What is so good about horror movies

The 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time

The wind forces open the curtained window. Candles snuff out in darkness. And a shiver cascades down your spine. Nope, it’s not just your imagination. Something is stalking on your screen, primed to to kill all your free time: The big, boo-tiful list of Rotten Tomatoes’ 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time!

The wonders of seeing the unknown has always been the luring temptation of movies, and so horror feels especially close to this medium, a genre that exposes audiences to beyond normal, and into death. So we’re pulling from 100 years of movie history, from those early days of German expressionism (Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and Universal monsters (Dracula, The Wolf Man). Creature features (King Kong, The Fly) nestle with Best Picture nominees (The Exorcist, Get Out). Slashers (Scream), zombies (Dawn of the Dead), vampires (Let the Right One In) abound with terror of the more psychological persuasion (Don’t Look Now, The Innocents). Or so it would seem.

And we honor the recent stabs and strides made by female horror directors (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Babadook, The Invitation) and directors abroad (Under the Shadow, The Wailing). Each of these best scary movies thrown into our bubbling cauldron had to have at least 20 reviews with a Fresh rating, before being sorted by Adjusted Tomatometer.

Dead last but not dead least, we’ve expanded the guide to 200 movies, making room for the latest in cutting edge terror like Tigers Are Not Afraid, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Crawl, and Midsommar. Meanwhile, a bunch of classics also get to creep in. Motel Hell fans, your filthy prayers have been answered.

Ready to settle in for dark nights of Fresh fear? Then flip the switch on The 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time…it’s alive! It’s alive!!

100 Best ’70s Horror Movies|84 Best ’80s Horror Movies
80 Best 2000s Horror Movies|140 Best 2010s Horror Movies
40 Best ’90s Horror Movies|Best & Worst Horror Movies of 2019


Adjusted Score: 72.107%

Critics Consensus: The Howling packs enough laughs into its lycanthropic carnage to distinguish it from other werewolf entries, with impressive visual effects adding some bite.

Synopsis: This groundbreaking, darkly comic horror film from director Joe Dante changed the look and feel of werewolf movies in ways... [More]

Starring:Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone

Directed By:Joe Dante


Adjusted Score: 72.587%

Critics Consensus: Eerie and satirical, Motel Hell has no vacancy when it comes to low-brow horror gags.

Synopsis: People come from far and wide to sample Farmer Vincent's distinctively flavored dried, smoked sausages, but one might well ask... [More]

Starring:Rory Calhoun, Paul Linke, Nancy Parsons, Nina Axelrod

Directed By:Kevin Connor


Adjusted Score: 73.011%

Critics Consensus: The cracks are starting to show in John Carpenter's directorial instincts, but Christine is nonetheless silly, zippy fun.

Synopsis: She was born in Detroit... on an automobile assembly line. But she is no ordinary automobile. Deep within her chassis... [More]

Starring:Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, Robert Prosky

Directed By:John Carpenter


Adjusted Score: 73.126%

Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.

Synopsis: Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a Wall Street yuppie, obsessed with success, status and style, with a stunning fiancée (Reese... [More]

Starring:Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas

Directed By:Mary Harron


Adjusted Score: 73.273%

Critics Consensus: Elevated by writer-director Clive Barker's fiendishly unique vision, Hellraiser offers a disquieting - and sadistically smart - alternative to mindless gore.

Synopsis: The directorial debut from horror novelist Clive Barker stars Sean Chapman as a man who buys a strange Chinese puzzle... [More]

Starring:Sean Chapman, Clare Higgins, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence

Directed By:Clive Barker


Adjusted Score: 73.615%

Critics Consensus: With an outrageous premise played completely straight, Black Sheep is a violent, grotesque, and very funny movie that takes B-movie lunacy to a delirious extreme.

Synopsis: A fluke of genetic engineering turns New Zealand's chief farm animal into a scourge of bloodthirsty killers in this comedy... [More]

Starring:Nathan Meister, Danielle Mason, Tammy Davis, Peter Feeney

Directed By:Jonathan King


Adjusted Score: 74.416%

Critics Consensus: The rare slasher with enough intelligence to wind up the tension between bloody outbursts, Black Christmas offers fiendishly enjoyable holiday viewing for genre fans.

Synopsis: Black Christmas is an effective, frightening above average slasher movie with a good cast and a frightening, surprise ending. Barb... [More]

Starring:Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

Directed By:Bob Clark


Adjusted Score: 76.43%

Critics Consensus: Frank Darabont's impressive camerawork and politically incisive script make The Mist a truly frightening experience.

Synopsis: David Drayton and his young son Billy are among a large group of terrified townspeople trapped in a local grocery... [More]

Starring:Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher

Directed By:Frank Darabont


Adjusted Score: 76.368%

Critics Consensus: Tough and unpleasant, It's Alive throttles the viewer with its bizarre mutant baby theatrics.

Synopsis: Larry Cohen's disturbing little potboiler is mixed with measures of The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby and features a chilling Bernard... [More]

Starring:John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, Andrew Duggan, Guy Stockwell

Directed By:Larry Cohen


Adjusted Score: 76.405%

Critics Consensus: Even with its disorienting leaps of logic and structure, Jacob's Ladder is an engrossing, nerve-shattering experience.

Synopsis: A tortured man finds himself caught in a middle-ground between hallucination and reality in this supernatural thriller, scripted by Bruce... [More]

Starring:Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven

Directed By:Adrian Lyne


Adjusted Score: 76.739%

Critics Consensus: Phantasm: Remastered adds visual clarity to the first installment in one of horror's most enduring -- and endearingly idiosyncratic -- franchises.

Synopsis: The remastered original classic that started it all, in which two brothers discover their local mortuary hides a legion of... [More]

Starring:A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister, Bill Thornbury, Angus Scrimm

Directed By:Don Coscarelli


Adjusted Score: 76.807%

Critics Consensus: Overblown in the best sense of the word, Francis Ford Coppola's vision of Bram Stoker's Dracula rescues the character from decades of campy interpretations -- and features some terrific performances to boot.

Synopsis: Based on Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel, this film from Francis Ford Coppola and screenwriter James Victor Hart offers a... [More]

Starring:Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves

Directed By:Francis Ford Coppola


Adjusted Score: 76.885%

Critics Consensus: With little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skin, thanks to director Gore Verbinski's haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.

Synopsis: A disturbing videotape appears to hold the power of life and death over those who view it in this offbeat... [More]

Starring:Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox

Directed By:Gore Verbinski


Adjusted Score: 76.872%

Critics Consensus: Claustrophobic and quirky horror, this is a decently dirty debut for director Todd Haynes.

Synopsis: Todd Haynes' feature debut is structured around three interlocking vignettes. In the AIDS allegory "Horror," filmed in the style of... [More]

Starring:Edith Meeks, Larry Maxwell, Scott Renderer, James Lyons

Directed By:Todd Haynes


Adjusted Score: 77.164%

Critics Consensus: Frightening, funny, and packed with action, Dog Soldiers is well worth checking out for genre fans -- and marks writer-director Neil Marshall as a talent to keep an eye on.

Synopsis: British director Neil Marshall's directorial debut Dog Soldiers resurrects and embraces the low-budget horror-comedy. Sergeant Harry Wells (Sean Pertwee) leads... [More]

Starring:Sean Pertwee, Kevin Mckidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham

Directed By:Neil Marshall


Adjusted Score: 78.807%

Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.

Synopsis: Researching urban folklore, a University of Chicago student snoops around the housing projects of Cabrini Green to find more about... [More]

Starring:Virginia Madsen, Tony Todd, Xander Berkeley, Kasi Lemmons

Directed By:Bernard Rose


Adjusted Score: 79.191%

Critics Consensus: A deftly crafted tribute to Halloween legends, Trick 'r' Treat hits all the genre marks with gusto and old fashioned suspense.

Synopsis: Prolific director Bryan Singer takes a turn towards horror as the producer of this Halloween shocker directed by X2 and... [More]

Starring:Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb

Directed By:Michael Dougherty