The Ultimate 100 Horror Films to Watch This Halloween According to Critics

Horror movies have existed right since the dawn of cinema, with George Melies making what is believed to be the first scary short way back in 1896 with The House of the Devil. Since then, films fans have been horrified for way over a century by an unimaginable horde of horrors, including vampires, ghosts, zombies and werewolves, as well as more true to life horrors like serial killers and slashers.

All of these horror movies and more are including in our list of the 100 greatest horror movies ever made, created by compiling over 50 critics' lists of the best scary films. These span a century, from 1920s The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari right through to modern classics like 2018's Hereditary and A Quiet Place. Read on for some all-time classic terrors, as well as where you can watch them in the U.S. this Halloween.

The ultimate 100 horror films ever made according to critics

100. I Walked With a Zombie, 1943

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

Zombies have not always been the brain-eating living dead that they are now. Originally in horror movies, a "zombie" was a person possessed by voodoo, as in this classic gothic b-movie.

99. The Return of the Living Dead, 1985

Where to watch: Max Go and DirecTV.

...Talking of eating brains, this zombie behavior was thought to have been introduced in this sort-of sequel to Night of the Living Dead, which also gave the world its first set of punk zombies.

98. The Night of the Hunter, 1955

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

Charles Laughton is best known as the Oscar-winning actor known for playing authority blowhards in films like Spartacus Mutiny on the Bounty. Watching his sole film as a director, however, makes you wish he had made many more films, as his story of a serial killer preacher trying to con a widow is mesmerizing.

97. The Wolf Man, 1941

Where to watch: Peacock

Though he is often overshadowed (including on this list) by other Universal monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein, The Wolf Man is also one of Hollywood horror's foundational creatures, and the film influenced every werewolf movie since.

96. The Vanishing, 1988

Where to watch: The Criterion Collection and Kanopy.

The Netherlands has not really been known for its horror, but that is perhaps because nothing else coming out of the country could match what they managed with missing person movie The Vanishing (Spoorloos) and its terrifying ending.

95. The Fog, 1980

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

Fog is hardly something that many people have nightmares about, but horror master director John Carpenter tries his best to make it frightening in this 1980 movie, which notably sees the ultimate scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis acting alongside her mother, Psycho star Janet Leigh.

94. High Tension, 2003

Where to watch: Hoopla, Tubi and Tribeca Shortlist.

High Tension (known as Switchblade Romance in the U.K. and Haute Tension in its native France) is part of the "New French Extremity" movement, and as the title suggests is not for the faint-hearted. Hardened horror fans, however, will love this tale of a switchblade-toting serial killer.

93. Vampyr, 1932

Where to watch: HBO Max, The Criterion Channel, The Film Detective and FlixFling.

Though it was actually one of the first sound-era horrors, Dreyer's Vampyr feels like the last gasp of silent horror, with all of the dreamlike terror of the best horrors from the '20s.

92. Nosferatu the Vampyre, 1979

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Fandor and Popcornflix.

Not every director would have the courage to direct a remake of a movie as iconic as Nosferatu. Not every director, however, is Werner Herzog, who version sparkles because his frequent collaborator, Klaus Kinski, plays the main role with demented glee.

91. Misery, 1990

misery movie
Still from 'Misery'. Columbia Pictures

Where to watch: Fubo and DirecTV.

In our world of stan culture, where fans can regularly send abuse to directors who take franchises in directions they do not like, Misery's story of a fan who takes her favorite writer hostage and forces him to write exactly what she wants might be the most depressingly prescient on this list.

90. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956

Where to watch: Pluto TV

The remake may be placed higher on this list for having more of the icky prosthetic horror that fans love, but the original Body Snatchers is the true masterpiece, that gets away with attacking the McCarthy communist witch-hunts at the time by disguising it in the guise of a paranoid sci-fi movie.

89. Ju-on: The Grudge, 2002

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video and Tubi.

The first of the many so-called "J-horrors" on this list, many westerners may better know the Grudge remake, that sees Buffy herself, Sarah Michelle Gellar battling a vengeful ghost. Like most of the original Japanese versions of Hollywood horror movies, however, Ju-on is by far the more frightening movie.

88. Under the Skin, 2011

Where to watch: Fubo, Hoopla, Showtime, Kanopy and DirecTV.

Considered by some critics to be the best movie of the last decade, Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin sees a perfectly-cast Scarlet Johansson as what seems to be a woman, driving around Glasgow picking up real people (filmed using hidden cameras). When she captures, them, however, things get truly trippy.

87. Possession, 1981

Where to watch: Not currently available to watch online.

A strange blend of spy movie, relationship drama and horror, Possession has become a cult movie for its berserk set pieces, beloved by those who want horror that appeal to the head as well as the central nervous system.

86. Train to Busan, 2016

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hoopla, Tubi, Crackle, Shudder, Popcornflix, Rakuten Viki and Hi-Yah!

We've seen zombies in homes, in shopping malls and even in space. Before Train to Busan, however, we had never seen them on trains. As this South Korean film shows, however, that is a missed opportunity, as the narrow, claustrophobic series of carriages serves to concentrate the terror.

85. Near Dark, 1987

Where to watch: Not currently available to watch online.

Before Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar for The Hurt Locker, she was known for her unique takes on genre filmmaking. Maybe the best of these is Near Dark, her movie about a gang of nomad vampires.

84. The Ring, 2002

Where to watch: IMDbTV and Crackle.

Though the original Japanese Ringu is the superior film, the Gore Verbinski version of the killer videotape story also has plenty of fans for its creepy atmosphere and game performance from Naomi Watts, fresh off her defining role in Mulholland Drive.

83. The Beyond, 1981

Where to watch: Fubo, The Roku Channel, Showtime, DirecTV, Shudder, Dark Matter TV and FlixFling.

A very surreal tale of warlocks, gateways to hell and murder, The Beyond is one of the stranger movies on this list, a perfect movie for fans of the stranger side of horror who don't mind that a film doesn't really make much sense if it's spooky enough.

82. Paranormal Activity, 2007

Where to watch: Fubo, Showtime and DirecTV.

A genuine phenomenon when it was first released, Paranormal Activity seemed like a standard found footage horror to the eye, but its use of low-frequency sound could cause genuine hysteria in theater audiences—though the effect does not work quite as well on your standard home speakers.

81. A Tale of Two Sisters, 2003

a tale of two sisters
Still from 'A Tale of Two Sisters'. Cineclick

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel, Kanopy, Shudder and Popcornflix.

Like many South Korean horrors, A Tale of Two Sisters delights in second-guessing its audience, making you believe it is a standard family drama before it exposes the traumatic horror at its heart.

80. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, 2014

Where to watch: Hoopla, Kanopy, Shudder and Mubi.

Wryly described by its director as, "the first Iranian vampire spaghetti western," A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is as unique as that descriptor suggests, using the vampire movie to explore gender and sexuality (and a lot of skateboarding) in Iran.

79. Pan's Labyrinth, 2006

Where to watch: Netflix.

The Oscars have traditionally not really appreciated horror, they had no choice but to appreciate the artistry of Pan's Labyrinth, which won three Academy Awards for its stunning array of creepy creatures and its profound story about the worlds we escape into to hide from trauma.

78. Horror of Dracula, 1958

Where to watch: HBO Max, DirecTV and TCM.

Dracula is one of the most-enduring horror figures of all time—there are four versions of the story in this list alone, and dozens of others across the years. The British version by Hammer films, however, is one of the best thanks to the presence of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, fighting to the death as Van Helsing and the Count.

77. Cannibal Holocaust, 1980

Where to watch: Shudder.

A film so gory that its director was arrested for murder because police thought the killings shown on screen must have been real. Cannibal Holocaust is a true endurance test for hardened horror fans, especially as the director makes the decision (please, please don't try this at home) to disembowel real animals on screen to make the fake murders seem more realistic.

76. Carnival of Souls, 1962

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hoopla, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Kanopy, DirecTV, Fandor, Epix, Screambox, Realeyz, Mubi, Classix, The Film Detective, Dark Matter TV, TCM and FlixFling.

The best horror movies of the '50s and '60s make up for the lack of violence and gore censors allowed them to show by creating a generally creepy atmosphere. Few do it better, however, than Carnival of Souls and its strange abandoned carnival.

75. King Kong, 1933

Where to watch: HBO Max

One of the original monster movies, even nearly 90 years later its special effects are stunning, with the clearly hand-manipulated stop motion (you can see animators' fingerprints in some scenes) a charming counterbalance to the glut of CGI horror we now have to sit through. Plus, who doesn't want to see a giant gorilla fight a dinosaur?

74. Pulse, 2001

Where to watch: Hoopla and Tubi.

Though Ringu and Audition are the more famous Japanese horrors in the west, Pulse is an equally terrifying story of ghosts entering our realm through the internet, which still manages to scare despite being set in a now-quaint world of dial-up and giant computers.

73. A Quiet Place, 2018

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

Though the modern horror that is the coronavirus has delayed the second A Quiet Place, the first one remains one of the best big-budget horrors of recent years. If you haven't seen it, imagine Bird Box if it was actually good.

72. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, 1985

Where to watch: IMDbTV and Shudder.

Even in a world where seemingly everyone has a serial killer podcast when they recount the pain and misery inflicted by killers with breathless excitement, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer remains a tough watch, getting into the psychology of a psychopath without ever glorifying it.

71. Friday the 13th, 1980

friday the 13th
Still from 'Friday the 13th'. Warner Bros

Where to watch: Fubo, DirecTV, Sling and Spectrum on Demand.

Jason Vorhees is in the god-tier (or should that be devil-tier) slashers, so new viewers of Friday the 13th may be surprised to know he does not appear that much in it at all. What does appear, though, is one of the best collections of himbos in any horror film, including a very young Kevin Bacon.

70. Black Sunday, 1960

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video and Pluto TV.

Italian horror is best known for its color-drenched gialli or sadistic slaughter fests like Cannibal Holocaust. However, it also had a strong strand of gothic horror, of which Mario Bava's Black Sunday is probably the best—though in typical Italian fashion, this story of a witch's revenge was banned for its gore in a number of countries.

69. Drag Me to Hell, 2009

Where to watch: Starz and DirecTV.

Evil Dead director Sam Raimi's return to horror after tackling Spider-Man had all the gonzo gore that fans wanted from his work. It was also the perfect horror for a post-financial crisis world, concerning as it does a loan officer who gets a curse put on her after she decides not to extend an old woman's mortgage.

68. Deep Red, 1975

Where to watch: Hoopla, Vudu, Tubi, Shudder, Popcornflix, Dark Matter TV and FlixFling.

Suspiria director Dario Argento's take on a murder mystery, Deep Red (Profondo Rosso) has everything giallo fans could want—visually striking scenes, violent deaths, and Blow-Up star David Hemmings clearly speaking in English and being dubbed into Italian.

67. Saw, 2004

Where to watch: Max Go and DirecTV.

Though the later Saws became more and more torture porn-ey (and more and more terrible), the original still holds up, with the movie more in the race against time thriller mode rather than the endless onslaught of knives and needles one.

66. The Others, 2001

Where to watch: HBO Now and DirecTV.

Post The Sixth Sense, if a horror movie did not have a mad twist like everyone being dead, everything being a dream, or everyone being in the imagination of one character (or ideally all three), then it was not getting released. These twists sunk dozens of these post-Shyamalan movies, but The Others succeeds where they fail by creating a creepy world of its own that works with or without that final rug-pull.

65. The Sixth Sense, 1999

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

...That is not to say, however, that the twist of The Sixth Sense is not an effective shock of its own (no spoilers here). Twenty years later, however, when nearly everyone comes into the film knowing what is going to happen, what makes the movie work is its strong central performances from Haley Joel Osment, Bruce Willis when he still cared and, most of all, Toni Colette in a role that should have won her an Oscar.

64. Eraserhead, 1977

Where to watch: HBO Max, The Criterion Channel and Kanopy.

Eraserhead was the first feature-length movie made by David Lynch, and what better calling card than this deeply strange movie about the fear of fatherhood featuring a woman who lives in a radiator, raining worms, and an evil-looking baby made of what looks like half-cooked meat.

63. The Host, 2007

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Hoopla, Vudu, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Kanopy and Pluto TV.

Bong Joon-ho is in the popular imagination like never before following his surprise Oscar wins for Parasite. Those who loved the genre-hopping of that movie will love The Host, which begins as a standard monster movie before taking the sort of turns that made Director Bong one of the most exciting voices in world cinema.

62. Videodrome, 1983

Where to watch: Peacock and The Criterion Channel.

In a world where neo-Nazis and violent militias are broadcasting hateful views, violence and death with just a click of a button, Videodrome's worries about violence on TV seem at best naive. However, the movie still has plenty to enjoy for gorehounds, from its deranged performance from Blondie's Debbie Harry to a typical piece of David Cronenberg body horror that can only be called "the chest vagina."

61. Shaun of the Dead, 2004

shaun of the dead
Still from 'Shaun of the Dead'. Universal Pictures

Where to watch: Max Go and DirecTV.

The world's first "zom-rom-com," the jokes in Edgar Wright's breakout movie still work despite the horde of zombie comedies that followed it up and (pun intended) were dead on arrival.

60. Martyrs, 2008

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

Part of what was aptly described as the "New French Extremity" movement, Martyrs has the ability to shock even the most hardened horror hound with its determination to mix torture porn with the darkest black religious satire. Once seen, never forgotten.

59. Cat People, 1942

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel, DirecTV and TCM.

Many so-called "creature features" from the mid-20th century are now high camp due to being so reliant on big and silly rubber-suited monsters, Cat People still works because its makers made the smart decision to never show its monster, relying instead on the bare bones of cinema like shadow and light to keep things tense.

58. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hoopla, The Criterion Channel, Showtime and DirecTV.

The original 1950s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a paranoiac masterpiece about the McCarthy era. What the 1978 remake lacks in satire it makes up for in gruesome prosthetics that give a gruesome face (and body) to the term "pod people."

57. Peeping Tom, 1960

Where to watch: The Roku Channel, Hoopla, The Criterion Channel, Tubi and Popcornflix.

Director Michael Powell was known for his part in lush fantasias like A Matter of Life and Death and The Red Shoes, and some other greatest British movies of all time. So when he made Peeping Tom, a nasty shocker about a serial killer who likes to murder his victims with his camera tripod and shoot their final moments, it nearly destroyed his career. His loss, however, is our gain, as Peeping Tom is brutal but brilliant.

56. The Cabin in the Woods, 2012

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, DirecTV and Epix.

Scream might have invented the metafictional horror movie, but The Cabin in the Woods might have perfected it by totally deconstructed everything its viewers expect from a "kids in the woods" movie, resulting in a movie that's part horror, part sci-fi, and totally unique.

55. Diabolique, 1955

Where to watch: HBO Max, The Criterion Channel, Kanopy, DirecTV and TCM.

Though some would argue French thriller Diabolique is a thriller rather than a horror, enough fans put it on their lists of the best horror movies ever made for it to make this list—perhaps because this story of a woman who schemes to kill her husband has one of the great jump-scares of all time.

54. Candyman, 1992

Where to watch: Fubo, DirecTV, SyFy and Sling.

The 2020 remake of Candyman has been delayed into 2021 due to COVID-19, but that does give horror fans more time to watch the 1992 original which, though it was directed by and based on a story from a white man, is a strong addition to the small canon of horror films that directly speak to the Black experience.

53. Dracula, 1931

Where to watch: Peacock

Though not the first of the "Universal Classic Monsters" movies (that was The Phantom of the Opera) or the best (see further down the list for that), Dracula influenced every single horror movie since set in a castle, and Bela Lugosi's Count became the gold standard that future vampires in films would be compared to forever.

52. Black Christmas, 1974

Where to watch: The Roku Channel, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Kanopy, Shudder, Popcornflix and Shout! Factory TV.

Though there is a debate to be had about whether it is better to watch Black Christmas for Halloween or in the festive season, one thing is for sure—you should watch it. One of the earliest and finest slashers, the film's festive setting brings in terror among the tinsel.

51. Hereditary, 2018

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video and Kanopy.

Another big horror performance that should have won Toni Colette an Oscar, Hereditary is perhaps our most recent horror masterpiece, which introduced Ari Aster as a horror force to be reckoned with—and stopped anyone who watched it from ever sticking their head out of a car window.

50. The Conjuring, 2013

the conjuring movie
Still from 'The Conjuring'. Warner Bros

Where to watch: Fubo and Sling.

The biggest franchise in horror today, The Conjuring has launched four different universes, totaling seven films so far with at least three more expected. The first story, however, featuring Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, however, remains the best of the bunch.

49. Hellraiser, 1987

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Tubi, Shudder and Pluto TV.

Before 50 Shades of Grey, the only major franchise we had about S&M was Hellraiser, Clive Barker's world of undeniably kinky demons who love to wear a lot of leather and think of ever more ingenious (and gory) ways to mix pleasure and pain.

48. Freaks, 1932

Where to watch: DirecTV, Screambox, Classix, TCM, IndieFlix.

This circus story, filmed with real circus "freaks" in lead roles, may feel exploitative under a 2020 lens, but clearly, enough critics are stilled disturbed by this movie from one-time Dracula director Tod Browning.

47. Re-Animator, 1985

Where to watch: Fubo, Showtime, Tubi, DirecTV and Shudder.

In March 2020, horror fans everywhere mourned the death of horror director Stuart Gordon. This Halloween, celebrate his life with his greatest film, a splatterfest of the highest order about a man desperate to perfect his formula to bring the dead back to life.

46. The Haunting, 1963

Where to watch: DirecTV and TCM

A couple of years ago, Netflix subscribers across the world were completely terrified by series The Haunting of Hill House. If you were one of them, check out The Haunting, another adaptation of the same horror classic novel with its own set of spooks.

45. The Omen, 1976

Where to watch: Starz and DirecTV.

Though some of The Omen is a little cheesy 45 years later, the movie still can chill parents with its look at what can happen if their little devil is literally that. Plus, it has former Doctor Who Patrick Troughton getting impaled with a crucifix if that is your thing.

44. Repulsion, 1965

Where to watch: Popcornflix

While other horrors feature ghosts, goblins and all manner of fictional creatures, sometimes the best horror is purely in the mind of the characters. This is the case with Roman Polanski's Repulsion, in which Catherine Deneuve slowly loses her mind in her apartment—something a lot of us can identify with in 2020.

43. The Evil Dead, 1981

Where to watch: Netflix

Though Evil Dead 2 is the bonafide cult classic, the original Evil Dead clearly has its fans too with those who prefer the more serious horror take on the tale of teens picked off one by one in the woods compared to the comedy of the sequel.

42. The Devil's Backbone, 2001

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel

Before Guillermo del Toro was the Oscar-winning director behind The Shape of Water, he made a series of unique sociopolitical horrors that used the creature feature as a metaphor for war. Pan's Labyrinth is the most famous, but The Devil's Backbone is the scariest.

41. Rec, 2007

Where to watch: DirecTV and Pantaya.

Found footage horror gets a bad rap, but at its best like in Rec it can add a documentary-like realism to genres that felt formulaic by the start of the 21st century. While The Blair Witch Project did this for "teens stuck in the woods" movies, Rec does for zombies as they take over an apartment block in Barcelona.

40. The Witch, 2015

the witch movie
Still from 'The Witch'. A24

Where to watch: Fubo, Showtime, Kanopy and DirecTV.

Though only five years old, The Witch already feels like an all-timer, with more and more fans opting to "live deliciously" and watch this movie that launched Anya Taylor-Joy as one of our most promising young actors and launched director Robert Eggers into the even weirder The Lighthouse.

39. Don't Look Now, 1973

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, CBS, The Criterion Channel, Pluto TV.

One of the many great thrillers made from the writing of Daphne du Maurier, Don't Look Now is best known for featuring what is reportedly an unsimulated sex scene from its stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. However, the film is too psychologically intense to ever feel titillating, as the couple deal with their grief over the daughter and confront what might be her ghost.

38. The Orphanage, 2007

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

Probably the spookiest film ever to come out of Spain, The Orphanage (El Orfanato) got a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes, and has charmed and terrified audiences ever since who are tired of the usual jump scares of modern Hollywood horror.

37. It Follows, 2014

Where to watch: Fubo, Peacock, The Roku Channel and SyFy.

Slasher films have traditionally punished sexuality, with only the virginal making it to the end of the movie. It Follows rewrote the rule book for the 21st century, however, with its monster that can only be passed on via intercourse.

36. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Hoopla, Tubi, Kanopy, Screambox, Classix.

The oldest film on the list of the 100 best horror movies, even a century later none look like Dr. Caligari. Made at the height of German Expressionism, it is set in a twisted hand-painted world that perfectly fits the warped minds of its central characters

35. The Birds, 1963

Where to watch: Peacock

Alfred Hitchcock followed his shocker Psycho with another horror. Rather than a shower stabber, the Hitchcock blonde in the 1963 movie has to worry about hordes of flying fiends who stalk her in a seaside town. Though the enemy seems pulpier in The Birds, it is actually all about psychological terror—and not just the terror that Hitchcock inflicted on actor Tippi Hedren.

34. Eyes Without a Face, 1960

Where to watch: HBO Max, The Criterion Channel, Kanopy and TCM.

Few horror films outside of the work of David Lynch have the dreamlike intensity of French classic Les Yeux sans Visage, the story of a mad doctor and his mission to find his disfigured daughter a new face. That does not mean, however, that director Georges Franju is afraid to get gory: he began his career with a short about slaughterhouses, and clearly learned a lot about depictions of dead flesh from that time.

33. The Innocents, 1961

Where to watch: YouTube

Sorry, The Haunting of Bly Manor: this is the definitive adaptation of The Turn of the Screw, not afraid to explore the dark sexual themes of the Henry James novel and exquisitely framed in gorgeously gothic black and white.

32. Ringu, 1998

Where to watch: Shudder and AsianCrush.

The movie that introduced the world to Japanese horror (or "J-horror"), Ringu still matches to spook in a world where TVs are no longer cubes, VHS is a curious historical artefact, and where we have had to sit through an OK Hollywood adaptation and its terrible two sequels.

31. Get Out, 2017

get out movie
Still from 'Get Out'. Universal Pictures

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on all major video on demand sites.

One of the few horror films to gain a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars, Get Out reinvented the satirical horror stories of Ira Levin for our modern era, telling the world more about the Black experience in America than many far "worthier" (and far less entertaining) films.

30. Audition, 1999

Where to watch: Tubi, Shudder, Hi-Yah, AsianCrush.

One of the scariest movies ever made, Japanese horror Audition/Odishon so terrifies because it lulls viewers into a false sense of security with its almost romcom-like beginning, only to pull the rug out from under your feet with one move of a bag. What also sets Audition apart from other J-horror is also that we never had to sit through a Hollywood remake, much to the relief of everyone.

29. Frankenstein, 1931

Where to watch: Peacock and Classix.

Though it was the third of the Universal Classic Monsters movies to be released (after The Phantom of the Opera and Dracula), so much horror imagery comes straight from this movie. All movie mad scientists with a lair full of lightning and an Igor-like assistant helping in their dastardly deeds have this film to thank.

28. The Silence of the Lambs, 1991

Where to watch: Netflix, Fubo, Showtime, DirecTV, Pluto TV.

The only horror movie to actually win Best Picture (and one of a handful to win Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay), Hollywood has long called The Silence of the Lambs a "psychological thriller." However, it is actually pure horror—after all, it features two different characters who wear other characters' skin.

27. The Fly, 1986

Where to watch: Starz and DirecTV.

In the 1980s, Hollywood remade a load of its '50s horrors to take advantage of a time where changing standards meant they could make much more gruesome movies. Though the highest-rated movie from this time is still to come, The Fly is the most gruesome of the batch, with noted body horror director David Cronenberg putting Jeff Goldblum in some of the most disgusting prosthetics ever committed to screen as his character slowly turns into a bug.

26. An American Werewolf in London, 1981

Where to watch: HBO Max and DirecTV.

Though a more accurate title might be An American Werewolf in the Middle of the British Countryside and Then In London For A Bit, its London sequences are a fascinating look at the British capital back in a time when Piccadilly Circus still had a porno theater. Aside from this, the movie sees director John Landis moving from horror to comedy with unique results, and one of the most impressive transformation scenes in movie history.

25. The Babadook, 2014

the babadook
Still from 'The Babadook' Entertainment One

Where to watch: Available to rent and buy on video on demand stores.

The highest-rated horror film directed by a woman, Jennifer Kent's story of a grieving mother and the childrens' book creature terrorizing her and her son has an emotional heart lacking from many similar scary films—though does not stop it being terrifying in parts.

24. The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

Where to watch: Peacock

Though the original Frankenstein is a gothic horror classic that set up most of the vocabulary of gothic horror, clearly critics prefer the sequel, which is one of the first horror comedies, as well as introducing a female foil to Frankenstein's Monster, one of the first queens of Hollywood horror.

23. The Thing, 1982

Where to watch: Fubo, Showtime, DirecTV

For those who think the original can never be as good as the remake, John Carpenter's The Thing proves that that is not always the case. While the original was a low budget exercise in success, the remake ups the horror with some mind-melting practical body horror effect. Plus Kurt Russel, who improves most movies he is in.

22. Evil Dead 2, 1987

Where to watch: Hulu and IndieFlix.

For future Spider-Man director Sam Raimi's second Evil Dead movie, he essentially remade the first one, adding more comedic elements to his arsenal of low budget horror effects. The result influenced every "zom com" since (including Shaun of the Dead) and is probably the only movie to feature a severed hand giving someone the finger.

21. Jaws, 1975

Where to watch: HBO Max

Though its killer shark plotline is classic b-movie fare, Steven Spielberg manages to raise the genre with a movie that terrified a generation away from the water. It also created blockbusters as we know them today, with queues literally forming around the block and the movie becoming the first to make $100 million in box office takings.

20. The Blair Witch Project, 1999

Where to watch: DirecTV, Sling, TNT and TBS.

Although released in 1999, The Blair Witch Project has maybe been the film that has most influenced horror movies in the 21st century. Not only did it popularize found footage horror (for better or for worse), but it also has some claim to inventing internet fan culture, with early internet users meeting on forums to discuss what was billed as a real set of killings.

19. The Wicker Man, 1973

Where to watch: The Criterion Channel

No, not the 00s remake where Nicolas Cage gets attacked by bees and punches a woman while wearing a bee costume: the original British folk horror, where something very strange is going on on a rural island, and only a never-better Christopher Lee has the answer as to what.

18. The Descent, 2005

Where to watch: Hoopla, Tubi, Sling and Pluto TV.

Though many associate British horror with the grisly and gaudy gothic worlds of Hammer, The Descent proved that the U.K. could still terrify in the early '00s as a group of girls encounter an evil threat with caving in this claustrophobic chiller.

17. Poltergeist, 1982

Where to watch: Netflix

What happens when you combine director Tobe Hooper of the oft-banned and very adult Texas Chainsaw Massacre with producer Steven Spielberg, fresh off the family-friendly fare of Raiders of the Lost Ark? A movie that can terrify all the family, as an ordinary family fight off an evil spirit in their home.

16. 28 Days Later, 2002

Where to watch: Sling

If Night of the Living Dead invented the modern zombie, 28 Days Later brought it back to life (again) for the 21st century, starting the trend for fast-zombies that has split fans of the genre ever since.

15. Carrie, 1976

carrie movie
Still from 'Carrie'. MGM

Where to watch: Starz and DirecTV

The first of two Stephen King adaptations in the top 20, Carrie combines the master horror writer with the great thriller director Brian De Palma for a movie full of unforgettable scenes (the shower, the prom), Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in Oscar-nommed roles and John Travolta in his first major movie role.

14. Nosferatu, 1922

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, Youtube, Hoopla, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Kanopy, Screambox, Mubi, Classix and Flix Fling.

The first extant vampire film (an earlier Hungarian Dracula is lost) was also nearly destroyed after the Bram Stoker extent won a case against the film and ordered the print to be burned. Luckily, film historians reconstructed the film from remaining print in the 1990s, meaning that horror fans can see the original movie that brought us so much vampire lore—though Max Schreck's monstrous take on the Count is a world away from the later versions by Bela Lugosi and countless others.

13. Dawn of the Dead, 1978

Where to watch: Not currently available to watch online.

Though George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead is the foundation text of modern zombie horror (and is higher up the list of the best horror movies), Dawn of the Dead has an equally strong fanbase, with its story of zombies invading a mall critiquing capitalism two years before the "greed is good" Reagan years began.

12. Rosemary's Baby, 1968

rosemarys baby
Still from 'Rosemary's Baby' Paramount

Where to watch: Fubo, Showtime and DirecTV

As well as featuring a whos-who of great '70s creatives (with Mia Farrow joined by legendary director John Cassavetes and screenwriter and Oscar winner Ruth Gordon in acting roles), Rosemary's Baby still feels fresh today. After all, it's a movie about a man who refuses to listen to a woman about her own body—even if in today's world many may not be ready to watch a film by Roman Polanski.

11. Alien, 1979

Where to watch: HBO Max and DirecTV.

In space, nobody can hear you scream...but the screams in that chestburster scene could be heard coming out of cinemas in 1979 and ever since. Though the many sequels have varied wildly as ever, the original still holds its vital power.

10. Let the Right One In, 2008

Where to watch: Hulu, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Tubi, Kanopy and Magnolia Selects.

Before Let the Right One In, all Sweden meant to most Americans was Ikea and Abba. The unconventional vampire movie, however, introduced scandi-horror to the country, and paved the way for many nordic nightmares since. Few of them, however, had the power (or the quantity of killer cats) of Tomas Alfredson's story of a young vampire and her human friend.

9. Scream, 1996

Where to watch: Fubo and DirecTV.

Though it became associated with a batch of '90s and '00s horrors featuring pop culture teens reaching grisly ends (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, Final Destination, et al), Scream is far smarter than any of those enjoyably dumb movies. This is due to master horror hound Wes Craven behind the camera, who owns ever meta-horror reference in the movie—after all, he invented many of the horror tropes mentioned in the movie.

8. A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

Where to watch: Fubo, DirecTV and SyFy.

Before Elm Street, horror killers had invaded homes, summer camps and schools. No slashers before Freddy Krueger, however, had ever managed to enter kid's dreams before, making for a great start to the most visually inventive horror franchise, which also includes a young Johnny Depp as one of its teen victims.

7. The Shining, 1980

the shining
Still from 'The Shining' Warner Bros

Where to watch: Fubo and Sling

Stephen King famously hates Stanley Kubrick's take on his stories, but he is in the minority. The many horrifying residents of the Overlook Hotel have terrified viewers for forty years and is still as inspirational as ever in the 2010s, when Ready Player One and long-awaited sequel Doctor Sleep both paid tribute to the classic tale of Jack Nicholson slowly losing his mind.

6. Psycho, 1960

Where to watch: Fubo and Peacock

Made cheaply in black and white with Hitchcock's TV show team after a run of technicolor epics, Psycho is a visceral shot in the arm that showed that the director had not lost his ability to show even as his ambitions got bigger. Now that everyone knows what happens in that shower, it is hard to think how shocking that moment would be if you don't see it coming. Hitchcock knew this, however, and made a rule that cinemas could not let anyone in once the film had started—inventing both set cinema times and spoilers in the process.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974

Where to watch: IMDbTV, The Criterion Channel, Tubi and Shudder.

Long-banned in some countries, 45 years later the movie is still as grimly gruesome as ever. While some horror movies like to break up their movies with some humor and/or even the glimmer of hope, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre never bothers to be anything but horrifyingly bleak.

4. Suspiria, 1977

Where to watch: Tubi and Kanopy.

Though the recent Suspiria remake has some delights (including a triple role for Tilda Swinton), it is not a patch on the Italian Giallo original tale of witchcraft in a ballet school. Made by master director Dario Argento, it proved that horror movies could have a strong visual style without losing their ability to scare.

3. Night of the Living Dead, 1968

Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, The Roku Channel, Vudu, Starz, The Criterion Channel, Tubi, Kanopy, DirecTV, Epix, Syfy, Shudder, Screambox, Popcornflix, Realeyz, Mubi, Classix, The Film Detective, USA, Dark Matter TV, TCM and FlixFling.

Though director George A. Romero says that he never meant the film to be a comment on police brutality and systemic racism, it certainly ended up that way, meaning that the film not only invented the modern zombie movie but also did it with social commentary that is still depressingly relevant today.

2. Halloween, 1978

Where to watch: Fubo, The Roku Channel, Hoopla, Shudder and Indieflix

Halloween is to slasher films what Night of the Living Dead is to zombie movies. While it may be the first slasher, John Carpenter's film is the first to create the genre as we know it, with Michael Myers as the original masked stabber and Jamie Lee Curtis as the original scream queen.

1. The Exorcist, 1974

Where to watch: Fubo, DirecTV and Sling.

It is not every horror film so feared that people think that pure evil has somehow been captured in the film reel itself, which is unleashed every time it is projected. That is what preacher Billy Graham, however, said about The Exorcist. As soon as it was released, viewers were so horrified that they reportedly fainted, vomited and even miscarried at screenings.