The 50 greatest horror movies of all time

40. Let The Right One In (2008)

At a time where ‘vampire’ had become a by-word for ‘twinkly mopey twat’, Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In reminded us all of the true essence of the fanged denizens of the night. Part-vampiric horror and part coming-of-age story, Let The Right One In contrasts stark loneliness with utter brutality in a captivating mixture that asks one key question: what does it mean to be a monster? RH

39. Us (2019)

Jordan Peele’s second movie isn’t tightly wound like his debut, but Us demonstrates how well he burns studio money. Essentially a feature-lengthTwilight Zone episode with Trump-era doses of cynicism, a family’s holiday is ruined when their doppelgängers rock up on their porch. Creepy stuff ensues. Peele takes his time unpacking class identity without ever forgetting the scares, leaning on Lupita Nyong'o’s Oscar-worthy performance to quell quibbles concerning length or plausibility. AC

38. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project’s shoestring budget, 16mm camcorders and marketing campaign convinced cinemagoers the cast had actually died. Sure, on the surface it’s just some teens trampling through a forest in search of the fabled Blair Witch. But the fear – palpable, pant-pissing fear – spilling from the improvised dialogue and ramshackle script is undeniable. A divisive but deserved classic that dragged the found-footage subgenre from the woods and into the mainstream. AC

37. Audition (1999)

Takashi Miike’s meet-cute from Hell is infamous for its unflinching final act, to which the entire torture porn movement owes the strongest of pints. A pervy but ultimately well-meaning widower stages a fake audition to meet the girl of his dreams, settling on a quiet woman with bigger gaps in her résumé than Boris Johnson. Echoing Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Audition grabs your throat and yanks you towards its disgusting dénouement. AC

36. It (2017)

Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s 1986 novel gave new life to horrors we’d previously only read about or seen in the clunky 1990 TV mini-series. Fans of Tim Curry’s original performance as Pennywise the child-killing shapeshifting clown found room in their blackened hearts for Bill Skarsgård’s unique rendition. The nostalgic 80s setting and undeniable chemistry of the kids in the Losers Club make this one helluva compelling watch. EC

35. It Follows (2014)

Writer and director David Robert Mitchell unleashed pure nightmare fuel with his breakout horror It Follows. The clever premise of a sexually transmitted supernatural stalker keeps you on edge the entire runtime. You’ll find yourself scouring every shot for the shapeshifting entity as the story unfolds and the tension builds. Mitchell’s mythology for the It Follows ‘curse’ is so clear-cut that you’ll be left obsessing over escape strategies long after the credits roll. EC

34. The Babadook (2014)

You can’t get rid of the Babadook! On the surface, Jennifer Kent’s debut paranormal psychological horror is about a dark, top-hatted entity that haunts you when you read its storybook. Underneath, you’ll find a churning tale of depression, grief, and parenthood. Essie Davis’ performance as a frayed parent-on-the-edge is underpinned by the genuinely chilling character of Mister Babadook — dark, long-fingered, and looming. It’ll literally haunt your dreams. EC

33. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (1920)

Film critic extraordinaire Roger Ebert once called this German Expressionist nightmare “the first true horror film”. That alone would qualify The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari for greatness, but what pushes it even higher in the scary movie echelons is that it’s still compelling viewing. The cinematography and jagged set designs are high art in themselves. Just be sure to dodge the “full sound” version and stick on the one soundtracked by post-rockers Toundra. MM

32. Train To Busan (2016)

Snakes On A Plane, on a train, sitting opposite 28 Days Later. Yeon Sang-ho’s public transport putrefactory leaves little room for nuance, tropes stuffed in like sausages to rolls. A workaholic, deadbeat dad takes his daughter on a high-speed railway from Seoul to Busan – turns out it’s packed with zombies. Unlucky, mate. Train To Busan is an absurdly, gleefully over-the-top box-office buster, yanking every emotion harder than the emergency brake. AC

31. Suspiria (1977)

Dario Argento’s sumptuous masterpiece - packed with stylish gore, hung with supernatural mystique and scored with the throbbing occult prog of Goblin - is a timeless, dizzying feast for the senses. The narrative, concerning a murderous conspiracy around a German ballet school, artfully drifts in and out of reality, Suspiria one of few films that effectively approximate a nightmarish quality (albeit a nightmare that is beautifully cinematographed and immaculately soundtracked). CC

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site. 

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