50 Best Horror Films of All Time

August 5, 2017 by Sam Stebbins

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Horror films have existed for nearly as long as motion pictures have been around. Beginning with French director Georges Méliès’s 1896 film “The Haunted Castle,” audiences have sought the thrill of movies that frighten, disturb, and deal in the morbid and macabre.

Yet, while audience demand has kept a steady stream of horror flicks in theaters and propelled titles such as “Jaws” and “The Sixth Sense” to the top of the box office, the genre has not always elicited respectability among critics. For instance, it was not until 1992 that a horror film – “The Silence of the Lambs” – won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

The impression of horror movies as a purely lowbrow art form seems to have largely been shed. In his backhanded, two-star review of 1974’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” famed critic Roger Ebert wrote that audiences are left with “an effective production in the service of an unnecessary movie.” That unnecessary movie has since gone on to secure a place in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and in 2012 it was included in the highly respected Sight and Sound’s 250 Greatest Films of All Time list. Films that were once considered pointlessly shocking are now viewed as legitimate works of art.

Today, modern horror films are being recognized with more awards than their predecessors. Although this is due in part to more organizations granting awards, it also reflects a newer mindset that these movies are deserving of appreciation. Hence George Romero’s highly influential 1968’s “Night of the Living Dead” receiving only one award, while the more recent 2007’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” receiving 34.

Click here to see the best horror films of all time.
Click here to see our methodology.

This newfound appreciation is widely spread across the genre, as seen by the variety of movies that made our list of best horror films. While the older classics such a “Frankenstein” and “Dracula” are greatly represented, there are films from every decade – aside from the 1990’s – including four movies from the 2010’s.

Source: Courtesy of Image Entertainment

50. Re-Animator
> Released: 1985
> Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, Barbara Crampton
> Awards won: 4

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

49. Them!
> Released: 1954
> Starring: James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon
> Awards won: 1

Source: Courtesy of Legend Films

48. The Most Dangerous Game
> Released: 1932
> Starring: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks
> Awards won: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

47. The Conjuring
> Released: 2013
> Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston
> Awards won: 15

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Source: Courtesy of MGM

46. Mad Love
> Released: 1935
> Starring: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive
> Awards won: N/A

Source: Courtesy of MPI Home Video

45. The Hound of the Baskervilles
> Released: 1939
> Starring: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Richard Greene
> Awards won: N/A

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

44. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
> Released: 1964
> Starring: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of MGM

43. Carrie
> Released: 1976
> Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

42. The Cabin in the Woods
> Released: 2012
> Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
> Awards won: 20

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

41. Phantom of the Paradise
> Released: 1974
> Starring: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

40. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
> Released: 1978
> Starring: Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum
> Awards won: 4

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

39. I Walked with a Zombie
> Released: 1943
> Starring: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison
> Awards won: 0

Source: Courtesy of Alliance Films

38. Grindhouse
> Released: 2007
> Starring: Kurt Russell, Rose McGowan, Danny Trejo
> Awards won: 7

Source: Courtesy of Universal Studios

37. Cape Fear
> Released: 1962
> Starring: Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum, Polly Bergen
> Awards won: N/A

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Source: Courtesy of NBC Universal

36. The Wolf Man
> Released: 1941
> Starring: Claude Rains, Warren William, Lon Chaney Jr.
> Awards won: 1

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

35. The Picture of Dorian Gray
> Released: 1945
> Starring: George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed
> Awards won: 3

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Source: Courtesy of NBC Universal

34. Dracula
> Released: 1931
> Starring: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners
> Awards won: 2

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

33. The Fly
> Released: 1986
> Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
> Awards won: 6

Source: Courtesy of MGM

32. The Spiral Staircase
> Released: 1946
> Starring: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore
> Awards won: N/A

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31. The Evil Dead
> Released: 1981
> Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

30. The Haunting
> Released: 1963
> Starring: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson
> Awards won: 0

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Studios

29. The Thing
> Released: 1982
> Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
> Awards won: 0

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

28. The Uninvited
> Released: 1944
> Starring: Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp
> Awards won: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Paramount

27. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
> Released: 2007
> Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman
> Awards won: 34

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Studios

26. The Birds
> Released: 1963
> Starring: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

25. The Exorcist
> Released: 1973
> Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
> Awards won: 16

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24. What We Do in the Shadows
> Released: 2014
> Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer
> Awards won: 24

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

23. Cat People
> Released: 1942
> Starring: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith
> Awards won: 1

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

22. The Incredible Shrinking Man
> Released: 1957
> Starring: Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, April Kent
> Awards won: 2

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Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

21. Evil Dead II
> Released: 1987
> Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
> Awards won: 0

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

20. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
> Released: 1931
> Starring: Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart
> Awards won: 3

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Source: Courtesy of Trancas International Films

19. Halloween
> Released: 1978
> Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran
> Awards won: 4

Source: Courtesy of GMG Media Group

18. Island of Lost Souls
> Released: 1932
> Starring: Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, Richard Arlen
> Awards won: 1

Source: Courtesy of The Criterion Collection

17. Eraserhead
> Released: 1977
> Starring: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph
> Awards won: 2

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16. Dawn of the Dead
> Released: 1978
> Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger
> Awards won: 2

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

15. Wait Until Dark
> Released: 1967
> Starring: Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Richard Crenna
> Awards won: 0

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

14. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
> Released: 1962
> Starring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono
> Awards won: 2

Source: Courtesy of NBC Universal

13. The Invisible Man
> Released: 1933
> Starring: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

12. Frankenstein
> Released: 1931
> Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff
> Awards won: 4

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

11. Get Out
> Released: 2017
> Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford
> Awards won: 2

Source: Courtesy of Kino Video

10. The Man Who Laughs
> Released: 1928
> Starring: Mary Philbin, Conrad Veidt, Julius Molnar
> Awards won: N/A

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9. Night of the Living Dead
> Released: 1968
> Starring: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman
> Awards won: 1

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

8. Freaks
> Released: 1932
> Starring: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova
> Awards won: 1

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

7. King Kong
> Released: 1933
> Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
> Awards won: 3

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount

6. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
> Released: 1956
> Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates
> Awards won: 4

Source: Courtesy of Paramount

5. Rosemary’s Baby
> Released: 1968
> Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
> Awards won: 10

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

4. The Shining
> Released: 1980
> Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
> Awards won: 3

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

3. Bride of Frankenstein
> Released: 1935
> Starring: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive
> Awards won: 2

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

2. Alien
> Released: 1979
> Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
> Awards won: 17

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1. Psycho
> Released: 1960
> Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
> Awards won: 4

Methodology:

To determine the best horror films of all time, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on each film’s Rotten Tomatoes’ average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes’ average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database’s average user rating. To be considered, each film needed to have at least 1,000 Rotten Tomatoes user ratings, 10 approved tomatometer critic reviews, and 1,000 IMDb user ratings.

We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating. The year the movie was released, awards won, award nominations, and the actors and actresses starring in each film came from IMDb.

Items included on this list were selected based exclusively on this methodology. This article includes affiliate links, and 24/7 Wall St. may get a share of the revenue from sales.