The 25 best horror movies, ranked

Psycho
There’s no reason to scream: Our viewing guide to the most critically acclaimed horror movies of all time will help you determine which chillers to stream this Halloween. Bettmann/Getty Images

Halloween means Halloween movies — and for some, Halloween movies equal horror movies. 

To help you make the most of the fall season, we’ve put together a countdown of the 25 best horror movies of all time, from “Psycho” to “A Quiet Place.” The list is based on horror rankings from the movie-review aggregate site Metacritic

Movies are ordered from good to excellent — there are no bad horror movies on this list. Most ties were broken by looking at the total number of reviews that went into each film’s Metacritic score.

Overall, only movies with at least 15 Metacritic-tracked reviews are included in this countdown. We further narrowed the list to horror movies that can be streamed on subscription services, such as Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+, or on free, ad-supported services, such as Pluto TV and Tubi. (CBS Essentials, Paramount+ and Pluto are all subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.) 

Read on to see which films made the final cut — and to find out where to stream all of them right now. 

(Note: Metacritic scores and streaming availability are current as of publication; if a film is available to stream on multiple platforms, we’ve listed up to two options.)


25. “A Quiet Place” (Metacritic score: 82)

A Quiet Place
Paramount Pictures

Making good on its title, this 2018 film from writer-director-star John Krasinski (“The Office”) rarely registered above a whisper en route to becoming a box-office smash. Emily Blunt, Krasinski’s real-life wife, co-stars. Krasinski and Blunt play a married couple who must keep things hush-hush, lest their family becomes targeted by mysterious, sound-sensitive creatures.

In the Seattle Times, critic Moira Macdonald praised “A Quiet Place” as “taut and often quite terrifying.”

Watch “A Quiet Place” on Paramount+ (subscription required)


24.”Under the Shadow” (Metacritic score: 83; 25 reviews)

Under the Shadow
Vertical Entertainment US via YouTube/screenshot

Under the Shadow” is a 2016 Persian-language film set in wartorn Iran in the 1980s. The psychological chiller from writer-director Babak Anvari concerns a mother (played by Narges Rashidi), her daughter (played by Avin Manshadi) — and the doll the mother says will protect them from a malevolent force.

“The movie is first fascinating, then terrifying,” Noel Murray wrote for the Los Angeles Times. 

Watch “Under the Shadow” on Netflix (subscription required)


23. “Drag Me to Hell” (2009) (Metacritic score: 83; 32 reviews)

Drag Me to Hell
Scream Factory

Released in 2009, in the wake of the financial collapse, Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me to Hell” tells the story of a loan officer (played by Alison Lohman) who is cursed after she denies a mortgage extension. 

Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek found the film scary fun — the result of “an especially joyous kind of filmmaking.”

Watch “Drag Me to Hell” on Showtime (subscription required)

(CBS Essentials and Showtime are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.)


22. “Saint Maud” (Metacritic score: 83; 35 reviews)

Saint Maud
A24

Released in 2021, “Saint Maud” is the newest film in this countdown. Morfydd Clark stars as a hospice nurse who’s out to save a soul. 

According to the Atlantic’s David Sims, writer-director Rose Clark “keep[s] the viewer guessing until the very last minute.”  

Watch “Saint Maud” on Hulu (subscription required)

Watch “Saint Maud” on Paramount+ (subscription required)


21. “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Metacritic score: 83; 39 reviews) 

Sweeney Todd
Warner Home Video

Johnny Depp earned a best actor Oscar nomination as the vengeful barber at the bloody heart of this 2007 adaptation of the same-titled Broadway musical. 

TV Guide Magazine’s Maitland McDonagh praised director Tim Burton for transforming the Stephen Sondheim source material into “a cheerfully gothic morality tale.”

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” is the first — but not last — musical in this countdown. 

Watch “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” on Paramount+ (subscription required) 

Watch “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” on Pluto TV (free, with ads) 


20. “The Witch” (2016) (Metacritic score: 83; 46 reviews)

The Witch
A24

Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) stars as a teen accused of being a witch in this 2016 film set in Puritan New England of the 1600s.  

In Time Out, critic David Ehrlich wrote that “The Witch” is “one of the most genuinely unnerving horror films in recent memory…

Watch “The Witch” (2016) on Showtime (subscription required)


19. “The Lighthouse” (Metacritic score: 83; 51 reviews)

The Lighthouse
A24

This black-and-white, 2019 entry is the second movie on this list from filmmaker Robert Eggers, who also wrote and directed “The Witch.” 

The psychological horror tale stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as 19th-century lightkeepers who struggle with the isolation of their post.   

“‘The Lighthouse‘ stands as a monument to two titanic performances,” Tara Brady praised in the Irish Times.   

Watch “The Lighthouse” on Amazon Prime Video (subscription required)

Watch “The Lighthouse” on Tubi (free, with ads)


18. “Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary” (Metacritic score: 84) 

Dracula
Encore+ via YouTube/screenshot

If the horror genre teaches you anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Enter “Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary,” the second musical in this countdown of horror classics. 

This 2003, black-and-white Canadian production looks and plays like a silent film (but with a score, natch). And that’s not the half of it: The Guy Maddin film recasts Bram Stoker’s vampire tale as a ballet. 

“…I hasten to add that this is the most inventive vampire picture of the last 80 years,” John Powers wrote for the L.A. Weekly. 

Watch “Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary on Shudder” (subscription required)

Watch “Dracula: Pages From a Virgin’s Diary” on Shudder on Encore+ YouTube channel (free)


17. “The Host” (2007) (Metacritic score: 85)

The Host
Showbox Entertainment via Amazon/screenshot

This film is the 2007 entry from Bong Joon Ho, the Oscar-winning filmmaker of “Parasite.” In “The Host,” the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, is contaminated. Monster action ensues. 

Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum called the film “wildly entertaining.”

Viewer beware: Do not confuse this film with the 2013 Hollywood sci-fi film, also titled “The Host.” 

Watch “The Host” (2007) on Amazon Prime Video (subscription required)

Watch “The Host” (2007) on Hulu (subscription required)


16. “The Babadook” (Metacritic score: 86)

The Babadook
Scream Factory

The Babadook” is a 2014 Australian horror movie that finds a widowed mother (played by Essie Davis) and her young son (played by Noah Wiseman) terrorized by a character from a pop-up children’s book. 

The Portland Oregonian’s Marc Mohan called the movie a “near-masterpiece of unease.” 

Watch “The Babadook” on AMC+ (subscription required)


13 (TIE). “Eraserhead” (Metacritic score: 87; 15 reviews)

Eraserhead
Libra Films

This 1977 cult film marks the feature debut of writer-director David Lynch (“Twin Peaks”). The avant-garde tale concerns a man (played by Jack Nance) and his space-alien-esque baby. 

TV Guide Magazine called “Eraserhead” a “creepily sensuous film that suggests that the dark and troubling things we like to repress inhabit dresser drawers, live behind the radiator or lie under the bed.”

Watch “Eraserhead” on HBO Max (subscription required)

Watch “Eraserhead” on Criterion Channel (subscription required)


13 (TIE). “The Invisible Man” (1933) (Metacritic score: 87; 15 reviews)

Invisible Man
Universal/Getty Images

This 1933 film, the original big-screen take on H.G. Wells’ classic tale, is the first of three titles on this list that belongs to what is now known as the Universal Classic Monsters franchise.

Claude Rains stars in “The Invisible Man” as a scientist who gains the power of invisibility, but loses his mind. 

“The strangest character yet created by the screen,” Variety declared upon the film’s original release. 

Watch “The Invisible Man” (1933) on Shudder (subscription required)


13 (TIE). “The Wicker Man” (1974) (Metacritic score: 87; 15 reviews)

Wicker Man
Anchor Bay Entertainment

Not to be confused with the critically mocked Nicolas Cage remake, the original “Wicker Man” was praised by Variety for a screenplay “which, for sheer imagination and near-terror, has seldom been [equaled].” 

Edward Woodward (“The Equalizer”) stars in the 1974 film as a police sergeant whose search for a missing girl takes him to a Scottish island, where the goings-on are, in a word, strange.

Watch “The Wicker Man” (1974) on Amazon Prime Video (subscription required)


11 (TIE). “Jaws” (Metacritic score: 87; 21 reviews)

Jaws
Universal/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg turbo-charged his directing career, helped create the modern movie blockbuster — and put a scare in beachgoers with his blood-soaked 1975 adaptation of the same-titled novel about a killer shark. Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw star in the Oscar-winning film. 

“This is a suspense classic that leaves teeth-marks,” the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote in praise of “Jaws.” 

Watch “Jaws” on Amazon Prime Video (subscription required)


11 (TIE). “Halloween” (1978) (Metacritic score: 87; 21 reviews)

Halloween
Compass International Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty Images

The knife-wielding, mask-wearing horror villain Michael Myers debuted in filmmaker John Carpenter’s original “Halloween.” The influential slasher film stars Jamie Lee Curtis as the terrorized Laurie Strode, a character Curtis would reprise for several sequels and remakes.  

According to critics, the first “Halloween” is the best “Halloween.” Film Threat’s David Grove called the 1978 release “[a]rguably, the greatest horror film of the past thirty years.”

Watch “Halloween” (1978) on Shudder (subscription required)

Watch “Halloween” (1978) on Redbox (free, with ads)


10. “Hereditary” (Metacritic score: 87; 45 reviews)

Hereditary
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

This 2018 film is the newest release in our countdown’s Top 10. “Hereditary” features Milly Shapiro as a girl whose family is menaced by the demon-summoning handiwork of a late matriarch.   

The Verge’s Tasha Robinson hailed the film as “a hell of an intense ride, made for a crowd that enjoys heart-clutching adrenaline spikes.”

Watch “Hereditary” on Showtime (subscription required)


9. “The Innocents” (Metacritic score: 88)

The Innocents
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

This entry stars six-time Oscar nominee Deborah Kerr, features a screenplay co-written by Truman Capote (“In Cold Blood”) and shares DNA with Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” But here’s what horror fans really need to know: Per the Los Angeles Times’ Susan King, “The Innocents” is “[o]ne of the scariest films ever made.” 

The 1961 movie casts Kerr as a governess who comes to believe the house she works in is haunted — and the children in her care, possessed. 

Watch “The Innocents” on Criterion Channel (subscription required)


8. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) (Metacritic score: 89)

Night Of The Living Dead
Pictorial Parade/Getty Images

George A. Romero deployed a reported $114,000 budget, a no-name cast and Pittsburgh-area locations to create a groundbreaking, 1968 zombie tale that New Yorker critic Pauline Kael hailed as “one of the most gruesomely terrifying movies ever made.”

An independent production that fell into the public domain, “Night of the Living Dead” is available to stream on almost every platform out there, including subscription services such as HBO Max and Shudder. Below, we have spotlighted two of the free, ad-supported services where you can watch the horror classic right now.

Watch “Night of the Living Dead” on Pluto TV (free, with ads)

Watch “Night of the Living Dead” on Tubi (free, with ads)


7. “The Birds” (Metacritic score: 90)

The Birds
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Getty Images

A bunch of birds are out to get a socialite (played by Tippi Hedren) and almost every other resident in Bodega Bay in this perennially popular 1963 film, the first of two Alfred Hitchcock entries in our countdown. 

“Clamps itself to your recollection and doesn’t let go,” Empire’s Angie Errigo wrote of “The Birds.”

Watch “The Birds” on Showtime (subscription required)


6. “Frankenstein” (1931) (Metacritic score: 91)

Frankenstein
Bettmann/Getty Images

Though released nearly 90 years ago, this 1931 Universal Classic Monsters entry continues to chill — and to be praised by critics more than any subsequent Frankenstein movie. 

Boris Karloff stars as the monstrous and misunderstood creation of the corpse-stealing Henry Frankenstein (played by Colin Clive). 

“Beautiful photography, a heartbreaking story, and iconic moments from beginning to end,” Empire’s Kim Newman wrote of 1931’s “Frankenstein.” “Absolutely unmissable.”

Watch “Frankenstein” (1931) on Vix (free, with ads)

(Note: Vix is a Spanish-language streaming service, but “Frankenstein” is presented in its original, English-language form.)


5. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956) (Metacritic score: 92)

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Allied Artists/Getty Images

The paranoia runs high in this sci-fi/horror classic directed by Don Siegel (“Dirty Harry”) and starring Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter and Carolyn Jones (“The Addams Family”). 

The first of several big-screen adaptations of the novel “The Body Snatchers,” the 1956 film is the best of the lot, per the critical consensus. 

“Incredibly chilling, this Don Siegel movie still delivers a powerful punch,” the Chicago Tribune’s David McDonnell wrote of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” 

Watch “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” on Paramount+ (subscription required)

Watch “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” on Pluto TV (free, with ads)


4. “The Bride of Frankenstein (Metacritic score: 95)

Bride of Frankenstein
John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

This is the third and highest-ranked Universal Classic Monsters film in this countdown — all directed by James Whale.

A 1935 sequel to Whale’s “Frankenstein,” “Bride of Frankenstein” stars Elsa Lanchester as the made-to-order mate of Boris Karloff’s monster. Lanchester also plays author Mary Shelley in the film’s stage-setting prologue. 

“‘Bride’ is a wild ride, even today,” Phelim O’Neill praised in the Guardian. “It flits between the classical and the gutter, the camp and the serious in a manner that’s hard to pin down.”

Watch “The Bride of Frankenstein” on Shudder (subscription required)


3. “Rosemary’s Baby” (Metacritic score: 96; 15 reviews) 

Rosemary's Baby
CBS/Getty Images

In this 1968 Roman Polanski film, Mia Farrow stars as a woman who’s impregnated with Satan’s spawn after she and her actor husband (played by John Cassavetes) move into an imposing Manhattan apartment building. Ruth Gordon won an Oscar for her role as a neighbor who’s a lot more than just nosy.   

“The tension created is practically unbearable,” the New York Daily News’ Kathleen Carroll wrote of “Rosemary’s Baby.”

Watch “Rosemary’s Baby” on Starz (subscription required)


2. “Don’t Look Now” (Metacritic score: 96; 25 reviews)

Don't Look Now
Paramount Pictures

Don’t Look Now” is a 1973 film starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie as a married couple who travel to Venice, Italy, for the husband’s work — and for a change of scenery following their young daughter’s death. But the two find they can’t escape their grief — or their fates. 

“A haunting, beautiful labyrinth that gets inside your bones and stays there,” Edward Guthmann wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Watch “Don’t Look Now” on Pluto TV (free, with ads)


1. “Psycho” (1960) (Metacritic score: 97)

Psycho
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives/Getty Images

The greatest horror movie of all time? According to critics, the answer is “Psycho.” 

“‘Psycho‘ should be seen at least three times by any discerning film-goer,” the Village Voice’s Andrew Sarris wrote, “the first time for the sheer terror of the experience…”

The 1960 Alfred Hitchcock movie stars Anthony Perkins as a motel proprietor by the name of Norman Bates — a man who can’t be trusted to behave when the shower is running.  

Watch “Psycho” on Showtime (subscription required)


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