My favorite horror films

I've always been fascinated with things that frighten me and with film it's no different. I'm kind of always on the lookout for a good horror movie because I like watching something that scares me and because good horror movies are so hard to find! A lot of horror movies go for cheap thrills, using things like "Gotcha!" moments, unnecessary sex scenes, and excessive gore. I like a lot of the "Gotcha!" moments I've seen, and I admit that sex and violence can be used in subtle and thought provoking ways in film. However, the genre of horror is pervasively filled with trash that I end up hating. I've never been a big fan of slasher movies with the invulnerable, unstoppable villain who finds creative ways for unchaste teenagers to get disemboweled, I don't like torture porn movies like Hostel or Wolf Creek, and ghost stories and monster movies often get really cliche and predictable. So in my search for good scary movies I feel I have to sift through a lot of detritus before I find the gems.

Here is a list of 25 horror movies I thought were worth watching. I tried to order them as best as I could by my own personal preference, but it gets a little muddy, especially in the middle.

Also some of these movies could be classified under different genres as well as horror. Some are also science fiction, some are also comedy, some are also really dramatic. For this list I tried to pick my favorite films that I think are mostly horror.

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The Devil's Backbone (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
After Carlos, a 12-year-old whose father has died in the Spanish Civil War, arrives at an ominous boy's orphanage he discovers the school is haunted and has many dark secrets that he must uncover. (106 mins.)
“ One of my all time favorite screenwriters and directors is Guillermo Del Toro and with Devil's Backbone he really delivers! This certainly isn't the scariest film on this list, but it is I think the best film on the list. It's so poignant, deep, and tragic. It's kind of a war drama and ghost story put together. As usual Del Toro's visual style is incredible. The music is ominous and beautiful, reflecting the films themes perfectly. There are some good "Gotcha!" moments and some really frightening visuals. I've heard some people say the ghost is cheesy, but I think he looks and sounds creepy as hell! The characters are well developed, the dialogue is well written, and the performances are all spectacular. I love this movie! It's great for a double feature with Pan's Labyrinth. ” - robert-i-starks
28 Days Later... (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. (113 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ I watched this movie for the first time while I was alone in the dark. Holy crap it was scary! It's fast paced violence takes you by surprise. The story is pretty standard at first. Guys wakes up in the hospital after an accident to find his world in a post zombie apocalyptic state. The scenes of abandoned places in London are really creepy! John Murphy's music sets an awesome lonely tone at parts, evokes sweet hope, and builds up for intense revenge towards the end. They use one of his musical cues in movie trailers all the time! The reason this film really spoke to me was the theme of hope. ” - robert-i-starks
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind. (81 mins.)
“ I think out of all the movies on this list this one scared me the most. I know not everybody loves the queasy cam, found footage type films, but I like it, especially in this film. This is the movie that made that style popular. I remember this came out when I was in Jr. High and EVERYBODY was talking about it and on tv everyone had to do a parody of it. I didn't see it until some years later but even with all the hype and all the parody I still thought it was brilliant. And I love the ending, as bleak as it is. The cutting between the two cameras, and the sounds of the desperate screaming that come in on only one camera are chilling! I love that on a shoestring budget this film scared the hell out of everyone! ” - robert-i-starks
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods. (95 mins.)
Director: Drew Goddard
The Descent (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators. (99 mins.)
Director: Neil Marshall
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A lawyer takes on a negligent homicide case involving a priest who performed an exorcism on a young girl. (119 mins.)
Alien (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as distress call, their landing on the source planet finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform. Continuing their journey back to Earth with the attacked crew having recovered and the critter deceased, they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. (117 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
The Orphanage (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. (105 mins.)
Director: J.A. Bayona
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary steals $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
The Exorcist (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When a preteen girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. (122 mins.)
Willard (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A young man with an unusual connection to rats uses them at his own sociopathic will. (100 mins.)
Director: Glen Morgan
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, AKA Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett. Based on the hit Broadway musical. (116 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
Jaws (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and a grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. (124 mins.)
Frailty (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A man confesses to an FBI agent his family's story of how his religious fanatic father's visions lead to a series of murders to destroy supposed "demons." (100 mins.)
Director: Bill Paxton
Identity (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rain-storm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they're being killed off one by one. (90 mins.)
Director: James Mangold
The Shining (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future. (146 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
The Thing (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
It's the first week of winter in 1982. An American Research Base is greeted by an alien force, that can assimilate anything it touches. It's up to the members to stay alive, and be sure of who is human, and who has become one of the Things. (109 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall. (127 mins.)
Let the Right One In (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl. (115 mins.)
Director: Tomas Alfredson
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse. (96 mins.)
Scream (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Sidney, attempting to cope with her mother's mysterious murder, and her horror movie-obsessed friends are stalked by an unknown killer who seems to have a hard time letting the past go. (111 mins.)
Director: Wes Craven
Carrie (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Carrie White, a shy, friendless 17 year-old girl who is sheltered by her domineering, religious mother, unleashes her telekinetic powers after being humiliated by her classmates at her senior prom. (98 mins.)
Director: Brian De Palma
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Two American college students on a walking tour of Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists. (97 mins.)
Director: John Landis
The Tunnel (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
An investigation into a government cover-up leads to a network of abandoned train tunnels deep beneath the heart of Sydney. As a journalist and her crew hunt for the story it quickly becomes clear the story is hunting them. (90 mins.)
Director: Carlo Ledesma
May (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A lonely young woman traumatized by a difficult childhood and her increasingly desperate attempts to connect with the people around her is sent into a murderous tailspin. (93 mins.)
Director: Lucky McKee