The Highest Rated Horror Movies of All Time

by |August 15, 2018
Categories: Horror, Movies, Resource

Highest-Rated Horror Movies

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, there’s always the need to break out the horror movies to get in the holiday spirit. While some choices like Hocus Pocus or Halloween are must-watch options, there are plenty of other films in the genre to check out. In fact, horror movies have seen a bit of a renaissance as of late. The past decade has brought a surprising amount of must-see films, some of which have earned high praise from horror fans and mainstream audiences alike.

Whether you’re a fan of the horror genre or a seasonal horror movie watcher, here's a brief overview of the 25 top-rated horror movies of all time, according to Rotten Tomatoes. We begin with some of the best horror movies from the past few years and go in reverse chronological order all the way back to the earliest horror movies in the 1920s. So if you’re tired of Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street marathons each October, why not check out something on this list of critically-acclaimed horror movies? Maybe you'll find your next horror movie Halloween costume idea here!


1. Get Out (2017)

Get Out

Image: Universal Pictures/IMDb

Chris Washington and his girlfriend, Rose Armitage, are spending a weekend with her parents at their family estate. Over time, things begin to become more and more uncomfortable for Chris (and the audience watching him). Everything comes to a head when he decides he needs to leave. Get Out was a huge hit among all movies in 2017 and even nabbed an Oscar for Jordan Peele in his directorial debut.


2. The Witch (2015)

The Witch

Image: A24/IMDb

A period movie following a 17th-century family being overtaken by a mysterious power. If you're looking for slow-burning tension, you're not going to want to miss this one. Don't expect to see your typical witch costumes with pointy hats and broomsticks here, because it's not your typical witch movie!


3. It Follows (2015)

It Follows

Image: Northern Lights Films/IMDb

Nobody quite knows what "It" is because it takes many forms. They don't know where it will turn up, but it's always coming for you no matter where you are. The only thing they do know is once they get infected by the curse, they need to transfer it to someone else.


4. The Babadook (2014)

The Babdook

Image: Screen Australia/Causeway Films/IMDb

Surely, a character from a spooky children's book can't be that scary, right? Well, maybe after reading about the Babadook, you'll think differently and want to sleep with the lights on.


5. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The Cabin in the Woods

Image: Lionsgate/IMDb

Much like how Wes Craven brought a new meta twist to horror movies in the 90s with A New Nightmare and Scream, The Cabin in the Woods sets up something similar. While the film starts out as a typical scenario with a group of teens on a weekend romp at a cabin when eerie things start to happen. However, the audience quickly learns that these instances aren't as coincidental as they may seem.


6. Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One In

Image: Magnolia Pictures/IMDb

How do you handle things when you fall in love with someone who turns out to be a blood-thirsty vampire? You go along with it and exact revenge on your bullies.


7. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth

Image: Wild Bunch/IMDb

Pan's Labyrinth is a little more fantasy than it is horror, but that doesn't mean it won't give you nightmares. Guillermo del Toro has made a living out of the fantastic characters and worlds he's created, and deservedly takes a high spot on this list. The movie takes place during World War II and follows a young girl, Ofelia, who is taken to a magical world. There, she must complete three tasks to prove herself a princess and see her father again.


8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs

Image: Orion/IMDb

While it's a rarity to see a horror film with multiple Oscar nominations, The Silence of the Lambs actually took home five such awards in 1991 including the highest honor of Best Picture. The movie features Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling, who enlists the help of incarcerated killer Hannibal Lector to help her catch another killer on the loose.


9. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Evil Dead 2

Image: DEG/IMDb

As far as zombie movies go, The Evil Dead is top tier. Unlike zombie movies before it, this film introduced a little humor to the genre as evidenced by the over-the-top carnage during the fight scenes. Evil Dead II stars Bruce Cambell as Ash, the lone survivor from the first movie as he hides out in a cabin with a group of strangers to escape from zombies...until, of course, it's time to fight back.


10. Aliens (1986)


Image: 20th Century Fox/IMDb

The sequel to Ridley Scott's critically-acclaimed Alien takes place 57 years later with Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) awaking from hypersleep to help fight against aliens who have destroyed a space colony on the moon LV-426.


11. Don't Look Now (1973)

Don't Look Now

Image: DLN Ventures/IMDb

After moving to Venice following the death of their daughter, things only start to get worse for John and Laura Baxter. After an odd run-in with a pair of elderly sisters bearing a psychic message, John starts receiving visions of his own, including what looks to be his own funeral.


12. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Rosemary's Baby

Image: Paramount/IMDb

Ruth Gordon won the Oscar for best supporting actress and Rosemary's Baby was also nominated for best screenplay. The film begins with a miracle pregnancy for the title character, Rosemary Woodhouse, and her husband. However, Rosemary's paranoia drives her to be cut off from those around her as increasingly strange things occur.


13. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead

Image: Image Ten/IMDb

Night of the Living Dead is the quintessential zombie movie. Directed by George Romero, the movie features a group of individuals who have barricaded themselves in a barn to escape the zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, instead of finding safety, they've more or less trapped themselves as the area is overtaken by zombies.


14. Repulsion (1965)


Image: Compton Films/IMDb

A woman who is repulsed by sexuality, especially her roommate sister and her married lover, shuts herself off from the world and is driven to madness by her own delusions.


15. The Birds (1963)

The Birds

Image: Alfred Hitchcock Productions/IMDb

This list would not be complete with a film from noted horror director Alfred Hitchcock. (He shows up more than once on this list, by the way, and rightfully so.) Much like how Jaws made everyone scared to go in the water, The Birds made everyone scared to even be outside. It's amazing how scary an ordinary animal can become.


16. Eyes Without a Face (1962)

Eyes Without a Face

Image: Champs Elysees Productions/IMDb

Dr. Genessier's daughter, Christine, lives her life with facial disfigurement from a car accident. Feeling guilty for causing the accident in the first place, he vows to get her a new face by kidnapping girls and attempting facial transplants.


17. The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents

Image: 20th Century Fox/IMDb

After being hired to care for two orphaned children, Miss Giddens becomes convinced something is wrong at their uncle's estate. She begins seeing mysterious figures and the children's behavior seems off. Upon learning of the recent deaths of the former governess and valet at the property, she suspects that the children have become possessed.


18. Psycho (1960)


Image: Paramount/IMDb

Another Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho follows Marian Crane and her disturbing stay at the Bates Motel. Many look to this film as an influence in "twist endings" in movies.


19. Godzilla (1954)


Image: Toho/IMDb

Just your run-of-the-mill movie about a giant lizard monster emerging from the sea near a nuclear testing facility and destroying a city. Ok, the original Godzilla (Gojira) is a little more than that taking into consideration how many sequels and remakes have been released.


20. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

The Bride of Frankenstein

Image: Universal/IMDb

Much like the title suggests, the sequel to 1931's Frankenstein (also on this list) sees the monster get a bride. Ah, true love!


21. King Kong (1933)

King Kong

Image: RKO/IMDb

Another love story of sorts, as King Kong falls in love with actress Ann Darrow, who is abducted while filming a movie on location at Skull Island. After being captured by the crew, King Kong is brought to the city to be an attraction for the public. Unfortunately for the city, the ape has other plans.


22. Freaks (1932)


Image: MGM/IMDb

Cleopatra, a trapeze artist, takes interest in Hans, a performer in a circus sideshow. She plans to marry him to get his inheritance while having an affair with another different performer, Hercules. Once the truth comes out, her plan quickly falls apart and she finds herself in a troublesome situation.


23. Frankenstein (1931)


Image: Universal/IMDb

Remember, Frankenstein refers to Dr. Henry Frankentein, the star of this film whose obsession to bring the dead back to life unleashes a monster of his creation. (So yes, Frankenstein costumes these days have it wrong. Oh well!)


24. Nosferatu (1922)


Image: Jofa Atelier Berlin-Johannisthal/IMDb

Vampire movies have evolved over the years, but Nosferatu is the quintessential OG vampire. This silent film is still a staple among horror junkies and one of the most copied and remade properties in all of horror.


25. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Image: Delca-Bioscop AG/IMDb

The mysterious plot of this movie centers on Dr. Caligari and Cesare, a somnambulist who's being used to commit murders. Spoilers, of course, but the movie is almost 100 years old, so you've had plenty of opportunities to see it. We still highly recommend it.


So, how many of the highest-rated horror films have you seen? If you're interested in the horror genre at all and have only seen 10 or fewer, it's time to start watching. It might be cool to watch all of these in chronological order and try to point out the influences these movies have had on others. If you do watch any of these films or see any, let us know which are your favorites. If you're looking to get in the Halloween spirit, need some horror costume inspiration, or just want to chill with some friends and get scared, this list will have something that's to your liking.

Devin Rubink
Devin Rubink

Devin Rubink is an Inbound Marketing Specialist for He is a film fanatic who enjoys watching anything from action, to comedy, to horror, and even movies that are so bad, they’re entertaining. Devin also enjoys dressing up in costumes with his kids, although he finds it difficult to fit into some of the princess dresses. He studies Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit, to buff up his knowledge and help him achieve his dream of being a game show contestant.

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