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The 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever

We asked, you voted. from demonic possessions and cursed tvs to haunted hotels and killer clowns, here are movies that scared rt users the most..

scary haunted horror movies

TAGGED AS: Horror

If you were poking around RT a week and a half or so ago, you might have come across a little poll we were taking on the site to try and determine the Scariest Movie Ever . Based on other lists and suggestions from the RT staff, we pulled together 40 of the scariest movies ever made and asked you to vote for the one that terrified you the most. As it happens, a British broadband service comparison website decided to conduct a science experiment to determine the same thing, and their results were… surprising, to say the least. Did Rotten Tomatoes readers agree with the findings? Read on to find out what our fans determined were the 10 Scariest Horror Movies Ever.

1. The Exorcist (1973)

You may not agree that  The Exorcist is the scariest movie ever, but it probably also isn’t much of a surprise to see it at the top of our list — with a whopping 19% of all the votes cast. William Friedkin’s adaptation of the eponymous novel about a demon-possessed child and the attempts to banish said demon became the highest-grossing R-rated horror film ever and the first to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars (it earned nine other nominations and took home two trophies). But outside of its critical and commercial bona fides, the film is well-known for the mass hysteria it inspired across the country, from protests over its controversial subject matter to widespread reports of nausea and fainting in the audience. Its dramatic pacing and somewhat dated effects may seem quaint compared to some contemporary horror, but there’s no denying the power the film continues to have over those who see it for the first time.

2.  Hereditary (2018)

Writer-director Ari Aster made a huge splash with his feature directorial debut, a dark family drama about the nature of grief couched within a supernatural horror film. Toni Collette earned a spot in the pantheon of great Oscar snubs with her slowly-ratcheted-up-to-11 performance as bedeviled mother Annie, but the movie’s biggest shock came courtesy of… Well, we won’t spoil that here. Suffice it to say  Hereditary struck such a nerve with moviegoers that it instantly turned Aster into a director to watch and shot up to second place on our list.

3.  The Conjuring (2013)

James Wan has staked out a place among the modern masters of horror, directing films like  Saw ,  Dead Silence ,  Insidious , and this inspired-by-true-events chiller based on the experiences of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens, best known for their work on the strange case that inspired the  Amityville Horror movies (which played a part in The Conjuring 2 ), were portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, who grounded the effective jump scares and freak-out moments with a believable world-weariness. Together, Wan and his co-leads found fresh terror in familiar genre tropes, and the end result is a sprawling cinematic universe that only continues to grow.

4.  The Shining (1980)

Literally dozens of Stephen King’s novels and stories have been adapted for the big screen, and several of those films are considered classics today, like  Carrie ,  Misery , and  Pet Sematary (and that doesn’t even account for non-horror stuff like  The Shawshank Redemption and  Stand By Me ). But the mother of them all is easily Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of  The Shining . A marvel of set and production design and a genuinely unnerving take on the traditional haunted house story,  The Shining features a host of memorable images and an iconic Jack Nicholson performance. The film’s relatively few jump scares are still absolutely chilling, but its true power lies in the way it crawls under your skin and makes you experience Jack Torrance’s slow descent into madness. It’s rightfully considered one of the greatest horror films ever made, and it ranked fourth in our poll.

5.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

While the top four movies on this list collectively garnered 42% of the total votes counted, they were followed by six films that all earned around 3% of the vote each. In other words, these last six films were separated by no more than 60 votes. The first of them is this low-budget slasher directed and co-written by Tobe Hooper, very loosely inspired by the crimes of Ed Gein.  Texas Chainsaw’ s grimy aesthetic helped lend it an air of authenticity, which made it all the more frightening (“This could  actually happen , you guys!”), and the massive, menacing presence of Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface paved the way for other brutes like Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. Multiple attempts have been made to breathe new life into the franchise, but none have equaled the original in sheer, over-the-top, power tool-inspired terror.

6.  The Ring (2002)

It’s always a tricky proposition to take something that works well for one culture and try to translate that formula successfully for another, but Gore Verbinski managed that with  The Ring . A remake of Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s acclaimed thriller about a cursed videotape, Verbinski’s take kept the original film’s striking visual imagery — the  ghost of a young girl in a white dress with long black hair covering her face — and found that it scared the hell out of audiences no matter where they were from. While the film wasn’t as well-regarded as its predecessor, it features a committed performance from a then up-and-coming Naomi Watts, and for many, it served as an introduction to East Asian horror cinema.

7.  Halloween (1978)

Coming in at the seventh spot on our list is the film that introduced the world to all-time scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and put John Carpenter on the map.  Halloween is frequently cited as one of the earliest examples of the slasher genre as we know it today, and while it may not feature the same kind of realistic gore we’ve come to expect of films in that category, it packs a lot of tension and some inventive thrills in a relatively small-scale package. The film’s legacy is also fairly untouchable: Michael Myers’ mask has become the stuff of legend, and the giant, unstoppable killer and the “final girl” have become ingrained in the horror lexicon. There’s a reason the franchise is still going after more than 40 years.

8.  Sinister (2012)

For those who didn’t read the “scientific study” mentioned at the top, we’ve finally come to the film it crowned the scariest. Before he joined the MCU with 2016’s  Doctor Strange , director Scott Derrickson had racked up a few horror films, a couple of which earned cult followings. One of them was this small-scale haunted house/possession story about a true-crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who moves his wife and kids into a house where a family was murdered, only to discover the new place might already have a rather evil tenant. Writer C. Robert Cargill was reportedly inspired to pen the script based on a nightmare he had after watching  The Ring , and the story does share a minor similarity with that film, what with the creepy snuff film angle. But for many who saw it, the dramatic reveals and creepy set pieces far outweighed any recycled genre tropes that might have been present. Plus, there’s at least one report out there that says it’s the scariest movie ever made, so that has to count for something.

9.  Insidious (2010)

James Wan has already appeared higher on this list, but before he and Patrick Wilson made The Conjuring , they worked together on this supernatural thriller about a young boy who falls into a coma and begins to channel a malevolent spirit. The bare bones of the story weren’t the most groundbreaking, but frequent Wan collaborator Leigh Whannell infused it with a compelling enough mythology that it spawned four more installments. Wan also stated that Insidious was meant to be something of a corrective to the outright violence of  Saw , which compelled him to craft something on a more spiritual level, and the end result is an effective chiller featuring what is frequently regarded as one of the best jump scares ever put on screen.

10.  IT (2017)

The fear of clowns is a very real thing, even if it’s become so commonplace to announce it that it feels disingenuous. If you needed any further evidence, we direct you to the box office haul of 2017’s  IT , based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, which went on to beat  The Exorcist’ s 44-year record as the highest-grossing horror film ever. Oh, and of course, its 10th-place finish on this list. Andy Muschietti’s big-budget adaptation drew on nostalgia to tell its story of children scarred by trauma, while Bill Skarsgard’s take on Pennywise the evil, shapeshifting clown was bizarre and unsettling in all the right ways. Add a healthy dose of jump scares, a handful of impressive set pieces, and some top-notch CGI, and you’ve got a recipe for a horror film that’s both fun and full of scares.

Thumbnail image by ©FilmDistrict courtesy Everett Collection

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75 of the scariest horror movies of all time

scary horror movies

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

If horro r is your jam, then we're here to lend a hand (arm ... or leg ) in the goosebump department .

From ghosts and witches to demonic possessions and vampires , we've compiled a comprehensive collection of bone-chilling films sure to leave you shaking in your shoes.

That's right, we've gathered the scariest horror movies of all time including films like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "The Exorcist," "The Ring" and other terrifying tales to help plan a movie marathon that'll leave you checking for monsters and serial killers under the bed.

What makes a proper horror film? Well, according to David E. Tolchinsky, professor of radio-TV-film at Northwestern University, a well-done horror movie is one that has deeply-felt fear at its core.

“Sometimes good horror films aren’t scary when you watch them, but they stay with you for a long time and scare you in your dreams, ” Tolchinsky tells TODAY.com in an email.

Tolchinsky also says that a good horror movie is one that makes you feel uncomfortable or has dramatic effect even without the supernatural elements, like the sadness of a suffering child or failed marriage in “The Sixth Sense” or the racism at the core of “Get Out.”

The bottom line? Whether it's gory, frightening, thrilling or creepy, if it scares the pants off you , mission accomplished.

So, settle in with a bowl of popcorn and get ready to pull the covers over your head because fright night is here ... and there's no turning back. In no particular order, here they are, the scariest horror movies of all time.

'Donnie Darko' (2001)

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) has got issues with just about everyone. Even so, the loner strikes up a love relationship with Gretchen (Jena Malone) and a finds a freaky new pal in the form of a guy dressed up as a rabbit. Yep, you read that right. A bunny. From there it all goes downhill. This 2001 classic horror film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore and Mary McDonnell. This is horror for deep thinkers.

‘Infinity Pool’ (2023)

Alexander Skarsgård and Cleopatra Coleman star as James and Em Foster, a couple enjoying a beach getaway but all is not what it seems at their paradise retreat. There’s a sinister plot involving seduction and death brewing and it’s positively criminal. Who'll make it out alive? The answer might surprise you in this total creeper of a film.

'The Blackening' (2023)

Taking a page from the "Scream" playbook, Dewayne Perkins' "The Blackening" pokes fun at horror movie tropes while scaring the pants off you at the same time. The plot revolves around a group of friends who vacation together over the long Juneteenth weekend only to discover they're being stalked by a serial killer on a deadly mission.

'Knock at the Cabin' (2023)

What would you do if you were asked to save the world, but at the cost of your family's lives? "Knock at the Cabin" poses exactly that question and learning the answer will keep you on the edge of your seat. This M. Night Shyamalan thriller stars Dave Bautista, Jonathan Groff and Ben Aldridge.

'The Menu' (2022)

Starring Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy, fine dining has never been more terrifying than in "The Menu," a horror movie and dark comedy that explores just how far a chef is willing to go to prepare a one-of-a-kind meal.

'M3GAN' (2022)

After Cady (Violet McGraw) loses her parents in a tragic car crash, her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams) creates Megan, an AI toy companion to keep Cady safe from harm. Before long, Megan develops a mind of her own. Anyone who gets in her way better watch out.

'Scream VI' (2023)

Courtney Cox reprises her role of Gale Weathers in "Scream VI," the sixth installment in the "Scream" franchise. She's joined by Jenna Ortega playing Tara Carpenter and the pair, along with other Ghostface survivors, attempt to make a fresh start. But, of course, things don't go as planned after Ghostface resurfaces yet again.

'The Invisible Man' (2020)

Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss), flees an abusive relationship only to discover that despite the death of her controlling ex-lover, she still can't escape his torment. What Cecilia can't see might be more terrifying than what she can.

'It Follows' (2014)

A teen hookup results in abduction and a sinister curse that only ends when passed on to someone else. High-schooler Jay Height (Maika Monroe) must beat the clock and fend off supernatural stalkers if she hopes to survive.

'Jacob's Ladder' (1990)

"Fatal Attraction" director Adrian Lyne presents this 1990 horror film about Jacob Singer, a Vietnam vet (Tim Robbins) who struggles to separate reality from his tortured past. Verging on the edge of madness, Singer attempts to discover the truth about who he is and how to stop the nightmares.

This recent release from A24 takes place in 1979 and follows a group of young filmmakers who travel to a remote cabin in Texas in order to make an adult movie. Things go nightmarishly wrong when their elderly hosts turn out to be anything but welcoming.

'Nope' (2022)

Brother and sister horse wranglers, Otis and Emerald Haywood, investigate some supernatural happenings and try to capture evidence of UFOs in Jordan Peele's sci-fi thriller "Nope."

'Halloween' (1978)

Nearly 45 years after its release, John Carpenter's "Halloween" still remains the gold standard for all horror movies. After escaping from a mental hospital, Michael Myers returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night and goes from house to house on a bloody killing spree.

‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968)

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her actor husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into a new apartment on Central Park to start a family. Things go south, however, shortly after Rosemary becomes pregnant. Something’s brewing in the neighborhood and it just might be satan. Ruth Gordon and Ralph Bellamy also star in this 1968 classic.

'Prometheus' (2012)

Ridley Scott directs this prequel to "Alien," a deep-space expedition to a distant planet goes awry when scientists discover an ancient alien species known as "The Engineers." Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba star in this sci-fi horror film.

'Orphan' (2009)

After losing a child, Kate and John Coleman (Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) adopt 9-year-old Esther. It all seems too good to be true until it's discovered that Esther isn't what she seems. At all. Manipulative and sociopathic, Esther has her own hidden agenda and soon everyone's lives are in danger.

'Orphan: First Kill' (2022)

Born with a rare disorder that makes her appear much younger than she is, Leena (Isabelle Fuhrman) escapes from an Estonian psych ward. She heads to the U.S. where she assumes the false identity of "Esther," the missing daughter of wealthy couple Tricia and Allen Albright (Julia Stiles and Rossif Sutherland).

‘Alien’ (1979)

In space, no one can hear you scream — and everyone’s screaming, like a lot in this sci-fi horror movie that stars Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, an astronaut battling a shape-shifting stowaway.

'The Exorcist' (1973)

Made nearly 50 years ago, "The Exorcist" still holds up and remains one of the scariest movies of all time. It's film that you can't unsee once you've seen it — including Regan's (Linda Blair) 180-degree head turn. Truly terrifying, the plot revolves around a young girl who becomes possessed by an evil demon.

'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)

The flesh-eating zombie movie that launched a thousand imitations, George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" remains just as gruesome and unsettling as it was back in 1968. The original black-and-white version remains the best, so don't settle for anything else.

'Hereditary' (2018)

If you've ever enjoyed sticking your head out the window while riding in a car, you will absolutely never do it again after watching "Hereditary." Starring Toni Collette and Gabriel Byrne, this horror movie is beyond disturbing. But it also gets at universal themes, like what we inherit from our family and parts our ourselves we can't run away from.

'The Witch' (2015)

In 17th-century New England, a Puritan family settles on an isolated patch of land near a forest inhabited by a witch. An infant goes missing. Then, the family's eldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) starts acting ... strange. This takes the whole Hansel-and-Gretel thing to a new level.

'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' (1974)

Don't even think about eating before watching this gruesome '70s horror movie about a family that makes a career out of carving strangers up with a chainsaw. "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" is a staple in the slasher horror genre, so prepare yourself before meeting the villain called "Leatherface."

'Midsommer' (2019)

During the eternal daylight of Sweden's summer season, a small village celebrates its once-every-90-years summer festival. A group of vacationing friends travel to the town to participate only to find out that the festival activities are more grisly than they could have ever imagined.

'The Cabin in the Woods' (2011)

A friends' getaway to a remote cabin in the woods turns into a nightmare after it becomes overrun with killer zombies. To make matters worse, it's all part of a sinister science experiment controlled by an underground laboratory.

'Us' (2019)

A relaxing beach trip turns into the fight of their lives after an unsuspecting family is stalked by murderous versions of themselves. This Jordan Peele film is a masterclass in suspense and mystery. Who are the tethered? What do they want? What do they say about human nature? These are the questions you'll be chewing on. And you'll never listen to the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" the same way again. Promise.

'Hellraiser' (1987)

With tons of truly horrifying imagery and torture, this '80s horror film is about a puzzle box that unleashes a group of demons looking for blood and flesh sacrifices.

'Saw' (2004)

Two men wake up imprisoned in a strange bathroom, a dead body between them, and no idea how they got there. It's all part of the Jigsaw Serial Killer's sadistic plan that involves – yep, you guessed it – the grisly use of a hacksaw.

'Evil Dead' (1981)

There are no holds barred in this '80s horror classic. Chock full of completely gory, gruesome scenes, the plot revolves around a group of friends who plan a retreat at a remote cabin in the Tennessee woods and, as so often happens in horror movies, they accidentally wake the dead while they're at it.

'An American Werewolf in London' (1981)

A backpacking trip in Britain gets, uh, hairy after two Americans are attacked by an unidentifiable creature while walking at night. During a full moon. One dies, the other is injured, and instead of getting better, he discovers a whole new set of problems. “An American Werewolf in London” is the first film to win an Oscar for “Best Make-up,” a category created the same year the movie was released.

'The Conjuring' (2013)

"The Conjuring" is based on the real-life work of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson play the paranormal investigators in this movie — and in all its many sequels, including an entire spin-off about a demonic doll.

‘The Conjuring 2’ (2016)

In this 2016 sequel to "The Conjuring," ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren travel across the Atlantic to help a London mom with a frightening supernatural problem. An evil spirit has been haunting her home and, worse, possessing her children. Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star in "The Conjuring 2."

'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)

Along with "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th," "Nightmare on Elm Street" is a seminal addition to the slasher film genre. Freddie Krueger, the series' razor-blade-gloved murderer, is a horror icon. This is a must for anyone looking to check off all the horror movie classics.

'The Ring' (2002)

If you watch it, you're dead within seven days. Journalist Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) seeks to understand why when her niece and three friends die mysteriously after viewing the "cursed" videotape. Of course, she watches it, then must beat the clock in order to survive. It's worth watching both the American remake and the 1998 Japanese original.

'It' (2017)

This Stephen King movie (adapted from the book by the same name), is a PSA on why to never, ever allow your paper boat to be swept into a storm drain. Every 27 years, It emerges to prey on the people of Derry, Maine. The most recent "It" adaptation divides King's long novel into two parts: One following a group of middle schoolers taking down the monster, and another when they're adults summoned back to do it all over again.

'The Fly' (1986)

Years before Jeff Goldblum played a mathematician in "Jurassic Park," he played a scientist in "The Fly" who inadvertently swaps DNA with a fly and, in extremely gruesome detail, becomes one.

'Insidious' (2010)

After moving into a new house, the Lambert family's oldest son, Dalton, suffers a fall that leaves him in a coma. In the months that follow, supernatural events begin to occur. Despite moving houses again, the family's troubles persist until a ghost hunter figures out that Dalton is captive in an alternate realm called "The Further."

'Child's Play' (1988)

It goes without saying that dolls with knives are unsettling — and "Chucky" sets the mold. Chucky is a red-headed toy possessed by a serial killer on a mission to murder everyone it encounters.

'Sinister' (2012)

Writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and his young family move into a new house, but only Ellison knows that it's the scene of a ghastly murder. Horrible things happen after he discovers a box of snuff films in the attic and Ellison soon realizes his family is caught in a "sinister" plan.

'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

Three film students traipse out into the Maryland woods looking for a mythical witch and find way more than they bargained for. Meta and scary, "The Blair Witch Project" is a horror-film must. An indie film, "The Blair Witch Project" cost only $60,000 to produce and went on to earn nearly $250 million at the box office.

'Cloverfield' (2008)

Filmed cinéma vérité style, this "found-footage" movie chronicles a group of friends and their desperate attempt to stay alive after an alien-like monster attacks New York City.

'10 Cloverfield Lane' (2016)

The unofficial sequel to "Cloverfield," this follow-up features John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as survivors of the alien apocalypse, trapped together in an underground bunker. A tense psychological thriller, the film will keep you guessing right up until the end.

'The Haunting' (1999)

"The Haunting" follows a group of insomniacs who stay at a spooky old mansion as part of a sleep study. When the lights turn off, that's when they realize they're not alone in the mansion.

'Paranormal Activity' (2007)

Another horror movie filmed in a "found footage" style, "Paranormal Activity" is about Micah and Katie, a husband and wife who find themselves at the mercy of a demon who stalks them as they sleep.

'Friday the 13th' (1980)

Kill, kill, kill ... now, now, now. An evil serial killer wearing a hockey mask is murdering the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake, one by one. Is it the ghost of Jason, a young boy who drowned in the lake years before? Or something much worse? This 1980 film features Kevin Bacon as a young camp counselor prior to his breakout role as "Ren" in the movie "Footloose."

'Friday the 13th Part 2' (1981)

The second movie in the "Friday the 13th" franchise ends up being nearly as fun as the first when sole-surviving camp counselor, Alice, returns to Camp Crystal Lake only to find out that the murdering is far from over.

'War of the Worlds' (2005)

What begins as a freaky lightening storm turns out to be the end of the world in this sci-fi horror film, which features alien octopods rising from the ground and using human blood to fertilize the earth ... and Tom Cruise in a starring role.

'The Babadook' (2014)

After reading a terrifying bedtime story about a boogie monster named "Mister Babadook," a son and his mother discover that he's real – and living in their house.

'Scream' (1996)

Wes Craven, writer and director of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," directs this 1996 horror film that parodies other horror films. Playing off slasher film tropes (think "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th), "Scream" pokes fun at the genre, while still being a worthy contender.

'The Thing' (1982)

If you're planning a trip to Antarctica, "The Thing" is sure to make you reconsider. An old-school classic, this scary horror movie stars Kurt Russell as MacReady, an arctic researcher trapped with a killer alien able to disguise itself as his teammates.

'The Shining' (1980)

All work and no play makes Jack (Jack Nicholson) a dull boy and, unfortunately, it also puts him in an extremely bad mood. Maybe it's the work — or maybe it's the spirits at the Overlook Hotel, where Jack and his family are staying over the course of a long winter. Stanley Kubrick's 1980 take on Stephen King's book "The Shining" is both thought-provoking and scary.

'The Lost Boys' (1987)

There's only one problem with living in the California beach town of Santa Carla – all the damn vampires. Campy, scary and gory, "The Lost Boys" is a classic.

'A Quiet Place' (2018)

What's worse than aliens taking over the world? Aliens with super-sonic hearing that take over the world, then killing anything that makes a sound. This is unfortunate for Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and Lee Abbott (John Krasinski) who must protect their young family – and keep them extremely quiet – if they hope to survive.

'Salem's Lot' (1979)

A two-part miniseries released in the '70s, "Salem's Lot" is based on the Stephen King novel by the same name and is available to stream on Amazon . Despite being a bit dated, it still packs some super-serious scares in this tale of a small New England town overrun by vampires.

‘Get Out’ (2017)

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is heading to meet his girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents for the first time. And if he's being honest, things feel kind of weird. This groundbreaking Jordan Peele movie, which is also a commentary on race in the U.S., is a good reminder of why you should always listen to that little warning voice in your head telling you something's wrong, before it's too late.

'The Amityville Horror' (1979)

Before putting a deposit down on your dream house, make sure there isn't a massive fly infestation or pig with glowing eyes floating outside your bedroom window. More important, however, double check with the realtor that no mass murders have occurred there that'll lead to evil spirits stalking your family, as what happens in "The Amityville Horror," inspired by a real crime.

'The Mothman Prophecies' (2002)

This slow-burn horror movie, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, isn't full of gore or jump-scares. Instead, it's a psychological thriller that promises to haunt you for days, maybe weeks, after watching it.

'What Lies Beneath' (2000)

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer star as a husband and wife who own a very nice lakeside cottage. Too bad it's haunted – or at least Pfeiffer thinks it is. Apparitions appear and supernatural events occur, but only when she's by herself. Are they real or is it all in her head?

'Psycho' (1960)

After absconding with $40,000, an embezzling woman books a room at a motel managed by a guy with significant mommy issues. Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" defines the horror movie genre along with rendering showers unsafe for the rest of all time.

"The Sixth Sense" (1999)

Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) sees dead people. A lot of them, actually. That's when child psychologist, Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) intervenes to help. If the twist hasn't been spoiled for you, watch it before it is.

'Signs' (2002)

Turns out farms can be surprisingly scary places, especially when uninvited visitors hide among the corn stalks and your baby monitor picks up transmissions from outer space. This M. Night Shyamalan film is a terse, sci-fi thriller.

'World War Z' (2013)

From start to finish, it's nonstop action in this epic battle between the dead and undead. Brad Pitt stars as a United Nations investigator who must figure out how to stop the zombie apocalypse before it's too late.

'Fright Night' (1985)

What's the deal with Charley's (William Ragsdale) creepy new neighbors? They keep strange hours and own a coffin for starters. Beyond that, a lot of women are turning up dead in mysterious ways. Are his neighbors — gasp — vampires? Charley enlists the help of a vampire hunter to find out.

'Poltergeist' (1982)

All is well with the Freeling family, until youngest daughter, Carol Anne, starts a conversation with a blank TV screen. In this movie written by Steven Spielberg, the Freelings rely on each other to survive their newly-haunted house.

'The Omen' (1976)

Is it a girl, a boy or the antichrist? Unfortunately, for Robert and Katherine Thorn (Gregory Peck and Lee Remick), the result is not the one they're hoping for Born with the devil's "666" on his head, it seems the couple's adopted son isn't just difficult, but comes to them straight from hell.

'The Descent' (2005)

A group of women head to the Appalachian Mountains to go cave-diving and end up trapped inside a cave after it collapses. As they try and navigate their escape, they discover that they're not alone down there. The movie is chilly, and not only because it's set in a cave.

'Candyman' (1992)

Within the mythology of this movie, saying the name "Candyman" five times while looking in a mirror unleashes a throat-slashing monster. Still, everyone does it anyway to find out if the urban legend is real, including research student, Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), who finds out the hard way that it is. "Candyman" was remade in 2021.

'The Purge' (2013)

America is a crime-free utopia thanks to once-a-year "purge" that allows people to commit any and all crimes (including murder) during a 12-hour grace period known as "the purge." Ethan Hawke stars as a wealthy businessman who must protect his family when their security measures fail.

'28 Days Later' (2002)

After a chimp carrying a deadly virus is freed from an experimental lab, the world pretty much dies off in 28 days, except a handful of survivors, including Cillian Murphy ("Peaky Blinders"). Along the lines of the "Walking Dead" or "I am Legend," it's kill or be killed in this zombie flick.

'The Ritual' (2017)

When one of their friends is murdered in a robbery, a group of men take a hiking trip to Sweden in his honor. Things deteriorate after they become lost in the woods and realize they're being hunted by a sadistic cult seeking human sacrifices.

'Fresh' (2022)

This recent release stars Daisy Edgar Jones as Noa, a young woman trying to navigate the dating scene. After finally meeting the perfect guy, she discovers he wants something more from her than just a relationship. He wants her flesh. Heads up, the "ew" factor is off the charts with this one.

'The Strangers' (2008)

After attending a wedding, a couple stays at a remote vacation home which turns nightmarish when they're assaulted by a trio of strangers bent on murder and mayhem. "The Strangers" plays on the palpable fear of a home invasion.

'The Haunting in Connecticut' (2009)

Problems arise after a family moves to a Victorian home that once served as a funeral parlor. From ghostly apparitions to unexplained injuries, things unravel as supernatural forces take over.

'The Black Phone' (2021)

Finney (Mason Thames), a 13-year-old boy, is abducted by “The Grabber,” a crazed child-killer (Ethan Hawke), who locks him in a basement with a mysterious black phone. Even though it’s disconnected, the phone rings and Finney discovers that all its callers are all unearthly.

'Hush' (2016)

A bout with bacterial meningitis leaves Maddie (Kate Siegel) deaf and mute at the age of 13. After penning a successful novel, Maddie leaves New York City for a desolate cabin in the woods where she’s stalked by a masked killer bent on making her his next victim.

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Den of Geek

The Best Creepy Horror Movies

These horror movies don't use cheap thrills to get scares. They rely on atmosphere and suspense rather than gore and jump-scares.

scary haunted horror movies

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Christopher Lee in The Wicker Man copy

Creepy isn’t the same as scary.

Of course horror movies can be scary simply by using loud noises and sudden movements to make their audiences jump, but creepy is harder to pull off. To be effectively creepy, a film needs to establish a certain atmosphere; it needs to draw you in and make you care. It needs to give you something to think about when you’re trying to drop off to sleep at night; to make you wonder whether that creaking noise down the hallway was just the house settling or something lurking in the shadows. Creepy stays with you. It gives you goosebumps.

Here are 85 of the best horror movies (in no particular order) to chill your bones. Enjoy the nightmares.

Jordan Peele's Us

Jordan Peele’s follow up to his award winner Get Out is another social horror. While it might not be quite as accomplished or coherent as Get Out (the end is a bit of a mess) Us is arguably scarier than Get Out as a family staying in a holiday home find themselves tormented by evil replicas of themselves. It’s a film that keeps you constantly on edge with the performances of the main cast – Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex – absolutely pitch perfect and never less than convincing as good and evil versions of themselves.

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It Comes At Night (2017)

It Comes At Night (2017)

Though the marketing material was somewhat misleading, featuring the above scary-looking dude (who really isn’t a big part of the film at all), It Comes at Night , from director Trey Edward Shults is a claustrophobic slow-burner that insidiously ramps up the creep factor . Joel Edgerton plays the patriarch of a family holed up in a cabin in the woods to escape an unnamed wide spread virus. But when a man, his wife and their young child arrive seeking shelter his family life is disrupted. A coming-of-age horror with one of the bleakest endings around.

Mr. Jones (2013)

Mr. Jones (2013)

Nobody knows who Mr. Jones is. The artist is a recluse, but his bizarre sculptures have made him world famous. When a documentary maker and his girlfriend stumble across what looks like his workshop, they become obsessed with finding out the truth about Mr. Jones, but the truth isn’t particularly easy to stomach.

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One of the most stylishly shot found footage movies you’ll ever see, the makers know the rules of the genre well enough that when they break them, it adds to the story rather than detracting from it. Also, those scarecrows are petrifying.

Under the Shadow (2016)

Set in war-torn Tehran in the late 1980s,   Under the Shadow  sees a would-be doctor battling the forces of evil for her daughter (and her sanity) even as everyone around her flees to safer ground. The juxtaposition of earthly and unearthly threats makes this a uniquely terrifying film, and Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is a wonderfully complex and sympathetic heroine. Not many films could make a sheet of printed fabric terrifying, but  Under the Shadow  manages it.

Gaslight (1940)

Gaslight (1940)

Bella (Diana Wynyard) thinks she’s losing her mind. She keeps losing things, and the lights in her house seem to flicker, even though her husband Paul (Anton Walbrook) tells her he can’t see anything wrong. Plus there are those footsteps upstairs… Just from that description, you might think that  Gaslight  will turn out to be a haunted house story , but the real explanation for all the weirdness is far more sinister than that. Walbrook does sinister like no-one else.

The Babadook (2014)

A character from a terrifying kids book comes to life to haunt a single mother (Essie Davis) grieving for the loss of her husband in this beautiful, sorrowful meditation on depression and despair. Top-hatted Mr. Babadook with his horrible, terrible grin is of course creepy as all, but Noah Wiseman as her needy and uncontrollable child gives him a run for his money in creepiness .

The Clairvoyant (1934)

The Clairvoyant (1934)

Maximus, King Of The Mind Readers (Claude Rains) performs amazing feats of clairvoyance on stage every night in front of adoring audiences. The problem is, it’s fake – the mind-reading is all done through a secret code Maximus has invented to communicate with his assistant wife, Rene (Fay Wray). But one night, he meets Christine (Jane Baxter), and his abilities become real. He really can predict the future. If you’ve already guessed that’ll turn out to be more of a burden than a gift, you’re right. Gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted, this is a creepy delight.

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Sleep Tight (2011)

The second Jaume Balaguero film on this list is just as bleak and horrifying as the first:   Sleep Tight  sees a concierge secretly breaking into the homes of the people he’s supposed to serve to try to make them as miserable as he is. When Cesar (Luis Tosar) finds one tenant is harder to upset than the others, his behaviour escalates until he’s committing unimaginably grotesque crimes against the poor girl. The ending will have you shuddering in your seat.

Lake Mungo (2008)

Lake Mungo (2008)

This strange found footage film from Australia takes the format of a mockumentary focusing on the family of a dead girl who think there are supernatural goings on surround their house. It owes a debt to  Twin Peaks   in its odd neighborhood vibe, and the twisty plot holds many surprises, as the movie wrong foots the audience time and again. It’s creepy throughout but by the time you finally discover what’s really going on it’s not only terrifying but emotionally devastating too .

Dead of Night (1945)

Dead of Night (1945)

Probably the best horror anthology ever made, this Ealing Studios production includes five individual stories and one wrap-around narrative. The wrap-around sees a consultant arrive at a country home only to find that he recognizes all of the guests at the house – he’s seen them all in a dream.

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Spooked, the guests start recounting their own stories of the uncanny, each more unnerving than the last. Well, except for the one about the golfers, but that one’s just there for light relief before the film hits you with the scariest ventriloquist’s dummy ever committed to film. Just excellent, all round.

Hereditary (2018)

One of the most truly harrowing movies of recent years is Hereditary , the feature debut from Ari Aster . Toni Collette stars as a mother trying to hold together her family in the aftermath of a tragedy while around her supernatural goings on begin to escalate.

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Hereditary has been called  The Exorcist  for a new generation, though it’s so much more than that. In fact at times,  Hereditary  is almost too scary, so oppressive is it’s escalating anguish and dread. This one is pure nightmare fodder.

Nina Forever (2015)

Rob (Cian Barry) can’t get over his ex-girlfriend. Nina (Fiona O’Shaughnessy) died in a car crash, which is bad enough, but when he tentatively begins a relationship with his co-worker, Holly (Abigail Hardingham), he finds himself haunted by Nina. Literally. She materializes in his bed every time he and Holly have sex – she might be dead, but she’s not letting go.

“Creepy” doesn’t feel like a strong enough word to describe this film – “devastating” might do it. It’s a sensitive and horrifying portrayal of grief, with a sense of humour as dark as the inside of your eyelids, and some extremely upsetting gore. Brilliant, but not one for the faint-hearted.

Robin Redbreast (1970)

When she moves away from London to a tiny country cottage, Norah (Anna Cropper) expected the change to be a bit strange, but nowhere near as weird as it ultimately turns out to be. As she gets to know the locals, she finds herself being pushed towards a relationship with karate-loving Rob (Andrew Bradford), and while she’s initially game, she soon discovers that her choices are being made for her. It’s a little bit  Wicker Man , a little bit  Rosemary’s Baby , and a lot of creepiness.

It Follows (2014)

Inspired by a reccuring nightmare director David Robert Mitchell had in his youth, It Follows   is a clever, freaky take on the slasher movie , featuring, well, a sexually transmitted ghost. Maika Monroe plays a young woman haunted by a shape shifting spectre after a sexual encounter who slowly but relentless trails her everywhere – the film plays with the audience expertly, making us guess whether background characters could really be the monster. Ultra modern and highly effective, this one will leave you jumping at shadows long after the credits roll.

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

A tyrannical landowner is plagued by, well, a literal plague in Roger Corman’s adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story. Vincent Price plays the Satanic Prince Prospero, who rules over his village with an iron fist, condemning people to death for the mildest offence and abducting any woman who takes his fancy, but all of his evils come back to haunt him when he throws a masked ball and Death shows up. Fittingly, it’s got the hallucinogenic quality of a fever dream, and the various incarnations of Death are wonderfully creepy.

As Above, So Below (2014)

A group of explorers heads deep into the Paris catacombs, only to find they’ve gone a little too deep and stumbled into an alternate dimension that might actually be Hell. It’s a brilliantly over the top concept, and the way it plays out is incredibly eerie. Yes, it’s found footage, and yes, it’s a little bit on the silly side – it chucks in quotes from Dante and a few too many sad-faced ghosts – but some of the scares along the way are properly frightening. Suspend your disbelief and let it freak you out .

Oculus (2013)

Eleven years ago, Alan (Rory Cochrane) bought an antique mirror… and then died, along with his wife. According to the police, they were murdered by their 10-year-old son. According to their daughter, the mirror is haunted, and something supernatural caused their deaths. Now Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is out of prison, Kaylie (Karen Gillan) wants to prove he was innocent by conducting an experiment on the mirror… But inadvertently puts both of them in danger all over again.

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It’s chilling. The way director Mike Flanagan plays with reality, building unbearable uncertainty through camera angles and false memories, makes this film both incredibly scary and impossibly sad .

The Witch (2015)

After being cast out of a New England plantation for not interpreting scripture in the same way as the colony’s elders, a family strikes out alone, and soon discovers how inhospitable their unfamiliar new home country can really be.  The Witch  is a period piece , and the language is suitably archaic, but don’t let that put you off: it’s a brilliantly chilling portrayal of Puritan life , where belief can mean the difference between life and death, and horror is only ever one failed crop away.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amityville Horror  is  the  haunted house story. If you were only ever going to watch one haunted house movie, it should be this one, because this is the archetypal story: a family moves into a house where horrible murders happened, and then bad things happen to them. It manages a lot of things later imitators didn’t, though, which is that it makes the Lutzes’ decision to buy the house make sense, and also builds the horror slowly, so that they almost don’t notice when the things going wrong in the house switch from annoying issues to outright horror. If you’ve moved house in recent memory, this one’ll hit you where it hurts.

The Conjuring (2013)

If you were only ever going to watch two haunted house movies, the second one should definitely be   The Conjuring . James Wan’s ode to ’70s horror has plenty in common with  The Amityville Horror , but it also has plenty of ideas of its own – and at least half a dozen moments that’ll make your heart leap into your mouth.

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The camerawork, the music, the cute kids stuck in the middle of epic spiritual warfare… it all adds up to a completely terrifying experience. You’ll probably need to sleep with a nightlight for a week afterwards.

The Changeling (1980)

George C. Scott stars as Dr. John Russell in this classic ghost story, which is a favorite of  The Others  director Alejandro Amenabár. Following the tragic demise of his wife and son, Dr. Russell moves into a rambling Victorian mansion to compose music and pick up the pieces of his life. He’s soon being woken by relentless booming sounds coming from the heating system, precisely at 6am every day… Then there’s the old “apparition in the self-filling bath” trick (actually, this may be the first time this happened onscreen, but it sure won’t be the last).

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This is one of those movies which hits up all the clichés: people go into the dark, gloomy attic to search for clues, and to the library to look up old news archives on the microfiche; they visit the graveyard, and finally, hold a séance (which is overwhelmingly creepy). The eerie soundtrack and skilful storytelling result in a film which peels back its mysterious layers slowly for a satisfying finish.

The Hallow (2015)

If you go down to the woods today, make sure you don’t steal anything or break anything, or the Hallow will get you. Tree surgeon Adam and his family move into an ancient farmhouse to start sizing up the land for developers and quickly fall afoul of the supernatural creatures lurking in the trees, which turns out to be a really bad idea. This film’s got it all: foreboding mythology, grotesque body horror, and the most amazing line of foreshadowing dialogue you’ll ever hear.

The Uninvited (1944)

A couple of Londoners holidaying in Cornwall stumble across a gorgeous abandoned house on the seafront and immediately decide they want to buy it. The owner, a grumpy old colonel, is happy to sell it to them on the spot, but his granddaughter is reluctant. Turns out the house has got secrets, and, yeah, a ghost. The dialogue in this film is incredible in a very 1940s kind of way, and the tone can occasionally be accused of jolliness, but it’s also got its moments of proper creepiness. Best enjoyed with a glass of sherry.

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Saint Maud (2019)

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It’s a film about conflicts between mind, body and soul, but it leans her into genre territory as Maud (Morfydd Clark) hear God talking to her directly and punishes her own body in an attempt to feel closer to her spiritual side, while the cancer riddled Amanda (Jennifer Elhe) celebrates her body as it lets her down. Shot in Scarborough everything about Saint Maud is unsettling right up to the indelible finale. An absolute must watch.

Crimson Peak (2015)

Director Guillermo del Toro insists that Crimson Peak isn’t a horror film but is, instead, a gothic romance. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t creepy as all get-out, though. When aspiring author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) meets charming baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), she falls madly in love and agrees to move back to his ancestral home, Allerdale Hall – aka Crimson Peak. But the house is crumbling and full of ghosts, and Sir Thomas’s sister doesn’t seem terribly friendly, either…

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Del Toro’s visual flair is in full effect here, and every frame of this film (even the scary ones) are stunningly beautiful to look at. It’s a treat.

Baskin (2015)

A group of cops answers a call from the middle of nowhere and unwittingly stumble into something that can only be described as ‘a nightmare’ in this skin-crawlingly nasty Turkish horror. Abrasive, aggressive and deliberately difficult, this is the kind of film that burrows deep into your brain, only to resurface later at the worst possible time. Then again, by the time you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere with only dead colleagues and   Silent Hill -style monsters for company, you probably don’t need memories of a horror movie to freak you out.

His House

His House (2020)

A Netflix movie which could make a mark come award’s season the directorial debut of Remi Weekes sees a Sudanese refugee couple seek housing in London only to find themselves haunted by ghosts of the past and present. This is proper horror and it’s creepy as hell but it also leans into the horror of the refugee situation with the two marginalized, restricted, and treated as outsiders from the start – it’s a powerful but uncomfortable watch.

Host

Host (2020)

The defining horror of 2020 – written, shot, edited and released on Shudder in just 12 week – Host is so much more than a lockdown gimmick. Following a group of friends who decide to do a seance via a Zoom chat, this ingenious movie trades on the real life friendships of the cast and crew and the absolute ubiquity of the video software during isolation. It’s seriously creepy too, utilising visions in the shadow but later some seriously impressive stunt work. Director Rob Savage and writer Jed Shepherd have signed up for a three picture deal from Blumhouse on the strength of this movie which absolutely needs to be seen.

The Haunting (1963)

Not to be confused with the remake of 1999, this retro gem not only features some classic sequences of spooky happenings, but a philosophical take on the paranormal. As John Markway says, “The preternatural is something we don’t have any natural explanation for right now but probably will have someday – the preternatural of one generation becomes the natural of the next. Scientists once laughed at the idea of magnetic attraction; they couldn’t explain it, so they refused to admit it exists.

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Dr. Markway (Richard Johnson) is investigating the mysterious Hill House, whose inhabitants often die in odd circumstances. With him he has Luke (Russ Tamblyn), the cynical heir to the home, the psychic Theo (Claire Bloom, way too cool for school) and Julie Harris as Eleanor, who has some ghosts of her own but figures a free stay in a mansion is as close to a holiday as she’s going to get. Markway is pleased the ladies haven’t done any research into the bad reputation of the house “So much the better. You should be innocent and receptive.” (The old dog.) This is a great, character-driven story with a dry sense of humor, and a mysterious heroine who feels oddly at home with the supernatural.

Unfriended (2014)

A cautionary tale about the dangers of cyberbullying,  Unfriended  achieves the seemingly impossible and manages to make the standard sound effects of everyday computer programs terrifying. The whole story is told through one character’s desktop, so you get to watch as she Skypes with her friends, posts to Facebook, or picks something to listen to on Spotify. The details are fascinating, and it’s kind of brilliant how the filmmakers manage to express so much about a character through her browser bookmarks and the messages she types, but doesn’t send. Once the horror kicks in, though, you’ll be too scared to notice much more of the cleverness.

Shutter (2004)

Jane (Natthaweeranuch Thongmee) is driving back from a wedding with her boyfriend Tun (Ananda Everingham) when she hits a girl – in a panic, they leave the body lying in the road and try to get on with their lives. They start feeling rattled when Tun’s photography is blighted by misty shadows and they both suffer from the odd hallucination which seems to show that their hit and run victim (Achita Sikamana) isn’t resting in peace.

Where would horror films be without photographic dark rooms? Even in the digital age, the dim red light and slowly emerging pictures remain classic tools of terror. Not to mention the room with rows of jars containing pickled animals, and the surprise homage to  Psycho . This story has it all. There are also touches of dark humor throughout (the praying mantis is a recurring motif) and one of the most bone-chilling scenes has a hilarious payoff.

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Directors Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom skilfully create real characters and have the ability to communicate some of the most powerful and eloquent moments without dialogue.  The mystery deepens as more sinister evidence comes to light and the climax is truly chilling. This is one which will stay with you long after Halloween.

Spider Baby (1967)

The Merrye children live out in the middle of nowhere, with only one another and their family chauffeur, Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr) for company. Which is for the best, because they’re all afflicted with the family curse – a bizarre quirk of genetics that causes members of the Merrye family to begin to de-evolve once they reach a certain age. When some distant relatives come to visit, intending to challenge the kids’ right to stay in the house, things go sour fast. It’s a horror comedy, this one, but if you’re not a little bit creeped out by Virginia (Jill Banner), the Spider Baby of the title, and her spider game, well, good luck to you.

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Robert Zemeckis directs Michelle Pfieffer and Harrison Ford in this glossy supernatural thriller, with predictably high quality results. Clare and Norman Spencer live the perfect life – especially now their daughter has left for college and they’re enjoying empty nest syndrome. But the neighbors are causing some concern – especially when the wife disappears and Claire believes she is trying to communicate with her from “the other side.”

Zemeckis has admitted that this is his homage to Hitchcock, and true to form, the suspense builds deliciously slowly. When Claire starts seeing faces in the bathtub (where else?) she goes to talk it over with a psychiatrist. A session with a Ouija board proves that somebody is trying to contact Claire, and it’s not long before she’s stealing keepsakes from grieving parents and reading books with chapters helpfully entitled “Conjuring the Dead.”

The result is a strong movie whether you’re enjoying the ghost story or the “Yuppies in peril in a beautiful house” aspect of it (and it doesn’t hurt that Michelle looks luminously beautiful).

Cat People (1942)

Serbian immigrant Irena doesn’t have a friend in the world when she meets Oliver. He’s kind and attentive and they soon fall in love, despite Irena’s lack of physical affection. She’s convinced she’s living under a curse that will mean she’ll transform into a panther and kill any man she kisses, and despite seeing a (deeply inappropriate) psychiatrist, she can’t shake her beliefs. Oliver is initially patient but eventually finds himself falling for his much more reasonable colleague, Alice. There’s no way this love triangle can end happily and, well, it doesn’t.  Cat People  is sad as well as eerie, with an increasingly paranoid atmosphere enhanced by skillful shadow play.

The Nameless (1999)

Five years after her daughter Angela went missing, presumed dead, Claudia starts getting weird phone calls. A female voice claims to be Angela, and begs her mother to save her. A series of weird clues leads Claudia to investigate a weird cult… but when things slot into place too easily, it seems like someone might be luring her into a trap. Thematically,  The Nameless  is similar to Jaume Balaguero’s later film  Darkness ; there’s a similar feeling of hopelessness and despair, a creeping horror that doesn’t let up, topped off with a horribly downbeat ending. Brrrr.

Dead End (2003)

The Harrington family are driving home for Christmas when they decide to take a shortcut. Obviously, that turns out to be a bad idea. Picking up a mysterious hitchhiker is an even worse idea.  Dead End  isn’t a particularly original movie, and it does have a truly awful ending, but there’s something about its characters, its atmosphere, and the way it tells the well-worn story that’s really effective. And creepy, of course.

The Others (2001)

Every ghost story introduces an element of uncertainty: are these things really happening, or are they in your head? Like  The Innocents ,   The Others   is partly inspired by Henry James’ novella   The Turn Of The Screw .  Grace (Nicole Kidman) has turned being neurotic into a fulltime job; her children apparently suffer from a sensitivity to light, which means the gothic mansion they inhabit must be swathed in thick curtains at all times. This makes things difficult for the new servants, who have turned up in a most mysterious manner… 

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Grace’s daughter has an imaginary playmate called Victor; her insistence that there are “other people” in the house vexes Grace until she begins to hear them, too. A piano playing by itself, shaking chandeliers and some truly traumatic hallucinations add to the panic as Grace questions exactly who she is sharing her home with. The tension builds to almost unbearable heights before a truly haunting ending. An intelligent script with a superb twist, quality acting and an atmospheric set (complete with graveyards, mist and autumn leaves) – what more could you want in a creepy movie?

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

“It is happening, and no one is safe.”  Night of the Living Dead  features some of the most brilliantly ominous radio broadcasts in all horror. When a group of strangers end up trapped in an isolated farmhouse together after the dead begin to rise, no one is in the mood for making friends, and it’s their own prejudices and stubbornness that leads to their downfall. (Well, that, and the fact that no one realized getting bitten by a ghoul would lead to death and reincarnation. Oops.)

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The zombie imagery is some of the most haunting ever committed to film, as vacant-eyed ghouls wander in and out of the shadows, chewing on dismembered body parts as they lurch around, constantly in search of fresh meat…

Candyman (1992)

Say his name five times into a mirror and the Candyman appears. Despite his sweet-sounding name, that’s not something you really want to do: Daniel Robitaille was a murdered artist, stung to death by bees in a racist attack, and so he tends not to be in a good mood when he shows up. Set in an urban tower block, this film demonstrates that horror can strike anywhere, not just in spooky old mansions in the middle of the countryside. It’s gory, grimy, and really quite disturbing.

A child murderer is stalking the streets of Berlin and, as the police seem unable to catch him, tensions run high. In an attempt to stop the nightly police raids, the town’s criminals decide to catch the killer themselves, and a frantic chase begins. Though there’s no actual onscreen violence, Peter Lorre is amazingly creepy as the whistling killer, and there’s a sense of corruption pervading the whole film. (Since both Lorre and Fritz Lang, the director, fled the country in fear of the Nazis soon after the film was made, it’s tempting to speculate on what  M  might be saying about Germany at the time, which only makes it all the creepier.)

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

An early example of the found footage genre,  The Blair Witch Project   has been aped and parodied by everyone and their grandma , but there’s something unsettling about it that hasn’t quite gone away. Most of the film is improvised; the actors are really filming the scenes themselves, working from a loose outline of the plot, but without prior knowledge of what half the scares were going to be. That ambiguous ending lets you make up whatever explanation you like for the events of the film, which means whatever the scariest thing you can think of is, that’s what the film is about.

The Orphanage (2007)

Laura (Belén Rueda) is returning to her childhood orphanage with her husband and son in order to open it as a care home for children with disabilities. She’s busy, but still has time to notice that seven year old Simón (Roger Príncep) has found an imaginary friend, Tomas. He might have a sack over his head, but what’s a little creepy mask between pals?

The Scariest Films Ever Made and How They Frighten Us

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Simón is adopted, so it’s only a little odd when a social worker shows up without an appointment. It’s slightly more odd that she’s snooping around in the shed at night. During a daytime party, Laura has an encounter of her own with a masked child, and then experiences every parent’s nightmare: Simón is missing. What follows is the story of a mother who takes the search for her son to the limits of her sanity. Geraldine Chaplin makes an appearance as the medium who conducts possibly the most spine-tingling of all onscreen séances, and there are some truly terrifying shocks during Laura’s search for the truth.

Director JA Bayona makes every shot count; the movie is visually beautiful as well as fantastically sinister. It’s a bona fide horror film but the ending might make you cry.

Ring (1998)

Ring   isn’t a perfect film. It’s a bit too long and ponderous and there’s a bit too much irrelevant mysticism in there. But in terms of pure creepiness, it’s pretty damned effective. The idea of a cursed videotape was brilliant – who didn’t have zillions of unmarked VHS tapes lying around the house at the time? – and that climactic scene where the image on the screen crossed over into reality is bloodcurdling. Sneaky, too, since it managed to suggest that no one was safe. Especially not you, gentle viewer, because didn’t you just watch that cursed tape, too? An awful lot of people must have breathed a sigh of relief once their own personal seven-day window was over.

The Innocents (1961)

Based on Henry James’  The Turn of the Screw ,  this film sees a young governess heading out to an isolated old house to take care of two young children who appear to be keeping secrets from her. Their previous governess died, along with another of the house’s servants, but their influence still seems to be lingering about. Or is it? Just like in the original story, it’s possible to read the ghosts either as genuine spectres or as the fevered imaginings of an over-stressed and under-sexed young woman. Either way, though, the film is terrifying.

The Skeleton Key (2005)

In a decaying house on an old plantation, an old man is dying. Caroline is hired as his carer, but although her job should be simple enough, she begins to suspect that something weird is going on – especially when she finds a secret room in the house’s attic filled with spell books and other arcane bits and bobs.

Is the old man actually under a spell? Why does he seem so terrified of his wife? And might Caroline herself be in danger?  The Skeleton Key  is one of those films that’s far better than it has any right to be; it slowly ratchets up the tension to a crazy finale and ends on an incredibly creepy note.

Insidious (2010)

Insidious   uses just about every trick in the book to creep out its audience, and for some people, that might seem like overkill. There are lurking monsters around every corner; there’s a child in peril; there are wrong-faced nasties; and there are screeching violins every five minutes. On repeat viewings, the plot doesn’t quite hold up (halfway through, the film switches protagonists, which is baffling) and the comedy relief seems grating rather than funny. But the carnival atmosphere, the nods to silent German Expressionist films, the demon’s bizarre appearance, that dancing ghost… there’s something brilliant about it, nonetheless.

Dark Water (2002)

Part of the initial wave of soggy dead girl movies,   Dark Water  is occasionally very daft, but still effectively creepy. Yoshimi Matsubara is a divorcee, forced by circumstances to move into a crumbling apartment block with her young daughter, Ikuko. Their new home isn’t in the nicest of areas, but it might be alright if it weren’t for the leaky ceiling – and, um, that creepy little girl lurking in the shadows, the one who’s never there when you take a second look. Directed by Hideo Nakata and based on a book by Koji Suzuki,  Dark Water  might not be as terrifying as  Ring , but it’s still pretty eerie.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

The effects are dated, and the sequels utterly killed Freddy Krueger’s menace, but the first A Nightmare on Elm Street film is still creepy, in its way. The premise is amazingly disturbing – a dead child molester is attacking children in their dreams – and, combined with some of the deeply weird nightmare imagery in this film, it’s more than enough to give anyone a few sleepless nights. All together now: one, two, Freddy’s coming for you…

Uzumaki (2000)

Slowly, inexplicably, a small town is taken over by spirals. Some people become obsessed; others are killed, their bodies twisted into impossible positions.  Uzumaki   is a live action adaptation of the manga of the same name, and it’s incredibly weird. Unspeakably weird. Visually, it’s incredible, although the green filters look less interesting than they used to due to overuse by every horror and sci-fi movie since. Still, most films don’t go to the extremes that  Uzumaki does.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

Yup, it’s another soggy dead kid movie, but this time the kid is a boy and the action is set in civil war-era Spain. A young boy is sent to a creepy orphanage, where the other boys scare one another by telling stories about the resident ghost, Santi, who was killed when the orphanage was bombed. Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, this isn’t your average ghost story – it’s a companion piece to  Pan’s Labyrinth ,  but it’s much more of a horror movie than its better known counterpart.

The Vanishing/Spoorloos (1988)

Saskia and Rex are on holiday when Saskia suddenly, inexplicably, disappears. Rex dedicates his time to trying to find her, but to no avail. He can’t move on, can’t live with the uncertainty, so when Saskia’s kidnapper reveals himself and offers to show Rex what happened to her, his curiosity wins out. It’s a simple yet eerie story with an utterly devastating ending.

Audition (1999)

Takashi Miike’s  Audition   is more often described as extremely disturbing rather than creepy, but if you can get over that ending (which, let’s be honest, most of us watched through our fingers or from behind a cushion while shouting “NO NO NO NO NO” at the screen), the rest of the film may well creep you out. It starts off slow: a middle-aged man is thinking about dating again, but rather than trying to meet women via traditional methods, he holds a series of fake auditions for a non-existent movie. He meets Asami, a shy dancer, and starts wooing her – but Asami isn’t as sweet and innocent as she seems. Pretty much every character in this movie is an awful person, and the way they treat one another is disturbing on many, many levels.

One Missed Call (2004)

Also directed by Takashi Miike,  One Missed Call  is a parody of the endless string of soggy dead girl movies made in Japan at the time. But somehow it’s still really creepy. The premise is that, as the title suggests, teenagers are receiving missed calls on their mobile phones. The mystery caller leaves a horrifying voicemail: the sound of the phone’s owner screaming in agony. And since the call came from the person’s own phone, and appears to come from a few days in the future, it’s clearly a sign of impending doom. Sure enough, the kids all die just as the missed call predicted. There’s a nasty little backstory about evil little girls, and a bonkers televised exorcism, and generally, it’s a great film whether you love or loathe stories about scary dead kids.

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

You might’ve thought about how you’d survive the apocalypse, but have you ever stopped to consider whether it’s actually worth doing? In  The Last Man On Earth ,  Vincent Price is the only survivor of a mysterious plague that’s turned the rest of humanity into walking corpses, hungry for his blood. Every day, he tools up and goes out to kill the bloodsuckers; every night, they surround his house and try to kill him. It’s a dismal way to live, and a depressingly eerie film. It’s based on Richard Matheson’s novel  I Am Legend  – so skip the Will Smith adaptation and watch this instead.

A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)

Part melodramatic family drama, part psychological horror,  A Tale Of Two Sisters   is all scary all the time. When a pair of sisters return from a mental hospital, having been traumatised by their mother’s death, they find their new stepmother difficult to adjust to. The nightly visitations from a blood-dripping ghost don’t help, either. But as always in these kinds of films, nothing is what it seems – you might need a second viewing to get your head round the ending.

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Robert Mitchum might have claimed not to be interested in movies or acting, but he’s great in this. As Harry Powell, a bizarrely religious conman, he’s terrifying, whether he’s preaching about the evils of fornication or chasing the children of his latest victim across the country in an attempt to steal a stash of money he knows they’re hiding. The use of light and shadow in this movie is just stunning; the first time Powell arrives at the Harper house is a particular highlight. Robert Mitchum’s singing voice isn’t half bad, either.

Peeping Tom (1960)

Peeping Tom  was so controversial when it was released that it effectively ended director Michael Powell’s career. It’s violent, voyeuristic, and since it tells a story from the villain’s point of view; it’s entirely unsavoury. And it’s wonderful. It looks great, it has an amazingly twisted (and tragic) plot, and Carl Boehm is brilliant as Mark, the awkward, mild-mannered psychopath who feels compelled to murder as a result of his father’s deranged experiments. (That’s not a spoiler, by the way – but if I told you how he killed his victims, that might be.)

Psycho (1960)

Happily, 1960’s other movie about a disturbed serial killer was less of a career-killer. Alfred Hitchcock ’s  Psycho   is wonderful, sodden with guilt and tension right from the opening scene. It’s a shame that so many of its twists are so well-known now, because watching this without knowing what was going to happen must have been brilliant. It’s still great – beautiful to watch, genuinely tense and frequently unnerving – but it has lost some of its shock value over the years. (Also, the bit at the end where the psychiatrist explains everything in great detail is utterly superfluous.) Anthony Perkins’ final twitchy, smirky scene is seriously creepy though.

City Of The Dead / Horror Hotel (1960)

Getting the timing of a holiday wrong can have disastrous consequences, as  City Of The Dead   illustrates. Nan Barlow is a history student who, under the tutelage of Christopher Lee’s Professor Driscoll, becomes fascinated with the history of witchcraft, and decides to visit the site of a famous witch trial… but she arrives in town on Candlemas Eve, probably the most important date in the witches’ calendar. Um, oops.

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City Of The Dead  is often compared to  Psycho , and there are enough similarities between the films that you could assume it was a cheap rip-off – but though the campy US retitling supports that assumption, this was actually made before Hitchcock’s motel-based chiller. It’s definitely creepy enough to be worth watching on its own merits.

Village Of The Damned (1960)

For no apparent reason, one day every living being in the English village of Midwich falls unconscious. For hours, no one can get near Midwich without passing out. When they wake up, every woman in the village finds herself mysteriously pregnant. Obviously, their children aren’t normal, and something has to be done about them… Based on John Wyndham’s novel  The Midwich Cuckoos ,  Village Of The Damned  is more of a sci-fi movie than a horror movie – but it’s super creepy nonetheless.

Dolls (1987)

Re-Animator   director Stuart Gordon toned things down a bit for this creepy fairy tale, but not much. When a group of awful human beings are forced to spend the night in the home of a couple of ancient toymakers, they soon get their comeuppance at the hands of – well, the title gives that away, doesn’t it? You’ll never look at Toys R Us in the same way again.

The Woman In Black (1989)

When a reclusive old lady dies in an isolated house out in the marshes, a young lawyer is sent to sort out her estate. But there’s something weird about her house, and the townspeople aren’t keen on helping sort things out, either. The TV version of this movie is far, far creepier than the Daniel Radcliffe version; there’s one moment in particular that will etch itself on your brain and continue to creep you out for years after you see it…

The Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974)

Beautifully shot with a great score,   The Perfume of the Lady in Black   is a dreamy, unsettling film where nothing is ever as it seems. The wonderfully named Mimsy Farmer plays Sylvia, a scientist haunted by melancholy and hallucinations. She’s never quite recovered from her mother’s suicide, and when she goes to a party where talk turns to witchcraft and human sacrifice, her sanity starts to unravel. But are her problems really all in her head, or is there something else going on? The film doesn’t reveal its secrets until the very end, when all that creepiness pays off spectacularly.

May was always a weird child, and unfortunately she’s grown into a weird adult, too. Unable to form any meaningful relationships with the people around her – not even a class of blind children she thinks might be kinder to her than the people who can see how strange and awkward she is – May decides she’ll need to take this “making a friend” business into her own hands. Dark and twisted and incredibly gory, May is as sad and sweet as it is creepy. A lot of that is attributable to Angela Bettis, whose performance is adorably unnerving.

Nosferatu (1922)

In this unauthorised take on  Dracula , the evil Count is depicted not as a tragic or romantic anti-hero , but as a horrifying embodiment of the plague – complete with an entourage of rats. Max Schreck makes a brilliantly weird-looking vampire, all teeth, ears and fingernails; his shadow is especially unnerving. Although the ending as presented seems a little abrupt, it’s conceptually horrifying – as is the fact that, due to a copyright claim filed by Bram Stoker’s estate, all but one copy of this movie was destroyed back in the 1920s.

Vampyr (1932)

In a spooky old inn, Allan Grey is visited in the night by an old man who leaves him a gift-wrapped book, with instructions to open it only on the occasion of the man’s death. Which turns out to be soon. The book explains that the town is plagued by vampires – and, helpfully, gives instructions on how to kill them.  Vampyr   is an early sound film, so while there is some sound and a little dialogue, most of the silent film conventions are still in place. It has a fairly straightforward,  Dracula -esque story, but the plot’s not the point. It’s a deliberately strange film, full of disembodied dancing shadows and weird dream sequences; there’s something almost otherworldly about it.

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi is the definitive Dracula. With his eerie eyes and wonderful accent, he’s brilliantly threatening as the charming Count, but despite his iconic performance here, he’s not the creepiest thing about this film. Nope, that honor goes to Dwight Frye’s portrayal of Renfield, the lunatic spider-eater under Dracula’s control. He’s amazing, all awkward body language and hysterical laughter. Lugosi’s oddly cadenced speech has been emulated and parodied a zillion times, which takes away some of its power; Frye’s performance, on the other hand, is just downright disturbing.

White Zombie (1932)

A year after Dracula, Bela Lugosi starred as Murder Legendre, an evil voodoo master, in one of the first ever zombie movies. The zombies here aren’t flesh-eating ghouls but obedient slaves, working tirelessly in Legendre’s mill. Even when one of them tumbles into a grinder, work doesn’t stop. When the plantation owner goes to Legendre for help winning the heart of the girl he loves, he’s handed a dose of the zombie potion – and now the only way to break Legendre’s spell over the innocent girl is to kill him. Lugosi is suitably menacing, and the drone-like zombies are properly eerie.

The Cursed Medallion/The Night Child (1975)

For a few years, in 1970s Italy, Nicoletta Elmi was the go-to creepy kid. She pops up in Mario Bava’s  Bay of Blood   and  Baron Blood , and in Dario Argento’s  Deep Red ,  among others, but she’s never more creepy than she is in  The Cursed Medallion .  Here, she plays Emily, the daughter of an art historian who’s making a documentary on demons in paintings. She’s given a medallion but, as the title suggests, it’s cursed, and she ends up possessed by the spirit of a murderess. It’s atmospheric, lovingly photographed and, of course, Elmi is awesome in the lead role.

The Descent (2005)

A group of friends go off on a spelunking holiday, but get more than they bargained for when it turns out that the caves they’re exploring are dangerous in more ways than one. There’s enough time spent on character development that you really feel it when the group starts to get thinned out; there’s some incredibly painful-looking gore; and there are some amazingly freaky monsters. Watch it in a darkened room to make the most of its wonderfully claustrophobic atmosphere.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

The shine might’ve come off this movie because the   Paranormal Activity   franchise has become Lionsgate’s new one-every-Halloween cash cow, but there’s something deliciously creepy about this movie. Rewatching it now, even knowing when all the scares are coming, it’s still chilling. In a neat twist on the traditional haunted house story,  Paranormal Activity ’s entity haunts a person, not a house – so its victim can’t just pack up and move. The found footage conceit is used to great effect, making you stare intently at grainy nighttime footage of an empty room, straining your ears for distant footsteps, before making you jump out of your skin with a loud bang. (Pro tip: the movie has three different endings, so if you think you’re bored of it, try one of the others.)

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

So much of the effectiveness of a horror movie comes down to its sound design. A well-placed creak, groan, echo, or jangle can make the difference between something completely normal and something terrifying. New scary noises don’t come along very often, but  Ju-on: The Grudge   managed to come up with something unlike any other scary noise you’ve heard before. Its ghost makes a weird rattling, burping groan as she approaches; it’s kind of like a death rattle, kind of like a throttled scream, and it’s creepier than anything you’ve ever heard before. The film is relentless, light on plot and heavy on jump scares, but it’s that noise that’ll stay with you.

Julia’s Eyes (2010)

Julia and her twin sister, Sara, both suffer from the same degenerative disease – one that causes them to go blind. When Sara undergoes experimental surgery and subsequently kills herself, Julia suspects foul play – and, indeed, something weird seems to be going on, with whisperings about an invisible man lurking in the shadows. But as Julia gets closer to the truth, her own eyesight suffers more and more…The film restricts our vision almost as much as Julia’s; it’s almost unbearably claustrophobic, and ultimately heartbreaking.

The Eye (2002)

Another film about eyes and the horrors of going blind,  The Eye  follows Mun, a classical violinist from Hong Kong, as she undergoes an eye transplant. Although the transplant seems to be successful – Mun can see again – something isn’t right, because now she can see dead people. And most of them are terrifying. The ending is vaguely preposterous, but the rest of the film is creepy enough that it’s forgivable.

Zombie Flesh Eaters

Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Lucio Fulci’s unofficial sequel to  Dawn Of The Dead   features perhaps the creepiest zombies ever committed to film. When a boat turns up in New York harbour with only a zombie on board, investigative reporter Peter West sets out to find out where the boat came from and what’s going on. He ends up on the island of Matool, where the dead are returning to life to eat the flesh of the living… and they’re really, really gross.  Zombie Flesh Eaters   was initially classified as a video nasty in the UK, and it’s not difficult to see why. Its atmosphere elevates it above your average exploitation movie, though; there’s something really melancholy about it.

[REC] (2007)

When a local news crew decided to tag along with the fire brigade for an evening, they probably didn’t realise they’d end up fighting from their lives in a zombie-infested tower block. Co-written and co-directed by Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero (yup, him again),  [REC]   is a decent enough zombie movie, until the final reel, when it reveals an even more terrifying ace up its sleeve.

Let Me In (2010)

Although remakes are usually terrible, Matt Reeves’ take on this unusual vampire story was both respectful of and different from the original and, for my money, it’s creepier. Lonely tween Owen doesn’t have any friends until the equally strange Abby moves in next door. They embark on an odd friendship/proto-romance, but Abby has a secret: she’s a vampire. The use of a candy jingle is, against all odds, really eerie, and by paring the story down to its most essential elements (and getting rid of that daft cat scene)   Let Me In  makes for a scarier watch than   Let The Right One In .

Carnival Of Souls (1962)

After a traumatic accident, weird things start happening to Mary. A strange man seems to be stalking her, though no one else can see him, and she feels irresistibly drawn to an abandoned pavilion out in the middle of nowhere. Once upon a time, the pavilion housed a carnival, but now it’s just an empty building… or is it? There’s nothing surprising about the plot of this movie to a modern audience – you’ll have the whole film worked out within about five minutes – but it is gloriously creepy. The climactic scenes at the carnival are pure nightmare fuel.

The Shining (1980)

Probably the most effective of all the Stephen King adaptations,  The Shining   plonks Jack Nicholson down in the middle of a creepy hotel and lets him do his thing. Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who gets a winter job as caretaker of The Overlook Hotel, where the isolation and/or ghosts send him out of his mind. There are so many creepy images in this film: the twin girls who just want to play, the woman in room 237, the lift full of blood, and, oh, lots more.

The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari (1920)

Appropriately, watching  The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari   feels like slipping into a nightmare. Caligari’s cabinet holds Cesare, the sleepwalker – a catatonic oracle able to answer questions of life and death with eerie accuracy. Is Caligari a hypnotist, a murderer, or both? It’s a strange story, made stranger with a twist ending, and rendered impossibly creepy by the Expressionist production design. The weird, distorted hand-painted sets give the film a crude, unreal beauty and, if anything, the passage of time has increased the film’s creepiness, because it’s so utterly unlike modern films.

The Exorcist (1973)

An obvious choice, but  The Exorcist   is genuinely scary . It’s deceptively simple: the filming style is realistic, the locations are ordinary-looking and, by comparison to more modern horror movies, there aren’t many elaborate effects or stunts. But the film makes every scary moment count. It’s atmosphere is oppressive, claustrophobic – there’s an ever-present sense of dread throughout. It ought to feel more dated than it does, but even now, the demonic makeup and scratchy voice of the possessed Regan gives me goosebumps.

The Omen (1976)

Damien is probably the ultimate creepy child. Adopted by the Thorns when their own newborn dies, it doesn’t take long for his dark side to emerge: Damien is the Antichrist.

There are so many iconic moments in this film, so many things that have shaped both the horror genre and our culture’s idea of evil; something about this film really struck a chord, and even now it’s pretty effective. Every death scene in this movie is memorable, but the suicide of Damien’s nanny at his birthday party particularly stands out.

Ghostwatch (1992)

Originally shown on UK TV at Halloween,  Ghostwatch   scared a whole generation shitless . It’s presented as a live broadcast, starring familiar BBC faces: Michael Parkinson plays host, while Sarah Green and Craig Charles report from the scene as a normal family recount their experiences with the terrifying ghost they’ve dubbed “Pipes”. The shadowy figure of a man is glimpsed several times throughout the show, some appearances more obvious than others, and as viewers call in to share their own stories, things get weirder and weirder…Okay, this isn’t technically a film, but it is so amazingly creepy and brilliant that it couldn’t be left off the list.

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man   is a wonderful mishmash of genres: it’s got humour, horror, singing and sex. It frequently teeters on the edge of absurdity. But at heart, it’s deeply creepy. When devout Christian Sgt Howie visits the isolated community of Summerisle, he thinks he’s investigating the abduction of a little girl – and the villagers certainly do seem to be acting suspiciously. But as his investigation continues, it becomes clear that something entirely different is going on. Howie runs headlong to his doom, and its final scene is downright spine-chilling.

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria   is Dario Argento’s finest hour. It’s eyeball-meltingly beautiful to look at, all unnatural neon lighting and ridiculously lavish set design; the music is cacophonous, a never-ending wall of sound that doesn’t let up; and the plot is, well, it’s functional enough.

Suzy, an American ballet dancer, flies to an exclusive dance school in Germany only to find herself in the midst of a murder investigation – and something weird is definitely going on with the teachers. If you haven’t seen  Suspiria  in a while, treat yourself to the Blu-ray. There’s nothing restrained about this movie, nothing ordinary; it sneaks up on you and worms its way into your brain. It’s brilliant.

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We’re headed into the scariest time of year, autumn, when a chilly breeze picks up in the air, all the greenery around you wilts, and the days get shorter while the nights grow longer. This season makes for the perfect atmosphere to cozy up at home in front of your television and watch some movies that are guaranteed to bring a shiver down your spine.

Luckily there is no shortage of incredible scary movies to satisfy the appetite of any movie lover. There are films for the hypochondriacs in us, the conspiracy theorists, the apocalyptic over-thinkers, and the superstitious ghost hunters. Let these films provide you with a nightmarish alternate reality where you can vicariously experience your worst fears and then return to the comfort of your own home. So get ready to settle in and be frightened out of your wits.

Ti West’s A24 feature presented itself as a tribute to exploitation films of the ‘70s, but it turned out to be so much more. In X , we follow a group of young actors who are making a stag film in the barn behind an old couple’s remote Texas home. Between scenes of choreographed sex and brutal violence, X makes introspective explorations on the fleeting nature of youth, the horror of aging, and unfulfilled desires.

Scream (2022)

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The the fifth installment of the iconic '90s horror flick that shook up the genre did not hold back on the punches. Although it may be a sequel (or a fivequel?), it turns horror film tropes upside-down in delightful ways, much like the original. The brand-new cast, the exciting return of several OG cast members, and a plot that makes you entirely breathless cements this Scream addition an instant classic.

James Wan might be recognized for his essential additions to the horror genre with movies like Saw , Insidious , and The Conjuring , but this standalone feature truly unleashed Wan’s storytelling abilities. This wild tale of a young woman being haunted by dreams of a mysterious man committing horrible murders takes you through breathtaking revelations—with visual affects that will give you nightmares.

Ready Or Not

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As if marriage doesn’t induce enough fear in some people, Ready Or Not ups the ante with in-laws whose tradition is to hunt the new bride, with all forms of weapons, from dusk 'til dawn. After surviving the wedding itself, the bride, Grace, has put up a fight if she wants to enjoy her new life. And, you know, stay alive.

Ever thought that Predator needed an origin story? Well, now you’ve got one. Prey is set 300 years ago in the Northern Great Plains of North America, where a young woman from the Comanche tribe must face off with the alien predator in order to protect her loved ones. It’s a showdown of epic—and terrifying!—proportions.

The Hunt was one of the last movies to come out in theaters, traditionally-speaking, before the pandemic hit in 2020—meaning, if you don't remember it, it's because plenty of real life horror was soon in the way. The political satire mixes The Hunger Games essence with liberal elitism and far-right extremism for a somewhat messy, and completely troubling, depiction of our current times. It is also is genuinely terrifying, with a heaping side of gore and violence.

You'd be hard pressed to think of a film with as cheery a color palette, but as menacing a tone, as Midsommar . From the twisted minds at A24, the film takes place in Sweden in a small town's midsommar festival. And when a couple (who should not be together) arrive with their friends (who honestly aren't much better), shit hits the fan. Let's just say that there's gore, a bear suit, and a really dazzling food spread that would be appetizing if everyone didn't keep dying .

Brilliantly crafted and remarkably original, His House subverts the expected horror movie tropes and presents a film unlike any before it. The movie follows a South Sudanese couple who manage to escape the throes of war in their home country of South Sudan, only to come to England and discover that they're dealing with a new threat... of the supernatural variation.

Train to Busan

South Korean action horror film Train to Busan places the typical zombie apocalypse genre in a new container, as it follows one father and daughter's trip across the country by train as they learn that the country is becoming overrun by a plague.

Jordan Peele’s sophomore directorial feature Us stars Lupita Nyong’o as the mother of a family who finds themselves under the attack of a mysterious group of strangers that are their exact doppelgängers.

Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey star in the first installment of the Insidious series, in which a family faces the reality that their son has fallen into a mysterious comatose state where he becomes possessed by otherworldly spirits.

The first partnership of Lighthouse director Robert Eggers and beloved production company A24, The Witch is set in 17th-century New England and follows a Puritan family who is quick to blame the disappearance of their son on their daughter. Suspecting she is a witch, they battle between their familial bond and dark forces that might prove more powerful.

Deliverance

Sometimes the scariest films don't need to venture into the supernatural or the grandiose to strike fear. Put a deep-woods boy on a bridge and give him a banjo and that's all you'll need to send a chill up a lot of people's spines. Starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox, this 1972 film about a foursome who decide to venture down a rural Georgia river likes to label itself as "an adventure drama," but the phrase "Squeal like a pig!" begs to differ.

After her estranged mother dies, Annie (Toni Collette) begins to notice some peculiar activity around her house. After another shocking tragedy, Annie begins to spiral out of control. Is there a supernatural force attempting to manipulate her family, or is it all in her head?

A Quiet Place

A family (led by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt) silently navigate a post-apocalyptic world, stalked at every turn by monsters that hunt their prey with a supercharged sense of hearing. Although the family of survivalists have so far managed to avoid the extraterrestrial hunters, the fractures within their own relationships may lead to their downfall. You will spend this entire movie on the edge of your seat.

The Babadook

In Jennifer Kent's gothic Australian thriller, a young widow is burdened with her troubled six-year-old son. But it only gets worse for the beleaguered mother when the titular character of her son's picture book—the tall, top hat-wearing spook named the Babadook—begins to creep beyond the pages of his book and wreaks havoc on the mother and son.

The Descent

Six adventurous women go into the dark depths of an unmapped cave in North Carolina, hoping for a fun trek through the darkness. But their mountain vacation is disrupted when they discover that they aren't the only ones in the cave, which also happens to be full of flesh-eating humanoid monsters who hunt them women down.

Annie thinks she's found someone trustworthy in her new boyfriend, but after they have sex, he reveals that he's being stalked by an unnamed evil—which will now hunt her down until she can pass "it" onto the next person she sleeps with. The moody, retro-inspired horror film is a modern classic with an unsettling, unimaginable monster that our heroine must outsmart.

A young black photographer (Daniel Kaluuya) joins his girlfriend (Allison Williams) for a visit to her suspiciously overenthusiastic Obama-supporting parents' home and discovers that they can't be trusted in Jordan Peele's Oscar-winning modern masterpiece. In Esquire , Stephen Thrasher called the film, "The Best Movie Ever Made About American Slavery."

Eyes Without a Face

Amazon iTunes

In the very literally titled French art-horror classic, a famous and unhinged surgeon kidnaps beautiful women and tries to transplant their faces onto his daughter who is, yes, missing a face.

Last House on the Left

Wes Craven was one of a few masters of horror who plumbed the depths of America's Vietnam War-era cultural divides in this grimy, arty thriller about two teenage girls who encounter ruthless escaped prisoners—and how the tables get violently turned.

Rosemary's Baby

In the most disturbing allegory for childbearing gone wrong, Mia Farrow's Rosemary becomes increasingly panicked about her painful pregnancy and the mysterious neighbors in a building with a history of Satanism. The great Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her role as Rosemary's fiendishly quirky neighbor, who isn't as sweet as she seems.

The House of the Devil

Samantha, a broke college student struggling to pay her rent, picks up a babysitting job from a weird couple named the Ulmans. Things get even more strange when Samantha learns that her charge is not a child, but in fact Mr. Ulman's ailing mother. Foolishly ignoring her intuition, Samantha's gig turns into a night from hell when she realizes the Ulmans have some particularly devious plans for her.

The Exorcist

Nearly four decades after its release, The Exorcist is still the scariest movie ever made—and features one of the most terrifying movie villains in Regan MacNeil, an innocent 12-year-old girl possessed by a demonic force. William Friedkin's Oscar-nominated film was pretty much the first prestige horror movie with incredible performances, heavy thematic material, and game-changing scares.

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko —which gave us a taste of how great (and weird) Jake Gyllenhall could be—follows Donnie as his cliche teenage-social-outcast problems somehow accrue interdimensional stakes. It’s a perfect scary-movie blend: A troubled teen, memorable monster, all set during the Halloween season.

Night of the Living Dead

It created the modern zombie genre, and its fondness for sociopolitical echoes. But even more than that legacy, George A. Romero's low-budget black-and-white original proved that you don't need money to create a horror classic; you just need braiiiiiiiins.

John Carpenter's bogeyman slasher nightmare spawned a legion of inferior sequels that couldn't diminish the ominous power of his original, about a psychopath who returns to his hometown years later to don a misshaped William Shatner mask and stalk Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Shining

Arguably the scariest film of all time, Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's bestseller generates terror from its meticulous filmmaking. And, courtesy of Jack Nicholson's turn as a murderous paterfamilias, it also features the most memorable horror-movie performance in the past few decades.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The story of a child molester who returns from the dead to prey upon his killers' children in dreams, Wes Craven's seminal shocker recognizes that you're never more vulnerable than when asleep—a fact that naturally set up countless scares for one of the biggest horror franchises in film history

Its sequel may boast grander man-vs.-beast action, but Ridley Scott's gorgeous 1979 outer-space saga about a group of astronauts battling against a malevolent extraterrestrial is still the franchise's most deeply frightening installment.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Ignore all the remakes, remake sequels, and remake prequels, and stick with Tobe Hooper's original 1974 grindhouser, about a slightly unhinged hippie-hating family with a house notable for its giant meat hooks, human bone furniture, and human skin wearing giant who loves to kill twirl his chainsaw.

A cautionary tale about the perils of stealing from your boss—and, also, about staying at roadside motels run by mamma's boys. Alfred Hitchcock originated the surprise first-act murder of the star with the story of a woman (Janet Leigh) on the run who is way too accepting of a dark-haired stranger's (Anthony Perkins) generosity.

The only thing scarier than facing off against a hideous intergalactic monster is facing off against one that has the ability to shape-shift into human form—a who's-the-creature scenario that director John Carpenter employs for intense suspense (with some great, gross special effects).

Japanese director Takeshi Miike is infamous for pushing the boundaries of good taste, though he's rarely delivered more extreme tension than with this 1999 film about a man who discovers that dating can be a deadly affair.

Let the Right One In

A young outcast boy meets, and falls in love with, a young immortal bloodsucker in this superb 1980-set Swedish vampire romance from Tomas Alfredson, which climaxes with an unforgettable pool sequence.

Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho's 2006 film is a fantastic, Spielbergian tale of a South Korean family under siege from an extraordinary foe—namely, a giant sea monster created from toxic dumping.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Michael Rooker is a serial killer whose crimes don't warrant much attention from the powers that be in John McNaughton's cold, clinical, harrowing character study (partly based on real events).

Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's novel is an unbearably disturbing portrait of youthful alienation and fury, with one of the genre's most unforgettable fire-and-brimstone endings.

Don't Look Now

A couple (Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) grieving from the death of their daughter become convinced that she's trying to contact them from beyond the grave in Nicolas Roeg's profoundly unnerving thriller. You'll never look at little girls in red coats the same way again.

The movie that for a brief time in the early aughts made everyone afraid of their TV. Naomi Watts plays a journalist investigating why people keep dying from watching a certain video tape. And just like all of the best scary movies, it's got a creepy kid.

The Blair Witch Project

When The Blair With Project originally came out in 1999, people didn't know whether it was real or fiction. Advertised as "found video footage," it tells the story of three students who travel to a small town to investigate a murder, and eventually get terrorized in the woods.

Drag Me to Hell

Sam Raimi's 2009 horror film is the perfect example of unspeakable horror and gross-out humor. Alison Lohman plays a bank loan officer who turns down an elderly woman's request for an extension on her mortgage payment. The woman retaliates in witchy ways, placing a curse on her new enemy and promising an untimely death.

A nine-year-old Russian girl adopted by a kind American couple (played by Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard), Esther begins to act out in dangerous ways: bullying her new brother as well as kids at school, murdering a nun, and trying to seduce her new adopted father. It doesn't take one long to realize that maybe this kid is not all she seems. A brand new prequel was released this year, Orphan: First Kill, that would make for an exciting double feature.

Suspiria (2018)

If you’re Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagino, how do you follow up one of the most memorable love stories of the 2010s? By making one of its best horror films. His remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 classic puts Dakota Johnson in the leading role as an American dancer auditioning at a world-famous dance academy in Berlin (where, spoiler, the dance instructors aren’t just dance instructors!).

Before James Gunn hit it big with Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy , he was making weird-as-hell genre flicks—like the Michael Rooker and Elizabeth Banks-led Slither . Yes, there’s a comedic bent to the movie, which takes place in a small town that an alien organism begins to terrorize, but its body horror elements will leave a slug-sized stamp on your brain.

In Robert Eggers’s feature directorial debut, a Puritan family in colonial New England move to a farm outside of their Plymouth colony, where they encounter all kinds of crazy supernatural shit in its surrounding forest. Come for the period-piece colonial throwback, stay for the scary goats.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, which is based on a Stephen King novel, It follows a group of children battling against an ancient, supernatural clown named Pennywise. Of course, the 1990, Tim Curry-led It miniseries will always be a classic—but Pennywise was just begging for 21st Century, big-budget CGI effects. The giant clown in that projector scene? Tentacles swinging from Pennywise’s mouth? Good luck sleeping.

Even though this horror-world OG is nearly 100 (!) years old, this story of Count Orlok’s hosting of Thomas Hutter still delivers the goods. Yeah, old scary movies like this tend to look a little campy in modern times, but Noseferatu’s creepy mug, shadowy photography, and a timely message about xenophobia hold up today.

I would imagine it’s hard to make a cannibal movie, let alone one that’s not a gross-out mess or a campy write-off. Raw , which tracks a vegetarian starting her first semester at veterinary school—where, woah, she gets a taste for flesh. It sounds simple, but Raw ’s built-in suspense (how far is she willing to go?) and art-film vibe makes it worth the watch.

Don't Breathe

For a breathless 90 minutes of Stephen Lang in prime form, check out Don’t Breathe —Fede Álvarez’s breathless horror-thriller. The movie follows three robbers who try to steal $300,000 of cash from a house in an abandoned Detroit neighborhood—which happens to be owned by blind Gulf War Veteran, Norman Nordtrom (Lang).

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A collage image of 31 days of Halloween, set up like a calendar. The background shows the headless horseman, with a Jack-O-Lantern overlaid. The first 31 days are filled in with images of the movies featured in this post.

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The Halloween Countdown: 31 days of horror to watch

A full month of spooky recommendations to stream, from horror movies to Halloween specials and everything in between

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Is there anything better than Halloween season?

Sure, here at Polygon we cover horror year-round. We have our rolling lists of the best horror movies you can watch at home and the best horror movies on Netflix that are updated every month of the year.

But even for year-round horror fans, Halloween is a special time of year.

For the past two years , Polygon has put together a Halloween Countdown calendar, offering a Halloween-friendly movie or TV show available to watch at home every day of October. We’re delighted to bring that back once again, with 31 spooky selections to keep the mood going all month long.

Every day for the entire month of October, we’ll add a new recommendation to this Countdown and tell you where you can watch it. So curl up on the couch, dim the lights, and grab some popcorn for a terrifying and entertaining host of Halloween surprises.

Oct. 1: Audition (1999)

A woman in a white shirt with black gloves prepares a deadly syringe in Takashi Miike’s Audition

In Audition , Takashi Miike’s 1999 psychological horror-thriller, love is a consensual fiction. Years after losing his wife to a terminal illness, widower Shigeharu Aoyama is urged by his son to get back out in the world and find someone. Aoyama agrees to a proposal by his friend, a film producer, to take part in an audition for a nonexistent film in order to find a potential bride from the candidates. His search ultimately leads him to Asami Yamazaki, a beautiful former ballerina with a murky past.

As Aoyama grows closer to his new love interest, he finds himself caught deeper and deeper in a web of intrigue that threatens to tear him apart emotionally, psychologically, and yes — even physically. There is something dark inside Asami, yes, but there is a latent darkness inside of Aoyama too, arguably even darker. The only difference is that Asami has embraced that darkness and made it her own.

Miike’s film holds its cards relatively close to its chest for most of its run time, unspooling its tightly wound mystery like garrote wire before peeling back its skin of meet-cute artifice to reveal a pulsing mass of horrors roiling beneath. The film descends into a macabre fugue state of assumptions, misdirections, and cinematic sleights of hand, with dreams that feel almost real set against a reality too terrifying to be anything but. In the end, though, these are just words. Only pain can be trusted. —Toussaint Egan

Audition is available to stream on Arrow Video and Hi-Yah!, for free with ads on Tubi, and for free on Kanopy with a library card. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Vudu and Apple .

Oct. 2: The Vanishing (1988)

A sinister looking man with a goatee smiles at another man against a pitch black backdrop in The Vanishing.

It’s not a horror movie, per se, and yet Stanley Kubrick said that The Vanishing was the most frightening film he had ever seen. This Dutch thriller from 1988 — often referred to by its original title Spoorloos, so as not to confuse it with an inferior 1993 American remake by the same director, George Sluizer — plays it cool, like a simple missing person case. Rex and Saskia are a young couple road-tripping through France. They are taking a break at a service station when Saskia abruptly, and completely, disappears.

Initially, the horror of the situation is in the banality of it: the feeling that it could happen at any time, to anyone. Sluizer underlines this with the matter-of-fact realism of his location shooting. Then, barely more than 20 minutes in, he wrong-foots the audience with an abrupt shift: We are following Raymond, a contented French family man who appears to be rehearsing a kidnapping. The mystery of what happened to Saskia seems already to be solved. What next?

The way the film — based very closely on Tim Krabbé’s novella The Golden Egg — skips so quickly past the expected structure of a mystery thriller ought to sap tension, but in fact it builds an almost philosophical unease. As Raymond, played with a chilling brightness by Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, walks us through the “how” of his crime, the “why” becomes a gnawing, much more troubling question. We skip forward three years and find Rex obsessed with finding out what happened to his lost love. When an answer is offered, we share his hunger for it completely, and follow him to what might be the most plainly horrifying ending of any film, ever. This is a minimal masterpiece of existential dread. — Oli Welsh

The Vanishing is available to stream on The Criterion Channel, or for digital rental or purchase on Apple and Amazon .

Oct. 3: Rampant (2018)

A prince in fancy white 17th century Korean garb stabs a screaming zombie right through the stomach in Rampant.

One of the great joys of horror is the array of subgenres it offers, and the subgenres within subgenres that spool out of that. Take the monster movie, for instance. It’s a subgenre of horror on its own, and within it you have the vampire movie, the werewolf movie, and the zombie movie, just to name a few. And then you can dive even deeper and find something like Rampant , which combines the zombie subgenre with an unlikely pairing: the historical court drama period piece.

The movie takes place during the 17th century, under the Joseon dynasty in Korea. The movie is filled with political intrigue: The protagonist is an arrogant young prince called back home after his brother’s death only to find political machinations already in progress when he arrives. The court is struggling to figure out how to deal with the nearby Qing dynasty in China (where our protagonist grew up), with different factions forming.

And then there are the zombies. Yes, a zombie outbreak arrives, recalibrating the importance of this royal conflict for some (but not all) of its players. Our protagonist discovers this on his way home, and attempts to convince his father (and his father’s advisors) to do something about it. That leads to some breathtakingly brutal swordplay action in a pitch-perfect genre mashup for the ages. – Pete Volk

Rampant is available to stream on Hi-Yah!, FuboTV, and Viki, or for free with ads on Tubi, Crackle, Plex, Pluto TV, and Freevee. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple , Vudu , and Google Play.

Oct. 4: Seconds (1966)

A man with wrappings over his face wears a suit and stands in front of a light. Two men stand around him, one wearing a doctor’s coat and the other pointing at him.

Werewolves, vampires, zombies, and aliens have nothing on the unstoppable process of aging. All of us will get older, life will get exponentially difficult, and the only person waiting for us at the finish line is Death. John Frankenheimer built Seconds around such midlife terrors, granting New York banking exec Arthur Hamilton the opportunity to fake his own death, reconstruct his body in the form of Rock Hudson, and move to sunny Southern California as a hot, younger dude named Tony Wilson. Like a small animal tramped under the sunlamp of the Santa Barbara sun, we see Hudson spiral through paranoia and regret, replete with naked grape mashing and alcohol-fueled breakdowns. Needless to say, the grass is rarely greener, and the only thing scarier than getting old is staying young.

The film met boos at Cannes and puzzled critics who were accustomed to leading man Rock Hudson being just that — a traditional leading man. But the film has aged well, pun fully intended. James Wong Howe’s cinematography, nominated for an Academy Award, holds the viewer inches from Hudson’s face, bends reality through a fish-eye lens, and somehow makes beautiful young bodies into nauseating bundles of limbs and flesh. And Hudson, now detached from his Personal Brand for most viewers under the age of 70, undercuts his Hollywood good looks with a humble performance of a man in full collapse. — Chris Plante

Seconds is available to stream for free with ads on Pluto TV, or for free with a library card on Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple TV , and Google Play.

Oct. 5: Bride of Chucky (1998)

The Chucky doll dual wields pistols and looks past the camera in Bride of Chucky.

The fourth movie of the wickedly funny Child’s Play franchise takes the killer doll series in an exciting new direction. Bride of Chucky ditches Andy, the young boy followed by the murderous Chucky doll in the first three movies, and instead follows two clueless teenagers (Katherine Heigl and Nick Stabile) who unwittingly take two murderous dolls on a road trip and start to suspect each other when the bodies start dropping.

The sinister inversion of the teen road trip movie would be fun enough, but it’s the addition of Jennifer Tilly that really makes Bride of Chucky sing. For the uninitiated in the Child’s Play universe: The Chucky doll is possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif). Tilly plays Ray’s former lover and accomplice, Tiffany, who brings the doll back to life and becomes a murderous doll herself.

The result is two couples road-tripping together but unable to communicate with each other. Heigl and Stabile’s Jade and Jesse are your typical youths in love — still getting to know each other and not fully trusting yet — while Chucky and Tiffany’s bickering and subtle manipulations make this a joyous and twisted fun time. Add in some breathtaking imagery from director Ronny Yu ( Freddy vs. Jason ) and cinematographer Peter Pau ( Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ; The Killer ) and you have a franchise sequel well worth your time. — PV

Bride of Chucky is available to stream on Peacock . It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple TV , and Google Play.

Oct. 6: Dead Ringers (1988)

Jeremy Irons as Beverly and Elliot Mantle in David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. One Jeremy Irons wears a red t-shirt and a bloody towel, while the other wears a suit.

Visually, 1988’s Dead Ringers must be one of David Cronenberg’s tamest movies — with the exception of one extremely disturbing dream sequence around halfway through, and one grisly but out-of-focus long shot at the end. Otherwise, this is a film composed of talking heads in pristine, orderly spaces, and varnished in 1980s designer opulence: tearooms, operating theaters, penthouses. His usual body horror is more implied in the gleaming, twisted contours of medical implements than actually shown. Yet it might be his most devastating film.

Jeremy Irons plays identical twin gynecologists Beverly and Elliot Mantle, who run a successful fertility clinic in Toronto. Beverly, quiet and sensitive, tends to the practice and the patients while the urbane Elliot climbs the medical establishment ladder. They live together and sometimes pretend to be each other, so shy Beverly can enjoy the fruits of Elliot’s womanizing. But their symbiotic relationship starts to fray and peel when Beverly falls in love with Claire (Geneviève Bujold), an actress and patient who can’t bear children because she has three chambers in her womb.

Beneath Dead Ringers ’ glassy surface, feeling runs deep and cold. The intense psychodrama that develops between the three characters — but mostly between the twin brothers — builds to a conclusion that’s both appalling and moving. At the film’s heart are the incredible performances given by Irons and captured by Cronenberg with careful, unshowy craftsmanship. Without leaning too heavily on identifying makeup or tics, Irons not only innately distinguishes Bev and Ellie, but builds an intimacy between them that’s as tender as it is eerie. It’s like watching one person tear themselves in two and then clumsily try to seal the wound. Dead Ringers is the stuff of tragedy as well as horror. — OW

Dead Ringers is available to stream on HBO Max . It is also available for free with a library card on Hoopla and Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV .

Oct. 7: The Keep (1983)

A muscular golem-like creature with red glowing eyes and mouth stands at the mouth of an underground passage filled with an eerie light.

Michael Mann has a reputation as a slick, streetbound auteur. Films like Thief , Heat , and Collateral embrace the metropolis as a labyrinth, and crime as a psychological test. The Keep , his 1983 jump to more blockbuster fare, is really nothing like those films — except for an excessive amount of mood.

Set in 1941 Romania, around the time the Nazis invade the Soviet Union, the film finds a German battalion stumbling upon a mysterious structure dubbed “The Keep.” Two savvy soldiers hope to loot what they think is treasure inside. Instead, their heist unleashes Radu Molasar, a golem-like destroyer of worlds. Whoops!

When members of the infantry start winding up dead, a vile SS commander (played with ruthlessness by Gabriel Byrne) shows up to figure out what the heck is going on. Naturally, he starts killing people, too. Mann slides between more stark drama that one might expect from a film plunging headfirst into World War II geopolitics, while throwing supernatural curveballs that ensure every corner of the story feels haunted. Eventually, Scott Glenn shows up as a protector of the local village, which is being tortured by both Nazis and Radu Molasar, and the race is on to put an end to it.

Backed by Tangerine Dream’s ecclesiastic synth score and staged in some of the most beautiful, light-streaked stone sets ever made (can a Romanian temple be a liminal space?), The Keep is, no doubt, B-movie schlock. But in the hands of a master like Mann, it’s given the artful haze of a nightmare. — Matt Patches

The Keep is available to stream on The Criterion Channel, and for free with ads on Pluto TV. It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV .

Oct. 8: Samurai Jack — Episode XXXV: Jack and the Haunted House

Samurai Jack, wearing white, faces off against a monstrous smoke monster with white eyes in Samurai Jack.

Genndy Tartakovsky’s Samurai Jack is a series that contains multitudes. The premise of the show, concerning a samurai prince who is transported into a dystopian future by his nemesis, a tyrannical shape-shifting demon, and forced to trek across a strange and alien new world in search for a way back home, is one that afforded a wealth of storytelling opportunities that ranged from epic and comical to somber and horrifying. Episode 35, “Jack and the Haunted House,” fits squarely in the latter category.

While traveling alone one night, Jack happens upon a little girl crying in a forest. Chasing after her in an effort to console her, he finds himself drawn to a mysterious house whose malevolent energy plagues him with starting visions of an evil force preying upon helpless family. Jack’s drive to rescue the girl and her family from mortal peril however threatens to ensnare himself in the clutches of a spirit who thrives on transforming the house into an impossible labyrinth from which there is no escape.

“Jack and the Haunted House” is an especially impressive episode, not just for its explicit horror-centric premise, but for its depiction of the demon itself — a writhing mass of dark tendrils that coalesce into a ukiyo-e-style dragon with a leering jaw and piercing eyes. It’s a fantastic episode that strikes a keen balance between unnerving terror and the more action-focused emphasis of the series as a whole. —TE

Samurai Jack is available to stream on HBO Max . It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV.

Oct. 9: Steven Universe — Chille Tid

A blue person with blue hair cries out of their eyes and mouth in the Steven Universe episode Chille Tid

Steven Universe is no stranger to horror, and particularly body horror. A Crystal Gem’s body is the manifestation of their Gem — which itself is immutable — allowing them to shape-shift at will. It’s part of what makes the show beautiful; the Gem characters are all canonically nonbinary and can choose the body and gender expression that suits them. It also gives the show fertile ground to do terrifying things, like depict the consequence of Gem “experiments” that produce disgusting, roiling masses of animated disembodied limbs.

In this vein, “Chille Tid” gives kid-accessible visual language to serious concepts like power, consent, codependency, and martyrdom. The episode focuses on fusion, which up until this point has been depicted as incredibly beautiful. Fusion allows two Gems to morph together to create a larger Gem with the personality of their relationship. And the show treats this act with joy and reverence, building so much storytelling around the power of loving others. It also teaches the lesson that coercing another Gem into fusion is a deep breach of trust. (And by the way, in Gem World culture, fusing with a different type of Gem is a huge taboo — another bit of incisive real-world commentary from Steven Universe .)

In “Chille Tid,” Lapis, a depressed and incredibly powerful Crystal Gem, fuses with Jasper, a mercenary sent to destroy the Crystal Gems on Earth. The fusion is repugnant. Lapis martyrs herself — shackling herself to an abuser and sinking them into the ocean. You can see the large character they create fighting against water-created handcuffs that spring from the sea. This is only made worse when you know Lapis’ backstory: She only recently escaped imprisonment from an enchanted mirror. It’s a deeply frightening episode, especially for children’s television, but also as an adult — if you have ever escaped an abuser, you know the feeling too well. The imagery is unforgettable because it is real.

For those of you who worry, Lapis does break free. And she does eventually live in a renovated barn with Peridot, resulting in one of the best fanons of the show. — Nicole Clark

Steven Universe is available to stream on HBO Max and Hulu . It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon .

Oct. 10: The Last Winter

A person next to a snowmobile investigates a box with red text written on it in the icy tundra in The Last Winter.

Larry Fessenden’s underseen 2006 horror masterpiece The Last Winter was way ahead of the climate-horror wave that the rest of the world is only just catching up on. The movie follows a hodgepodge mix of government officials, scientists, and researchers sent to the freezing wilderness of Alaska in hopes of finding oil. The team is most concerned with digging into a wildlife reserve, and while the government’s liaison, Ed Pollack (played with menacing cruelty and almost-cartoon levels of evil by Ron Perlman) is gung-ho about drilling, a few of the scientists aren’t so sure. After several warnings not to, the group digs into the ice and disrupts long-dormant spirits, causing, of course, all hell to break loose.

Fessenden’s movie is notable not just for how great and watchable (and scary) it is on its own terms, but also for how effectively it synthesizes so many of the greatest horror subgenres into one story. It’s one of the best climate change horror movies, one of the best native-spirits-and-disturbed-land movies, a fantastic addition to the classic horror canon of the arctic expedition gone horribly wrong, and even fits nicely next to other government-creep-in-way-over-their-head movies like Aliens .

But for all its time spent tapping into horror history, The Last Winter ’s best feature is how unsettlingly it presents its own theme. As far as the movie is concerned, humanity is essentially a parasite to the natural world, and everything that goes wrong is the world simply fighting back to defend itself. Plenty of movies provide visions of the end of civilization, but few other than The Last Winter make it seem like the only reasonable option. — Austen Goslin

The Last Winter is available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV .

Oct. 11: Near Dark

Bill Paxton, wearing a leather jacket and dark sunglasses, smiles with blood all over his face and body in Near Dark.

“Can I have a bite?”

A sexy vampire western positively oozing with “cool,” there is no other movie like Near Dark . Kathryn Bigelow’s remarkable solo directorial debut started an excellent streak, leading right into Blue Steel , Point Break , and Strange Days .

Bigelow wanted to make a Western, but studios weren’t exactly champing at the bit to fund those in the 1980s. So she and co-writer Eric Red set out to combine the Western with another genre nearly as old as cinema itself: the vampire movie. The recent successes of Fright Night and The Lost Boys didn’t hurt, either.

Near Dark has fantastic action set-pieces — a barroom brawl and a shootout in a bungalow stand out in particular for their tension building and use of light, respectively. It’s also darkly funny, and filled with biting dramatic irony (a vampire giving a hickey to an unsuspecting neck, some acute early wordplay where your knowledge that this is a vampire movie changes everything).

The costumes are pitch-perfect, and the makeup is out of control (the effects to create the illusion of burning skin are simply astounding). But I can only go so far without talking about Bill Paxton. Paxton, who plays the out-of-control vampire Severen, is a force of nature in Near Dark . He is an electric presence at every turn, equal parts menacing and sexy, and is the most memorable part of an extremely memorable movie. — PV

Near Dark is available to stream on The Criterion Channel.

Oct. 12: Tetsuo: The Iron Man

A man is consumed by metal, with only his eyes, nose and mouth peering out, in Tetsuo: The Iron Man.

There are a lot of creative ways to describe Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1989 body-horror masterpiece: “cult classic,” “visionary,” “incredibly fucked up,” to name a few. The description I’ve more or less settled on is “transhumanist body-horror supervillain love story.”

The first 15 minutes of Tetsuo hit like an adrenaline boost shot straight to the occipital lobe, chronicling the story of a salaryman and his girlfriend who accidentally run over a mysterious eccentric with a body-morphing “metal fetish.” Later, upon realizing they have both been infected with same affliction, the couple probes at the newfound physical, psychological, and sexual dimensions of their bizarre condition, all while their victim turned adversary plots his revenge from the shadows.

Tsukamoto’s magnum opus is horrifying, horny, and endlessly original, constantly reinventing itself with frenzied stop-motion montage and cackling quick-cut audio cues that keep the viewer at the edge of their seat. Chu Ishikawa’s score feels like the spiritual antecedent to electronic music acts like Nine Inch Nails and Portishead, with its droning industrial clamor and burst-fire drum loops searing into your eardrums like acid eating away at sheet metal.

While a natural precursor to contemporary films like Julia Ducournau’s Titane and David Cronenberg’s Crash , you’ll soon enough discover — even after more than three decades and two sequels — there still hasn’t been anything else quite like it since. If you don’t have the stomach for sadomasochistic body-modding or gore, it’s totally fine to give this one a pass. If you do happen to give it a chance, though, you’ll be treated to a visceral and unforgettable experience. –TE

Tetsuo: The Iron Man is available to stream on The Criterion Channel and Shudder, or for free with a library card on Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Apple TV .

Oct. 13: Rigor Mortis

An undead person has coins chained to his face in Rigor Mortis

Describing this Hong Kong vampire movie is an extremely complicated process. On its surface, Rigor Mortis is a vampire/demon/ghost action movie. But when you dig a little deeper, it’s also a mini time capsule and a tribute to the supernatural horror cinema of Hong Kong’s past.

The movie follows a man who arrives at a massive concrete apartment building that seems to be haunted by every spirit you could imagine. He’s a past-his-prime actor and intends to take his own life. When he tries, twin spirits attempt to possess his body, but then they’re stopped by a retired vampire hunter who now runs the apartment’s restaurant. What else would a vampire hunter do when there are no vampires left?

This entire sequence only covers the movie’s first 10 or so minutes, and is a perfect setup for the specific brand of knowing, in-on-the-joke supernatural action ever present in Rigor Mortis — which of course does eventually involve a vampire. It’s the kind of early-2010s movie where the entire environment is gray, just so the production has an excuse to paint it red when the fights come. All of this may sound ridiculous (and it definitely is), but somehow Rigor Mortis manages to strike the perfect balance of a so-serious-it’s-silly tone and modulates between the two moods with ease. It pivots from scenes of people trapping spirits in wardrobes to someone desperately trying to perform a spiritual ritual to resurrect their loved one, giving enough gravity to each that they can all come off as sincere.

As entertaining as Rigor Mortis is, it also has a secret. While not necessary to getting the movie, it does add another level of enjoyment. See, the protagonist is named Chin Siu-ho, which is also the name of the actor who’s playing him, who also happened to be the star of the legendary Hong Kong horror series Mr. Vampire. In other words, it’s a movie about a real-world retired actor/martial artist who once played a vampire hunter, now meets a fictional retired vampire hunter, and then joins in on the vampire hunting one more time. – AG

Rigor Mortis is available to stream on Peacock and Hi-Yah!, for free with ads on Plex and Tubi, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV .

Oct. 14: Witchfinder General

Vincent Price with curly grey hair in and old-fashioned outfit with pronounced buttons in Witchfinder General.

Vincent Price is an icon of horror whose camp yet commanding presence defined so many of the lurid, theatrical British and American horror movies of the 1960s and ’70s. His 1968 star vehicle Witchfinder General looks like it’s going to be one of those films, but beware. This is a bitter, realist, historical kind of horror, and both the film and Price’s performance are deadly serious.

Witchfinder General was adapted from a novel, and loosely based on the exploits of a historical character: Matthew Hopkins , an English witch hunter who claimed, falsely, to have been awarded the title of “witchfinder general” by Parliament. During the English Civil War of the 1640s, a time of paranoia and lawlessness, Hopkins rampaged freely around the East Anglian countryside, sending over 100 people to the gallows on suspicion of witchcraft.

Although it plays fast and loose with the historical record, this grim, low-budget thriller doesn’t truck with the supernatural. It’s all about the evil of man. Price, in one of his iciest performances, plays Hopkins as a manipulative fascist and sadist; in a way, a kind of serial killer. When he targets a kindly priest and the priest’s niece Sara (Hilary Dwyer), he’s pitted against the niece’s betrothed, a valiant Roundhead soldier (Ian Ogilvy).

But there’s nothing heroic about the struggle in this film, which, playing out in an eerily becalmed country landscape, feels desperate and suffocated. Dwyer unleashes some of cinema’s most unnerving and memorable screams over the bleak final scenes. Director Michael Reeves was just 24 when he made Witchfinder General , and died of an overdose shortly after its release: a tragic early end to a promising career that has only added to the mystique of this unsparing movie. –OW

Witchfinder General is available to stream for free with a library card on Hoopla. Enterprising readers can also find the whole thing on YouTube.

Oct. 15: The Hunger

David Bowie looks old in The Hunger, wearing a hat and big glasses ahead of shuttered blinds.

How many other vampire movies open with a subterranean goth nightclub scene set to Bauhaus’ “Bela Legosi’s Dead” featuring David Bowie, the Thin White Duke himself?

The late Tony Scott’s 1983 vampire horror film stars Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie as Miriam and John Blaylock, two vampires living in New York who spend their time in relative leisure, playing the cello in their darkened mansion by day and stalking their prey at night.

As John inexplicably finds his vitality and youth sapped away despite his immortal body, he seeks out answers and aid in the form of Dr. Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), a gerontologist studying effects of different blood types on the process of aging. It’s not long, however, that Miriam, who first sired John 200 years ago, sets her sights on claiming Roberts as the latest in her long line of lovers.

Shot with icy blue color grading and lighting juxtaposed with cavernous shadows shot inside John and Miriam’s luxurious New York penthouse, The Hunger is an absolute feast for the senses. Bowie delivers a characteristically phenomenal performance as John, equal parts charming and aloof in his brief yet memorable on-screen presence, and Deneuve is a sultry and tragic antagonist in her performance as Miriam. Sarandon gives an equally captivating performance as a scientist who yearns for immortality in the form of fame and recognition only to find it in the physical and spiritual form of vampiric longevity. If you’re looking for a horror film as terrifying as it is sexy, look no further than Scott’s horror classic. –TE

The Hunger is available to stream on HBO Max and Watch TCM. It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Vudu, and Google Play.

Oct. 16: Carnival of Souls

A man peers into a car window as a woman looks on from the driver’s seat. The image is in black and white.

At a lean 78 minutes, the 1962 mind game Carnival of Souls has no time to waste on scene-setting or character-building: It opens two seconds before the action starts, with a drag race that quickly goes wrong, plunging one of the competitors into a murky river. When one of the car’s passengers, Mary (Candace Hilligoss), improbably emerges from the water a full three hours later, it’s clear that something’s off about her, but it takes writer John Clifford and indie director Herk Harvey the rest of the film’s unnerving run time to fully reveal what’s really going on.

Compared to modern horror, Carnival of Souls is lacking in big scares and gory terror, but it became a cult hit (and a major influence on horror directors like George A. Romero) for a reason: Harvey has a strong command of eerie tone and unsettling imagery. A creepy organ score, an escalating sense of something just not right , and a sense of deep dread all hang over the film, casting a dreamy spell as Mary staggers through her subsequent life. Harvey himself shows up in the film as an eerie presence, stalking Mary with ill-omened intent.

Hilligoss’ huge, haunted eyes and overall sense of fragility make her a memorable protagonist, but the real star of Carnival of Souls may be the abandoned Saltair Pavilion in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Harvey sets much of the action. He paid $50 for the rights to shoot in the disintegrating, isolated old spa, a setting that looks like it has its own ghosts and its own nightmarish backstory. Carnival of Souls is vintage cult horror, but it stands up today as a memorable experience, and the trek through that nightmare pavilion is a big reason it’s endured. — Tasha Robinson

Carnival of Souls is available to stream on HBO Max , Paramount Plus , The Criterion Channel, and Prime Video , for free with a library card on Hoopla, or for free with ads on Vudu and Tubi .

Oct. 17 – Don’t Look Now

Donald Sutherland screams in grief while holding a lifeless figure in a red raincoat by a lake in Don’t Look Now

Horror movies are often vehicles for creators to give insight into big, complicated topics like religion, hope, death, or even fear itself. But rarely has any horror movie met the subject of grief as head-on as Don’t Look Now does, or managed to tackle the challenge in such a profound and sad way.

This 1973 horror classic from director Nicolas Roeg follows a couple who move to Venice after their daughter tragically drowns (yes, Venice the city full of canals; yes, it is a bad idea). From there, the couple meets a pair of older women, one of whom claims to have psychic powers and insists that the couple’s daughter is still alive, which simultaneously heals and hurts the couple’s quickly fraying relationship.

To help sell the overwhelming weight that grief can put on a person and the way it can reshape their world, Roeg turns Venice’s endless alleyways, bridges, and water into something like a dreamscape, folding them in on each other and creating vast distances out of each canal. The city feels at once claustrophobic and miles wide, perfectly reflecting the confusion, and utter dismay of the characters and creating an atmosphere of tension that’s rarely achieved in a movie with as few direct and overt scares as this one. But that’s the kind of movie Don’t Look Now is, one that will sit with you like quiet grief for years to come, without ever making you jump out of your seat. – AG

Don’t Look Now is available to stream on Prime Video , for free with ads on Pluto TV, or for free with a library card on Kanopy. It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.

Oct. 18 – The Faculty

A many tentacled monster rises out of a school pool while two young people look on in The Faculty

Before you see a single image, The Faculty kicks off with the blood-pumping guitar riff that opens The Offspring’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright.” It’s the film’s promise to you: This is a movie about teens in trouble. And it’s going to fucking rock.

Directed by Robert Rodriguez from a story by David Wechter and Bruce Kimmel and with rewrites from late-’90s slasher king Kevin Williamson, The Faculty is the under-sung pinnacle of teen horror’s era of self-awareness.

In The Faculty , an Ohio high school becomes hell for its students when alien parasites infect the school faculty, turning them into murderous hosts that conspire to infect a group of students at first, and then the whole town. As the parasites spread and get more powerful, the odds of survival rapidly dwindle — and a Breakfast Club -esque motley crew bands together to defeat the invaders.

Part of the fun of The Faculty is in its genre pastiche: The movie is a winking mashup of sci-fi horror classics like The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers , while fitting in neatly with contemporaries like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer (both written by Kevin Williamson). Another part is its astonishing cast of early-career stars: The Fast & Furious franchise’s Jordana Brewster appears, as does Jon Stewart, Famke Janssen, Elijah Wood, and Usher himself. With a crisp script that moves at an incredible clip and wonderfully gross-but-not-too-gross practical effects, The Faculty is a goddamn rollercoaster of a film, a great horror movie for people who want some scares for sure, but are mostly down for a great time with a movie. – Joshua Rivera

The Faculty is available to stream on HBO Max , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.

Oct. 19 – Unfriended: Dark Web

A young man with bloodshot eyes pleads with the camera, as a woman is barely visible in the bottom right insert of another camera.

In the year of our lord 2022, there’s absolutely no reason anyone needs to feel pressured to join another video call, and only slightly less reason for someone to feel utterly glued to a computer window. Unfriended: Dark Web is the psychopathic exception to both these rules, a horror movie told strictly from the desktop of Matias (Colin Woodell). During the course of his Skype call with his friends (this was pre-pandemic, if the app choice gives you pause), their night collectively descends into terror as the original owners of his laptop come a-callin’.

Though Dark Web is a sequel to 2015’s Unfriended , the two are unrelated, and, in my opinion, the pitch-black bleakness of Dark Web makes it the better spooky month watch. Here the dark web is just as otherworldly as any supernatural presence, and the film never lets up as it descends into digital chaos. There’s something to Dark Web about the ease with which our online life can bleed (literally) into our real lives, and how we’re all easier marks than we’d expect. But for those who just like to see a group of kids get taken out one by one, it’s also just straightforwardly that . Like with The Thing , there’s an appeal to watching people methodically try several reasonable steps to get themselves out of trouble.

But this being a horror movie, there’s only so much you can do. To get caught in the web of Unfriended 2 is to actually let yourself live out a slasher movie that’s darker than just another Zoom invite: a thriller based in the world we actually live in, or at least the dark underbelly beneath it. After Unfriended: Dark Web , that extra Zoom invite might not seem like the worst call in the world. But if your laptop background never fully feels secure again — well, you can always go outside. — Zosha Millman

Unfriended: Dark Web is available to stream on Peacock , or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.

Oct. 20: In the Mouth of Madness

Sam Neill, sitting in a movie theater alone with a tub of popcorn, gapes at the screen in awe in the movie In the Mouth of Madness

Despite his enormous and complicated influence, there are few good direct adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft. The best ones are indirect homages, like John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness , a movie that is equal parts unsettling, meta, and just plain fun .

The film stars Jurassic Park ’s Sam Neill, who plays an insurance investigator, John Trent, who’s hired to find Sutter Cane, a wildly successful horror writer gone missing. Cane’s work, some say, is so affecting that it drives them to madness, as Trent learns one day when Cane is attacked by a crazed man with an ax — a man who, Trent learns after police shoot him dead, was Sutter Cane’s agent.

This is where things get weird: In his search for Cane, Trent begins reading the novelist’s work and discovers clues that Hobb’s End, the fictional setting of many of Cane’s novels, may be a real place. As he drives off into the ominous woods of New England in search of it, the line between what is real and what isn’t begins to blur for Trent, and he begins to find himself in a horror story of his own.

A lesser-known work from a modern master, In the Mouth of Madness is a tightly wound clock of paranoia, a recursive nightmare that asks where the line is between fears real and imagined. It’s perfect for those who want a horror movie that’s more creepy than scary, and a work that effortlessly toes the line between schlock and craft. Consider it the ultimate B-movie version of the more blockbuster-friendly Cabin in the Woods : a horror story about horror stories, a fun take on a specific brand of nightmare where no one has fun at all. – JR

In the Mouth of Madness is available to rent or purchase digitally on Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.

Oct. 21: The Girl With All the Gifts

A young girl wears a Hannibal Lecter-style clear mask around her face, with blood around her mouth, in The Girl With All the Gifts.

Much like the M.R. Carey book it adapts, Colm McCarthy’s bloody horror-action movie The Girl With All the Gifts is best experienced without any kind of spoilers or plot summary going in. It’s a journey of discovery that unfolds in a particularly cautious and calculated way, and discovering its exact subgenre of horror without advance warning is a big part of the experience. It starts with a classroom where children in prison jumpsuits are heavily restrained, held under military guard, and presided over by a hostile supervisor (Paddy Considine) and a patrician doctor (Glenn Close), who treat them like feral animals. Why exactly that’s the case takes a while to unfold, and if you enjoy surprises, you should stop reading right here and jump straight to the streaming links.

For people who are more specific and selective about their horror and need to know what they’re getting into before they jump in, though, here’s a little more: The Girl With All the Gifts is a straight-up zombie movie, but it’s one that sympathizes as much with the infected as the survivors making their way through the usual dangerous postapocalyptic wasteland full of flesh-eating hordes. Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a young girl infected with the zombie virus but (mostly) capable of restraint and control, winds up as the central figure in a drama built around the adults trying to use her and her classmates to understand and cure the zombie plague.

The whole story ends up being a tender fable with some particularly vivid and winning performances and a memorable-as-hell ending. This 2016 film was a little early to the ongoing wave of “What kind of world are we leaving our children?” horror and sci-fi movies, and it answers that question in a way that’s sweet and sad — after enough intense flesh-eating action to make this a solid entry in the zombie-movie canon. — TR

The Girl With All the Gifts is available to watch for free with ads on YouTube , Vudu , and Tubi , for free with a library card on Hoopla, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu.

Oct. 22 – Black Summer – “The Cold”

A very chilled zombie has ice in his beard in Black Summer.

A criminally underrated horror show , Black Summer is one of the best things streaming on Netflix, full stop. A spinoff of Z Nation from Karl Schaefer ( The Dead Zone ) and Polygon favorite John Hyams ( Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning , Alone ), it’s a tense, ground-level depiction of the first days of a zombie apocalypse. The show starts six weeks after the start of the apocalypse, and follows a mother (Jamie King) searching for her lost daughter, and the cast of characters she meets along the way.

What makes Black Summer stand out from the rest is the sharp direction – Hyams directs about half of the episodes, with Abram Cox ( Miss Nobody ) filling in for the other half. It’s the rare streaming show that has real, capable movie directors behind the camera, and that’s never been more apparent than in the season 2 premiere, “The Cold.”

Black Summer leans on sequences that read like one-takes [ ed. note: it’s very rare to find a real oner out in the wild ], playing up the tension inherent to a zombie apocalypse with the technical acumen to actually pull off such ambitious sequences. “Luke and Sophie” opens with one such sequence, starting with a man siphoning gas out of a car into a disgusting KFC bucket, keeping an eye on a lurking zombie about a hundred yards away, and continuing in an exhilarating seven-minute one-take sequence that includes seeing someone turn into a zombie, a temporary change in protagonists, an intense car sequence, and a contemplative zombie staring at his own reflection. It’s a great example of how the show can ratchet from 0 to 60 in an instant, with edge-of-your seat action. You can watch it without any additional context, and it’ll give you a pretty perfect idea of whether this show is for you. – PV

Black Summer is available to watch on Netflix.

Oct. 23 – Lake Mungo

A young man in a t-shirt sits and talks to the camera, while two older people sit next to him and look at him in Lake Mungo.

Grief, ghosts, and early camera phones are at the center of this excellent Australian found-footage horror movie. Lake Mungo takes a docufiction approach to telling the story of the Palmer family, whose teenage daughter, Alice, has recently drowned while swimming in the body of water the movie gets its name from. The family is consumed with grief, but everything gets a little stranger when Alice’s brother Matthew starts discovering certain ways to seemingly make Alice’s ghost appear in their house; at least, that’s what he claims is happening.

The movie’s investigation into loss and its effects on families takes up most of its space, but it’s also full of little moments about the secret lives that teenagers lead, pulling in a half-dozen Twin Peaks -style discoveries about Alice’s secrets. Despite all this making for some fun twists, Lake Mungo is at its best when it’s a slightly slower contemplation of whether or not moving on is really possible and if memories, even the very worst ones, keep people’s spirits in the world a little longer.

Perhaps Lake Mungo ’s most effective device in conveying this theme, and one place it separates from most found-footage films, is by calling into question some of the footage we’re being shown. Matthew’s ghostly images, and their legitimacy, are called into question several times throughout the movie, which ultimately leads us to question everything we’re seeing. But by giving us a purposefully unreliable perspective, one that’s manipulated so clearly by the characters themselves, it sends us further into the minds and the grief of the Palmer family in a way that simple talking head interviews or confessionals never could. — AG

Lake Mungo is available to watch for free with ads on Tubi, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple , and Google Play.

Oct. 24 – Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight

A terrifying skeletal creature with stringy hair and bright yellow/green eyes in Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight.

It took years of comparisons to Evil Dead for me to sit down for a brisk 90 minutes with Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight . Learn from my mistake and don’t waste an extra second. In short, a battle between humanity and the Very Embodiment of Evil plays out in a dilapidated boarding house in nowheresville, New Mexico. Our heroes kill demons by dousing them with the literal blood of Jesus Christ, and Billy Zane punches a man so hard that his fist gets stuck in the dude’s skull. Demon Knight is that special sort of movie that makes you shout “movies rule” as Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot” blares over the closing credits.

If there’s any good left in this world, everyone reading this list will watch the film, dramatically boosting its streaming numbers and convincing studio execs at whichever megacorporation owns the rights to revive Tales From the Cryp t. In the 1990s, we got weird shit like this on late-night TV nearly every weekend. We didn’t know how good we had it. – CP

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight is available to stream on Peacock or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu .

Oct. 25 – Eyes of Fire

A little gremlin child with catlike eyes in Eyes of Fire.

Eyes of Fire is not the movie you turn on when you’re looking for bone-chilling horror. The 1983 independent folk horror movie is far too bygone in its thrills, as it follows a preacher leading his followers into the Colonial-era wilderness in search of a new settlement.

But if you’re looking to better trace the evolution of horror as a genre, exploring the oft-forgotten rings of the tree that branched to where we are now, Eyes of Fire is a must. This is a dated story, made all the richer for it. The art department got looped into Nightmare on Elm Street because of their work here, and it shows , man. As the plot of land they pick slowly reveals itself to be a site of evil, the seams of the production become evident and evocative in their confounding realism, resulting in a technicolor terror that’s often kind of gross (in a fun way). It’s just fucking weird and it’s a delight to get to roam through.

Eyes of Fire is best seen through that lens: a journey into the frontier for both the viewer and the group of Colonial settlers. The movie doesn’t go all the way with its cosmic horror, but it more thoroughly engages with the extent of it than other, (maybe!) more immediately recognizable titles. In Eyes of Fire the natural world is beautiful and serene, but it’s rarely truly peaceful. That’s what’s so fucking scary about it. — Zosha Millman

Eyes of Fire is available to stream on AMC+ through Prime Video or Shudder .

Oct. 26 – The Last Thing Mary Saw

A woman in old fashioned garb with a white hat has a black line over her eyes in The Last Thing Mary Saw.

American folk horror has a few different strands and subgenres, but perhaps the most prominent deal with early American witchcraft. Films like The Witch have helped resurrect the genre for modern audiences, but movies like 1983’s Eyes of Fire continue to hold up as cult classics — as this list has already described. The Last Thing Mary Saw is a relatively new addition to this specifically American subgenre, but with its unique approach to witchcraft already sets itself apart as a worthy addition.

The Last Thing Mary Saw follows Mary, a girl wearing a blindfold, telling a local authority the story of how she came to be blind and what happened to her family. During her story, the movie cuts back to earlier in Mary’s life, when she lived with an overbearing (and complicated) religious family and the family’s serving girl, Eleanor, who Mary has a secret romance with. This central relationship is tender and sweet, but the framing narrative tinges the entire story with a note of inevitable tragedy.

Of course, it’s also a folk horror movie, which means there’s plenty of terrifying witchcraft and creepy spiritualism underlying the movie’s foreboding atmosphere and tragic lost love.

While most traditional folk horror movies position witchcraft as a force of liberation, especially versus the religious conservatism of that particular moment in American history, The Last Thing Mary Saw takes a different approach, casting both belief systems as tools that can be used hand-in-hand as systems of oppression against the movie’s most vulnerable characters. By turning both witchcraft and more traditional religion into tools, The Last Thing Mary Saw goes from an intimate and creepy one-house horror movie to something far more unsettling and special. — Austen Goslin

The Last Thing Mary Saw is available to watch on AMC+ through Prime Video and Shudder. It is also available for digital rental or purchase on Amazon , Apple T V, Google Play, and Vudu.

Oct. 27 The Descent

A woman screams, covered in blood

Claustrophobes, steer clear of this movie; it’s terrifying even before it dips into pure horror. Writer-director Neil Marshall (who went on to tackle the metaller-than-thou 2019 take on Hellboy ) sends six friends — all women — on a caving expedition in North Carolina. Interpersonal tensions, a nasty accident, and some legendarily bad decision-making has the group on edge even before the CHUDs show up to really derail everyone’s holiday.

And even before that , Marshall crafts an oppressive thriller that makes the audience really feel the weight of the rock above the protagonists, as they strain to navigate slippery slopes and painfully tight spaces. One of the hardest parts of modern horror is finding a way to effectively isolate the victims in a world of cellphones and easy interconnectivity, where help is potentially a phone call away. The Descent is a natural answer to that problem: Just seeing what the lead characters have to do to move from one hazardous cavern to the next makes it stunningly clear that they’re well beyond the range of help, and they’re going to have to forge their own survival out of physical toughness and the resources on hand.

The Descent has some all-time classic reveal scares that play with the caves’ limited light sources and intermittent visibility, but it also excels at the slow-burn tension, with plenty of nail-biting “this is not going to go well” sequences designed for a very dark room and a very good sound system. Be prepared for a strong urge to go outside and breathe some fresh, clean air afterward. — TR

The Descent is available to stream on Paramount Plus , Amazon Prime , and Shudder , or for free with ads on Tubi . It is also available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Google Play, and Vudu .

Oct. 28 – The Invisible Man

A wild-haired blonde woman, grimacing in distress, is dragged along the floor by her feet by two people only seen from the waist down.

In an era of horror when everything is more nakedly a metaphor for trauma, the concept can start to show its wear. When everything is using the genre to attempt profundity about the darkest days of our life it begins to feel like no one is, or at least not with any flair or insight.

The Invisible Man (2020) is the exception to the rule, partly because it’s actually wedding its concept to its execution at a very basic level. Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) has left her abusive boyfriend and moved in with her best friend (Aldis Hodge), and even after a few months, the sense of dread undergirding a horror-thriller is still a defining experience of her world. Until her boyfriend dies, leaving her money under the condition she’s never institutionalized — a fairly easy qualification, at least before she starts feeling like he’s still very much around, possibly even invisibly (as the name suggests) hunting her.

The film is a major departure from the classic Universal Classic Monster that inspired it (RIP to the Dark Universe, or whatever), but it’s all the better for it, using its concept to explore the absolute bleakness of the world Cecilia faces. It helps that writer-director Leigh Whannell lets the world feel tautly tense even in smaller moments, sleek and slick with unease, at almost every turn. When the Invisible Man is menacing you he is everywhere and nowhere. And that presence (such that it is) threatens Cecilia constantly, without bogging the narrative down in too much minutiae of the situation.

The Invisible Man works so well it feels like one of the reasons we keep getting inelegant trauma-as-text horror films with some regularity. Like its titular monster, the possibility that it can work is all over and hard to spot. Invisible Man just makes it look easy. —ZM

The Invisible Man is available to watch for free with ads on Freevee, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon , Apple TV , Vudu, and Google Play.

Oct. 29 — Creepy

Hidetoshi Nishijima looks to his right while wearing a white collared shirt in Creepy. The background is filled with green trees.

Between Pulse and Cure , Kiyoshi Kurosawa has directed two of the most celebrated horror movies of the past 30 years. But one of his more recent efforts is just as unsettling, if not more so, earning its unnerving title and deserving your time.

A criminal psychologist (Hidetoshi Nishijima, the lead in Drive My Car ) gets pulled into a cold case from his former career as a detective. As the mystifying case absorbs him more and more, odd events start happening in his neighborhood. What exactly happens is best left unsaid, but it’s a masterful work by one of our greatest living directors.

The blocking in this domestic horror drama is sensational, with Kurosawa framing characters with extreme precision, often in front of symmetrical windows or uncomfortably close to each other (after you watch the movie, check out this MUBI video essay on proximity in the movie). This precision plays up the (titular) atmosphere of the movie to a discomforting degree, and also leaves you with the impression you’ve just watched a work by someone in complete control of his visual powers. — PV

Creepy is available to watch for free with ads on Tubi, The Roku Channel, and Pluto TV, for free with a library card on Kanopy, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple .

Oct. 30 — My house walk-through

A skeletal body lies on a dirty futon in My house walk-through. The body is wearing a pink dress. The bottom half is face down, while the upper half is sideways.

If you’ve ever fallen down a YouTube rabbit hole of algorithmically curated house tours and home improvement videos, this short film ought to scare the daylights out of you. Uploaded to YouTube on Oct, 16, 2016, the description for My house walk-through reads as follows: “This is not horror video [ sic ]. This video was created simply by filming inside my house.” At the risk of overstating the obvious, a single viewing of the film itself will attest otherwise.

Directed by the Japanese visual artist, animator, and experimental filmmaker PiroPito, the 12-minute short follows an unseen protagonist as they film a video inside their home during what they claim to be a typhoon. A recursive nightmare of impossible architecture, grotesque DeepDream-like surfaces, and purgatorial dread, My house walk-through is like if Hideo Kojima’s 2014 horror game P.T. were to channel the uncanny “everything is fine” artifice of lifestyle vlogging to nauseating effect. The horrors are unending, but hey — it’s free real estate! —TE

My house walk-through is available to stream on YouTube .

Oct. 31 — Noroi: The Curse

A figure with a distorted face walks forward in a house in Noroi: The Curse, wearing a long-sleeved shirt.

True to the film’s subtitle, Kōji Shiraishi’s 2005 cult classic is a film that feels genuinely cursed; the rare example of a found-footage horror movie that feels like it was actually unearthed from a rotted box of VHS tapes left in some forgotten corner of a storage unit. Noroi follows the story of Masafumi Kobayashi, a paranormal researcher and documentary filmmaker who, after investigating a series of strange phenomena connected to an ancient demon known as “Kagutaba,” mysteriously vanishes following a fire that claims his home and the life of his wife. The film retraces Kobayashi’s investigation from its earliest days to the night of his disappearance, all the while documenting the destruction and havoc left in Kagutaba’s wake.

When I say that Noroi feels cursed, I’m not being cute or glib, I mean it. This might be one of the most terrifying films I’ve ever seen. Its verisimilitude and world-building is tremendous, its use of handheld digital photography, 16mm footage, and visual artifacting exceptional. Its scares are as understated and missable as they are bone-chilling and inexplicable. Few if any other found-footage films released since or even before have risen to meet the standard for which Noroi: The Curse so inimitably holds. One cannot help but wonder if that’s a good thing. —TE

Noroi: The Curse is available to stream on Shudder, on AMC+ through Prime Video , and for digital rental or purchase via Amazon and Apple TV . — TE

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The 30 best horror movies that will haunt you long after the credits roll

From monsters and slashers to haunted hotels, here are the best horror movies to watch right now

For horror fans, there’s nothing like cozying up with some quality scares when the weather is bleak – especially when you’re easing yourself into a new year – and the best horror movies are always on hand to deliver a much-needed comfort watch.

Some people may balk at the idea of a horror movie being comforting, but there’s something about returning to a firm favorite or discovering an erstwhile unwatched classic that can be delightfully therapeutic – going on a white-knuckle journey with a familiar final girl or a newly beloved hero and coming out the other end relatively unscathed – and when we’re battling the winter blues, diving into the darker side of cinema can be a welcome distraction.

Our list of the best horror movies of all time covers a varied range of devilish diversions, whether you’re looking for ghostly goings on or straight-up slashers, toothy beasts be it vampires or zombies or sharks or aliens ready to make you their next meal, modern meditations on trauma or serial killer rampages, occult nightmares or comedic love letters to the genre, witches, werewolves or wicker men. 

There’s no shame in indulging your appetite for hibernating with the horrific, so lean into that darkness. Pop on the kettle, grab that blanket and some popcorn, and snuggle down with something truly terrifying for a cathartic retreat into terror… these monsters will have you screaming yourself hoarse and happy in no time. 

Read more: New horror movies | Best Netflix horror movies | Best witch movies | Best haunted house movies | Best horror movie remakes | Best horror movie sequels | Best vampire movies | Best horror comedies | Best horror movies for scaredy cats | Best zombie movies | Cheap tricks horror movies use to scare you | Best Shudder movies | The best movie drinking games

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30. Near Dark (1987)

The movie: Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s Southern Gothic vampire flick follows Caleb (Adrian Pasdar), a young man forced to join a travelling band of bloodsuckers after he’s bitten by one of their crew - his beautiful and brutal love interest, Mae (Jenny Wright). Bill Paxton, Lance Henrickson, and Jenette Goldstein add to the fray, with stellar performances across the board bringing the neck-tearing terror to life. It’s a tale of vampires as family, told in a neo-Western style that breathes fresh life (or death) into the ubiquitous subgenre and which has garnered a cult following over the years thanks to its striking visuals and set pieces.

Why it’s scary: The unpredictability and savagery of the vampires in Near Dark leaves a lasting impression. These are blood-soaked killers on the rampage, killing to feed but also apparently for fun, and the group includes not only unhinged immortals as you’d expect them but also an unsettling vampire child in Joshua Miller’s Homer. It’s made very, terrifyingly clear that once the sun goes down there’s no escape, so you had better pray for daylight. 

29. Saw (2004)

The movie: It might have reignited the so-called torture porn genre with its (mostly) truly disgusting sequels but - and this is a huge 'but' - the original Saw is nowhere near as gross-gusting as you think it is and happens to be brilliant horror. Yes, the title is about an implement that a depraved killer suggests someone takes their leg off with rather than use a key to unlock a cuff, but Saw is actually remarkably restrained. The ideas at work here are significantly more grisly in your own mind than what you see on screen. Made on a shoestring budget by Leigh Whannell and James Wan, this tale of two men waking up in a bathroom, a corpse between them, is twisted but constantly intriguing. 

Why it’s scary: Put simply, we all play Jigsaw’s game along with our heroes. What would we be willing to do to save our own miserable lives? Would we be Amanda, ready to go into a stomach to find a key, or would we sit and wait for an ultra gruesome fate? Throw in the genuine terror of ‘Billy’, Jigsaw’s painted cycling doll, and one of the most terrifying extended jump-scare sequences potentially ever, and Saw still manages to pack a barbed-wire-covered punch. 

Read more: Here's how Saw became one of the biggest names in horror

28. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The movie: Just like a certain dungaree-clad possessed doll, Freddy Krueger fell firmly into killer clown territory as the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise evolved over the years. Sure, he’ll spray your organs all over the walls but you’ll die laughing, right? Look back at Wes Craven’s original movie, though, and Freddy isn’t to be trifled with. Our selective memories mean we often forget that this serial child killer’s burns come from him being incinerated by an angry mob of parents. Living eternally through their fear and guilt, Freddy becomes the ultimate boogeyman when he dons his favorite murder glove and goes after a whole new generation of Springwood spawn while they slumber.    

Why it’s scary: Bed is meant to be safe. Secure. Free of razor-sharp blades ready to plunge through your chest at any given moment... Robert Englund’s Freddy might be horrible to look at but it’s the very idea of falling asleep and never waking up again that’s the true terrifying kicker here. The desperation of Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy and her friends as they strive to stay awake to stay alive. No amount of caffeine or loud music can save you now, dreams are waiting and that’s where a maniac lurks menacingly in the dark to end your life. Yes, the whole movie is worth it alone for Johnny Depp’s spectacularly splattery death scene, but A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t one to press the snooze button on. 

27. Evil Dead 2 (1987)

The movie: So many Evil Dead 2 questions, so little time. Is it a remake? Is it a sequel? Would it actually be physically possible to switch out your missing (presumed possessed) hand for a chainsaw with relative ease? Well, thankfully, Bruce Campbell himself has answered the first two and explained that Sam Raimi’s cabin-based comedy horror is, in fact, a 'requel.' Whereas the original Evil Dead followed a group of twenty-somethings to a holiday house from hell, the sequel revolves exclusively around Campbell’s Ash and his girlfriend Linda as they attempt to survive after playing a reading of the Necronomicon aloud. I'd be remiss if I didn't warn you about someone being beheaded with a garden tool post-reading.

Why it’s scary: Evil Dead 2 is perfect comedy horror. While it might not send you shrieking away from your screen, there’s a delightfully depraved viscerality to proceedings. Eyes in mouths, wall to wall gore, chainsaws feeling like the only option. It’s worth noting here, too, that if you do want something a little less punctuated with the word ‘groovy,’ then the Evil Dead remake from Fede Alvarez is truly something that can get under your skin. Where Evil Dead 2’s grim is played for much-appreciated laughs and you’ll embrace the physical effects, Alvarez’s reboot errs distinctly on the unnerving side, making them a perfect double bill. 

26. The Babadook (2014) 

The movie: On release, Jennifer Kent’s haunted pop-up book became a whole generation’s boogeyman seemingly overnight. "Have you seen The Babadook? I didn’t sleep all night," was hissed gleefully across offices and pubs. And for good reason. The Babadook is scary. The tale of a young grieving widow trying to look after her young son, this is a movie that sneaks under your skin and stays there. It also makes you ask yourself a lot of questions. What would you do with a pop-up book about a creepy black-clad figure in a top hat? Would you read it to your already traumatized young son? What if he begged? And how would you deal with the ‘haunting’ that follows…?  

Why it’s scary: Like the best horror movies on this list, the Babadook isn’t just about scaring its audience. The parallels between grief and depression are no accident and it’s interesting to note that one of the most disturbing sequences in the movie has nothing to do with a monster, but everything to do with a young mother losing control of her son while she tries to drive. On the surface, you might mistake The Babadook for something from The Conjuring universe but delve in and this is an intelligent, grueling fright-fest with a knowledge of exactly what you’re afraid of. Even if you didn’t know it when you sat down to watch. 

25. The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

The movie: By 2011, we were having a self-referential horror crisis. Scream 4 was out and had an intro multiple layers deep, smashing the fourth wall into pieces with horror-ception as character after character quipped about the masked slasher genre. But where could comedy horror go next? How many times could a leading actress say “I saw this in a movie once” without us wanting to remove our own eyes and never watch horror again? Well, it turns out that there was still some life in the reanimated corpse yet.  The Cabin in the Woods manages to pin not just one horror trope but every single one, like someone armed with a laser sight and Final Destination 3’s nail gun. When this lot of attractive twenty-somethings head to the titular spot, they get significantly more than they bargained for. Oh, and Chris Hemsworth is one of them. Now you’re interested…  

Why it’s scary: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s creation is no mere comedy escapade. I’m staying spoiler-free here because it’s too good, but just like the It movie and its monster’s multiple faces, The Cabin in the Woods will tackle plenty of your phobias. This is a creature feature like you’ve never seen before with gallons of gore and every monster you could ever imagine lurking in the dark. Like Buffy before it, this has the ability to make you laugh one minute and scream the next. Go in blind and this trip to the forest is a delightfully gory surprise. 

24. Paranormal Activity (2007)

The movie: While The Blair Witch Project revved found footage horror back into action like a haunted motorbike back in 1999, Paranormal Activity is where things got, err, dead serious. The first movie from now horror staple Oren Peli, it introduces us to Katie and Micah who have been experiencing some odd goings-on in their LA home. Ever the keen filmmaker, Micah sets up a camera at the foot of their bed to keep an eye on things while they sleep. The bumps in the night that follow are enough to make you never want to see another bed again, let alone lie on one.    

Why it's scary: The reason why Paranormal Activity is so nerve-janglingly effective is simple. Regardless of your favorite snoozing position or habits, we all lie down in a dark room, switch off, and become perfect prey for whatever lurks in the gloom. The now infamous shot from the bottom of Katie and Micah’s bed is a masterclass in slow-burn terror. Every simple extended shot as the clock ticks forward becomes an agonizingly tense eye test. What’s going to move? Was that a shadow? Lingering footage of nothing actually happening has never been this nail-biting as the days and nights roll on. The sequels have been relentless and a mixed bag in terms of scares but, like a slamming door in the middle of the night, the pure terror of the original Paranormal Activity just can’t be ignored.

23. Suspiria (1977)

The movie: Less a movie and more an assault on your senses, not to mention your stomach, Dario Argento’s Suspiria follows young dancer Suzy as she arrives at a famous ballet school. Unfortunately, she doesn’t heed the girl running in the other direction and finds herself surrounded by horrific murder as young women are picked off artfully one by one. Still a gory cut above the remake, Argento’s original faced multiple cuts around violence on release and was one of the films at the bloody center of the 1980s video nasty panic. It doesn’t take long to see why.    

Why it’s scary: Nothing about Suspiria is easy to experience. Every color forcing its way into your eyeballs like technicolor violence, every murder intent on you watching each moment in agonizing detail from angles only a madman would select, and a soundtrack so disturbing that you’ll feel like you might have accidentally found Hell’s playlist on Spotify. Depraved, stylish, and beautiful, Suspiria is an experience not to be missed. You don’t have to like it, but even after all these years, this is a true nightmare of a horror movie waiting patiently to sneak into your brain.  

Read more: The Suspiria remake is beautiful, brutal, and shocking

22. The Descent (2005)

The movie: If there was a dip in caving and bouldering trip attendance back in the mid-noughties, it’s probably the fault of Neil Marshall’s truly terrifying claustrophobic creature feature. Sarah’s friends want to make her feel better after the tragic death of her family so, instead of y’know, buying her some gin , they take her on a caving trip. Unfortunately, the movie wouldn’t be on this list if the six women were there to have a heartwarming, gently comedic adventure where they all grow as people. From the moment this lot lower themselves into the darkness below the Appalachian mountains, it’s very clear that getting back out into the light again isn’t going to be likely. 

Why it’s scary: The claustrophobia of The Descent is horribly real. Before you even discover what’s lurking down there - with a night vision reveal so spectacular that it goes down in jump scare history - this cave system is stone horror. The women are experienced explorers but every shot of squeezing through tiny spaces as rubble gently falls, every huge cavern only lit in one tiny corner by their flares, and every step they take further into the abyss is heart-racing stuff. And this isn’t an unlikable crew of barely fleshed out American teens, pun intended, these characters and their complex relationships truly matter. This is beautifully grueling, not to mention empowering, filmmaking. Witness the UK ending of this cult classic and you’ll need more than a cheeky G&T to cheer you up afterward. 

21. It Follows (2015) 

The movie: Infection in horror movies is spread in many ways. A bite here, an injection of a transformational virus there. Hell, we’ve even had watching a video tape and having a ghost in real need of some conditioner come and get you seven days later. To add a new spin to things, the grim plodding nasty of It Follows comes to get you if you literally, well, do the nasty. While a 21st Century horror about a sexually transmitted horrific curse sounds like it should be driven off a cliff, It Follows is a truly terrifying experience. The horror is real as teenager Jay is plagued by ghosts no one else can see, slowly, endlessly walking towards her unless she ‘passes it on’. Proving just how good Jay’s friends are, they club together to take on the supernatural entity. 

Why it’s scary: It Follows isn’t just scary. It’s chilling with jump scares that might mean you’ll need to remove yourself from your ceiling with a spatula. With an unsettlingly brilliant synth score from Disasterpiece - seriously, let’s put that in your headphones all day and see how it feels - Jay’s battle against those following her is shot in a way that never feels like you can settle. Like Jay, we can never relax, and while a scene might look peaceful, it never is. The most effective scares come from the relentlessness of these pursuers, dead-eyed, and unblinking with one mission.  It Follows is a modern masterpiece.

20. An American Werewolf in London (1981)

The movie: Comedy horror is nothing new. The best horror movies have been walking that bloodied tightrope between making us laugh and making us scream for decades. An American Werewolf in London, from legendary comedy director John Landis, is a masterclass in this particular circus trick. David and Jack, two American backpackers - don’t worry, it’ll be one in a minute - find themselves wandering the Yorkshire moors after dark, and instead of staying safe in The Slaughtered Lamb pub, decide to continue their journey. The locals even tell them they’ll be fine if they just stick to the path… 

Why it’s scary: When two become one and Jack brutally falls to a mysterious lupine predator on the moors, a bitten David is taken to hospital in London. Regardless of what this says about the NHS’s ability to deal with werewolf wounds, it means that when David sheds his human skin to become a creature of the night, there are plenty of iconic places for him to gorily slaughter his way through. Once you get over the first transformation sequence - a true CGI-free agonizing marvel of lengthening bones, hewing muscle, and popping joints - this human canine’s tensely directed jaunt through the London Underground will absolutely ruin your late-night travel plans. And, while you’ll get to stop to laugh at Jack’s zombified ghost repeatedly rocking up to tell David to end his own life, the horror here is very real as his relationship with his nurse girlfriend threatens to have the heart, quite literally, ripped out of it. A masterwork.

19. The Witch (2015)

The movie: Self-described as a 'New England folk tale' – although it’s more like a fairy tale from hell - Robert Eggers’ terrifying period drama follows a Puritan family after they are ejected from their colony. Screaming 'don’t do it' at the screen just doesn’t work as William (Ralph Ineson) takes his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie) and his five children into the deep, dark woods to survive alone on a farm. It’s not spoiling anything to say that it doesn’t go particularly well. Following Thomasin, the eldest daughter of the family played by Anya Taylor-Joy in her first credited role, we witness the tense unraveling of a dysfunctional family faced with the horrific prospect of an outside force staring out at them from the trees. 

Why it’s scary: It’s love or hate time with this divisive movie, but lose yourself to The Witch and suddenly everything is scary and you can’t put your shaking finger on exactly why. Every perfectly constructed shot of the family attempting to survive in the wilderness is cranked into fear-ville with a constantly surprising hellish score of strings and vocals. This means that when true horror eventually does hit after a torturous slow burn of tension, it’s like Eggers has masterfully wired you in for shocks and you didn’t notice. From the unnerving skip and shrill voices of the young twins to the monstrous goat known only as Black Phillip, there is unique horror lurking in The Witch that just doesn't go away. 

18. 28 Days Later (2002)

The movie: Let’s get the undead elephant out of the room first. Danny Boyle’s horror is a zombie movie. Yes, they can run, but it’s important to think of this horrible lot as part of the same family tree as Romero’s finest. Maybe they wouldn’t have Christmas dinner together but they’d at least send cards and maybe some gift cards for the necrotic kids. The important thing is, regardless of their speed, these zombies are still the destroyers of worlds. When Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital bed - a lot like our friend Rick in The Walking Dead - he staggers out into an apocalyptic London that will never be the same again. 

Why it’s scary: 28 Days Later feels like a nightmare. Complete with a quite often heartbreaking as well as heart-pounding soundtrack, this feels like the truest glimpse at the modern British apocalypse as Jim and his fellow survivors quest for safety in Scotland. The Infected are truly horrifying, survivors are suspicious, and the fallen British landscape is an impressive feat of cinematography. Throw in excellent performances from everyone involved and 28 Days Later is a gory feast for the eyes and the heart. 

17. Candyman (1992)

The movie: The original Candyman film, based on horror writer Clive Barker’s short story The Forbidden, was a success upon release and subsequently gained a loyal following throughout the '90s thanks to its regular appearance at teen sleepovers as a VHS rental. Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) and her study buddy Bernadette Walsh (Kasi Lemmons) are researching folk tales and urban myths in Chicago, and land themselves in the midst of the Candyman legend - the only-too-real tale of a murdered enslaved man who haunts and terrorises the residents of a housing project with his hooked hand. Helen’s tenacity, slight white-saviour complex and likeness to Candyman’s old love see her become his new obsession… and then his victim.

Why it’s scary: Tony Todd’s titular Candyman lurks in the shadows and the subconscious of the project Cabrini-Green, and his imposing stature and deep lyrical voice catapulted him into modern horror monster cult status. The film is renowned for its beauty and its brutality, with evocative direction from Bernard Rose, a stunning score from Philip Glass, and visceral kills from its central character. Candyman is scary in all the best ways: it delivers gore and jump scares to test the most seasoned of horror fans, and the kind of tension that comes from a feeling of grim relentlessness and inevitability. In short, dare to say his name five times into a mirror and you and the people you love are doomed to die a horrible hooky death.

16. Get Out (2017)

The movie:  Mid-20's photographer Chris is driving out to rural New York to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time, but he's a little nervous. "Do they know I'm Black?" he tentatively asks Rose, but she's having none of it: "My Dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have!". Phew! What could possibly go wrong? Everything. Everything can go wrong, Chris. Turn back now. This isn't just going to be slightly socially awkward. 

Why it's scary: Bubbling with resonant social commentary, layered with hard-hitting goosebumps, and sprinkled with uncompromising humor, Get Out is a modern horror masterpiece in every sense of the word. Not content with scaring you just for its 90-minute run-time, director Jordan Peele wants to draw your attention to the real frightening truths rooted deep in the identity politics of contemporary America, and his grand reveal is more horrific than any jump scare could ever hope to be. 

15. The Wicker Man (1973)

The movie: If the above image doesn’t strike a sense of menace into your heart, it’s time to mainline Robin Hardy’s folk horror directly into your eyes. No, The Wicker Man isn’t just about reaction gifs and mocking the bee-packed Nicolas Cage remake. If nothing else, watching Edward Woodward’s journey to Summerisle is essential background reading for the 21st Century spate of rural scary movies. The ideal accompaniment for the modern nastiness of Ari Aster’s Midsommar or Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, The Wickerman’s appeal is in its sheer terrifying simplicity. Policeman goes to island on the hunt for a missing girl. Policeman discovers all is not what it seems. Oh, and indeed, dear.  

Why it’s scary: It’s a horror message that we’re all quite used to by now but humans being the real monsters never seems to get old. The inhabitants of Summerisle might seem somewhat comedic and there are more than a few moments of genuine humor in here, but The Wicker Man is fuel for your trust issues. Why should you truly believe what anyone says?  How can you actually go to sleep in a world full of human beings? The fear of the unknown is potent as Woodward’s Neil Howie blunders into a world with its own set of rules and beliefs. And, if you have managed to somehow not know how it ends, the reveal is still absolutely devastating.  

14. Psycho (1960)

The movie: Alfred Hitchcock’s proto-slasher classic is now over 60 years old and still packs the sort of punch that elevates horror films into the realms of cinematic legend. In case you don’t know, Psycho follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) as she goes on the run after stealing a shedload of money from her boss, ending up at a motel run by the unassuming Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and his domineering mother. What unfolds is a shocking story of identity and murder, with some of the most iconic sequences in film history playing out in beautiful black and white under Hitchcock’s inspired watchful eye.

Why it’s scary: Well… there’s that shower scene for starters. Not to mention the sort of tension only Alfred Hitchcock - the Master of Suspense - can conjure in that certain way he did, making it look so easy but which was actually the kind of illusive genius that made him a household name. Scenes of voyeurism are characteristically played out for both Norman and the audience, creating an atmosphere of impending doom, and genuinely chilling moments of frenzied stabbing from the movie’s killer (no spoilers here, no matter how long it’s been around) make the blood run cold... especially down a certain famous plughole. Set all this to Bernard Herrmann’s sublime score of screeching strings, and you’ve got something truly special that’s not to be missed by any fan of horror or cinema. 

13. Halloween (1978)

The movie: Who'd have thought an old Star Trek mask could be so terrifying? Director John Carpenter created a modern classic when he gave his villain a blank William Shatner mask to wear while he stalks babysitters around the fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. The movie created another icon, too, in Jamie-Leigh Curtis, who'd become both a scream queen in her own right, and the template for all final girls to follow. Who cares if the first scene makes no sense? This is a movie that starts with a child-murdering his sister while wearing a clown mask and if that's not scary, you need your horror fan status revoked immediately.

Why it's scary: Pretty much the original stalk-and-slash, Halloween set standards that have rarely been matched. Carpenter composes his shots to keep you constantly guessing, blending both claustrophobia and fearful exposure, often at the same time, to create a deeply uneasy sense of vulnerability wherever you are and whatever is happening. Also, that soundtrack. Composed by Carpenter himself. There is a reason that pounding doom-synth is still the soundtrack for oppressive horror. As a great follow up too, get the 2018 sequel into your eyes. The new Halloween removes all those messy other sequels and does a perfect job of showing the real trauma of growing up as a victim of The Shape himself. 

Read more: The best Halloween movies rewatched, reviewed, and ranked

12. Alien (1979)

The movie: Arguably one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made also just happens to be one of the greatest horror movies too. It doesn't seem fair, does it? The original Alien from Ridley Scott sends the crew of the Nostromo to investigate a distress call from an abandoned alien spaceship as innocently as any gang of hormonal teenagers headed off to a remote cabin in the woods. And, just like those teenagers, not many of them are going to survive to tell the tale. Sigourney Weaver makes for the ultimate Final Girl here. 

Why it's scary: There's nowhere more horribly isolated than a spaceship light years away from home and Giger's alien is as terrifying a monster as you could wish for. The dread goes much deeper than teeth and claws though. This creature represents a multilayered, bottomless pit of psychosexual horror, its very form praying on a raft of primal terrors. Plus, the visual ambiguity of Scott's direction during the final act is an absolute masterclass in 'What's that in the shadows?' tension. Ignore the recent xenomorph-packed movies, turn off the lights and watch this and Aliens to reignite your passion for the true horror of Scott's vision. 

11. The Omen (1976)

The movie: At the sixth hour of the sixth day of the sixth month (get it?), a certain baby was born who would change the world forever. And not just within the world of The Omen. Damian is the ultimate evil kid - the spawn of Satan himself - and he’s here to wreak havoc on the lives of his ‘adoptive’ parents, the Thorns (played masterfully by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick) and everyone around them, including David Warner’s photographer-cum-buddy-cop Jennings. So exemplary is this creepy child that he has become the go-to reference for all little “Damians” going forward. 

Why it’s scary: Richard Donner’s The Omen is a masterclass in quality horror filmmaking but don’t let that put you off, horror fans - there’s plenty of shock and schlock to be had here too. As Damian unleashes his dastardly plans on the world around him, people are hanged, shot, decapitated, defenestrated, impaled, savaged by rottweilers and a sinister nanny - the lot. But perhaps what is most scary about this occult offering is the sense of inescapability that runs through the frightening deaths that pepper the film - if Damian has you in his sights, there’s very little you can do to outrun your fate.

10. Hereditary (2018)

The movie: Home is where the heart is. It’s also where the worst horror lives, hiding just beneath the surface of the perfect family life. A harrowed Toni Collette leads Ari Aster’s very first (!) feature film as the mother of a grieving family. The death of her own mother has sent shockwaves through their home and, to keep this review spoiler-free, the future isn’t looking exactly, errr, bright either. 

Why it’s scary: It’s fair to say that at no point does Hereditary feel safe. Nowhere during its two-hour run time do you feel like you can stop and take a breath, or even make a guess as to what’s coming next. Is this a supernatural movie? Is this an exercise in grief, similar to the Babadook? Is there even a difference between these two ideas? Every shot of Collette’s artist painstakingly creating miniature dioramas feels like a threat and every awkward conversation between the two teenagers of the family leaves a sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach. Why? There's no putting your finger on the exact reason. It might have split cinema audiences but Hereditary is a tour de force of modern horror that will leave you reeling long after its grueling third act. We’re just not going to tell you why .

Read more: Intelligent, emotional, and terrifying, Hereditary is near-perfect horror.

9. Scream (1996)

The movie: By the late '90s, horror was looking a little tired. The masked slasher trope was staggering along in a dire need of a cup of very strong espresso. What it got instead was Wes Craven’s Scream which, despite being parodied into Inception levels of postmodern irony since, reinvigorated the genre with its perfect blend of knowing comedy and scares. Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, and Drew Barrymore as teenagers talking fluent horror movie while being picked off by a genre-obsessed serial killer? Oh, go on… Add in Courtney Cox - at the giddy heights of Friends fame - as intrepid news reporter Gale Weathers and Scream is a modern horror classic.

Why it’s scary: Just because something is self-referential doesn’t mean it can’t be truly terrifying. The Scream mask, based on Munch’s painting, might have been twisted into stoned bliss by Scary Movie , but it still manages to unsettle and thrill. Scream’s scares remain unpredictable too. Victims fall to this slasher’s knife with disturbing regularity and as we grow attached to our genuinely likable quipping heroes, the end game becomes all the more stressful as we wonder who will survive to the credits. Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street scare talents guarantee terror all the way to the end. Why don't you, liver alone , eh?

8. Jaws (1975)

The movie: Before Jurassic Park , before ET , and an eternity before the majority of the cast of Ready Player One were brought screaming into existence, there was Jaws, Steven Spielberg’s toothy horror. And yes, this is a horror movie. Jaws, one of the original blockbusters on account of the number of people literally queuing round the block only to flee the cinema in terror, is horrifying. It doesn’t matter that the shark looks a little ropey now when he gets up close and personal, the story of Amity Island’s gory summer season as Chief Brody desperately tries to keep swimmers out of the water is the stuff of horror legend. And, let’s face it, you’re already humming the score.    

Why it’s scary: The reason that Jaws haunts you long after the credits roll is simple. One viewing and this particularly vindictive shark can potentially ruin every trip to the seaside. Every gentle paddle as waves lap at your toes. Every skinny dip. Every precarious trip out onto the ocean wave on anything smaller than the Titanic. Spielberg doesn’t pull any punches either. Dogs die, children die, heads float out of sunken boats. No one is guaranteed to see the credits here, especially not the three men who head out to sea to slay the beast. With legendary performances and a monster that will never leave you, Jaws is the ultimate creature feature. 

Read more: 11 big dumb shark movies to guarantee you'll never go swimming again

7. Ringu (1998)

The movie: In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, a rash of J-horror films came out of Japan to scare the bejeezus out of audiences, and perhaps none so notable or influential as Hideo Nakata’s Ringu. Journalist Reiko Asakawa and her ex-husband Ryuji investigate the mysterious death of Reiko’s niece, a highschooler who died one week after watching a notorious video tape linked to an urban legend that appears to be petrifyingly true and now threatens the couple’s son. They uncover the story of Sadako, a young girl with deadly psychic powers and her unfortunate demise, and seek to bring peace to her memory before it’s too late. The VHS technology may seem a little dated in the age of digital streaming, but there’s nothing out-of-touch about the fear generated by Nakata’s incendiary horror filmmaking.

Why it’s scary: Oh we don’t know. Maybe there’s nothing scary about the relentless ringing of a telephone that means you’ve only got seven days to live, haunted video tapes showing surreal footage that leads to people being literally terrified to death, the idea that you have to pass on the curse to someone else or die, or lank black haired ghost girls crawling their way out of deserted wells… maybe it’s just us.  

6. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The movie: Ever wondered why no one’s out camping in the woods these days? It’s not that millennials really need to be within one hundred feet of a charging point at all times, it’s just the fact that a full generation of us saw The Blair Witch Project in our early teens and we just really like to sleep inside now. This now almost mythical, found footage horror follows three young documentary makers as they journey to Burkittsville in Maryland. Heather, Mike, and Josh start off interviewing the locals about the local legend of The Blair Witch, a particularly nasty tale you’d hope was just to keep children eating their veggies, before heading into the woods where the witch apparently resides. Given that all that’s ever been found are these tapes, there's not exactly a happy ending. 

Why it’s scary: What’s waiting for Heather and co in the woods is terrifying enough, as strange noises drift through the trees and they descend into a directionless spiral of madness and anger, but what’s equally scary about The Blair Witch Project is the perfect blurring of reality and fiction. This is Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, and Joshua Leonard. These actors were sent out into the woods and their horrifying ordeal is thanks to the filmmaker's insistence on mentally torturing them every night. Released in 1999 and reigniting the popularity of the now horror staple found footage genre, the movie’s marketing even touted it as real. Every wobbly shot, every scream, and every stick figure that the three find are there to tell your brain that these people really went into the woods and never came back. Oh, and the ending is like being punched in the gut by nightmares. 

5. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

The movie: Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins star in this horror - yes horror - film about a young FBI agent hunting serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) and the incarcerated cannibal brought on to assist her. Jonathan Demme’s film won ‘the big five’ prizes at that year’s Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and gave licence to an audience who wouldn’t normally gravitate towards horror movies to delve into the scary underbelly of cinema’s darker side. In turn, novelist Robert Harris’ character of Hannibal Lector became one of film’s most recognisable villains under the assured - and deliciously camp - steer of Hopkins’ teeth-gnashing performance, and we were given one of our strongest and most compelling female leads with Foster’s Clarice Starling.

Why it’s scary: Moments of sickening violence intersperse with strong procedural storytelling to create a truly nail biting experience. Lector is a man beyond us - a genius who can outthink, outfight and outrun those entrusted with keeping us safe. Add in Levine’s Buffalo Bill, a beast of a man intent on making himself a human suit, and characters we care about not becoming bloated corpses with their skin flayed off, and you’ve got a serial killer shocker for the ages. Not to mention that to this day, a denouement in a pitch black basement, soundtracked by the desperate cries of a kidnapped woman, is one of the most terror-stricken - and cathartic - sequences in horror cinema. 

4. The Shining (1980)

The movie: Even if you haven’t watched Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, you’ll know of The Shining. You’ll know Jack Nicholson’s (apparently ad-libbed) "Heeeeeeeere’s Johnny" and you might even be aware that if you’re handed the keys to room 237 in a hotel, you might want to switch it for another suite. But what if you haven’t? What if you have been snowed up in a mysterious hotel with only hedge animals for company? Well, The Shining follows a man and his family as he takes on the role of winter caretaker at a resort hotel known as The Overlook. Given that this is a Stephen King adaptation (albeit one that that horror author hates so much that he made his own movie), the winter months don’t go well. The Overlook Hotel, it turns out, doesn’t really like people.

Why it’s scary: There's a reason that this is the top of this veritable pile of screams. The Shining feels evil. From Jack Nicholson’s deranged performance as a man descending into murderous insanity to Kubrick’s relentless direction as we hypnotically follow Danny navigating the hotel corridors on his trike, this is a movie that never lets you feel safe. Like Hereditary earlier in this list, The Shining is like being driven by a drunk mad man. What’s coming next? Lifts of blood? Chopped up little girls? The terror that lurks in the bath of room 237? This is not a horror movie made of boo scares or cheap tricks, Kubrick’s film is a lurking, dangerous beast that stays with you long after your TV has gone dark. 

3. The Thing (1982)

The movie: Perhaps you’ve been buried in snow and have missed John Carpenter’s ultimate creature feature. Entirely understandable. Why don’t you come closer to the fire and defrost? The title might sound hokey but The Thing remains one of the most gloriously splattery and tense horrors of all time as a group of Americans at an Antarctic research station - including Kurt Russell’s R.J MacReady - take on an alien, well, thing that infects blood . It might start off taking out the canine companions,  but it really doesn’t stop there.

Why it’s scary: The Thing is a movie of physicality. There’s intense paranoia and horror sprinkled in as the party begins to fall apart as the infection spreads but it’s the very real, oh-so-touchable nature of the nasties at work here that’s so disturbing. The practical effects - the responsibility of a young Rob Bottin and uncredited Stan Winston - are the true stars as arms are eaten by chests, decapitated heads sprout legs, and bodies are elongated and stretched. The macabre vision of these murderous monsters at work is never anything less than true nightmare fuel.

2. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

The movie: Some movie titles are vague, letting you gradually work out their meaning as the narrative slowly unfurls in front of your eyes like a delicate flower in tea. Then there’s Tobe Hooper’s grim, sweaty horror movie. There is nothing delicate here. Its titular weapon needs to be sharp but The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a blunt instrument of horror. This is a tour de force of violence as five young people leave the safety of the world behind and journey into dusty Americana. What they find in one house when they innocently enter looking for gas is such death and depravity that the movie is still, decades on, a disturbing endurance test. 

Why it’s scary: The funny - and there is humor here, it’s just not there on the first watch - thing about the Texas Chain Saw Massacre is that there’s actually very little blood. There’s the iconic Leatherface, inspired by Ed Gein in his fleshy face covering, and a death scene involving a hook that will make you look down and check your body is still there, but very little viscera. Gore is something that your brain mentally splashes everywhere to try and deal with the horror on screen here, to cope with the screams of pure terror and iconic disturbing soundtrack. It’s suffered plenty of clones over the years, not to mention a Michael Bay-produced glossy cash cow remake, but nothing can replicate the sheer desperation and violent honesty of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It would almost be dangerous to try.  

Read more: The real Texas Chain Saw Massacre – how a '50s grave-robber inspired a horror classic

1. The Exorcist (1973)

The movie: And here we are. It almost feels predictable that William Friedkin’s masterpiece, now in its 50th year, is still looming near the top of so many horror features. But watch The Exorcist and you’ll understand why. This is the tale of Regan, the daughter of a successful movie actress who one day occupies herself in the basement by playing with an ouija board. If you have ever wondered why your parents don’t want you playing with this innocuous-looking toy, a young Linda Blair probably has something to do with it. Using the ouija board as gateway, an unwelcome guest takes root in the little girl and the rest, as the titular exorcist arrives, is cinema history. 

Why it’s scary: Much like The Shining, The Exorcist is not safe. Unpredictable, visceral, and primeval, this is a movie based on the simplest of premises but even in its happiest moments, is absolutely anxiety-inducing. With a now near-mythical production, William Friedkin’s relentlessness for ‘authenticity’ meant his actors were frozen in a refrigerated bedroom, physically pulled across sets to replicate the demon’s physical prowess, and, of course, splattered with warm pea soup. The result is a horror movie that you’ll probably never say you actively enjoy, but will find yourself rewatching, just to feel the sheer terror of Friedkin’s battle of good vs evil in all its disturbing glory once again.

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Louise Blain

Louise Blain is a journalist and broadcaster specialising in gaming, technology, and entertainment. She is the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s monthly Sound of Gaming show and has a weekly consumer tech slot on BBC Radio Scotland. She can also be found on BBC Radio 4, BBC Five Live, Netflix UK's YouTube Channel, and on The Evolution of Horror podcast. As well as her work on GamesRadar, Louise writes for NME, T3, and TechRadar. When she’s not working, you can probably find her watching horror movies or playing an Assassin’s Creed game and getting distracted by Photo Mode. 

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The 25 Best Haunted House Movies of All Time

Because ghosts and other supernatural beings need a place to rest their weary heads, too.

By Matthew Jackson | Oct 26, 2023

On the set of 'The Haunting'

The haunted house is one of horror ’s most time-honored tropes, a dark twisting of the place we call home into a maelstrom of terror and things that go bump in the night. There’s something eternal about the idea, so it’s no wonder that hundreds upon hundreds of filmmakers have channeled it for dark visions of their own. There are, of course, dozens of classics in the genre on the big-screen, but if you’re looking for the very best to dive into this Halloween season, these are the ones you definitely won’t want to miss.

1. The Uninvited (1944)

The Uninvited , a ghost story from Hollywood’s Golden Age, has pretty much everything you’d want out of a classic black-and-white horror-drama. It’s got a spooky old house, a cast of beloved character actors led by Ray Milland, a slow-burn supernatural narrative that moves at its own leisurely pace, and of course old-school ghosts . It might move a little slowly for modern audiences, but if you’re patient with it, it’s the kind of film that will wrap you up in its own creepy comforts. In 2019, Martin Scorsese named The Uninvited one of the scariest movies of all time; “the tone is very delicate, and the sense of fear is woven into the setting [and] the gentility of the characters,“ he wrote for The Daily Beast .

2. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

If you want a haunted house story that’s not scary, and might in fact leave you buoyant with joy, look no further than this classic starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison in the title roles. A supernatural romance about a young woman and the spectral sea captain who becomes her preternatural paramour, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is both thoroughly layered with ideas and wonderfully sweet, remaining a great change of pace from the horror films where ghosts usually dwell. Bernard Herrmann, the legendary composer behind such diverse titles as Citizen Kane , Psycho , and Taxi Driver , scored The Ghost and Mrs. Muir , and considered it his best work .

3. 13 Ghosts (1960)

Legendary gimmick -happy genre director William Castle made two great haunted house films in his career, and while House on Haunted Hill (1959) is more than worth a watch, 13 Ghosts stands out now as the superior (and more overtly supernatural) picture. The story of a family that moves into a house they suddenly inherited, it’s a supernatural mystery that’s both satisfying and delightfully over-the-top, and the ghost effects (enhanced by Illusion-O, Castle’s gimmick of special glasses that allowed you to see the ghosts or avoid them at will in the theater) are still genuinely unsettling after more than 60 years.

4. The Innocents (1961)

Just like the story that inspired it, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw , Jack Clayton’s The Innocents is a film that focuses more on the haunted houses we build in our own minds than on actual ghosts reaching out from the darkness. In that regard, it’s a tremendous showcase for Deborah Kerr in the lead role of a governess slowly losing it in a big, old, possibly haunted house. She gets wonderfully, devastatingly lost in Clayton’s Gothic atmosphere, and you will, too.  The Innocents also made Scorsese’s list of scariest movies ever, with the Oscar-winner describing it as “one of the rare pictures that does justice to Henry James. It’s beautifully crafted and acted, immaculately shot (by Freddie Francis), and very scary.“

5. The Haunting (1963)

Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is one of the all-time great haunted house stories, and it has given us more than one great adaptation along the way. If you’re looking for the best feature film version, though, look no further than Robert Wise’s psychologically rich, unshakably tense vision from the 1960s. The horror is subtle, but the way Wise’s camera paints with light and shadows will leave you searching every corner for a spirit.  Russ Tamblyn , who plays Luke Sannerson—the heir set to inherit Hill House—in the film also appeared in one episode of Netflix's 2018 miniseries, The Haunting of Hill House .

6. The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Richard Matheson’s novel Hell House is a masterclass in pure, straightforward haunted house terror, and John Hough’s film adaptation delivers all that and more. The film follows a group of experts as they head into the title house with the goal of finding proof of the supernatural. It quickly devolves into terror as the group encounters dark image after dark image, all building toward a terrifying conclusion that’s still one of the more fascinating haunted house resolutions in the cinematic canon. More than 25 years after its original release, the film inspired the creation of the MTV horror reality series Fear .

7. House (1977)

If you’ve never seen House , Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 haunted house film, do yourself a favor and just go watch it. Right now. Don’t look up the plot, don’t watch trailers, just watch the movie and hold on for dear life. It’s been nearly 50 years since Obayashi’s film was released, and there’s still nothing else in the horror genre —or in any other genre—quite like it. It’s a dark dream full of imagery that will live in your head forever, and a singular achievement in haunted house storytelling. While House was an immediate hit in its native Japan, American audiences didn’t get a chance to witness it until more than 30 years later, when it began screening at festivals in 2009 and very quickly gained a cult following.

8. The Changeling (1980)

George C. Scott isn’t necessarily an actor you think of as an all-out horror icon, but he cemented that status for himself with a remarkable performance in this film, the story of a grieving composer who moves into a haunted house and begins to unravel a decades-old mystery. Scott is great in the central role, but it’s Peter Medak’s slow-burn horror direction, complete with antique wheelchair and menacing children’s toys, that cements this one as a haunted house classic. In order to get the details just right, screenwriters Diana Maddox and William Gray reportedly spent approximately six months poring over research for the film, including more than 700 books and close to 2000 case studies regarding parapsychological events.

9. The Shining (1980)

While technically a movie about a haunted hotel , Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining works so well in part because of the way it makes said hotel into a single-family dwelling, surrounding the Torrance trio with vastness until the building seems to swallow them all whole. Whether you consider the film a story of haunted places or a story of haunted people, Kubrick’s ability to play with our perceptions and create a sense of near-constant unease has become legendary, making The Shining one of the essential horror films in any genre. Before he took on The Shining , Kubrick was in consideration to direct The Exorcist . He turned down the gig, explaining that “I only like to develop my own stuff.” (He clearly changed his mind to adapt The Shining .)

10. Poltergeist (1982)

What’s great about Poltergeist , Tobe Hooper’s Steven Spielberg-produced classic about a family whose new house is overtaken by spirits, is just how relentless the film is. From the moment the ghostly activity starts, it never seems to stop, and it never stops escalating as the film barrels toward its conclusion. But even with that in mind, and with the loads of horror imagery packed into the film, Poltergeist never loses its prevailing sense of fun and adventure, delivering a horror classic that you can watch without fear of being bummed out by the end. Spielberg originally approached Stephen King about writing the script. “It didn’t work out because it was before the internet and we had a communication breakdown,” King told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. “I was on a ship going across the Atlantic to En­gland. It took so long to reply that Spielberg moved on.”

11. House (1985)

Steve Miner’s House is one of those movies that walks in two worlds so deftly that it’s almost head-spinning. The film follows author Roger Cobb (William Katt), who moves into his late aunt’s house to write a book, only to discover the place is haunted. Strange events ensue that are equal parts haunting and silly, and the film somehow deftly moves into a space where it works as both an outright comedy and as a rather pointed meditation of post-Vietnam anxiety in Reagan’s America. Yes, it sounds wild—but it works. George Wendt, best known for his role as Norm Peterson on Cheers , co-stars as Roger’s neighbor Harold; John Ratzenberger, who plays Norm’s BFF Cliff Clavin, appears in 1987’s House II: The Second Story .

12. Beetlejuice (1988)

While it’s firmly rooted in dark, zany comedy and not horror, Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice remains one of the great haunted house movies thanks to its focus on the expected tropes and how they twist when the perspectives get flipped. In a strange world where ghosts have a kind of society and code all their own, it’s a film that not only shows you both sides of a haunting, but reveals all the ways that ghosts can express themselves beyond strange noises and horrifying apparitions. Thirty-five years later, it’s still a joy to watch. Reportedly, Burton’s first choice for the role of Beetlejuice was Sammy Davis Jr. It was producer David Geffen who suggested Michael Keaton.

13. Ghostwatch (1992)

Originally released as a supposedly real BBC television special, Ghostwatch is best remembered now for the sheer terror it inspired in viewers on Halloween night in 1992, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, Ghostwatch is a fascinating cultural artifact within the mockumentary subgenre. Yet it’s also a thoroughly engrossing and genuinely frightening haunted house story, the kind of thing that will have you watching it over and over again, looking for all the hidden specters. The UK’s Broadcasting Standards Council reportedly received more than 20,000 phone calls and thousands of letters—all of them angry—following the initial broadcast.

14. The Others (2001)

Rich with textural, chilling visuals and a reverence for the visual language of haunted houses, Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others is a film that will lure you into a sense of uncomfortable, unpredictable dread even if you already know its central twist. Thanks to wonderful work by a cast led by Nicole Kidman and Amenábar’s own assured direction, it’s one of those movies that casts a dark spell that feels unbreakable, from its meditations on post-war grief and trauma to its eventual ghostly revelations. In 2002, the movie made history at the Goya Awards—Spain’s version of the Oscars—where it won a total of eight awards, including Best Film. It’s the  first film  to earn Spain’s highest film honor in which not one word of Spanish is spoken.

15. Dark Water (2002)

Though he’s perhaps best known for films like Ringu , Japanese director Hideo Nakata’s true masterpiece might be this intimate little ghost story about a mother and daughter who move into an apartment with a very dark history. Full of atmospheric flourishes and foreboding, Dark Water is a masterclass in building suspense, delivering a payoff, and then keeping the scares going even after the story has seemingly resolved. Three years after the film’s release, an English language version starring Jennifer Connelly and John C. Reilly was released.

16. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Kim Jee-woon’s A Tale of Two Sisters is an unforgettable exercise in psychological terror for a number of reasons, but among the most striking is the way the filmmaker convinces you more than once that he’s switching genres. For a huge chunk of the runtime, the film might just be a gripping psychological drama with a few haunted house flourishes for the sake of symbolism. But by the time it’s over, and you realize it was a haunted house film all along, you realized that the ghosts of this film are all the more potent, and all the more horrifying. To this day, A Tale of Two Sisters remains the highest-grossing horror film in its native South Korea.

17. Paranormal Activity (2007)

In an age when ghost-hunting shows were growing increasingly popular, a film like Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity felt understandably inevitable, but that does nothing to diminish its impact. The setup is simple: A couple sets up cameras in their house to try and capture apparent supernatural happenings. While the found footage format is by now well-worn by many sequels and copycats, the film is still a low-fi chiller with an unforgettable ending, not to mention one of the most influential horror releases of its era. Steven Spielberg got a copy of the DVD, which he was reportedly convinced was haunted. He loved the movie, though, and the ending audiences see was suggested by the Oscar-winning director; in 2017, Peli admitted that he still prefers his original finale.

18. The Orphanage (2007)

One of the most enduring images in 21st century horror so far comes from J.A. Bayona’s The Orphanage , a haunted house narrative that features, among other things, the unforgettable specter of a little boy in a cloth mask. But that boy and that mask are only a fraction of the story. Over the course of its runtime, The Orphanage packs in loads of other scares, both otherworldly and existential, cementing its place as one of the best horror films of the last 25 years. Horror icon Guillermo del Toro makes an uncredited cameo in the film, playing a doctor.

19. Lake Mungo (2008)

A family reeling from the loss of their daughter agrees to be interviewed for a documentary exploring the possibility that their house is haunted. What happens next is one of the most remarkable horror narratives of the last 25 years. Eerie, beautiful, and full of thoughtful meditation on what we leave behind when we go, Lake Mungo is both a classic ghost story and a dazzling effort by director Joel Anderson to tell that ghost story in ways we’d never seen before. Jordan Peele considers Lake Mungo one of the scariest films he has ever seen, and used it as an inspiration in making Us (2019).

20. Sinister (2012)

We might be stretching the definition of “haunted house movie“ here a little bit, as the entity in Sinister is more demon than ghost. But director/co-writer Scott Derrickson’s film is so good that we’re ignoring that and getting right to the good stuff. Unbelievably tense and full of great, gruesome detail, Sinister is the kind of haunted house movie that will make you think twice about every corner of your own home, especially if you just moved there. And if you like found footage, the home movie segments are still chilling, even if you’ve seen them 100 times. In 2012, co-writer C. Robert Cargill told Complex how the idea for Sinister came to him from a nightmare he had after watching The Ring .

21. The Woman in Black (2012)

Built on the strong foundation that is Daniel Radcliffe ’s assured performance as a lawyer sent to a haunted house to process an estate, The Woman in Black is a film with loads of atmosphere and plenty of old-school charm. Like the ghost stories of old, it’s not afraid to take its time, but like modern ghost films it’s also willing to employ a more vicious jump scare pace to get the job done when it’s required. The result is a horror hybrid, a blend of old and new that still packs a punch. Misha Handley, the young actor who plays Radcliffe’s son Joseph in the movie, is Radcliffe’s real-life godson. The actor suggested Handley be cast in the role in order to strengthen the bond seen between father and son in the film.

“It is very hard to create that chemistry with a 4-year-old boy, who you have never met before and who is stepping onto a film set going, ‘What in the hell is all of this?’ That was one of the reasons that I suggested [director] James [Watkins] audition my real-life godson,” Radcliffe told the Associated Press.

22. The Conjuring (2013)

James Wan’s franchise-launching film is among the most successful, and most frightening , horror movies of the 2010s, and still looms large in a horror landscape that’s since moved through many sequels and spinoffs. Wan’s ability to wring maximum screams out of a good jump scare is, of course, legendary at this point. And while there’s no shortage of that kind of terror in The Conjuring , it’s the human struggle at its core that will keep you hooked. In 2021, the Rhode Island home that inspired the film hit the market for $1.2 million.

23. We Are Still Here (2015)

One of the best horror films of the 21st century so far, Ted Geoghegan’s We Are Still Here begins with a simple premise—a grieving couple moves into a cursed old house in New England—and then wrenches the absolute maximum impact from its scares. Geoghegan’s ghosts are more violent than the spectral spirits of old, but it’s not just the gore that’ll leave your jaw on the floor. There’s an unshakable eeriness here that endures long after the film’s over. The movie is packed with references to Lucio Fulci’s The House by the Cemetery (1981), which had a massive influence on Geoghegan; in addition to similar locations, many of We Are Still Here ’s characters are named after both characters and actors in the Italian horror master’s film.

24. Crimson Peak (2015)

Guillermo del Toro is one of horror’s great visual stylists, but even by his standards, Crimson Peak is truly stunning. A classic Gothic romance full of decay, sensuality, and ghosts, it’s a film that feels like stepping into another world, a meditation on certain well-worn tropes that somehow emerges as something entirely new. That’s thanks in part to the trio of stars—Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, and Mia Wasikowska—at its core, but the film’s sweeping, chillingly seductive energy is pure del Toro.

The film is partly inspired by a night spent at New Zealand’s supposedly haunted Waitomo Caves Hotel, when del Toro was scouting locations for the The Hobbit movies (which he was originally attached to direct). “I heard a horrible murder being committed in the room,“ del Toro told the New Zealand Herald . “I was actually terrified. I didn’t sleep at all that night. What was strange was the next morning I was not tired, but I was wired and scared. I never imagined having those fears. It was absolutely terrifying.“

25. His House (2020)

Two African refugees settle into government-provided housing in the United Kingdom, and quickly discover they’re not alone. Like so many horror films on this list, His House begins with something very straightforward, easily graspable by any audience, then evolves into something else entirely. The horror sequences, courtesy of director Remi Weekes, are some of the most harrowing in recent haunted house memory, but what sticks with you about His House is its focus on how the horror we witness shapes us, and how far we’ll go to survive—even knowing that the ghosts of our choices won’t ever leave.

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The 20 best haunted house films of all time, ranked

From The Innocents to Paranormal Activity, most of these haunted house movies will have viewers leaving all their lights on at bedtime.

Georges Méliès' Le Manoir du diable (1896) deserves much reverence for its impact on scary movies over the years, and even though the silent film is only a few minutes long, The House of the Devil marks the beginning of the horror genre. Released as The Haunted Castle in the United States, Méliès' motion picture is the precursor to all haunted house movies.

Films in the following century like The Cat and the Canary (1927), The Old Dark House (1932), and Rebecca (1940) certainly presented creepy, decrepit manors, but their walls were haunted by earthly threats. However, The Uninvited (1944) creates the supernatural template by which horror films like The Haunting in Connecticut (2009), Crimson Peak (2015), and Hereditary (2018) still follow today.

Now, enjoy EW's ranking of the 20 best haunted house movies of all time.

20. The Amityville Horror (1979)

Not even Fixer Upper 's Chip and Joanna Gaines can salvage your house when its walls start bleeding. George Lutz ( James Brolin ) and his wife, Kathy ( Margot Kidder ), get the deal of a lifetime when they buy a home in the quaint, seaside town of Amityville, N.Y. — but their new digs come with a sordid history and house full of haunting horrors.

The Amityville Horror , a somewhat underrated flick, is based on the real-life Lutz's unsubstantiated claim that the house was actually haunted. The Dutch Colonial-style home still stands in Amityville, but its address has been changed from 112 Ocean Ave. to 108 Ocean in order to throw off curious tourists.

Where to watch The Amityville Horror : Max

19. The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Irena isn't Casper, but she certainly is a friendly ghost, and she still haunts her husband Oliver Reed (Kent Smith) and his new wife, Alice (Jane Randolph). However, Irena only allows Oliver and Alice's daughter, Amy (Ann Carter), to see her when the Reeds' lonely child wishes for a friend.

The film marks the first directing credit for Robert Wise (later of 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still and 1965's The Sound of Music glory), since he was uncredited for directing additional sequences in The Magnificent Ambersons two years prior. While virtually every character — and performer — from 1942's Cat People returns, The Curse of the Cat People is, to this day, argued by most film historians as being a sequel in name only.

Where to watch The Curse of the Cat People : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

18. Paranormal Activity (2007)

Do not wait around for the entity haunting your house to fully possess you or your partner. Don't do it! Filmmaker Oren Peli 's supernatural take finds a young couple ( Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) haunted by an unseen force, as the audience watches the couple chronicle the ghost's movements via their home security cameras.

The movie cashed in on the found-footage phenomenon that 1999's The Blair Witch Project proved to be a potential gold mine. Paranormal Activity grossed more than $193 million worldwide, and it only cost $15,000 to produce. Steven Spielberg saw the original cut of the film prior to its release in which Katie dies, and convinced Peli to reshoot the more ominous ending where Featherston simply goes missing.

Where to watch Paranormal Activity : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

17. Beetlejuice (1988)

Barbara ( Geena Davis ) and Adam ( Alec Baldwin ) Maitland might be dead, but they don't have any intention of sharing their home with its new residents, the Deetz family — parents Delia ( Catherine O'Hara ) and Charles (Jeffrey Jones) and their goth icon daughter, Lydia ( Winona Ryder ). When the Maitlands' attempts to frighten the Deetzes away fail miserably, Barbara and Adam turn to the mysterious and mischievous Beetlejuice ( Michael Keaton ) to rid them of the living.

Keaton's portrayal as the unscrupulous "ghost with the most" garnered him a Saturn Award nomination, even though he appears on screen for less than 15 minutes, and the actor acknowledges Beetlejuice as his favorite film from his own library of work.

Where to watch Beetlejuice : Max

16. The Others (2001)

While the living and dead coexist in Beetlejuice , The Others teaches horror fans a different life lesson: Sharing isn't always the answer. Grace ( Nicole Kidman ) and her two children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), live together in a Gothic country house in the aftermath of World War II, but it seems increasingly likely their Bailiwick of Jersey home is haunted.

The Others offers scary movie enthusiasts one of the genre's most memorable twists, and it's unlikely the filmmakers really wanted audiences to laugh at the very last shot of the film. It's hard not to chuckle, though, and the comedic moment certainly lends itself to the storytelling. The Others also marked the final time Kidman worked with her then-husband, Tom Cruise (executive producer), prior to their divorce.

15. House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren (Vincent Price) is throwing a party, and he promises each of his guests $10,000. The catch: They have to spend the night in a haunted house and survive until morning. Filmmaker William Castle couldn't afford to pay Price the salary the actor had become accustomed to, so he offered him a percentage of the profits to land the horror movie maestro as a cast member.

House on Haunted Hill also features one of Castle's vaunted gimmicks: Emergo . When the skeleton terrorizes Mrs. Loren (Carol Ohmart) on screen, a plastic skeleton would swoop over the heads of audiences all across the country. Ever the showman, Castle wanted to give moviegoers something even better and more exciting than 3-D could ever deliver decades later.

Where to watch House on Haunted Hill: Amazon Prime Video

14. Scrooge (1951)

While there have been many fine adaptations of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol , Alastair Sim's performance as the miserly, penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge elevates this version to must-see status. With Christmas soon approaching, Ebenezer's old friend, Jacob Marley (Michael Hordern), returns from the grave to offer Scrooge a chance at redemption through the haunting of three spirits.

Invariably and inexplicably, A Christmas Carol is absent from many best-of haunted house lists, but Dickens' tale is the preeminent example of this type of supernatural story. Now, despite the positive critical and fan response to this 1951 version, there is a famous bit of dialogue omitted from this particular film: "If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart."

Where to watch Scrooge : Plex

13. Poltergeist (1982)

The real estate market is always a monster, but the Freeling family lucks out and gets a good deal on a nice house. There's just one little catch: The home was built on a Native American burial ground. And those spirits are not happy about the new tenants. Poltergeist pairs two Hollywood heavyweights, with Steven Spielberg behind the story and Tobe Hooper in the director's chair — and the result is pure movie magic.

The infamous TV scene , with Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke), is well-known, but it's nothing compared to what happens to the television in the last shot of the movie. No spoilers here, but viewers are bound to roll with laughter. Drew Barrymore auditioned for Spielberg for the role of Carol Anne, but, despite not landing the part, it was her Poltergeist tryout that led to her being cast in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).

Where to watch Poltergeist : Max

12. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Filmmaker Kim Jee-woon 's heartbreaking horror film gives audiences valid reasons to avoid adultery. Su-mi (Im Soo-jung) returns home from a mental facility after her mother dies, but there's a strange family dynamic between her father and stepmother, Eun-joo (Yum Jung-ah). Su-mi is also very protective of her younger sister, Su-yeon (Moon Geun-young).

The film's twist is one of those watercooler moments that rivals any horror movie ending. Without spoiling the climax, A Tale of Two Sisters uses the haunted house motif almost as a window dressing to obscure the psychological aspects at play in this immensely enthralling, supernatural flick.

Where to watch A Tale of Two Sisters : Kanopy

11. The Conjuring (2013)

Lorraine Warren ( Vera Farmiga ) and her husband, Ed ( Patrick Wilson ), are paranormal investigators hellbent on helping the Perron family as they're haunted in their own farmhouse. The Warrens were real people who dedicated their lives to exploring the paranormal (or as some see it, duping the vulnerable), and they also investigated the real-life mystery of the Amityville house purchased by George and Kathy Lutz.

The Perrons, too, were not just characters, and The Conjuring is based on what happened to them in their Rhode Island home. The Perrons often visited the set while the film was being shot, and Farmiga and Wilson met with the Warrens to further their understanding of the characters they were portraying.

Where to watch The Conjuring: Max

10. The Orphanage (2007)

Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can't Go Home Again , but Laura (Belén Rueda) doesn't heed the novelist's advice. Rather, Laura takes her family back to the closed orphanage she was adopted from with the hopes of reopening it to help children with disabilities. But things take a bizarre turn when her son, Simón (Roger Príncep), goes missing.

The Orphanage , which also features a cameo from producer Guillermo del Toro as the doctor attending to Laura in the emergency room, received a standing ovation when it premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival . Filmmaker J. A. Bayona found inspiration for The Orphanage from watching 1961's The Innocents and 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind .

Where to watch The Oprhanage : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

9. We Are Still Here (2015)

One hundred and twenty years of haunting and horror isn't going to stop Anne Sacchetti ( Barbara Crampton ) and her husband, Paul (Andrew Sensenig), from buying a rural home, but perhaps they're blinded by the death of their son, Bobby. It isn't long before the couple realizes the house is alive — and it is hungry for a blood sacrifice.

We Are Still Here is loaded with homages to other horror films, and one of the most obvious is the appearance of the home's original residents, the Dagmars. They look like the vengeful ghosts in John Carpenter 's The Fog (1980), and the stair scene is a clear nod to Nancy ( Heather Langenkamp ) trudging up the staircase in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Where to watch We Are Still Here : Amazon Prime Video

8. The Haunting (1963)

Very few horror films evoke a creepier vibe than 1963's The Haunting , even with its black-and-white cinematography. Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) assembles a team to investigate the paranormal activity of the Hill House in Massachusetts — but escaping the haunt unscathed may prove futile.

The film is based on the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House by author Shirley Jackson. Director Robert Wise was coming off his immense success with West Side Story (1961), which he codirected with Jerome Robbins , while another west-sider joined him for the Hill House horror: Actor Russ Tamblyn , who portrayed Riff in West Side Story , tackles the role of Luke Sanderson.

Where to watch The Haunting : Max

7. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) starts her life anew when she buys a cottage in a quaint, seaside village, but her house is purported to be haunted by a seaman, Capt. Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison). The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is by far the most romantic of the haunted house films, and its storytelling — rather than fright and fear — makes it one of the top supernatural tales of all time.

Natalie Wood portrays Lucy's daughter, Anna, when she's a child, and the actress shot to stardom later that same year by appearing in Miracle on 34th Street . The screenplay for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was also adapted by Amanda Duff, and she claimed Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were originally courted to play the lead roles.

Where to watch The Ghost and Mrs. Muir : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

6. Lake Mungo (2008)

Alice Palmer's (Talia Zucker) drowning isn't the end of her tragedy when it comes to her family trying to cope with their loss and move on. Instead of closure, the Palmers are plagued by unexplained sightings of Alice, and, later, an even more mysterious, bloated-faced doppelgänger emerges.

Lake Mungo is chilling from start to finish, employing a mockumentary and found-footage style of filmmaking to exude an atmosphere of realism and tension that is supremely frightening to the senses. The fun of Lake Mungo , without spoiling the film's well-executed jump scare, is its use of modern technology to frighten audiences when they least expect it.

Where to watch Lake Mungo : AMC+

5. Hausu (1977)

Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami) and her friends find themselves facing off against a haunted house that murders its victims like a serial killer straight out of a slasher film. The same studio that produced the Godzilla franchise, Toho, masterminds one of the most horrifying and disturbingly humorous psychedelic films to date.

Hausu's over-the-top subject matter isn't for everyone, but horror fans — particularly of Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992) — will find the movie resonating with them. The success of Jaws (1975) inspired Toho to make Hausu , and none of the lead actresses were trained thespians. Rather, the seven women were all models.

Where to watch Hausu : Max

4. The Evil Dead (1981)

Before becoming the "this is my boomstick" housewares expert of S-Mart, Ash Williams ( Bruce Campbell ) makes the unfortunate mistake of spending his vacation in a haunted house with some friends. There, they find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the cabin, also known as the Book of the Dead, and all hell breaks loose into two sequels (1987, 1992), two remakes (2013, 2023), and a TV series Ash vs Evil Dead .

If you don't know what the "tree scene" is, you'll never get that imagery out of your head after watching The Evil Dead for the first time. It's one of the most appalling and unforgettable scenes to appear in any horror film, ever. The Evil Dead was the feature film debut for both Campbell and his best friend since high school, director Sam Raimi .

Where to watch The Evil Dead : Amazon Prime Video (to rent)

3. The Uninvited (1944)

Rick (Ray Milland) and his sister Pamela (Ruth Hussey) make the spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a lovely seaside home, and, as a result, Rick meets and becomes quite taken with young Stella (Gail Russell). The Uninvited is one of the first full-length haunted house movies, making it a cornerstone model moving forward for all other films to follow.

While Martin Scorsese called it one of the scariest movies of all time , The Uninvited kindles a wonderful romance between Rick and Stella. In fact, the serenade Rick writes and plays for his love, "Stella by Starlight," was composed specifically for the movie. However, it became a sensation when lyrics were later added, and it was even performed by Frank Sinatra .

2. The Innocents (1961)

Miss Giddens ( Deborah Kerr ) is hired to be a governess for Flora (Pamela Franklin) and her older brother, Miles (Martin Stephens), once he returns from boarding school. While Giddens takes an almost instant liking to Flora, she soon fears the children's secretive bond when Miles returns. And things grow even more disconcerting when Giddens begins seeing things and hearing voices.

The film is based on Henry James' 1898 horror novella, The Turn of the Screw , and both Truman Capote and William Archibald won the Edgar Allan Poe award for their screenplay. Jack Clayton directed and produced The Innocents , and he later went on to direct Hollywood icon Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby in 1974.

1. The Changeling (1980)

It's hard to have your car break down on the side of the road and not think about The Changeling . John Russell ( George C. Scott ) watches helplessly as his wife and daughter are cut down by a tow truck in the snow. Russell moves on and buys a house once owned by the family of Senator Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas), but he soon realizes he's not as alone there as he previously felt.

The character of John Russell is a music composer, but Scott wasn't musically inclined. Even so, the actor practiced the piano pieces Russell plays so that he could actually tickle the ivories on screen. Also, the actress who portrays historical society agent Claire (Trish Van Devere) was Scott's wife in real life, and they made five feature films while they were married, as well as a made-for-TV movie and a play.

Where to watch The Changeling : Peacock

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  • The 20 best slasher movies of all time
  • Poltergeist director Tobe Hooper 'deserved' directing credit, not Steven Spielberg, says filmmaker
  • It's showtime: Beetlejuice 2 is officially happening in 2024

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15 Best Paranormal Movies That Will Haunt You in Your Sleep

Not for the faint of heart!

Horror stands as one of cinema's oldest and most ambitious genres, and it has cultivated a passionate fan following off the back of its ability to leave viewers a terrified, trembling mess. One of its most viscerally horrifying subgenres comes in the form of paranormal movies, with films focusing on unnatural beings like ghosts, spirits, and demons which invade our nightmares and pique our superstitions and fears.

With impeccable special effects, agonizingly suspenseful storytelling, and an ingrained sense of terror that forces us to keep watching no matter how much we want to look away, great paranormal horror films have served as one of the genre's defining pillars for decades . From timeless classics from over 50 years ago to modern masterworks that reinvent the terror for new generations, it was much more than mere jump scares that made these films the iconic hits that they are today.

15 'The Others' (2001)

Directed by alejandro amenábar.

A twisty, winding psychological horror, The Others excelled as a subversive haunted house horror movie that coasted on Nicole Kidman ’s compelling central performance. Taking place in 1945, it follows a devoted Catholic who moves to the English coast with her two young children who suffer from a rare photosensitivity disease while waiting for word on her husband in the war. As odd occurrences start to transpire around the house, Grace (Kidman) starts to believe something paranormal could be at work.

With an elegance that isn’t necessarily characteristic of horror, not to mention an intelligent and engrossing screenplay to boot, The Others excelled with its narrative nous alone. However, with The Others also boasting a magnetic, atmospheric chill that can have an immersive effect , it is shocking as it is tight and tidy to be an impressive and underrated horror flick.

Rent on Amazon Prime

14 'Suspiria' (1977)

Directed by dario argento.

One of the greatest horror movies of the 1970s which distinguished itself with a rich sense of style, Suspiria has become a true classic of the genre. It follows Suzy Bannion ( Jessica Harper ), an aspiring ballerina from America who travels to Germany to attend a prestigious dance academy, where her stay becomes plagued as a mysterious and malevolent entity haunts the establishment, sparking an idea that a supernatural conspiracy could be at play.

While the film has some genuinely unnerving scenes, what truly made it stick in the viewers’ minds was its breathtaking visual display, with Dario Argento using color to striking effect , creating a surreal atmosphere of gripping intensity. The end result is a strangely beautiful horror film that excels as an aesthetically entrancing masterpiece with a solid horror story to boot.

Watch on Tubi

13 'Poltergeist' (1982)

Directed by tobe hooper.

Poltergeist made television a thing to be feared. When the youngest of the Freeling family, Carol Anne ( Heather O'Rourke ) begins chatting with the static on the TV, there is something wrong. Eventually, the rest of the house becomes a horror show as well and it is overrun by malevolent ghosts who want to abduct Carol Anne.

Released in 1982, Poltergeist has become a timeless horror classic with its consistently terrifying tone which remains just as scary today as it was the day it was released. In addition to being a terrific paranormal horror film, Poltergeist is also one of the all-time great haunted house movies , one that not only gave viewers nightmares, but left them in a cold sweat when their television sets went to static as well.

Poltergeist

Rent on Apple TV

12 'Smile' (2022)

Directed by parker finn.

The directorial debut of Parker Finn , adapting his 2020 short film Laura Hasn't Slept into a feature-length horror hit, Smile proved to be incredibly effective as an unnerving, creepy demon possession flick. It follows Rose ( Sosie Bacon ), a psychiatrist who believes she is being haunted by a supernatural threat after she witnesses the bizarre and harrowing suicide of one of her patients.

Smile 's use of jump scares, mounting suspense, and eerily off-putting performances offered more than enough horror to keep audiences awake at night for fear of what they would see in their dreams. As a fresh entry into the world of horror cinema, Smile was a landmark box office success, making well over $200 million worldwide, and has a sequel scheduled to be released in October .

Watch on Amazon Prime

11 'Last Night in Soho' (2021)

Directed by edgar wright.

While it isn't classified as a horror film, Edgar Wright 's ghost story draws clear inspiration from the genre while creeping under audiences' skin with much more than just evil spirits. Last Night in Soho follows Eloise ( Thomasin McKenzie ) a clairvoyant girl who moves to London to attend a fashion course at an illustrious arts school where her connection to the area's ugly past threatens to drive her mad as she begins experiencing the life of an aspiring singer who had her room in the 1960s.

While the film's ghoulish, faceless ghosts can certainly garner a fright, it's Last Night in Soho 's thematic focus on misogyny and abuse that made it particularly striking . It also didn't hurt that the film had a spectacular soundtrack of '60s hits , flaunted Wright's trademark dedication to style, and served as a wonderful testament to classic horror which fans could both adore and fear.

Last Night in Soho

10 'talk to me' (2023), directed by danny and michael phillipou.

The modern age of horror cinema has seen a number of stunning instant classics arise, but few have had such immediate success as Talk to Me . Following a group of friends as they conjure spirits with an embalmed hand for thrills, its sudden shift to paranormal terror has entrenched it among the best and most popular horror movies to be made in recent years.

The debut film of Michael and Danny Philippou , it hearkens back to classic horror movies from decades past while being imbued with some new ideas that make it completely of its time. Further enhanced by its aspirational dramatic heft, Talk to Me is a deeply unsettling film capable of rattling even the most hardened horror fans and is destined to become one of the best paranormal horror movies, if not of all time, then of its era at the very least.

Rent on Amazon

9 'Paranormal Activity' (2007)

Directed by oren peli.

An ingenious mix of simple yet suspenseful narrative, low-budget innovation, and the haunting, invasive feeling exuded from its home-camera gimmick, Paranormal Activity is a true masterpiece of found footage horror . As one of the 21st century's earlier horror hits, it focuses on a young couple who move into a new house where a series of strange happenings inspire Micah ( Micah Sloat ) to set up cameras to document what is occurring.

Steadily building the tension as the weird events that occur become increasingly hostile, much of the film's agonizing torment actually stemmed from the lingering moments where nothing was happening. A stressful, heart-stopping horror film, Paranormal Activity remains an acclaimed hit of the genre and one of the most intense and terrifying paranormal horror films of all time.

Paranormal Activity

Watch on Max

8 'The Ring' (2002)

Directed by gore verbinski.

An American adaptation of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ringu , The Ring fast became a horror hit in the early 2000s. It follows Rachel ( Naomi Watts ), a journalist covering the death of four teenage girls who investigates a cursed videotape that kills people seven days after they watch it, and must find answers to save herself after she views it out of curiosity.

Fascinatingly, the film went into production without a finished script, but it found momentum in Gore Verbinski's arresting atmospheric suspense and Watts' outstanding central performance . The Ring tapped into the internet phenomenon of chain mail horror years before it bled into the mainstream consciousness, becoming a superstitious, paranormal hit of urban legend terror and nightmarish visual terror.

7 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)

Directed by roman polanski.

A true timeless classic of horror cinema which was famous for its terrifying, psychological impact which saw it linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled, Rosemary's Baby mixes demonic horror with family drama to horrifying effect . It focuses on Rosemary Woodhouse ( Mia Farrow ), the wife of a stage actor who moves into an apartment building with her husband where strange occurrences plague her as she falls pregnant, leading her to grow suspicious of her neighbors.

With a violent and overbearing satanism an underlying threat throughout Rosemary's Baby , it gradually builds a sickening dread as the sinister plot of the complex’s tenants unfolds. Powered by Farrow’s phenomenal central performance, Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t just thrive as one of the scariest paranormal movies of all time, but as a great example of female-led cinema as well.

Rosemary's Baby

Watch on Paramount+

6 'The Conjuring' (2013)

Directed by james wan.

Throughout the 2010s, the horror genre had a massive resurgence, with more genre films becoming mainstream hits the longer the decade went on. One of the great, early major success stories for 2010s horror was 2013's The Conjuring which follows a family who move into a haunted house and turn to demonologists Ed ( Patrick Wilson ) and Lorraine Warren ( Vera Farmiga ) to investigate the curse's origin.

A suitably terrifying picture, The Conjuring is a flawless example of haunted house horror and proved to be such a hit with fans that it spawned a successful extended franchise. Further adding to the nightmarish horror of the demonic evil and the visual frights, The Conjuring was reportedly based on true events that the real-life Warrens investigated in the 1970s.

The Conjuring

5 'the babadook' (2014), directed by jennifer kent.

A cult hit of an Australian horror movie that has gradually built up its audience as the years have gone on, The Babadook served as the directorial debut of Jennifer Kent . Following a widowed single mother as her son begins to act strange and speaks of a monster coming to get him, it focuses on an ominous picture book called "Mister Babadook" and the monstrous evil that comes to life from within it.

The film won international praise not only for its horror mastery, but also for its depiction of grief and loss which gave it a heart-wrenching story of family woe as its core. As for its terrifying magnificence though, Kent masterfully manufactured a truly shaking horror film without having to rely on jump scares or copious gore to leave audiences dreading the titular villain long after the movie had finished.

The Babadook

Watch on Hulu

4 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

Directed by eduardo sánchez and daniel myrick.

Still standing as the magnum opus of the found-footage subgenre over two decades after its release, The Blair Witch Project remains one of the most viscerally terrifying movies ever made. It follows three film students who seek to make a documentary about the legend of the Blair Witch, and venture into the supposedly haunted woods to find out more about the myth only to find themselves lost and being stalked by a wicked and malevolent force.

The low-budget documentary approach gave The Blair Witch Project a jarring, grounded realism which elevated the horror by only giving audiences a very narrow viewpoint of what was unfolding. It allowed the imagination to run wild with all manner of dreadful thoughts, and also led to a very real sense of motion sickness which made many patrons in theaters physically ill .

The Blair Witch Project

3 'hereditary' (2018), directed by ari aster.

A groundbreaking debut from modern horror maestro Ari Aster , Hereditary became an instant classic with a startling reputation as being one of the greatest and scariest movies ever made . The famed horror flick follows a grieving family mourning the loss of an elderly relative who begins to fear they are being haunted by a demonic entity as they discover more of their disturbing ancestry amid a series of worrying occurrences.

The narrative takes some deeply disturbing turns to build an unbearable sense of dread which serves as an embodiment of nightmarish terror. Hereditary 's commentary on loss, guilt, and family is brilliant, not only in its depth but also in how it works into the horror , further enhancing it as the story unfolds right up until its scarring ending which has undoubtedly led to nightmares for millions of viewers around the world and marked Hereditary as one of the best supernatural horror movies ever made.

2 The Shining (1980)

Directed by stanley kubrick.

As one of the most renowned horror movies of all time, The Shining has endured for decades as a genre-defining masterpiece capable of generating an immense and weighted sense of dread that hangs heavy over the audience. From acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick , it follows a young family who relocates to the remote Overlook Hotel to serve as the resort’s winter caretakers where the patriarch begins to go mad as the hotel’s violent intent unravels.

With a runtime of 146 minutes, the film utilizes an agonizingly slow pace to draw out every ounce of dread and eerie suspense. It may not be the most immediately terrifying movie, but The Shining does prove to be an exhausting, lingering nightmare that can haunt viewers long after the credits roll .

The Shining

1 'the exorcist' (1973), directed by william friedkin.

When young Regan ( Linda Blair ) becomes possessed by a demon, her family calls for an exorcism to vanquish the evil. As Regan's condition worsens, she wreaks havoc on her household as she battles the demon for power over her very being, all while two Catholic priests work tirelessly to exorcise the demon from her body.

The Exorcist broke barriers for the genre, becoming an instant and lasting phenomenon that incited widespread fanfare and spectacle while also inspiring derision and even legends of a cursed production. Despite all the hysteria surrounding the film though, the one thing about The Exorcist that has endured is its masterful execution of paranormal horror, something that has made the movie the scariest film of all time in the eyes of many who have seen it.

The Exorcist

NEXT: The Most Bizarre and Grotesque Body Horror Movies

30 of the Best Horror Movies Based on True Stories

From actual serial killers and exorcisms to haunted dolls and home invasions.

preview for 15 of The Best Horror Movies

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring quickly became somewhat of a sensation, thanks to its original take on an old format. Based on the true stories of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren , the first Conjuring film follows the couple as they attempt to help a family whose house is haunted. Spin-offs so far have included The Nun and Annabelle , and it's clear that the franchise is far from over. See where it all began.

The Strangers (2008)

The Strangers is a horrific home invasion movie that will have you checking the locks on all of your doors and windows. The film follows Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) as their vacation stay becomes less than relaxing when strangers in masks turn up and invade their home. The Strangers is inspired by a series of real life attacks, including the Manson Family murders , meaning that the movie feels a little too real at times.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

One of horror's most iconic films was, surprisingly, based on the real life murders of Ed Gein , also known as "the Butcher of Plainfield." The Texas Chain Saw Massacre follows Sally as she embarks on a road trip with her brother and some friends. However, they stumble across a terrifying family, one of whom wears human skin as a mask and carries a chainsaw wherever he goes. The gang gets attacked and is drawn into one of the scariest cat-and-mouse chases of all time.

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Psycho (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was based on the book of the same name by Robert Bloch , and just like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , it was loosely inspired by real murderer Ed Gein . After stealing $40,000 from her employer, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) checks into the Bates Motel, where she meets an infamous fate in the shower. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) runs the establishment, with a little help from his mother.

Zodiac (2007)

David Fincher's Zodiac is based on the real life murders committed by the still-unidentified Zodiac killer . The film follows a group of journalists at San Francisco Chronicle who investigate a series of murders after receiving encrypted letters purporting to be from the killer. The terrifying, unsolved crimes continue to haunt people all over America, especially as the killer evaded law enforcement for so long. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr.

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The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

The Haunting in Connecticut is based on the real lives of Allen and Carmen Snedeker and their family, although their supernatural claims have been criticized over the years. The film follows a family who, after moving into a new home, start experiencing strange events and discover that the house has a very haunted history. Although the film isn't connected to The Conjuring , the real-life Snedekers did hire paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren to help.

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Compliance (2012)

Compliance is made all the more chilling because of the fact that it's based on a true story. The film follows a fast food restaurant employee who is accused of theft over the phone by a so-called police officer. However, the identity of the caller is never verified, and his demands become more and more undignified. The film is based upon the true story of "an 18-year-old employee at a McDonald's in Kentucky [who] was detained, stripped, and sexually assaulted on the instructions of a caller pretending to be a policeman," per Entertainment Weekly .

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The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

In The Clovehitch Killer, Tyler starts to suspect his father of murder after discovering a collection of horrifying images in their house. He soon wonders if his dad might have committed a series of murders that have taken place in the local area, but finds it hard to believe his own father is capable of such crimes. While the movie's plot is fictional, it was apparently inspired by the actions of the BTK Killer, real name Dennis Rader , who murdered ten people over a 17 year period.

Monster (2003)

It's easy to see why Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003's Monster . Wuornos is thought to have murdered seven people between 1989 and 1990, and Theron physically transformed herself into the serial killer by gaining weight and wearing dentures. The movie follows Wuornos as she moves to Florida and starts dating Selby (Christina Ricci). After vowing to quit prostitution, Wuornos finds herself killing her clients while trying to support her new girlfriend.

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The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring 2 focuses on the Enfield Haunting , a real-life ghost story that occurred in England in the late '70s. The Hodgson family started experiencing very strange things happening in their home, and much like in the first Conjuring film, Ed and Lorraine Warren were called in to consult on the matter. While quite a lot of liberties have been taken with the subject matter, the Enfield Haunting remains one of Britain's most famous ghost stories to date.

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The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

If you previously thought that a nightmare like The Hills Have Eyes could never happen in real life, think again. Director Wes Craven once revealed that the terrifying movie was actually inspired by a real cannibal family in Scotland led by a person called Sawney Bean . The 16th century legend involved a group of cannibals allegedly killing and eating as many as 1000 people, which is perhaps even more horrifying than the film itself.

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Devil's Knot (2014)

Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon co-star in this horror/thriller based on the West Memphis Three . A group of teenage boys were allegedly inspired to carry out satanic rituals, which allegedly resulted in the deaths of three eight-year old boys. However, it was unclear if the teenagers had actually committed the murders, or if they were framed for their alternative lifestyles. Devil's Knot tries to untie this twisty true story.

Child's Play (1988)

It may be hard to believe that Child's Play is based on a true story, but apparently that's the case. The now-famous Chucky doll was reportedly inspired by a doll from the early 1900s called Robert. Per Atlas Obscura , Robert is thought to be the world's most haunted doll, as his owner Robert Eugene Otto treated the toy like a real human being. While Chucky has since taken on a life of his own, it's clear that cursed dolls really do exist.

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Zac Efron shocked just about everyone when he decided to portray serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile . While not every detail in the movie is based in truth, much of Bundy's story is told in the Netflix film, including many of the kidnappings, rapes and murders he actually committed. The real Bundy is believed to have killed as many as 28 women .

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The Rite (2011)

In The Rite , Anthony Hopkins plays Father Lucas, an actual priest based in Rome, involved in real-life exorcisms. Although the movie takes some liberties with the truth, many of the details are drawn from the non-fiction book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist , meaning that much of the story really happened. And according to the Daily Beast , that involves the mysterious appearance of black toads around the possessed.

Annabelle (2014)

horror movies based on true stories

What is it about children’s toys that can be so terrifying? Based within The Conjuring universe, Annabelle is a vintage porcelain doll cursed by a demonic spirit, causing hauntings and violent ends to those that would wrong her. In real life, Annabelle is a supposedly haunted Raggedy Anne doll owned by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. She was originally gifted to a student nurse in 1970 but according to a psychic medium, the doll was inhabited by the spirit of a dead girl named Annabelle and is said to be responsible for two near-death experiences, one fatal accident, and many demonic activities in the past 30 years. Under the glass case in which the real Annabelle sits reads the words: “Warning: Positively do not open”.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

horror movies based on true stories

For a killer that hunts teenagers in their sleep, it’s surprising to know that the Freddy Krueger murders in Nightmare on Elm Street are based on a series of articles published by The LA Times in the 70s. Hmong refugees had fled war torn Southeast Asia for the United States. One young boy, whose family had survived the killing fields of Cambodia, had terrible nightmares of something chasing him in his sleep. “He was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time,” director Wes Craven told Cinemablend in 2014. “When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare.” Truly terrifying.

Borderland (2007)

horror movies based on true stories

Three recent Texas graduates, Ed, Henry, and Phil, head down to Mexico for a week of loose fun, but things take a sinister turn when one of them goes missing. It’s revealed that Phil has been kidnapped by a serial killer/cult leader who’s preparing a human sacrifice to bless their drug-smuggling racket. The murderous cult leader is based on Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo, a Cuban American drug dealer and cult leader whose sect performed multiple ritualistic killings in Matamoros, Mexico, during the 80s.

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Dahmer (2002)

horror movies based on true stories

Actor Jeremy Renner’s breakout role came in the form of portraying sadistic killer Jeffrey Dahmer in this independent film. Talk about jumping in the deep end. Dahmer’s case is particularly gruesome, in case you’re not familiar. He murdered, mutilated, and partially consumed 17 boys and young men during the late 70s to early 90s. Dahmer is told in a mix of present-day and flashbacks to the killer’s early years, as well as his troubled relationship with his father. While undoubtedly horrifying, the film was both well received and criticized for its attempt to “rationalize the monstrous”, per a New York Times review.

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Poltergeist (1982)

horror movies based on true stories

“They’re here,” the little blonde girl says as the TV flickers with static. It’s an iconic moment in scary cinema to be sure and the events in Poltergeist are based on the terrifying things that happen at the Herrmann House in 1958. Bottles containing various substances began to pop and move about the house. The Herrmann’s bottle of holy water tipped over for no apparent reason. Other household objects were thrown across the room with “no devices that could have propelled them”, per a story in LIFE magazine. News of the strange occurrences made the news, but after about a month and 70 documented reports of unusual activity, everything stopped. The Stephen Spielberg-produced Poltergeist is more sensational than what happened to the Herrmann’s, but a classic nonetheless.

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Amy Mackelden is a freelance writer, editor, and disability activist. Her bylines include Harper's BAZAAR, Nicki Swift, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, ELLE, The Independent, Bustle, Healthline, and HelloGiggles. She co-edited The Emma Press Anthology of Illness , and previously spent all of her money on Kylie Cosmetics.

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34 Horror Movies on Hulu That Are Scary Good

October 10, 2023

We take spooky season very seriously around here. That’s why you can find all of the best thrilling, chilling, spine-tingling, and stomach-churning horror movies you crave on Hulu. 

From new horror movies like Appendage and The Mill to classics like Friday the 13th , check out the best horror movies on Hulu screaming — we mean streaming — now. 

Best Horror Movies on Hulu

1. appendage (2023).

Title art for the Hulu Original horror series Appendage.

Looking for a new horror movie to add to your favorites list? Appendage is a must-see Hulu Original movie about an overworked and chronically stressed budding fashion designer whose anxieties begin to manifest into strange physical abnormalities. It isn’t until she finds others like her that she realizes these side effects are something much more sinister. 

Watch: Appendage

2. The Mill (2023)

A still image from the Hulu Original thriller movie The Mill.

Are sci-fi thrillers your horror sub-genre of choice? Then you have to watch The Mill — a new Hulu Original movie full of terror and suspense. When Joe, a businessman and soon-to-be father, wakes up to find himself in captivity, he has no choice but to comply to with the mysterious voice broadcasting into his cell. 

Watch: The Mill

3. False Positive (2021)

Title art for the Hulu Original thriller movie The Mill.

Lucy and Adrian have been trying to conceive for two years without success, but things start to look up when they begin working with Dr. Hindle — the best fertility doctor in New York. However, it’s not until Lucy finally becomes pregnant that she discovers a horrifying truth. 

Watch: False Positive

4. Saw (2004)

Title art for the original Saw film.

If you like horror movies full of blood, gore, and suspense — the Saw franchise of slasher movies are a must-watch. The series starts with two men who awake to find themselves in a gross and unfamiliar bathroom with no recollection of how they got there. Before long, they realize they’re pawns in the sadistic game conducted by the Jigsaw Killer. 

Love Saw ? There’s plenty more where that came from. Saw II , Saw III , Saw IV , Saw V , Saw VI , and Saw: The Final Chapter are all streaming now on Hulu. 

5. Friday the 13th (1980)

Title art for the classic horror movie Friday the 13th.

Camp Crystal Lake is opening for the first time in two decades despite its perplexing “death curse.” Can time erase the past or will the Crystal Lake curse strike a new generation of campers at the hands of Jason, a revenge seeking camper?

Watch: Friday the 13th *

*Friday the 13th is available on Hulu with a Max® add-on subscription.

6. Get Out (2017)

A still image from the horror movie Get Out.

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out is an Oscar®-winning psychological horror film about a young Black man in an interracial relationship. Not knowing what to expect when meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time, Chris quickly realizes he’s the target of a sick and twisted plan. 

Watch: Get Out *

*Live TV plan required to watch live content on Hulu. Regional restrictions, blackouts, and additional terms apply.

7. The Omen (2006)

A still image of It the clown from Stephen King’s classic horror movie It.

For horror fans, The Omen is a tried and true classic. The spine-tingling and heart-pounding story tells the fictional tale of the U.S. Ambassador to England and his young son. When dark forces surrounding the child become evident, his father begins to fear the worst — is his son the Antichrist?

Watch: The Omen

8. Stephen King’s It (1990)   

Whether you love him, hate him. or love to hate him — you can’t deny that it doesn’t get more horrifying than killer clowns, especially Stephen King’s Pennywise. Follow a group of childhood friends as they come face-to-face with their biggest nightmare in the classic horror movie, It. 

After watching the original, keep horror movie night rolling with It: Chapter 2 .

Watch: Stephen King’s It

9. Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)

Title art forExorcist: The Beginning.

Have you ever wondered how Father Merrin came to be The Exorcist ? In Exorcist: The Beginning , thriller movie fans get to start from the beginning. Discover the bone-chilling origin story of Father Merrin in the years prior to saving the soul of Regan MacNeil. 

Watch: Exorcist: The Beginning

10. Leprechaun (1992)

Title art for the classic horror film Leprechaun.

Someone stole the leprechaun’s pot of gold — now he’s out for blood. Jennifer Aniston and Warwick Davis star in Leprechaun , a classic horror film where outsmarting a cunning Leprechaun is a matter of life and death.

Watch: Leprechaun

11. Child’s Play (1988)

Title art for the iconic horror movie, Child’s Play.

There’s no way a serial killer can reincarnate themselves into a doll, right? For a young boy and his mother, this irrational fear becomes a dangerous reality. Even if you’re new to the horror genre, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Chucky — a terrifying toy doll that comes to life with the intention to kill. 

Watch: Child’s Play *

*Child’s Play requires CINEMAX® on Hulu add-on subscription.

12. Annabelle (2014)

Title art for the horror movie Annabelle.

Speaking of creepy dolls, meet Annabelle . In this prequel to the horror movie, The Conjuring , a young couple expecting their first child become terrorized by a terrifyingly creepy vintage doll. If they want to save their family, they must uncover the doll’s dark secrets and confront the evil forces surrounding them. 

Watch: Annabelle

13. The Clovehitch Killer (2018)

Title art for The Clovehitch Killer.

On the outside, The Whitakers appear to be a typical family living in a small American town — but things aren’t always as they seem. When the family’s teenage son, Tyler, begins to suspect his father could be an infamous serial killer, the family’s web of disturbing secrets begins to unravel.

Watch: The Clovehitch Killer

14. Hellraiser (2022)

A promotional image for the Hulu Original horror movie Hellraiser.

A reimagining of Clive Barker’s 1987 classic horror film, the Hulu Original horror film, Hellraiser , stars Jamie Clayton as the iconic horror villain, Pinhead. Watch along as another unsuspecting victim messes with the Lament Configuration and unleashes the Cenobites. 

Watch: Hellraiser

15. Censor (2021)

Title art for the horror movie Censor.

Enid is a film censor editor who gets assigned to review an eerie video that oddly mirrors her own life, including suppressed childhood memories. The more she begins to unravel her past, the more she realizes this film might be directly related to her sister’s disappearance. 

Watch:   Censor

16. Parasite (2019)

Title art for the award-winning Korean movie, Parasite.

The poverty-stricken Kim family isn’t above scheming and swindling people to get by. When the opportunity presents itself to lie about their credentials to a wealthy family looking for in-home help, the Kims take advantage and slowly infiltrate their home. How long can they keep their lies going before they get caught?

Watch:   Parasite *

*Parasite is available on Hulu with a Max® add-on subscription.

17. Blair Witch (2016)

Title art for the horror movie Blair Witch on Hulu.

Blair Witch is the third installment in the Blair Witch series and the sequel to the 1999 cult classic horror movie, The Blair Witch Project . In this film, a man and a group of friends explore the Black Hills Forest in search of answers surrounding his sister’s disappearance. As the night progresses, they find the answers they’re looking for. Now, they just have to make it out alive. 

Watch: Blair Witch *

*Blair Witch is available on Hulu with a Max® add-on subscription.

18. Fresh (2022)

Title art for the scary movie Fresh.

Fed up with dating apps, Noa falls head over heels when she meets a charming and handsome guy at the grocery store. The two exchange numbers and Noa agrees to a romantic weekend getaway after only having one date. But, it won’t take long for her to realize she’s made a grave mistake. 

Watch Sebastian Stan (star of Pam & Tommy) play a spine-shivering killer with a stomach-churning secret in the Hulu Original thriller movie, Fresh .

Watch: Fresh

19. The House That Jack Built (2018)

Title art for the slasher movie, The House That Jack Built.

Get inside the mind of Jack, a highly intelligent but deeply disturbed serial killer, as he recounts his most disturbing and carefully orchestrated murders. 

Watch: The House That Jack Built

20. Matriarch (2022)

Title art for the horror movie Matriarch.

A near fatal overdose almost takes the life of Laura Birch. When she becomes infected by a mysterious disease after the fact, Birch decides to move home in an attempt to recuperate, but instead discovers a terrifying secret about her mom, hometown, and herself. 

Watch: Matriarch

21. Grimcutty (2022)

Title art for the Hulu Original horror movie Grimcutty.

When hysterical parents bring a horrifying internet meme to life, a pair of teen siblings take matters into their own hands. 

Watch: Grimcutty

22. My Friend Dahmer (2017)

Title art for the horror movie My Friend Dahmer.

The story of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is almost too sick and twisted to believe. My Friend Dahmer is a biographical psychological thriller based on true events , starting Dahmer’s story from the very beginning. 

Watch: My Friend Dahmer

23. Agnes (2021)

Title art for the horror movie Agnes.

Agnes is a young nun who begins to show signs of devilish behavior. She catches the attention of a suspicious priest determined to reveal the sinister secrets of this compromised convent. 

Watch: Agnes 

24. Haunt (2019)

Title art for the horror thriller movie Haunt.

A group of friends with an itch for thrills and chills on Halloween decides to enter a dangerously haunted house. What seemingly starts out as fun and games quickly turns into a night of pure terror, putting their lives in jeopardy. 

Watch: Haunt

25. Treehouse (2019)

A still image for the horror movie Treehouse.

Peter Rake is an entitled celebrity chef who attempts to escape a scandal by retreating to a family vacation house nestled deep in the woods. Little does Peter know, revenge is waiting for him where he least expects it. 

Watch: Treehouse  

26. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Title art for the classic horror movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

When Emily Rose died during an exorcism, the family priest who performed it was put on trial for negligent homicide. On top of skin-raising horrifying moments, The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a chilling story about the crossroads of religion and reason. 

Watch: The Exorcism of Emily Rose

27. Books of Blood (2020)

Title art for the horror movie Books of Blood.

Books of Blood is a mystery horror flick that tells the stories of three people connected through space and time. This is a must-watch if you like horror films that make you think. 

Watch: Books of Blood

28. I’m Just F*cking With You (2019)

While staying at a motel in the middle of nowhere en route to a wedding, an adult brother and sister endure a night of increasingly horrifying practical jokes in this Hulu Original movie. 

Watch:   I’m Just F*cking With You

29. Run (2020)

Title art for the horror thriller movie Run.

Chloe was born and raised in isolation by her mom, Diane. As she gets older, Chloe begins to uncover her mother’s dark secrets. 

30. The Boogeyman (2023)

Title art for the new thriller movie, The Boogeyman.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, The Boogeyman is a brand new horror/thriller movie about a childhood monster come to life —  The Boogeyman . While grappling with the loss of their mother, two sisters experience the haunting of a supernatural force that feeds off the suffering of its victims. 

Watch: The Boogeyman

31. The Lodge (2019)

Title art for the new thriller movie, The Lodge.

When Aidan and Mia’s dad must take off for work, his new girlfriend, Grace, agrees to stay with the kids. While he’s gone, a blizzard traps his family inside while Grace’s dark past haunts them. 

Watch: The Lodge *

*The Lodge is available on Hulu with a Max® add-on subscription.

32. Shirley (2020)

Title art for the new thriller movie, Shirley.

Rose takes an offer for free room and board from a small college town professor. The only catch? She has to look after the professor’s wife, who also happens to be a famous horror writer. 

Watch: Shirley *

*Shirley is available on Hulu with a Max® add-on subscription.

33. Bad Hair (2020)

Title art for the new thriller movie, Bad Hair.

Set in the late 80s, Bad Hair is a horror satire film about a woman who gets fake hair in order to get noticed in a career where image is everything. However, she quickly learns that beauty sometimes comes with a cost when her new hair gets a mind of its own. 

Watch: Bad Hair

34. Down (2019)

A still image from the horror movie Down.

Everyone’s worst nightmare comes true for a pair of co-workers when they get stuck in an elevator for an entire weekend. At first, the two teeter on a romantic connection, but things go south as they become more vulnerable. 

Watch: Down

Looking for more scary movies on Hulu? Check out Hulu’s Horror Movie Hub and Halloween movie guide for more spooktacular titles to stream this fall.

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The Best Short Horror Movies (And How To Watch Them)

Short, spooky tales.

The main protagonist in Curve.

If you’re looking for something scary but not too long, there are some great horror shorts to see. 

I love horror. Anyone who knows me knows that at this point. I love the best horror movies out there, the best A24 horror movies , or really just anything scary. I could spend an entire day watching horror movies and still get a good night’s rest. 

Maybe that’s more of a personal issue, but whatever. 

Either way, there are other times when I don’t have the time to watch the entirety of a horror movie – but that’s where some of the best horror shorts come along. Thankfully, we have some that are readily available for you to watch right now. 

Mama (2008)

If Mama sounds familiar, it’s because Andy Muschietti (the man behind the 2010s adaptation of the IT films ) made his debut in the film industry with the film adaptation of Mama, which was based on this short film. 

If you're looking for more awesome horror movies, here are some of the best on Rotten Tomatoes.

The short film follows a young child who wakes her sister up by telling her that their mother has returned home, but their supposed maternal figure is not who they ever expected it to be – it’s a lot more sinister. 

This film is one of those that makes you scared to turn off the light, and as someone who first saw this when she was 10 years old, it was the first real short that made me want to watch longer-length horror movies, but also appreciate the fact that some horror films don’t need to be extended to be scary. This is terrifying enough. 

Watch Mama on YouTube.

Bedfellows (2008)

Bedfellows is one of the shortest films on this list, clocking in at a whopping two minutes and thirty-one seconds – but it scares pretty quickly. 

In the short, a woman receives a phone call in the middle of the night, but when she answers it, it’s someone that she never thought would call her, and as she speaks to them, the tension grows thicker by the second, until the ultimate reveal that makes you jump out of your seat. 

Bedfellows almost reminds me of the slow-burn horror movies out there because while it may only last two minutes, the tension is done so perfectly. 

Watch Bedfellows on YouTube.

Behind The Door (2020)

Another concise film on this list is Behind the Door, a short horror film that follows a young man reading a Stephen King novel at night but hearing something coming from behind the door. He investigates but finds nothing there – until it comes from the dark. 

It’s such a simple, short horror film, but it builds tension in a way that reminds you of many other horror movies that involve ghosts or other creepies. Quick and to the point – precisely the kind of short horror we all need. 

Watch Behind the Door on YouTube.

Salt (2017)

As someone who grew up with a mother whom we would watch demonic possession horror movies with all the time (like The Exorcist or The Omen), this is the best short horror film out there. It’s about a mother and a daughter trying to fight off demons using salt and other methods. 

There is no buildup in this – you are thrown right into the action, which I like the most about it, if we’re honest. It has special effects, good action, and great acting, and personally, I could see this turning into a full-length movie.

Watch Salt on YouTube.

The History Of Monsters (2019)

In this short horror film, The History of Monsters, follows a woman living in isolation who is haunted by monsters each night, but one day, she finds a companion in the woods and brings him back to her home. However, as time passes, she realizes that the monsters might not be the only thing she can’t trust. 

Clocking in at eighteen minutes, this is one of the longer short horror films, but God, every second of it is pure mastery. I’ve watched this film a few times and shown it to multiple people, and it’s really well done. The makeup itself deserves all the awards. 

Watch The History of Monsters on YouTube.

The Black Hole (2008)

Think about some of the best sci-fi horror movies you’ve seen, and then shrink those down into shorter films – it’s hard to imagine a sci-fi concept in a short film, but The Black Hole does that and more. The short follows a worker who can create a black hole as a prototype to get whatever he wants – until it leads him to something horrible. 

Again, this is a short, short film. It’s only two minutes, but man, it takes a dark turn quickly and turns a cute sci-fi concept into a great horror short that makes you rethink how greedy you should be. 

Watch The Black Hole on YouTube.

A Sickness (2021)

Spanning ten minutes, A Sickness is the perfect ten-minute horror film, following Stephen, a man who looks normal and acts normal, but has secrets hidden deep within the floorboards of his house.

A Sickness is one of those short movies that I think is great, but you should go into it completely unaware of what you’re getting yourself into. In those ten minutes, I promise, the end will make you sit in silence for about ten minutes wondering what you just watched – and then recommend it to your horror-loving friends.

Watch A Sickness on YouTube.

Behind Closed Doors (2010)

Behind Closed Doors is the only animated horror short on here, and I’m a pretty big animation fan, so I had to list this one. Behind Closed Doors tells a simple story – a boy who believes that a monster is haunting his bedroom, and when no one helps him, he has to confront the beast himself. 

Behind Closed Doors is a concept I’m sure we have heard of – the monster in the closet waiting to emerge, as we’ve seen in so many films, from the Halloween movies to Insidious and so many more. But, I think what makes this great is that somehow, in five minutes, there are enough twists to take years off your life. I swear to God.

Watch Behind Closed Doors on YouTube.

Curve (2016)

This is for everyone who is scared of heights. Curve follows a woman stuck on a strange curve that, if she falls in, will lead into an abyss filled with strange sounds that remind the audience of evil monsters. She tries to make it out and get to the edge for safety. 

This movie gives me so much unease. It’s hard to make me feel uncomfortable, and this is coming from someone who has no issue with heights, but the idea that she’s just stuck there and trying to get herself out makes you squirm. All of this is done in one location, which is impressive. 

Watch Curve on YouTube.

The Black Tower (1987)

Last but not least, we have The Black Tower. This 20-minute short film from the 1980s follows a man as he videotapes London, all for a strange, mysterious black tower to fill the background of the video. 

This short is the epitome of tension. There are no jump scares, but this strange building following this person everywhere sets your skin on fire and blares alarm bells in your head. It still makes viewers squirm all these years later.

Watch The Black Tower on YouTube.

Now, you’ll have some fantastic new short horror films to check out before the latest upcoming horror movies are released as part of the 2024 movie schedule . 

I would recommend another horror short film, Lights Out, if you can find it – truly remarkable to watch. All of these, really – and now I need to go turn some lights on and watch a cute rom-com not to be scared anymore. 

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Alexandra Ramos

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter. 

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  • 2 The Best Short Horror Movies (And How To Watch Them)
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  • 4 Anya Taylor-Joy Reveals Her Partner Didn’t Even Know Her Full Real Name: ‘First Names The Whole Way Through’
  • 5 Batman V Superman’s Jesse Eisenberg Offers Blunt Advice For Nicholas Hoult Taking Over As Lex Luthor, And I See Where He’s Coming From
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TOP HORROR MOVIES: 2000-2024

A choice of 296 of the best horror movies released from 2000 to 2024. In reverse chronological order and purely subjective. Horror Links: Genre: Horror: Most Popular Horror Titles Genre: Horror: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Genre: Horror: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released 2000 to 2023 With At Least 5 Votes Horror Movies in the IMDb "Top 250": Most Popular IMDb "Top 250", Horror Feature Films Horror Movies in the IMDb "Top 1000": Most Popular IMDb "Top 1000", Horror Feature Films Horror Movies for 2018: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2018 Horror Movies for 2019: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2019 Horror Movies for 2020: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2020 Horror Movies for 2021: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2021 Horror Movies for 2022: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2022 Horror Movies for 2023: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2023 Horror Movies for 2024: Most Popular Horror Feature Films Released in 2024 . Horror Guide: Scary Good

  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • Release Year

1. Thanksgiving (I) (2023)

R | 106 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy, a mysterious Thanksgiving-inspired killer terrorizes Plymouth, Massachusetts - the birthplace of the infamous holiday.

Director: Eli Roth | Stars: Patrick Dempsey , Ty Olsson , Gina Gershon , Lynne Griffin

Votes: 30,876

2. When Evil Lurks (2023)

Not Rated | 99 min | Horror

In a remote village, two brothers find a demon-infected man just about to "give birth" to evil itself. They decide to get rid of the body, only to end up unintentionally spreading chaos.

Director: Demián Rugna | Stars: Ezequiel Rodríguez , Demián Salomón , Silvina Sabater , Luis Ziembrowski

Votes: 22,204

3. Saw X (2023)

R | 118 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A sick and desperate John travels to Mexico for a risky and experimental medical procedure in hopes of a miracle cure for his cancer only to discover the entire operation is a scam to defraud the most vulnerable.

Director: Kevin Greutert | Stars: Tobin Bell , Shawnee Smith , Synnøve Macody Lund , Steven Brand

Votes: 65,457

4. Birth/Rebirth (2023)

R | 101 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A morgue technician successfully reanimates the body of a little girl, but to keep her breathing, she will need to harvest biological materials from pregnant women. When the girl's mother, a nurse, discovers her baby alive, they enter into a deal that forces them both down a dark path of no return.

Director: Laura Moss | Stars: Judy Reyes , Marin Ireland , Breeda Wool , Monique Gabriela Curnen

Votes: 4,665

5. Evil Dead Rise (2023)

R | 96 min | Horror

A twisted tale of two estranged sisters whose reunion is cut short by the rise of flesh-possessing demons, thrusting them into a primal battle for survival as they face the most nightmarish version of family imaginable.

Director: Lee Cronin | Stars: Mirabai Pease , Richard Crouchley , Anna-Maree Thomas , Lily Sullivan

Votes: 130,511

6. El Conde (2023)

R | 110 min | Comedy, Fantasy, History

After living 250 years in this world, Augusto Pinochet, who is not dead but an aged vampire, decides to die once and for all.

Director: Pablo Larraín | Stars: Jaime Vadell , Gloria Münchmeyer , Alfredo Castro , Paula Luchsinger

Votes: 7,971

7. Beau Is Afraid (2023)

R | 179 min | Comedy, Drama, Horror

Following the sudden death of his mother, a mild-mannered but anxiety-ridden man confronts his darkest fears as he embarks on an epic, Kafkaesque odyssey back home.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix , Patti LuPone , Amy Ryan , Nathan Lane

Votes: 53,449

8. Infinity Pool (2023)

R | 117 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

James and Em Foster are enjoying an all-inclusive beach vacation in the fictional island of La Tolqa, when a fatal accident exposes the resort's perverse subculture of hedonistic tourism, reckless violence and surreal horrors.

Director: Brandon Cronenberg | Stars: Alexander Skarsgård , Mia Goth , Cleopatra Coleman , Dunja Sepcic

Votes: 51,828

9. Scream VI (2023)

R | 122 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In the next installment, the survivors of the Ghostface killings leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter in New York City.

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin , Tyler Gillett | Stars: Courteney Cox , Melissa Barrera , Jenna Ortega , Jasmin Savoy Brown

Votes: 114,884

10. X (II) (2022)

R | 105 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In 1979, a group of young filmmakers set out to make an adult film in rural Texas, but when their reclusive, elderly hosts catch them in the act, the cast find themselves fighting for their lives.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth , Jenna Ortega , Brittany Snow , Kid Cudi

Votes: 161,493

11. Pearl (2022)

R | 103 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

In 1918, a young woman on the brink of madness pursues stardom in a desperate attempt to escape the drudgery, isolation, and lovelessness of life on her parents' farm.

Director: Ti West | Stars: Mia Goth , David Corenswet , Tandi Wright , Matthew Sunderland

Votes: 87,796

12. Talk to Me (I) (2022)

R | 95 min | Horror, Thriller

When a group of friends discover how to conjure spirits using an embalmed hand, they become hooked on the new thrill, until one of them goes too far and unleashes terrifying supernatural forces.

Directors: Danny Philippou , Michael Philippou | Stars: Ari McCarthy , Hamish Phillips , Kit Erhart-Bruce , Sarah Brokensha

Votes: 123,761

13. M3GAN (2022)

PG-13 | 102 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A robotics engineer at a toy company builds a life-like doll that begins to take on a life of its own.

Director: Gerard Johnstone | Stars: Allison Williams , Violet McGraw , Ronny Chieng , Amie Donald

Votes: 137,114 | Gross: $93.88M

14. Barbarian (2022)

R | 102 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A woman staying at an Airbnb discovers that the house she has rented is not what it seems.

Director: Zach Cregger | Stars: Georgina Campbell , Bill Skarsgård , Justin Long , Matthew Patrick Davis

Votes: 172,797

15. Smile (V) (2022)

R | 115 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After witnessing a bizarre, traumatic incident involving a patient, a psychiatrist becomes increasingly convinced she is being threatened by an uncanny entity.

Director: Parker Finn | Stars: Sosie Bacon , Jessie T. Usher , Kyle Gallner , Robin Weigert

Votes: 151,082

16. The Menu (2022)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

Director: Mark Mylod | Stars: Ralph Fiennes , Anya Taylor-Joy , Nicholas Hoult , Hong Chau

Votes: 373,264 | Gross: $38.50M

17. Bones and All (2022)

R | 131 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

A young woman embarks on a 1000 mile odyssey through America where she meets a disenfranchised drifter. But all roads lead back to their terrifying pasts and to a final stand that will determine whether love can survive their otherness.

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Stars: Timothée Chalamet , Taylor Russell , Mark Rylance , Kendle Coffey

Votes: 54,811

18. Deadstream (2022)

Not Rated | 87 min | Comedy, Horror

A disgraced internet personality attempts to win back his followers by livestreaming one night alone in a haunted house. But when he accidentally pisses off a vengeful spirit, his big comeback event becomes a real-time fight for his life.

Directors: Joseph Winter , Vanessa Winter | Stars: Joseph Winter , Melanie Stone , Jason K. Wixom , Pat Barnett

Votes: 16,560

19. Piggy (2022)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

An overweight teen is bullied by a clique of cool girls poolside while holidaying in her village. The long walk home will change the rest of her life.

Director: Carlota Pereda | Stars: Laura Galán , Richard Holmes , Carmen Machi , Irene Ferreiro

Votes: 12,323

20. Terrifier 2 (2022)

Not Rated | 138 min | Horror

After being resurrected by a sinister entity, Art the Clown returns to the timid town of Miles County where he targets a teenage girl and her younger brother on Halloween night.

Director: Damien Leone | Stars: Lauren LaVera , David Howard Thornton , Elliott Fullam , Sarah Voigt

Votes: 44,841

21. Soft & Quiet (2022)

R | 92 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

Playing out in real time, an elementary school teacher organizes a mixer of like-minded women, when she encounters a woman from her past, leading to a volatile chain of events.

Director: Beth de Araújo | Stars: Stefanie Estes , Olivia Luccardi , Dana Millican , Melissa Paulo

Votes: 9,465

22. Crimes of the Future (2022)

R | 107 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Humans adapt to a synthetic environment, with new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice, Saul Tenser, celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Viggo Mortensen , Léa Seydoux , Kristen Stewart , Scott Speedman

Votes: 39,406

23. Nope (2022)

R | 130 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

The residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bear witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya , Keke Palmer , Brandon Perea , Michael Wincott

Votes: 256,651 | Gross: $123.28M

24. You Won't Be Alone (2022)

R | 108 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

In an isolated mountain village in 19th century Macedonia, a young girl is kidnapped and then transformed into a witch by an ancient spirit.

Director: Goran Stolevski | Stars: Noomi Rapace , Anamaria Marinca , Alice Englert , Sara Klimoska

Votes: 10,557

25. Watcher (I) (2022)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A young American actress moves with her husband to Bucharest, and begins to suspect that a stranger who watches her from an apartment window may be a serial killer.

Director: Chloe Okuno | Stars: Maika Monroe , Karl Glusman , Burn Gorman , Tudor Petrut

Votes: 39,574

26. Hatching (2022)

16+ | 91 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A young gymnast, who tries desperately to please her demanding mother, discovers a strange egg. She hides it and keeps it warm, but when it hatches, what emerges shocks them all.

Director: Hanna Bergholm | Stars: Siiri Solalinna , Sophia Heikkilä , Jani Volanen , Reino Nordin

Votes: 14,442

27. Prey (I) (2022)

R | 100 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Naru, a skilled warrior of the Comanche Nation, fights to protect her tribe against one of the first highly-evolved Predators to land on Earth.

Director: Dan Trachtenberg | Stars: Amber Midthunder , Dakota Beavers , Dane DiLiegro , Stormee Kipp

Votes: 221,508

28. What Josiah Saw (2021)

18+ | 120 min | Horror, Thriller

A family with buried secrets reunite at a farmhouse after two decades to pay for their past sins.

Director: Vincent Grashaw | Stars: Robert Patrick , Nick Stahl , Scott Haze , Kelli Garner

Votes: 4,008

29. The Black Phone (2021)

R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After being abducted by a child killer and locked in a soundproof basement, a 13-year-old boy starts receiving calls on a disconnected phone from the killer's previous victims.

Director: Scott Derrickson | Stars: Mason Thames , Madeleine McGraw , Ethan Hawke , Jeremy Davies

Votes: 185,753 | Gross: $90.12M

30. The Innocents (2021)

Not Rated | 117 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

During the bright Nordic summer, a group of children reveal their dark and mysterious powers when the adults aren't looking. In this original and gripping supernatural thriller, playtime takes a dangerous turn.

Director: Eskil Vogt | Stars: Rakel Lenora Petersen Fløttum , Alva Brynsmo Ramstad , Sam Ashraf , Mina Yasmin Bremseth Asheim

Votes: 23,694

31. The Cursed (2021)

R | 111 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

In rural 19th-century France, a mysterious, possibly supernatural menace threatens a small village. John McBride, a pathologist, comes to town to investigate the danger - and exorcise some of his own demons in the process.

Director: Sean Ellis | Stars: Boyd Holbrook , Kelly Reilly , Alistair Petrie , Roxane Duran

Votes: 15,320

32. Malignant (I) (2021)

R | 111 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

Madison is paralyzed by shocking visions of grisly murders, and her torment worsens as she discovers that these waking dreams are in fact terrifying realities.

Director: James Wan | Stars: Annabelle Wallis , Maddie Hasson , George Young , Michole Briana White

Votes: 106,550 | Gross: $13.39M

33. Titane (2021)

R | 108 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who has been missing for 10 years.

Director: Julia Ducournau | Stars: Vincent Lindon , Agathe Rousselle , Garance Marillier , Laïs Salameh

Votes: 54,467

34. Last Night in Soho (2021)

R | 116 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Aspiring fashion designer Eloise is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s, where she encounters dazzling wannabe singer Sandie. But the glamour is not as it seems, and the dreams of the past crack and splinter into something darker.

Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Thomasin McKenzie , Anya Taylor-Joy , Matt Smith , Diana Rigg

Votes: 171,054

35. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (2021)

R | 112 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Arne Cheyenne Johnson stabs and murders his landlord, claiming to be under demonic possession while Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate the case and try to prove his innocence.

Director: Michael Chaves | Stars: Patrick Wilson , Vera Farmiga , Ruairi O'Connor , Sarah Catherine Hook

Votes: 135,881 | Gross: $65.63M

36. Lamb (2021)

R | 106 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A childless couple discovers a mysterious newborn on their farm in Iceland.

Director: Valdimar Jóhannsson | Stars: Noomi Rapace , Hilmir Snær Guðnason , Björn Hlynur Haraldsson , Ingvar Sigurdsson

Votes: 36,779

37. You Are Not My Mother (2021)

16+ | 93 min | Drama, Horror

In a North Dublin housing estate Char's mother goes missing. When she returns Char is determined to uncover the truth of her disappearance and unearth the dark secrets of her family.

Director: Kate Dolan | Stars: Hazel Doupe , Carolyn Bracken , Ingrid Craigie , Jordanne Jones

Votes: 5,653

38. The Sadness (2021)

TV-MA | 99 min | Horror

A young couple trying to reunite amid a city ravaged by a plague that turns its victims into deranged, bloodthirsty sadists.

Director: Rob Jabbaz | Stars: Berant Zhu , Regina Lei , Ying-Ru Chen , Tzu-Chiang Wang

Votes: 18,069

39. Freaky (2020)

R | 102 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

After swapping bodies with a deranged serial killer, a high-school senior discovers that she has fewer than 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.

Director: Christopher Landon | Stars: Vince Vaughn , Kathryn Newton , Celeste O'Connor , Misha Osherovich

Votes: 70,716

40. A Quiet Place Part II (2020)

PG-13 | 97 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.

Director: John Krasinski | Stars: Emily Blunt , Millicent Simmonds , Cillian Murphy , John Krasinski

Votes: 265,958 | Gross: $160.07M

41. Possessor (2020)

R | 103 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

An agent works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people's bodies - ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients.

Director: Brandon Cronenberg | Stars: Andrea Riseborough , Christopher Abbott , Jennifer Jason Leigh , Rossif Sutherland

Votes: 44,554

42. The Empty Man (2020)

R | 137 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

On the trail of a missing girl, an ex-cop comes across a secretive group attempting to summon a terrifying supernatural entity.

Director: David Prior | Stars: James Badge Dale , Marin Ireland , Sasha Frolova , Samantha Logan

Votes: 37,197

43. The Invisible Man (I) (2020)

R | 124 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

Director: Leigh Whannell | Stars: Elisabeth Moss , Oliver Jackson-Cohen , Harriet Dyer , Aldis Hodge

Votes: 250,560 | Gross: $70.41M

44. The Night House (2020)

R | 107 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband's disturbing secrets.

Director: David Bruckner | Stars: Rebecca Hall , Sarah Goldberg , Vondie Curtis-Hall , Evan Jonigkeit

Votes: 65,347

45. The Call (2020)

TV-MA | 112 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

Two people live in different times. Seo-Yeon lives in the present and Young-Sook lives in the past. One phone call connects the two, and their lives are changed irrevocably.

Director: Chung-Hyun Lee | Stars: Park Shin-Hye , Jeon Jong-seo , Kim Sung-ryung , Lee El

Votes: 41,998

46. The Dark and the Wicked (2020)

Not Rated | 95 min | Horror

On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a man is slowly dying. His family gathers to mourn, and soon a darkness grows, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family.

Director: Bryan Bertino | Stars: Marin Ireland , Michael Abbott Jr. , Julie Oliver-Touchstone , Lynn Andrews

Votes: 21,640

47. His House (2020)

TV-14 | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.

Director: Remi Weekes | Stars: Sope Dirisu , Wunmi Mosaku , Malaika Wakoli-Abigaba , Matt Smith

Votes: 47,544

48. The Hunt (II) (2020)

R | 90 min | Action, Horror, Thriller

Twelve strangers wake up in a clearing. They don't know where they are, or how they got there. They don't know they've been chosen - for a very specific purpose - The Hunt.

Director: Craig Zobel | Stars: Betty Gilpin , Hilary Swank , Ike Barinholtz , Wayne Duvall

Votes: 126,080 | Gross: $5.81M

49. Hunter Hunter (2020)

Unrated | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Joseph and his family live in the remote wilderness as fur trappers, but their tranquility is threatened when they think they are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf, and Joseph leaves them behind to track it.

Director: Shawn Linden | Stars: Camille Sullivan , Summer H. Howell , Devon Sawa , Nick Stahl

Votes: 12,615

50. Relic (2020)

R | 89 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family's home.

Director: Natalie Erika James | Stars: Robyn Nevin , Emily Mortimer , Bella Heathcote , Steve Rodgers

Votes: 29,592

51. The Platform (2019)

TV-MA | 94 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A vertical prison with one cell per level. Two people per cell. Only one food platform and two minutes per day to feed. An endless nightmare trapped in The Hole.

Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia | Stars: Ivan Massagué , Zorion Eguileor , Antonia San Juan , Emilio Buale

Votes: 264,322

52. Saint Maud (2019)

R | 84 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A pious nurse becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient.

Director: Rose Glass | Stars: Morfydd Clark , Caoilfhionn Dunne , Jennifer Ehle , Marcus Hutton

Votes: 45,446

53. Midsommar (2019)

R | 148 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A couple travels to Northern Europe to visit a rural hometown's fabled Swedish mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Florence Pugh , Jack Reynor , Vilhelm Blomgren , William Jackson Harper

Votes: 388,090 | Gross: $27.33M

54. The Lighthouse (I) (2019)

R | 109 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.

Director: Robert Eggers | Stars: Robert Pattinson , Willem Dafoe , Valeriia Karaman , Logan Hawkes

Votes: 248,432 | Gross: $0.43M

55. La Llorona (2019)

Not Rated | 97 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

An aging paranoid war criminal, protected by his faithful wife, faces death while being haunted by the ghosts of his past.

Director: Jayro Bustamante | Stars: María Mercedes Coroy , Sabrina De La Hoz , Margarita Kenéfic , Julio Diaz

Votes: 7,601

56. Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)

R | 99 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.

Director: Ruben Fleischer | Stars: Woody Harrelson , Jesse Eisenberg , Emma Stone , Abigail Breslin

Votes: 198,147 | Gross: $73.12M

57. It Chapter Two (2019)

R | 169 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

Director: Andy Muschietti | Stars: Jessica Chastain , James McAvoy , Bill Hader , Isaiah Mustafa

Votes: 296,349 | Gross: $211.59M

58. Us (II) (2019)

R | 116 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A family's serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Lupita Nyong'o , Winston Duke , Elisabeth Moss , Tim Heidecker

Votes: 334,802 | Gross: $175.08M

59. The Mortuary Collection (2019)

Not Rated | 108 min | Fantasy, Horror

An eccentric mortician recounts several macabre and phantasmagorical tales that he's encountered in his distinguished career.

Director: Ryan Spindell | Stars: Tristan Byon , Eden Campbell , Hannah R. Loyd , Clancy Brown

Votes: 14,321

60. The Lodge (2019)

R | 108 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé's two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

Directors: Severin Fiala , Veronika Franz | Stars: Riley Keough , Jaeden Martell , Lia McHugh , Richard Armitage

Votes: 56,494

61. Crawl (I) (2019)

R | 87 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.

Director: Alexandre Aja | Stars: Kaya Scodelario , Barry Pepper , Morfydd Clark , Ross Anderson

Votes: 92,757 | Gross: $39.01M

62. Ready or Not (I) (2019)

R | 95 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

A bride's wedding night takes a sinister turn when her eccentric new in-laws force her to take part in a terrifying game.

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin , Tyler Gillett | Stars: Samara Weaving , Adam Brody , Mark O'Brien , Henry Czerny

Votes: 177,508 | Gross: $28.71M

63. The Golden Glove (2019)

Not Rated | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

A serial killer strikes fear in the hearts of residents of Hamburg during the early 1970s.

Director: Fatih Akin | Stars: Jonas Dassler , Vasiliki Georgina Pseimada , Christine Jensen , Greta Sophie Schmidt

Votes: 17,643

64. Color Out of Space (2019)

Unrated | 111 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

A secluded farm is struck by a strange meteorite which has apocalyptic consequences for the family living there and possibly the world.

Director: Richard Stanley | Stars: Nicolas Cage , Joely Richardson , Madeleine Arthur , Elliot Knight

Votes: 55,066

65. Hereditary (2018)

R | 127 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences.

Director: Ari Aster | Stars: Toni Collette , Milly Shapiro , Gabriel Byrne , Alex Wolff

Votes: 367,893 | Gross: $44.07M

66. All the Gods in the Sky (2018)

110 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

30-year-old factory worker Simon lives a solitary existence on a decrepit farm in the remote French countryside. Devoting his time to caring for his sister Estelle, who was left severely ... See full summary  »

Director: Quarxx | Stars: Jean-Luc Couchard , Melanie Gaydos , Zelie Rixhon , Thierry Frémont

67. Halloween (I) (2018)

R | 106 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller

Laurie Strode confronts her long-time foe, Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Director: David Gordon Green | Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis , Judy Greer , Andi Matichak , James Jude Courtney

Votes: 167,402 | Gross: $159.34M

68. Climax (I) (2018)

R | 97 min | Drama, Horror, Music

French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD.

Director: Gaspar Noé | Stars: Sofia Boutella , Romain Guillermic , Souheila Yacoub , Kiddy Smile

Votes: 77,735 | Gross: $0.80M

69. A Quiet Place (2018)

PG-13 | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

A family struggles for survival in a world where most humans have been killed by blind but noise-sensitive creatures. They are forced to communicate in sign language to keep the creatures at bay.

Director: John Krasinski | Stars: Emily Blunt , John Krasinski , Millicent Simmonds , Noah Jupe

Votes: 573,160 | Gross: $188.02M

70. Suspiria (I) (2018)

R | 152 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up.

Director: Luca Guadagnino | Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz , Tilda Swinton , Doris Hick , Malgorzata Bela

Votes: 90,081 | Gross: $2.47M

71. The House That Jack Built (2018)

R | 152 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

The story follows Jack, a highly intelligent serial killer, over the course of twelve years, and depicts the murders that really develop his inner madman.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Matt Dillon , Bruno Ganz , Uma Thurman , Siobhan Fallon Hogan

Votes: 89,532 | Gross: $0.09M

72. The Swerve (2018)

95 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A woman with a seemingly ideal life battles insomnia.

Director: Dean Kapsalis | Stars: Azura Skye , Bryce Pinkham , Ashley Bell , Zach Rand

Votes: 1,806

73. In Fabric (2018)

R | 118 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

In Fabric is a haunting ghost story set against the backdrop of a busy winter sales period in a department store and follows the life of a cursed dress as it passes from person to person, with devastating consequences.

Director: Peter Strickland | Stars: Sidse Babett Knudsen , Marianne Jean-Baptiste , Julian Barratt , Steve Oram

Votes: 13,711

74. Mandy (I) (2018)

Not Rated | 121 min | Action, Fantasy, Horror

The enchanted lives of a couple in a secluded forest are brutally shattered by a nightmarish hippie cult and their demon-biker henchmen, propelling a man into a spiraling, surreal rampage of vengeance.

Director: Panos Cosmatos | Stars: Nicolas Cage , Andrea Riseborough , Linus Roache , Ned Dennehy

Votes: 87,790 | Gross: $1.21M

75. The Wolf House (2018)

Not Rated | 75 min | Animation, Drama, Horror

Tells the story of Maria, a young woman who takes refuge in a house in southern Chile after escaping from a German colony.

Directors: Joaquín Cociña , Cristóbal León | Stars: Amalia Kassai , Rainer Krause , Karina Hyland , Carlos Cociña

Votes: 4,603

76. Annihilation (I) (2018)

R | 115 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.

Director: Alex Garland | Stars: Natalie Portman , Jennifer Jason Leigh , Tessa Thompson , Benedict Wong

Votes: 355,124 | Gross: $32.73M

77. Upgrade (2018)

R | 100 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when the world of Grey, a self-labeled technophobe, is turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant.

Director: Leigh Whannell | Stars: Logan Marshall-Green , Melanie Vallejo , Steve Danielsen , Abby Craden

Votes: 203,199 | Gross: $11.98M

78. Apostle (2018)

TV-MA | 130 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

In 1905, a drifter on a dangerous mission to rescue his kidnapped sister tangles with a sinister religious cult on an isolated island.

Director: Gareth Evans | Stars: Dan Stevens , Richard Elfyn , Paul Higgins , Bill Milner

Votes: 58,178

79. Overlord (2018)

R | 110 min | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi

A small group of American soldiers find horror behind enemy lines on the eve of D-Day.

Director: Julius Avery | Stars: Jovan Adepo , Wyatt Russell , Mathilde Ollivier , Pilou Asbæk

Votes: 105,518 | Gross: $21.70M

80. Mutant Blast (2018)

83 min | Action, Comedy, Horror

Maria, a fearless soldier, and TS-347, a man with superhuman strength, are being pursued by a military cell responsible for scientific experiments that have resulted in a zombie apocalypse.

Director: Fernando Alle | Stars: Pedro Barão Dias , Maria Leite , João Vilas , Mário Oliveira

Votes: 5,878

81. 1922 (2017)

TV-MA | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Horror

A simple yet proud farmer in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to assist. But their actions have unintended consequences.

Director: Zak Hilditch | Stars: Thomas Jane , Molly Parker , Dylan Schmid , Kaitlyn Bernard

Votes: 70,695

82. Berlin Syndrome (2017)

A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave.

Director: Cate Shortland | Stars: Teresa Palmer , Max Riemelt , Matthias Habich , Emma Bading

Votes: 27,279 | Gross: $0.03M

83. The Endless (I) (2017)

Not Rated | 111 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

As kids, they escaped a UFO death cult. Now, two adult brothers seek answers after an old videotape surfaces and brings them back to where they began.

Directors: Justin Benson , Aaron Moorhead | Stars: Aaron Moorhead , Justin Benson , Callie Hernandez , Tate Ellington

Votes: 48,516 | Gross: $0.27M

84. Gerald's Game (2017)

TV-MA | 103 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A couple tries to spice up their marriage in a remote lake house. After the husband dies unexpectedly, the wife is left handcuffed to their bed frame and must fight to survive and break free.

Director: Mike Flanagan | Stars: Carla Gugino , Bruce Greenwood , Chiara Aurelia , Carel Struycken

Votes: 124,875

85. Get Out (I) (2017)

R | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A young African-American visits his white girlfriend's parents for the weekend, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.

Director: Jordan Peele | Stars: Daniel Kaluuya , Allison Williams , Bradley Whitford , Catherine Keener

Votes: 680,326 | Gross: $176.04M

86. Ghost Stories (I) (2017)

Not Rated | 98 min | Drama, Horror

After receiving a file with details of three unexplained cases of apparitions, skeptical professor Phillip Goodman embarks on a terrifying trip.

Directors: Jeremy Dyson , Andy Nyman | Stars: Samuel Bottomley , Deborah Wastell , Amy Doyle , Daniel Hill

Votes: 36,521 | Gross: $0.14M

87. Happy Death Day (2017)

PG-13 | 96 min | Comedy, Horror, Mystery

A college student must relive the day of her murder over and over again, in a loop that will end only when she discovers her killer's identity.

Director: Christopher Landon | Stars: Jessica Rothe , Israel Broussard , Ruby Modine , Charles Aitken

Votes: 159,699 | Gross: $55.68M

88. It (I) (2017)

R | 135 min | Horror

In the summer of 1989, a group of bullied kids band together to destroy a shape-shifting monster, which disguises itself as a clown and preys on the children of Derry, their small Maine town.

Director: Andy Muschietti | Stars: Bill Skarsgård , Jaeden Martell , Finn Wolfhard , Sophia Lillis

Votes: 596,137 | Gross: $327.48M

89. It Comes at Night (2017)

R | 91 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

Director: Trey Edward Shults | Stars: Joel Edgerton , Christopher Abbott , Carmen Ejogo , Riley Keough

Votes: 101,291 | Gross: $13.99M

90. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

R | 121 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos | Stars: Barry G. Bernson , Herb Caillouet , Bill Camp , Raffey Cassidy

Votes: 178,700 | Gross: $2.29M

91. Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)

Not Rated | 83 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A dark fairy tale about a gang of five children trying to survive the horrific violence of the cartels and the ghosts created every day by the drug war.

Director: Issa López | Stars: Paola Lara , Juan Ramón López , Nery Arredondo , Hanssel Casillas

Votes: 8,735 | Gross: $0.13M

92. Life (I) (2017)

R | 104 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars and now threatens all life on Earth.

Director: Daniel Espinosa | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal , Rebecca Ferguson , Ryan Reynolds , Hiroyuki Sanada

Votes: 248,852 | Gross: $30.23M

93. Mother! (2017)

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence , Javier Bardem , Ed Harris , Michelle Pfeiffer

Votes: 246,090 | Gross: $17.80M

94. November (2017)

115 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

In a poor Estonian village, a group of peasants use magic and folk remedies to survive the winter, and a young woman tries to get a young man to love her.

Director: Rainer Sarnet | Stars: Rea Lest , Jörgen Liik , Arvo Kukumägi , Heino Kalm

Votes: 5,857 | Gross: $0.02M

95. One Cut of the Dead (2017)

Not Rated | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Horror

Things go badly for a hack director and film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie in an abandoned WWII Japanese facility, when they are attacked by real zombies.

Director: Shin'ichirô Ueda | Stars: Takayuki Hamatsu , Yuzuki Akiyama , Harumi Shuhama , Kazuaki Nagaya

Votes: 28,942

96. Revenge (II) (2017)

R | 108 min | Action, Drama, Horror

Never take your mistress on an annual guys' getaway, especially one devoted to hunting - a violent lesson for three wealthy married men.

Director: Coralie Fargeat | Stars: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz , Kevin Janssens , Vincent Colombe , Guillaume Bouchède

Votes: 47,514 | Gross: $0.10M

97. Thelma (2017)

Not Rated | 116 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

A confused religious girl tries to deny her feelings for a female friend who's in love with her. This causes her suppressed subconsciously-controlled psychokinetic powers to reemerge with devastating results.

Director: Joachim Trier | Stars: Eili Harboe , Kaya Wilkins , Henrik Rafaelsen , Ellen Dorrit Petersen

Votes: 36,139 | Gross: $0.15M

98. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.

Director: André Øvredal | Stars: Brian Cox , Emile Hirsch , Ophelia Lovibond , Michael McElhatton

Votes: 135,577 | Gross: $0.01M

99. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

PG-13 | 103 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A young woman is held in an underground bunker by a man who insists that a hostile event has left the surface of the Earth uninhabitable.

Director: Dan Trachtenberg | Stars: John Goodman , Mary Elizabeth Winstead , John Gallagher Jr. , Douglas M. Griffin

Votes: 350,268 | Gross: $72.08M

100. Satan's Slaves (2017)

Not Rated | 107 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

After dying from a strange illness that she suffered for 3 years, a mother returns home to pick up her children.

Director: Joko Anwar | Stars: Tara Basro , Bront Palarae , Dimas Aditya , Endy Arfian

Votes: 10,885

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20 Scariest Dolls In Horror Movies

Evil dolls have been a popular horror movie trope for years, but which movies have created the scariest dolls so far?

  • Evil dolls are a popular and creepy trend in horror cinema, with their small stature making them difficult to find and stop.
  • There are many unsettling horror movie dolls to choose from, each showcasing terrifying antics and abilities.
  • From possessed androids to possessed dolls and terrifying baby doll mockeries, these dolls are nightmare-inducing entities.

With their glassy eyes, carved smiles, and painted-on hair, dolls give people plenty of reasons to be nervous even before they come alive and start hunting their human prey. The evil doll trend has been popular in horror for decades, so fans looking for a sinister doll to cower from have many choices.

20 Best Horror RPG Maker Games

Possessed, haunted, or otherwise brought to some sick parody of life, evil dolls are some of the creepiest entities in horror cinema. Their small stature lets them skitter around in closets, cupboards, and beneath beds, making them just as difficult to find as they are to stop.

Updated January 17, 2024, by Mara Cowley: Dolls are one of the most commonly used items in horror movies to elicit fear and dread in audiences, as they are widely regarded as eerie and unsettling. What they lack in stature, they more than make up for with their screen presence, as they delight audiences with their terrifying antics. They showcase surprising abilities to wreak havoc and danger upon their unsuspecting victims, playing on the fear of inanimate objects coming to life. There is no small amount of unsettling horror movie dolls, and horror fans have an entire backlog of scary doll movie options to explore.

20 M3GAN (M3GAN)

Her immense strength makes her a terrifying threat.

Megan, or M3GAN as she is technically known, upgraded the idea of a doll in a movie with an uncanny valley android, intended to act as a confidant and friend to toy engineer Gemma's niece Cady, who was tragically orphaned at the start of a movie following a car accident.

M3GAN starts out as a parent's dream, taking on the role of a friend, mentor, and parent to young Cady, but as the movie unravels, so does MEGAN's character, as she turns from a dream to a nightmare, killing any perceived threat to Cady and becoming violently possessive over her. With the uncanny valley look to her face and her violent tendencies, M3GAN shows a nightmarish glimpse into what could be humanity's future .

19 Tiffany Valentine (Child's Play Franchise)

Tiffany kills people in creative and horrifying ways.

Introduced in the third Child's Play movie, Bride of Chucky , Tiffany immediately cemented herself as a fan favorite. Acting as the Bonnie to Chucky's Clyde, she hatches a devious plan to get them two new bodies and isn't afraid to dish out creative murder to anyone who stands in their way.

Smart and creative but holding onto hopes of true romance and love, Tiffany is hamstrung by these latter ideals, making her easy to manipulate, yet she remains a dangerous dolly no one should cross.

18 Heidi (Heidi)

Heidi's blank stare is unnerving to say the least.

This movie combines terrifying dolls and found footage, delivering an unsettling narrative that follows two teenage boys who discover the titular doll, Heidi. Upon discovering her, strange events begin occurring that lead them to believe Heidi is more than just a creepy, abandoned toy.

Underappreciated Found Footage Horror Movies

Its unsettling appearance with its roughed-up hair and empty eye sockets make it surprisingly scary for what could have been an ordinary children's toy, and the events occurring that leave no doubt as to who the culprit is make Heidi a truly terrifying entity.

17 Dolly Dearest (Dolly Dearest)

Dolly dearest has a horrific uncanny valley appearance.

Many think of Annabelle when the phrase 'possessed doll' is mentioned, but another movie did this first: Dolly Dearest . The title of this movie shares a name with the doll factory that gave birth to this malevolent doll, which was situated directly adjacent to an underground Mayan tomb, from which an evil spirit was unleashed.

Best Movies About Demonic Possession

This evil spirit known as Sanzia takes refuge inside a porcelain doll, which naturally finds its way to the hands of a young child. From then on, strange occurrences haunt the Wade family residence, and things begin to ramp up dangerously. This doll is dearest only in name and certainly not in nature.

16 Baby Oopsie Daisy (Demonic Toys)

A horrifying mockery of a baby doll.

This ensemble evil toy movie features many monstrous toys, such as the Jack-in-the-Box Jack Attack, the Grizzly Teddy Bear plush, and Baby Oopsie Daisy, who is a horrifying mockery of baby doll toys often given to young girls.

Her appearance twists what could normally be a cute toy into something truly demonic, and what's more, Oopsie Daisy wields a number of weapons against her helpless human victims, demonstrating a greater ability to kill than her small stature suggests.

15 Lilith (Finders Keepers)

Lilith not only looks terrifying but is aggressively possessive of claire.

If a person moves into a new home and finds a creepy doll abandoned by the previous occupants, the only correct response is to throw the doll away immediately. But then, horror fans wouldn't have the creepy movie Finders Keepers to enjoy.

The daughter of recently divorced mother Alyson becomes obsessed with the doll named Lilith, and strange occurrences plague their home. Claire and the doll quickly form a strong bond, and anyone who tries to sever it pays very severe consequences.

14 Slappy (Goosebumps)

Plays on the fear of uncanny valley ventriloquist dummies.

90s kids who grew up watching the teen scream show Goosebumps will most likely remember the episodes featuring Slappy the most, an evil ventriloquist doll who has full sentience and intelligence. As a stand-out villain, it makes perfect sense he would be given the villain spotlight when Goosebumps made the transition from TV show to movie.

In the movie, Slappy is awoken by a string of words from an unknown language that translates to "You and I are one now." He immediately attempts to make the one who woke him serve him as a slave and will stoop to dastardly levels to achieve this goal.

13 Fats (Magic)

This doll is part of the magician's split personality, making him extremely dangerous.

Horror fans will always remember Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal the Cannibal, but Magic saw him starring as a very different kind of monster. In this film, he plays a struggling magician who reignites his career when he begins working alongside a ventriloquist dummy, Fats.

In most horror films featuring ventriloquist dummies, the dolls are possessed or otherwise animated. In Magic, Fats is the magician's split personality, the ultimate embodiment of his disintegrating psyche. With a creepy premise and Hopkin's incredible performance behind it, Magic makes Fats a doll that many viewers wish they could forget.

12 Hugo (Dead of Night)

Hugo embodies an unsettling presence, especially at the time of the movie's released.

Another ventriloquist dummy, but this one dates from a much earlier project, Hugo appeared in the 1940s British horror anthology Dead of Night . The film includes a number of standout performers, including Mervyn Johns, Sally Ann Howes, and Googie Withers, but it's best remembered for its final story, featuring Michael Redgrave and Hugo.

The Scariest Black & White Horror Movies

Redgrave's character and Hugo share a prison cell, and the horror of the events that take place within is only magnified by the black-and-white film and the scratchiness of the audio. Though there are many fine examples of terrifying dolls in modern horror, in a few brief but chilling moments, Hugo and Dead of Night set the standard for so much that was to come.

11 Brahms (The Boy)

Cared for as though he is a real, living being.

What's the creepiest way a character can interact with a doll in a horror movie? The answer is taking care of it as if it were a real person, at least according to The Boy . In it, an elderly couple who have lost their son at an early age decide to raise a life-size doll in his place, going so far as to hire a nanny (played by The Walking Dead's exceptional Lauren Cohan ) to care for him.

Anyone who thinks things improve from there has never seen a horror movie. Though The Boy isn't an extraordinary film, Brahms is an extraordinary doll and more than delivers the requisite creep factor. Many horror movie dolls are creepy because of how real they look; Brahms is one of the few dolls to be creepy because of how he is treated.

10 Pin (Pin)

Despite being an anatomical medical dummy, pin remains creepy to all behold him.

The doll in the 1988 Canadian film Pin is unique in the creepiest way possible. He isn't a puppet, ventriloquist dummy, porcelain collectible, or any other common variety of horror movie doll. No, Pin is an anatomically correct medical dummy used by the disturbed Dr. Linden to teach children biology.

Great Horror Movies Based On Books That Aren’t Written By Stephen King

Pin is a cult classic, receiving only a fraction of the attention that it deserves, even among horror aficionados. The film features strong pacing, interesting characters, and a quality premise, and it should be a fixture in every horror fan's collection, based on the strength of its horrifying medical doll alone. Pin is all the right kinds of wrong.

9 Billy (Dead Silence)

Prone to fits of anger.

James Wan is no stranger to horror, with films like Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring under his belt. Dead Silence may not have received the same attention as those more popular franchises, but it still contains a terrifying doll. Billy is a ventriloquist dummy, which, in the eyes of many, would make him nightmare fuel even if he wasn't talking.

Of course, Dead Silence is a horror movie, so alive he is, and Billy wants to use every available moment of his wakefulness to terrorize those around him. Anyone with doubts needs only look to Mary Shaw's performance and Billy's escalating anger when his realness is questioned, only making the setting that much worse.

8 Billy (Saw)

His arrival is a prelude to the torture to come.

Another ventriloquist dummy, this one also called Billy, in another film guided by the directorial hand of James Wan can be found in Saw . This doll is an actual puppet, a dead, mechanical thing only given as much life as its owner wishes. Unfortunately, Billy's owner is John Kramer, the serial killer better known as Jigsaw.

As the face of Jigsaw's horrible games, Billy is synonymous with torture and impossible choices. His tricycle, suit, and the red spiral on his cheeks have all become images burned into the mind of every Saw fan and even the minds of many who have never seen the film.

7 Doll (Deep Red)

The cinematography surrounding the doll makes his every scene unsettling.

Legendary horror director Dario Argento always brings something special to his films , and that something often comes from the imagery. Argento's films demonstrate a mastery of the image, the beautiful as well as the unsettling, and so, when the time came for him to craft a doll to feature in his film Deep Red , success was a certainty.

Prominent teeth, a receding hairline, and intelligent eyes are some of the doll's signature features, but everything about it is unnerving. The cueing of the music and the violent shifting of the camera when the doll storms the study adds another layer of anxiety to a moment the doll has already made horrible.

6 Der Klown (Krampus)

This terrifying jack-in-the-box devours his victims with his demonic mouth.

This Christmas horror flick contains a multitude of scary threats that are turning the Engel family's Christmas into a nightmare. Not only do they have to survive Krampus, the legendary figure from folklore, but they must also deal with a menagerie of monsters, such as Der Klown.

At first glance, Der Klown looks like an unusually large and creepy Jack-in-the-Box. That is until he opens his mouth, revealing a four-pronged mouth like Predator's that he can use to devour his victims. This, combined with his startling appearance, makes Der Klown the most terrifying threat in Krampus.

5 Clown (Poltergeist)

One of the biggest movie jumpscares of all time.

Clowns are scary. Dolls are scary. Clown dolls are almost unfairly upsetting, and Poltergeist has a great one. Tobe Hooper, the same director who brought audiences The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, gave viewers another reason to hide under the blankets with this supernatural horror film.

Most Terrifying Movie Clowns

The bed jump scare sequence remains one of the most jarring and upsetting horror moments in any movie, and that's all thanks to the clown doll. The clown is menacing in a dozen different ways before it even moves. It's the kind of doll that gives one a bad feeling just looking at it. The moment it is possessed by a supernatural force, things get far, far worse.

4 Blade (Puppet Master)

His weapon-hands make blade extremely dangerous.

To have even one memorable doll in a horror film is a blessing enough; it's difficult to craft any inanimate object to that level of frightful glory. Puppet Master is a franchise blessed with numerous horrifying dolls. Andre Toulon's puppets include Pinhead, Jester, Six-Shooter, Torch, Leech Woman, Tunneler, and Doctor Death, but most frightful of all is their de facto leader, Blade.

Imbued with the soul of the German surgeon, Dr. Hess, Blade has a pale face, dark trench coat, and weapons for hands, ensuring that he'll intimidate anyone with whom he comes into contact. A single animated doll is scary, but an army of them is far worse, and it's Blade's leadership that makes him one of the scariest of all time.

3 Annabelle (The Conjuring)

Possessed by something truly evil.

The Conjuring franchise is one of the longest-running and most successful in all horror, and above all else, there is one doll to thank for that: Annabelle. From the severe eyebrows to the rash-red cheeks and glaring eyes, Annabelle is terrifying on a visual level, and that's even before she comes alive.

Ranking All Movies In The Conjuring Universe (& Where You Can Watch Them)

The doll and her actions would be scary enough in themselves, but Annabelle benefits from being a member of the expansive universe of The Conjuring. There are multiple, interconnected movies dealing with Annabelle, thus deepening her frightful lore at every turn. Whereas some evil dolls are superficial, with Annabelle, there is always something else horrible to learn.

2 He Who Kills (Trilogy Of Terror)

A terrifying vicious and violent antagonist.

Trilogy of Terror is a 1975 horror anthology film directed by Dan Curtis. The third segment of the anthology, "Amelia," features a woman terrorized by a Zuni fetish doll. "Amelia" contains only a single actor, Karen Black as Amelia, but her performance as she tries to escape the wrathful doll is more than enough to sell the piece.

The doll contains the spirit of a Zuni hunter named He Who Kills, and when the gold chain holding the doll in check slips off , Amelia's apartment becomes a nightmare. From his exaggerated design to his movements through the apartment, He Who Kills is an absolutely terrifying antagonist.

1 Chucky (Child's Play)

Possessed by a serial killer, chucky is not to be underestimated.

Charles Lee Ray was a human serial killer who, in his dying moments, transferred his soul into the body of a Good Guy doll. With that decision, Chucky was born. His appearance is frightening, yes, but more frightening than that is the idea that Chucky embodies in Child's Play .

He is the perversion of goodness , literally turning a Good Guy into a murderous monster just as he transformed into a serial killer in his human life. Chucky's personality, mean spirit, and quips will always keep him close to fans' hearts, even if they never want the character close to anything else in their lives. Despite his height, Chucky stands head-and-shoulders above every other scary doll in cinema.

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MovieWeb

15 Non-Horror Movies That Are too Scary to Rewatch

T ruth can be stranger than fiction. But it can also be scarier. Real life and real-life events can often induce the fear a horror movie is more likely to cause. And while films are the perfect excuse and resource for escapism, they can also provide something else that's not exactly entertainment. We're talking about reflections of reality that don't have the safe word of fiction and simply deliver an adapted version of the horrifying truth. The endings are anything but happy .

But while these films tend to be disturbing, they're not always hard to watch. We've become accustomed to their existence, and we even know when to press "stop" or cover our eyes in order to avoid something traumatic. That is, if you get to watch them more than once. In the case of the following films, you probably won't. These are non-horror films so frightening they've caused people to leave the theater, feel disgusted, or simply reject the opportunity to watch them. In these cases, they don't even have to be based on true events to be horrific. They just have to show you an undoctored version of something possible, a grim version of fantasy, or they have to recount a real-life event in the format of film.

These are the single most scary non-horror films to ever exist, which you will probably only watch once. If you dare.

Schindler's List (1993)

Schindlers list.

Release Date 1993-11-30

Director Steven Spielberg

Cast Jonathan Sagall, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Caroline Goodall, Embeth Davidtz

Main Genre Biography

In Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, Schindler's List , the Nazis have occupied parts of Europe and started what's known as the Holocaust. Concentration camps, where Jews are subjected to labor, torture, and death, are common. Only one member of the Nazi Party thinks differently. Oskar Schindler owns a factory, and he uses a hiring process to save as many victims as possible, making him one of the most important people in the Jewish community to this day.

A Horrific Glimpse Into War That No One Will Ever Forget

An emotionally devastating film that was irreversibly imprinted on people's minds, Schindler's List is a remarkable depiction of war and the horrors that ensue with power. The director made sure to make a realistic and gripping film featuring the truthful aspects of conflict and not necessarily battlefield violence. Instead, he goes for another version of violence. A psychological one that resonates through a horrific portrayal of malice. This is a film that should make deniers take back their words. To this day, it's a film that's so horrifying that people have trouble rewatching it. That is, if they dare at all to rewatch it.

Rent on Prime Video

Nocturnal Animals (2016)

Nocturnal animals.

Release Date 2016-11-04

Director Tom Ford

Cast Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Isla Fisher, Ellie Bamber

Main Genre Drama

Tom Ford's thriller Nocturnal Animals tells the story of Susan Morrow, a wealthy art dealer who's trying to leave her past behind. However, when her ex-husband Edward comes knocking and asks Susan to read a manuscript, she realizes the past is back to haunt her. How? In the form of a horrific horror book that Edward seems to have written for her, and to let her know a couple of things. This is a very underrated film that everyone should watch at some point, featuring great performances by Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

A Trip Inside the Twisted Mind of a Hurt Man

The film is told mostly from the perspective of Edward's interpretation. But such interpretation is reflected in the book, which features eerily similar characters to those in reality. The thing is, what they go through is a jarring experience of sadistic violence and nihilism that could only come from the mind of a scorned man. One would say that it's better if Edward reflected repressed desires in a story he writes, but the effect this has on Susan is nonetheless a very terrorizing one. Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Ray is the main reason why people find it very hard to watch this again. That man is the best representation of evil in recent years.

Rent on Apple TV

Testament (1983)

In Testament , a small American town is shaken by the launch of a nuclear bomb. It doesn't exactly fall near, but the effects and fallout don't take long to appear. The film is told from the perspective of Carol, a mother whose husband never returns after the morning the bomb hits, and who is forced to care for her children as they slowly start suffering from the aftermath. It stars Jane Alexander in an Academy Award-nominated performance.

The Aftermath of War Becomes Much too Real

When it comes to films about the threat of nuclear war , most are told from the perspective of military leaders trying to prevent conflict. However, in Testament, there are no uniforms, banners, or broadcasts. This is the portrayal of a family that's unaware of the consequences of war, as everything that happens isn't exactly what the books tell. The film's very hard to watch because it isn't hopeful at all: It is simply an account of a mother unsuccessfully trying to save herself and her children. Testament is realistic and raw, and it has no limits when showing the effects of nuclear warfare. Just a quick note: It isn't a graphic film at all.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

The neverending story.

Release Date 1984-07-20

Director Wolfgang Petersen

Cast Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach, Gerald McRaney, Noah Hathaway

Main Genre Adventure

The NeverEnding Story tells the story of what happens when Bastian Bux is given a sort of magical book. After hiding in a bookstore when chased by bullies, the bookseller gives Bastian a book titled The Neverending Story . Naturally, Bastian hides in his school attic to read it. Then the film turns over to what happens in the story he's reading: a magical journey by Atreyu, a young warrior, who must save the kingdom of Fantasia from a devouring force called The Nothing. At its time, it was an extraordinary fantasy film. Luckily, it's a film that hasn't been remade , but let's not give them any ideas.

Fantasy Gets Scary. Too Scary

But The NeverEnding Story was also a very scary film. The Nothing, as a concept, is terrifying. It's a shapeless force of nature with the capacity to exterminate worlds. Additionally, children at the time were treated to a heartbreaking death scene that still makes many people cry, even adults. Oh yes, a wolf-like creature named Gmork also hunts Atreyu, and the young warrior is forced to face the Southern Oracle, which is a set of two statues that shoot laser beams out of their eyes and have the capacity to liquefy everyone who doubts themselves as they pass. How can we not be traumatized after watching that?

Stream on Max

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: a space odyssey.

Release Date 1968-04-02

Director Stanley Kubrick

Cast Margaret Tyzack, Leonard Rossiter, Daniel Richter, William Sylvester, Gary Lockwood, Keir Dullea

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 film that dared to step into the future while also having a poignant take on where we're going as a species. After the discovery of an alien monolith in a very unlikely place, humans take on a galactic endeavor to explore outer space. The problem is that, as helpful as machines are in the future, they're also sentient enough to make harsh decisions and submit us to a journey of existentialism.

The Horrific Void of Space

Still the greatest sci-fi movie ever made, 2001: A Space Odyssey is, more than anything, a beautiful film. The special effects, the innovative styles, the realism. But it's also out of bounds when it comes to the limits of its genre. It's what Kubrick did with all of his films: make viewers feel like they were in the hands of a guy who had the ability to see the dark side of everything. In 2001: A Space Odyssey , it's all about the unknown and the menacing and beautiful void of space. It's rewatchable for obvious reasons, but this doesn't mean you will always have a pleasant experience that won't hit a nerve.

Come and See (1985)

Elem Klimov's Come and See tells the story of two mischievous boys who do something they're not supposed to while their village is occupied by Germans in 1943. Flyora is seen by Germans digging up a rifle, and the next day he's forcibly enlisted by German forces to fight against his own people. The chaos ensues right after, and Flyora becomes witness to the wrath of violent conflict. The film spent eight years in some sort of development hell as Soviet authorities declined every attempt at production. But in 1985, the project saw the light, and it provided a harrowing take on the war genre.

Harrowing Work of Art

This Soviet anti-war film is called one of the greatest films of all time. It opened a window to a side of war that had never seen before, at least not that directly. Come and See isn't graphically violent like more modern war films are. Instead, it goes for a ruminative and psychologically sharp report about the insides of conflict when seen through the eyes of children whose malice is still a myth. Even if Flyora seems to root for the "good guys," war shouldn't be logical in the eyes of the innocent. The nightmarish and almost surreal portrayal of terror makes it a hard-to-watch movie, and as artistically relevant as it is, chances are you'll see it once, and you won't have to ever see it again because it will definitely stay with you.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Mulholland drive.

Release Date 2001-06-06

Director David Lynch

Cast Ann Miller, Laura Harring, Naomi Watts, Justin Theroux, Brent Briscoe, Dan Hedaya

Main Genre Crime

David Lynch's mystery film Mulholland Drive is your average Lynchian adventure, where making sense of everything is... pointless. In the film, Betty Elms is dreaming the Hollywood dream. She's an aspiring actress who wishes to make it big in Tinseltown when she meets another woman. Ruta is amnesiac after a car crash. However, the duo set out to find out more about Rita's past life. Yes, it sounds like an average film, but we'll stop you right there: it is anything but usual. Or normal.

Another Nightmare Come True

Lynch's filmography is full of mysteries, and that's a severe understatement. Mulholland Drive is a brilliant film , but explaining it means arriving at a dead-end street without many answers. These are experiences that are supposed to be digested without preamble or preparation. Rewatching it seems necessary, but it's because of the clues you may have missed the first time. However, it's so unsettling, scary, and disorienting that many decide otherwise.

Stream on Showtime

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

The killing of a sacred deer.

Release Date 2017-10-20

Director Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast Denise Dal Vera, Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Sunny Suljic, Barry Keoghan

The Killing of a Sacred Deer tells the story of Steven Murphy, a surgeon who forms a weird relationship with a teenager called Martin. Martin gets enamored with Steve's family, but it doesn't work the other way around. Martin only lives with his mother, and Steve rejects the advances the woman makes. Martin's obsession with Steven's family gets stronger, to the point of physically causing something in the Murphys. The film won a Best Screenplay Award at Cannes in 2017.

The Mind Becomes too Powerful

The Yorgos Lanthimos thriller may be confused with a horror film. But it's exactly how it works. It's a film so terrifying and unnerving that it seems natural to associate it with a supernatural approach that involves the Murphys getting horribly attacked by a very sick individual. This surreal experience will leave some shaking and others with plenty of questions . However, seeing it again for the sake of having fun? Probably not. The stellar cast includes Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Barry Keoghan.

Stream on Netflix

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

We need to talk about kevin.

Release Date 2011-09-28

Director Lynne Ramsay

Cast Ashley Gerasimovich, Rock Duer, Ezra Miller, Tilda Swinton, Jasper Newell, John C. Reilly

We Need to Talk About Kevin tells the story of Eva Khatchadourian, a mother who is completely estranged from her family. She's also the pariah of the small town. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Eva was a wife and mother, always on the lookout for Kevin, one of her children. Kevin has always shown a complete disregard for her, and the film narrates what Kevin's fate was and why he's no longer with his mother. We won't spoil much else.

A Mother's Worst Fear

A horrific experience to say the least, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a psychological drama that makes us navigate a chilling possibility: perhaps Kevin is evil after all, and all attempts at bringing him into the realm of normalcy are pointless. Finding out about his limits is a journey Lynne Ramsay has cleverly designed for the viewer, who keeps repeating, "Oh, he won't do that," and then Kevin does it. And smiles while he does it. The connection between the past and Eva's current trauma is a powerful cinematic moment that no one will ever forget.

Stream on Prime Video

Threads (1984)

Before Threads aired on the BBC on September 23, 1984, a news anchor stated the following: "What would happen if Britain came under a nuclear attack? How would ordinary people survive the impact of the blast and the conditions that scientists say would result from a nuclear exchange?" And then he goes on to say the obvious: " Threads is a drama, and all characters are fictional." This was the announcement before a television broadcast that would air at that time and impact viewers across the country.

What If...?

One of the best made-for-TV movies to ever be released, Threads is an ultra-realistic depiction of what would happen if Britain had suffered a nuclear attack. The film's well-known for its gritty portrayal of a crisis without any limits to what could be shown, even on television. It's an experience so nightmarish that it will probably traumatize you the first (and only) time you see it. Don't watch this if you're feeling down.

Stream on Tubi

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a dream.

Release Date 2000-10-06

Director Darren Aronofsky

Cast Louise Lasser, Marlon Wayans, Jared Leto, Christopher McDonald, Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn

Darren Aronofsky's Hollywood breakout film, Requiem for a Dream , tells the story of four individuals whose lives are drastically marked by heavy drug use. Even though their stories are somehow intertwined, each of them takes their own path down a spiral of deterioration that will end in their bodies fading away from anything you would consider normal. Ellen Burstyn, who plays one of the drug addicts, Sara Goldfarb, was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the film.

Inside Several Broken Minds

Without a doubt, it is a masterpiece of modern cinema. Requiem for a Dream is a gripping drama, but it's not for the reasons you would expect. Aronofsky's psychological attack on the senses is a collection of interpretations of how some substances reorder the brain. It feels disorienting at times, aggressive at others, and downright petrifying at others. If you feel like rewatching it, think of that extremely unsettling third act.

Stream on The Roku Channel

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

Dear zachary: a letter to a son about his father.

Release Date 2008-10-31

Director Kurt Kuenne

Cast Zachary Andrew Turner, Dr. Shirley Turner, Kathleen Bagby, David Bagby, Dr. Andrew Bagby, Kurt Kuenne

Rating NONE

Main Genre Documentary

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father is a 2008 documentary by Kurt Kuenne. Kuenne's film is a compelling account of what happened to his close friend Andrew Bagby when he met a woman called Shirley Jane Turner. Bagby and Turner had a young boy called Zachary, and Kuenne made the film as a gift to him because Andrew died and Zachary would never get to know his dad.

The Limits of Human Evil

Those of you who have seen it know there's a twist. And ironically, it may be the one thing that will never allow you to get close to the possibility of watching this film again. It's a jarring design of a film that will leave you speechless when you find out what happens at the end of the story. We'll just call it pure human evil (it also provides a great view into the issue of mental health). This is one of the best and most disturbing true crime documentaries ever made.

Irréversible (2002)

Irreversible.

Release Date 2002-05-22

Director Gaspar Noe

Cast Stphane Drouot, Albert Dupontel, Jo Prestia, Philippe Nahon, Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci

Rating NC-17

Gaspar Noé's Irréversible is a horrific journey through the streets of Paris as two friends try to avenge an attack suffered by a woman they both love. The film's told in reverse order, and it starts with a sequence in which Pierre fatally beats a man to death, suspecting he's the culprit. Then we find out about the horrific act that led him and Marcus on a rampage of justice.

Scary is an Understatement

Not even redesigning the film to be shown in chronological order makes it an easier film to watch. Irréversible is that monster that crawls out of your bed to bend your mind by subjecting you to the most horrendous forms of graphic violence. There are two scenes in this film that you will probably never watch again. And as crucial as they are in a narrative sense, they are extremely hard-to-watch horrific pieces of horror trapped in a drama thriller that most people only saw once. You've been warned.

Stream on AMC+

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana jones & the temple of doom.

Release Date 1984-05-23

Cast Amrish Puri, Philip Stone, Roshan Seth, Jonathan Ke Quan, Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw

Main Genre Action

In the second film of the Indiana Jones franchise, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , Indy barely escapes an attack and lands in an Indian village. There he finds out the children have been taken, as well as magic rocks. This puts Indy and company on the path for their next adventure: Head over to Pankot Palace and try to save the children and get the stones back to their right place.

Far from a Family-Friendly Fantasy Adventure

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is probably the greatest argument for why Indiana Jones could be seen as a horror franchise . The film's extremely violent and unsettling, and it shows child slavery in all its glory. Even Spielberg felt the final product was too dark. While the franchise is pretty rewatchable, you may want to skip this one if you're not into horror, scary imagery, and heart extractions.

Stream on Disney+

The Act of Killing (2012)

The act of killing.

Release Date 2012-08-31

Director Christine Cynn, Anonymous, Joshua Oppenheimer

Cast Safit Pardede, Yapto Soerjosoemarno, Ibrahim Sinik, Syamsul Arifin, Herman Koto, Anwar Congo

Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing takes us to North Sumatra, where the director has found prominent participants in the mass killings of the 1960s in Indonesia. Through an artistic recreation technique, he asks his subjects to be open about what they did and participate in reenactments of the horrendous acts where approximately one million alleged communists were killed. The film isn't exactly a true crime documentary, but it's very disturbing nonetheless.

A Man is Broken by Memory

One of the film's subjects, Anwar Congo, is vocally proud of the things he did. He claims enough deaths so that viewers quickly learn to despise him and the things he did. However, Oppenheimer draws a conclusion that will make Congo face the consequences. It's a complete shift from what we have seen so far: a detailed account of pure death at the hands of murderers who are still seen as heroes where they live. The Act of Killing is an experience you will probably have to go through once. But twice?

Stream on Freevee

If you're in the mood for more "normal" films that aren't exactly horror, but are too close to it, here's a video about films that in some way or another, become horror movies when you least expect it:

15 Non-Horror Movies That Are too Scary to Rewatch

17 episodes

Ever take a wrong turn and end up in a bad situation? Two seasoned horror fans, Edgar & Courtnee dive into the world of horror movies. .#scary #comedy

The Wrong Turn Podcast The Wrong Turn Podcast

  • TV & Film

13 Ghosts (1960), " My Ghost Uncle wants to kill my friend!"

Embark on a chilling journey with podcast hosts Courtnee and Edgar as they unravel the supernatural enigma of the 1960 horror classic "13 Ghosts." As the duo navigates the haunted realms of this vintage gem, every spine-tingling revelation, and the ghostly encounter becomes a shared thrill, Sidenote we apologize for any mic noises.

  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 19 DEC 2023

Krampus (2015), It's a Horror Hallmark movie!!

Embrace the holiday horrors with podcast hosts Holly and Nick as they unwrap the dark delights of the 2015 Christmas-themed horror movie, "Krampus." Mixing festive cheer with wicked humor, the duo explores the twisted yuletide tale. With every jump scare and wicked twist, Courtnee and Edgar blend seasonal spirit and spine-chilling thrills, making this podcast episode a merry and macabre treat for listeners diving into the wicked winter wonderland of "Krampus."

  • 1 hr 56 min

The House on Haunted Hill (1999), "Make a right at the bleeding door."

Join podcast hosts, Edgrr! and Courtnee, on a rollercoaster of scares as they watch and discuss the 1999 horror flick "House on Haunted Hill." The duo unravels the supernatural thrills and campy delights of this haunted mansion tale. Expect lively banter, sarcastic commentary, and shared gasps as Edgrr! and Courtnee breathe new life into this late '90s horror gem, (pun intended)

  • 1 hr 42 min
  • 23 NOV 2023

The House on Haunted Hill (1959), "Guns don't work on Ghosts"

Step into the eerie past with podcast hosts Courtnee and Edgrr as they unravel the mysteries of the 1959 classic, "The House on Haunted Hill." , They navigate through the haunted corridors of this Vincent Price gem, offering listeners an immersive experience into the golden age of horror. Join the duo for a captivating journey, where every creak and shadow comes alive in the discussion of this iconic haunted house thriller.

  • 1 hr 16 min

Infinity PooL (2023) "Where do we even begin?"

Immerse yourself in podcast hosts Edgar and Ming's discussion of the mind-bending thriller "Infinity Pool." They dissect its intricate plot, ( sort of) unravel the psychological suspense (not really), and decode the enigmatic characters. With sharp insights and compelling analysis (definitely not), this episode offers a deep dive into a cinematic puzzle that will keep you on the edge of your seat. (mostly we talk shit about it)

  • 1 hr 13 min
  • 31 OCT 2023

Ernest Scared Stupid (1991) "KnoWhutImean?

Join podcast hosts Edgrrr! and Courtney for a spooky ride as they watch and discuss the cult classic horror-comedy, "Ernest Scared Stupid." With witty banter and infectious enthusiasm, they dive into the hilarious and terrifying adventures of Ernest P. Worrell as he faces off against mischievous trolls. Expect laughter, nostalgia, and deep dives into the film's comedic and creepy elements, making this podcast episode a rollicking journey for horror fans and '90s kids alike.

  • 1 hr 36 min
  • © The Wrong Turn Podcast 2023

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COMMENTS

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