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The 20 Best Horror Movies of All Time

As the air gets chilly and Halloween approaches, we thought we’d share NetFlix’s hit list of the best all time horror films. There’s no better excuse to stay in, get close and share an adrenaline rush with your favorite person.

There’s no better excuse for holding on to your date than a good scary movie. As Halloween approaches, we present you with a list of the 20 best horror movies from the present and distant past. And while we’re on the subject, do you believe that a chilling horror movie is a good way to share an evening with a relatively new person?

The Shining

All work and no play make Jack a bloodthirsty boy. On the wagon after his alcoholism created family troubles, aspiring novelist Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) accepts a position as off-season custodian at an elegant but eerie hotel so he can write undisturbed. No sooner have Jack, his wife (Shelley Duvall) and their son, Danny, settled in than the ominous hotel starts to wield its sinister power over father and son.

The Exorcist

If this horror classic doesn’t terrify you, maybe you need a shrink. Movie actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) realizes an evil spirit might be possessing her daughter (Linda Blair). Against formidable odds, two priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) try to exorcise the demon. A superb meditation about the nature of evil, “The Exorcist” was created with adults in mind and isn’t appropriate for youngsters.

Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), the young wife of a struggling actor (John Cassavetes), is thrilled to find out she’s pregnant. But the larger her belly grows, the more certain she becomes that her unborn child is in danger. Perhaps there’s something sinister behind the odd enthusiasm her eccentric neighbors (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon, in an Oscar-winning performance) have for her welfare. Or perhaps it’s all in her mind.


When an insatiable great white shark terrorizes the townspeople of Amity Island, a police chief (Roy Scheider), a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) and an oceanographer (Richard Dreyfuss) seek to destroy it. Director Steven Spielberg kicked off the summer blockbuster boom with this white-knuckle adaptation of the Peter Benchley novel. John Williams’s ominous musical score has become legendary.


The first flick in the trilogy from director John Carpenter, “Halloween” almost single-handedly started the 1980s slasher genre. Escaped lunatic Michael Myers (no, not the “Austin Powers” actor) goes on a murderous babysitter-slaying rampage on Halloween. Only babysitter Jamie Lee Curtis (the quintessential scream queen) and psychiatrist Donald Pleasence can stop him.


A high-voltage spectacle boasting impressive (for the time) special effects, “Poltergeist” is a must-see horror classic. Life is very pleasant for the close-knit Freeling family until a host of otherworldy forces invade their peaceful suburban home. Before long, the house is transformed into a swirling supernatural sideshow – all centered around their angelic young daughter, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke).

An American Werewolf in London

A wolf whose bite is definitely worse than his bark chomps a young backpacker taking a shortcut across the British moors one night. Before long, the traveler gets long in the tooth! But this howler has a different twist: a sharp sense of humor blacker than the Arctic sky during the winter solstice. John Landis wrote the screenplay and directed.

Evil Dead 2

Stranded in a cabin in the woods, Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend accidentally invoke a spell that causes the Evil Dead to rise and kill! As a lone man pitted against hordes of walking corpses, can Ash survive until the safety of sunrise? Sam Raimi’s whip-crack direction and Campbell’s comedic skills induce hair-raising fear and gales of laughter.


In “Frankenstein,” a mad scientist (Colin Clive) creates a monster (the inimitable Boris Karloff) but errs by giving him a criminal brain. In “Bride of Frankenstein,” the superior and very witty sequel, the monster (Karloff) gets his own made-to-order (almost!) bride (Elsa Lanchester). Both classic Universal films were directed by legendary horrormeister James Whale, who set the bar very high for others to follow.

Night of the Living Dead

Director George Romero’s low-budget horror classic continues to inspire the heebie-jeebies, in part because of the randomness of the zombies’ targets. As dead bodies return to life and feast on human flesh, young Barbara (Judith O’Dea) joins a group of survivors in a farmhouse hoping to protect themselves from the hordes of advancing zombies. But even with assistance in slowing down and killing zombies, soon only one person remains in the farmhouse.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Director Tobe Hooper’s horror classic is a gruesome reminder that a movie need not be complicated to scare the daylights out of viewers. Sally (Marilyn Burns), her wheelchair-bound brother (Paul A. Partain) and their friends travel to a vandalized graveyard to see if their grandfather’s remains are intact. En route, they come upon chainsaw-wielding maniac Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), and it’s a fight to the bloody death between good and evil.

Dawn of the Dead (Original)

Picking up where “Night of the Living Dead” left off, this classic horror flick from director George Romero begins with zombies taking over every major city in the United States. Running for their lives, Peter (Ken Foree), Roger (Scott Reiniger), Stephen (David Emge) and Frances (Gaylen Ross) find refuge in a remote shopping mall, only to discover they must fight a motorcycle gang as well as the undead ghouls.


Many horror freaks call F.W. Murnau’s silent German classic the scariest Dracula adaptation ever. The bone-chilling tale kicks off when a sailor on a ghost ship opens a coffin, thereby releasing a vampire named Count Orlok, who sets off on a rampage of terror aimed at a real estate agent and his comely wife. The creepy caped one is played by Max Schreck, sporting grotesque makeup that transforms him into a symbol of pestilence and decay.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A group of high school friends are being slaughtered in their sleep by the hideous fiend of their shared dreams. When the police ignore her explanation, one girl must confront the killer in his shadowy realm.

Friday the 13th

Twenty years after a drowning and a pair of murders shut it down, Camp Crystal Lake is reopening against the better judgment of skeptical locals. The new owner (Peter Brouwer) scoffs at the camp’s “death curse,” but when the teenage counselors start to drop, he begins to reconsider. Gruesome makeup and effects, a nubile cast (including a young Kevin Bacon) and a psycho-killer for the ages (in Jason) make this a slasher classic.

The Thing

Kurt Russell leads a team of American scientists at a base in Antarctica. Their uneventful lives are disrupted by a group of Norwegians in a helicopter firing at a lone dog. When the chopper crashes, the dog moves in with the scientists. During the night, the canine metamorphoses and attacks other animals at the base and members of the team, who soon discover that an alien that can take any shape is in their midst. John Carpenter directed.


This horror gem follows Susan (Jessica Harper), a naive young American girl whose talents have brought her to an illustrious European ballet school. But once she gets there, she realizes there’s something strange going on as she’s faced with a cluster of freaky happenings, from a shower of maggots to poison in her food. What she soon learns is that the school has been a meeting place for witches for many years.

Dawn of the Dead (Remake)

Based on the 1979 George Romero gore classic, this remake takes place as the United States is overrun (after a plague) by millions of corpses that walk the earth as cannibalistic zombies. A small group of survivors, including a nurse (Sarah Polley) and a police officer (Ving Rhames), try to find shelter within a massive shopping mall. But the zombies have a kind of sense memory and start arriving in droves for a shopping spree.

Dracula (1931)

Bela Lugosi turns in a landmark horror performance in this 1931 adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic vampire novel. Revisit Transylvania for the eerie mood created by spectacular cinematography and Lugosi’s oft-copied take on the infamous Dracula. Dwight Frye as Renfield helps define the grotesque and sniveling sidekick role.

Eyes Without a Face

A plastic surgeon (Pierre Brasseur) becomes obsessed with making things right after his daughter Christiane’s (Edith Scob) face is terribly disfigured in a car accident that he caused. Overcome with guilt, Dr. Genessier and his vicious nurse, Louise (Alida Valli), concoct a plan to give Christiane her face back by kidnapping young girls and removing their faces … and then grafting them onto Christiane’s.