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Best Horror Movies of All Time

Diving into the spine-chilling realm of horror films is like embarking on a rollercoaster ride through the dark corners of the human psyche. From the eerie shadows cast in the black-and-white classics to the blood-soaked scenes of contemporary cinema, the horror genre has woven itself into the fabric of storytelling, evolving like a shape-shifting entity over time.

As we curate this collection of horror films, we aim to capture the essence of fear in its various forms, from the supernatural to the psychologically twisted. Our selection is a careful dance between the eerie atmospheres of the past and the pulse-pounding terror of the present. We understand that the horror genre is not static; it's a living, breathing entity that morphs with societal fears and technological advances.

We’ll be updating this page regularly, ensuring that your journey through the macabre is always filled with fresh thrills and unexpected nightmares. Here are our top 25 horror movies with ratings courtesy of Scary Meter.

1. 'The Exorcist' (1973)

 A man excorises a woman in this image from Hoya Productions.
No horror movie instills as much terror as the 1973 film adaptation of “The Exorcist.” (Image: Hoya Productions)

Rated: R | Director: William Friedkin

Scary Meter Rating: 7.7

Creepy: 9.1 | Gory: 5.7 | Jumpy: 4.9

Watch the trailer for “The Exorcist”

“The Exorcist” is a cinematic masterpiece that, for me, stands as a timeless pinnacle in the realm of horror. Released in 1973, this spine-chilling classic directed by William Friedkin explores the eerie and supernatural in a way that was never seen before. The story unfolds when a young girl begins exhibiting bizarre and disturbing behaviors that defy any rational explanation. The atmosphere is thick with tension, and unlike traditional horror settings, the film delves into the unsuspecting territory of a seemingly ordinary household. As the girl’s possession intensifies, the struggle to reclaim her soul ensues, drawing audiences into a nightmarish journey.

What sets “The Exorcist” apart is its ability to tap into the psychological fears of its viewers, transcending mere jump scares. It's a cinematic experience that lingers, leaving an indelible mark on the horror genre and solidifying its status as a true classic. No wonder we’ll be seeing its reincarnation in 2023!

Watch “The Exorcist” on Max

2. 'The Babadook' (2014)

A woman and a young boy are reading a book in bed in this image from Causeway Films.
A parent’s resilience to protect her child from a horrifying creature is unmatched. (Image: Causeway Films)

Rated: R | Director: Jennifer Kent

Scary Meter Rating: 7.2

Creepy: 8.9 | Gory: 0.4 | Jumpy: 4.8

Watch the trailer for “The Babadook”

While a grieving mother is haunted by the violent death of her husband and tries to navigate the complexities of raising her son, a mysterious pop-up book titled “Mister Babadook” appears on their shelf, serving as a sinister catalyst that unleashes a malevolent force to prey on their fears and vulnerabilities.

As the ominous figure of the Babadook infiltrates their home, this film proves that the horror here is not just in the shadows but in the emotional depths, especially as the mother-son duo grapples with their own demons amidst the encroaching terror. “The Babadook” masterfully creates horror within the stark light of day, questioning the very fabric of maternal love and the thin line between grief and the supernatural.

Watch “The Babadook” on Hulu

3. 'The Shining' (1980)

A family sits in a car in this image from The Producer Circle.
No ranked list of horror films is complete without “The Shining.” (Image: The Producer Circle)

Rated: R | Director: Stanley Kubrick

Scary Meter Rating: 7.5

Creepy: 9.4 | Gory: 2.2 | Jumpy: 3.9

Watch the trailer for “The Shining”

Directed by the master of suspense, Stanley Kubrick, this iconic horror tale based on Stephen King’s book, follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) as he takes on the role of the winter caretaker for the ominous Overlook Hotel. Joined by his family, including his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and son Danny (Danny Lloyd), Jack hopes to find inspiration for his writing. However, the Overlook Hotel has more than empty halls and ghostly echoes — it possesses a malevolent force that begins to unravel Jack's sanity.

The psychological torment that unfolds within the movie famously leaks beyond the screen, making the production of “The Shining” as famous as its storyline. Kubrick's meticulous attention to detail and numerous takes, especially in the iconic “Here's Johnny!” scene, became legendary in the world of filmmaking, making “The Shining” a timeless masterpiece in the horror genre.

Watch “The Shining” on Amazon Prime Video

4. 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)

A close-up of a woman crying in this image from Haxan Films
“The Blair Witch Project” is one of the most successful independent horror films of all time. (Image: Haxan Films)

Rated: R | Director: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez

Scary Meter Rating: 7.3

Creepy: 9.0 | Gory: 0.3 | Jumpy: 2.2

Watch the trailer for “The Blair Witch Project”

“The Blair Witch Project” is a movie that always has me hiding behind a blanket saying, “Nope.” Filmed in a chilling documentary style, the story follows three filmmakers as they embark on a quest to unravel the mysteries of the eerie Black Hills Forest. Armed with handheld cameras and a gripping sense of fear, they become entangled in a web of supernatural terror.

What makes this 1999 classic truly hair-raising is an innovative approach that blurs the lines between fiction and reality, leaving you questioning the thin veil between the tangible and the supernatural. Fun fact: The actors were intentionally kept in the dark about the plot twists, adding an extra layer of authenticity to their raw performances.

Watch “The Blair Witch Project” on Amazon Prime Video

5. 'Psycho' (1960)

 A woman screams in the shower in this image from Shamley Productions.
If you want to be on the edge of your seat the entire film, “Psycho” does the job. (Image: Shamley Productions)

Rated: R | Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Scary Meter Rating: 5.4

Creepy: 8.9 | Gory: 1.7 | Jumpy: 4.2

Watch the trailer for “Psycho”

Every scene in this cinematic classic is a puzzle piece, and just when you think you've got it figured out, Alfred Hitchcock flips the script. “Psycho” is a master class in suspense, and it's got that Hitchcock touch that leaves you questioning what's real and what's just a brilliantly crafted illusion.

The iconic shower scene might be what everyone talks about, but the whole movie is a rollercoaster of suspense. The twisted dance between the characters perches you on the edge of your seat, trying to figure out who's really in control. The Bates Motel is this eerie, isolated place, but instead of a dark and stormy night, Hitchcock throws you off by setting the stage in broad daylight. It's not your typical horror backdrop, but that's what makes it genius.

Watch “Psycho” on Peacock

6. 'Halloween' (1978)

 A young woman holds a knife in this image from Compass International Pictures.
Jamie Lee Curtis’ film debut was in none other than “Halloween.” (Image: Compass International Pictures)

Rated: R | Director: John Carpenter

Scary Meter Rating: 6.6

Creepy: 7.9 | Gory: 4.4 | Jumpy: 7.6

Watch the trailer for “Halloween”

If you're looking for the OG horror masterpiece, John Carpenter's “Halloween” is where the terrifying journey begins. While a masked Michael Myers (Nick Castle) stalks the peaceful suburban streets of Haddonfield, an eerie quiet falls upon the screen as Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), the unsuspecting babysitter, becomes the embodiment of the “final girl” trope.

What's remarkable is the film’s simplicity; the suspense is in every calculated step Myers takes. The impact of “Halloween” on the horror genre is immeasurable. It birthed the slasher sub-genre and influenced countless filmmakers who followed, carving a path for other iconic horror franchises.

Watch “Halloween” on Amazon Prime Video

7. 'Alien' (1979)

 A woman sweats and hides from an alien in this image from 20th Century Fox.
“Alien” is the most popular sci-fi horror film to date. (Image: 20th Century Fox)

Rated: R | Director: Ridley Scott

Scary Meter Rating: 7.4

Creepy: 8.6 | Gory: 7.3 | Jumpy: 8.2

Watch the trailer for “Alien”

Ridley Scott's “Alien” is a relentless dance between fear and fascination. The setting is claustrophobic, and the tension builds with each creak of the ship's metal hull. The titular alien, a nightmarish creature born of unknown origins, lurks in the shadows, turning the vastness of space into a haunting, atmospheric nightmare.

The film goes beyond a sci-fi horror; it's a groundbreaking exploration of fear and survival, forever imprinting the horror genre and solidifying its impact on cinematic history. The legacy of “Alien” is stitched into the fabric of pop culture, influencing countless films and leaving an indelible mark on how we perceive the unknown of the cosmos.

Rent or buy “Alien” on Amazon Prime Video

8. 'Rosemary's Baby' (1968)

A woman talks on a pay phone in this image from William Castle Enterprises.
“Rosemary’s Baby” is considered one of the greatest horror films of all time. (Image: William Castle Enterprises)

Rated: R | Director: Roman Polanski

Scary Meter Rating: 6.1

Creepy: 9.4 | Gory: 0.3 | Jumpy: 1.1

Watch the trailer for “Rosemary's Baby”

Weaving horror into the fabric of everyday life, the narrative of “Rosemary’s Baby” unfolds as Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her husband move into a grand but eerie apartment building in New York City. As the couple befriends peculiar neighbors and Rosemary becomes pregnant, an unsettling aura descends upon their lives.

What sets this film apart is its ability to exploit the seemingly mundane, turning domesticity into a breeding ground for dread. Director Roman Polanski crafts an atmosphere of psychological terror, with Farrow's nuanced performance capturing the gradual unraveling of Rosemary's reality. “Rosemary's Baby” doesn't rely on traditional horror tropes; instead, it delves into the horror of the mind and the insidious nature of those closest to us. Its enduring importance lies in its pioneering approach to psychological horror, setting a benchmark for the genre and influencing generations of filmmakers to come.

Rent or buy “Rosemary's Baby” on Amazon Prime Video

9. 'Scream' (1996)

A woman looks over her shoulder on the phone in this image from Woods Entertainment.
One of the most widely known slasher films, “Scream” has continued its legacy even today. (Image: Woods Entertainment)

Rated: R | Director: Wes Craven

Scary Meter Rating: 5.3

Creepy: 4.8 | Gory: 6.8 | Jumpy: 6.5

Watch the trailer for “Scream”

“Scream’ is a timeless classic that is a must-watch for me every Halloween season. The film cleverly deconstructs the slasher genre by blending self-aware humor with genuine suspense and relatable, well-developed characters. All these years later, the franchise is still alive and well because fans care so deeply about these unique characters. Neve Campbell's portrayal of Sidney Prescott is iconic, and the masked villain, Ghostface, offers intrigue and fright that's truly captivating. It's the type of horror movie that's oddly comforting and definitely helps me get into the seasonal Halloween vibes.” — Kate Fann, Staff Writer

Another reason this movie may send chills up your spine? It’s loosely based on a real string of murders in Florida.

Watch “Scream” on Max

10. 'The Silence of the Lambs' (1991)

A woman holds a bottle of lotion in this image from Strong Heart Productions.
Not only is “The Silence of the Lambs” one of the best horror films, but also one the most influential in cinema. (Image: Strong Heart Productions)

Rated: R | Director: Jonathan Demme

Scary Meter Rating: 5.7

Creepy: 9.1| Gory: 5.9| Jumpy: 3.2

Watch the trailer for “The Silence of the Lambs”

Sink into the gripping world of “The Silence of the Lambs,” a classic film that transcends conventional horror boundaries. From the ominous depths of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit to the chilling encounters with an incarcerated genius, this film weaves a narrative web that ensnares the audience from its opening scenes. Unlike traditional horror settings, the brilliance of “The Silence of the Lambs” lies in its psychological intensity, with muted tones and the haunting dance between Jodie Foster's portrayal of Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins‘ iconic depiction of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

The impact of this suspenseful tale reverberates beyond the screen, earning it five Academy Awards, including Best Picture — a feat rare for a horror-thriller. Decades after its release, this iconic production remains a testament to the enduring power of psychological horror and its ability to captivate audiences worldwide.

Watch “Silence of the Lambs” on Max

11. 'Nosferatu' (1922)

A man faces a vampire in this image from Prana Film.
A classic horror film that cannot be understated because it’s in black and white is “Nosferatu.” (Image: Prana Film)

Rated: NR | Director: F. W. Murnau

Scary Meter Rating: 4.1

Creepy: 8.8| Gory: 0| Jumpy: 0.6

Watch the trailer for “Nosferatu”

Diving into the shadowy realms of classic cinema, “Nosferatu” emerges as a timeless masterpiece that casts an eternal spell on its audience. This cinematic gem, directed by the visionary F. W. Murnau, is an eerie dance with the macabre as it brings Bram Stoker's “Dracula” to life with an avant-garde twist — and an off-screen lawsuit for its unauthorized adaptation.

As the silent screen unfolds, Max Schreck's portrayal of Count Orlok stands as an iconic embodiment of horror, his elongated silhouette haunting the screen with an otherworldly malevolence. Shot against eerie landscapes and foreboding architecture, the film's visual aesthetic has left an indelible mark on the horror genre, shaping the very essence of cinematic fear.

Watch “Nosferatu” on Pluto TV

12. 'The Thing' (1982)

 A man with a beanie and frost on his beard in this image from The Turman-Foster Company
Director John Carpenter is a household name in the horror film industry. (Image: The Turman-Foster Company.)

Rated: R | Director: John Carpenter

Scary Meter Rating: 7.4

Creepy: 8.4 | Gory: 9.4 | Jumpy: 6.0

Watch the trailer for “The Thing”

Set in the desolate Antarctic, “The Thing” kicks off with a shape-shifting extraterrestrial wreaking havoc among a group of isolated researchers. You're on the edge of your seat from the get-go as the characters’ trust crumbles faster than the Antarctic snow, complemented by the frozen, claustrophobic environment.

John Carpenter, the maestro behind this frozen nightmare, crafts an atmospheric and suspenseful experience that stands the test of time alongside Ennio Morricone’s haunting score and Rob Bottin’s groundbreaking practical effects, which brought the grotesque transformations to life, and contributes to the film's status as a sci-fi horror legend.

Watch “The Thing” on Peacock

13. 'Paranormal Activity' (2007)

A couple sits up scared of something in bed in this image from Blumhouse Productions.
“Paranormal Activity” blurs the line between reality and the supernatural. (Image: Blumhouse Productions)

Rated: R | Director: Oren Peli

Scary Meter Rating: 7.5

Creepy: 8.8 | Gory: 0 | Jumpy: 8.8

Watch the trailer for “Paranormal Activity”

“Every two years or so, out of all of my favorite horror films I return to the Paranormal Activity franchise the most. The original ‘Paranormal Activity’ tells the story of Micah (Micah Sloat), a day trader, and his girlfriend, Katie (Katie Featherston), a student. The movie begins with Micah taping his everyday life with Katie with the hope of documenting creepy happenings around their home at night to prove that Katie is haunted. What at first seems like a harmless task begins to aggravate the demonic presence that has, indeed, latched itself to Katie her whole life with harrowing results.

Though later franchises failed to capture the glimmering core of the ‘Paranormal Activity’ story, the original installment reached astronomical heights of dread, terror, and curiosity to put all of the puzzle pieces of a haunting together.” — Karen Fischer, Staff Writer

Rent or buy “Paranormal Activity” on Amazon Prime Video 

14. 'Evil Dead II' (1987)

A man is strangled by his severed hand in this image from Renaissance Pictures.
“Evil Dead II” is gorier than you could ever imagine. (Image: Renaissance Pictures.)

Rated: R | Director: Sam Raimi

Scary Meter Rating: 4.4

Creepy: 3.6 | Gory: 9.0 | Jumpy: 4.9

Watch the trailer for “Evil Dead II”

Forget the traditional scares that go bump in the night — “Evil Dead II” throws you into a chaotic blend of gore and gut-busting comedy, resulting in the perfect horror-comedy cocktail where Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself in a cabin deep in the woods to battle those relentless, possessed forces once again.

As a sequel, what sets “Evil Dead II” apart? Well, it cranks everything up a notch. The special effects are gorier, the humor is darker, and the sheer insanity is dialed up to 11. It's a twisted dance between terror and absurdity, with Ash literally losing his hand but gaining a chainsaw in return. The film's relentless energy and over-the-top antics make it not just a sequel, but a horror experience that outshines its predecessor, cementing its status as a cult classic.

Watch “Evil Dead II” on Tubi

15. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' (1984)

Freddy Krueger’s hand reaches for a woman in a bathtub in this image from New Line Cinema.
Freddy Krueger is a name that you won’t forget. (Heather Langenkamp) (Image: New Line Cinema)

Rated: R | Director: Wes Craven

Scary Meter Rating: 6.7

Creepy: 7.4 | Gory: 8.0 | Jumpy: 7.0

Watch the trailer for “A Nightmare on Elm Street”

The original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” from 1984 is one of the OG horror mind-benders that shook the genre to its core. The story follows a group of small-town teens who are hunted by a razor-fingered Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in their dreams, but those dream deaths have real consequences in the waking world.

The impact of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” on the horror scene was massive. Wes Craven unleashed a horror icon with Freddy, giving nightmares a whole new level of terror. It's a haunted dreamland where reality and nightmare blur to birth a franchise that plays with our deepest fears — proving that the scariest things are the ones you can't escape, not even in your sleep.

Watch “A Nightmare on Elm Street” on Max

16. 'House of Wax' (2005)

Paris Hilton screams in this image from Dark Castle Entertainment.
Paris Hilton is known for being a reality star, but she has had her share of big-screen moments too, including “House of Wax.” (Image: Dark Castle Entertainment)

Rated: R | Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Scary Meter Rating: 6.6

Creepy: 8.8 | Gory: 9.4 | Jumpy: 6.3

Watch the trailer for “House of Wax”

“House of Wax” revolves around a group of friends who stumble upon a house made entirely of wax, thinking they've hit the jackpot for quirky road trip stories. Little do they know, this seemingly innocent wax haven is a chamber of horrors, and the wax figures are disturbingly realistic.

The importance of “House of Wax” lies in its ability to turn the ordinary into the stuff of nightmares. It takes the familiar and turns them into a terrifying spectacle, keeping you on the edge of your seat as you wonder just how real things can get. And who doesn’t want to watch Paris Hilton’s transformation from hotel heiress to scream queen?

Rent or buy “House of Wax” on Amazon Prime Video 

17. 'The Strangers' (2008)

A woman screams in this image from Rogue Pictures.
“The Strangers” is full of jump scares. (Image: Rogue Pictures)

Rated: R | Director: Bryan Bertino

Scary Meter Rating: 7.4

Creepy: 9.3 | Gory: 2.8 | Jumpy: 7.6

Watch the trailer for “The Strangers”

You could throw on “The Strangers” for me anytime, and the jump scares would still get me. A secluded cabin, a couple hoping for a quiet night, three masked strangers with sinister intentions — it’s a checklist for a movie that’ll make you double-check your doors tonight.

What makes this movie a standout is its ability to turn the familiar setting of home into a heart-pounding battleground. There's no escape, and the tension builds with each passing moment. “The Strangers” is a relentless psychological assault that makes you question the safety of your own space, serving as a reminder that terror can lurk in the most ordinary places.

Watch “The Strangers” on Netflix

18. 'The Witch' (2015)

A young girl in Puritan clothing in a forest in this image from Rooks Nest Entertainment
If you didn’t know Anya Taylor-Joy before “The Queen’s Gambit,” you’ll be surprised to see her in “The Witch.” (Image: Rooks Nest Entertainment)

Rated: R | Director: Robert Eggers

Scary Meter Rating: 6.5

Creepy: 9.3 | Gory: 3.3 | Jumpy: 1.1

Watch the trailer for “The Witch”

A24 hit the horror sweet spot with this one. “The Witch” is like a cinematic spell that enchanted audiences right from the start. Set in the eerie 1630s New England, this masterclass in atmospheric horror follows a Puritan family that’s been banished from their community and forced to confront something wicked lurking in the woods beyond their new homestead.

Forget jump scares; this film weaves a slow-burning, unsettling narrative that feels like a descent into the dark depths of superstition, choice, and paranoia. The writing is as sharp as a witch's cackle, and the cinematography is a macabre painting come to life.

Watch “The Witch” on Hulu

19. 'Us' (2019)

A young girl with wide eyes and pigtails in this image from Monkeypaw Pictures
Following the success of “Get Out,” “Us” was Jordan Peele’s next horror film. (Image: Monkeypaw Pictures)

Rated: R | Director: Jordan Peele

Scary Meter Rating: 6.3

Creepy: 9.4 | Gory: 4.6 | Jumpy: 3.3

Watch the trailer for “Us”

Jordan Peele, the mastermind behind this film, doesn't just serve up your typical horror flick — his work is all about leaving you with more questions than answers, embedding the movie’s themes and images deep inside your mind. In “Us,” the Wilson family decides to kick back and enjoy a sunny vacation at their beach house, but that peaceful getaway takes a twisted turn when creepy doppelgängers show up with a bone-chilling agenda.

It's not your run-of-the-mill fright fest; it's a psychological rollercoaster that messes with your head. The scares aren't just in the shadows; they're right there, front and center, hidden in plain sight. As always, Peele crafts a horror masterpiece that's both thought-provoking and downright terrifying, leaving you questioning reality long after the credits roll.

Watch “Us” on Netflix

20. 'Get Out' (2017)

A man in a straw hat with a nosebleed in this image from Blumhouse Productions
“Get Out” left its mark on many viewers, including ones who’ve never seen a Jordan Peele film. (Image: Blumhouse Productions)

Rated: R | Director: Jordan Peele

Scary Meter Rating: 5.5

Creepy: 9.1 | Gory: 2.1 | Jumpy: 2.8

Watch the trailer for “Get Out”

When a young man visits his girlfriend's family estate for a weekend getaway, he finds himself trapped in a disturbingly sinister reality. Jordan Peele skillfully blends social commentary with bone-chilling thrills.

The film takes a sledgehammer to racial tensions, unraveling a tale where hypnotism and cultural appropriation intertwine in a nightmarish dance. From the “sunken place” to the eerie tea cup stirring, every frame is charged with symbolism. The impact of “Get Out” transcends the screen, sparking conversations on race, privilege, and horror's potential to be a vehicle for meaningful discourse.

Watch “Get Out” on Netflix

21. ‘Suspiria’ (1977)

A woman in a mint robe against pink wallpaper in this image from Seda Spettacoli
Foreign horror films are worthy of being on this list, like “Suspiria.” (Image: Seda Spettacoli)

Rated: R | Director: Dario Argento

Scary Meter Rating: 7.3

Creepy: 9.6 | Gory: 8.8 | Jumpy: 3.7

Watch the trailer for “Suspiria”

Dive into “Suspiria,” a cinematic masterpiece that forever changed the landscape of horror. This film, directed by Dario Argento, unfolds with an intensity that grabs you from the first frame and refuses to let go. As you step into the eerie halls of a prestigious dance academy, the vibrant colors and haunting soundtrack create an otherworldly atmosphere. “Suspiria” is a sensory experience — a visual and auditory journey that sends chills down your spine.

The impact of this film on the industry is undeniable, as Argento weaves together suspense, supernatural elements, and a touch of surrealism, setting a new standard for horror aesthetics. The use of vivid hues and avant-garde techniques pioneered by Argento has inspired countless filmmakers, leaving an indelible mark on the genre and cementing “Suspiria” as a timeless classic that continues to resonate with horror aficionados.

Watch “Suspiria” on Hulu

22. 'The Cabin in the Woods' (2011)

 A woman with a head injury crawls on the floor in this image from Mutant Enemy Productions.
Joss Whedon is one of the writers behind “The Cabin in the Woods.” (Image: Mutant Enemy Productions)

Rated: R | Director: Drew Goddard

Scary Meter Rating: 5.3

Creepy: 5.1 | Gory: 7.8 | Jumpy: 6.5

Watch the trailer for “The Cabin in the Woods”

This rollercoaster of a horror film drops you right into the heart of a seemingly typical scary scenario: a group of friends heading to a cabin for a getaway. Despite the uninventive setting, the movie flips the script on horror cliches. The writers behind this film, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, throw in every spooky trope you can imagine, but not just for kicks. There's a purpose — a mind-bending, industry-redefining one.

As the story unfolds, you're taken on a wild ride that not only messes with your expectations, but also throws a curveball at the entire horror genre. It's not just a movie; it's a game-changer, a nod to horror fans, and a cheeky wink at the conventions we've grown accustomed to.

Watch “The Cabin in the Woods” on Max

23. 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968)

A woman in a cemetery in this image from Image Ten
“Night of the Living Dead” is a cult classic. (Image: Image Ten)

Rated: NR | Director: George A. Romero

Scary Meter Rating: 5.9

Creepy: 8.6 | Gory: 6.4 | Jumpy: 2.8

Watch the trailer for “Night of the Living Dead”

“Night of the Living Dead” is a cult classic and spine-tingling symphony of horror that laid the foundation for the zombie genre we know today. Directed by George A. Romero on a shoestring budget, the film takes you on a harrowing ride as a disparate group of people barricade themselves in a farmhouse to survive a zombie apocalypse. The simplicity of the production adds to the raw and unsettling atmosphere, proving that sometimes less is more when it comes to horror.

Shot in rural Pennsylvania, the film captures the dread of the unknown, utilizing stark contrasts and shadows to create a chilling ambiance. As the characters grapple with fear, paranoia, and the flesh-eating undead, “Night of the Living Dead” becomes an iconic piece of cinema history  — not just for its scares, but for its groundbreaking approach to horror filmmaking.

Watch “Night of the Living Dead” on Hulu

24. 'Midsommar' (2019)

A young woman frowns wearing flowers in this image from A24.
Florence Pugh stars in “Midsommar.” (Image: A24)

Rated: R | Director: Ari Aster

Scary Meter Rating: 6.4

Creepy: 8.8 | Gory: 8.1 | Jumpy: 1.2

Watch the trailer for “Midsommar”

Honestly, you could put any A24 movie on for me, and I’d be fully invested from start to finish, but they really know how to do horror. They’re the production company behind so many great scary movies, like “The Witch,” “Hereditary,” and “Talk to Me,” but my absolute favorite has to be “Midsommar.” It’s brutal, it’s beautiful, and it preys on the audience’s attention from the very beginning.

Unlike most scares that go bump in the night, the setting in “Midsommar” is bright and disarming — and rather than putting you at ease, this serene landscape will put you on the edge of your seat, unable to predict what will go wrong or when it will happen.

Rent or buy “Midsommar” on Amazon Prime Video

25. ‘Beau Is Afraid’ (2023)

A man in a blue pajama shirt in this image from A24
Joaquin Phoenix takes on various projects in different genres, including horror. (Image: A24)

Rated: R | Director: Ari Aster

Scary Meter Rating: 4.7

Creepy: 10 | Gory: 3.3 | Jumpy: 0

Watch the trailer for “Beau Is Afraid”

“The magic of filmmaking was not wasted on me as a child. Every gruesome slasher scene was as real and as plausible as the last, and it wouldn’t be long after my trip to the theater that I’d be experiencing grotesque death for myself. As a sensible adult, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t likely to be hunted by a maniac for the foreseeable future (or at least as long as I continued to make sensible adult decisions), and before long the slashing grossed me out more than they did instill any kind of fear.

‘Beau Is Afraid’ completely reimagined the horror genre; tapping into the deep psyche of our most human fears and cranking the anxiety-inducement meter to 100 — rekindling a fear I’d long forgotten and reminding me how frightening a deep sense of paranoia could truly be.” — Octavio De La Cruz, Staff Writer

Rent or buy “Beau Is Afraid” on Amazon Prime Video

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