The task of creating a Top 100 article again lands in my lap, and again I find myself insanely challenged. It’s such a difficult task in picking the absolute best 100 movies. Even now, having gone over the list time and again, I know I’ll return to this piece and think, hey such and such should have made the cut! That’s how these things work, I suppose. Omissions and questionable ordering are always going to be an issue, as we don’t all see eye to eye on topics of this nature. We’re human beings, we’re not conditioned to think as lemmings. Having said that, most would likely agree that every film on this list deserves to be here, one way or another.
From the 1920s to modern day works, vampires to werewolves, there’s a little something for everyone here. Check out our official (as voted by myself and an assortment of our site contributors) list of the 100 greatest horror movies of all time!
100 The Devil’s Backbone (2001): One of Guillermo del Toro’s earlier and often overlooked projects, The Devil’s Backbone is one of his most frightening. It’s a ghost story of sorts, loaded with compelling visuals and terrific performances. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you’re behind the curve.
99 Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
98 Pulse (2001)
97 The Orphanage (2007)
96 Black Sunday (1960)
95 Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986): Gritty and gruesome, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer plays out like an up-close-and-personal examination of an actual serial killer. There isn’t much here in the way of movie magic, and that’s the idea. This could all be happening… and horrifying that idea is!
94 Cronos (1993)
93 Audition (1999)
92 Dead Alive (1992)
91 Paranormal Activity (2007)
90 Insidious (2010): Insidious is this generation’s answer to Poltergeist. While it isn’t as shocking as Poltergeist, it is as memorable. Look for brilliantly subtle scares and some personalities that are easy to get behind. James Wan strikes!
89 Dead Ringers (1988)
88 Silver Bullet (1985)
87 Ringu (1998)
86 Snowtown (2011)
85 [REC] (2007): One of the greatest found footage films to be shot, [REC]’s visceral madness is intoxicating. Once the chaos breaks out, it never once relents, and fans adore that quality for good reason. If you’ve lost hope in handy-cam flicks, [REC] will restore your belief.
84 Frailty (2001)
83 Interview With the Vampire (1994)
82 Re-Animator (1985)
81 Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
80 The Sixth Sense (1999): M. Knight Shyamalan’s breakout picture is a thing of beauty. It’s part ghost story, part straight forward mystery, 100-percent stuffed with mesmerizing visuals and top notch performances. A must-see film with amazing work from Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense is all about replay value, which says a lot given the fact that one run through unveils a massive surprise ending.
79 Shaun of the Dead (2004)
78 The Bad Seed (1956)
77 Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
76 28 Days Later… (2002)
75 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978): While I’m partial to Don Siegel’s original picture, there’s no denying the heart and soul that was invested in Philip Kaufman’s remake. It’s as haunting as you’ll hope it is, and it is, hands down, Donald Sutherland’s finest moment.
74 House of the Devil (2009)
73 Children of the Corn (1984)
72 Cemetery Man (1994)
71 The Ring (2002)
70 30 Days of Night (2007): One of the few vampire flicks released post-1980s that actually terrifies while feeling original, David Slade’s 30 Days of Night is an aesthetic masterpiece anchored by truly frightening creatures of the night.
69 The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
68 The Descent (2005)
67 Event Horizon (1997)
66 The Werewolf (1956)
65 Army of Darkness (1992): Everyone loves the Evil Dead franchise, and for good reason. It’s hilarious, brutal and moves along at break-neck speed. Army of Darkness isn’t as stunning as the first two franchise pics, but it’s still an amazing movie.
64 Horror of Dracula (1958)
63 The Legend of Hell House (1973)
62 Child’s Play (1988)
61 The Howling (1981)
60 Zombieland (2009): I’m sure plenty will toss their hands up in frustration at the idea of Zombieland being ranked higher than Shaun of the Dead, but at the end of the day I find it significantly more humorous and engaging. Bill Murray’s cameo alone is golden cinema.
59 The Evil Dead (1981)
58 Curse of Chucky (2013)
57 The Lost Boys (1987)
56 Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
55 Misery (1990): One of the strongest adaptations of a Stephen King novel, Misery is the kind of picture that will have ordinary Joes rebuking the idea of fame. This one will climb under your skin!
54 Candyman (1992)
53 Halloween II (1981)
52 Cape Fear (1991)
51 Tremors (1990)
50 Let the Right One In (2008): Another excellent vampire film released in the last 10 years, Let the Right One In is haunting. It isn’t a picture fueled by action but deeply psychological chills, which – trust me – works.
49 Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
48 Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
47 Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
46 Hellraiser (1987)
45 Phantasm (1979): Phantasm is kind of like the schizophrenic’s dream film. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and there are about 15 ideas too many at play, yet somehow Don Coscarelli makes it work, like a charm.
44 Session 9 (2001)
43 The Haunting (1963)
42 The Fog (1980)
41 Evil Dead II (1987)
40 The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): One of those rare vintage films that will have your eyes glued to the tube, The Day the Earth Stood Still invokes paranoia, fear and confusion with the effectiveness of today’s finest big budget offerings. Heavily laced with science fiction elements, this one is still abnormally disconcerting.
39 The Wicker Man (1973)
38 Se7en (1995)
37 The Blair Witch Project (1999)
36 Suspiria (1977)
35 Carrie (1976): Very few films surpass the quality of the novels in which they’re based on. But Carrie does just that. Brian De Palma delivers an unsettling look at tormented teenage life, and it still carries the impact that it did nearly 40 years ago. Skip that clunker remake with Chloe Grace Moretz and go with the masterful transfer from De Palma. You’ll thank me in the long run.
34 The Monster Squad (1987)
33 Saw (2004)
32 The Invisible Man (1933)
31 The Omen (1976)
30 Christine (1983): Another King transfer slides in at a very respectable 30th place. Christine brings some marvelous characters to life and transforms what looks like an everyday Plymouth Fury into a bona fide nightmare. A-class material right here.
29 Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
28 Dawn of the Dead (1978)
27 Dawn of the Dead (2004)
26 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
25 The Birds (1963): Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is an earlier example of man versus nature. And it’s frightening. Really frightening. Look for beautiful scenic shots and loads of strangely claustrophobic chills from this treasure.
24 Nosferatu (1922)
23 Scream (1996)
22 The Mummy (1932)
21 An American Werewolf in London (1981)
20 Aliens (1986): The follow up to Alien offered up a completely different mood. While Alien was something of a creepy slow burn blend of horror and sci-fi, Aliens is a full-throttle, jarring mixture of action and horror. Some prefer it to Ridley Scott’s original, and though I may not agree with that, I’d be hard pressed to call it anything other than genius.
19 Frankenstein (1931)
18 The Fly (1986)
17 Black Christmas (1974)
16 Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
15 Friday the 13th (1980): Sean S. Cunningham did what very few ever have, or ever will do, he took an obvious and admitted rip-off gimmick and turned it into a stunning concoction of horror. Cunningham set out to cash in on the craze that John Carpenter started in 1978, and he succeeds in a major way. This film was the spawning point of one of today’s most iconic villains and most recognizable horror franchises.
14 Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
13 Dracula (1931)
12 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
11 Poltergeist (1982)
10 Jaws (1975): Jaws made people want to avoid the water like contact with it could lead to sudden herpes outbreaks. Seriously, it sent shock waves through crowds in 1975 and still manages to do so today. Sharks are scary enough business as it is, persistent sharks with a taste for human flesh are absolutely paralyzing. But hey, here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!
9 The Wolf Man (1941)
8 Night of the Living Dead (1968)
7 The Shining (1980)
6 Alien (1979)
5 The Exorcist (1973): The Exorcist could have benefited from a few minor tweaks to avoid some of the downtime presented in the first two acts, but the latter moments of the film are every bit as repulsive as they are horrifying. There’s a reason the picture is universally loved, and that love is certainly warranted.
4 A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
3 The Thing (1982)
2 Psycho (1960)
1 Halloween (1978): John Carpenter is a brilliant guy. He saw Bob Clark’s Black Christmas and new exactly what kind of film he wanted to make. Somehow, he made a better one than Clark’s own creation and Carpenter’s inspiration. Michael Myers remains a mainstay in the hearts of fans, and Halloween is one of, if not the most watched genre film in existence. Absolutely beautiful!