Film Blog: The Greatest Horror Movies of All Time

These 13 films are a credit to the horror genre for doing so many things right…


Paramount Pictures

Dylan Long, Staff Writer

Top 13 Greatest Horror Movies Of All Time

When I was younger, like most kids I was scared of horror movies. Everytime I would catch a glimpse of The Conjuring ad before a youtube video I had to shut it off. Or when I saw Regan’s creepy face from The Exorcist, I would run out of the room. It was only a couple of years ago when I became obsessed with horror movies. I have so much respect for horror filmmakers, more so than other filmmakers simply because of my love for this genre. So in this article I want to countdown my top 13 horror movies. These aren’t the scariest, but rather my personal favorites that I think you should watch not just during Halloween time, but anytime. 

13: REC

One of the many subgenres of horror movies that is so oversaturated is the found footage genre. Only so many movies are actually good and nail it, while the rest are usually pretty terrible. In my opinion, I would only call two masterpieces. One being Paranormal Activity, and the other being REC. REC is a Spanish horror about a reporter and her cameraman covering a story on the local fire department when they get a call from an apartment building. What ensues is what some would call the scariest horror movie of all time. I’ll give it to the filmmakers, I didn’t get nightmares or anything, but it’s one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. The movie moves at a very fast pace, and once you get into that apartment, it’s scare after scare. The sound, the atmosphere, and the stellar acting all sell this movie. It truly feels real. If you get a chance and you think you have the guts to watch it, I think you’ll have a great time watching this one. 

12: house of 1000 corpses/the devil’s rejects

I’m cheating a little bit here because these are two different movies. Still, I can’t help but put them in the same spot because they make for a great double feature. House of 1000 Corpses follows two young couples traveling across Texas searching for urban legends. Once a clown named Captain Spaulding tells them about Doctor Satan, they go looking where they shouldn’t be looking, and soon run into the Fireflies, a murderous psychopathic family hellbent on carrying out their annual Halloween ritual. The sequel, The Devil’s Rejects, follows the Firefly family as they flee from the corrupt Sheriff Wydell who wants revenge for the murder of his brother. Rob Zombie is one of the most interesting filmmakers out there right now. Love him or hate him, he sure has a vision and his movies are like nothing I’ve ever seen. Like Quentin Tarantino or Edgar Wright, Zombie loves referencing movies he’s seen before. Both movies reference classic 70s horror movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Last House on The Left. While the protagonists aren’t anything special, the Firefly family are filled with amazing acting all around. The two standouts are Bill Mosely as Otis Driftwood, and the late Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding. These actors give an amazing performance and it’s a shame that they haven’t been in more movies because they’re both amazing. I know Rob Zombie’s style isn’t for everybody and not all of his movies are amazing, but these are truly his best, and shows that he is very talented as a filmmaker. 

11: Evil Dead 1-2

What is there to say about Sam Rami’s Evil Dead one and two that haven’t already been said. Like the last films, I just couldn’t separate these films apart because again, they make a great double feature. Both movies follow Ashely Williams as he and a couple of friends all go to a spooky cabin in the woods. Here they find the necronomicon ex mortis, or the book of the dead. Once they read from this book, deadites come from the ground and rip these poor people apart, leaving Ash to fight for himself. The first movie is so inspiring to young filmmakers because Rami and Cambell were so young and this was their first movie. With a budget of practically nothing, they just went to a cabin and made a movie. For the second one, they did the exact same thing. Evil Dead 2 is regarded as one of the best horror sequels of all time because it takes what was good about the first film, and improves upon it, something all sequels should do. It’s bloodier, it provides better stunts all done by Cambell, and it’s much funnier than the first which seems strange at first, but it works. Overall, these movies are amazing. Please go see what filmmakers can do with nothing, they turn it into gold. 

10: Night of the living dead

Another film that was made from practically nothing, Night of The Living Dead, is one of the first zombie movies and it is the best zombie movie of all time. The late George Romero went out to a house with some friends and again, just made a movie. The film is about a group of people who take refuge and barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from flesh-eating zombies that are destroying the eastern United States. The lead actor, Duane Jones, gives an incredible performance, one that inspired many. He gives long and emotional monologues about his escape from the zombies and those are always a delight. Some moments in the film, like the infamous garden spade kill is truly terrifying, cementing this film as one of the best in the genre. I know some can’t handle black and white (which is dumb) but open your horizons and make this one of the first black and white movie you see because it is amazing. 

9: Frankenstein

I love the classic Universal monster movies. A runner up would be The Invisible Man but this film is the best. The film is about Dr. Frankenstein who tampered with death and created a monster made of corpses. Soon he goes on a rampage and it’s up to the town to stop him. The film is only 70 minutes but it still tells a complete story with some amazing special effects that would’ve probably blown people’s minds back in 1931. Don’t let the age of the movie fool you, this movie still holds up extremely well. It may be not as scary as REC but back in it’s day it must’ve been terrifying. The makeup on the monster played brilliantly by Boris Karloff AKA The Grinch looks fantastic even now. James Whale crafted a beautiful movie with one of the most messed up kills in horror history. The complete silence when the monster throws the little girl into the pond is pretty chilling. Overall this is one of best pre code movies of all time, please make THIS your first black and white movie. The age may scare you, but its 70 minutes give it a chance. 

8: The Fly

No, not the 1958 original. The 1986 remake is one of few remakes that surpasses the original in my opinion. The film tells the story of Seth Brundle played by Jeff Goldblum as he begins to form into a giant fly after one of his experiments goes wrong. A simple plot on the surface but this is one of the best 80s horror movies and showcases what this era of horror brought to the table. Gone were the cheesy 50s and 60s acting. Gone was the gritty realistic 70s horror. Horror movies became really gory and makeup and special effects meant so much more than it used to. The last ten minutes of this film showcase the best special effects that have ever been in a movie. They are nasty, gross, but they look so awesome. As Seth becomes brundlefly his skin sheds off and what’s underneath is truly terrifying. This is one of those movies where the effects might turn you off, you may look away. But if you keep looking you will see why in my opinion why film snobs hate CGI. Sure, not all CGI is bad. But god forbid if they remake this movie, I will assure you, the CGI will never look this good. It’s not just the effects that make this movie. The tragic love story between Seth Brundle and Veronica is truly sad and gripping. You will feel for her when Seth goes full brundlefly. This is one of the best showcases of special effects and I still watch it grossing out at those last ten minutes. 

7: The lighthouse

The Lighthouse is one of the best horror movies of the 2010s. It’s gorgeous and the leads are spectacular and I’m shocked why Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson weren’t nominated for acting. Anyways the plot is very simple, two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a rock in the 1890s. What follows is a brilliant character study of both characters. Seeing Pattinson in this movie shows the world that he’s not just Edward Cullen, and this was the movie that made me excited to see his take on Bruce Wayne. He gives a lowkey performance throughout and then explodes in the third act. The movie is gorgeous, looking like a silent film with the aspect ratio and the black and white.Their isn’t much I can say about this movie besides the performances and the look of the film without making this whole article about the film, just go watch it. 

6: get out

Directorial debut of Jordan Peele, Get Out is about a couple who visit the girlfriend’s parents house for the weekend. Soon Chris notices some strange things going on around the house, the people are acting very strange around him. Like Night of The Living Dead I won’t go into too much of the race stuff but it’s in here and Peele put a lot of subtext in the film. I don’t want to say much because the twist makes the film. I just watched this movie the other night and after seeing the movie a couple of times before that, I still noticed things that I didn’t see before that enhanced the movie. Thank god Daniel Kaluuya was recognized for his brilliant work in the film, he deserved it. Also this is one of the few horror movies to win an oscar, this film won for best screenplay. The film is a slow burn, the tension keeps building and building throughout the film until it gets revealed what’s been happening. I’m going to stop right there, if you haven’t seen this movie, its incredible and I’ll be keeping an eye out for Peele’s next film Nope which should be coming out summer 2022. 

: Halloween

Halloween is the creator of the modern slasher film. When you think of a horror movie, you are probably thinking of something similar to the plot of Halloween. Fifteen years after the murder of his sister, Michael Myers goes back to Haddonfield Illnois to stalk a young group of teenagersl. Michael and Jason and Freddy are the most iconic killers of all time, but like I said in my Halloween Kills review, Michael is the best because he has no reasons to kill (not until part six) he just does it because he wants to. He is the personification of pure evil. John Carpenter created a classic with again no money. A huge reason as to why the film works is cinematographer Dean Cundy who created what is called the Michael Myers shot which is just the killer’s POV (even though Norman Bates was doing that twelve years before but whatever). For a movie with a budget of $300,000, it’s remarkable what John Carpenter and Debra Hill created. The later films would ruin this film’s legacy but it still stands on its own and is regarded as one of the best horror movies of all time. 

4: Candyman

Like I said for Get Out and Night of The Living Dead, I won’t be going into the racial stuff here. Besides that we have a compelling gothic love story. The film is about The Candyman, a misunderstood killer with a hook who is summoned by a curious college student. Tony Todd’s performance as The Candyman is magnificent, he truly went through a lot during filming, but he still seems to have a soft spot for this film in his impressive career. Virginia Madsen plays the lead character in another stellar prefornce and Helen Lyle. She sells the role as this curious college student who is sort of attracted to Candyman. The true star of the show is the music by Phillip Glass. It has a Phantom of The Opera feel to it. It’s scary but beautiful, just like the movie. The score is one of the best horror scores of all time. In a time of a lot of garbage, Candyman stands out as one of the best horror movies of all time. 

3: Scream

For better or worse, Scream changed the horror genre forever. After almost a decade of trash, Scream made horror cool again. It brought in an all star cast and an all star director in Wes Craven. The film is a mystery. It takes place one year after the murder of Sydney Presoctt’s mother was murdered. A new killer arrives in Woodsboro and stalks the friends of Sydney and puts them and tests them on their horror knowledge as they kill fellow classmates. Sydney Prescott is my favorite “final girl” in horror history. She has baggage but she isn’t dumb or annying. Other standouts are Billy, Stu, and Randy. Craven crafted likeable teens who sometimes your sad to see go. For a slasher film that is awesome. Scream made horror about the people involved, what it did to them, how does murder affect your mental state. This wasn’t in Child’s Play 2 or Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. I love this movie and I’m extremely excited to see radio silence take on the property early next year. 

2: the texas chainsaw massacre

The film is about five friends who head out to the middle of nowhere to visit the grave of their grandfather. On they way they stumble across the Sawyer’s, a family of cannibalistic psychopaths. The main characters are put through torture ecpecially the lead Sally. That dinner scene is one of the best in cinema history. The scene took 21 hours to shoot in 121 degree weather in a basement. Like other films on this list, Tobe Hooper took a couple of friends and a camera borrowed from his film school and shot a movie. This is why you don’t really see much blood. But the way Hooper frames the camera makes you feel like you really did see somebody get murdered. The entire Sawyer family are brilliant, each one brings something scary to the table, even Grandpa. The opening kill is possibly the best because the lack of music makes the scene really scary. As Kirk walks into the house, he trips on a mat and then he see’s Leatherface who hits him on the head with a sledgehammer. Kirk is twitching on the ground while Leatherface hits him again and drags him off, slams the door shut. That entire scene is silent, you don’t hear a peep. In general this is the best slasher film of all time, even though their isn’t any sex or a crazy amount of blood, it’s just really scary and really good.  

1: The shining

The author of the source material Stephen King called the film “a beautiful Cadillac with no engine”. I disagree with King because this is my favorite movie of all time, not just horror, but movie. It’s about Jack Torrance who is the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. He takes his wife Wendy and his five year old son Danny to the hotel where they’ll remain from September to May. In the hotel are spirits that turn Jack against his family and make Jack the monster he really is. This movie is brilliant, there isn’t a single thing wrong with this movie. Kubrick is a perfectionist and it shows. I’m aware that he doesn’t do things in the best way possible, but most of the time his films are brilliantly shot, acted, directed, and written. All of Kubrick’s films have a beauty and a darkside to them and this one is no different. Kubrick structured the hotel to not make any sense. The more you think about it, some doors lead to nothing which adds this sort of paranoia to the film. Jack Nicholson’s performance is easily my favorite performance of all time. Not only is he good but Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, and Scatman Crothers all give amazing Oscar worthy performances. It’s a shame that people just didn’t get it back then. The film Earned razzie nominations for both Kubrick and Duvall. If you for some reason haven’t seen The Shining, I implore you to go watch this film. It is a little long and sometimes a little slow. If you can get past that you’ll see the masterpiece that I see and the reason why it takes the top spot as the greatest horror film of all time.