The top horror movies of all time bring a legitimacy their film genre. When they’re well-made, horror movies can compete with any other film category in terms of visual artistry and character development. Sure, these movies are scary, but they also boast creative plots and talented acting. 

  1. “The Shining” Under the direction of Stanley Kubrick, Jack Nicholson gave the performance of his career in this 1980 horror movie. Nicholson plays a man who gets trapped with his wife and son in a mountainside hotel. As Nicholson’s mental state declines, this horror movie picks up steam, leading to frights and plot-twists that defy expectation.

  2. “Scream” Slick, hip and modern, this 1996 horror movie breathed new life into the genre. David Arquette and Neve Campbell star as residents of a small town taunted by a masked murderer. This film had a lot of brains for a horror movie. It satirized itself, poking fun at the conventional occurrences within the genre.

  3. “The Blair Witch Project” Under the guise of documentary footage recovered after a group of teens went missing in the woods, this horror movie stormed the country in 1999. The pseudo-documentary’s plot revolves around a murderous witch, and a film crew’s quest to find her. When they become lost in the woods, this film exerts a realism rarely found in horror movies.

  4. “A Nightmare On Elm Street” Perhaps the most recognizable of the top horror movies of all time, this film spawned a franchise. The original 1984 movie is by far the best in the series, boasting the creative premise of a mutilated slasher who stalks people in their nightmares. With its constant dream-reality crossovers, you never know what to expect from this horror movie.

  5. “Poltergeist” A classic in every sense, this horror movie scared the hell out of America when it was released in 1982. Craig T. Nelson stars as the patriarch of a family being tormented by malicious spirits. Common household items become dangerous as the family’s home becomes evil, resulting in a creative and effective horror movie.

  6. “The Ring” Based on a similar Japanese film, this 2002 horror movie put an American spin on an already creepy and inventive plot. Naomi Watts stars as a journalist who encounters a mysterious video tape that causes anyone who views it to die within seven days. Watts must unravel the mystery of the images on the tape before she succumbs to its curse.

  7. “Friday The 13th” Much like “A Nightmare On Elm Street,” this 1980 horror movie spawned several sequels and had a significant impact on the genre. The plot revolves around a hockey-mask-wearing killer who stalks the residents of a summer camp. As an added bonus, this horror movie features screen legend Kevin Bacon in one of his first major roles.

  8. “Psycho” Sitting atop many film buffs’ lists of the top horror movies of all time is this 1960 masterpiece from Alfred Hitchcock. Anthony Perkins plays the mysterious proprietor of a hotel. His unstable psyche comes into view throughout a plot that involves murder, shock and deceit.

  9. “Alien” Director Ridley Scott gets the viewer’s pulse pounding throughout this 1979 horror movie. Sigourney Weaver stars as an interstellar miner whose starship crew receives a strange signal from a nearby planet. When the crew encounters a bloodthirsty alien, this horror movie turns into a game of cat-and-mouse within the small ship.

  10. “The Exorcist” With its stellar script and convincing acting performances, this horror movie cemented itself as a classic when it was released in 1973. Linda Blair plays a young girl possessed by demonic forces, resulting in a frightening and engrossing tale of good against evil.

-Andrew Jett