What kind of movies is your favorite?
Let me tell you mine. And it certainly is not horror.
However, the best horror movies are the type I go to when I need to feel the chills and the scare in my bones.
Scary movies first appeared in France in the late 1890s, they have been gaining popularity ever since.
Modern horror movies take a lot from their ancestors in their depiction of horror however take the genre in a bit darker, hair-raising, blood-curdling more than spooky ways that the best scary movies are easily remembered and applauded.
If thrillers are your type, here is the list of best thrillers on Netflix. I watch horror movies on Netflix, however, most of them are in fact now streamed in other mediums and this list will consist of the best horror movies regardless of the platform they are on.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Director: Robert Wiene
Cast: Conrad Veidt, Werner Krauss, Lil Dagover, Friedrich Feher
Two things to say about this incredible timeless masterpiece.
First, It was made in 1920.
Second, it is one of the best horror movies ever made.
In fact, we could succinctly say that this is the movie that shaped the horror genre, popularized and gave the truest taste which horror movies these days copy from a lot.
This movie makes use of the costumes, acting, and best of all, the story and pretty much every other aspect of the movie it was possible back then.
The script is full of twists and turns that even without sound, the modern audience is sure to enjoy it.
So much to say about this one of a kind scary movie, however, we don’t have all day.
Let us just simply name it the best horror movie of the 19th century.
The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
The Exorcist is another iconic horror movie that made history as the best horror movie of the 70s to 80s, inspiring many other movies within the horror genre to learn and copy from it.
One of the most symbolic moments in horror movie history was that head-spin, I remember I watched it as a rebellious teenager and regretted it till the end of my previous life. 😉
The global influence the movie had is impossible to fathom or to describe. People were watching this movie even in the 2000s when the technology and movies had evolved.
A horror classic “The Exorcist” is simply one of the scariest movies of all time.
A Quiet Place (2018)
Director: John Krasinski
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds
This modern horror movie might not be the best movie in many other aspects but surely the scary movie it sets out to be.
The quiet place is set in a post-apocalyptic world where blind but noise-sensitive creatures wiped out the human race. And the family from the movie needs to survive without ever making a sound.
If you are a Homosapien, (which you probably are) then you know how hard it is to not make a sound.
The movie is long yet keeps you at the edge at all times, being overly scary sometimes.
The Conjuring (2013)
Director: James Wan
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston
The movie has one of the best cinematography, acting, screenplay, and adaptation of a true story. In fact, any movie you will see here on the list will all have good qualities of good movies.
Conjuring has all the older aspects of a normal horror movie, like a family move in a new house then the stuff goes down, however, the way it executes it is the part that makes it an excellent modern horror movie.
Conjuring had been rated ‘R’ only because it is a frightening movie. It does not have nudity or the language and it was surprising to see the movie is rated ‘R’ just because it is hair-raisingly frightful . Because that is what you expect from a scary movie for it to be scary.
Director: Jennifer Kent
Cast: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall
In this Australian horror movie, a single mother suffering from the death of her husband has to now face her son’s fear of monsters lurking around.
The movie did not receive as much acclaim from the critics as from the viewers, due to its approach to horror in the most classical ways, despite what the fans seem to like it.
The main point the fans like could be that it executes the scares and the horror excellently, as any scary movie should, it might have used the age-old recipe for horror but sometimes, you shouldn’t fix something that is not broken.
Director: Ari Aster
Cast: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
A family’s matriarch passes away, then the family is left to face a number of tragic and horrific events thus defining the genre of the movie.
This is a unique plot to feature, one that fits the horror genre.
That plot itself would make up for a scary movie. And it certainly did with Hereditary.
This is one of the best horror movies to watch where the acting, narrative and the storyline is flawless. You do not see that often in many new horror movies.
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Director: Drew Goddard
Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
This is one of the most common trope plots that everyone is now well aware of. One, where a few hot young people go on the abandoned cabin, or haunted house outside the city, then party till everyone dies or majorly injured both physically and psychologically by supernatural creatures.
This is exactly this story except told exactly the same you would expect it, like the time when Curt says we should split it. You must be like “ are you freaking kidding?” this is like the most cliche of the most cliche moments in cinema history.
Although it does work as a horror movie brings quite a bit of scare and fright. It might not be the best horror movie ever made, but hella good one.
Director: Andrés Muschietti
Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Martell, Finn Wolfhard
Any movie that is about a bullied kid is worth watching, especially if you have been bullied, or bullied someone, perhaps both at some point in your life.
Incorporating this idea into a horror movie with most of the cast being kids when the movie itself is rated “R” quite uncommon thing you would see in any movie let alone horror movies.
“IT” however, succeeds at being successful and going viral like it was a youtube video.
One of the iconic moments is when the “IT” looks our from the sewage to the kid. It was a suspenseful moment of the movie that also had great importance in terms of the plot and showing the antagonist.
This movie deserves all the praise and the talk as it was the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Marilyn Burns, Gunnar Hansen, Allen Danziger
This is also one heck of an iconic movie that the main antagonist of the movie, chainsaw-wielding Leatherface remains one of the scariest of characters in horror movies.
It is amazingly praise-worthy that they were able to make such a great visually disturbing movie already in the 70s. There are few other examples of such movies, but only a few successful ones, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of them”
It can easily be included in the list of best horror movies of the 19th century, so much so, that stand-alone movie about Leatherface made more than $900 million.
If a bad spin-off based on one of your characters makes so much you know your movie was a success both commercially and critically.
It Follows (2014)
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi
Simply the best horror movie that could be made on a $2million budget. It has a unique plotline, story, and writing. It is not based on a few hot young people in a haunted house or cabin in the woods.
It surely does feature a bunch of hot young people, but what is a Hollywood movie without them now, right?
The movie could be a metaphor for adult life or our life with internet bullies or stockers or many other aspects.
It is one of the best horror movies, coming out of which you end up contemplating how you could compare it to and consider all the possible options so that you could discuss it with your friends and family who have not watched it yet.
The Witch (2015)
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Another movie on the list that follows the basic formula of horror movie-making, such as a family, relocates and faces unnatural events most of which are usually scary and bad.
Add a bit of religious element to it, you have what could be called a blueprint to make the best horror movie.
Despite its cliche story style, the movie was told very well because even though it seems to take on the trope way of relocating family and basing it near the words and stuff, the narrative happens through the eyes of the family.
Apart from incredible acting, the movie keeps you under enormous tension and suspense all throughout till the very end of the film which makes it probably the best horror movie that keeps the suspense building up steady until it reaches the area that never has been reached before by any horror movie.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
This movie is one of the greatest horror movies of all time.
It is the timing of the movie because it was 1968, right after the church of satan was founded and the movie’s big part of the plot is based on those worshiping satan.
It was culturally and politically so relevant to the time period. It also shows how morality was on the decline in the U.S at that time.
This movie is excellent not because it represents the time period both culturally and politically well, it is a great horror/thriller movie because it slowly creeps in on you even long after you watched the movie. It is one of those things that define a good horror movie when you can’t get over it after you watched the movie.
Alien 1979 (1979)
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
Alien is unquestionably the most successful Horror sci-fi movies of all time. Xenomorph is the most popular Alian character to this date.
There might have had been many other alien movies, a bunch of other alien characters but none as scary yet popular as this one.
If exorcist created a whole new genre within the genre of horror movies, Alien did the same creating Alien survival horror genre which is still hot and going ever since.
Any movie that launched a franchise, you know is going to be good, however, to launch a horror movie franchise is done only by the best horror movies.
Director: Pascal Laugier
Cast: Morjana Alaoui, Mylène Jampanoï, Catherine Bégin
This movie simply tests the human psyche on how much extreme you can endure. It has for that reason a divided audience.
The reason for the division is not that simple as the answer to the question the movie was asking. The question itself is an ambiguous one.
“Is revenge worth it?” is the closest meaning I came to have. And the movie does not give any answers to this question or the other questions it poses.
It is the beauty of the movie that you do not watch the movie for its philosophical interpretation but also not for the slasher and gore cliche features.
You just watch the movie that has both features well represented and answer the questions in your head as you wish.
That very aspect of the movie that it will stick around in your head for weeks is what makes it one of the best horror movies that ever came out from France.
Director: James Wan
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey
For the most part, it is standard stuff. The main plot of the movie revolves around a family moving into a new house and all of a sudden paranormal or supernatural events starting to happen.
Despite its familiarity, the movie ventures into it with the most grotesque and visceral imagery that everyone is sure to be scared.
This is no ordinary horror movie though because it builds character and the plot it has you hooked on the dramatic side of the movie rather than the one-time feel of scares.
That is why it has become a franchise as it had many people invested in the plot and the characters of the movie.
It probably is the most successful and best horror movie that has the most basic formulaic script.
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Director: Oren Peli
Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Fredrichs
Having read the wiki page about the movie, I was shocked, and awed on it was even possible to make a movie on a $15,000 budget, let alone make one of the scariest horror movies on a low budget.
The movie is incredibly scary and has you on the edge at all times, but it is not that frantic, screaming, and running through the woods type of scary. For the most part, it is silent and nothing seems to happen but trust me there always is.
Because of that, the movie is loved and appreciated by many.
You just cannot breathe. What Would you do if you had a ghost or something in the house?
Would you try to kill it, or tape it while killing it?
However you proceed, you know it would make for the scariest ghost story and horror movie that could make millions in the box office.
Director: John R. Leonetti
Cast: Ward Horton, Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard
The script is all but too similar, you know there is a scary doll that is probably possessed by the devil or some ghosts and they will haunt the owners of the house.
However, this movie sets this up clearly from the beginning and openly discusses the fact that they are supernatural beings and are not meant to be messed around with.
As a viewer as soon as the girl enters that room, you know the stuff is going to go down and it does in some scary as hell fashion.
It is in our list not because it has the best plot or the characters you would attach yourself to sequels at a time, even though Annabelle has made sequels.
It is for one simple reason, and that it is terribly scary and terrorizingly frightening.
It is the best horror movie involving a doll.
The Human Centipede (2009)
Director: Tom Six
Cast: Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie
It is the same logic here although it is the best horror movie with a disgusting premise and high level of yuckiness.
A new concept, deranged from reality, disgustingly extreme, this horror movie from a Dutch producer is the one to watch when you want to feel sick.
It is more than just a horror movie. It can be compared to what we can only assume a stupid comedy.
Have you ever watched a comedy that is so bad, and stupid that makes you want to laugh?
You laugh not because of the jokes or the film, you laugh because it is shot in the most stupid and cliche ways.
The Shining (1980)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
I have kept the best for last. “Shining”, a cinema masterpiece with a brilliant script, plot, and acting already is one of the best horror movies of all time.
The psychological aspect of it makes it unique and one of a kind horror movie. The movie is based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name.
Many people argue the book was better, however, I need to say the book would not have one of the best cinema performances, nor will it have the best soundtrack.
In terms of delivering you the chills and goosebumps, no book does it better than this film. Heck, there are only a few movies that could barely do it just as well.
Shining is the best psychological horror movie of all time.
Horror movies might not be your favorites too, but I am sure you watch them anyway just to get the chills and the cringy weird sensation that parallels fear, a unique experience that only horror movies can provide.
There are only a few activities that give you the rush and the adrenaline like riding a bike, or bungee jumping off a cliff.
Watching horror movies is one such category that gives you all that feel at the comforts of your house.
It is also one such activity that you can experience it in the safest way possible unless the characters pop out of your TV screen.
The very best horror movies are the ones that guarantee you the feeling not just for the period it runs but even long after the movie.