The Best Horror Movies of All Time : Joe’s List!

Joe Humphreys

The lack of scares in mainstream cinema is becoming quite ridiculous now, in my lifetime I’ve never seen a film in the cinema that has given me sleepless nights (other than Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but I was young, naive and the thought of a massive snake that can petrify you, well petrified me).

The horror genre as you all probably know, has had a huge impact on film history they have created some of the greatest films (and film moments) of all time. My relationship with the genre has been a committed one, it’s already moved in with me and is constantly leaving the bloody toilet seat up. To show my commitment I have compiled what I think are the 10 best horror films of all time.

10. The Blair Witch Project (1999) If using found footage in horror films was a trend, this film was the trendsetter. It bought the idea of found footage to mainstream cinema…saying that, maybe we shouldn’t be praising it after all.

However, that aside, it did something interesting with the sub-genre with many audience members thinking the film was a documentary, showing real life. A good solid, simple, story-line and remarkably intelligent marketing, Blair Witch to this day still has things in it that give me the heebie jeebies.

The Blair Witch

9. Jaws (1975) The ocean is a vast mass of unknown entities and even the ones that are known don’t seem that cuddly. Whilst carelessly swimming there could be an array of monstrous creatures lurking beneath you.

And the thought of being suddenly dragged under by a shark named Bruce, has resulted in me never going deep enough in the ocean that my feet don’t touch the seabed. Sometimes I question myself why I watched this film so much as a child.

Roy Schider in "Jaws" - "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

8. Halloween (1978) Many say less is more and this  is certainly the truth in this films case, Halloween shows that it’s what you don’t see that truly creates the scares.

Not only did it pretty much launch the teen slasher genre but it’s a horror film that features virtually no blood. Instead it uses lighting (shadows) and sound to scare it’s audience. John Carpenter’s classic gave us a good scare without throwing guts in your face, a horror genius.

Halloween 1978

7. Scream (1996) A brilliant tongue-in-cheek script that cheekily pokes fun (in a respectful manner), and concurrently, pays homage to many great horror films of the past. Laughter and fear are two emotions very close to one another, but being able to make an audience do both is a hard task.

Scream however, shows how comedy and horror can play alongside each other in harmony. I repressed Scary Movie from my memories so that whenever I watch this film it is and will always be a joyous experience. In the way that watching teenagers getting slashed by Ghostface is joyous.

scream red

6. Alien (1979) Basically a haunted house in space, Alien follows the formula of a teen slasher film but changes a few things by making it about a group of people that you believe in, making a woman the lead and by setting it in space (“where no-one can hear you scream”) it became one of the most ground breaking films in history.

Thematically about something I think every human is afraid of, the unknown. The feeling that something better than us, more intelligent than us is out there, the “ultimate life-form” is a frightening thought itself. In my eyes better than its action genre sequel, Alien was a game changer in both horror and sci-fi and other Blade Runner, it’s Ridley Scott’s best film.

Sigourney Weaver, Scream Queen

5. The Thing (1982) Flamethrowers, dead dogs and special effects that for the time were revolutionary. The Thing was another John Carpenter classic and similar to Alien was about a group of people, alone in the middle of nowhere with something otherworldly threatening their lives.

Exploring the unknown, isolation, paranoia and mistrust The Thing is a timeless horror film (but apparently a remake was necessary) that froze me to the core.

John Carpenters The Thing

4. Videodrome (1983) A Cronenberg classic that you will never ever forget. A surreal mind-bending body horror about the dangers of violent explicit reality television, probably one of the most provocative films I’ve ever seen. Featuring scenes that had my jaw dropping  to the ground and my eyes peering through the gaps of my fingers, the feeling of dread that surrounds and which

I had during this film was unbelievable. It’s a film that (like many horror films) benefited from the poor special effects, if it was made now and CGI was substituted for the prosthetic makeup used it would’ve suffered.


3. The Shining (1980) The Stanley Kubrick masterpiece that centers around Jack Nicholson isolated in a hotel with his wife and son for the whole of winter, doesn’t sound like it’s the family comedy of the year does it? Nope there is laughter or smiles here – well only if you count the satanic grin on Nicholson’s face.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, this sends Jack insane and he has an axe to grind. Even though it has come in at number 3, this film features my all time scariest film moment, it involves fellatio, a bear costume, a hysterical Wendy and nightmarish chanting.

The Shining Jack Nicholson

2. The Exorcist (1973) The stories and reports that came from this film were astounding, stories of people fainting, becoming ill, running out of the cinema in tears. Even reports of people having to be institutionalized, and it was to blame for a miscarriage. Personally I can’t think of any film that freaked me out and shocked me as much as The Exorcist did.

I only saw this film for the first time a few years ago I was surprised at what I was watching and how it got away with it in 1973. Madness, mayhem and masturbation The Exorcist has it all but most importantly is that it is scary. A plethora of factors of this film make it one of the best, scariest and weirdly enjoyable horror films of all time…but not the best.

The Exorcist

1. Psycho (1960) The master of suspense dabbling in the horror genre for the first time in his Hollywood career, and I think he might’ve pulled it off. Creating the most famous (and most parodied – I even saw it in a shampoo advert the other day, shame there was no knife or blood) scene in horror film history…probably even film history. Psycho is a creepy tale of the friendly insanely sane schizophrenic motel owner Norman Bates.

For me, Psycho is probably the closest thing to prefect I have ever seen on a cinema screen, every element of the film seems thought about thoroughly and executed with skill, finesse and expertise. It is a horror film the likes of which you will never see in the present, it uses lighting and most of all sound to scare the audience – and scare them it did.

It doesn’t shower them with pointless gore or insult them with cheap jumps and frights. It tells a chilling tale that made mummy boys everywhere a little closer to daddy, and most of all it made people think twice about showering alone in the house.



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      1. Alex B. April 20, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        Good list but way too ”Mainstream horror fan” in my opinion. But those are real good classics, great list overall

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm

          Fun part of top lists is not agreeing with em :) I like alot of his list but like you mine is different. I give Joe Credit for trying to build his list

      2. Wolfman1959 April 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm

        most of the list is ok but i disagree with Videodrome, The Shining and most of all Blair Witch Project, really dislike that over rated film. not a zombie film fan then Joe?

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm

          Blair Witch is one of the few movies that creeped me the hell out :) So I do agree with Joe on that one!

      3. Joe Humphreys April 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        I welcome differing opinions and it’s great to have positive feedback. I put down the films that when watching them genuinely scared me and even the ones that didn’t scare me as much, I believe are not just some of the best horror films I’ve seen but some of best films I’ve ever seen.

        Videodrome evoked a feeling that I’ve never felt so intense from a film before, dread. The Shining is just Kubrickian brilliance and Blair Witch gets a lot of stick just as much as praise, I found it creepy and scary.

      4. Joe Humphreys April 20, 2013 at 10:19 pm

        ….and as far as Zombies go, yeah I’m a fan and was thinking of putting 28 Days Later up there but decided against it. My top 20 consists of a few.

      5. xpander April 21, 2013 at 6:18 am

        Great list although I’ve seen all of them so there are no new gems for me to discover. The Shining, The Exorcist, Videodrome and the Blair Witch Project would definitely make my list but I would *never* omit The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, that seems like an oversight. I’d be interested to see your Top 20.

      6. Jeremy Kelley April 22, 2013 at 3:34 am

        good list. but i disagree with the first sentence of this article. if you say that there aren’t as many good horror films as there used to be you just aren’t looking hard enough. many of my favorite horror films are from the past 10 years. There are always good horror films coming out every year whether theatrically or just straight to dvd or vod. You just have to take the time to look them up. Some of favorite recent ones are Thale, V/H/S, ABCs of Death, and House of the Devil a few years back.

      7. SeenItBefore April 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        This is just a list of influential, universally accepted horror movies. I’ve seen this list 100 times. I’m sorry but it was a boring and predictable read. Should have named it 10 undeniably influential horror films and focused on that. Even still this list has been written before. I understand people have their own opinions and tastes, but that doesn’t mean it requires an article because uniqueness among articles is also key in capturing snd holding a reades interest and this is my problem with the article itself (not the films, I am not commenting on the quality of the films on this list) that it’s more of the same.

        • Joe Humphreys April 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

          Thank you for being so honest, your constructive criticism is helpful.

          I’m sorry if you think that, other than my blog (which doesn’t really count) this was the first article I had written that I was sure was going to be seen by a shed load of people. And I knew when writing this I wasn’t going to please everyone. What I did know when writing it was that I was happy with what I wrote and that even though the film choices may have been “boring and predictable” the whole article and experience to me was “exciting and joy bringing”.

          The article is titled “Best Horror Movies of All Time” and for me being influential is a huge part of being the best…why else are The Beatles considered the best? Anyway, I apologise again for not entertaining you, appeasing the masses is harder than I thought.

      8. Ash April 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm

        I enjoyed reading that Joe, as it was a list that celebrated some of my favourite horror films too. I always like to see Psycho in the number one spot where it deserves to be. It’s my favourite horror film too and I agree with your comments. A masterclass in film making.

      9. LaReena Spradlin April 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm

        I still won’t watch “The Exorcist” to this day!

      10. Tara April 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm

        I disagree that special effects ruin a movie. They could make ANY movie TEN TIMES better if they are done PROPERLY. That’s the only issue. When people remake a movie and it becomes something it was never intended to be.

        CGI to make a scene more believable, which in turn will scare you more, if a positive thing.

        I disagree 100% that there aren’t as many good horror films as there used to be. As much as I can appreciate a good old school horror, they DO NOT scare me. The ONLY thoughts I have when I watch old school horror movies is “wow that’s pretty well done for it’s time” It’s too cheesy to actually scare someone, unless of course you actually saw it when you came out. Then it’s creepy and nostalgic. 😉

        Jaws? Really? Probably one of the worst movies made of all time, although somewhat based on a real event it is extremely exaggerated, and has also done a great job of painting a terrible picture of sharks…which in turn led to a terrible collection of new age shark horror films. Round of applause for that piece of crap.

        What about Foreign horror films?? They’d kick any one of these movies butts. You talk about being committed to the horror genre, but I see no real honorable mentions on this list EXCEPT for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, and maybe Alien, but then again that’s more of a Sci-Fi Thriller, then a Horror.

      11. Tara April 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        I agree SeenItBefore…

        No movie reviewers try and do anything different, your job is to put new stuff out there for us to see. There are thousands of horror movies our there, and a top 10 list is fucking retarded. You could do a monthly top 5 or a weekly personal pick list.

        It’s so RUDE AND INSULTING to all the other artists creating movies in this genre to constantly be left out on “best horror movie of all time” lists because writers like you don’t know how to find new movies, watch and review. This list makes me angry. Have you ever read anyone else top 10 list? I’ve read 5 in the past 30 mins and they are ALL THE SAME.

        • Herner Klenthur April 28, 2013 at 12:59 pm

          Tara I agree and clearly you dont read our website regularly. We do top 10 lists every week and you guessed it they are always changing.

          I am also schocked you think that Joe’s list looks like every other Top list considering Joe’s is the strangest top list I have ever read ( Sorry Joe its true )

      12. Joe Humphreys May 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm

        I can’t believe I left out Kill List. Stupid Joe, Stupid!

      13. john eddy May 25, 2013 at 1:23 am

        Blair witch brought found footage to the main stream, but ” the last broadcast” was the first tot truly do it. I feel Halloween should be much higher on the list as well

      14. LittleKrystalGirl@100 July 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm

        Well, I can agree with this list, mostly. The Blair Witch Project really sent chills up my spine and I couldn’t shower for ages after Psycho.

        What annoys me about The Exorcist is that every freaking time I look it up on YouTube and find a scene, there are always some eleven-year-olds acting tough and saying that it’s funny, not scary. If you think I’m going to believe that you even watched the movie or the trailer… get a life.

        Another one I would have added would be A Nightmare on Elm Street. You better believe that I’m locking my doors and staying up late. Freddy Kreuger scared the hell out of me and I literally cried with fear when he points to himself and says, “This is God.” (Random note: am I the only one who noticed how long his arms are?) Also, IT would have been good on the list. Sure, maybe it’s not so scary to people, but I was terrified of Pennywise the Damn Dancing Clown.

        And… I know I will be given sh*t for this and will get called a wuss… The Grudge. I tried watching that at midnight when everyone else was asleep. Massive mistake. I was convinced that Kayoka was coming after me.

        You did a very good job and you didn’t include totally crappy movies. Well done!


      15. Vincent Cobb July 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm

        Sorry, Suspiria should be at the top of the list and unfortunately isn’t anywhere on it.

      16. S.P. September 14, 2013 at 1:59 am

        I’m never going to take a horror list seriously if it features movies such as Jaws and Aliens. *hint hint*