Horror movies come in many varieties, from slasher flicks to monster movies. No matter which direction a horror movie goes, however, it should do one of two things (or even both) — gross you out or give you reason to pause before you enter a dark room. While there are an almost unimaginable number of horror films available, here is a list of 10 of the best horror movies of all time and their alternatives. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re all required viewing for true fans of the genre.
1. The Evil Dead (1981)
Log line: A trip to the woods turns gory for five friends after they become the victims of demonic possession.
Why people like it: Something of a cult classic, “The Evil Dead” is considered the genesis of director Sam Raimi’s trademark combination of black humor and stomach-churning carnage.
Famous quote: Jane Levy as Mia — “You shouldn’t have touched anything from that basement.”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Drag Me to Hell (2009)
2. Cube (1997)
Log line: With no knowledge of how they’ve gotten there, a small group of strangers finds themselves in a giant cube of rooms rigged with fatal traps.
Why people like it: “Cube” is often described as Kafkaesque thanks to its nightmarish, bizarre qualities; despite a small budget, director Vincenzo Natali captures this essence well, throwing in some gore for good measure.
Famous quote: David Hewlett as Worth — “You think somebody would go to all the trouble to build this thing if you could just walk out?”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Twelve Monkeys (1995)
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Log line: Perhaps the Blair Witch is more than just legend — three students disappear in the Maryland woods after trying to document the story.
Why people like it: This is the film that launched the ‘found footage’ genre (the story is told through video left behind by the characters), and the film does it well. The shaky camera work and low production values create a pure and raw feeling of fear.
Famous quote: Michael Williams as Williams — “I could help you, but I’d rather stand here and record.”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Paranormal Activity (2007)
4. Ring (1998)
Log line: A mysterious and cursed videotape claims its viewers as victims.
Why people like it: Although a decent American adaptation was produced, the original Japanese film is often touted as better, and with good reason: The plot may be simple, but the creepy atmosphere of the film is hard to shake after viewing.
Famous quote: Nanako Matsushima as Reiko Asakawa — “ Ryuji? When it’s time for me to die. . .stay with me.
Enjoy this movie? Check out: The Ring (2002)
5. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Log line: There’s something going on behind the scenes when five teenagers discover terror in a remote cabin in the woods.
Why people like it: Watch enough horror movies, and you become well acquainted with the clichés and conventions of the genre. Raimi turns these inside out in this 2012 film — without omitting his trademark brand of bloodshed and humor.
Famous quote: Fran Kranz as Marty — “It was the pioneer days; people had to make their own interrogation rooms. Out of cornmeal.”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Slither (2006)
See Also: Top 10 Best Movies of All Time
6. Saw (2004)
Log line: A serial killer is on the loose — and he wants to play ghastly games with his victims.
Why people like it: Although “Saw” was mainly negatively received by critics, it offers a fairly substantial plot, buckets of gore, and enough psychological thrills to make it a must-watch — even if you only see it once.
Famous quote: Cary Elwes as Dr. Gordon — “He doesn’t want us to cut through our chains. He wants us to cut through our feet!”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Se7en (1995)
7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Log line: A trip to her grandfather’s farmhouse turns violent for Sally and her friends when they encounter a family of psychopaths — including the mad chainsaw killer Leatherface.
Why people like it: A quintessential slasher movie, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” delivers enough blood-and-guts violence to turn the stomach of even the most hardened horror movie viewer.
Famous quote: Paul A. Partain as Franklin — “I think we just picked up Dracula.”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Halloween (1978)
8. The Exorcist (1973)
Log line: An exorcism must be performed when a young girl falls prey to demonic possession.
Why people like it: “The Exorcist” tackles the intersection of the religious and the supernatural admirably; it’s packed full of disturbing dialogue and grotesque scenes, and Linda Blair’s performance is terrifically chilling.
Famous quote: Mercedes McCambridge as the voice of the Demon — “Your mother’s in here, Karras. Would you like to leave a message? I’ll see that she gets it.”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
9. The Shining (1980)
Log line: A father accepts a hotel caretaker position for the winter and brings his family along, unaware that an evil presence will soon drive him to madness.
Why people like it: Director Kubrick’s take on Stephen King’s novel of the same name is a masterpiece of the haunting, the creepy, and the disturbing.
Famous quote: Danny Lloyd as Danny Torrance — “Redrum. Redrum. REDRUM!”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Misery (1990)
10. Psycho (1960)
Log line: A young secretary checks into the Bates Motel — a motel run by a young man and his mother. Will she enjoy her stay?
Why people like it: The shower scene. Enough said.
Famous quote: Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates — “She might have fooled me, but she didn’t fool my mother.”
Enjoy this movie? Check out: Rear Window (1954)
Of course, there are many more worthy horror movies, but the above 10 are generally accepted as classics of the genre. Be sure to give these films a watch — whether you’re looking for a Halloween scare or just an excuse to cuddle up close to your date.
What are your favorite best horror movies? Let us know in the comments below!