Special Report

The Best Horror Movies Ever Made

As long as there have been motion pictures, there have been horror films. The genre has gone through numerous evolutions since the first three-minute horror short, “Le Manoir du Diable” (“The House of the Devil”) was shot in France in 1896. 

In early silent classics like “Nosferatu” (1922), fear was invoked by a hideous villain, such as a vampire or demon, who played a starring role. In the modern era, horror has grown to encompass a multitude of sub-genres, with or without a classic “monster” central to the original stories. Psychological horror, for example, utilizes mental disturbances and suspense to elicit fear, often without ever depicting an actual villain.

24/7 Tempo has compiled the 105 best horror movies ever made. The films represent every decade from the 1920s to the present day and from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 nature-gone-wild thriller “The Birds” to slasher classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to experimental indie cult film “Eraserhead” — with an occasional horror comedy along the way. 

While there have always been scary films, 2017 saw something of a horror renaissance. Both the supernatural horror film “It,” based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, and Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning “Get Out” were released that year. “It” went on to gross over $700 million worldwide, and set a new record for playing in 4,103 theaters — more than any other R-rated movie ever. Here are the best R rated movies ever made.

Click here to see the best horror movies ever made

To identify the 40 best horror movies ever made, 24/7 Tempo developed an index of ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and audience and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of mid-March 2021. All three measures were weighted equally. Only films with at least 4,500 reviews on IMDb, a “horror” genre classification on IMDb, and a runtime greater than one hour were considered. Data on domestic box office came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Cast information comes from IMDb.

Now there are more horror films than ever. Streaming services have given indie and sub-genre horror a platform it never had. Most theaters don’t run small-budget horror movies, and before streaming, films that went straight to TV or DVD were considered lower quality. Now, horror fans have a plethora of first-rate fear-inducing options at their fingertips. Here are the scariest movies now available for streaming.

40. Vampyr (1932)
> Combined score: 2.58 — #1,504 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel, Sybille Schmitz
> Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
> Genres: Fantasy, Horror

39. Dead of Night (1945)
> Combined score: 2.58 — #1,471 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Mervyn Johns, Michael Redgrave, Roland Culver, Mary Merrall
> Director: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton
> Genres: Drama, Horror

[in-text-ad-2]

38. The Birds (1963)
> Combined score: 2.58 — #1,444 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery

37. The Wailing (2016)
> Combined score: 2.59 — #1,402 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Do-won Kwak, Woo-hee Chun
> Director: Hong-jin Na
> Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

36. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
> Combined score: 2.59 — #1,368 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Otto Wernicke, Thomy Bourdelle, Gustav Diessl
> Director: Fritz Lang
> Genres: Crime, Horror, Mystery

35. The Invisible Man (1933)
> Combined score: 2.59 — #1,347 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Henry Travers
> Director: James Whale
> Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi

[in-text-ad]

34. Godzilla (1954)
> Combined score: 2.61 — #1,155 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi
> Director: Ishirô Honda
> Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

33. Deep Red (1975)
> Combined score: 2.61 — #1,155 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Méril
> Director: Dario Argento
> Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

32. Peeping Tom (1960)
> Combined score: 2.61 — #1,144 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Karlheinz Böhm, Anna Massey, Moira Shearer, Maxine Audley
> Director: Michael Powell
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Thriller

31. Repulsion (1965)
> Combined score: 2.61 — #1,136 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Yvonne Furneaux
> Director: Roman Polanski
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Thriller

30. Train to Busan (2016)
> Combined score: 2.62 — #1,068 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Gong Yoo, Yu-mi Jung, Ma Dong-seok, Su-an Kim
> Director: Sang-ho Yeon
> Genres: Action, Horror, Thriller

29. The Thing (1982)
> Combined score: 2.62 — #1,033 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur
> Director: John Carpenter
> Genres: Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

[in-text-ad-2]

28. What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
> Combined score: 2.62 — #1,033 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Jonny Brugh
> Director: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi
> Genres: Comedy, Horror

27. The Innocents (1961)
> Combined score: 2.62 — #1,030 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins, Michael Redgrave
> Director: Jack Clayton
> Genres: Horror

26. Curse of the Demon (1957)
> Combined score: 2.63 — #993 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham
> Director: Jacques Tourneur
> Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

25. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
> Combined score: 2.63 — #952 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates, King Donovan
> Director: Don Siegel
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

[in-text-ad]

24. Kwaidan (1964)
> Combined score: 2.64 — #894 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Rentarô Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe, Kenjirô Ishiyama
> Director: Masaki Kobayashi
> Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

23. Get Out (2017)
> Combined score: 2.64 — #880 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener
> Director: Jordan Peele
> Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

22. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
> Combined score: 2.65 — #805 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel, Alexandre Rignault
> Director: Georges Franju
> Genres: Drama, Horror

21. Halloween (1978)
> Combined score: 2.65 — #805 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran, Nancy Kyes
> Director: John Carpenter
> Genres: Horror, Thriller

20. Evil Dead II (1987)
> Combined score: 2.65 — #789 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva
> Director: Sam Raimi
> Genres: Comedy, Horror

19. Freaks (1932)
> Combined score: 2.66 — #775 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, Roscoe Ates
> Director: Tod Browning
> Genres: Drama, Horror

[in-text-ad-2]

18. The Shining (1980)
> Combined score: 2.66 — #762 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Genres: Drama, Horror

17. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
> Combined score: 2.66 — #727 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson
> Director: James Whale
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

16. Nosferatu (1922)
> Combined score: 2.67 — #707 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder
> Director: F.W. Murnau
> Genres: Fantasy, Horror

15. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
> Combined score: 2.67 — #707 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross
> Director: George A. Romero
> Genres: Horror, Thriller

[in-text-ad]

14. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
> Combined score: 2.67 — #707 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Kyra Schon, Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman
> Director: George A. Romero
> Genres: Horror, Thriller

13. King Kong (1933)
> Combined score: 2.67 — #707 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot, Frank Reicher
> Director: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
> Genres: Adventure, Horror, Sci-Fi

12. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
> Combined score: 2.67 — #687 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer
> Director: Roman Polanski
> Genres: Drama, Horror

11. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
> Combined score: 2.68 — #632 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis
> Director: Edgar Wright
> Genres: Comedy, Horror

10. Frankenstein (1931)
> Combined score: 2.68 — #576 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, John Boles
> Director: James Whale
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

9. Tumbbad (2018)
> Combined score: 2.69 — #551 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Sohum Shah, Jyoti Malshe, Anita Date, Ronjini Chakraborty
> Director: Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi
> Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

[in-text-ad-2]

8. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
> Combined score: 2.69 — #518 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono, Wesley Addy
> Director: Robert Aldrich
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Thriller

7. The Unknown (1927)
> Combined score: 2.69 — #504 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Lon Chaney, Norman Kerry, Joan Crawford, Nick De Ruiz
> Director: Tod Browning
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Romance

6. Faust (1926)
> Combined score: 2.70 — #449 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Gösta Ekman, Emil Jannings, Camilla Horn, Frida Richard
> Director: F.W. Murnau
> Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
> Combined score: 2.73 — #291 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher, Lil Dagover
> Director: Robert Wiene
> Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

[in-text-ad]

4. The Face of Another (1966)
> Combined score: 2.75 — #215 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Mikijirô Hira, Kyôko Kishida, Miki Irie
> Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
> Genres: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

3. The Phantom Carriage (1921)
> Combined score: 2.75 — #200 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Victor Sjöström, Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg, Astrid Holm
> Director: Victor Sjöström
> Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

2. Alien (1979)
> Combined score: 2.81 — #53 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright
> Director: Ridley Scott
> Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi

[in-text-ad-2]

1. Psycho (1960)
> Combined score: 2.81 — #50 highest out of movies in all genres
> Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.