The 50 best scary movies of all time, ranked by critics

LibTorres
·13 min read
get out
"Get Out" was almost universally praised by critics. Universal Studios
  • From classics like "Psycho" to modern masterpieces like "Hereditary" and "Get Out," horror movies are a popular part of popular culture. 

  • And while not every spooky film is well-received, some, like "The Birds" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street," have garnered lots of critical acclaim and still hold up even years after their original releases. 

  • Here are the best horror movies of all time, ranked by critics.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories

Recent years have seen standout horror films such as "Hereditary" and "Get Out" make waves in Hollywood and beyond, but they're not the only movies to be universally adored by critics. 

Classic horror flicks, including "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "The Fly" also received mostly positive reviews from critics. 

Even though not every spooky film is well-received, some have received critical acclaim and are still just as great years after they were originally released.

Here are the best horror movies of all time, ranked by critics. 

50. "Cronos" was directed by Guillermo del Toro.

cronos 1993
"Cronos" was released in 1993. October Films

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

Equal parts stylish and terrifying, this 1993 films focuses on a mysterious device that grants the user eternal life. 

49. "The Return of the Living Dead" was released in 1985.

the return of the living dead
"The Return of the Living Dead" is a zombie film. Orion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91%

'80s aesthetics and lots of gore feature prominently in this campy horror classic. 

48. 2004's "Shaun of the Dead" is a parody of zombie horror film "Dawn of the Dead."

shaun of the dead
Simon Pegg wrote and starred in "Shaun of the Dead." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

"Shaun of the Dead" follows an ordinary man in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, and doesn't hesitate to poke fun at horror tropes. 

47. 2017 film "Gerald's Game" is based on a Stephen King novel.

geralds game
Carla Gugino stars in "Gerald's Game." Intrepid Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 91% 

In "Gerald's Game," a woman trapped in bed after a sex game gone wrong starts to hallucinate, encountering people who may or may not be real. 

46. "Backcountry" follows a young couple hiking through the woods.

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Missy Peregrym and Jeff Roop in "Backcountry." IFC Films

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

After they become lost in the wilderness, things take a terrifying turn for the inexperienced lovebirds. 

45. "The Devil's Candy" was released in 2017.

the devil's candy
Ethan Embry and Kiara Glasco in "The Devil's Candy." IFC Midnight

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

Smart, stylish, and hilarious all at once, "The Devil's Candy" focuses on a painter and his family, who move into a haunted house. 

44. "The Endless" features UFOs and deadly cults.

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Justin Benson in "The Endless." Well Go USA Entertainment

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92% 

Increasingly bizarre yet surprisingly down-to-earth, "The Endless" focuses on two brothers, who escaped a deadly cult. 

43. Film icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford star in 1962's "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"

whatever happened to baby jane
"What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" focuses on two aging stars. Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

Two sisters' decaying relationship is the focus of "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" 

42. Jeff Goldblum stars in the 1986 sci-fi horror film "The Fly."

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Jeff Goldblum's performance in "The Fly" was widely praised. 20th Century Fox

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92%

Jeff Goldblum is the victim of an insect experiment gone terribly, terribly wrong in "The Fly." 

41. 2009's "Drag Me to Hell" was directed by "Spider-Man" filmmaker Sam Raimi.

drag me to hell
A woman is cursed and forced to confront demonic entities in "Drag Me to Hell." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92% 

An old woman evicted from her home makes the loan officer's life a living hell in "Drag Me to Hell." 

40. "The Cabin in the Woods" is a zombie horror film with a twist.

the cabin in the woods
Chris Hemsworth stars in "The Cabin in the Woods." Lionsgate

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 92% 

A bloodthirsty deity, horny teenagers, and a young Chris Hemsworth are all featured in "Cabin in the Woods," which follows a group of friends as they struggle to survive terrifying attacks. 

39. "Hush" focuses on a young deaf woman, who's the victim of a home invasion.

Hush
"Hush" was directed by Mike Flanagan. Hush

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

Combining elements of slasher films with the terrors of home invasion, "Hush" is thrilling from start to finish. 

38. "Cam" was first released in 2018.

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Madeline Brewer stars in "Cam." Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

A successful cam-girl's online identity slowly takes over the rest of her life in this psychological thriller. 

 

37. 1979's "Dawn of the Dead" combines horror with social commentary.

dawn of the dead 1978
George Romero directed "Dawn of the Dead." MKR Group

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

This horror classic follows survivors of a zombie outbreak as they shelter in a shopping mall. 

36. "Re-Animator" is gory and darkly amusing.

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Jeffrey Combs in "Re-Animator." Empire Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

Based on an HP Lovecraft story, this horror film follows a medical student, who's discovered how to re-animate bodies. 

35. Korean monster film "The Host," released in 2007, was directed by "Parasite" filmmaker Boon Jong-Ho.

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"The Host" received favorable reviews from critics. Magnolia Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93% 

A vicious river monster threatens a South Korean community in "The Host." 

34. 1977's "Suspiria" was recently remade, although the original is still critically acclaimed.

suspiria still
Dario Argento directed "Suspiria." Produzioni Atlas Consorziate

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

A young American dancer gets more than she bargained for after she joins a German ballet school plagued by murders in "Suspiria." 

33. A critically acclaimed version of sci-fi horror film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was released in 1978.

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Donald Sutherland stars in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Allied Artists Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93% 

Aliens invade a small town and slowly begin to replace all of the residents in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." 

32. In 1976's "Carrie," Sissy Spacek plays a telekinetic teenager.

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Sissy Spacek stars in "Carrie. United Artists

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93%

A quiet young girl named Carrie uses her latent telekinetic powers for evil in this heartbreaking horror film. 

31. "Us" was a major hit when it premiered in 2019.

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Lupita Nyong'o stars in "Us." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 93% 

In "Us," a woman (Lupita Nyong'o) with past trauma is on vacation with her family when their doppelgängers show up and begin killing people. 

30. Freddy Krueger is the infamous villain in 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

nightmare on elm street
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" spawned several sequels. New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

Murdered by a vindictive group of parents, the ghost of child killer Freddy Kruger returns via dreams to kill again in "A Nightmare on Elm Street." 

29. 2016 Korean thriller "Train to Busan" follows a dad and his daughter as they try to escape zombies.

train to busan movie
"Train to Busan" was positively received by critics. Next Entertainment World

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94%

This Korean zombie thriller follows a father and his young daughter as they try to fight off the undead on a high-speed train. 

28. "The Innocents" was released in 1961.

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Deborah Kerr in "The Innocents." Twentieth Century Fox

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94% 

Deborah Kerr stars in this spooky British ghost story that's based on Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." 

27. 1973's "Don't Look Now" is an occult thriller with a controversial sex scene.

don't look now
Donald Sutherland played a grief-stricken father in "Don't Look Now." Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94% 

Set in Venice, "Don't Look Now" follows two parents who befriend an elderly pair of psychic sisters — one of whom might have a warning from the parents' recently-deceased daughter. 

26. "We Are Still Here" takes place at a lonely house in New England.

we are still here 2015
"We Are Still Here" was released in 2015. Dark Sky Films

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Vengeful spirits, grieving parents, and some seriously sinister undertakers are the focus of "We Are Still Here." 

25. 2016 film "The Love Witch" satirizes 1960s horror films.

The Love Witch movie
Samantha Robinson stars in "The Love Witch." Oscilloscope

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

A dangerously cunning but lonely witch tries to find true love in this campy, Technicolor film. 

24. "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn" is the rare sequel that lives up to its predecessor.

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Bruce Campbell starred in "Evil Dead 2." Rosebud Releasing Company

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

The sole survivor of the original "Evil Dead," Ash returns to a cabin in the woods in this gory follow-up. 

23. "Evil Dead" spawned several sequels after its release in 1981.

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"Evil Dead" follows a group of teenagers as they're possessed by demonic forces. New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95% 

Things go terribly awry for a group of friends alone in the woods after they summon bloodthirsty demons in "Evil Dead." 

22. "The Fly" (1958) was famously remade in the '80s, but the original still holds up.

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David Hedison stars in "The Fly." Twentieth Century Fox

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95% 

While the 1986 version with Jeff Goldblum is more well-known, the original also follows a scientist, who slowly morphs into a giant housefly. 

 

21. "House of Wax" was first released in 1953.

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Vincent Price stars in "House of Wax." Warner Bros.

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

A vengeful wax museum owner terrorizes a town after his collection is burned to the ground — with him inside. 

20. Tippi Hedren stars in 1963's "The Birds."

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Alfred Hitchcock directed "The Birds." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Tippi Hedren fends off killer birds in "The Birds," another horror staple by Alfred Hitchcock. 

19. "Pan's Labyrinth" is a surreal take on the Spanish civil war.

pan's labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro directed "Pan's Labyrinth." New Line Cinema

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

This surreal film follows Ofelia, an isolated young girl who finds solace amongst forest monsters during the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. 

18. Roman Polanski's first film was "Repulsion" in 1965.

repulsion movie
Catherine Deneuve played a paranoid manicurist in "Repulsion." Royal Films International

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95%

Polanski's movie follows a repressed young woman who's tormented by images of violent sexual assault after her sister starts dating a new man. 

17. Some think that the 2014 film "It Follows" is a parable about HIV/AIDs.

it follows movie
Maika Monroe stars in "It Follows." Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 95% 

After an unprotected sexual encounter, a young woman is haunted by an eerie spirit, who will only leave her alone if she has unprotected sex with someone else. 

16. "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night" is an Iranian vampire western from 2014 with a feminist message.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
Sheila Vand stars in "A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night." Vice Films via Netflix

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96% 

This Iranian horror movie follows a lonely, skateboarding vampire in the fictional Bad City. 

15. "Rosemary's Baby" is a quintessential horror film from 1968.

rosemarys baby paramount
Mia Farrow stars in "Rosemary's Baby." Paramount

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96% 

Cults and devil-worship abound in "Rosemary's Baby," which follows a young, pregnant mother as she grows more and more paranoid about the wellbeing of her baby. 

14. Jamie Lee Curtis stars in 1978's "Halloween."

jamie lee curtis halloween
Jamie Lee Curtis also appeared in the "Halloween" remake. Compass International Productions

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96%

A deranged and violent young man escapes from a mental hospital and returns to his hometown to wreak havoc on unsuspecting, horny teenagers in this horror classic. 

13. A ruthless cannibal is the focus of 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs."

The Silence of The Lambs
Anthony Hopkins plays a cannibal in "The Silence of the Lambs." Orion Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96% 

Anthony Hopkins stars as a cannibalistic but cultured murderer in this quintessential horror film. 

12. One of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous movies is 1960's "Psycho."

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Janet Leigh stars in "Psycho." Universal Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96% 

Alfred Hitchock's horror classic focuses on a young professional on the lam who winds up in a motel run by a very disturbed mama's boy. 

11. "The Office" star John Krasinksi wrote and directed 2018's "A Quiet Place."

a quiet place
Emily Blunt stars alongside husband John Krasinski in "A Quiet Place." Paramount Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 96% 

John Krasinski's horror masterpiece focuses on the Abbott family as they attempt to survive in a world overrun with monsters who hunt by sound. 

10. Most of "Harpoon" (2019) takes place on the open ocean.

harpoon movie
"Harpoon" was released in 2019. Dread Central Presents

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97%

In "Harpoon," three friends stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean struggle to overcome underlying tensions and hidden dangers. 

9. "Aliens" is the 1986 sequel to "Alien."

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Carrie Henn stars as Newt in "Aliens." Twentieth Century Fox

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97% 

This follow-up to the 1980s sci-fi hit follows Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as she's rescued in deep space — only to find that her run-ins with the titular alien might not be over after all. 

8. 1968's "Night of the Living Dead" is a classic zombie film.

night of the living dead
George Romero directed "Night of the Living Dead." The Walter Reade Organization/Continental Distributing

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 97% 

Zombies roam the east coast and the uninfected are left to fend for themselves in George Romero's horror classic. 

7. "Werckmeister Harmonies" is set in a remote Hungarian village.

werckmeister harmonies bela tarr
"Werckmeister Harmonies" is directed by Bela Tarr. 13 Productions

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98%

Focusing on a desolate Hungarian town and a mysterious circus that arrives one night, "Werckmeister Harmonies" was first released in 2000. 

 

6. "The Loved Ones" (2009) is an Australian teen horror movie.

the loved ones 2009
"The Loved Ones" was released in 2009. Darclight Films International

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98% 

Combining elements of teen scream films with twisted body horror, "The Loved Ones" follows a teenager, who kidnaps her prom date and tortures him. 

5. "The Vanishing (Spoorloos)" was first released in 1988.

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"The Vanishing" is a Dutch-language film. Argos Films

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98% 

After his girlfriend goes missing on a roadtrip, Rex searches for her obsessively, eventually coming to some very terrifying conclusions. 

4. "Eyes Without a Face" (1962) focuses on a surgeon who inadvertently botches an operation on his daughter's face.

eyes without a face movie
Edith Scob as Christiane in "Eyes Without a Face." Lopert Pictures Corporation

Rotten tomatoes critic score: 98% 

First released in the early '60s, this horror film follows Dr. Génessier as he attempts to find a new face for his daughter Christiane — with disastrous results. 

3. "Let the Right One In" is a Swedish vampire film from 2008.

let the right one in
Lina Leandersson stars in "Let the Right One In." Magnet Releasing

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98% 

This heartwarming yet terrifying Swedish film follows a young, socially-awkward boy named Oskar as he befriends a mysterious girl with a terrible secret. 

2. Grief and loss are the central themes of 2014's "The Babadook."

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"The Babadook" stars Essie Davis. Matt Nettheim via Sundance Institute

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98% 

After the death of her husband, an overworked and exhausted single mother struggles to keep it together after she and her young child begin to be tormented by a mysterious entity called "The Babadook." 

1. "Get Out" was an overnight success when it was released in 2017.

get out
Daniel Kaluuya stars in "Get Out." Universal

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 98% 

Timely, thrilling, and unforgettable, "Get Out" follows a young Black man (Daniel Kaluuya) as he visits his white girlfriend's family for the first time, only to become entrenched in a trippy and violent experiment. 

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