Top 25 Horror Movies of all Time

by Shekhar Manghnani on June 25th, 2016

Horror is the rare genre in any form of entertainment (books, movies, tv shows) that evokes negative emotions from its audiences by playing with their primal fears. That is why it is so special, it challenges its audience to face their fears in an entertaining format with a story, characters and setting.

Although most horror films today have become a cheap way of generating films and cashing in a profit on opening weekends, there have been a few gems through the course of film history. Here is a list of the top 25 Horror films of all time based on critics and universal acclaim. 

25. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Synopsis: ​A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.

Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Stars: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Ruth Livier

24. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Synopsis: ​A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Writers: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney

23. The Innocents (1961)

Synopsis: ​A young governess for two children becomes convinced that the house and grounds are haunted.

Director: Jack Clayton
Writers: Henry James (novel), John Mortimer (additional scenes & dialogue) 
Stars: Deborah Kerr, Peter Wyngarde, Megs Jenkins

22. Don't Look Now (1973)

​Synopsis: A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.

Director: Nicolas Roeg
Writers: Daphne Du Maurier (story), Allan Scott (screenplay) (as Alan Scott) 
Stars: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason

21. The Cabin In the Woods (2012)

​Synopsis: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Director: Drew Goddard
Writers: Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard
Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison

20. The Witch (2016)

Synopsis: ​A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.

Director: Robert Eggers
Writer: Robert Eggers
Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

19. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

​Synopsis: A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

Director: George A. Romero
Writers: John A. Russo (screenplay) (as John Russo),George A. Romero (screenplay) (as George Romero)
Stars: Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman

18. Gojira (1956)

Synopsis: ​American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.

Director: Ishirô Honda
Writers: Takeo Murata, Ishirô Honda
Stars: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada

17. The Birds (1963)

Synopsis: ​A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people. 

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Daphne Du Maurier (from the story by), Evan Hunter(screenplay)
Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette

16. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Synopsis: ​The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.

Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks

15. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Synopsis: ​In the falangist Spain of 1944, the bookish young stepdaughter of a sadistic army officer escapes into an eerie but captivating fantasy world.

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López

14. Eye's Without a Face (1962)

Synopsis: ​A surgeon causes an accident which leaves his daughter disfigured, and goes to extremes to give her a new face.

Director: Georges Franju
Writers: Jean Redon (novel), Pierre Boileau (adaptation) (as Boileau-Narcejac)
Stars: Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Juliette Mayniel

13. Freaks (1932)

Synopsis: ​A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance.

Director: Tod Browning
Writer: Clarence Aaron 'Tod' Robbins (suggested by story: "Spurs") (as Tod Robbins)
Stars: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova

12. Aliens (1986)

Synopsis: ​The planet from Alien (1979) has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, the rescue team has impressive firepower, but will it be enough?

Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron (story), David Giler (story)
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn

11. Let the Right One In (2008)

Synopsis: ​Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay), John Ajvide Lindqvist (novel)
Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar

10. It Follows (2015)

​Synopsis: A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after a sexual encounter.

Director: David Robert Mitchell
Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Stars: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi

9. The Babadook (2014)

Synopsis: ​A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

Director: Jennifer Kent
Writer: Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

8. Frankenstein (1931)

Synopsis: ​An obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.

Director: James Whale
Writers: John L. Balderston (based upon the composition by),Mary Shelley (from the novel by) (as Mrs. Percy B. Shelley)
Stars: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff

7. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Synopsis: ​A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Ira Levin (novel), Roman Polanski (screenplay)
Stars: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon

6. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Synopsis: ​Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein, goaded by an even madder scientist, builds his monster a mate.

Director: James Whale
Writers: Mary Shelley (suggested by: the original story written in 1816 by) (as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley), William Hurlbut(adapted by)
Stars: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive

5. Psycho (1960)

Synopsis: ​A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Joseph Stefano (screenplay), Robert Bloch (novel)
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles

4. King Kong (1933)

Synopsis: ​A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star. Then he's captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.

Directors: Merian C. Cooper (uncredited), Ernest B. Schoedsack(uncredited)
Writers: James Ashmore Creelman (screen play) (as James Creelman), Ruth Rose (screen play)
Stars: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot

3. Repulsion (1965)

Synopsis: ​A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister's boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.

Director: Roman Polanski
Writers: Roman Polanski (original screenplay), Gérard Brach(original screenplay) (as Gerard Brach) 
Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser

​​2. Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (Nosferatu the Vampire) (1922)

Synopsis: ​Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife.

Director: F.W. Murnau
Writers: Henrik Galeen (screen play), Bram Stoker (based on the novel: "Dracula")
Stars: Max Schreck, Greta Schröder, Ruth Landshoff

​1. ​Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) (1920)

Synopsis: ​Dr. Caligari's somnambulist, Cesare, and his deadly predictions.

Director: Robert Wiene
Writers: Carl Mayer (story and screen play by), Hans Janowitz(story and screen play by)
Stars: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Feher


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