25 Scariest Horror Movies of All-Time, Ranked
Looking for a horror movie to watch this Halloween? There are a group of classics that will always stand the test of time. Here are 25 of the scariest movies ever.
25. 'Saw' (2004)
Have you seen what Jigsaw looks like? Enough said.
24. 'Event Horizon' (1997)
'90s sci-fi space flick "Event Horizon" might not immediately come to mind when you think of horror movies -- but it is horrifying. Don't write it off. It's a truly unnerving portrait of astronauts literally going through hell.
23. 'Insidious' (2011)
The haunted house thing has been done a million times. "Insidious" manages to elevate the concept through a slow burn of tension and sneaky dread. No bloody corpses or violent maniacs necessary.
22. 'Let the Right One In' (2008)
A bullied boy making friends with a mysterious vampire girl sounds like a cute children's story, so don't be fooled by the synopsis. While the friendship at the heart of this dark Swedish film gives the narrative depth, there's no shortage of startling imagery and a ghastly bleak tone that will leave you with all the chills.
21. '28 Days Later' (2002)
Just another zombie movie, you say? Not so. Danny Boyle's stunner of a post-apocalyptic nightmare featuring some seriously messed up half-dead people on a rampage is a modern classic.
20. 'The Ring' (2002)
Honestly, the VHS at the center of this movie is just as scary enough it itself. They could have just released that with no explanation and I'd still be shaking in my seat.
19. 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
Make fun of it all you want now, you KNOW you were freaking out while you first watched this. That last shot? It still messes us up and puts money in our therapist's wallet.
18. 'It Follows' (2015)
Being followed by supernatural evil after having sex sounds like a gimmicky concept, but the execution of the unique premise takes "It Follows" to tense new heights for the horror genre.
17. 'The Descent' (2005)
Getting stranded in a cave is a claustrophobic enough experience to center a horror movie around. Add flesh-eating creepy crawlers into the mix? Yikes.
16. 'The Conjuring' (2013)
Hollywood might churn out installments in the "Conjuring" franchise until they've sufficiently haunted everything possible on screen, but the first entry into the franchise was genuinely spooky and managed to defy paranormal investigation genre cliches.
15. 'Scream' (1996)
The film that revitalized the genre, launched a new one (the self-referential, super self-aware teen horror movie), and inspired waaaaay too many copycats, Wes Craven's inspired effort is one of the best movies of the '90s. 22 years later, Sidney Prescott vs. Ghostface still (mostly) holds up in the jump scare department.
14. 'Poltergeist' (1982)
"Poltergeist" has become so quoted, copied, and parodied over the years that I always think it isn't going to be as scary as I thought. And then I re-view it and remember it's actually the kind of movie that makes you want to check your closet for evil spirits every night before bed.
13. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)
You thought getting some shut eye was a safe activity? Think again. Freddy Krueger is here to ruin sleep for you forever in this hit from Wes Craven. Truly terrifying, despite its dated '80s production values.
As a mother dealing with indescribable loss - and the creeping influence of her late mother’s mysterious machinations - Toni Collette gives one of the year’s soul-baring performances in a film that resonates both with terror and absolute humanity. Alex Wolff’s deterioration as her character’s son offers its own incredible anchor for the frightening images and ideas in Ari Aster’s meticulous writing, and later, in his expert direction of this frightening tale.
11. 'The Omen' (1976)
Damien is still the most legendary cinematic demon child. All other Anti-Christ copycats beware.
10. 'Psycho' (1960)
Janet Leigh's iconic shower scene in this Hitchcock classic is hard to stomach, but the real horror unfolds once the audience gets to know Norman Bates.
9. 'The Strangers' (2008)
No demons. No ghosts. No curses. Just a bunch of people trying to murder other people on what was supposed to be a relaxing getaway.
8. 'Halloween' (1978)
Chalk it up to that unnerving soundtrack, Jamie Lee Curtis' scared face, or the petrifying idea that a guy in a mask is out to kill high school babysitters on a quiet suburban street, John Carpenter's original "Halloween" is the ultimate slasher film. Michael Meyers is truly one of the genre's most iconic and terrifying villains.
7. 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)
Speaking of demon children... "Rosemary's Baby" is as anxiety-producing as a movie gets. Rosemary's fear is palpable. The suspense of the unknown (or what you probably do know and don't want to believe) is what makes that whole carrying a satanic being thing that much harder to watch.
6. 'Alien' (1979)
"In space, no one can hear you scream."
5. 'Silence of the Lambs' (1991)
Horror movies can be Oscar winners, too. Psychological thriller "The Silence of the Lambs" garnered massive critical acclaim, but it also gave viewers a healthy fear of everything from anagrams to fava beans.
4. 'The Thing' (1982)
I mean, c'mon -- just look at that picture. "Scary AF" barely covers this John Carpenter masterpiece, which centers on an Antarctic research station's crew struggling to survive a shapeshifting alien menace. The slow-burn plot, coupled with inventive set pieces fueled by Rob Bottin's revolutionary makeup effects make "The Thing" a flawless classic.
3. 'The Shining' (1980)
An elevator flooded with blood. Terrifying twins. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." We could name all the reasons why Stanley Kubrick's masterful "The Shining" continues to do a number on us at every re-watch, but we'd be here all day.
2. 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' (1974)
Grisly and greusome, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is chair-gripping cluster of every possible worst scenario. Chainsaws, crazed attackers, and a dude named Leatherface? You're pretty much guaranteed to be covering at least one eye the entire time you watch.
1. 'The Exorcist' (1973)
It's no wonder 1973 theatergoers were passing out at the shocking sight of Regan's (Linda Blair) possessed body. That levitation scene will go down in history as one of the scariest moments in all of film.