For the longest time, horror movies have captivated audiences for decades with their ability to elicit strong emotional responses and keep everyone on the edge of their seats. While it’s a genre that’s not made for everyone to enjoy, others also find it a way to have fun.
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From classic slashers to supernatural thrillers, horror movies tap into our deepest fears and desires, leaving us with an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a die-hard horror fan or a casual viewer, there’s no denying the power and appeal of this spine-tingling genre.
Top Horror Movies: We pick our favourites
Scream revived the horror genre during a time when everyone was losing interest. Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, the series showcased the star power of Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette.
Set in the fictional town of Woodsboro, the movie follows Sidney Prescott, a high school student whose life becomes a nightmare when a masked killer known as Ghostface starts terrorising her and her friends. As the body count rises, Sidney, her friends, and the town’s residents find themselves trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with the deranged killer. Ghostface taunts his victims with phone calls, pop culture trivia, and a chilling voice that becomes synonymous with fear.
A simple slasher rooted with meta humour and completely self-aware, this classic (and its sequels) will always be a favourite and even spawned a new generation of fans as the franchise lives on (with the most recent instalment, Scream VI, released earlier this year).
2. The Ring
The original Japanese film will always be the best, but this American remake still sends chills down our spines with its eerie and unique atmosphere.
The story revolves around a cursed VHS videotape that kills anyone to anyone who watches it within seven days. When a journalist named Rachel Keller learns about the tape’s deadly curse, she becomes determined to investigate its origins and save herself and her young son.
She uncovers a tragic history involving a young girl named Samara Morgan, who possesses a malevolent and vengeful spirit. Rachel discovers that Samara’s mysterious powers extend beyond the videotape and that her influence reaches out even from beyond the grave.
The best part of the film? Samara crawling out of the TV will surely keep you up at night.
This John Carpenter classic became the foundation for today’s slasher films. A simple story of a babysitter killer became a box office hit and gained numerous sequels and remakes that still resonate with audiences today.
The e movie follows the story of Michael Myers, a psychotic killer who escapes from a mental institution after killing his sister and returns to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, on the night of Halloween.
Driven by a relentless desire to kill, Michael Myers stalks and terrorises a group of high school students, with Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis, becoming his primary target. As the night progresses, Laurie and her friends find themselves in a desperate battle for survival against the relentless and seemingly unstoppable masked killer.
More than just the film itself, John Carpenter accompanied the movie with an accompanying soundtrack that made its atmosphere even scarier.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Often called one of the most iconic horror films of all time, this 1974 classic shocked audiences when it was released, even forcing some countries to ban it.
Set in rural Texas, the movie follows a group of young friends who encounter a family of sadistic cannibals during a road trip. The film is loosely based on the real-life serial killer Ed Gein.
When their van runs out of gas, the friends are forced to seek help in a nearby farmhouse. Little do they know that they have stumbled upon a nightmare. They soon discover that the seemingly innocent family they encounter, including the infamous Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding killer, is profoundly disturbed and deranged.
Even if the film is almost 40 years old, it still delivers the scares and uneasiness that couldn’t be matched by the numerous sequels that followed. Leatherface itself also became of the most recognisable horror icons in cinema.
Hereditary is shown through the eyes of a family, each dealing with their own mental issues. Directed by Ari Aster and featuring an incredible performance by Toni Collette, the movie revolves around the Graham family, who are haunted by a series of disturbing events following the death of their secretive grandmother.
The film primarily focuses on Annie Graham, brilliantly portrayed by Toni Collette, as she grapples with the loss of her mother and the increasing horrors that unfold around her. Annie’s daughter, Charlie, displays peculiar behaviour, while her son, Peter, becomes entangled in the family’s nightmarish fate.
The film cleverly focuses on disturbing and uneasy situations to scare the audience. It delivers shock value that stays with you even after the credits have rolled – something only a few horror movies could achieve.
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Another Wes Craven classic enters this group of teenagers haunted by a supernatural killer named Freddy Krueger in their dreams. As they try to stay awake to avoid falling victim to Freddy’s deadly claws, they realise that even in their nightmares, they are not safe from his sadistic attacks.
The film’s lead is Nancy Thompson, played by Heather Langenkamp, who becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind Freddy Krueger and find a way to stop him. As the teens dig deeper into Freddy’s dark past, they uncover a horrifying secret that connects them all and reveals the true extent of Freddy’s malevolence.
Much like other horror icons, Freddy Kreuger became a staple of horror that kept us up at night. As far as horror movie tropes go, it begs the question of how you can survive being killed in your dreams.
7. The Conjuring
Based on a true story, the movie follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, as they take on one of the most terrifying cases of their careers.
The film centres around the Perron family, who move into a secluded farmhouse in Rhode Island. They soon experience increasingly disturbing and unexplainable occurrences. Desperate for help, they reach out to renowned experts in paranormal phenomena, the Warrens.
This film takes scary to another level, incorporating a true story into a finely crafted horror film merged with a touching story about a mother’s bond with her children. It was made even better thanks to the masterful direction of James Wan, who chose to do the movie with old-school effects that made it even scarier.
The Conjuring also spawned a new universe of horror movies, including Annabelle and The Nun, with a fourth Conjuring already in the works.
Stream it on Netflix.
Alfred Hitchcock redefined horror with this classic. While the film itself isn’t as shocking as his other offerings, the shower scene alone easily makes it one of the most memorable moments in movie history.
Released in 1960, this iconic psychological thriller based on Robert Bloch’s novel tells the story of Marion Crane, a young woman who steals money from her employer and finds herself at the Bates Motel, run by the peculiar Norman Bates.
As Marion settles into her room, she becomes entangled in a web of terror and suspense. The film takes a shocking turn when Marion is brutally murdered in the infamous shower scene, which has become one of cinematic history’s most iconic and widely recognised scenes, not to mention the haunting score accompanying it.
Sci-fi movies typically focus on action and spectacle, but Ridley Scott did the impossible, giving us a horror film set in space and a memorable heroine.
Set in the future, the movie follows the crew of the commercial spaceship Nostromo as they encounter a deadly extraterrestrial creature aboard their vessel. The film combines elements of horror and suspense with a futuristic setting and iconic creature design.
After responding to a distress signal on an uncharted planet, the crew members unwittingly bring aboard an alien lifeform. As the creature begins to grow and wreak havoc, the crew finds themselves in a desperate fight for survival against a ruthless and intelligent predator.
More than just the scary xenomorph stalking Ripley, Alien captured the horror often overlooked when films are set in outer space. With clever directing, this classic still holds up until this day.
10. The Exorcist (The Version You’ve Never Seen)
The original 1973 film already shocked audiences, but this director’s cut ups the ante with added scenes, most notably a “spider-walk” that still makes us shiver every time we watch it.
Based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, the movie explores the terrifying tale of a young girl possessed by an evil demonic entity and the desperate attempts to save her soul.
The film follows Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old girl who exhibits increasingly disturbing and violent behaviour. Her mother, Chris MacNeil, played by Ellen Burstyn, becomes increasingly desperate as medical and psychiatric explanations fail to provide a solution. In her search for answers, Chris turns to two priests, Father Damien Karras and Father Lankester Merrin, to perform an exorcism and free Regan from the grip of evil.
Even after 40 years, The Exorcist still ranks as one of the best horror movies we’ve seen, and I’ve yet to find a film that would top it.
Victor Philip Ortiz
Victor is a seasoned journalist based in Dubai, UAE, since 2007, with years of experience in the field. He has a passion for all things pop culture and considers himself a huge Marvel fan. He can often be found playing video games or catching the latest releases at the cinema. Victor’s interests extend beyond movies, as he also enjoys writing about technology.