25 of the Best Films of the Horror Genre

by Timothy_Ryan | created - 20 Mar 2011 | updated - 30 Mar 2011 | Public

A list of the best horror films from around the world. These managed to not only scare me superficially but leave a deeper sense of unease and/or other emotion.

(I've intentionally left out comedy-horror.)

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1. A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

65 Metascore

A family is haunted by the tragedies of deaths within the family.

Director: Jee-woon Kim | Stars: Kap-su Kim, Jung-ah Yum, Soo-jung Lim, Geun-young Moon

Votes: 47,910

Beyond being probably the best horror film I've ever seen, it's simply one of the best films I've ever seen.

2. The Exorcist (1973)

R | 122 min | Horror

82 Metascore

When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb

Votes: 312,832 | Gross: $232.91M

3. Alien (1979)

R | 116 min | Horror, Sci-Fi

83 Metascore

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright

Votes: 664,341 | Gross: $78.90M

4. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

PG | 115 min | Drama, Mystery

81 Metascore

During a rural summer picnic, a few students and a teacher from an Australian girls' school vanish without a trace. Their absence frustrates and haunts the people left behind.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Rachel Roberts, Anne-Louise Lambert, Vivean Gray, Helen Morse

Votes: 28,152 | Gross: $0.23M

5. The Shining (1980)

R | 146 min | Drama, Horror

63 Metascore

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers

Votes: 715,917 | Gross: $44.02M

6. Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)

R | 92 min | Horror

48 Metascore

A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides.

Director: Takashi Shimizu | Stars: Megumi Okina, Misaki Itô, Misa Uehara, Yui Ichikawa

Votes: 35,288 | Gross: $0.33M

7. Black Swan (2010)

R | 108 min | Drama, Thriller

79 Metascore

A committed dancer wins the lead role in a production of Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" only to find herself struggling to maintain her sanity.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Winona Ryder

Votes: 612,746 | Gross: $106.95M

8. Audition (1999)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

69 Metascore

A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all.

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina, Tetsu Sawaki, Jun Kunimura

Votes: 61,596

9. The Omen (1976)

R | 111 min | Horror

62 Metascore

Mysterious deaths surround an American ambassador. Could the child that he is raising actually be the Antichrist? The Devil's own son?

Director: Richard Donner | Stars: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens, David Warner

Votes: 91,464 | Gross: $4.27M

10. Reincarnation (2005)

R | 96 min | Horror, Mystery

A Japanese actress begins having strange visions and experiences after landing a role in a horror film about a real-life murder spree that took place over forty years ago.

Director: Takashi Shimizu | Stars: Yûka, Karina, Kippei Shîna, Tetta Sugimoto

Votes: 5,608

11. Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

62 Metascore

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.

Director: Adrian Lyne | Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven

Votes: 84,543 | Gross: $26.12M

12. The Ring (2002)

PG-13 | 115 min | Horror, Mystery

57 Metascore

A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.

Director: Gore Verbinski | Stars: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, David Dorfman

Votes: 283,304 | Gross: $129.13M

13. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Not Rated | 83 min | Horror

75 Metascore

Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.

Director: Tobe Hooper | Stars: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain

Votes: 111,907 | Gross: $30.86M

14. Let the Right One In (2008)

R | 115 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

82 Metascore

Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

Director: Tomas Alfredson | Stars: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl

Votes: 187,665 | Gross: $2.12M

15. Eraserhead (1977)

Not Rated | 89 min | Horror

87 Metascore

Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

Director: David Lynch | Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph, Jeanne Bates

Votes: 83,230 | Gross: $7.00M

16. The Birds (1963)

PG-13 | 119 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

87 Metascore

A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette

Votes: 145,763 | Gross: $11.40M

17. The Orphanage (2007)

R | 105 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

74 Metascore

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.

Director: J.A. Bayona | Stars: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep, Mabel Rivera

Votes: 131,591 | Gross: $7.16M

18. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Unrated | 127 min | Horror, Thriller

71 Metascore

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.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross

Votes: 98,621 | Gross: $5.10M

19. The Maid (2005)

Not Rated | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

"Every year, for thirty days during the lunar seventh month, the Chinese believe that the gates of hell are thrown open. Vengeful spirits or hungry ghosts wander among the living, seeking ... See full summary »

Director: Kelvin Tong | Stars: Alessandra de Rossi, Huifang Hong, Benny Soh, Zhenwei Guan

Votes: 1,060

20. Children of the Corn (1984)

R | 92 min | Horror, Thriller

45 Metascore

A young couple is trapped in a remote town where a dangerous religious cult of children believe everyone over the age of 18 must be killed.

Director: Fritz Kiersch | Stars: Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R.G. Armstrong, John Franklin

Votes: 39,914 | Gross: $14.57M

21. Dreams (1990)

PG | 119 min | Drama, Fantasy

A collection of tales based upon the actual dreams of director Akira Kurosawa.

Directors: Akira Kurosawa, Ishirô Honda | Stars: Akira Terao, Mitsuko Baishô, Toshie Negishi, Mieko Harada

Votes: 20,344 | Gross: $1.96M

22. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

R | 91 min | Horror

78 Metascore

Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, John Saxon

Votes: 171,593 | Gross: $25.50M

23. Saam gaang yi (2004)

R | 125 min | Horror

66 Metascore

An Asian cross-cultural trilogy of horror films from accomplished indie directors.

Directors: Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike, Chan-wook Park | Stars: Bai Ling, Byung-Hun Lee, Kyoko Hasegawa, Pauline Lau

Votes: 17,102 | Gross: $0.08M

24. [Rec] (2007)

R | 78 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A television reporter and cameraman follow emergency workers into a dark apartment building and are quickly locked inside with something terrifying.

Directors: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza | Stars: Manuela Velasco, Ferran Terraza, Jorge-Yamam Serrano, Pablo Rosso

Votes: 145,559

25. 28 Days Later... (2002)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Alex Palmer

Votes: 329,587 | Gross: $45.06M