This list of horror movies will make sure you stay inside this Halloween


Rebecca Newman

Who needs trick-or-treating this Halloween when there’s so many terrifying horror films to enjoy?

It’s almost Halloween, so it’s time for the habitual resurrection of the horror genre, returning once again to keep us awake and afraid of mysterious sounds we hear outside as we try to sleep.

Although the genre may be saturated with cheap poorly acted slasher films, it also contains some of the most well made movies ever created. 

So, why do I have the authority to rank these films? I don’t. The rankings are purely opinion from a guy who just watches too many movies. If you see your favorite film missing from the list I apologize. Feel free to add your favorites to the comments.

Here is a countdown of my all-time 10 favorite horror films that are sure to provide you many sleepless nights.

#10 “The Lighthouse” (2019)

      If you thought I wasn’t going to add any movies from the 21st century, you would be incorrect. I will start this review by saying I am biased. I really love this movie. Some people get turned off by the black and white aesthetic or the 4:3 aspect ratio screen display as opposed to the normal widescreen most movies are presented in, but to me it’s part of the charm. The movie doesn’t feel too artsy or hard to understand. In fact, it’s not too hard to figure out what’s going on while still leaving room for interpretation. 

This movie can be best described as the two stars, Willem DeFoe and Robbery Pattinson, try to out-act one another for about two hours. Of the movies presented on this list, “The Lighthouse” is the one with the largest mystery element, adding to the horror of the movie.

#9 “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

    “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is the art house film of horror movies. Made on a $140,000 budget, it is still one of the most gruesomely terrifying and oddly artsy films around. Filmed by second-time director Tobe Hooper and made with no well known actors, it’s a surprise this movie turned out as well as it did. 

Loosely based on real events, the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” tells the story of a group of friends visiting one of their grandfather’s graves after hearing it might have been vandalized. Upon arriving at the grave, they are stalked by a chainsaw wielding cannibal named Leatherface and his family of cannibals. This film contains gruesome special effects and terrific performances by almost all of its actors. 

At times, the movie feels hellish with how hopeless and violent the situation is for the characters. I’m ranking this movie highly not just because of these impressive horror aspects but also because of its impact on horror as a genre, making way for lower budget, character-oriented horror films.

#8 “Hereditary” (2018)

        Directed by Ari Aster, “Heredity” is a chilling horror thriller that follows a regular family who soon discovers that their recently deceased grandmother was involved with a cult. Coping with the life she left behind and seeing apparitions of spirits described by the cult, the family tries hard to distance themselves from this newly discovered satanic connection. 

“Hereditary”’s soundtrack is nothing short of haunting. Its use of orchestras of synths makes the movie sound otherworldly and unsettling. Accompanied by disturbing scenes and tremendous acting, “Hereditary” is definitely a movie that will scare you nights after you watch it.

#7 “The Evil Dead” (1981)

    Not many movies are as unique as “The Evil Dead” was when it was released in 1981. Filmed with $350,000 collected by director Sam Rami after pitching the movie to investors from door to door, “The Evil Dead” is a disturbing low budget horror film that is enchanting to watch. “The Evil Dead” is the first movie in a trilogy revolving around the main character, Ash Williams (Bruce Cambel). In the first and arguably scariest film, the viewers follow Ash and his friends on a trip to a remote cabin in the middle of Tennessee. Upon arrival, they are drawn to a book made of flesh owned by the past inhabitant. The book, which contains a text that reawakens the dead and is known as the Necronamicon, returns in the next two movies in the series, which revolve around Ash fighting the forces of the dead.

Although it had a small budget, Rami was still able to deliver impressive practical effects which he uses to his advantage in depicting terrifying injuries and, of course, the horrible deadites that feed on the living.

#6 “The Brood” (1979)

    If you know anything about “The Brood,” director David Cronenberg, you may be wondering why I picked this movie over “The Fly” or “Videodrome.” Well for me, “The Brood” is the scariest of his movies. Sure it doesn’t have the chest opening special effects of “Videodrome,” or the Jeff Goldbluem star power of “The Fly,” but what it does have is what I would call more human horror, meaning that the horror is more grounded and relatable to humans in present time. 

“The Brood” is about a divorced couple who struggle for the custody of their young daughter while the wife goes through experimental therapy for her severe mental problems and the husband protects his daughter from her mentally unwell mother. Things begin to escalate when the young daughter whitnesses the gruesome murder of her grandmother by creators of an unknown origin. 

#5 “EraserHead” (1977)

    There is no other movie like “Eraserhead”. If you wanted to know what movie it is similar to, I couldn’t tell you. I even questioned putting it on this list because it doesn’t feel like other horror films. It just feels like “Eraserhead.” 

“Eraserhead” is director David Lynch’s first full-length film and it’s probably one of the most unique films ever made. To describe the plot to you would do the movie a disservice because it can’t be explained by a linear set of events. The basics you need to know about the movie is that it’s about a man who gets his girlfriend pregnant and doesn’t feel ready to be a father. The baby is premature, and that’s all I’m going to say about the baby’s appearance. When it comes down to it, the movie is really about the fear of becoming a father. 

“Eraserhead” is terrifying, disgusting and depressing in all the right ways. The effects are so grossly life-like that it makes you wonder how they even made some of the things in this movie. Besides being a movie, “Eraserhead” is an experience. Even though it may be a little hard to understand at first, it still leaves the viewer with the feeling they have just experienced something very unique and disturbing.

#4 “The Shining” (1980)

    “The Shining” is widely considered as one of Stanley Kubrick’s best works and one of the greatest horror movies of all time. It’s two and a half hour run time is jam packed with eerie symbolism and iconic scenes. Come to think of it, “The Shining” is probably one of the most quoted and or referenced movies in pop culture. 

If you didn’t know the story, “The Shining” is based on the Stephen King book by the same name and follows Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) and his family who become caretakers of a hotel during its off season. Jack uses this as a chance to work on writing his new book but slowly is driven crazy, partly from the isolation and partly from some unknown force. This erupts with violence from Jack, endangering his wife and child. 

People have even theorized the movie being an analogy for the Native American genocide or the holocaust. Some people even use this movie as proof that Kubrick helped fake the moon landings. 

#3 “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)

    “Rosemary’s Baby” is almost single handedly responsible for putting director Roman Polanski in the eyes of the public. Even though he had already made some movies such as “Repulsion” or “Knife in the Water”, no film he made was as successful as “Rosemary’s Baby”. Not to say his earlier films were bad. In fact, “Kife in the Water” and “Repulsion” are some of my personal favorites. But when it comes to “Rosemary’s Baby”, his other movies couldn’t compare to the horror and unsettling nature of the film. 

The story follows a paranoid and tortured mother who is tormented by her belief that she is giving birth to a child who will be used for satanic rituals. Believing there is a conspiracy against her by witches, she hopelessly tries to figure out what is going on. Not many movies fill the viewer with as much terror and distress as this film. Polanski is a master when it comes to tone and this movie is no exception. Although it was released by a not so well known director at the time, most people you ask who were alive during the time, know about the movie and subsequently fear it.

#2 “The Exorcist” (1973)

    The Exorcist” plays off a feeling of hopelessness to amplify its horror. If you don’t know what “The Exorcist” is about, which I highly doubt because it is another movie that is well ingrained in our pop culture, it follows the story of a young girl who becomes possessed. What is terrifying to me is how innocent she is and how the higher forces in the movie ignore this and just make her suffer. 

The viewer essentially sees the story put into the perspective of the mother, who is unable to understand what to do because she seems to be out of logical options. She finally decides to have two priests perform an exorcism on the girl, which is the central focus of the movie. 

Another point where this movie is great is its score. Featuring the song “Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield, the score is unforgettable with its haunting organs and its enchanting prog rock ballad of “Tubular Bells”.

#1 “The Thing” (1982)

    “The Thing” is one of the most universally loved horror films of all time. Everyone I have shown the movie to has ended up ranking it highly on their favorite movies. What makes the movie so special? Well, director John Carpenter combines every element of the movie perfectly, including the effects, the acting and the music to create a chilling experience. 

The basic plot of “The Thing,” without giving anything away, is about an Antarctic science team who discovers a base that has been destroyed by some unknown force that might have infiltrated their base as well. This leads to a paranoia filled mystery that never fails to leave the viewer as scared and confused as the scientists stuck on this base. Starring famous actors like Kurt Russell and Keith Davids, the movie succeeds in part because of their great performances.

Honorable Mentions

“The VVitch” (2015)

    I didn’t want to include two movies directed by Eggers, so I chose “The Lighthouse” over this other amazing movie. “The VVitch” is another movie that is painstakingly accurate to the decade when it takes place. Shot under natural light, the houses featured in “The VVitch” were made with only tools that were available at the time the movie took place. Even some of the dialogue is taken directly from journal entries and poems from 1630.

This terrifying, slow burning horror movie follows a 15th century family, tormented by witches and general misfortune, straining their belief in god. A deeply demonic movie that preys on fears of greater power and seems to portray the silence of God.

“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978)

    This film was barely taken off the top 10 list because it’s personally one of my favorite science fiction horror films. Set in San Francisco, the plot follows the main character played by Donald Sutherland who begins to notice the city of people are being replaced by emotionless copies stemming from a strange plant that seems to have arrived from space. He and his friends, played by Jeff Goldbluem, Brooke Adams and Leonard Nemoy, try to figure out what is going on while also avoiding being copied themselves. 

“It Follows” (2014)

    Another movie just barely taken off the list because of space, “It Follows” is another personal favorite of mine. The simple, yet terrifying, plot is about a man, invisible to everyone except the victim, who slowly follows and kills their target after mimicking their loved ones to gain their trust. The movie follows (no pun intended), a group of reluctant victims band together to protect each other and try to defeat this unstoppable killer.

“Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me” (1992)

    The prequel to the incredible “Twin Peaks” TV show, “Fire Walk with Me” presents the story of the mysterious girl Laura Palmer the week before her eventual rape and murder, which drives the plot of the show. What makes the movie so terrifying is the amazing performances by Laura Palmer’s actor, Sheryl Lee, and amazing directing by David Lynch. If you wish to watch this movie you will have to see the show first as it does spoil the main mystery from the show.

“The Blob” (1958)

    Not many movies give me as much joy as “The Blob”. Starring the king of cool, Steve Mcqueen, “The Blob” is a movie about, well,  a blob. After a mysterious meteor falls from space, an extraterrestrial goo slowly grows and consumes unsuspecting victims. “The Blob” is a movie that knows it has a silly plot and capitalizes on it. The slowly moving, un-intimidating blob still poses a threat without losing its charm. 

“Suspiria” (1977) and (2018)

    “Suspiria” and its remake are unique movies. Not only is the original a triumph in sound and visuals but the 2018 version also is a rare example where a remake can be as good or even better than the original. 

    The main plot of both movies is about a young girl who is accepted into a prestigious dance school in Germany. After arriving, the main character notices many strange things and slowly becomes aware that the school is being run by witches.

The original is a classic horror film and basically the quintessential Italian horror movie. Not only does it succeed with its astonishing visuals of bright vibrant colors while still being scary, it also delivers a memorable almost hypnotic score created by the progressive rock band Goblin.

    The remake doesn’t only succeed in these fields but might also improve in them. With a score composed by Radiohead lead singer, Thom York, and visuals that are both chilling and well composed, the remake feels like an improvement on the original. Where in the original there was almost a 15-minute long expository dialogue scene between two people, the remake delivers its expository slowly through its two and a half hour runtime. 

Not to say the original was bad. In fact some still claim it to be better than the remake. I just believe they are about equally good in their own ways and are so different, they cannot be compared so easily

“Videodrome” (1983) and “The Fly” (1986)

     Choosing “The Brood” over Cronenberg’s other works was a hard choice, but I believe it was correct. But “Videodrome” and “The Fly” are still amazing additions to the horror genre. 

“Videodrome” is a paranoid thriller that acts as an analogy for the dangers of modern media and is an enthralling dramatic and atmospheric joyride of terror. Following a sleazy Network owner named Max, who specializes in presenting his audience with depraved violence and borderline soft core pornography. When Max picks up a random frequency entitled Videodrome he becomes immediately entranced. Max wants to add this program to his channel, even though Videodrome is basically a real life snuff film. As Max becomes more obsessed with Videodrome, his grip on the world around him begins to fade away.

“The Fly” is a disturbing and somewhat disgusting reboot of the original movie by the same name, which still makes me a bit queasy when I rewatch it. The film follows our protagonist Seth (Jeff Goldblum) as he finishes work on his transportation device. When he tests the device on himself he is unaware that a fly has slipped into one side of the teleporter, causing him to be fused with the insect. What follows is the terror and disgusting visuals of a man fused with a fly.

    So curl up around a TV with your friends and family this Halloween. With this list of films, you’ll never run out of movies to give you a scare that’ll keep you up all night.