No matter the time of year, queuing up a horror movie is guaranteed to get you in the spooky mood. From haunted insane asylums to murderous clowns to deranged in-laws and everything in between, this curated list features some of the best horror movies to watch during your next movie marathon. Whether you’re a horror buff who has a high scare-tolerance or a movie lover who prefers to be kept on the edge of their seat without all the scares, you’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy.
To prolong your scarefest, take a look at these creepy books that are sure to keep you up all night.
58. Gerald’s Game (2017)
A fun, romantic getaway takes a dark turn when the husband suffers from a heart attack, leaving his wife Jessie handcuffed to the bed. Isolated and vulnerable, Jessie is left to face a grim fate unless she breaks free of her chains.
57. Ready or Not (2019)
Grace is the happiest she’s ever been after marrying the love of her life. Nothing can ruin her post-wedding bliss, or so she thought . . . One should never underestimate the in-laws. Forced to fight for her life in a deadly game of hide-and-seek, Grace loses all hope of bonding with her husband’s family. Now, she’s on her own. Again.
56. The Innocents (1961)
When a woman takes a job as a governess for two orphans in a big old victorian estate, she grows alarmed when peculiar apparitions appear before her eyes, supernatural in nature. All signs point to a haunting and when she learns of their nefarious plans, it becomes a race against the clock to escape before their lives are forfeit. Some of the scenes from The Innocents may seem familiar if you’ve seen The Haunting of Bly Manor (above gif) which pays tribute to the classic psychological horror.
55. Session 9 (2001)
Sent to eliminate the asbestos from an abandoned insane asylum, a team of workers find themselves thrust in a maelstrom of suspicion and paranoia as they slowly lose their grip on reality. Interestingly, the movie was filmed at Danvers State Hospital, a facility with a dark past. The once beautiful gothic structure is said to be the birthplace of the prefrontal lobotomy among other horrors.
54. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
After being released from a mental institution, Korean teen Su-mi returns to her childhood home with her sister Su-Yeon. What should be a joyous reunion turns into a nightmare when she meets her father’s new wife Eun-joo, a woman she quickly grows suspicious of in the aftermath of a string of disturbing incidents that beset the young girl.
53. Oculus (2014)
Siblings set out to determine whether the antique mirror from their childhood was the reason behind their family’s ultimate downfall. In their attempt to solve the mystery of the mirror, the brother-sister duo become caught in the convoluted web of a malevolent entity.
52. The Invisible Man (2020)
They say that the brilliant scientist Adrian Griffin committed suicide. But former girlfriend Cecilia Kass is hesitant to accept that verdict. No, she’s nearly certain that the crazed maniac is still out there. And this time, she won’t even see him coming. The Invisible Man is a beautiful, tension-packed masterpiece with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience guessing.
51. Host (2020)
If you choose to do an online Zoom séance during quarantine, get ready to deal with some gnarly, fear inducing consequences. Rob Savage’s Host delivers a chilling horror film with fresh ideas and spooky jump scares. For the ultimate experience, watch it on a small screen with your headphones so you can fully submerge yourself in the virtual experience.
50. The Birds (1963)
Hitchcock’s classic The Birds tells the story of a peaceful seaside town that is tipped off its axis upon the arrival of the mysterious golden-haired beauty Melanie Daniels. Because when the birds begin launching a full-scale attack on the residents, all signs point to Melanie as the culprit behind the bizarre phenomenon.
49. The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi’s cult classic revolves around five friends who hike to a nearby cabin in the woods for a night of mischief and fun. Unfortunately for them, after reading an ancient book, they unknowingly release a swarm of demons and evil spirits hellbent on creating chaos.
48. The Wicker Man (1973)
A community is rocked in the aftermath of a young girl’s disappearance. The lead investigator follows the breadcrumbs to an isolated Scottish island, home to a small pastoral community with a suspicious leader.
47. Saw (2004)
In a sick and twisted game of torture, mayhem and psychological warfare, two men are forced to play the maniacal serial killer’s games if they want to escape with their lives. If you love gory horror, you’re in luck. The images will fester in your brain for weeks to come.
46. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2017)
During a routine autopsy, the coroners find themselves scratching their heads in confusion when all clues point to a bizarre conclusion: their Jane Doe may be alive. Simple, yet powerful in its ability to unnerve the audience, The Autopsy of Jane Doe delivers a spine-chilling experience that will have you falling asleep with one eye open.
45. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
In the bustling city of San Francisco, people begin noticing odd personality adjustments in their loved ones. Concerned friend Matthew Bennell becomes convinced that they are under attack by an invisible enemy after a mutated corpse is discovered. Once the pod people start to infiltrate, you’ll never know whether the person sitting next to you is your friend or a vacuous clone.
44. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
Two American college students backpacking across Europe find themselves in a dangerous predicament when they are suddenly attacked by an oversized wolf. David barely makes it out alive and when his now deceased friend begins visiting him in his nightmares, he quickly realizes that there may be some truth in Jack’s allegations. And if he is to believe Jack, then that means he has until the next full moon to figure out how to stop his impending transformation into a werewolf.
43. The Orphanage (2007)
With plans of restoring her childhood orphanage into a safe haven for disabled children, Laura moves back into the abandoned facility only to realize that it is not as abandoned as she was led to believe. J.A. Bayone’s The Orphanage is a chilling, atmospheric haunted house horror flick that ratchets up the tension with each dread-filled scene. If you love a good scare, try watching this at night alone. You’re guaranteed to anxiously peek over your shoulder at least once.
42. The Omen (1976)
When his wife delivers a stillborn child, American diplomat Robert Thorn replaces the child with another baby, unbeknownst to his wife. As Damien grows up, a string of mysterious deaths and events surround the young child that leads Robert to believe that the child he took four years prior may have come from the loins of the Devil himself . . . or he’s just an incredibly naughty child with a bad case of the Terrible Twos.
41. The Wailing (2016)
When a mysterious illness ravages a small South Korean town, those afflicted by the infection become unhinged and violently butcher their families. Eerie and haunting, Na Hong-jin outdid himself with The Wailing’s beautifully complex plot and incredibly compelling acting. By the end, the audience is left reeling, thinking “What just happened?”
40. Black Christmas (1974)
It’s Christmas . . . a time of laughter and cheer. That is, unless you’re one of the sorority sisters being relentlessly stalked by a mysterious killer. Interestingly, Black Christmas helped inspire the future blockbuster Halloween between the “final girl” trope and the high body count.
39. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
A getaway to a secluded cabin in the woods goes horribly awry for a group of five college friends when zombies start popping out of the woodwork. When they try to escape, they soon realize that they have unknowingly become unwilling participants in a diabolical government-run experiment. Good luck surviving that. Also, just think how quick toilet paper would disappear from the shelves once the world realized the zombie apocalypse had commenced.
38. The Fly (1986)
Since its release, The Fly has horrified countless viewers and remains a classic in the sci-fi horror genre. In fact, when it first premiered, members of the audience actually left the theater sick from the transformation displayed by Jeff Goldblum’s character into a fly. As the iconic line goes: “Be afraid, be very afraid.”
37. Carrie (1976)
As a master of horror, it comes as no surprise that Stephen King’s film adaptation of Carrie would go on to become a classic in the genre.
36. Train to Busan (2016)
In the midst of a viral outbreak, a group of passengers are trapped on a train hurtling through the chaos-filled streets of South Korea as the entire country falls into pandemonium from the zombie-like attacks. With hopes of reaching the Safe Zone, the group sticks it out on the train. However, the question remains whether the shelter still stands.
35. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
When the radiation from a fallen satellite raises an army of the living dead, the world will never be the same. Hailed as one of the best zombie movies by Rolling Stone Magazine, you can rest assured that Night of the Living Dead has earned its place on this of the best horror movies of all time.
34. Nosferatu (1922)
In the noteworthy adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Nosferatu stands out as a masterful silent horror film that tells the story of the enigmatic Count Orlok and Thomas Hutter, far removed from society in the Count’s Transylvanian castle in the mountains.
33. Suspiria (1977)
With dreams of becoming a professional dancer, Suzy jumps at the chance to attend a prestigious German ballet academy when a spot opens up after the untimely death of another student. But when strange things begin to happen, Suzy quickly realizes that the school may be a front for something far more sinister. Whether you’re looking for a great 70s horror movie or love Italian horror, Suspiria is a creepy film that keeps its viewers entertained.
32. Candyman (1992)
Bloody Mary isn’t the only folklore you need to be wary of appearing in your mirror. When Helen Lyle learns of the local urban legend of the Candyman, she conducts her own investigation that soon places her on the Candyman’s radar.
31. Let The Right One In (2008)
Bullied daily by his peers, twelve-year-old Oskar strikes up a friendship with the startlingly pale girl who recently moved in next door. Alfredson’s horror romance is one of the best vampire movies portraying a compelling friendship between two lonely pre-teens.
30. Poltergeist (1982)
The excitement of moving into their new home in the suburbs is offset by the chilling and demonic disturbances that plague the Freeling family, especially the children. Rumored to be cursed, people believe the production to be haunted after numerous deaths occurred after its release.
29. Jaws (1975)
Duunnnn duun . . . duuunnnnnnn dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dundundundun. Iconic and memorable, Jaws remains a classic in the horror genre. Oddly enough, when I first saw this around the age of five, I developed quite the fascination with the man-eating shark. So much so that I got an oversized stuffed great white shark that I named Sharky.
28. Paranormal Activity (2007)
A demonic entity, a new house and a haunting past. What can go wrong? Paranormal Activity can be downright scary. For maximum effect, try watching this at night. And if you’re really daring, watch it when no one else is home. Try falling asleep after that.
27. Scream (1996)
After a string of murders rock their small town, a group of friends find themselves in the eye of the storm when the killer sets their sights on the teens. Wes Craven’s classic is filled to the brim with ultra-quotable lines and iconic moments that pack a nostalgic punch.
26. The Strangers (2008)
A relaxing night-in turns into a fight for survival when a couple is tormented by three deranged masked individuals. What makes the situation all the more terrifying is when the couple questions their motives. Rather than for revenge or money, it was simply because they were home. Yeah, try watching that when you’re home alone. If a stranger comes a-knocking, think twice before answering . . . not that ignoring it will save you.
25. Audition (1999)
Eager to return to the world of dating, widower Aoyama’s best friend recommends they hold an audition for potential girlfriends. What starts as a seemingly innocent ploy to find a S.O. takes a complete 180 when the mysterious Asami is thrown into the mix.
24. Insidious (2010)
When a child falls into a comatose state that leaves him terrorized by a demonic entity, his parents will do whatever it takes to rescue him from its insidious grasp. A fun little tidbit about Insidious centers around the origin behind the Lipstick-Face Demon’s name. One would think there would be some kind of sinister meaning behind the name, but it actually has to do with the substance used to coat his face: lipstick.
23. It (2017)
The clown business must have taken a huge hit after Stephen King’s It arrived on the big-screen. And for good reason. Pennywise is not the type of clown you want to meet on the street. Or, in his case, a sewage drain. Apparently, Bill Skarsgård even managed to scare himself with Pennywise’s maniacal laughter and malevolent antics.
22. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Confined to her home, expecting mother Rosemary Woodhouse becomes increasingly paranoid about the origins of her unborn baby which gives rise to her suspicions towards her peculiar neighbors. The instant hit’s portrayal of Satanism would later pave the way for other classics like The Exorcist and The Omen.
21. 28 Days Later (2002)
Before the zombie apocalypse commences, be sure to watch 28 Days Later. Afterall, it set the stage for future zombie flicks. Interestingly, Danny Boyle made a calculated decision in using DV-based Canon XL1 cameras when shooting the film in order to give it a more gritty, raw quality.
20. The Witch (2015)
This eerie atmospheric tale of a 17th century New England family terrorized by demonic presences is not for the faint of heart. From the bleak setting to the intense sense of impending doom, The Witch delivers a brilliant story that will leave you feeling disturbed and unsettled.
19. Alien (1979)
On their journey home, the crew of the starship Nostromo is awakened from their slumber to an alarming distress call from an alien lifeforce. When they set out to search the alien spacecraft, their investigation quickly goes awry.
18. The Descent (2005)
In the aftermath of a tragedy, a group of friends set out to explore an uncharted network of caves in North Carolina. Things go terribly wrong when they become trapped in the narrow passageways and even worse when the man-eating monsters emerge from the shadows. Who knew a fun spelunking trip would be so eventful? If you’re not already claustrophobic, this scarefest will ensure you have a healthy dose of fear when it comes to small spaces.
17. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Soon to graduate from the FBI’s training academy, Clarice Starling is sent to speak with Dr. Hannibal Lector, a wickedly intelligent psychiatrist imprisoned for his cannibalistic ways, regarding a case on a fellow serial killer. Between their witty exchanges and Hannibal’s twisted mind games, The Silence of the Lambs provides an entertaining, yet horrifying story on the complexities of the human mind.
16. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
It’s when you’re sleeping that you’re at your most vulnerable. What happens when someone banks on that vulnerability? Well, if you’re like the teens in A Nightmare on Elm Street, you don’t fall asleep. Freddy Krueger is the stuff of nightmares and he delivers those in spades. Wes Craven’s iconic dream killer will have you pushing off your bedtime for hours… Beware!
15. The Ring (2002)
Based on the Japanese film Ringu (1998), The Ring tells the harrowing tale of a newspaper reporter who watches a nightmarish video viewed by four teenagers seven days prior to their mysterious deaths. Between the gloomy atmospheric lighting and the haunting imagery, viewers are bound to find themselves resembling a ball of frazzled nerves by the end. Beware: the sight of your tv may instill the fear of Samara in you for days to come.
14. Sinister (2012)
Ethan Hawke stars as a struggling true-crime writer who moves his family into a house with a tragic past in hopes of gaining inspiration for his next hit. However, after discovering disturbing footage of past murders, he quickly realizes that there is something far more sinister at play and living in this house may prove to be his worst move yet. I don’t know about you, but Sinister left me spooked for days. Hailed as one of the scariest movies of all time according to science, Sinister is a must-watch for horror geeks. Prepare to be left speechless.
13. The Conjuring (2013)
When the Perron family begins experiencing supernatural disturbances after moving into an isolated farmhouse, they call in the Warren’s, a husband-wife ghost hunting team. From their creepy game of count and clap to the unseen entity hiding behind the children’s door, James Wan’s horrorfest is almost guaranteed to spike up your heart rate. Falling asleep after this may require a night-light, a funny episode of your favorite sit-com and a cozy blanket to tuck your feet under. Let’s just hope the blanket isn’t ripped off in the wee hours of the night.
12. A Quiet Place (2018)
Imagine living in a world where a single cough can spell your death. That is the life of anyone living in Krasinski’s monster-inhabited apocalyptic world swarmed by mysterious creatures with bionic hearing. Funnily enough, movie theaters hated A Quiet Place because people were less likely to buy popcorn and other snacks due to the silent nature of the film.
11. Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele took the world by storm with his directorial debut Get Out. Rather than infusing jump scares and gore, Peele’s critically-acclaimed satirical horror masterpiece focuses on constructing a well-developed storyline that is as thought-provoking as it is compelling. Fun fact: Peele originally gave Get Out a much darker ending where Chris was arrested for the murders of Rose and her family, but was swapped in favor of a happier and more satisfying ending.
10. Psycho (1960)
Between the infamous “shower scene” and Hitchcock’s groundbreaking methods, Psycho would ultimately become a classic that would spawn a documentary dedicated to said “shower scene,” a much-loved show about the odd mother-son duo and more. Interestingly, Hitchcock’s masterpiece was the first film to showcase a toilet flushing on camera.
9. The Thing (1982)
When a team of researchers accidentally unearth a deadly alien in their secluded Antarctic research station, they find themselves pitted against one another in a terrifying game of life and death. Carpenter’s quintessential 80s classic set the bar for sci-fi horror, making it Top Ten material. Funnily enough, The Thing was a flop among fans and critics upon its initial release two weeks after E.T.
8. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
When three film students embark on a journey into the Maryland forest to document the legend of the Blair Witch, things quickly take a turn for the worst. Interestingly enough, upon its premiere, many people left the theater questioning whether what they just witnessed was real or not. Between the superb marketing and the docu-style format, it’s not surprising people believed it to be found footage.
7. The Babadook (2014)
After reading a disturbing children’s pop-up book, a mother and her child find themselves terrorized by the nightmarish storybook character known as the Babadook. Infused with macabre imagery and tense-filled moments, this psychological horror film will keep you thinking long after the closing credits.
6. Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s timeless smash hit has been emulated countless times over the past four decades and remains a classic Halloween movie to watch during the spooky season. But what makes Halloween truly terrifying is the iconic boogeyman Michael Myers, an unstoppable killer who spends his Halloween slaughtering unsuspecting babysitters.
5. It Follows (2015)
When it comes to It Follows, reactions are split right down the middle: viewers either praise it as one of the scariest movies of the 21st century or a complete dud. After Jay sleeps with her boyfriend Hugh, she finds herself stalked by a malevolent, invisible force that is relentless in its pursuit of the 19-year-old. Once you watch this unsettling horror flick, you’ll find yourself eyeing anyone who dares to “approach” you.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
As one of the best slasher films ever made, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre deserves a spot in the Top Ten. Terrifying in its simplicity, this highly-rated horror film revolves around five friends who fall victim to a deranged family of cannibals in a remote town in Texas during a weekend trip. Rather than filling the screen with blood and guts, TCM focuses on creating an increasingly tense atmosphere that sends all its victims into a fear-induced haze by the end.
3. The Shining (1980)
Chillingly beautiful in its delivery, this iconic horror flick is considered a masterpiece by many. Jack Nicholson’s performance as the caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel in Colorado is terrifying as we watch him spiral further and further off the deep end. The moment when his wife, played by Shelley Duvall, finds his eerie manuscript will send a spike of dread through your gut as everything – the visions, the nightmarish visitors and the mysterious origins behind the hotel – reaches the final crescendo.
2. Hereditary (2018)
Since its initial opening, Hereditary has amassed a massive fanbase. You either love it or hate it. With its unsettling atmosphere and macabre imagery, Ari Aster’s film can be described as a slow descent into madness as the audience joins the Graham’s in dealing with unimaginable pain in the face of a family tragedy. Rather than rely on jump scares, Hereditary focuses more on instilling a mounting feeling of dread within its viewers that refuses to let up during the two-hour period. After this horror film, you’re bound to become paranoid of ceiling corners and things that go bump in the night.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
Heralded as one of the best – if not the best – horror movies of all time, The Exorcist reigns supreme in the Top Ten. From the intense reactions exhibited by the audiences upon its release to its lasting impact on the horror genre, The Exorcist was a breakout hit. Although it may no longer send people fleeing from the theater as if the Hounds of Hell are in hot pursuit, it still offers a spine-chilling experience upon the initial viewing that will have you swearing to never place a finger on an ouija board.
I don’t know about you, but Coraline instilled the fear of button-eyed people in me at the young age of nine. To this day, I refuse to rewatch the nightmarish cartoon. Even thinking about it makes me feel uneasy, especially the ending. Now, that is the stuff of nightmares. In fact, I just experienced a full body shiver, so excuse me while I go watch something funny.
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