The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

You think you know what the best horror movies of all time are. We think you should shut your sass mouth. What, you want a fight about it? A list fight? Bring it. But first a flow chart...

The cycle of violence...

Just The Facts

  1. The Horror genre typically deals with either the supernatural or actual natural aspects of murder and violence
  2. Horror movies usually feature an antagonist who can outrun you without actually running
  3. Scantily clad teenagers are not out of the question

The kind of guy who brings a list to a knife fight...

It's a fact; the pen is mightier than the sword, and the list is mightier than the pen. There is no problem in the world that cannot be solved by the application of a room full of nerds, a gallon of gummi bears, and a list. The problem we face now is one of the biggies; what are the best horror movies of all time?

Don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple problem. After all, the horror movie has several sub genres, and many elements on which to be judged. Are there chainsaws? Are there boobies? Is there a Bruce Campbell and how many shotguns does he have? Does a japanese dead girl stare at you a lot?

For problems such as these we make lists. And thank whatever god you don't believe in that we do, for if not for the pacifying nature of the list, the world would be a darker place. In a world without lists you would not drive to work across carefully laid tarmac, no, you would drive across an endless strip of dead nerds, each corpse's face twisted in rage, their fingers locked by rigor mortis round each others throats, their foots lodged firmly in one another's groins.

Today we make a list, so that tomorrow there may be peace. Rules are as follows;

1) Films will be split into two categories, undisputed classics and modern contenders.

2) Films will be listed chronologically and not in order of superiority.

3) Trilogies etc. will be judged on the strength of their one elected installment.

4) An All Time Super Emperor of Horror will be elected at the end of the list. Once elected, no one may question its Super Emperoryness.

5) The comments section is carefully boobytrapped. Step well, commenter, for each LOLFAG may be your last...

Undisputed Classics

Nosferatu (1922)

Direct by: F.W Marnau

The grandaddy of all vampire movies. Based on Bram Stoker's Dracula, but sufficiently changed to avoid being sued, Nosferatu's tone and atmosphere are landmarks in horror film making. Also credited with making bald sexy.

Freaks (1932)

Directed by: Tod Browning

Filmed using actual circus freaks, this creatively titled film taught audiences to accept people for who they are. Or else be castrated and otherwise mutilated by terrifying freaks.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Directed by: James Whale

What's scarier than Frankenstien's monster? Frankenstein's monster's mother in law! Wackawacka. Oh no, wait, it was his wife. Kind of ruined my mother-in-law joke there. Anyway, great film.

Psycho (1960)

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Based on the 1959 novel by Robert Bloch, Psycho is a classic for a number of reasons; from the shot composition, to the shock decision to kill off the leading lady half way into the film, to the excellent performance of Anthony Perkins as a man who dresses as his dead mother to kill people. In retrospect I should have saved my mother-in-law joke for this film. We live and learn.

Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

Directed by: George Romero

While he didn't invent the zombie, Romero certainly did invent the monster we recognize as the zombie today. In many ways, his creation wouldn't be better handled for decades to come. Without this film, there would have been a lot of awkward silences in early shoot 'em up games.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Directed by: Roman Polanski

Raped by a demonic presence, Rosemary's unborn baby is coveted by a satanic cult. Kids, ay? Who'd have 'em?

The Exorcist (1973)

Directed by: William Friedkin

In a cinematic turning point toward the extreme, The Exorcist contained ludicrous amounts of blasphemy, sexual reference, puke and violence. It was very much the South Park of its day.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

With its pseudo-documentary feel, TTCM would set the blue print for the 'slasher' subgenre of horror, and transform the chainsaw from a lumberjack's tool into a horror movie weapon-of-choice.

Jaws (1975)

Directed by: Stephen Speilberg

With a mastery of building tension (thanks largely to POV shots and an infamous musical score) Stephen Speilberg reminded us that sharks are terrifying. You know, in case you forgot.

Halloween (1978)

Directed by: John Carpenter

If Texas Chainsaw Massacre set the trend for slasher flicks, Halloween set the mould. Use of voyeuristic camera techniques and an unassuming suburban setting made this a film that is often imitated, but rarely bettered. It was also one of the more classic explorations of the complex relationship between tits and horror.

Phantasm (1979)

Directed by: Don Coscarelli

Creating successful and original monsters in a film is hard, but Phantasm's first installment presented a bundle of new, unforgettable baddies with an ease that bellied its low budget.

The Shining (1980)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Though not as true to the original Stephen King novel as he could of been, it is perhaps for this reason that Kubrick was able to break the 'Stephen King horror movie adaptations are generally shit' rule. With a directorial style that practically farts suspense in your face, The Shining keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham

Halloween's younger, easier sister. Friday the 13th took many of Carpenter's techniques, but made the prestige move of taking the teenage cast far from adult supervision where they could (try and) have sex more easily. The film also made the 'thekillerisbeatenohnosheisn'tarrgh!!' moment its very own. Later the franchise would give us the machete-wielding Jason, a big favorite with 12-year-old boys and axe murderers.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Directed by: John Landis

Though a more humorous take on the werewolf mythos, this film's healthy respect for special makeup gave us some of the most iconic scenes in horror history.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Directed by: Sam Raimi

In the first installment of a cult-worshipped trilogy, Sam Raimi presents a slightly hokey script and a slightly hokey cast and manages to hone a slick, aggressive and fun to watch horror film. Later installments would re-introduce hero 'Ash' as the go-to-guy for monster stomping; complete with shotgun, heroic chin, and chainsaw hand.

Poltergeist (1982)

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

This film set so many standards for modern depictions of supernatural activity that a retrospective viewing renders it entirely predictable. Needless to say, at the time of making, this representation of poltergeist activity, coupled with Hooper's flair for tension, makes Poltergeist one of the greats.

The Thing (1982)

Directed by: John Carpenter

The Thing blends total isolation with almost unbearable paranoia and a healthy dose of pant-shittingly good make up effects to give your horror appreciation muscles a complete and total workout. Seriously, it's like a Rocky montage, only Rocky is fear and Apollo Creed is shape changing space mutants.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Directed by: Wes Craven

Craven gives us a new setting and a new antagonist for horror when he introduces Freddy Krueger, the knife-gloved dream invader with a penchant for murdering teens. What makes Freddy superior to other horror heavy weights? He has his own rap song.

Modern Contenders

Hellraiser (1987)

Directed by: Clive Barker

Skinless perverts and humorless goths collide over an evil rubick's cube. Zany art direction and the imposing presence of Pin Head secure Hellraisers place on the list.

Event Horizon (1997)

Directed by: Paul W. S Anderson

When a space mission accidentally survives a brush with a hell dimension its up to fearless captain Miller to save the day get sucked into hell and die screaming. A full on visceral assault, with healthy doses of creepy.

Ring (1998)

Directed by: Hideo Nakata

The ring is about a cursed video tape that, when watched, gives the viewer one week to live before they are hunted down by a vengeful spirit. This film does with one dead Japanese girl what your average Hollywood slasher needs two hundred and fifty pounds of masked serial killer to achieve.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez, Daniel Myrick

Filmed in a complete documentary style that spawned countless imitators, Blair Witch relied heavily on internet hype and rumor to promote itself. It was able to be filmed on a very low budget because, essentially, nothing happens.

28 Days Later (2002)

Directed by: Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle gives zombies their most successful reboot to-date, though he adamantly swears that 28 days later is not a zombie film. Even though its filled with fucking zombies.

Saw (2004)

Directed by: James Wan

Many horror film plots are thinly veiled excuses for killing people in interesting ways, but Wan manages to turn this to his advantage by making Saw a clever, interesting and well-developed film about killing people in interesting ways.

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Though an obvious parody of classic zombie canon, Shaun of the Dead is so lovingly dedicated to its source material that it actually comes across as one of the best zombie movies made in modern times, comedy or not.

The Orphanage (2007)

Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona

With her son seemingly taken by supernatural forces, Laura seeks to unravel the mysteries of the orphanage she grew up in. A clever and moving ghost story that reminds us we don't have to kill a puppy with a hammer to make a good horror flick.

REC (2007)

Directed by: Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza

Another mock-doc style horror, but this one trapping a film crew in a quarantined building filled with ferocious zombie-like killers. Full on, intense, horror action, like an erection made entirely of bones.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Directed by: Oren Peli

Using the 'found footage' method of presentation established by Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity follows the documentation of a young couple who believe they are haunted. It turns out that they are, and everybody shits their pants accordingly.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Directed by: Tomas Alfredson

A romantic horror concerning the love triangle between a bullied twelve-year-old-boy, a 200-year-old vampire trapped in a little girl's body, and her murdering pedophile guardian. Not really that romantic now that I think about it. Good film, though.

Thirst (2009)

Directed by: Park Chan-wook

When a priest tries and fails to beat a deadly virus,a blood transfusion leaves him a reluctant vampire. Soon his new power and need for blood erode his strict morals, and its not long before he's having affairs, murdering people and listening to rock n' roll music. Redemption is found in a death scene that manages to be comic, horrifying and sad all at the same time.

The All Time Super Emperor of Horror!

Ghostbusters (1984)

Directed by: Harold Ramis

From the terrifying apparition in the library, to the horrifying invasion of other-worldy forces in the shape of a phantasmagoric marshmallow man, Ghostbusters proved to jaded audiences that film still had the capacity to terrify. Using state of the art special effects, Ghostbusters was able to pack the film with horrifying visions of a New York twisted into a nightmarish parody of itself by ravenous demonic forces. I haven't watched this film since I was five years old and it made me wee myself, but of what I can remember, Ghostbusters is the most frightening film ever committed to celluloid.