The Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time

For some reason, people gravitate towards being scared at the movies. It is why we see sequels being pumped out and other lame attempts at terror this time of year. However, horror films can be a rewarding trip the movies if you find a film where the director understands how to truly scare you while telling a good story. That is what these ten films all accomplish.


10. Scream (1996)-

By the 1990s the horror genre had been driven into the ground with countless cliche driven sequels and unforgiving boredom at the cinema. Then came Wes Craven’s Scream, which turned all the typical horror cliches into scares and delivered one of the smartest, funniest horror films of all time. From the opening scene where we watch Drew Barrymore get sliced to pieces, we are in for one terrifying ride.



9. Frankenstein (1931)-

Of all the Universal classics, this one holds up the best today and proves to be timeless. It is a tragic film and that is what makes it so terrifying. Somehow we feel bad for the monster. This was one of the first films to portray an antagonist in a horror film as somewhat sympathetic. Don’t get me wrong, he can still be pretty scary, just not as scary as the humanity that destroys him.



8. Paranormal Activity (2007)-

Aside from watching the more recent and surprisingly good sequels, I sometimes do not appreciate how wonderful this very small film really is. The slow way the scares are built up. The genius of the camera in the bedroom. The fact that you never truly see anything. This is modern horror at its finest and a film that no one will be able to sleep alone long afterwards.



7. The Ring (2002)-

Just watch the tape. Forget Naomi Watts and the rest of the movie for a second and just take another look at that tape. Now, isn’t that just one of the most messed up compilation of images and sounds that you have ever seen? Alone it would be enough to make this list, but it helps that the movie surrounding it it also pretty excellent. Naomi Watts follows the seven day routine and once she finally thinks it’s over, that freaky little girl comes crawling out of the TV to take another sole.


6. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)-

There is nothing comfortable about any part of this movie. Their is a constant feeling of dread as Jodie Foster investigates one of the most gruesome killers in all of cinema. The guy wears other people’s skin! The scene where we get to watch from his perspective through night-vision goggles is particularly terrifying. Oh, and Anthony Hopkins, yeah he’s good too.



5. The Sixth Sense (1999)-

I know it is hard to believe that there was a time when the name M. Night Shyamalan was taken seriously, but take yourself back to 1999 when this classic came out. The Sixth Sense has one of the greatest twists in the history of film. The young Haley Joel Osment was also a perfect scared little boy. There are quite a few terrifying images in this film that have etched themselves into my brain forever.



4. Let the Right One In (2008)-

For everything that Twilight has done to ruin vampires, this film builds them back up in a way that makes them scary again and not, gulp, sparkly. This Swedish flick is not only a horror movie, it is also a coming of age tale of sorts. If you can tolerate the subtitles you are in for a masterpiece. The story and acting are incredible and there are more than a few genuinely terrifying moments.



3. The Exorcist (1973)-

So many films have tried to duplicate the brilliant terror of possession that we see in The Exorcist but none have succeeded. It is a long movie, but as things slowly descend into madness you will not be able to take your eyes off the screen. The legendary climax is of course all sorts of messed up. The moment that gets me the most is when the younger priest sees his mother pale as ghost sitting on the bed in place of the possessed girl. Nothing short of terrifying.


2. Jaws (1975)-

I debated whether I should put this on the list for a while since I have never really been scared by this movie. I have never had an issue swimming in the ocean or even swimming with sharks (which I have done, they were no great whites but still). However, I thought about it and this movie is the reason people swim with sharks for the thrill. It is the reason we have Shark Week. And while I personally may not find it scary it is an amazing film full of excitement and thrills.


1. The Shining (1980)-

Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece is unrivaled in the horror genre. From the moment we meet Jack Torrence we know something is off. Same goes for the hotel. The whole set-up is brilliant at setting the tone to make everything in the film seem incredibly terrifying. The way the camera curves around the hallway following the tricycle is goose-bump inducing. However, there is nothing more genius than the final shot of an old photo with a newly added face.



Did I miss any movies that left you pulling the covers over your head? Do you agree with my failure to recognize Hitchcock? Yell at me all you want but you have no justification unless you have seen Let the Right One In, which if you haven’t go treat yourself. Happy Halloween!


~ by mattsmoviethoughts on October 31, 2011.

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