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50 Must-Watch Scary Movies

Updated on September 20, 2014

Making the Cut... for this Scary Movies List

A scary film needs to have a variation of different things, but to simplify the process, it simply needs to scare your socks off. That's why this list has been thoroughly thought out, to ensure that the scariest films have made the list, hopefully put in the right rank, agreed by most.

To clarify, this is not a best horror films list, but rather, a more specific list, which is that of the best scary films, as our best horror films list would look entirely different.

So, expect to see all of the best scary films, which have mostly been picked from the past decade or so, but a few, more classic films have been added to the mix.

It is widely misconceived, in the belief that a great horror film must be certified as an 18+, but this is completely false, as in reality, the scariest films are usually certified as a 15+. This is due to jumps, and senseless screams which audiences receive when watching these films, hence forth making them the scariest films.

Whereas the best reaction someone is likely to get from an 18+ certified horror film is yucky, that was disgusting, and then there are those grabbing a pillow as they attempt to conceal their eyes from the gore they are playing witness to.

Personally, I find the 'jump', and constant 'heart pounding' reaction, to be the more scared of the two certifications, but that isn't to say that 18+ certified horror movies can't be scary, so expect to see a few.

Read on, if you want to see the scariest movies, which have left their victims shaking, and at times traumatised, by the very viewing of these terrifying movies.


Best Scary Movies

Note: *No Spoilers*

Countdown to the best:

50. Misery (1990)

Based on a Stephen King best-selling novel, this dark-telling will scare even the contemporary viewer, whose used to seeing modern-day special effects and CGI.

The 90's was a rocky time for horror films, with a lot of terrible horrors, making ones like Misery, a hidden-gem within this particular decade for horror films.

49. Friday the 13th (2009)

Remakes usually fail terribly, but this one played justice to the original, making it a worthwhile viewing for anyone into the 'Friday the 13th' horror series, especially those into slasher films.

It was surprising to find out that this film actually remained suspenseful, all throughout the duration of the film, which added to its potential to make you jump. Slasher films usually lack suspense, relying too much on the gory scenes to keep the audience entertained, but this film in no-way relied solely on the blood and gore.

48. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Another remake with something to shout about, as this is a zombie remake, which usually means a complete disaster, but this one actually turned out to be one of the best modern zombie films ever produced.

Like zombie films? Like contemporary horrors, which sustain gore, blood, and keep audiences on the edge of their seats? Then this films for you.

47. Dark Skies (2013)

Aliens? Yes, aliens. This film has the sci-fi angle perfectly done, with all the suspense, which reminded us of the Insidious films in some ways.

So, if I like 'Insidious', then will I like 'Dark Skies'? Hmmm... Probably!

46. Final Destination (2000)

The film that brought new meaning to death, scaring almost all those who've seen it, from ever flying on a plane again, plus a number of other things.

Not for the superstitious! That's for sure.

45. Scream (1996)

Seen the 'Ghost-face' mask, well now its time to see the 'real' Ghost-face, who takes on multiple personalities.

Have fun screaming, near-laughing, and enjoying all those 'Scream' quotes, which you'll only ever know if you've seen the 'Scream' film.

44. V/H/S/2 (2013)

A tense film, playing of the inner fear which we all have, and all filmed surprisingly well, which has grown into something entirely different within the horror genre.

It'll keep you on edge from start-to-finish. This is a horror film to watch with friends, as you'll be scared for some time, and will make a great film to talk about.

43. The Purge (2013)

All crimes are legal?

Could you imagine the all-out-hell caused by this?

Well, now you can, from the perspectives of a family who are terrorised, and the repercussions which come from the chaos.

Be scared like never before, in a film which feels 'so real' in its approach.

42. The Amityville Horror (2005)

Yes, you guessed it, another remake. And this remake was another success in our opinion, as it managed to bring fear to all those who dared tune in to this scare-fest.

See Ryan Reynolds before he hit it big, in this must-see horror from 2005, which will show you just why you shouldn't move into big houses at an above-questionable discount.

41. The Village (2004)

A mystery you won't forget any time soon, as M. Night Shyamalan brings a story which has a whole bag of surprises waiting to be discovered.

Although not technically labelled as a horror, this is one of the scariest films I have ever sat through, as the suspense is 'heart-pounding' all throughout the film.

This film has one of the best scores I have ever heard, one of the best (or possibly, the best) mystery genre film directors, great actors performing at their best, and a revealing storyline.

40. Case 39 (2009)

Kids are scary! As this film is another demon-within fright-fest, which takes advantage of everyone's fear of demons, but to be more specific, peoples fear of demon-kids.

Stay away from case 39, and the case worker job altogether, as you'll know what I mean once you've seen this film.

39. Paranormal Activity (2009)

"No way!", "Freaky!", "Oh, bugger!" These were the sorts of things I found myself saying during this film, as it was freaky beyond all comprehension, as it all feels so real.

A cult-horror film everyone has talked about at some point, but this should not take away the raw horror which is felt when watching the film.

38. Slither (2006)

Slimy creatures, or any bug for that matter is creepy to even think about, so it is worth keeping this in mind before tuning into this film.

37. The Grudge (2004)

A western remake of a Chinese horror film, which has a certain edge to it, making it scary to sit through, from start-to-finish.

This film gave me another reason not to want to visit China, which originally stood at just being the claustrophobic feeling I get being in extremely crowded places.

36. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Sam Raimi (director) has proven here, that a great horror film can be made on a budget, as every moment during this film is seriously scary.

Disturbing in parts, a little funny (not purposefully) in others, but an overall must-watch for those looking for a scary horror film.

35. Gremlins (1984)

Gremlins has aged well, as it is just as entertaining, and as scary as the first time I saw this traumatising film as a young teenager.

Every child's worst nightmare has come to life in this classic horror, which has gone down in the best-horrors-of-all-time book.

34. 28 Days Later (2003)

Back when Zombie films started to become far more realistic than ever before, there was '28 Days Later', which was all filmed and set in the UK, which is interesting as it is very rare in the 21st-Century, to see a great film (especially horror) produced in the UK.

This is one of the scariest zombie-set horror films ever created, so don't be ashamed if it is too scary for you to sit through.

33. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Continuing with the horror-remakes with 'The Hills Have Eyes', which takes cannibalism, and murder to a whole new level.

This is a blood and gore horror film, but also happens to be one of the scariest horror films ever produced, as well, making this a must-watch for anyone who can take sit through a bit of blood and gore.

32. Mirrors (2008)

Now, we can't even look into our mirrors, as this film scares audiences from taking a peek at their reflections. Just one more thing to add to the list of things horror films have frightened audiences from doing.

31. The Thing (1982)

An adaptation of a Steven King novel, adding to the terror which has been brought from Steven King film adaptations in the past.

This has a strong sci-fi edge, and has now become a classic, but one things for sure, its still a seriously scary film.

30. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Not necessarily a horror, as it is more a psychological thriller, although you'll soon see the horror before your very eyes, as you witness the doings of Hannibal Lecter.

Psychopaths have never before been so scary.

29. Jeepers Creepers (2001)

Adding to the cult-horrors, we have 'Jeepers Creepers', one of the scariest films from the early 2000's, which didn't need expensive special effects or CGI to make it intense to watch.

Make sure you aren't alone watching this film, as its shore to give you the chills as it takes you on the ride of your life.

28. The Descent (2006)

Caves are scary, which makes this film extra scary, when you realise just what lye's deep within the dark.

Even those not-so easily scared will find themselves looking for the nearest pillow as the film takes you deep into earth's dark mystery's.

27. The Omen (1976)

Kids really are creepy! As this film was one of the first to prove, as a demon hides in a little boy, bringing evil to the world around him.

26. Child's Play (1988)

A killer in a toy doll, now that's scary, and this is a film I have seen multiple times, and happens to be one of my favourite classic horror films from the 80's.

Even today, this is a film most can appreciate, and will still find just as scary as they would have done watching it all those years ago, when it was first released.

25. Psycho (1960)

Everyone's favourite horror classic makes the cut on this list, as today's horror viewers would find this film scary, or at least to a certain extent.

Plus, there is the addition of the the classic scenes which most who've seen Psycho will know about.

24. Deliverance (1972)

Red-neck hill-billies is something all have a slight fear of, as horror films tend to portray them as being cannibalistic serial killers, and this just so happens to be one of those horror films.

This classic horror has to be one of the scariest films I have ever seen, and to say it was made in the 70's, this was quite a shock. As I picture the 70's film world as being somewhat of an embarrassment for horror film-makers, due to having no special-effects or CGI at this time.

23. 30 Days of Night (2007)

One of the most underrated Hollywood horrors ever produced, as this received a positive reaction for most who've seen it, which sadly wasn't enough people. It is your vampires-killing-people storyline, with brutal results for their victims, which was the perfect recipe for a great horror film.

A scare-fest if I've ever seen one, as every moment of this film had me on edge, fearing for the main characters, or, in true-fact, anyone who was a human-being, which I couldn't stand to see being murdered by blood-thirsty vampires, which only shows how seriously I take films.

22. Wolf Creek (2005)

Set in the Australian outback we have this mortifying film, which takes horror film-making to the extreme in my opinion, as the main characters face the true meaning of fear.

This is for the hardcore horror fans, for sure, as it takes a brave-soul to handle watching this film from start-to-finish.

21. Alien (1979)

Classic's don't get much better than this, as Ridley Scott brings to life a sci-fi, horror film which redefined film-making during the late 70's, as to what could be done in film-making to bring the most realistic experience possible. Which soon caught on as audiences fled into theatres to witness this redefining moment for themselves, in Hollywood history.

Never before have you enjoyed a sci-fi, horror film, as much as you'll enjoy watching this eye-catching masterpiece.

20. The Crazies (2010)

Hollywood makes me crazy, as there is yet again, another seriously underrated film which has not met the reception, I, or most, would have expected. The box office results were anything but impressive for such an overwhelmingly realistic horror film, scaring me half-to-death, by the simple nature, and the quick-flow which the film had, taking a turn for the worst, around nearly every corner.

19. The Others (2001)

A thriller which felt more like a horror after every moment which passes, during the duration of this creepy film, finally turning me into a Nicole Kidman fan. Intense with suspense, no blood or gore, all resulting in a mysterious ending.

18. Poltergeist (1982)

"Ahhhhhh!" Was all I can remember saying, the first time I saw Poltergeist as a pre-teen, as it was as scary then, as it still is now. This is a scare-classic horror film, with a due-to-be released remake in 2015, re-imagining the classic, which got me thinking about how scary this film really is.

17. 1408 (2007)

Never before, have I feared a door number quite so much, or a hotel room for that matter, since witnessing this film myself.

Taking simple horror-tactics and using them in a frightful manner, really is the simplicity of creating a scary film. This is why I would advise watching this yourself, but before, you may want to think about seeing this with someone else.

16. Jaws (1975)

This was the film which turned sea-lovers into sea-avoiders as no-one would dare set foot in the sea after seeing the fictional events which take place in the shark-killing film, 'Jaws'.

Know that in reality, sharks are highly unlikely to attack and kill a person, but that isn't to say that this film won't trick you into thinking otherwise. Simply enjoy this classic horror for what it is, a greatly scary horror, making the 70's film world look as good as today's.

15. Sinister (2012)

Ethan Hawke keeps on surprising us, and one things for sure, he certainly suits being in films within the horror genre, as this now shows, along with others he's starred in. Stacked full of suspense, and hidden jumps, you'll be spilling you're cup of hot-coco all over the place, so take-care when drinking.

14. Carrie (1976)

You hear a lot these days, that the classics are the best, and I would usually argue with this statement, but when it comes to 'Carrie', it is just that, the best.

As we have seen a recent attempt at re-making this classic, but it wasn't enough to beat the 70's original, I'm afraid. The 70's 'Carrie' was just too damn good, with a lot to fear, when you find yourself emerged in the story.

13. Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

The latest horror-craze is here, and it is here to stay, as this is the sequel to the original 'Insidious' film, which hit theatres in 2010. The second has a lot to rave about it, as it carry's straight on where the first left off, and kept the pace, making this one of the scariest films ever produced in Hollywood.

12. Black Christmas (1974)

To keep the classics within the spotlight, we have 'Black Christmas', having brought plenty of pillow-hiding moments to audiences in the 70's, which once again, proves that the 70's saw a few horror-greats.

The remake however, in 2006, didn't have the same effect, which is why it sees itself banned from being on this list.

11. Let the Right One In (2008)

A seriously scary horror film, I have seen multiple times, as yes, it was just that good. Not the film you'd expect to see so high on a list like this one, not being a big-budget Hollywood production, but after seeing the film, you'll see just how its earned its way onto the list.

10. Silent Hill (2006)

What's not scary about this film?

Nothing! Would be my answer to the question, but I'm sure you'll have a different opinion, or not. But my answer stands, as is, due to the films ability to keep you asking questions, and stepping into unsettling surroundings which would never ordinarily exist in the world we see around us.

9. Hellraiser (1987)

The 80's were a nightmare for zombie horrors, paranormal horrors, and horrors in general in-most, but, as proven with Hellraiser, and a few others, it wasn't all bad for the genre. This is in some peoples books, the scariest film ever produced, but I find it to be one the scariest, but sadly, I feel there have been scarier.

Although, still within the Top 10, for the scariest films of all time, which is worth pointing out to horror-film fans.

8. The Hitcher (1986)

Remember that scene with the truck, which...? No, well, then watch the film, as it was one of the best-known scenes in horror-film history. Or, at least I believe it is.

It is also worth pointing out, that you should never pick up hitch-hikers, as this film will kindly show you.

7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

A ruthless serial killer wielding a chainsaw, now that should keep you out of southern Texas. If that isn't enough then there is the reckoning heat, poisonous creatures, and crazy local sheriffs.

But, on a serious note, this is a seriously scary film, which for some, started their love for slasher films, back when slasher films were actually liked and not mocked.

6. The Shining (1980)

Cult-horrors are the best, aren't they? Well, that's up for debate, but I like them, as well as all of those other people, who helped make it a 'cult'-horror film.

A scary film which got everyone quoting the line from the film, "heeere's Johnny!", which can get a little annoying at times.

5. The Exorcist (1973)

Adding to the list, is another cult-horror, known as 'The Exorcist', to all, that is. This film was banned on its release for being too scary, or something along those lines, which, of course, only made people want to watch it more. That's the best hopes for a horror film, or for any film, for that matter, as a banned film is a must-watch film in most peoples eyes.

4. Insidious (2010)

"Finally, a modern horror film which understands what makes a scary horror film", were my exact words after watching this film, as at the time there were so many bad horror films being released, and still are, but this wasn't one of them.

Scary doesn't even begin to describe this film, which was best seen at the theatres, but is still scary when watched from your home TV.

3. The Strangers (2008)

Skip this one, all those who can't handle the scarier horror films, as this one will keep you up at night, if you have the bravery to watch it from start-to-finish.

No more needed be said about this horror, other than, watch if you dare?

2. The Ring (2002)

Possibly the scariest film of the 2000's, and would you believe it had the same director, who did 'Pirates of the Caribbean' 1-3. You'll need a buddy to watch this film with, as it is far too scary to watch alone, and you can take my word on that.

1. The Conjuring (2013)

From the same director who brought to you, 'Insidious' and 'Insidious: Chapter 2', also brings to life the shockingly scary, 'The Conjuring', which takes all that you feared when watching 'Insidious', and doubled that level of fear to bring to life something entirely new and exciting, with exceptional results.

Congrats... On Finishing The List

What's your favourite scary movie...? And is it one of these?

See results

Streaming on Netflix (instant)

Grab some popcorn, get a scare buddy (or two), and get ready to watch a film this evening on Netflix instant, as the following films are from the list above, available to instantly stream, right now.

Here's a list of the scary movies from the list, currently streaming on Netflix instant:

  • Scream (1996)
  • Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
  • The Strangers (2008)
  • The Amityville Horror (2005)
  • Drag Me to Hell (2009)
  • Case 39 (2009)
  • Misery (1990)
  • Dark Skies (2013)
  • Child's Play (1988)
  • The Crazies (2010)
  • The Others (2001)
  • Sinister (2012)
  • Carrie (1976)
  • Black Christmas (1974)
  • V/H/S (2012)

With a total of 15 films here, all available to stream instantly on Netflix instant, there is more than enough fright-fest enjoyment to be had on your Netflix account on this, or any other chosen evening.


With all these great scary horror films, its hard to believe there will be enough time to watch them all, but, well, for the horror buffs, I'm sure you'll find the time.

If you believe there are other horror films which should have been put on the list, then please don't hesitate to leave the names in the comments box, at the bottom of the page, as all comments are appreciated.

If you liked this hub, then please share with friends, and spread the fearful joy of a great scary film list. Subscribe for more lists similar to this one in the near future, to get quick and easy access to those hubs, as and when they are posted.

If you have any questions or thoughts, then please leave them in the comments box below, as I will make sure to reply as-soon-as-possible, as I am interested to hear your thoughts.

Thank-you for reading

"I do the research, so that you don't have to"

Your friendly movie, games writer: Craig Easom


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    • Craig Easom profile image

      Dreammore 3 years ago from British Empire

      Hi Billy:

      It's great to hear from you again, I know I can rely on your feedback. It's sad, I know, but I have seen all of the films listed here, but then again, I love a good horror film.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great list for sure. I think I've seen about half of them..maybe a little more. I've got my work cut out for me.