21 of the Best Horror Movies of All Time – menshealth.com

Horror bites. It eats you alive. It goes bump in the night. It watches you when you sleep. It haunts you. And it finds you just when you finally feel safe.

We here at Men's Health have an affinity for all things horror. The creepier, the freakier, the better! To us, a killer horror movie is about your subverting expectations. Take a movie like Jordan Peele's Get Out. On the surface, it's your typical horror flickthat quickly spirals into a complex critique of race in America. Or Ari Aster's Midsommar. A horror movie that takes place in the idyllic setting of a Swedish commune, and still, something seriously sinister lurks around the corner. Or what about a classic, like the Stephen King-adapted Carrie, which posits that the real hell exists on earth: high school.

But a true, chill-inducing horror flick finds the thing you were never scared about, something you'd maybe never even considered in your worst nightmares, and forces you to confront it head on, be it flesh-eating zombies, blood-thirsty sharks or even ourselves. They might not be terrifying on the outset, but they're enough to make you question swimming or even looking in the mirror for too long. Below, a few of our horror movie favorites, from familiar classics to newer, frightening flicks.

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128 Days Later (2002)

Picture this: You wake up in a hospital bed, stark naked, and in the middle of a deserted London, only to find out the city has been evacuated because of an unstoppable virus that turns people into violent, blood-thirsty animals. That's how 28 Days Later starts and we can't say there are other movies that make you feel as unsettled as this.

"It started as rioting. But right from the beginning you knew this was different. Because it was happening in small villages, market towns. And then it wasn't on the TV any more. It was in the street outside."

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2Midsommar (2019)

There's a moment during Ari Aster's follow-up to Midsommar when you aren't sure what's happening, but you know it's bad. That moment happens when a pair of elders are led to the top of a mountain, overlooking the group of Swedes from the commune and our three American tourists. Then, shit goes down. (Spoiler alert: literally.) Watch this if only because Florence Pugh gives a career-making performance.

"Do you think a masochistic part of you is playing this drama out to distract you from the work you actually need to be doing?"

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3 Get Out (2017)

There's a lot that's already been said about just how good Jordan Peele's directorial debut, Get Out, is, a story that employs common horror movie tropes to criticize racism in America. Still, it's worth writing about because, well, it really is just that good. It's a movie you wish you could watch for the first time all over again, and we would willingly enter the sunken place (for a brief time, that is) just to experience it.

"Do they know I'm.. do they know I'm black?"

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4Dawn of the Dead (2004)

We'll say it: A lot of recent zombie films and shows amid its recent craze have been complete BS. But the 2004 remake of the George A. Romero Dawn of the Dead was different. In this flick, zombies weren't the slow-moving creatures we knew and loved (and secretly thought we could outrun or outsmart). Instead, they were frighteningly fast marathon runners and twice as violent as ever before. Dawn of the Dead makes the Walking Dead look like an episode of Sesame Street.

"When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth."

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5The Descent (2005)

There's a reason we argue the best kind of horror movies are the ones that make you afraid of things you'd never even realized. The Descent is one of those. The movie opens innocently enough; a group of six girlfriends descend upon an ultra-narrow cavern system, only to discover their being chased and hunted by things that aren't entirely human. We're not sure if we're scared more by them or the film's sheer claustrophobia-inducing tension.

"We're in the wrong fucking cave!"

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6Jaws (1975)

Speaking of things you'd maybe never realized you were scared of, enter Jaws, the movie that single-handedly launched our collective fear of what's lurking in the ocean. Until this point, few horror movies had re-envisioned "scary" as something in a sunny, beach-side setting, proving that scary things can go bump in the night at any time of year (and even if you don't live anywhere even remotely close to water).

"Youre gonna need a bigger boat."

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7Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Set in a farmhouse outside of Pennsylvania, this black-and-white film is a classic for a reason. In fact, it's because of this film, George A. Romero's first, that the zombie craze took off like it did. (Technically, the first ever zombie film predates this one by a few decades; still, it left a major impact on horror film forever.) The film was also radical for starring the first ever Black male actor in a mostly white cast.

"They're coming to get you, Barbara!"

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8REC (2007)

Not to be too on the nose with things, but here's the gist of this film: A news reporter in Barcelona, Spain is called upon to investigate an apartment building; soon, the building is sealed off and, uh, put on quarantine lockdown as the building's tenants struggle to figure out what's happening around them. (Unsurprisingly, the real threat is coming from inside the building.) The rest of the found-footage film is movie magic, and massively better than the 2008 American remake.

"We have to tape everything."

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9The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

It's really hard to talk about the Cabin in the Woods without spoiling it, so we'll leave it at this: Five college students rent an RV to spend time at a...cabin in the woods. And things do not go as planned. It's a Joss Whedon-special, which means nothing is ever what it appears in this movie.

"He's got a husband-bulge."

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10"The Blair Witch Project" (1999)

There's a reason this movie is so damn frightening: It's what you can't see that's more terrifying. Giving rise to the found-footage horror sub-genre, the Blair Witch Project uses your imagination to concoct a villain made from your worst nightmares, which is a hell of a lot scarier than any clown, zombie or masked killer.

"I'm scared to close my eyes, I'm scared to open them."

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11Us (2019)

There's a lot to love about Us, Jordan Peele's follow-up to Get Out. Incredible performances by Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, for one. A villain (or group of villains, rather) you wouldn't expect. And much like Peele's first film, Us is a rich social commentary on race in America. (Peele says the film is based on our fear of outsiders, something that makes a lot of sense once you've seen it.)

"Theres a family in our driveway."

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12Train to Busan/Busanhaeng (2016)

Few zombie movies take chances these days. Fortunately, the Korean Train to Busan is a literal thrill-ride, with most of the movie taking place in the confines of a train as an ongoing zombie plague rages on. It begins as a story of a disconnected dad doing his best by his daughter that quickly turns into absolute madnessand we wouldn't have it any other way.

"I'll take you to mom no matter what."

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13The Guest (2014)

You might know Dan Stevens best for Downton Abbey or his starring role on FX's Legion, but we argue his standout was in this 2014 horror flick. In the Guest, Stevens plays the role of a military vet who visits a deceased friend and fellow vet's family in New Mexico. The family invites him to stay, and as things naturally do in a horror movie, their world begins to crumble as they discover the true origin of their houseguest. Stranger danger, people!

"I'm a soldier, man. I like guns."

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14The Exorcist (1973)

As far as horror staples go, The Exorcist is near the top of our list. One of the first horror franchises to use religion as a backdrop, the film is a terrifying one that explores the demonic possession of a young girl (who contorts, swears, and is generally really creepy). It became the first film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. (Only five other films would follow in its path, including Get Out.)

"What an excellent day for an exorcism."

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15Insidious (2010)

There's a lot to choose from the James Wan universe, comprised of the Saw franchise, the Conjuring franchise, the Annabelle franchise, and so on and so forth. We argue Insidious (and its 2013 sequel) is the best, and just good old-fashioned ghost story fun. Following a family dealing with their son's comatose state, the franchise explores personal tragedy, family tension, and lots and lots of ghosts. (Check out the dude to the left for evidence.)

"Last night, I watched myself sleep. Then I flew away."

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16Carrie (1976)

High school sucked for a lot of us. That's what we learned from Carrie. It's Sissy Spacek's eery portrayal of our titular character, though, that'll keep you watching the teen horror classic.

"They're all gonna laugh at you."

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17"The Sixth Sense" (1999)

There's a lot you can say about M. Night Shyamalan's work and some of that probably isn't all that positive if you've ever seen The Happening, starring a very confused Mark Wahlberg. But the Sixth Sense is a masterpiece, no matter how you slice it. We don't want to give too much away, but it's a great entry-level horror flick as well as an intro to Shyamalan's movies. (For other worthy movies of his, try The Visit and, of course, Unbreakable.)

"I see dead people."

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18Battle Royale (2000)

We hate to make this comparison because there truly is none, but this is what The Hunger Games would've looked like if it didn't have PG-13 rating. In the movie, dozens of students are dropped off at a mysterious island by boat and must fight to the death. It's very bloody (as seen in the photo to the left) and just one of many Japanese horror classics.

"Why not kill? Everyone has their issues."

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19"You're Next" (2011)

Our least favorite horror movie trope is the naive, accident-prone protagonist who you find difficult to even root for. How can you be that dumb? Well, You're Next's Erin is precisely not that. She's a bonafide badass and we stan her and other kickass final girls.

"I stuck a blender in his head and killed him."

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20Ready or Not (2019)

Speaking of kickass final girls, let's discuss the most recent film on our list: Ready or Not. A young couple gets married and our bride must prove her worth to her new in-laws through a game of life-or-death. (No pressure!) It's a nice departure from horror movies that take themselves too seriously and Samara Weaving is a scream queen in the making.

"If it will help your family accept me, I will play the shit out of checkers."

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21Hereditary (2018)

That goddamn car scene.

"I never wanted to be your mother."

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