror-movie stars out of Bela “ Dracula ” Lugosi & Boris “ Frankenstein’s Monster ” Karloff, Universal decided : Why not pair these icons together for double the shrieks ? Like its unofficial companion piece The Raven ( 1935 ), this inaugural team-up is based loosely — very loosely — on an Edgar Allan Poe work, và finds Lugosi accompanying newlyweds David Manners và Julie Bishop to a castle in Hungary, owned by his old “ friend ” Karloff. It seems the latter sent his thick-accented buddy to a Siberian gulag after World War I và married the man’s wife ; the estate’s master may also dabble in what Manners dubs “ supernatural baloney ” in his spare giây phút. ( “ Supernatural, perhaps, ” intones Lugosi. “ Baloney … perhaps not ! ” ) Revenge, Đen masses, a homoerotic skin-flaying sequence và some of the most Expressionistic mix kiến thiết this side of Doc Caligari’s office are on deck, with director Edgar G. Ulmer finding exactly the right blend of campiness & creepiness. — D.F.

  • ‘The Descent’

    The Descent
    Image Credit: Lions Gate/Everett Collection

    As a rule, no good ever comes from trekking out into nature in a horror movie. But writer-director Neil Marshall’s second feature took that truism to disturbing mới ra depths, sending his all-female ensemble xuống dốc into a cave far beneath the earth’s surface. Long before modern horror fixated on the notion that a film’s terrors ought to be a reflection of the main character’s hidden trauma, The Descent gave the idea teeth, casting Shauna Macdonald as an emotionally scarred widow mourning the tragic deaths of her husband & child — she processes that pain by trying to outwit và outrun the hideous creatures that dwell underground, hungry to feast on her và her friends. Brutally effective & mercilessly paced, the film boasts the funhouse frights of an expert midnight movie. Yet it’s constantly accentuated by the pathos undergirding the scares : Even if this woman makes it out alive, she’ll chưa bao giờ get back the part of herself she’s lost forever. — T.G.

  • ‘Trouble Every Day’

    Trouble Every Day
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Ostensibly, Claire Denis ’ 2001 movie is about a newly married couple, Shane ( Vincent Gallo ) & June ( Tricia Vessey ), on their honeymoon in Paris. But a growing body toàn thân count & almost sickening quantities of blood hint at the film’s dark heart, intertwining romance with cannibalism as Shane’s secret reason for visiting the City of Lights is eventually revealed. Despised upon its release & ( inaccurately ) accused of inspiring audience members to faint from the severity of the onscreen violence, Trouble Every Day is a mesmerizing, grisly meditation on passion và commitment in an age of sexually transmitted diseases. Beneath its gruesome imagery & fixation on pulverized human flesh, however, this horror film comes bearing a touching message : Even monsters need love. Just be careful not to get too close, lest they sink their teeth into you. — T.G.

  • ‘Friday the 13th’

    FRIDAY THE 13TH, Kevin Bacon, 1980, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection
    Image Credit: Paramount/Everett Collection

    Two years after Halloween rewrote the rules for teen terror, Friday the 13 th upped the ante ( & the body toàn thân count ) with a slasher whodunnit. As counselors ( including Kevin Bacon ) arrive at Camp Crystal Lake, they ignore well-intentioned warnings from Crazy Ralph, và go about carousing & [ gasp ! ] having sex on the campground. That’s when the bodies start piling up. When the murderer finally appears, it’s not who any of the counselors thought it would be. And no, in the original Friday the 13 th, it wasn’t Jason Voorhees. Unlike the rip-offs ( Sleepaway Camp, The Burning ), which revel solely in bloody kills, or the later Jason flicks, Friday the 13 th played up suspense as much as the blood. It’s a shame how a hockey mask made people thua trận sight of that. — K.G.

  • ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’

    Henry portrait of a serial killer
    Image Credit: Greycat Films/Everett Collection

    Henry ( Michael Rooker ) has a routine : wake up, go to work, murder a woman, pound some beers, repeat. This drifter in the Henry Lee Lucas mold soon introduces his roommate / accomplice, Otis ( Tom Towles ), to his homicidal lifestyle. Set in a Chicago redolent of John Wayne Gacy, the Chicago Rippers & unspeakable violence behind wholesome Midwestern facades, director John McNaughton’s debut is sometimes a depraved buddy comedy, sometimes a perverse domestic drama, và 100 – percent a nightmare. All of its modes are unrelentingly bleak, however, as this movie reveals the banal face of a real multiple murderer. Serial killers are not semi-supernatural evil geniuses — they’re dangerous, dim-witted losers, lượt thích these two jagoffs. — K.R.

  • ‘Pet Sematary’

    pet sematary
    Image Credit: Paramount/Everett Collection

    Nestled by the most dangerous road in America — where semi-trucks zoom at seemingly supersonic speeds và turn animals into road kill – lies a most peculiar burial ground. Louis ( Dale Midkiff ), his wife, Rachel ( Denise Crosby ), và their young family are recent arrivals to a country trang chủ located uncomfortably close to that perilous stretch of asphalt. When their cát dies, their neighbor ( Fred Gwynne ), however, tells Louis of another site, founded by Indigeous people where things have a tendency to return to life. A Frankenstein myth mixed with zombie-movie tropes và blessed with stunning practical effects & gruesome makeup, director Mary Lambert’s film of Stephen King’s novel isn’t just one of the best of the legendary author’s works. It instinctively understands what makes his work such endlessly potent nightmare fuel : Find a relatable story, add one bit of the fantastic ( & maybe three bits of the ironic ), notch up the dread to an unbearable cấp độ … then find a pressure point và push hard. — R.D.

  • ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’

    the creature from the black lagoon
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    dragon before Jaws made folks think twice about swimming in open water, there was Jack Arnold’s ’ 50 s favorite about a scientific expedition in the Amazon that comes across the skeletal remains of a primitive half-man, half-fish creature. What they don’t realize is that there’s also a very-much-alive “ Gill-Man ” swimming beneath those same murky rivers và lagoons, và he’s got his eyes on ichthyologist Julie Adams. It’s the scenes of Adams swimming while the Creature hovers right below her kicking legs, ready to pounce, that phối the movie’s original audiences on edge ( what was going on beneath us when we obliviously doing the backstroke ? ). Yet it’s the iconic kiến thiết of the Creature, courtesy of former Disney artist Milicent Patrick và Chris Mueller ( he sculpted the mask ), that’s kept this drive-in classic permanently in the Famous Monsters of Filmland pantheon. — D.F.

  • ‘The House of the Devil’

    The House of the Devil
    Image Credit: Magnet Releasing/Everett Collection

    Ti West’s slow-simmering “ Beware of Satanists ! ” cautionary tale looks & feels lượt thích an artifact from the early 1980 s, found in a dusty corner of an abandoned đoạn Clip store. A naive college student takes a babysitting job at a creaky Victorian house, working for a couple of shady characters ( played by veteran cult movie weirdos Tom Noonan and Mary Woronov ). Before the literal all-hell-breaks-loose third act, The House of the Devil plays up the spooky atmosphere & retro phong cách — right lao dốc to a scene involving a cranked-up Walkman, a tuy nhiên by the Fixx, và our sick fear that everything’s about to go very wrong. — N.M.

  • ‘Black Christmas’

    Black christmas
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Four years before Halloween cơn sốt the screens, a mysterious murderer terrorized a sorority in Bob Clark’s proto-slasher. Far more upsetting than any of this homicidal maniac’s kills ? The misogynistic invective he spouts kết thúc the phone. It would be easy for Black Christmas itself to become an outgrowth of its villain’s lurid, predatory gaze, but instead the movie ( from the director of Porky’s, of all things ) is a surprisingly progressive tale of what happens when women aren’t listened to & their choices aren’t respected. The bonus ? The assembled cast including Olivia Hussey, Andrea Martin, & Margot Kidder. — E.Z.

  • ‘Saint Maud’

    saint maud
    Image Credit: A24/Everett Collection

    A born-again Christian named Maud ( Morfydd Clark ) pines for a mission — và for her sins, she’s given one, in the size of a being a caretaker for a terminally ill choreographer ( Jennifer Ehle ). The longer she tends to her sick employer, the more she worries about saving this woman’s soul. But is Maud capable of offering salvation to the sick ? Does this pious heroine really have a direct line to divinity ? Or perhaps that voice in her head belongs to some other, less heavenly messenger ? Director Rose Glass ’ feature debut can be savored as a welcome, disquieting mới nhất addition to that old phút giây religious-horror canon. ( There will be back-bending levitation shots. ) Or you can look at it as a portrait of young woman finding a warped sense of empowerment in her madness … which makes this “ possession ” story twice as unnerving. — D.F.

  • ‘The Wolf Man’

    the wolf man
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    “ Even a man who is pure in heart, và says his prayers by night / May be become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, và the autumn moon is bright. ” Universal had already dabbled with those fated to get a little harrier và toothier during đầy đủ moons with 1935 ’ s The Werewolf of London, featuring Henry Hull as the tiêu đề character. But it was Lon Chaney Jr. ’ s portrayal of doomed sad sack Lawrence Talbot, who returns to his ancestral home page in Wales only to be bitten by a you-know-what, that would help sell these mythical half-man, half-animal creatures as horror-movie staples. Say “ werewolf, ” & several generations immediately imagined Jack Pierce’s make-up on Chaney’s face. He’d play many victims và monsters kết thúc the years, including several other Universal horror legends, but the wolf-man remains the cornerstone of his legacy. And the rest of this subcategory’s mythology, from folkloric curses to silver bullets, gets minted right here as well. — D.F.

  • ‘Us’

    Image Credit: ©Universal/Everett Collection

    For his follow-up to Get Out, Jordan Peele pierces deeper into questions of racial & cultural identity, coming up with something terrifying both in a “ monsters jumping out of the dark ” way & a “ man, the entire mạng xã hội order is messed up ” way. Lupita Nyong’o gives an all-time great horror performance in a dual role : as an anxious middle class wife & mother ; & as the leader of an army of murderous doppelgängers. The movie doesn’t hammer too hard on any particular political point, rather, it’s more a succession of well-staged scenes of freaky tension và explosive violence, all riffing on the idea that whenever one nhóm of people are living well, there’s almost always another nhóm suffering in their shadow. — N.M.

  • ‘The Strangers’

    The Strangers
    Image Credit: Universal Pictures/Everett Collection

    This stripped-down shocker rewrites the rules for home page invasion thrillers, dispensing with any kind of motivation or backstory for the masked killers at the door. Instead, writer-director Bryan Bertino focuses tightly on the victims : a young couple ( played by Liv Tyler & Scott Speedman ) on the brink of breaking up before their already miserable night at a house deep in the woods gets interrupted by three blade-wielding sadists. The Strangers plucks away at the audience’s rawest nerves for 85 minutes, always keeping us aware of who might be lurking around any darkened corner or outside any window, waiting to torment these nice people when they’re at their most vulnerable. — N.M.

  • ‘Final Destination’

    final destination
    Image Credit: New Line/Everett Collection

    It’s difficult to think of a more decidedly pre-9 / 11 text than this teen horror flick from director James Wong, which kicked off a franchise that’s become something lượt thích the Mission : Impossible series of the horror world. It opens on airport security pulling a nhóm of high schoolers off a plane bound for Italy when their classmates experience a premonition of the plane crashing. The jet explodes. The teens have somehow managed to cheat death — only for an extremely angry Grim Reaper to then elaborately kill them off one-by-one. What makes Final Destination so sánh unforgettable is the way it stages its murders around a perfect storm of mundane events : One person dies by slipping in the bathroom, another by a kitchen knife. It’s the type of endlessly inventive horror flick that, by the kết thúc, makes you want to accident-proof your entire house. — R.D.

  • ‘God Told Me To’

    god told me to
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    It’s starts as a Horror City NYC thriller, with Tony Lo Bianco’s world-weary detective investigating a wave of murders sweeping the thành phố ; the crimes are connected because every perpetrator claimed they committed the homicides when “ God told me to. ” It ends deep in horror-movie territory, with the cop & a half-alien messiah fighting for the soul of humanity. Director Larry Cohen chưa bao giờ met a crazy premise he could not make a thousand times nuttier, & his blend of Christian iconography, supernatural scares, urban paranoia, Chariots of the God-style origin stories & exploitation-cinema griminess is arguably the best example of the madness behind his methods. It’s truly a rough-cut gem of ’ 70 s genre-movie insanity, made all the more disturbing by the fact that so sánh many people would be driven to violence simply because a charismatic blond gentleman who claimed to be divine commanded them. — D.F.

  • ‘Poltergeist’

    Image Credit: MGM/Everett Collection

    Co-written & produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist arrived in theaters a few weeks before E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial — và it now plays lượt thích a dark counterpoint to that film’s twinkly suburbia. There’s something rotten, literally và figuratively, beneath the surface of the idyllic, newly constructed sprawl that’s trang chính to Steven ( Craig T. Nelson ) và Diane Freeling ( JoBeth Williams ). Which may be why their seemingly ordinary ranch house becomes a site of wonder & terror after malevolent spirit kidnaps their young daughter Carol Anne ( Heather O’Rourke ). Directed by Tobe Hooper ( with some unmistakably Spielbergian touches ), the film is filled with one scary moment after another as everything from trees to toys turn against the Freelings. But it’s just as rich in subtly biting commentary : The parents are ’ 60 s dreamers-turned-Reagan era achievers raising their kids in a world that now looks less lượt thích than a dream come true than a materialistic nightmare. — K.P.

  • ‘Martyrs’

    Image Credit: Weinstein Company/Everett Collection

    Within the first 15 minutes of Martyrs, someone kicks in the front door of a cozy upper-middle-class trang chủ in the French suburbs & blows away two people with a shotgun. Spoiler : It doesn’t let up from there. The film follows two women, both seeking revenge for the psychological và physical torture inflicted on one of them by a secretive, moneyed cult. The nhóm believes that the secret of immortality can be found at the intersection of religious ecstasy & extreme suffering, & the pain endured by its unwilling martyrs — all of them young women — is almost beyond human comprehension. Pascal Laugier’s 2008 New French Extremity shocker has more on its mind than mere sadism, however : The discomfort of sitting through the film’s intense violence eventually gives way to a more profound, but equally nihilistic, statement on religion. — K.R.

  • ‘House of Wax’

    house of wax
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    When a mới nhất wax museum opens up in turn-of-the-century Thành Phố New York, patrons are amazed at how lifelike so sánh many of the exhibits are. Too lifelike, in fact. We’re sure it has nothing to vì with the recent spate of murders, or the mysterious man in the Đen hat và cloak who’s been stalking Phyllis Kirk. The fact that this attraction is run by Vincent Price — in his first horror movie — suggests that something highly unsavory is going on, even if you’re not familiar with Charles Belden’s short story “ Wax Works ” ( the same source material for the equally great 1932 film Mystery of the Wax Museum ). It was one of the first scary movies to effectively utilize ba – D ( watch out, that corpse is falling right toward you ! ), và the big reveal scene remains highly unsettling. You won’t believe the sight of wax melting off a statue’s face could be so sánh eerie. — D.F.

  • ‘Haxan’

    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Horror filmmakers have been innovating & experimenting since the very beginning of the genre, as firmly evidenced by this 100 – year-old Swedish groundbreaker. The tiêu đề translates to “ The Witch, ” & it is, per the opening credits, “ a cultural & historical presentation in moving pictures in six parts. ” Documentary cinema may have been in its infancy ( this was the same year as Nanook of the North ), but writer-director-star Benjamin Christensen was already aware of the value of its appropriation, opening the film with background, acknowledgements, và history, wrapping his dramatizations of the history of witchcraft within a genuine scholarly framework. Christensen understood that the prism of fact would give his narrative fictions extra punch. And if there’s any doubt that he was right, it’s worth noting that the directors of The Blair Witch Project named their production company Haxan Films. — J.B.

  • ‘Candyman’

    Image Credit: TriStar Pictures/Everett Collection

    You need only say his name five times in a mirror for him to appear, or so sánh the legend goes. Candyman gives us the legend of Daniel Robitaille ( Tony Todd ) — a wealthy black artist whose right hand was severed, his body toàn thân smeared with honey for bees to feast on, và his corpse burned on a pyre for falling in love with a Trắng woman — that initially draws graduate student Helen Lyle ( Virginia Madsen ) to the Chicago housing projects known as Cabrini Green, where rumor says his spirit still lurks. An adaptation of a Clive Barker short story from writer-director Bernard Rose, Candyman is generational trauma. Candyman is racism, over-policing và the affordable housing crisis. Candyman is systematic inequality. And this gory, sociopolitical slasher is equal parts menacing & introspective, causing viewers who’ve just finished watching Candyman to quickly look in their own mirror và pray that there isn’t someone with a hook for a hand, standing right behind them …. — R.D.

  • ‘The Last House on the Left’

    Last House on the Left
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    The elevator pitch reads lượt thích every parent’s worst nightmare : A kid goes with a friend to a concert in the thành phố where depraved hippies abduct và torture them, eventually driving them back near where the parents live. But courtesy of a twist, by the over the film has become every parent’s greatest revenge fantasy leading up to a bloody climax. Half a century since it came out, Wes Craven’s ultraviolent film ( written by Friday the 13 th director Sean S. Cunningham ) is still one of the most unsettling movies ever made, as well as one of the greatest exploitation flicks ever, right lao dốc to its goofy bluegrass soundtrack recorded by the film’s actor who plays the main creep. — K.G.

  • ‘A Girl Walks Home at Night’

    A Girl Walks Home at Night
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    As spellbinding và visionary a first feature as you’re likely to see, Ana Lily Armipour’s melding of spaghetti Westerns, John Hughes teen-misfit odes, black-and-white art movies và vampire stories definitely announced a major hot nhất talent. But the fact that horror is but one of the film’s many flavors doesn’t dilute the thrills or chills at all ; you can swoon to its Type-O – craving heroine khiêu vũ with her crush one second & then shudder as she goes fangs-first ballistic on someone several scenes later. Consider this the punk-rock, girl-power Twilight you didn’t know you needed. — D.F.

  • ‘Scream’

    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Has any horror movie nailed its opening sequence lượt thích the original Scream ? Look, we know you lượt thích scary movies, because you’re reading this danh sách. So don’t answer that. But Kevin Williamson’s cheeky screenplay is the perfect match for Wes Craven’s finely tuned understanding of how to manufacture scares. The Scream movies run the gamut from pretty fun to very fun, but none match the first with its sheer meta-ingenuity about the way slasher flicks work và the people who love them. When Sidney Prescott ( Neve Campbell ) & her pals start to be terrorized by horror hall-of-famer Ghostface, they realize exactly what kind of story they are in — & try to use the wits of their genre knowledge to outsmart the killer. It’s funny. It’s silly. It’s bloody as hell. — E.Z.

  • ‘Night of the Demon’

    Curse of the Demon
    Image Credit: Courtesy of Everett Collection

    Whether you think the giant hellspawn at the center of Jacques Tourneur’s haunting noble-doctor-versus-devil-worshipping-cult procedural should have remained hidden in the shadows, or that its appearance adds to the uncanny flavor of this ’ 50 s horror flick, is a matter of opinion. ( It’s a debate that’s raged for years. ) What we vì know is that this seemingly normal movie drops Dana Andrews & Gun Crazy ‘ s Peggy Cummins right into the middle of a landscape in which evil wears a perfectly respectable face, which only makes the things they conjure out of the shadows that much more sickening. It’s the constant detouring into the weird that keeps you on your toes, not to mention the film’s balance of the paranormal & the slightly perverse. And for the record, we’re definitely Team Show-the-Demon. — D.F.

  • ‘The Bird With the Crystal Plumage’

    The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    “ It seems very clear to me that there is a dangerous maniac at large in this đô thị. ” Dario Argento wasn’t just launching his feature directorial career with this story of an American in Italy who witnesses a brutal murder & tries to solve it. He was injecting a mới nhất sense of phong cách & danger into the Italian giallo. Building off the innovations that Blood & Black Lace ‘ s Mario Bava built, he took the main ingredients of the subgenre — the black-gloved killer, the sharp ( và often phallic ) knives penetrating giao diện, the deliriously overwrought score, the ruthless, chilling “ kills ” — và quickly proved he was a master of the khung. One movie in, & you can already tell Argento’s staging is precise & his phối pieces are ingenious, particularly the inciting incident, in which our nhân vật can’t help the victim … but he can’t look away either. — J.B.

  • ‘Let the Right One In’

    LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, (aka LAT DEN RATTE KOMMA IN), Lina Leandersson, 2008.
    Image Credit: Magnolia Pictures/Everett Collection

    This quiet tale — about Eli ( Lina Leandersson ), a decades-old vampire child, & Oskar ( Kåre Hedebrant ), the human boy she falls in love with — is, on its surface, as chilly as the Swedish landscapes. But there’s sweetness underneath all the neck biting và mutilation, & ultimately, the admittedly blood-soaked story is about what people, be they mortal or otherwise, will bởi vì to protect one another. You can see why American filmmakers & ti vi showrunners have gravitated toward to Tomas Alfredson’s 2008 film, as well as trying to recapture its spirit. The fact that it’s so sánh brutal is what keeps it from sliding into the saccharine. — E.Z.

  • ‘Repulsion’

    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Glassy-eyed manicurist Catherine Deneuve navigates London’s Swinging-Sixties suitors with stone-faced indifference, then stolen-kiss disgust, followed by harrowing delusions & an unnerving knack for murder. Carnal aggression triggers mental derangement in Roman Polanski’s shivery psychological portrait, made even more unnerving with his deft phối of subjective surrealism & deadpan verisimilitude. It’s a chronicle of ravaged innocence, & the kind of horror that can emerge from even the most banal places. Sidewalk cracks, apartment fissures, overheard carnal moans, that relentlessly tick-tick-ticking clock, và a rotting rabbit corpse are the external expressions of a troubled mind, the debilitating deficiencies of an on-the-spectrum woman surrounded by lusty pigs blind to her feelings — và to their own doom. — S.G.

  • ‘Midsommar’

    Image Credit: A24/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Day-lit dread abounds as a band of opportunistic anthropology-major broheims fly to Sweden for a remote village’s nine-day summer pageant. Fifth-wheel girlfriend Dani ( Florence Pugh ), struggling with devastating, & still-very-fresh deaths in her family, turns to passive-aggressive lover Christian ( Jack Reynor ) for solace, but all he can offer her is weak boyfriend vibes & a craven interest in exploiting ritual life for a good grade. No worries : Scandinavian folk horror will soon give them ample relationship clarity. Emotional torture artist Ari Aster’s follow-up to his supernatural domestic trauma-drama Hereditary mines some shocking pagan rites và disturbingly illustrated tapestries, framing a Midnight Sun community’s sacred life-cycle beliefs right next to its with its veiled xenophobia & clan-sanctioned sacrifices. The ultimate in cult-ish impulses, or a beautiful expression of dark devotion ? Exactly. — S.G.

  • ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    Within the heart of every man lurks a beast — & Dr. Henry Jekyll has the potion to prove it. There have been numerous adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella end the years, starring everyone from John Barrymore to Spencer Tracy to Michael Caine. Yet it’s this 1932 Paramount version, trying to hone in on Universal’s monster-movie territory, that everyone remembers the most vividly. It’s partially because of Frederic March’s Oscar-winning performance as both Jekyll và his brutish, animalistic counterpart Mr. Hyde, played as the personification of maniacal toxic masculinity decades before the term was coined. It’s partially because of Rouben Mamoulian’s inspired direction ( no horror movie would use P.O.V. shots better until Halloween ) và his ability to take advantage of pre-Code salaciousness. And it’s largely because of the transformation scene, which is still astounding to watch even once you know how the trick was done. — D.F.

  • ‘Black Sunday’

    Black Sunday
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    With his background in special effects & cinematography, Mario Bava’s horror films are among the most breathtaking the genre has ever seen. And although he’s well known for his use of màu, his 1960 debut feature accomplishes startling beauty in high-contrast Đen và White, filing Gothic atmosphere with rolling fog & inky darkness. Star Barbara Steele brings a ferocity to her dual role as a defiant 17 th – century Moldavian witch & her naive 19 th – century descendant ; her witch creeps out of her tomb lượt thích Freud’s return of the repressed, eyes burning & cheeks pierced where inquisitors once strapped the “ Mask of Satan ” to her face. It’s bombastic, ghastly, a little kinky, & metal as hell. — K.R.

  • ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’

    A Nightmare on Elm Street
    Image Credit: New Line Cinema/Everett Collection

    Slashing teens was bloody good business by 1984, when filmmaker Wes Craven conjured the original Nightmare. His villain was Freddy Krueger, a lascivious ( và often hilarious ) deceased school janitor hellbent on exacting revenge, one razor-tipped finger at a phút giây, in the dreams of the children of Elm St. Actor Robert Englund, who played the fedora-sporting burn victim, was a natural si — but it’s the way Krueger united the kids ( including a young Johnny Depp ) against him that made the original work. Less schticky than the sequels, the original Nightmare feels genuinely scary và its special effects, lượt thích a bed gushing blood up to the ceiling & a slimy tongue phone, rival Dalí for surrealism. — K.G.

  • ‘The Masque of Red Death’

    THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, Vincent Price, 1964
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    The seventh ( & best ) of the eight films in Roger Corman’s drive-in horror movies based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, this retelling of the author’s 1842 short story casts his rep-company regular Vincent Price as Prince Prospero, a 12 th century Satanist. After burning a village during a plague, this arrogant royal throws a masked ball for his fellow aristocrats in defiance of the pandemic. Things quickly take a turn for the macabre. It’s a perfect blend of high-culture ambition & low-culture accessibility, along with a presciently psychedelic màu palette from cinematographer Nicolas Roeg that is so sánh radiant it practically vibrates. And the film’s timeless feeling of a fable gained chilling mới ra resonance when COVID-19 brought America its own Prince Prospero in the khung of Donald Trump. — K.R.

  • ‘The Innocents’

    The Innocents
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    The most exquisite of all cinematic ghost stories, this adaptation of the Henry James story “ The Turn of the Screw ” stars Deborah Kerr as Miss Giddens, a dutiful, inexperienced governess who starts to suspect something sinister is inhabiting the bodies of the children she’s been hired to safeguard. Where other horror directors seek to shock or petrify, filmmaker Jack Clayton very meticulously chills your blood, crafting an atmosphere of perpetual clammy unease inside the film’s central locale, a supremely spooky castle. Pamela Franklin và Martin Stephens give uncommonly good child performances, but it’s Kerr as the overwhelmed governess who brings intelligence & grownup gravitas to the proceedings. Though mix in the 19 th century, this shimmering black-and-white classic feels timeless, residing in its own elegantly crafted universe — one in which every shadow hums with menace và the spirits of the chết không bao giờ let go of the living. — T.G.

  • ‘Possession’

    Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neill in the 1981 movie 'Possession.'
    Image Credit: Courtesy of Metrograph Pictures

    Welcome to the body-horror answer to Kramer vs. Kramer. Long-estranged couple Isabelle Adjani và Sam O’Neil have decided to over their marriage once và for all, yet before they can part ways, they must scream, display fits of rage, và physically attack each other in the streets of Berlin. And then Polish director Andrzej Zulawski psychodrama takes a hard left into psychotronic territory. Electric carving knives are put to self-harming use. A private detective meets a grisly kết thúc. Both characters get their own doppelgängers. Some 40 – plus years later, it’s still impossible to tell whether the tentacled creature who shows up, courtesy of Alien và E.T. ‘ s special effects guru Carlo Rambaldi, is a real manifestation of one woman’s torment or merely a sản phẩm of a warped imagination. What we can say is that Adjani’s freak-out in a subway station — the scene that gives this film its name — lives up to its reputation as one of the most visceral, go-for-broke moments of acting ever committed to film. — D.F.

  • ‘The Birds’

    The Birds
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    A metaphor for the then-prevalent fear of nuclear holocaust ? A commentary on the myopia of human beings & the primacy of Mother Nature ? Just a fun excuse to freak out moviegoers ? Whatever your interpretation of this Alfred Hitchcock thriller, it’s a stunningly efficient delivery device for escalating terror. An aborted meet-cute between Mitch ( Rod Taylor ) và Melanie ( Tippi Hedren ) leading to a potentially lãng mạn rendezvous in picturesque Bodega Bay. Then their tentative love affair quickly takes a backseat to some sinister happenings within the town’s bird population. Soon enough, chaos reigns as the winged creatures start wreaking havoc, their lethal attacks as inexplicable as they are frightening. In his unparalleled career, the Master of Suspense gave us plenty of things to be afraid of, but The Birds fiendishly weaponized nature itself, suggesting that, any moment, our fine feathered friends might turn against us. Never again would the sound of seagulls be considered soothing. — T.G.

  • ‘The Mummy’

    Image Credit: Abramorama/Everett Collection

    The third of Universal’s quartet of horror O.G.s ( Lon Chaney, Jr. ’ s Wolf Man wouldn’t join the gang until 1941 ), Boris Karloff’s ancient, walking-dead Egyptian is only seen in the classic mummy-bandage get-up briefly ; he spends most of the film unwrapped và playing Imhotep, the resurrected high priest in tìm kiếm in the Scroll of Thoth. Luckily, resident handsome square David Manners and Edward Van Sloan, a. k. a. Dracula ‘ s Van Helsing, put a stop to him sacrificing Zita Johann, a chết ringer for the priest’s long-deceased love. And while some have complained that this boss khủng movie is as slow as its tiêu đề character, German director Karl Freund’s addition to the canon contains what may be the single most chilling sequence in any Universal horror film : As Van Sloan’s assistant translates the scrolls, we see Karloff’s mummy gradually open his eyes & silently comes to life. When the man realizes what’s happening, he screams — & then begins uncontrollably laughing in a fit of hysteria và madness. — D.F.

  • ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’

    invasion of the body snatchers
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    The ultimate paranoid ’ 70 s thriller is the one that says you really can’t trust anyone : Even your nearest & dearest could be one of them. In moving Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers out of the Red Scare era & into the San Francisco of the post-Nixon years, this terrifying remake shifts the allegorical function of the emotionless alien imposters, who this phút giây represent nothing less than the sea change of America’s soul — an overnight transformation of hippies into yuppies. Yet the true horror of Philip Kaufman’s pod people, newly equipped with a bloodcurdling, ear-splitting vocal alarm, runs past topical anxiety to the existential variety, writ large across the changing facial expressions of Donald Sutherland. It’ll make you afraid to sleep, though after that pitiless ending, you won’t be able to anyway. — A.A.D.

  • ‘Eyes Without a Face’

    Eyes without a face
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    You could approach Georges Franju’s arty serial-killer thriller purely as an intellectual exercise, meant to make an argument against the shallowness of beauty standards và the callousness of scientists, via a story about a surgeon ( Pierre Brasseur ) who kidnaps women và slices off their faces to transplant onto his disfigured daughter ( Edith Skob ). But to be fair, it’s hard to take that view when said bác sỹ is calmly peeling off a young lady’s giao diện. This is a surprisingly graphic film for 1960, about a man so sánh icily obsessed with righting wrongs that he makes appalling choices, shown to the audience in such detail that it jolts the gut as well as the mind. — N.M.

  • ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’

    The Curse of Frankenstein
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    From the vibrant và lush hues of the technicolor compositions to the mutilated green face of Christopher Lee’s trùm cuối — stirringly revealed in one jagged jackknife of a zoom — director Terence Fisher’s reimagining of Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel didn’t just phối it apart from Hollywood. This was the movie that phối the standard for future Hammer Horror retellings of classic horror I.P. lượt thích Horror of Dracula ( 1958 ) & The Mummy ( 1959 ) as well as establishing the British studio as the place to go for garish, gore-soaked Goth-terror. It also gave us the pairing of Lee and Peter Cushing, who played the cold-blooded Baron Victor Frankenstein with a Godlike complex và, later, a guilty conscience. Before Hammer released this shot across the bow, Shelley’s groaning creature was strictly the purview of Universal Pictures. By the kết thúc, it was all theirs. — R.D.

  • ‘Freaks’

    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    “ Offend one & you offend them all, ” cautions a carnival barker as he describes his menagerie of misfits : Half Boy, Bird Girl, Human Skeleton, the Living Torso. Society’s outcasts & ostracized medical marvels find trang chủ in a traveling circus — from the he / she gender dysmorphia of the half-man / half-woman to the Siamese twin sisters và the bearded lady. Legless guys & armless ladies happily coexist, until a comely gold-digging trapeze artist seduces a secretly wealthy little person & incurs the group’s wrath. The so-called “ mangy freaks ” are director Tod Browning’s beautiful people, othered và repelled in life’s circles ; despite the controversial reputation of this legendary cult classic, his film is unexpectedly tender proof that the true horror show really comes from the normies. One of us, one of us ! — S.G.

  • ‘Carnival of Souls’

    Carnival of Souls
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    The sole feature directed by Herk Harvey is a one-of-a-kind low-budget thriller that plays lượt thích a cross between a Twilight Zone episode & a piece of outsider art. Candace Hilligoss stars as Mary, a woman who escapes a car accident & tries to start a hot nhất life in a mới nhất đô thị, only to encounter everything from a sexually threatening neighbor to terrifying otherworldly visions. A Kansas-based filmmaker who otherwise worked in educational và industrial films, Hervey shot the film while on an extended leave from his day job. He made a virtue of his limited budget, using atmospheric lighting và a creepy organ score to make everyday locations lượt thích a department store feel haunted và dangerous, as well as turning an abandoned khu nghỉ dưỡng on the shores of Utah’s Great Salt Lake into a nightmare within a nightmare. It’s one of movies ’ great one-offs. Hervey might have understood he could chưa bao giờ have topped it. — K.P.

  • ‘Village of the Damned’

    Village of the Damned
    Image Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

    One afternoon, in a quiet town in the English countryside, everyone suddenly loses consciousness. When the population awakes several hours later, a series of mass “ immaculate conceptions ” appear to have occurred. Years later, these children have grown up to be near-identical blond, blue-eyed kids who have a penchant for being extremely quiet, very well-mannered, super-intelligent & able to communicate telepathically. Oh, & they’re also willing to kill anyone who might bởi them harm or threaten their quest for world domination. An absolutely top-shelf adaptation of John Wyndham’s 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos, director Wolf Rilla’s movie starts off as pure science fiction ( with the military attempting to penetrate the town’s perimeters & not fall under its spell ) & ends up in a hybrid SF / horror sweet spot, especially once these moppets ’ eyes start glowing và some unfortunate townspeople learn the extent of the brood’s powers. A great reminder to không bao giờ, ever trust anyone under the age of 12. — D.F.

  • ‘It Follows’

    it follows
    Image Credit: RADiUS-TWC/Everett Collection

    Writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s ingenious supernatural thriller centers around a mysterious force that relentlessly stalks its intended victims until they either die or pass the curse along by having sex. The viral evil common to J-horror films lượt thích The Ring is mutated here into something that’s lượt thích a combination STD & chain letter. The malevolence infects a nhóm of undeserving youngsters, who slowly và sickeningly realize they’re dealing with something they may just have to endure — & không bao giờ conquer. — N.M.

  • ‘Audition’

    Image Credit: Vitagraph Films/Everett Collection

    A lonely, middle-aged widower holds giả auditions for a giả television show, hoping to surreptitiously meet the mới nhất woman of his dreams. If that sounds lượt thích the thiết đặt for a whimsical lãng mạn comedy, then you’re already stepping right into the bear trap laid by prolific Japanese genre madman Takashi Miike. To even include his notorious shocker on this danh sách is to let the cát ( or mute, mutilated prisoner ) out of the bag ; part of the movie’s brilliance lies in the way its horror erupts suddenly from its tranquility, shattering expectations to make a point as sharp as acupuncture needles. The ending is unforgettable — for the outrageous extremity of the violence, yes, but also for its tricky ambivalence. Miike was ahead of his phút giây on both counts, simultaneously anticipating “ torture porn ” & Time’s Up. — A.A.D.

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