The 50 greatest horror movies of all time

30. Carrie (1976)

Who can forget that iconic image of Sissy Spacek, wide-eyed, doused in pig’s blood? Brian De Palma’s body horror is a masterful adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel about the titular Carrie, a bullied teen girl who uses her gift of telekinesis to take revenge on her classmates. The combo of relatable teen trauma and the supernatural makes this a timeless classic. It’ll break your heart as it sends chills up your spine. EC

29. The Fog (1978)

John Carpenter’s Halloween had the slasher scares, but follow-up The Fog doubled down on the creeping terror. The inhabitants of a small California coastal town come under siege from a crew of hook-handed revenants emerging from a bank of eerily lit fog to wreak vengeance on the descendants of the people who condemned them to a watery grave a century earlier. What it lacks in actual blood’n’gore, it makes up for in dread, menace and maggot-faced mariners. DE

28. Ring (1998)

Ring’s morose muffin-top looms large over Western cinema, inspiring everything from shite J-horror remakes including The Grudge to ‘pass it on’ features like It Follows and Smile. The premise is simple: you see a videotape and die seven days later. Ring’s bare-bones ghost story is what makes it irresistible, drawing on Japanese mythology as kindling for a slow burn. When it ignites with the scare towards the end, though? Actually iconic. AC

27. The Descent (2005)

Before Neil Marshall spent seventeen years wasting everyone’s time and money, he made The Descent: part creature feature, part PSA against spelunking. Six women explore a cave, it’s not what they expected, they stumble across something. It goes south. Cramming the laddy banter of his previous movie – 2002’s immaculate Dog Soldiers – into what is basically The Thing underground, Marshall crafted a perfect survival horror flick featuring one of 2000s horror’s enduring final scenes. AC

26. Dracula (1958)

"It never occurred to any of us to use anyone else but Chris Lee," said producer Anthony Hinds of the perfectly cast title role, a hypnotic performance bringing to life Stoker’s immortal Count in lurid Technicolor for the first time. “Heroic, erotic and romantic” is how Christopher Lee assessed the character, his powerfully seductive portrayal forever altering the perception of the Vampire King from creepy monster to goth sex symbol. CC

25. Shaun Of The Dead (2004)

Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg struck gold with black comedy’s most quotable screenplay. Paying homage to Romero and Fulci while stacking scenes with top-tier wit and genuine pathos, this is your classic zombie outbreak movie centred around two guys who just can’t be arsed with it. Wright’s manic cinematography is electric here, the practical gooeyness still holds up, and the Don’t Stop Me Now scene remains unrivalled for laugh-out-loud violence.  AC

24. Hereditary (2018)

When referring to ‘that moment in Hereditary’, you could mean at least three. Ari Aster flicks through a Rolodex of grief for his feature-length debut, casting Toni Collette as a mournful mother, daughter and wife whose family tree is hewn. She embodies trauma, unable to find her place while nefarious forces work their magick. Beautifully shot, fist-in-your-mouth shocking and tense to the point of prolapse, Hereditary is a feel-shit hit. AC

23. The Omen (1976)

A multi-Oscar-winning box office smash, enacting Book of Revelation prophecies about the coming of the Antichrist in the form of a little boy? There’s a pseudo-Biblical profundity (and a very 70s sense of pessimism) about The Omen that struck a powerful chord with much bigger audiences than horror films were used to. Several perfectly executed and memorable supernatural kills ensure that The Omen strikes a powerful chord with the hardened gore-hounds, too. CC

22. The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg is the undoubted king of body horror, and The Fly is his masterpiece. Featuring an all-star cast that contains the likes of Geena Davis, Eric Stolz and horror legend Vincent Price, the show is stolen by an awesome performance by the enigmatic Jeff Goldblum. The marriage of Cronenberg’s unsettlingly gruesome and bizarre visuals and Goldblum’s character Seth Brundle’s descent from a geeky, socially awkward scientist into a part-man-part-fly hybrid monster is absolutely perfect. Horrific, disturbing, upsetting and, yet, an oddly touching tale. SH

21. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Rosemary’s Baby is part body horror and part Satanic thriller. Director Roman Polanski filmed the reputedly ‘cursed’ film in the gothic decadence of New York’s Dakota building and used long, unbroken shots to create an unsettling, ominous atmosphere. Despite appearances, baby-stealing Satanic witches aren’t the only horror in this film. The treatment of vulnerable women in domestic danger is a prevalent theme and a nightmare that is still very real in our modern society. EC

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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