The Ten Greatest Thriller Movies of All Time
Top Ten Thrillers
Thriller movies are fascinating to me, which is why I've put together this list of the top ten thrillers ever created. Horror movies can be scary, but thrillers offer something horror movies generally don't - a glimpse into reality.
Many thrillers are based on true events, and while most are fictitious in nature, they could happen. You won't find movies with ghosts or goblins on this list. In my view, a thriller is a movie that features human monsters and storylines that could happen in real life. Instead, you'll find only true thrillers on this list.
And yes, before you ask I've looked up each and every movie and made sure they were rated as a thriller before adding them to the list. I've also visited dozens of online forums and looked at similar lists and personally watched all of the movies.
Some of the picks are based on my personal opinion, but most of them are based on popular opinion, the longevity of each movie and how much they grossed at the box office.
Oh, and I just wanted to add that you won't find Jaws on this list. While some would classify it as a thriller, it's actually listed as a horror, so I left it off the list.
I hope you enjoy reading through my top 10 thrillers of all time list, and that you'll take a few moments to leave a comment, vote for your favourite thriller on the voting plexo below or add one I missed.
Are you ready to be scared?
Top Ten Thrillers: #10 - Funny Games
Two young adults ask for help from a family, only to take them hostage and terrorize them.
The family fights to stay alive, while playing the boys' 'funny games'. This film is truly terrifying. If you can stomach it, you'll enjoy it. It's an underrated thriller masterpiece.
A lot of people haven't seen this movie or haven't given it a chance. If you like thrillers, you don't get much more thrilling than Funny Games. In fact, it's downright frightening. It's creepy, disturbing and terrifying. The scariest part is that it could happen, and probably has somewhere.
It's one of the few movies that made me want to get up and leave the living room. I found myself cringing and feeling helpless for the family depicted in the actual movie. You want them to win, but their plight looks hopeless, and you're just waiting for either a miracle or for them to die.
There aren't very many movies that leave a mark on my psyche. I could count the number of movies that truly scared me or creeped me out on the fingers of one hand, but this strange, demented film certainly did that.
Funny Games Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #9 - The Game
The Game is a psychological thriller that came out in 1997 and stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. It’s basically about a clean-cut, conservative investment banker that’s given a strange gift.
He’s asked to fill out forms detailing his personal life, and finds out that those details are being used in mysterious ways. As the banker’s life begins to fall apart he desperately tries to repair the damage caused by The Game.
The Game is just an awesome movie. I own this one and I love every minute of it. Michael Douglas delivers a powerful performance from beginning to end.
The Game is one of those movies you either love or hate. Most people I know who have seen it love it with a passion, but I have talked to a few people who don't like it very much. However, in my opinion this movie delivers thrills, suspense and plays with your mind better than almost any other movie of its kind. It's a fun, yet thrilling rollercoaster ride that doesn't let up.
The fact that it stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn is enough to draw most movie lovers toward it, but unlike some movies, The Game delivers a punch that you'll want to experience again and again.
The Game Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #8 - The Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver features a plethora of future stars, including Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Jody Foster. It was released in 1976 and was nominated for four Academy Awards.
Taxi Driver is about a Vietnam veteran who is dishonourably discharged. He settles in to New York and takes up a new career as a taxi driver. He suffers from insomnia, and gradually begins to go insane. After putting himself through a physical fitness routine, and buying illegal arms, he decides that it’s time to put a stop to the petty crime in New York.
Watching Robert De Niro become extremely unstable is extremely chilling. The Taxi Driver is a classic thriller that every thriller fan should enjoy. It’s well worth watching.
The Taxi Driver
I remember watching The Taxi Driver a very long time ago. Who could forget Robert De Niro looking in the mirror and asking, "You talkin' to me?" After all, that line is still used today by people who haven't even seen the movie.
The Taxi Driver is chilling. It will make your spine feel as though some threw someone ice water in there. It's also superbly written and directed, and features a lot of up and coming stars before they were truly famous.
The Taxi Driver also made this list because when I travelled around the internet and took a look at different forums and lists, The Taxi Driver was almost always mentioned at some point. It's one of the best thrillers and movie-buffs and thrill seekers as well as film critics realize this, which is why this great movie made my list of the ten best thrillers of all time.
The Taxi Driver Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #7 - The Shining
When Jack Nicholson is hired to look after the Overlook hotel with his wife and son, he has no idea that the hotels seedy past is about to drive him out of his mind.
His son, Danny, has special ‘powers’ which allow him to sense the danger that the Overlook Hotel poses. The entities within the hotel know that Danny poses a serious threat, and they try their best to drive Jack crazy. They’d like nothing more than for Jack to chop his unwitting family into tiny bits with an axe.
Can Danny and his mother survive Jacks mental breakdown, or will they too succumb to the terror that haunts the Overlook Hotel?
You’ll have to watch to find out. I just watched this movie a few days ago, and was amazed at Jack Nicholson’s performance once again. It’s truly an awe inspiring movie that thriller lovers will surely enjoy again and again. I know I do!
Watching Jack Nicholson descend into madness is frightening as hell. He makes you believe that he's going crazy with a convincing performance unrivalled even today.
Written by horror god, Stephen King, this movie started out on the right foot. Couple Stephen King's literary genius with that of Jack Nicholson, and you're left with a timeless classic that will keep you awake at night, clutching your blankets with fear.
If you've never seen The Shining, you should seriously consider doing so. The trailer below doesn't really do the movie justice, but even so, you can probably tell by watching it that you're in for a thrill ride that you won't soon forget.
Not only am I a huge Stephen King fan and Jack Nicholson fan, which helped The Shining cement the #7 position on my top ten thriller list, but I found this movie on dozens of websites throughout the web which helped back it up.
The Shining Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #6 - The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate is about a platoon of soldiers who remember the heroic acts of one of their members. However, once they’re back home, they begin to suffer nightmares that are all too real. They soon begin to realize that their memories may have been tampered with, and something horrible may have happened while they thought they were on the battlefield.
The Manchurian Candidate was originally released in 1962, and starred Frank Sinatra. However, the movie was pulled from theatres because it hit too close to home. It was remade in 2004 starring Denzel Washington. Both movies are excellent and deliver enough thrills and twists to make the #6 poistion on my list of the best thrillers ever.
The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate is an excellent thriller movie. The acting is superb and the plot is intricate and chilling. The thought of being brainwashed and used against your will is something that sends shivers down my spine, that's for sure.
I enjoyed watching this movie the first time and have enjoyed watching it ever since. I love Denzel Washington, and I think he's one of the best actors out there. If you haven't seen the Manchurian Candidate, I recommend you see it as soon as possible. It's an unforgettable thriller that uses political intrigue and action to weave a spell that never quite lets go of your thoughts.
Manchurian Candidate Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #5 - The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense was nominated for six Academy Awards and helped establish M. Night Shyamalan as one of the premier thriller writers and directors of our time.
The movie is about a boy who can speak and see the dead. Bruce Willis plays a child psychologist who tries to help the boy deal with his gift. The twist ending is the best part of this movie in my opinion. However, you’ll have to watch it to see what I mean.
No spoilers here!
The Sixth Sense
Released in 1999, The Sixth Sense easily slides into the number five position on my list of top ten thriller flicks. It's an excellent movie that stars Bruce Willis, and even the trailer found below is disturbing.
Even though I enjoyed The Sixth Sense, it was a bit disappointing to me. I expected to be scared out of my mind when I saw the trailers, but instead I was pleasantly entertained. If I hadn't seen this movie listed in so many forums as one of the best thriller movies, I might have forgotten to include it on my list.
However, it is still a good movie. Bruce Willis delivers a powerful performance, and there are enough chilling moments to qualify it as a true thriller.
Sixth Sense Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #4 - Fatal Attraction
Fatal Attraction was released in 1987 and starred Michael Douglas, Glen Close and Anne Archer. It’s an extremely popular thriller, and received six Academy Award nominations.
It’s about a married man who has a weekend affair. He tries to end it, but the woman who he had the affair with won’t let him do so...no matter the cost.
Instead, the woman becomes obsessed with him and will do almost anything to keep him in her sick grasp.
Fatal Attraction was very popular when it originally came out, and remains so to this day. I personally enjoyed this movie a great deal.
Michael Douglas was one of the best actors of the 80's and 90's. Besides the obvious star power, the plot is amazing. The watcher realizes that this movie could easily come true, which makes it an unbelievably good thriller.
Fatal attraction is a classic thriller movie that easily made my list of top ten thriller movies. Long after it was originally released, it's still being watched and enjoyed by thriller lovers worldwide.
Fatal Attraction Trailer
Top Ten Thrillers: #3 - Seven
Seven was released in 1997 and is one of the best thriller movies ever made. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freemen play two detectives who are trying to solve the case of a serial killer who kills using the seven deadly sins as a basis point for his ritualistic murders.
This movie has an incredible plot, and enough gore and suspense to make it a very successful thriller movie. You really can't go wrong with Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt at the helm, and the plot keeps you guessing right to the end.
In my travels around the internet, Seven was mentioned several times as being the best thriller movie of all time. While I don't really think it's the best, it is very, very good. I own Seven and watch it now and then. It never fails to make me think or raise the skin at the back of my neck. I believe it deserves the number three spot on my list, don't you?
Top Ten Thrillers: #2 - Psycho
Inspired by the story of serial killer, Ed Gein, Psycho is about a lady who embezzles money from her employer and then seeks out shelter at a hotel, which is run by psychopath Norman Bates. Psycho is considered one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best movies and has been scaring people for decades.
Not enough can be said about Psycho. It was a successful movie when it was released in 1960, and it continues to be till this day. It's a landmark film that paved the way for every slasher flick that has been made up until the present, and although some people classify it as a horror, it's a thriller in my opinion.
And it's not just any thriller either. It's one of the highest grossing thriller movies of all time. Psycho blends suspense with an intricate plot to create one of the best movies of all time, not to mention one of the best thriller movies ever created. This movie demonstrates why Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to be the best director of suspense films ever.
The Best Thriller of All Time - The Silence of the Lambs
In order to catch a serial killer, FBI trainee Clarice Starling must ask the advice of one of the most notorious and dangerous serial killers on the planet, Hannibal the Cannibal.
Silence of the Lambs offers viewers a horrifying look into the mind of a dangerous yet brilliant serial killer.
Silence of the Lambs
Even though Psycho has grossed more money than Silence of the Lambs, it also has the benefit of being on the market longer. In my opinion, Silence of the Lambs is the best darned thriller movie of all time. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins are absolutely amazing in this film.
Not only is the acting first rate, but Silence of the Lambs has managed to capture five Academy Awards. The very thought of having to get into the mind of a serial killer in order to capture another serial killer is horrifying. The movie does a great job of bringing serial killer Hannibal Lector to life in all his glory, and you feel as if you’re literally in the room with him.
I personally love this movie. By far it’s my favourite thriller movie on my top ten list, which is why it’s been given the number one spot. It’s also one of the most successful and talked about thriller movies of all time.