Any time is the right time to watch a horror movie. Turn off all the lights and prepare yourself for any stray knocks on the door, because as soon as you turn on the movie, you’ve surrendered to the horror world. Here are the scariest movies of all time.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
The Exorcist is one of the best movies to come out of the 70’s and deserves better than slowly descending down the top 250. It’s one of those essential films you have to see in order to understand what a movie truly is and this is more than a horror film.
In Washington, D.C., An actress notices dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother’s terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy.
2. The Shining (1980)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
The movie The Shining is a psychological horror film directed by Stanley Kubrick. This movie is definitely one of the most scariest horror movies of all times! The eerie music always made me tense during the film. Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance, a writer with a drinking problem, arrives with his family to become the caretaker of a snowed-in hotel that’s inundated with creepy signs, from his own son muttering “redrum” over and over, a duo of creepy girls hanging out in the halls, and an elevator gushing with blood. Not to mention the film’s catchphrase: “Here’s Johnny!” Who says axe-wielding comic actors can’t be terrifying?
3. The Thing (1982)
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Antarctica, winter 1982. The team on an American research base get surprised by a couple of mad Norwegians who is chasing a dog with a helicopter, trying to kill it. All the Norwegians are killed and the Americans are left with nothing, but a dog, a couple of bodies and questions. That’s the beginning of the greatest horror/thriller film I’ve ever seen.
From the very beginning all to the end you feel the tense, paranoid mood. Helpless and alone out in no-mans land. Ennio Morricone was nominated for a Razzie Award for his score. Among a new wave of sci-fi horror films, The Thing’s groundbreaking special effects will make you weary of all that you see at first glance.
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 80’s American supernatural Classic slasher horror film written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. This is such a great, innovative film, filled with pretty cool special effects, disturbing sound effects (including scraping metal fingernails and baby goats bleating in terror) and creepy music. The actors are giving their best but some of the dialog is just plain cheesy. Still I think that the actors should deserve more credit then they are getting right now, especially young Johnny Depp and his feathery 80s hair made a impressive movie debut.
5. The Babadook (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
At first glance, The Babadook may sound like a tale that warns people to not let children put creepy stories up into their heads. It may also be like one of those old horror movies with children being influenced by the ghost. While the Babadook’s reading as a queer icon may have since past its internet shelf-life, there is plenty of subtext that still haunts this Australian psychological horror film. First appearing as a demonic storybook in the home of a mourning mother and son, the haunting presence of the Babadook soon proves to be far from fabled. As menacing as it is beautiful, The Babadook reminds us that there’s no way to stay safe from our demons once we are aware of them.
6. Under the Skin (2013)
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay
This film is difficult to describe. It is dark, atmospheric, unsettling, terrifying but utterly captivating. Scarlett Johansson plays an alien who is sent to earth to lure Scottish men back into her apartment, where they enter a black void. This visually stunning thriller is a slow burn, but it’s worth it to see what happens to the dudes when she’s finished with them.
7. Scream (1996)
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette
Scream is a smart, effective horror film, which manages to amuse and scare in equal measures. Nineties icons (Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Rose McGowan) are terrorized by a killer while everyone debates the rules of slasher movies. It’s fresh, funny, and genuinely shocking when it came out—and it still holds up.
8. Cabin Fever (2002)
Director: Eli Roth
Stars: Jordan Ladd, Rider Strong, James DeBello
Most viewers will find the movie fun to watch. It has decent pacing with good direction. Even though the film was’t the best, it does alot right compared to other horror films. The effects used are good and threat presented is real enough to create anxiety for the viewer. Roth’s first, and still by far best, movie dishes out Evil Dead-style camp, but it also significantly ups the stakes and cringe factor with a skin-eating disease spreading among drunk assholes (well, except for Rider Strong, who of course plays the nice one) who quickly turn on each other.
9. The Lords of Salem (2012)
Director: Rob Zombie
Stars: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Bruce Davison
From the very first scene, Lords of Salem pulls us in with a disturbing prologue featuring a terrifying performance by Meg Foster (who goes for broke) as the head of a coven of witches. Zombie’s artful take on the Salem witches who now seem to be haunting a recovering drug addict is ominous thanks almost entirely to its meticulous use of sound and set design. And -rarest of all for a movie like this- it has a lot of hearts. The visions of a witch ritual and bodies heaped in a pile rank up there with anything Stanley Kubrick ever made.
10. Let the Right One In (2008)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
“Let the Right One In” is, at its heart, a sweet coming-of-age story which is so unique and different that it simply defies categorization. A Twelve year old boy falls in love for the first time, and it is with a child vampire. The stark Scandinavian style gives the film a romantic and devious quality, and the tossed-off nature of the horror -a person suddenly bursting into flames, a swift poolside murder- is what makes it so scary.
11. Alien (1979)
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
This Movie is so great as a horror movie. The terror isn’t just the Alien itself, it’s the entire atmosphere which gets so effectively under your skin, that you just can’t shrug it off after the end credits like you can with so many other Hollywood horror movies. Ridley Scott’s horror movie in space created a subgenre of its own, but it is Sigourney Weaver’s badass performance as Ripley facing off against a parasitic alien life form that makes it just about perfect.
12. The Strangers (2008)
Director: Bryan Bertino
Stars: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward
The movie is filled with extreme tension since the very beginning and the build up is amazing and truly delivers raw terror and tension although there isn’t much plot and it doesn’t have much character development it doesn’t need it, it does what it was meant to do very well with a good story, acting and truly some of the most suspenseful moment ever. A couple on the outs arrives at a cozy childhood home in the woods, only to be terrorized by a group of masked intruders. The randomly, motiveless violence is what makes the whole thing so brutal.
13. The Last House on the Left (1972)
Director: Wes Craven
Stars: Sandra Peabody, Lucy Grantham, David Hess
The Last House on the Left is a powerful film. In my opinion, it may be one of the most important American films ever made. Screw Scream–this is Wes Craven’s best. Combining professional and amateurish elements on a low budget, it has the scratchy, over-saturated look of a perverse home movie–and the rough edges make it all the more unforgettable. The actors are very good, especially David A. Hess in his definitive role as sadistic sex murderer Krug and Jeramie Rain as a deranged woman obviously modeled after Sadie Glutz. Craven was one of a few masters of horror who plumbed the depths of America’s Vietnam War-era cultural divides in this grimy, arty thriller about two teenage girls who encounter escaped prisoners in the big city—and how the tables get violently turned. The torture and abuse in this film make Deliverance look like an after-school special.
14. Martyrs (2008)
Director: Pascal Laugier
Stars: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin
Martyrs is one of the creepiest, violent, and disturbing movies I’ve seen in a good while. It may just be that it plays on several fears of mine, but I found Martyrs to be one of the hardest movies for me to sit through. In the most stomach-churning movie in the already very stomach-churning “New French Extremity” movement (don’t ask), a bourgeois family’s home hides a basement with the most disturbing experiment ever conceived. While it is beautifully made, I can not say I recommend this movie if you are feeling even a little emotionally maladjusted. I think one of the most important aspects of the movie is it’s abundance of violence and gore. Obviously it’s not the only thing that makes the movie terrifying, but seeing such realistic depictions of cutting, beating, and mutilation really leave one hell of an impact.
15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Stars: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a Tobe Hopper’s landmark low budget horror movie which must be considered a modern classic. At the height of the Vietnam War, a group of young hippies travels through Texas and discovers that America is crawling with its own backwoods terror. The movie was originally billed as a true story in a genius bit of marketing and political commentary, and broke all the rules of what was acceptable in a mainstream movie.