Top 30 best horror movies of all time

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Stills from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Carrie, The Wicker Man, Get Out, and Martyrs

Halloween might be far, far away, but any time is a good time for a scary movie – with so much to choose from, we’ve whittled down a list of the top 30 horror films of all time.

Stephen King once described the three categories of horror. There’s the “gross-out… the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs; it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm.”

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There’s the “horror… the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around.” Finally, there’s the “terror… when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there.”

That’s the beauty of the genre: there’s something for everyone, pounding your pulse and whitening your knuckles. Sometimes, a good scare is a perfect escape from life when it becomes too crazy. “We all go a little mad sometimes.”

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Top 30 horror movies ever made

Below, you’ll find our list of the top 30 horror films ever made, and details of where you can watch and stream them.

We just have one question: “Do you like scary movies?”

30. X

The cast of XA24

What it’s about: A group of actors set out to make an adult film in rural Texas under the noses of their reclusive hosts, but when the elderly couple catch their young guests in the act, the cast find themselves in a desperate fight for their lives.

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What we think: As one of the newest movies on this list, X has already made a major impact within horror. The first of a currently unfinished trilogy, X puts a new spin on the sexy slasher flick. With characters you can empathise with – even the killers themselves – X knows how to pull on your sense of understanding as well as your revulsion, making for a very memorable movie.

Where to stream: Paramount+ with Showtime

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Author: Lucy-Jo Finnighan

29. House of Wax (1953)

Vincent Price in House of Wax (1953)Warner Bros.

What it’s about: Set in 1900s New York, House of Wax follows a talented yet vengeful sculptor. After a fiery betrayal leaves him disfigured, he rebuilds his wax museum with startlingly lifelike statues. As the city grapples with mysterious disappearances, a dark secret behind the museum’s eerily realistic exhibits is revealed.

What we think: House of Wax is a cinematic jewel that melds horror with artistry, bolstered by the fact it was one of the first movies filmed in 3D. Its rich atmospheric setting, combined with hauntingly detailed wax figures, offers a chilling exploration of the boundary between life and art. Alongside 1900s New York as its backdrop, the film’s macabre allure is amplified by Vincent Price’s impeccable performance.

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Where to stream: On-demand

Author: Daisy Phillipson

28. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm StreetNew Line Cinema

What it’s about: A suburban nightmare, the story unravels in a seemingly peaceful town, but beneath its calm surface lurks a malevolent force: Freddy Krueger, a disfigured boogeyman with razor-sharp claws. As the line between dreams and reality blurs, the town’s youth find themselves hunted in their nightmares, desperately seeking a way to escape Freddy’s deadly grasp.

What we think: One, two, Freddy’s coming for you… this is where it all began. Wes Craven knows a thing or two about creating horror icons, and Freddy Krueger is one of his best. A hand like a knife rack, a devilish smile, and an uncanny ability to haunt his victims’ nightmares – it’s these elements that make A Nightmare on Elm Street a timeless classic, accelerated by the wicked charisma of Robert Englund and Craven’s masterful direction. It’s fun, it’s freaky, and it’s well worth a revisit.

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Daisy Phillipson

27. The Ring (2002)

A still from The RingDreamWorks Pictures

What it’s about: After a supposedly cursed videotape leads to the death of her niece, a reporter decides to investigate exactly what happened. She watches the film, and moments later she receives an ominous warning over the phone: “Seven days.”

What we think: Gore Verbinski’s US adaptation of Hideo Nakata’s chiller is one of the best translations of a foreign text not just in horror, but cinema as a whole. The grimly infectious tape, the reckoning call of “You’re gonna die in seven days”, the deft use of VFX in bringing Samara and her curse to life. An artful, mainstream remake.

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Where to stream: Paramount+ and MGM+

Author: Cameron Frew

26. The Babadook

Jennifer Kent in The BabadookUmbrella Entertainment

What it’s about: 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.

What we think: The Babadook was arguably the first in the 2010s trend of ‘elevated’ horror. With a supernatural entity being the encapsulation of grief and depression, the movie managed to become a horror that audiences could empathise with. In the decade it’s been out, The Babadook has become an iconic movie monster, with some even calling them an LGBTQ+ icon, which has only further popularized the flick.

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Where to stream: Hulu and AMC+

Author: Lucy-Jo Finnighan

25. The Strangers

A still of the intruders in The StrangersUniversal Pictures

What it’s about: A couple in an isolated vacation home are tormented by three strangers in the depths of the night. Why? Because “they were home.”

What we think: Horror can be flamboyant, otherworldly, fantastical, but it can also be nerve-rattlingly simple. The Strangers taps into one fear: what if there was a malicious intruder in your home, and you didn’t even know it? As one masked killer emerges from the shadows then simply disappears, your chin will remain attached to your shoulder.

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Where to stream: Netflix and AMC+

Author: Cameron Frew

24. Alien

A facehugger in Alien20th Century Studios

What it’s about: The crew of a spacecraft, Nostromo, intercept a distress signal from a planet and set out to investigate it. However, to their horror, they are attacked by an alien which later invades their ship.

What we think: If you haven’t reenacted a supernatural creature bursting from your chest, you haven’t lived. Sigourney Weaver is Sigourney-ing hard in the most iconic role of her career, with the thrill of the chase leaving her co-stars being picked off one by one. The final scene is true heart-in-mouth goodness, prompting a horror that’s really the survival of the fittest. 

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Where to stream: Disney+ 

Author: Jasmine Valentine

23. Ichi the Killer

Nao Omori in Ichi the KillerMedia Blasters

What it’s about: In the seedy underbelly of Tokyo, sadomasochistic yakuza Kakihara searches for his missing boss and encounters Ichi, a deranged killer with a penchant for ultra-violence.

What we think: A man’s entire back melted off by a pan of bubbling tempura oil; another slowly slicing off his tongue with a samurai sword; real semen oozing out of a potted plant – this is Takashi Miike’s grotesque world and we’re just living in it. His hilarious yet brutal tour de force, based on Hideo Yamamoto’s manga of the same name, is unlike any conventional yakuza film. With its unflinching portrayal of sadomasochism, psychological turmoil, and moral ambiguity, Ichi the Killer is certainly not to everyone’s taste. But for those who can stomach it, the film’s mesmerizing and unapologetic exploration of humanity’s darker instincts makes it a definitive cult classic in the annals of transgressive cinema. But I’d still recommend having the sick bucket close by… just in case. 

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Where to stream it: Peacock

Author: Daisy Phillipson

22. The Thing (1982)

Kurt Russell in The ThingUniversal Pictures

What it’s about: A group of researchers in Antarctica discover an ancient extraterrestrial life form buried in the snow – and it’s capable of assuming the form of any being it touches.

What we think: “Man is the warmest place to hide”, an idea that defines the nauseous, chilly paranoia of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Its domino effect is a merciless marvel, with explosive, grotesque effects crashing against the icy current of menace. Close encounters have never been so vicious.

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Where to stream: AMC+

Author: Cameron Frew

21. Carrie (1976)

Sissy Spacek in CarrieUnited Artists

What it’s about: Based on Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie is about a young girl who, while being relentlessly bullied, realizes that she has supernatural powers and uses those powers to seek revenge on her enemies. 

What we think: While Carrie isn’t a traditional horror movie as it doesn’t have too many scares, seeing her completely murder her classmates still hits hard decades after its release. This King adaptation definitely highlights more mental horror as it depicts what happens when someone is pushed to their limits.

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Where to stream: Max and Hulu

Author: Kayla Harrington

20. Child’s Play (1988)

Chucky in Child's PlayMGM

What it’s about: Dying murderer Charles Lee Ray uses black magic to put his soul inside a doll named Chucky – which Karen Barclay then buys for her young son, Andy. When Chucky kills Andy’s babysitter, the boy realizes the doll is alive and tries to warn people, but he’s institutionalized.

What we think: The founding moment for when Chucky became Chucky, and talking dolls became a must-have in horror. Originally being banned in the UK for appearing too close to home to a real-life murderer, this horror classic is an all-out 80s romp that paved the way for a new kind of scary originality. 

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Jasmine Valentine

19. Kill List

Neil Maskell in Kill ListOptimum Releasing

What it’s about: An out-of-work hitman takes a job on the promise of big money, only to be sucked into a maelstrom of paranoia, mystery, and ancient rituals.

What we think: Kill List is the ultimate rugpull. On first appearances, you might think Ben Wheatley crafted a gritty British gangster thriller. But as its dark and sinister tension takes hold, the exceptional sound design enveloping viewers with a sense of dread, the familiar trappings of crime cinema give way to a nightmarish tableau of a cult-led horror. The violence is sparing, which you’ll be thankful for when you witness Wheatley’s unique brand of brutality, and there’s some unexpected but welcome humor throughout, all of which builds up to a climax that’ll have you fast-tracking your next therapy session. 

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Where to stream it: Shudder

Author: Daisy Phillipson

18. Jaws

A still from the opening sequence of JawsUniversal Pictures

What it’s about: The killer shark tale that started it all. When a giant white shark fatally attacks swimmers on the shores of Amity Island, Chief Martin Brody teams up with a marine biologist and a local fisherman to hunt down the creature.

What we think: Yes, the animatronics aren’t amazing – but when you’re five years old being forced to watch Jaws by your cousins, the nightmares last for a lifetime. Packed with rousing speeches, suspenseful moments, and chum-tastic explosions, Jaws is a timeless horror classic that can never be rewatched too many times. 

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Where to stream: Netflix

Author: Jasmine Valentine

17. Psycho

Norman Bates in PsychoParamount Pictures

What it’s about: A Phoenix secretary goes on the run after stealing a huge amount of money from her employer. She spends the night at Bates Motel, whose owner seems to have a highly controlling mother.

What we think: Psycho, which is considered by some to be Alfred Hitchcock’s best work, has shaped cinema as we know it. Even if you’ve never seen it, you’ve no doubt seen its iconography. It mastered the art of both the second and third act twists, and there’s no topping Bernard Herrmann’s theme. Just don’t watch the Vince Vaughn remake.

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Where to stream: On-demand

Author: Lucy-Jo Finnighan

16. Don’t Look Now

Donald Sutherland in Don't Look NowBritish Lion Films

What it’s about: A couple mourning the death of their daughter travel to Venice to save their marriage. While healing those wounds they meet a psychic who sees more tragedy in their future, and repeatedly glimpses a figure that looks like their little girl…

What we think: Based on the short story of the same name by Daphne Du Maurier, Don’t Look Now is an emotionally-charged examination of grief. But as sightings of that mysterious figure become more frequent, director Nic Roeg packs the film with disturbing imagery that’s pure nightmare fuel, building up to the infamous finale, which will stop your heart, while at the same time breaking it.

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Where to stream: Pluto

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Author: Chris Tilly

15. Night of the Living Dead

The cast of Night of the Living DeadContinental Distributing

What it’s about: Something is bringing the dead back to life, so a rag-tag band of survivors barricade themselves in a farmhouse to try and survive the zombie apocalypse. 

What we think: George A. Romero is one of the godfathers of gore, and Night of the Living Dead set a new benchmark for what was acceptable in terms of movie violence. Especially during a scene where a young girl chows down on her mom. But as well as being a scary horror movie, Night of the Living Dead is also a powerful political statement about the grim state of race relations in America at the time. One that kicked off maybe the most interesting trilogy in horror history, with Dawn of the Dead satirizing consumerism, and Day of the Dead going after the military industrial complex.

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Where to stream: Everywhere (because NOTLD has fallen out of copyright).

Author: Chris Tilly

14. It Chapter One

Pennywise the Clown in It Chapter OneWarner Bros.

What it’s about: Based on the novel by Stephen King, It Chapter One follows a group of outcast kids in Maine as they face off against an ancient evil spirit masquerading as a clown who comes out of hiding every 27 years to eat children.

What we think: While King has a lot of scary movies under his belt, It Chapter One takes his work and cranks it up a thousand notches. Pennywise is absolutely frightening in this film and you can truly feel how scared the kids are as he preys on their fears. Very chilling indeed.

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Kayla Harrington

13. Halloween (1978)

Michael Myers in HalloweenCompass International Pictures

What it’s about: Fifteen years after being locked away in a mental asylum, Michael Myers escapes and returns home to Haddonfield just in time for Halloween, where he hones in on his next victims – including Laurie Strode.

What we think: Peering behind a bush, standing between wafting bedsheets, observing an impaled teen on a wall; the pastel-white inhumanity of Michael Myers – he’s even referred to as The Shape – makes him an apex on-screen predator, stalking us in our safest spaces. John Carpenter forged one of the tensest, most influential horrors of all time, with a killer soundtrack to boot.

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Where to stream: Shudder

Author: Cameron Frew

12. Hellraiser (1987)

Pinhead and the Cenobites in HellraiserEntertainment Film Distributors

What it’s about: While on a trip abroad, sexual deviant Frank (Sean Chapman) tinkers with a strange puzzle box and unleashes other dimensional beings called Cenobites who can’t differentiate between pain and pleasure. All led by their fearless leader, Pinhead. 

What we think: While having watched the movie well into my teenage years, Hellraiser was one of the few horror movies I was too scared to finish. It took a few tries to become invested in its magnitude of bloody horror and its grotesque villains. The gruesome methods of murder are haunting and keep you awake well into daybreak after watching. It’s one of the few vile monsters I know I could never survive.

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Where to stream: Prime Video

Author: Gabriela Silva

11. Seven

Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman in SevenNew Line Cinema

What it’s about: Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) takes on a new partner, David Mills (Brad Pitt) for his final case. On the hunt for a dreadful serial killer, each victim embodies one of the deadly sins in the most horrid way possible. They must stop the killer before all the sins are completed.

What we think: While not tagged as a horror, Seven is one of my genuine favorites that encompasses the grit and grime of late ’90s crime thrillers. Above all, the movie’s concept of the seven deadly sins gives its serial killer antagonist a horribly twisted ideal. When I first watched the movie, the Lust sin left me with chills over its brutality. The wicked ways of the killer only got worse by the finale, leaving me stunned beyond belief at his lack of humanity.

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Where to stream: Hulu

Author: Gabriela Silva

10. Martyrs (2008)

Mylène Jampanoï in MartyrsWild Bunch

What it’s about: A young woman seeks vengeance against her childhood tormentors, leading her and a fellow abuse survivor on a haunting odyssey into the depths of human cruelty.

What we think: Some call it torture porn, but I say it’s a ferocious paragon of French horror, one that challenges audiences to look beyond the visceral intensity to consider profound existential questions. Don’t get me wrong: Martyrs is about as brutal as you can get. But the film offers something more than your run-of-the-mill horror, promoting deep philosophical inquiry that confronts uncomfortable truths about suffering, the search for transcendence, and the lengths to which people will go to understand the unknown. And if you don’t agree with the above, one thing’s for certain: you won’t be forgetting this movie in a hurry. 

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Where to stream it: On-demand

Author: Daisy Phillipson

9. The Wicker Man (1973)

Edward Woodward in The Wicker ManBritish Lion Films

What it’s about: A deeply religious police officer visits an island off the coast of Scotland to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. But the locals claim she never existed, and block his efforts to find her at every turn.

What we think: That’s the set-up for The Wicker Man, where the residents of Summerisle couldn’t be more strange, and their customs couldn’t be more creepy. But The Wicker Man is all about pay-off, and the film’s climax is one of the most shocking in all of cinema. Edward Woodward has never been better as the pious policeman in question, while Christopher Lee is a walking, talking nightmare as man-with-the-plan Lord Summerisle.

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Where to stream: Tubi, Pluto, and Freevee

Author: Chris Tilly

8. The Conjuring

A still from The ConjuringWarner Bros.

What it’s about: In 1970, paranormal investigators and demonologists Lorraine and Ed Warren are summoned to the home of Carolyn and Roger Perron. The Perrons and their five daughters have recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, where a supernatural presence has made itself known.

What we think: Fans love fictional Ed and Lorraine so much (yes, they were real people) that we’ve now had an entire horror franchise dedicated to them. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson’s chemistry is off the charts, with the film’s modern supernatural film moving away from old stereotypes. 

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Jasmine Valentine

7. The Blair Witch Project

A still from The Blair Witch ProjectSummit Entertainment

What it’s about: Three student filmmakers venture into the Black Hills nearly Maryland’s Burkittsville to make a documentary about an urban legend: the Blair Witch.

What we think: Local folklore and spooky bedtime stories are the bedrock of our horror lives. Therein lies the allure of The Blair Witch Project, a found-footage masterpiece that dares to wander into the woods; one so convincing, many believed it to be real. The film’s unfiltered “what the f*ck was that?” hysteria makes it entirely authentic. “I’m scared to close my eyes, I’m scared to open them.”

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Where to stream: Paramount+

Author: Cameron Frew

6. The Exorcist

The most iconic image from The ExorcistWarner Bros.

What it’s about: As a young girl’s strange behavior becomes increasingly unhinged, her mother seeks the help of a priest, who soon realizes that she’s been possessed by a demon.

What we think: The Exorcist carries a blood-curdling legacy, but its elemental power compels you without the summon of Christ. Even after 47 years, it’s the definitive possession movie, with ghastly make-up, petrifying imagery, and a truly scary story, one to make any pure soul cower from Pazuzu.

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Cameron Frew

5. The Shining

Shelley Duvall in The ShiningWarner Bros.

What it’s about: The Shining sees a man bring his young son and wife to a snow-in hotel to work as a winter caretaker. While in the hotel, his son experiences psychic visions while the man becomes homicidal as he uncovers more of the hotel’s dark secrets.

What we think: The Shining has stood the test of time because of its ability to make audiences feel uneasy from start to finish. Watching a family fall apart is always hard to watch, but add in violence and dreams of murder, and you’re in for one hell of a scary movie.

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Where to stream: Prime Video and Max

Author: Kayla Harrington

4. Get Out

Daniel Kaluuya in Get OutUniversal Pictures

What it’s about: Chris, an African-American man, decides to visit his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents during a weekend getaway. Although they seem normal at first, he is not prepared to experience the horrors ahead.

What we think: Marking Jordan Peele’s foray into filmmaking, Get Out was quick to receive wide critical acclaim – and rightly so. Toeing the balance between flat-out horror and shrewd psychological thriller, Get Out is a thrilling story that will stick in your head for a lifetime. Not only is Daniel Kaluuya haunting in his performance, but discovering the film’s midpoint isn’t what it seems is a cinematic moment to remember. 

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Where to stream: On-demand 

Author: Jasmine Valentine

3. Scream (1996)

Drew Barrymore and Ghostface in ScreamDimension Films

What it’s about: High school student Sidney Prescott finds herself the target of a gruesome killer wearing a Ghostface mask on the anniversary of her mother’s murder, with anyone close to her as a possible target to get to her. 

What we think: The 1996 movie spawned a horror franchise that became a cult classic for generations to come. When it comes to Scream, there’s no denying that it’s on my must-watch list all year. What makes the movie horror gold are its jump-scares, not shying away from excessive use of gore, and the overall mystery of who Ghostface is. Scream’s dynamic twist reveal is one I still think about and can’t help but put the pieces together as I watch. 

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Gabriela Silva

2. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Sally at the end of The Texas Chain Saw MassacreBryanston Distributing Company

What it’s about: Five friends traveling across rural Texas stumble upon an abandoned house and unwittingly become the prey of a family of cannibals.

What we think: “Who will survive and what will be left of them?” A harrowingly apt tagline for the king of slashers. Leatherface’s first appearance, like a klaxon of doom across the sticks, sums up the film’s “mad and macabre” horror in seconds: its power is more than what we see.

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Where to stream: Peacock, Shudder, and AMC+

Author: Cameron Frew

1. Hereditary

Toni Collette and the cast of HereditaryA24

What it’s about: In the wake of their secretive, “difficult” matriarch’s death, a sinister force drives the Graham family towards unimaginable terrors.

What we think: During my screening of Hereditary, my fiancée openly wept for three quarters of the film, and multiple couples, shielding their sight, leapt for the doors in the final act. To the eyes that just rolled, let me assure you: it is that scary, but sacrificing your sleep will pale next to the film’s rewards. It’s a once-in-a-generation nightmare machine, with Toni Collette giving the best performance in all of horror. Say it once, say it again: hail.

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Where to stream: Max

Author: Cameron Frew

Most of these horror movies can be bought or rented digitally on Amazon Prime, as well as 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD, which you can sign up here.

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