The top 20 horror movies of all time…

If you’re looking for a truly spine-chilling horror movie to watch this Halloween, then look no further. This post gives you not only our top 20 horror movies of all time, but also plenty more that didn’t quite make it to the list and yet are still loved (and feared) by plenty.

At this time of year, it’s only appropriate to spook ourselves silly by using whatever means necessary. Enter Halloween: the only time of the year that is dedicated to remembering the dead.

Because the above sounds so grim, it’s understandable that people try to make a celebration out of the day by dressing up, going to parties and trick-or-treating. But perhaps on the scariest night of October, you just want a cosy night under the duvet with the TV on. If this is you, we’ve compiled a list of utterly spine-chilling horror movies from the past fifty-ish years that are ideal to keep the fearful mood alive.

Psycho (1960)

Arguably one of Hitchcock’s finest. A young woman steals $40,000 and goes on the run, where she later gets her comeuppance at a sparse motel that is run by a suspiciously shy young man named Norman Bates. Not to be confused with Mary Harron’s American Psycho, starring Christian Bale, although I’d say that was worth a watch too.

The Birds (1963)

Mr Hitchcock strikes again! It might be because I first watched this when I was about seven, but this film remains on my personal list of the heebie-jeebs. A (different) young woman pursues her love interest in a small Californian town that becomes suddenly overrun with angry birds. No pun intended.

The Exorcist (1973) 

Directed by William Friedkin, this film was the first of many movies that have included the demon-like possession of a young girl, but still remains the most popular. If you haven’t seen it, be prepared for vulgar language and heads that are able to make a complete 360-degree turn.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Again, the influencer of many subsequent chainsaw-equipped horrors. Tobe Hooper brings to the screen five teenagers who visit their grandpa’s house, only to be met by a saw-wielding maniac and his creepy cannibal relatives.

The Omen (1976)

From twelve to about fourteen, I was wary of people named Damien. I’m happy to say that I got over this fear, but Richard Donner’s portrayal of the literal Antichrist still has the power to make me shudder. I’m a dog-lover, but the dog in this movie, in particular, makes me want to run away and hide under a stone.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Who doesn’t love a good zombie terror? George A. Romero takes us to Philadelphia, where two S.W.A.T. team members seek refuge in an empty shopping mall (shopping mall?!) in their attempt to flee an ever-multiplying epidemic of zombies.

Halloween (1978)

It’d be rude not to mention Halloween in a Halloween post. John Carpenter’s movie inspired a whopping eight further productions (plus a remake, adding to a total of nine), all based on the same story. There’s just something so timeless about a young psychopath who murders his sister and spends years in an institution, only to come back during adulthood and stalk a strikingly similar-looking girl… isn’t there?

The Fog (1980)

Another John Carpenter credit! I think the young age at which I first watched this movie has a lot to do with why I still find it so scary, too. Zombie-ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths, shrouded by killer fog? Enough said, I think.

The Shining (1980)

Undoubtedly the movie Jack Nicholson is best known for. It’s just the vision Stanley Kubrick created with Nicholson’s creepy grin protruding through a broken door that sets your hairs standing. Look out for Stephen King’s sequel, Doctor Sleep, which is finally coming to shelves almost forty years later.

It (1990)

Another Stephen King classic, and arguably the reason Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) was actually given a name. Tommy Lee Wallace introduced the red-haired, white faced, child-killing demon that has seven school-day outcasts reunite to defeat the evil clown who stole the childhood of many.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Many people have heard my name (Karis – rhymes with Paris), and said in the creepy murderer’s voice: “Hello, Karees”. I didn’t know why until I actually watched this movie, a horror directed by Jonathan Demme that follows an FBI cadet to liaise with one killer in order to catch another. Chilling, but masterful.

Scream (1996)

I believe this was the first in which “rules” of horror movies were actually introduced in a horror movie. “Ghostface” chases high-school teenagers in Wes Craven’s box office success, inspiring remakes and even parodies of the cleverly thought out flick.

The Sixth Sense (1999)

It’s the part where a young Haley Joel Osment wakes up in the early hours of the morning to use the bathroom, and the ghost of a suicidal woman walks past the open door. I don’t know why, but that part always makes me jump out of my skin. Probably the cleverest twist in a horror movie I’ve ever seen, M. Night Shyamalan allows us to follow a boy who “sees dead people”, as he seeks the help of a child psychologist.

The Others (2001)

Actually, perhaps this is the cleverest twist I’ve ever seen. Directed by Alejandro Amenàbar, The Others follows a woman who lives in a darkened mansion with her two photosensitive children, and becomes convinced that her house is haunted. The question is: who is it being haunted by?

The Grudge (2004)

The sound of croaking had me shaking for weeks after watching this, not that I understand why ghosts feel the need to croak. Perhaps I’ll email director Takashi Shimizu and find out. An American nurse living in Tokyo finds herself victim to a frightful revenge curse that claims lives before moving onto others.

The Eye (2008)

An American remake of the Hong Kong production Jian Hui, David Moreau’s and Xavier Palud’s The Eye follows a blind Jessica Alba, who receives an eye transplant only to start seeing the horrific supernatural life of the previous deceased owner.

The Strangers (2008)

Many have argued that this isn’t a scary film, but the reason I find Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers so terrifying is that this seems so horribly real. Three masked strangers taunt a young couple in an isolated house. Why? Because they were home.

The Fourth Kind (2009)

This is apparently not a horror, but I came out of the cinema shaking like a leaf and terrified of owls, so I beg to differ. Olatunde Osunsanmi’s 2009 production follows an unsolved Alaskan mystery in which there have been unexplained disappearances over a span of forty years. Spoiler alert: this is about aliens. However, you don’t see any aliens. For some reason, this makes it ten times freakier.

Insidious (2010)

Finally, we come to the most recent and widely hyped Insidious, from director James Wan. I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, this film just wouldn’t quit with the scary occurrences. I still haven’t seen the sequel and so can’t offer any insight, but I would definitely recommend the first, which sees a family trying to prevent an evil spirit from using their comatose child’s body as a host.

If that list doesn’t take your fancy, here’s an epic log of the entire Marketing Department’s favourite horror flicks:

  1. The Amityville Horror
  2. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  3. Arachnophobia
  4. A Tale of Two Sisters
  5. The Audition
  6. The Blair Witch Project
  7. The Cabin in the Woods
  8. Candyman
  9. Carrie
  10. Case 39
  11. Child’s Play
  12. The Conjuring
  13. Creep
  14. Dark Shadows
  15. Dark Waters
  16. The Descent
  17. Dracula
  18. Eden Lake
  19. The Evil Dead
  20. The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  21. Girls Against Boys
  22. Final Destination
  23. Hard Candy
  24. The Hills Have Eyes
  25. Hollowman
  26. Hostel
  27. House of Wax
  28. The Human Centipede
  29. I Know What You Did Last Summer
  30. I Saw the Devil
  31. I Spit on Your Grave
  32. Jeepers Creepers
  33. The Last House on the Left
  34. Let the Right One In/Let Me In
  35. May
  36. The Midnight Meat Train
  37. The Moth Diaries
  38. Orphan
  39. Paranormal Activity
  40. Pet Sematary
  41. Poltergeist
  42. The Postman Always Rings Twice
  43. The Ring/Ringu
  44. Saw
  45. Shutter
  46. Trick ‘r’ Treat
  47. Urban Legend
  48. Vacancy
  49. Valentine
  50. When a Stranger Calls
  51. Wolf Creek
  52. The Woman in Black
  53. Wrong Turn
  54. 13 Ghosts
  55. 28 Days Later

And finally, a list of comedy-horrors for those of you who scare a bit too easily:

  1. Cherry Falls
  2. Drag Me to Hell
  3. Eight Legged Freaks
  4. Fright Night
  5. Gremlins
  6. Lesbian Vampire Killers
  7. Piranha (3DD?)
  8. Scary Movie
  9. Sean of the Dead
  10. Serial Mom
  11. Stan Hesling
  12. Student Bodies
  13. Teeth
  14. Warm Bodies
  15. Zombieland

Happy Halloween, everyone!

What are your favourite horror movies? Post them in the comment box below!