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The 50 Scariest Movies of All Time

We sorted through the most ghoulish and jaw-dropping horror films to determine the scariest movies of all time. Sleep tight.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

Scariest Movies Of All Timerd.com, via amazon.com (7)

Stream the scariest movies of all time—if you dare

There’s nothing like a good scary movie to get your blood pumping and heart racing. At their core, though, horror movies do much more than scare. They make us think about our lives, our values, and even our society as a whole. That’s why some of the scariest movies of all time overlap with the best movies of all time; they take us out of our comfort zone and thrill us into thinking.

The horror genre has plenty of films to choose from, but if you really want to get the daylights scared out of you, add these top scary movies to your streaming list. They were chosen based on multiple factors, including our research on their popularity, influence on the horror genre, and creative storytelling. From terrifying thrillers to scary Halloween movies, they’re sure to induce some serious goosebumps and spine chills.

It Movievia amazon.com

It

Released: 2017

Rated: R

Director: Andy Muschietti

Based on Stephen King’s terrifying 1986 novel, It brings your fears to life in a real and raw way. Follow a group of outcast kids as they band together to defeat a monster (which takes on the look of a clown named Pennywise) that feeds on the children of their hometown.

Why it’s scary: For starters, Pennywise is pretty freaky—imagine seeing a massive, sinister clown lurking in your town. No thanks. Second, It’s ability to shape-shift into your darkest fears makes It seemingly inescapable; if It’s targeting you, you’re literally surrounded by terror, which is something the movie emphasizes well. Third, It only targets children, so the self-proclaimed “Losers Club” (a group of middle school children) are on their own fighting a supernatural monster. If you make it through the first movie, stream It Chapter Two to get a second dose of terror. Side note: If you’re looking for a great scary Halloween costume, why not go as an equally terrifying clown?

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The Exorcist Movievia amazon.com

The Exorcist

Released: 1973

Rated: R

Director: William Friedkin

There’s a reason this horror classic is one of the scariest movies of all time. The Exorcist is the story of a possessed 12-year-old girl and the two priests who try to save her by performing an exorcism.

Why it’s scary: The concept of possession is terrifying in itself. But a child being possessed? That adds an extra layer of terror to the story. Combined with an unnerving atmosphere fueled by the unknown and notable special effects of the time (seen in the infamous head-spinning scene), The Exorcist delivers a frightening experience you won’t forget. It was a smash hit and continues to be talked about to this day. If you need a break from being scared, watch one of these funny movies to get the laughs going.

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The Shining Movievia amazon.com

The Shining 

Released: 1980

Rated: R

Director: Stanley Kubrick

This is another film based on an unnerving Stephen King novel (which is considered one of the best horror books ever written). The Shining is the story of a writer, Jack Torrance, who moves his family to a secluded hotel to oversee it for the winter. Soon, Jack’s young son starts seeing disturbing premonitions, and Jack himself becomes influenced by malevolent forces within the hotel of horrors.

Why it’s scary: Seeing these terrifying premonitions and visions in the hotel is enough to make The Shining scary. Seeing Jack’s descent into madness, though, adds an extra (and very real) layer of horror. Jack Nicholson’s performance is jarring, eerie, and plain terrifying. Plus, Stanley Kubrick’s distinct style of directing pulls it all together, tied with a creepy bow.

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Hereditary Movievia amazon.com

Hereditary 

Released: 2018

Rated: R

Director: Ari Aster

Hereditary is easily one of the scariest movies to come out in recent years. It’s about a family rocked to its core following a series of tragedies. As they grieve, they experience disturbing forces that soon lead them to a frightening fate.

Why it’s scary: While some aspects of the film qualify it as a sad movie, there’s no mistaking the unnerving feeling that arises right from the start of Hereditary. You know something’s off … but you can’t put your finger on what exactly it is. That feeling stays with you up until the last few minutes of the film. Plus, the theme of grief is portrayed realistically and is prevalent throughout the film, and we see just how much it can impact our lives. Hereditary isn’t your typical jump-scare horror film; it gets in your head and makes you question everything.

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Halloween Movievia amazon.com

Halloween

Released: 1978

Rated: R

Director: John Carpenter

You’ll find this slasher classic (and one of the best Halloween movies made) on pretty much any list of the scariest movies of all time. Halloween is the story of a murderous man who escapes from a mental hospital just in time for Halloween. He heads to his hometown to find his next victims, and what ensues is horrific chaos.

Why it’s scary: Halloween is suspenseful and morbid and leaves you on the edge of your seat. You can’t help but put yourself in Laurie Strode’s shoes as she’s stalked by the seemingly unstoppable Michael Myers. His tenacity is eerie and unnatural, as if he’s an inescapable boogeyman who will hunt forever. The ruthlessness of the slasher genre itself, which many believe Halloween created, also leaves you feeling scared and vulnerable (even with the lights on).

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Poltergeist Movievia amazon.com

Poltergeist 

Released: 1982

Rated: PG

Director: Tobe Hooper

Don’t let the PG rating fool you: Poltergeist delivers some serious scares. A typical suburban family finds their home in the center of some odd poltergeist activity after ghosts talk to their youngest child through their TV set. Soon, the activity turns malevolent, and the family must band together and fight what they can’t see when their young daughter goes missing.

Why it’s scary: The unknown infiltrating the normalcy of suburbia is creepy; it makes you feel like this could actually happen to your family. Plus, the typical (but effective) haunted house scares will get you when you least expect it.

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The Conjuring Movievia amazon.com

The Conjuring

Released: 2013

Rated: R

Director: James Wan

Supernatural horror comes to life with The Conjuring, a film loosely based on events that paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren experienced. After a family moves into a new home, they find themselves at the mercy of a dark presence that wishes them harm. They call the Warrens for help, but is this evil entity too powerful for even the pros to handle?

Why it’s scary: The Conjuring reminds us that there are things in this world we don’t understand—and sometimes, those things are downright horrific. Being at the mercy of an unseen evil entity, and not being able to do anything about it, is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. Add in some classic jump scares, and you have a scary movie success. It’s also one of the best Halloween movies to watch on Netflix.

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Sinister Movievia amazon.com

Sinister

Released: 2012

Rated: R

Director: Scott Derrickson

Sinister is easily one of the scariest movies that came out in the 2010s. It’s about a writer named Ellison who’s desperately trying to finish his next hit true crime book. For inspiration, he moves his family into a new home but doesn’t tell them that a family was murdered there. One day, he finds a box full of disturbing films and vows to figure out who—or what—is responsible for the heinous acts recorded.

Why it’s scary: There are several reasons why Sinister is a horror success. For starters, the audience sees the brutal movies at the same time Ellison does, so they feel the pits in their stomachs grow at the same time his does. The whole concept of the movie is horrific too: Someone (or something) is committing heinous acts, and no one can seem to stop it.

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The Evil Dead Movievia amazon.com

The Evil Dead 

Released: 1981

Rated: NC-17

Director: Sam Raimi

A group of college kids + a trip to a remote cabin in the woods + an ancient book that releases demons = The Evil Dead. This gory film follows the terrifying events that happen on a seemingly innocent trip to the woods.

Why it’s scary: The gore itself is enough to make someone’s stomach turn. The scariest part of The Evil Dead, though, is putting yourself in these characters’ shoes. You must fight to stay alive—and you’re fighting supernatural demons that possess your closest friends. There’s a reason both the original film and its 2013 remake are banned in several countries. The Evil Dead also made our list of the best Halloween movies to watch on Hulu. See what else made the cut!

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The Cabin In The Woods Movievia amazon.com

The Cabin in the Woods

Released: 2011

Rated: R

Director: Drew Goddard

Admittedly, The Cabin in the Woods is a horror-comedy film meant to poke fun at the horror genre, but don’t let the comedic aspect of the flick fool you. Similar to The Evil Dead, The Cabin in the Woods tells the frightening story of a group of college friends who take a trip to a remote cabin in the woods. Soon, they find themselves at the mercy of zombies, but as it turns out, there’s a larger (and surprising) force that’s determining their fates.

Why it’s scary: Once you realize what’s actually determining the fate of these college kids, it’s incredibly creepy to think about. It starts out as a typical horror flick but turns into something much eerier.

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Host Movievia shudder.com

Host

Released: 2020

Rated: Not rated

Director: Rob Savage

Host is an eerie film about friends who unleash a sinister entity during a Zoom seance in the middle of lockdown. We won’t blame you if you take a Zoom hiatus after watching this one.

Why it’s scary: The way Host is shot makes you feel like you’re actually on this doomed Zoom call. You get a first-person perspective, similar to the perspective in Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project. You watch all the eerie encounters unfold before your eyes. Don’t just take our word for it, though—according to a scientific study done by Broadband Choices in the United Kingdom, Host was the scariest movie among 30 horror classics.

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A Nightmare On Elm Street Movievia amazon.com

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Released: 1984

Rated: R

Director: Wes Craven

Legendary horror director Wes Craven turned sweet dreams into nightmares when he made A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s about a group of teenagers who are tormented in their dreams by a vengeful boogeyman named Freddy Krueger. The twist? If Freddy kills them in their dreams, they die in reality. Now the teens must figure out why Freddy’s hunting them in their sleep and how to stop him.

Why it’s scary: We’re supposed to feel restful—not fearful—when we sleep. Freddy Krueger is the ultimate evil character because he can get you when you’re asleep or awake … and that’s terrifying. That suspense, combined with the gore and shock of the slasher genre, secures A Nightmare on Elm Street’s spot on any scary movie list.

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The Birds Movievia amazon.com

The Birds

Released: 1963

Rated: PG-13

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

The Birds is a psychological thriller directed by horror and suspense legend Alfred Hitchcock. It’s about a woman who travels out of town to pursue a man she briefly met in a pet store. When she finds him, though, a series of odd events start happening—including bizarre bird attacks.

Why it’s scary: In true Hitchcock fashion, the suspense of The Birds is what makes it scary. The paranoia, combined with random bird attacks, will scare anyone.

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It Follows Movievia amazon.com

It Follows

Released: 2014

Rated: R

Director: David Robert Mitchell

It Follows has made quite an impression since its release in 2014. It’s about a teen girl who’s followed by a malevolent force after she sleeps with her boyfriend. Her friends think she’s gone nuts … until they, too, start being followed.

Why it’s scary: The whole plot of It Follows is creepy, but it’s especially scary to think that no one would believe you if something like this happened. It would be you alone versus whatever you can’t see. That suspense, plus some classic horror scares, makes for an unforgettable horror movie.

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The Witch Movievia amazon.com

The Witch

Released: 2015

Rated: R

Director: Robert Eggers

The Witch is a supernatural horror film about a family in colonial New England that has its loyalty and faith tested after a series of eerie events, including the disappearance of their youngest son.

Why it’s scary: The Witch is scary because it depicts something that many people in 1630s New England feared: witchcraft. Is it really witchcraft, though, or is something much more sinister at hand? You’ll have to stream this creepy witch film to find out.

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Midsommar Movievia amazon.com

Midsommar 

Released: 2019

Rated: R

Director: Ari Aster

Ari Aster followed Hereditary with Midsommar, a movie about a couple and their friends, who take a trip to Sweden to attend a midsummer festival. What starts out as a whimsical festival quickly turns into a twisted ritual that leaves them all scrambling to survive.

Why it’s scary: The fact that something so horrific is happening in the beautiful Swedish landscape shows how twisted the movie is. That, combined with the underlying themes of mental illness, loss, and grief, make it a movie that gets in your head—and stays there.

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Alien Movievia amazon.com

Alien 

Released: 1979

Rated: R

Director: Ridley Scott

Alien is a scary sci-fi classic that’s a favorite among many movie buffs. It’s about a space crew that’s attacked by a deadly alien when they answer a distress call from an alien vessel. Now, they must fight for survival.

Why it’s scary: Who wouldn’t be scared trying to defend themselves against aliens in space? As the famous tagline says, in space, no one can hear you scream—or help you survive. Plus, that infamous scene where (spoiler) an alien rips through a member of the crew’s chest is seriously disturbing.

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The Babadook Movievia amazon.com

The Babadook

Released: 2014

Rated: Not rated

Director: Jennifer Kent

The Babadook is the story of a single mother and her young son, who are haunted by a sinister being that comes into their home via an eerie children’s book. In addition to dealing with their own traumas, the mother and son must do what they can to deal with this invisible monster.

Why it’s scary: The Babadook has layers of horror to it. In addition to touching on themes of grief, depression, and trauma, it projects a dreadful feeling as this entity haunts a family going through a tough time. It’s heartfelt horror at its core.

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Paranormal Activity Movievia amazon.com

Paranormal Activity

Released: 2007

Rated: R

Director: Oren Peli

Paranormal Activity brings the supernatural to the suburbs in true scary fashion. The first film that launched a franchise follows a couple as they’re terrorized by a demonic presence in their new home.

Why it’s scary: Paranormal Activity is full of all the classic jump-scares you expect from supernatural horror films, but there’s something so unnerving about seeing them unfold in found-footage style. You see these eerie things happening, and all you want to do is warn the couple … but you can’t.

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The Silence Of The Lambs Movievia amazon.com

The Silence of the Lambs

Released: 1991

Rated: R

Director: Jonathan Demme

There’s a reason The Silence of the Lambs won a Best Picture Oscar and is considered one of the best movies of all time. This story of a young FBI cadet seeking the help of a manipulative incarcerated killer is not only thrilling but also seriously creepy.

Why it’s scary: Anthony Hopkins’s performance as the psychopathic (yet charming) Dr. Hannibal Lecter is truly chilling. It proves that you don’t need jump scares to make a great horror movie and get in viewers’ heads.

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Night Of The Living Dead Movievia amazon.com

Night of the Living Dead 

Released: 1968

Rated: Not rated

Director: George A. Romero

Night of the Living Dead is a zombie flick that still sends chills down people’s spines. It’s about a group of people trying to survive after zombies rise from the grave and seek human flesh.

Why it’s scary: Trying to survive a zombie attack is scary enough. But with creepy cinematography and a sense of inescapable doom, the concept is brought to life in a terrifying way.

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Us Movievia amazon.com

Us

Released: 2019

Rated: R

Director: Jordan Peele

Us is the story of a family whose beach vacation turns horrific when their lookalikes show up and terrorize them. How do they survive if they don’t know who’s real and who’s out to get them?

Why it’s scary: Us has the typical (but effective) jump scares and gore you’d expect in a horror movie, but the fact that the family members are literally fighting their doppelgängers really ups the terror.

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The Host Movievia amazon.com

The Host 

Released: 2006

Rated: R

Director: Bong Joon Ho

The Host combines horror with comedy and satire to create one of the most notable monster movies of the 2000s. A terrifying squid monster rises from Seoul’s Han River and attacks those in its path. When the monster takes a captor, it’s up to her family to save her before she meets a horrible fate.

Why it’s scary: A murderous squid monster rises from a river. Need we say more?

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The Ring Movievia amazon.com

The Ring

Released: 2002

Rated: PG-13

Director: Gore Verbinski

The Ring is a horror-thriller that’s intense from start to finish. It’s about a journalist who investigates an urban legend centered around a mysterious videotape. Allegedly, those who watch it die a week later. She watches the film and realizes the legend is true—but now she must race against the clock to stop whatever’s coming after her.

Why it’s scary: The haunting images from the videotape are incredibly jarring and creepy. That, plus some gore and a horrific underlying mystery, makes The Ring spine-tingling.

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Scream Prime Videovia amazon.com

Scream

Released: 1996

Rated: R

Director: Wes Craven

Wes Craven brought the slasher genre back to the mainstream and created one of the scariest movies of all time with 1996’s Scream. It’s about a teen girl who, a year after her own mother was murdered, becomes the target of a taunting serial killer. While people try to figure out who the killer is, more bodies pile up in seriously gruesome fashion.

Why it’s scary: The slasher gore in Scream is pretty chilling, but the psychological terror in the movie makes it stand out. The stalking, the taunting messages, the shocking twist … it’s enough to keep you awake at night.

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Saw Movievia amazon.com

Saw

Released: 2004

Rated: R

Director: James Wan

“I want to play a game.” This sentence sounds innocent enough, but when it’s uttered by a sadistic serial killer, it takes on a horrific meaning. Saw is about two strangers who must participate in a terrifying puzzle to stay alive.

Why it’s scary: Saw is one of the scariest movies of all time because it’s equally psychologically and physically tormenting. The brutal things these people have to do to stay alive will haunt you.

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Psycho Movievia amazon.com

Psycho

Released: 1960

Rated: R

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

We can’t talk about the scariest movies of all time without mentioning Psycho. This horror staple is about a young woman who, while on the run from the law, stops at the Bates Motel to rest. There, she meets Norman Bates, a polite but odd man who sets his twisted sites on her.

Why it’s scary: Psycho is full of psychological thrills and twists that hold firm grips on the audience. The infamous shower scene and its shocking ending are just two of the many horrific, but brilliant, parts of this Hitchcock classic. Plus, Anthony Perkins’s iconic portrayal of Bates is seriously chilling.

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The Orphanage Movievia amazon.com

The Orphanage 

Released: 2007

Rated: R

Director: J.A. Bayona

The Orphanage is a supernatural horror movie about a woman who brings her family back to the orphanage where she spent her childhood in hopes of reopening it as a home for sick children. Odd things start to happen around the home, and one day, her adopted son disappears. After his disappearance, she tries to communicate with the spirits in the home to help her find him. But are they helpful or harmful?

Why it’s scary: The Orphanage is full of eerie suspense you’d expect from a supernatural horror film, but the eeriness is amplified by the orphanage itself. This is one you’ll want to watch with the lights on.

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The Fly Movievia amazon.com

The Fly 

Released: 1986

Rated: R

Director: David Cronenberg

Science fiction meets horror in 1986’s The Fly, a film based on the 1958 film of the same name. It’s about a scientist who starts to become a fly-human hybrid after a teleportation experiment goes wrong.

Why it’s scary: Seeing a man transform into a monstrous insect-human hybrid is the stuff of nightmares, especially if you’re squeamish around bugs.

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Friday The 13th Movievia amazon.com

Friday the 13th

Released: 1980

Rated: R

Director: Sean S. Cunningham

Friday the 13th is another slasher classic that’s both brutal and terrifying. It’s about a group of camp counselors who, despite local legend, reopen a summer camp with a grizzly past. Soon, the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake are terrorized by a killer who will stop at nothing to see them all dead.

Why it’s scary: It’s a slasher film that’s gory, suspenseful, and makes you think twice about going to summer camp.

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Nosferatu A Symphony Of Horror Movievia amazon.com

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror

Released: 1922

Rated: Not rated

Director: F.W. Murnau

Equal parts art and horror, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror is one of the most influential and scariest movies of all time. This silent film is about a mysterious count who’s interested two things: relocating and his estate agent’s wife. It’s also loosely based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, one of the best vampire books ever written.

Why it’s scary: This legendary horror flick is gothic, eerie, and incredibly unnerving. It was even banned in Sweden until 1972 because it was so scary. It’s more than a vampire movie; it’s a true horror film that still gives people chills a century after its release.

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Insidious Movievia amazon.com

Insidious

Released: 2010

Rated: PG-13

Director: James Wan

Insidious takes supernatural horror to another level. It’s about a family that is rocked to its core when one of their children falls into a comatose state after they move into an eerie new home. It’s revealed that the child is actually trapped in a world between the living and the dead, and it’s up to his father to bring him back before something malevolent takes over his body.

Why it’s scary: Filled with terrifying jump scares and truly jarring music, Insidious takes you on an unnerving journey from beginning to end. The best part? The journey doesn’t end with this film. You’ll have to stream Insidious: Chapter 2 to get the full story.

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Let The Right One In Movievia amazon.com

Let the Right One In

Released: 2008

Rated: R

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Let the Right One In is a Swedish horror movie about a bullied young boy named Oskar who befriends his peculiar new neighbor, Eli. It’s not long before romance blooms between them, and Oskar learns some twisted truths about Eli—including one about her connection to some local murders.

Why it’s scary: Let the Right One In has a way of subtly getting under your skin and making you feel unsettled. Before you know it, that unsettling feeling will turn into terror.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movievia amazon.com

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Released: 1974

Rated: R

Director: Tobe Hooper

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre will make you think twice about taking a road trip. A group of friends hit the rural roads of Texas to visit a grandfather’s grave, and along the way, they make a pit stop at an abandoned house. What they don’t realize is that a family of murderers lives next door, and soon they find themselves fighting for their lives in the middle of nowhere.

Why it’s scary: This horror classic is one of the scariest movies of all time for multiple reasons. First, the way it’s shot makes you feel like you could actually be in that abandoned house of horrors. Second, the brutality Leatherface and his twisted family inflict on people is spine-chilling and stomach-turning. Third, the fact that these poor souls are stuck in the middle of nowhere makes you feel trapped and isolated, even when you’re watching the film in your own home.

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Hellraiser Movievia amazon.com

Hellraiser

Released: 1987

Rated: R

Director: Clive Barker

Hellraiser is a unique horror movie to watch. It’s about a woman who finds the body of her brother-in-law, who she once had an affair with, partially resurrected after he escapes demonic beings in another world. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of a gruesome scheme to get him fully resurrected and free of the beings once and for all.

Why it’s scary: This movie tackles some interesting themes while indulging in typical horror gore. It also introduces the word to one of the scarier-looking horror villains: Pinhead.

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The Thing Movievia amazon.com

The Thing from Another World

Released: 1951

Rated: Not rated

Director: Christian Nyby

The Thing is another film that combines science fiction with horror. When an alien being lands on Earth, it’s not long before chaos ensues. Can a scientist and the United States Air Force work together to stop it before it’s too late?

Why it’s scary: The Thing is a classic UFO movie that oozes suspense. You’ll be drawn in from the beginning and glued to the screen as these people work together to save lives.

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28 Days Later Movievia amazon.com

28 Days Later 

Released: 2002

Rated: R

Director: Danny Boyle

28 Days Later is about a man in the United Kingdom who wakes up from a coma to a pandemic-stricken world and must do what he can to survive and not be infected by zombies.

Why it’s scary: Postapocalyptic movies are scary in and of themselves, but throwing a deadly virus into the mix adds to the terror. Seeing survivors try to navigate a world in which a rage-inducing virus runs rampant triggers your flight-or-fight response, even if you’re just watching the movie in your living room. It’s especially terrifying in the age of COVID-19.

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Carrie Movievia amazon.com

Carrie

Released: 1976

Rated: R

Director: Brian De Palma

Based on Stephen King’s eerie novel, Carrie is about a shy and sheltered girl who starts developing telekinetic powers. Those strong and terrifying powers are fully realized after a cruel event at her senior prom.

Why it’s scary: Carrie’s abilities are terrifying, but seeing her classmates and overbearing mother push her to her breaking point is also horrific. Plus, that prom scene is one for the horror ages.

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The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari Movievia amazon.com

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 

Released: 1920

Rated: Not rated

Director: Robert Wiene

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a highly influential silent film that’s still considered one of the scariest movies of all time more than a century after its release. It’s about a twisted hypnotist who uses a man named Cesare to commit murder.

Why it’s scary: The way The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is shot plays into its eeriness. It’s a staple German Expressionist film that takes us away from reality for a bit and lets us explore a twisted world. The themes within the film, such as abuse of power, are also terrifying. You can’t help but put yourself in Cesare’s shoes as Dr. Caligari uses him for horrific purposes.

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The Sixth Sense Movievia amazon.com

The Sixth Sense 

Released: 1999

Rated: PG-13

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

The Sixth Sense proves horror films don’t need gore to be terrifying. It’s about a young boy who starts seeing a psychologist after holding on to a terrifying secret: He can see dead people. The psychologist tries to figure out what’s going on, but how can he treat a boy who sees ghosts?

Why it’s scary: The Sixth Sense really gets in your head and makes you question what you’ve seen in the film. That, combined with some truly eerie scares from ghosts and a bombshell ending, make it a must-watch movie.

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The Omen Movievia amazon.com

The Omen

Released: 1976

Rated: R

Director: Richard Donner

The Omen is about an American ambassador who adopts a child after his own dies shortly after birth. As the child grows up, odd and violent occurrences start happening to the family. Is it some sort of curse, or could their own child be the culprit?

Why it’s scary: The Omen is one of the scariest movies of all time because it gives you a sense of inescapable dread from start to finish (we can thank its Oscar-winning score for that).

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The Blair Witch Project Movievia amazon.com

The Blair Witch Project 

Released: 1999

Rated: R

Directors: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez

The Blair Witch Project is a supernatural horror film that’s intense and downright chilling. It’s about three film students who head into the woods to create a documentary about the legend of the Blair Witch. They get lost in the woods and soon realize the legend may hold some terrifying truths.

Why it’s scary: The fact that the movie was shot found-footage style makes the film seem eerily real (in fact, many viewers thought it was real when it was first released). You experience every odd sound and creepy shadow right along with the main characters. Plus, the film is incredibly suspenseful, and that suspense makes it one of the scariest movies of all time.

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The Amityville Horror Movievia amazon.com

The Amityville Horror

Released: 1979

Rated: R

Director: Stuart Rosenberg

Based on the real-life Amityville murders, The Amityville Horror tells the story of a family who moves into a house where a violent and horrific crime was committed. After they move in, strange things—attributed to the supernatural—start happening, and the peaceful life they’d hoped to have is quickly left in shambles.

Why it’s scary: The fact that it’s based on true events is creepy enough, but The Amityville Horror delivers some serious supernatural scares. You can’t help but sympathize with the family as their dream home drives them to their breaking points.

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Candyman Movievia amazon.com

Candyman 

Released: 1992

Rated: R

Director: Bernard Rose

Candyman will make you think twice about looking into urban legends. It’s about a graduate student who accidentally summons a murderous spirit after researching the legend of the Candyman. The Candyman’s after her now, and she must figure out how to stop him before it’s too late.

Why it’s scary: Candyman is thrilling, chilling, and intense right from the beginning. The fact that horror is tied in with other prevalent themes makes it a unique film guaranteed to chill you to your core.

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Get Out Movievia amazon.com

Get Out 

Released: 2017

Rated: R

Director: Jordan Peele

It’s a newer movie in the horror genre, but don’t be fooled: Get Out is one of the scariest movies of all time. It’s about an interracial couple that goes on a weekend trip to visit the white girlfriend’s family. Terrifying and truly disturbing secrets are unearthed about her family during the trip, and it’s not long before her Black boyfriend must fight to stay alive.

Why it’s scary: Get Out is thrilling and unnerving, but it goes beyond many horror movies by intertwining issues surrounding race and identity. It’s a creative piece that’s cemented its status within the horror genre and the film industry overall.

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A Quiet Place Movievia amazon.com

A Quiet Place 

Released: 2018

Rated: PG-13

Director: John Krasinski

A Quiet Place is a suspenseful thriller about a family trying to survive in a postapocalyptic world against creatures with heightened hearing. Living in silence isn’t easy, but it’s necessary to stay alive.

Why it’s scary: Think about the noise that constantly surrounds your life. In A Quiet Place, the sounds you’ve grown to love could get you killed. Living life in silence is hard enough, but combined with the pressure of protecting loved ones, it can be terrifying. You’re entrenched in suspense up until the last moments of the film.

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Rosemary's Baby Movievia amazon.com

Rosemary’s Baby

Released: 1968

Rated: R

Director: Roman Polanski

Rosemary’s Baby is the story of a couple that moves into a new apartment while trying to have a baby. The building has its quirks, and their neighbors are a little odd, to say the least. When the wife, Rosemary, gets pregnant, she becomes isolated and suspects that her neighbors want her baby for something sinister.

Why it’s scary: The thought that people would want to use a baby for something sinister is horrific. That, plus the film’s suspenseful buildup and Mia Farrow’s impressive performance, makes Rosemary’s Baby one of the scariest movies of all time.

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Child's Play Movievia amazon.com

Child’s Play

Released: 1988

Rated: R

Director: Tom Holland

Child’s Play is the story of a young boy who must prove his new toy is not only alive but also has murderous intentions. Can he do it before his doll, Chucky, claims the lives of those he loves?

Why it’s scary: Taking something as innocent as a child’s toy and making it evil is pretty twisted. Kind of makes you want to do a double take at your own kids’ dolls, right?

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The Strangers Movievia amazon.com

The Strangers

Released: 2008

Rated: R

Director: Bryan Bertino

The Strangers makes our list of the scariest movies of all time for its terrifying realness. It’s about a couple that takes a trip to an isolated vacation home and is terrorized by three brutal strangers.

Why it’s scary: The film’s realism is its greatest horror; something like this could actually happen in real life. These people are isolated and outnumbered, and it’s up to them to stay alive. Both the randomness of the attacks and the nonchalance of the attackers are really unsettling.

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Train To Busan Movievia amazon.com

Train to Busan

Released: 2016

Rated: Not rated

Director: Sang-ho Yeon

This zombie movie is one to add to your must-watch list. Train to Busan is about a group of passengers on a South Korean train from Seoul to Busan who must fight for survival after the zombie apocalypse breaks out.

Why it’s scary: It’s a thrilling zombie film that delivers on fright and intensity. You’ll feel as though you’re right next to these people on the train as they try to survive.

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Now that you’ve read up on the scariest movies of all time, check out our list of the scariest podcasts that will keep you up at night.

Sources:

Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest covering entertainment, trivia, and history. When she’s not writing you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music, and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout New England.

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