Best 20 Horror Movies of All Time

Settling on the right horror film to watch is a challenging task – and it's even harder when IMDb has over 36,000 titles to choose from. But thankfully, the movie rating platform gives us a little helping hand with its handy scoring system. Rated by hundreds of thousands of IMDb users, these are the top 20 best horror movies ever.

1. Alien (1979)

Topping the list with an impressive rating of 8.5, Ridley Scott's Alien is clearly a fan favourite. This 1979 classic follows the crew of a spaceship that has been sent on an expedition to explore a nearby, unknown planet. Little do they know that waiting on the planet is a terrifying alien creature waiting to pounce and take the astronauts as prey.

2. Psycho (1960)

Winning the Edgar Allen Poe Best Motion Picture Award a year after its release, this thrilling horror movie also scores a mighty 8.5 on IMDb. One of Alfred Hitchcock's most iconic films, this creepy classic follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) during her stay at Bates Motel. What starts as an easy place to stay while on the run quickly takes a turn, and it's not long until Marion finds herself in a whole lot of trouble.

3. The Shining (1980)

Dark and twisted, this psychological thriller follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) and his family to an isolated hotel. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this 1980s horror staple explores themes of violence and family tragedy as the film’s protagonist slowly slips away from reality. Sinister and scary, this an absolute classic that’s rated a solid 8.4 on IMDb – and the well-known conspiracy theories surrounding the film make it all that more interesting.

4. The Thing (1982)

A film directed by horror icon John Carpenter is bound to be good, and IMDb users definitely agree, rating this 80s classic an impressive 8.2. The sci-fi-horror hybrid follows a group of scientists in Antarctica who discover a creepy, shape-shifting alien life form. The interchangeable creature can morph into its victims, making it hard to identify, but the scientists stranded in the most southern point of the planet must find a way to destroy it.

5. Tumbbad (2018)

Taking a great leap forward to a much more recent release, this Indian horror-fantasy film hits the top five with an excellent rating of 8.2. The film follows a man driven by greed on a mission to discover a secret source of wealth told to be hidden in an ancestral home. Winning over 17 awards and gaining a further 22 nominations, Vinayak (Sohum Shah) and his son become entangled in a dark web of lies, deceit and danger.

6. The Exorcist (1973)

Everybody has heard of The Exorcist – it’s safe to say it’s likely one of the greatest horror films of all time. Setting the blueprint for all supernature films that followed, this 1973 classic tells the devilish story of Regan’s (Linda Blair) possession after playing with a Ouija board. Determined to rescue their daughter from the evil spirits that keep her soul locked away, Regan's parents and a priest - as the title suggests - perform an exorcism. Rated 8.1 on IMDb, this freaky tale has won two Academy Awards, four Golden Globes, and international praise for its special effects.

7. Les Diaboliques (1955)

A 1955 French classic, this horror film is rated 8.1 on IMDb and continues to influence thrillers to this day. This scary horror movie follows two women, Christina Delasalle (Vera Clouzot) and Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret), united by a mutual lover. Both ladies decide to plan the perfect crime and conspire to murder their shared love interest – or at least until things don't go to plan.

8. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

Disturbing and uncomfortable, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis star in this 1962 classic. Rated 8 on IMDb, this top horror film tells the story of sisterly rivalry. One is a former child star, and the other is confined to a wheelchair after a deadly accident, yet both terrorize each other in absolutely awful ways while at home in their run-down Hollywood mansion.

9. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A psychological horror film and an obvious addition to the list of the top horror movies of all time, this Roman Polanski classic was released in 1968. IMDb has rated this skin-crawling horror 8 – and to no surprise. Following the life of a young pregnant woman played by Mia Farrow, a recent move to a new apartment in New York City marks the start of a horrifying ordeal for Rosemary and her husband.

10. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)

The first true horror film to ever land on our screens, this terrifying silent horror picture was first released in Germany in 1920. Rated 8 by users on IMDb, the film follows an unhinged hypnotist (Werner Krauss) as he uses hypnosis to manipulate the somnambulist Cesare, portrayed by Conrad Veidt, to commit a series of awful murders. Paving the way for future cinema in Germany, this founding film in the horror genre is applauded for its dramatic and gothic composition and impressive cinematography.

11. The Blue Elephant (2014)

Released in 2014, this Egyptian hit grew in popularity due to its exceptional approach to the horror genre. In the film, also rated 8 by users on IMDb, a psychiatrist documents his efforts to transition back to work after experiencing a personal tragedy. This turbulent tale navigates demons, surprising twists and plenty of chaos as the film’s protagonist deals with a series of events that are never as they seem.

12. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The first apocalyptic film to find a place on this list, Edgar Wright’s 2004 horror film is rated 7.9 out of 10 on IMDb. Simon Pegg plays Shaun, a man who isn't having a good day, and, in a moment of reflection, Shaun decides to turn his life around. But his timing is less than perfect, and Shaun finds himself in the middle of what seems to be a zombie apocalypse. Will he survive and build the life he was hoping for? Watch this top horror film to find out.

13. Nosferatu (1922)

Another very early cinema classic, this German horror story is dubbed the film that would change the future of cinema. Based in Transylvania, vampire Count Orlok is greeted by a visitor called Hutter, an estate agent looking to sell the count a house. Hutter experiences strange occurrences after arriving at the castle, and these oddities progress until he realizes that he's trapped inside the wicked place with a vampire. Rated 7.9 by over 100,000 IMDb users, lovers of classic films need to watch this pioneering piece of cinema.

14. Let the Right One In (2008)

Set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982, this peculiar horror film makes this list with a rating of 7.9. Winning 75 awards since its release in 2008, the film follows Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, as he finds love and revenge through Eli, a strange yet beautiful girl. Little does Oskar know Eli isn’t as wonderful as he was first led to believe.

15. King Kong (1933)

Released in 1933, Carl Denham, played by Robert Armstrong, gathers his filming equipment and embarks on a trip to Skull Island to finish his movie. With Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) at his side as his leading lady, both are unaware of the dangers they are about to face. Rated 7.9 by IMDb users, this horror film uncovers mysterious encounters and terrifying beasts, including the mutinous King Kong.

16. Predator (1987)

Major "Dutch" Schaefer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, leads his special forces team to the remote South American jungle to assist the CIA on a rescue mission. But not all is as it seems, as when they arrive, they realise they have been tricked and lured to the exotic location under false pretences. Users on IMDb love this film, giving it a generous rating of 7.8; it's action-packed and nail-bitingly good. Will the soldiers survive the wrath of the predator?

17. I Saw the Devil (2010)

This Korean horror title hit the cinemas in 2010, and movie-goers couldn’t get enough of it. Rated 7.8 by over 100,000 IMDb users, the film introduces you to Jang Kyung-chui (Choi Min-Sik), a dangerous psychopath and serial killer. Committing atrocious murders in inhumane and diabolical ways, the film follows the police’s unsuccessful pursuit to bring him down.

18. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Another apocalyptic film to make this list of the best Hollywood horror movies, Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978 and, to this day, continues to be a go-to horror film for movie fans worldwide. Rated 7.8 on IMDb, the film tells the story of two SWAT team members as they desperately try to survive the zombie apocalypse in Philadelphia.

19. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Flesh-eating ghouls are tormenting the East Coast of the United States, and they will destroy anything that gets in their way. This timeless 1968 horror earned a very reasonable 7.8 from users on IMDb as it tracks the movements of a group of civilians trying to survive. Featuring Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea and Karl Hardman, the group are left wondering, how do you stay safe when the evil won't stay dead?

20. Freaks (1932)

The last film in the top 20 horror movies of all time goes to Freaks, the 1932 tale of a circus romance. Taking home a well-earned 7.8 from IMDb users, Freaks sees trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova) have her heart stolen by an indulgent inheritance. Deceit, affairs and greed will receive what's rightfully due in this film directed by Tod Browning.

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