156 Horror Movies That Will Creep You Out
Good scares and a decent rush of adrenaline are never as good as the safety of your home, the comfort of your favorite couch, and the deliciousness of a plate of savory snacks. And no, we're not talking about hearing weird noises coming out of the walls or your cat staring at a corner as if its life depended on it; these things are way too scary, but a good horror film has the exact right balance of creepy and entertaining. So, here we are, presenting you our list of the best horror movies that have graced our silver screens!
From the absolute classics such as The Exorcist and The Shining to the oldie but goldie indie films that have made it into cinematic history, and, of course, to the most recent contributions to the genre like The Conjuring or Hereditary; this list will cater to every horror-thirsty watcher's needs. Also, these scary movies aren't just your basic all-encompassing horror, and their sub-genres span from slashers to psychological thrillers to science fiction and suspenseful mysteries. So, a wide variety of films for you to choose from! However, to make it simple, we've supplied the top 20 creepy movies with short descriptions that shouldn't spoil the plot but make your decision easier.
Now, make haste and scroll on down below to meet our top picks of the scariest movies ever! Once you are there, vote for the flicks that you think are the best and share this article with anyone craving the heebie-jeebies and the creeps!
1973 | 2 hours 2 minutes | Directed by William Friedkin
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
Filming marked by accidents and release riddled with controversies and even riots, The Exorcist sure made a grand entrance into movie industry history. And if you haven't seen it already, here's the plot in its basics - The Exorcist follows a twelve-year-old girl that has been possessed by a demon and needs it to be expelled. With such a sure-shot horrifying premise, great acting, and severe shocks throughout, The Exorcist is still one of the best paranormal horror movies some 50 years after its release.
1980 | 2 hours 26 minutes | Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
What do you get by pairing the works of one of the best horror writers (Stephen King) and the ingenious movie-making talent (Stanley Kubrick)? The Shining - in all its gory glory with blood rivers, creepy twins, and a call for murder. Oh, and don't forget about the good old burial ground under a hotel that's right in the middle of a very desolate nowhere. A not-so-typical horror movie, The Shining will give you a couple of sleepless nights nonetheless and a looming suspicion about your significant other's mental health state.
1978 | 1 hour 31 minutes | Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran
Halloween is an independent slasher film directed and scored by the horror master himself - John Carpenter. The plot centers around Michael Myers - a mental patient who killed his sister on the night of Halloween when he was six years old. After fifteen years spent in a sanitarium, Michael escapes only to terrorize the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois once again. Now, Halloween might not have been as popular upon its release but has since gained a true cult following and praises from contemporary cinema critics.
The Silence Of The Lambs
1991 | 1h 58m | Directed by Jonathan Demme
Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Ted Levine
The Silence Of The Lambs is a psychological horror-thriller that continues to be celebrated by movie lovers and critics alike. It remains the only one to have won Academy Awards in all of the top five categories – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. When it was released back in 1991, the critics praised its tense atmosphere, intelligent story, and exceptional performances from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, who played Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling, respectively.
A Nightmare On Elm Street
1984 | 1 hour 31 minutes | Directed by Wes Craven
Starring Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund
Our list wouldn't be complete without such a classic paranormal slasher horror as A Nightmare On Elm Street. Right from the first minute, you're haunted by dark mystery, actual unexplained slashings, and just good old terror occupying the space in your veins. And to make it even better, there's no happy ending for A Nightmare On Elm Street - that alone will horrify you long after the movie has ended.
1982 | 1 hour 54 minutes | Directed by Tobe Hooper
Starring JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, Craig T. Nelson
Meet the Freeling family - happily married and with three kids, they move into a planned community with nothing but a charming suburban life ahead. And if it seems that nothing could go wrong, it turns out that they're living right above a burial ground. Magnificently written, praised for its filming, and consistently frightening, the 1983 Poltergeist is considered a paranormal horror classic.
1979 | 1 hour 57 minutes | Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Alien is a science fiction horror film that follows the story of the crew of the commercial aircraft Nostromo meeting a hostile extraterrestrial entity after investigating an unknown transmission. Well, everything about this movie became iconic - the set and artifact design, Sigourney Weaver's incredible acting, the palpable suspense that builds up slowly and torturously made Alien into one heck of a scary piece. No surprise here that Alien garnered praises from critics and accolades from award-givers! So, if you haven't watched this gem already, then do so; you won't be disappointed.
1960 | 1 hour 49 minutes Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
Psycho is a psychological horror-thriller produced and directed by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock. The story here goes like this - on-the-run embezzler Marion Crane stays at a motel run by the shy Norman Bates. Lo and behold, Marion disappears. Now, those close to her hire a private investigator to get to the root of her disappearance, and boy, oh boy, are they in for a surprise! Now, hear me out - some of you shy away from these older movies led by faulty thinking they might be subpar in quality or story, but think of them as the living history of cinema. And if you do finally decide to watch Psycho, don't be surprised if you love it from the first minute.
1976 | 1 hour 38 minutes | Directed by Biran De Palma
Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
Based on the first published Stephen King book, Carrie was an instant success upon its release. And how could it not be when it's written by the horror master himself and directed by the legendary Brian De Palma (Scarface, Mission: Impossible). Not only is Carrie horrific and frightening to watch, but it is also one of the very few horror movies nominated for an Academy Award, so if you haven't already - watch it now.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
1974 | 1 hour 23 minutes | Directed by Tobe Hooper
Starring Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger
Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a horror film that not only originated some of our beloved elements of the slasher genre but has also become one of the most influential horror movies ever. The story here, although quite a simple one, proves that a good horror flick might not need a complex premise to be a genuinely scary one. Thus, here it's a group of friends that fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. Seems familiar? Well, we told you that Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the most influential horror movies of all time!
1982 | 1 hour 49 minutes | Directed by John Carpenter
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
The Thing is a science fiction horror film based on the 1938 novella by John W. Campbell Jr. called Who Goes There? It follows the story of a group of Antarctica researchers who encounter the 'Thing' - a parasitic life-form that assimilates then imitates other organisms. Thus, the crew members cannot trust each other, for any one of them might be The Thing. Now, knowing Carpenter's unique take on horror, you might expect to see freaky, gory, weird, and utterly amazing special effects made oh-so-real here by the set designer's immense fantasy, and you should also expect loads of paranoia and tension. Honestly, The Thing is one of our favorite horror movies ever, so give it a try!
1976 | 1 hour 51 minutes | Directed by Richard Donner
Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens
Somehow, the horror always gets more horrific when kids are involved, especially when the said kid is the Antichrist. And though later on, The Omen had many spin-offs and remakes, nothing beats the 1976 original paranormal horror movie. Riddled with menacing signs and ominous deaths right from the beginning, The Omen, with its iron-clad plot and stellar acting, surely found its spot in the horror movies hall of fame.
1975 | 2 hours 4 minutes | Directed by Steven Spielberg
Starring Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
Jaws is a thriller film based on the 1974 novel by Peter Benchley. Here a great white shark with a taste for human flesh is terrorizing beachgoers at a summer resort town. Its appetite gets so bad that a team consisting of a police chief, a marine biologist, and a professional shark hunter sets out to stop it before it is too late. Interestingly, Jaws, upon its release, caused one known case of cinematic neurosis, becoming notable in the medical community alongside The Exorcist for causing stress reactions in its viewers. So, however old-timey Jaws might seem to you, it isn't a flick for the faint of heart!
1990 | 1 hour 47 minutes | Directed by Rob Reiner
Starring James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
Misery is a psychological thriller based on Stephen King's 1987 novel of the same name. To try to strip the plot to its basics - saying that a murderous fan keeps her favorite writer hostage to force him to write a book - would do no justice to this freakishly intense story. In fact, it is a nerve-wracking survival story, an analysis of a psychotic murderous villain, and a great deal of entertainment! Besides The Shining, Misery might just be one of the best adaptations of mister King's works to date.
1990 | 3 hours 12 minutes | Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace
Starring Richard Thomas, Tim Curry, Annette O'Toole
We've decided to include the original adaptation of It into our list - okay, so it's actually a TV mini-series, but we just couldn't resist Tim Curry's Pennywise portrayal. And though it isn't a movie exactly, the 1990s It is gritty, grimy, and dark; not any less scary than the modern version. Surely, nothing that has spawned from Stephen King's brain could be anything else!
Friday The 13th
1980 | 1 hour 35 minutes | Directed by Sean S. Cunningham
Starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor
Friday The 13th is an independent slasher film following a group of teenage camp counselors who get murdered one by one by an unknown serial killer while attempting to re-open an abandoned summer camp. Although an indie film, Friday The 13th was a huge box office success that left no one doubting its superior cinematographic qualities, great score, and awesome performances supplemented by very liberal use of violence vital for the slasher genre.
Night Of The Living Dead
1968 | 1 hour 36 minutes | Directed by George A. Romero
Starring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman
Night Of The Living Dead is an independent horror film following a group of seven people stuck in a farmhouse somewhere in Pennsylvania while a large group of cannibalistic undead ghouls is trying, well, to eat them. Night Of The Living Dead's gore and violence was groundbreaking and unprecedented for the time, causing a fair bit of controversy. However, those who gave it negative reviews upon its release soon changed their minds, coming to understand that this scary movie is actually a piece of cinematic art!
1989 | 1 hour 43 minutes | Directed by Mary Lambert
Starring Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne
Pet Sematary is a supernatural horror film based on a novel of the same name written by the horror master himself, Stephen King. The story centers around a family with two young kids and their pet cat moving into their new home in a small town called Ludlow in Maine (the town is perfectly real, by the way!). There lies a creepy little pet cemetery that proves to be anything but ordinary right behind their house in the woods. The story itself is an ominous mix between the zombie lore and harsh psychological thriller, a mix that works oh so well on the big screen! Although, if you want to experience its thrills in full color, why not read the original book?
The Evil Dead
1981 | 1 hour 25 minutes | Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
Evil Dead is a bloody, gory, and brutally terrorizing paranormal horror movie that's actually fun to watch. One that leaves no questions about the characters surviving the trials about to come. And with this plot twist eliminated, the creators have to pull some new tricks on how our heroes will meet their end. So if you're up for some bloody violence, give Evil Dead a shot.