The 50 Best Horror Movies of All Time

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

As long as there have been motion pictures, there have been horror films. The genre has gone through numerous evolutions since the first three-minute horror short, “Le Manoir du Diable” (“The House of the Devil”) was shot in France in 1896. 

In early silent classics like “Nosferatu” (1922), fear was invoked by a hideous villain, such as a vampire or demon, who played a starring role. In the modern era, horror has grown to encompass a multitude of sub-genres, with or without a classic “monster” central to the original stories. Psychological horror, for example, utilizes mental disturbances and suspense to elicit fear, often without ever depicting an actual villain.

24/7 Tempo has compiled the 105 best horror movies ever made. The films represent every decade from the 1920s to the present day and from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 nature-gone-wild thriller “The Birds” to slasher classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to experimental indie cult film “Eraserhead” — with an occasional horror comedy along the way. 

While there have always been scary films, 2017 saw something of a horror renaissance. Both the supernatural horror film “It,” based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, and Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning “Get Out” were released that year. “It” went on to gross over $700 million worldwide, and set a new record for playing in 4,103 theaters — more than any other R-rated movie ever. Here are the best R rated movies ever made.

To identify the 40 best horror movies ever made, 24/7 Tempo developed an index of ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and audience and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of mid-March 2021. All three measures were weighted equally. Only films with at least 4,500 reviews on IMDb, a “horror” genre classification on IMDb, and a runtime greater than one hour were considered. Data on domestic box office came from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Cast information comes from IMDb.

Now there are more horror films than ever. Streaming services have given indie and sub-genre horror a platform it never had. Most theaters don’t run small-budget horror movies, and before streaming, films that went straight to TV or DVD were considered lower quality. Now, horror fans have a plethora of first-rate fear-inducing options at their fingertips. Here are the scariest movies now available for streaming.

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