Prepared to be scared by these critically acclaimed films.
Horror movies have been scaring audiences since the dawn of film, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats with everything from creature features to slashers. Over the past century, thousands of these horror-filled flicks have graced the big screen — but only a few have been critically acclaimed.
In fact, only 17 horror flicks have ever received a rating of over 98% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with just four of those landing a highly coveted perfect score. From the supernatural to psychological thrillers to movies that were released over 100 years ago, these flicks have all taken horror to the next level and proven that they will definitely stand the test of time.
Find out which movies made the cut...
17. "The Loved Ones"
High school drama meets horror in "The Loved Ones," where things go violently awry on prom night. When Brent Mitchell turns down Lola Stone's invitation to prom, he has no idea the trouble he’s gotten himself into. Instead of accepting Brent's answer, Lola recruits the help of her father to kidnap Brent and throw a prom of her own where things get incredibly twisted.
Critics call the film "outrageously creepy" and "'sick and wrong' in all the right ways."
16. "Eyes Without A Face"
"Eyes Without A Face" may have been released in 1962 but its fright factor has stood the test of time. After the once beautiful Christiane is disfigured by an accident caused by her father Dr. Génessier, he is riddled with guilt and willing to go to extreme measures to fix the damage. He and a laboratory assistant begin to kidnap young women and render them unconscious in order to remove their faces and graft them onto Christiane.
Critics call the film "poetic, disturbing, and appalling" as well as a "monstrous masterpiece."
15. "Let The Right One In"
Swedish film "Let The Right One In" follows Oskar, a sensitive, bullied 12-year-old boy whose wish for a friend seems to come true when a young girl moves in next door — except her arrival coincides with a series of gruesome deaths in their city. As they grow closer, she confides in him that she is no ordinary young girl and that her dark, macabre secret has a lot to do with the string of murders.
Critics praised the "exquisite" film, calling it a "remarkable movie that redefines horror film-making and deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible."
14. "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"
The original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," released in 1956, seamlessly blends sci-fi and horror as a mysterious phenomenon takes over a small town in California. Its residents begin to complain to Dr. Miles Bennell that their loved ones seem to have been replaced by emotionless impostors. While the doctor dismisses their claims at first, he soon realizes it's all too real and an alien species of human duplicates is taking over the small town.
The political allegory has come to be known by critics as a "defining metaphorical work of the twentieth century" that is the "perfect blend of smart sci-fi and creeping dread."
13. "The Babadook"
"The Babadook" picks up after a woman loses her husband in a tragic car accident while he was driving to the delivery of their first son. Six years later, the young boy is showing behavioral problems and incestuous tendencies — which drives their neighbors to distance themsleves. And when an ominously-covered pop-up book called "The Babadook'' appears in the child’s room, his mother learns that he's been telling the truth about a monster who entered their home through the pages of the book.
Critics called the "haunting" film one that puts "the viewer on edge right from the start and keeps them there."
"Jaws" has become one of the most iconic horror films of all time, with just a few recognizable piano notes instilling fear in those that watch. After a young woman is killed by a shark in the New England tourist town of Amity Island, the beaches remain open despite the concerns of the local police chief. When it's clear the attacks aren’t going to stop, an oceanographer and a grizzled shark hunter are left to destroy the bloodthirsty beast.
The film was praised for its "splendidly shrewd cinematic equation" and unexpected "nasty turns," even being called a "masterpiece from start to finish."
11. "Bride of Frankenstein"
"Bride of Frankenstein" may be one of the oldest movies on this list but has remained iconic over time. The 1935 film picks up after Dr. Frankenstein recovers from injuries sustained in the mob attack upon himself and his creation. He soon falls under the control of his former mentor, Dr. Pretorius, who insists that Dr. Frankenstein continues his experiments to create new life — ending up with the Bride of the Monster being brought to life. The Monster attempts to connect with his new mate, all while being on the run from those who wish to destroy him.
The film has been called "a masterpiece of classic horror" and director James Whale's "most perfectly realised movie."
10. "King Kong"
Classic flick "King Kong" has become one of the most notable "creature features" ever, especially thanks to the advanced special effects for its time. The film follows a film crew who head to a mysterious island to shoot scenes for a new jungle picture and end up in a lot more trouble than they bargained for. The film's star is taken hostage by island natives, who want to sacrifice her to the giant ape Kong who rules over their jungle. But when Kong is captured and brought home, the trouble has only just begun.
Critics called the film’s special effects "transporting and dazzling" while its imaginativeness has inarguably been "one of the reasons it was such a hit and why it has endured."
1979's "Alien" took viewers to the edges of outer space to explore the unknown and the terrifying creatures that reside there. When the crew of the commercial starship is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules midway through their journey home, they must investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. Things get eerie when they discover a nest of eggs inside the alien ship — and it gets even worse when something leaps out of the egg and attaches itself to a crew member, sending him into a coma.
Critics credited the filmmakers with coming "up with some images that are sheerest nightmare" like the "lengthy, isolated, ill-lit corridors" that mustered chills in many viewers. Others called the "incredibly scary" movie "one of Ridley Scott's best films."
8. "Get Out"
Jordan Peele's "Get Out" became an instant horror classic after it was released in 2017. In the film, Rose decides it's time to introduce her boyfriend Chris to her parents but things quickly take a more sinister turn. At first, Rose's family appears to be overly accommodating to Chris but following a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries, he finds a shocking truth he could have never imagined.
Critics compared Jordan's directing to the horror greats before him like Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter and called the film a "game-changer."
7. "The Wailing"
Korean horror "The Wailing" takes on the supernatural when a group of rural villagers are driven to hysteria when they link a series of brutal murders to the arrival of a mysterious stranger.
Critics called the lengthy movie "156 minutes of murder, diabolism, exorcism and things that go bump by day and night" — and "worth every second."
6. "Under The Shadow"
Persian-language film "Under The Shadow" combines the story of a war torn country with supernatural horror. After a mother and daughter's home is hit by a missile during the Iran-Iraq War, a superstitious neighbor suggests that the missile could have been cursed and might be carrying evil spirits. When mysterious things begin happening, the mother becomes convinced that a spirit is trying to possess her daughter Dorsa — and she must confront these supernatural forces to save her family.
Critics called the film a "skillful slow burn" with all of the makings of a new horror classic — "a compelling protagonist to root for, a unique setting and mythology, visceral and psychological terror, and creepy, effective monsters."
5. "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"
At over a century old, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" is arguably one of the first horror films ever made, inspiring filmmakers for generations to come. The terrifying movie begins at a carnival in Germany where two men encounter the crazed Dr. Caligari, who is showing off a hypnotized man named Cesare who he claims can see into the future. Cesare predicts one of the other men's deaths and by morning, he has passed away. Cesare soon becomes the prime suspect but the question is if he is actually at fault or if the doctor is controlling him.
Critics say that the historical classic has earned a "place permanently cemented within the dawn of film."
4. "Creep 2"
Earning a perfect score from critics, 2017's "Creep 2" follows a video artist looking for work who drives to a remote cabin in the forest to meet with a man claiming to be a serial killer. After agreeing to spend the day with him, she quickly realizes she's made a grave mistake.
Critics praised the film for being even better than the first and drew comparisons to Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling's relationship in "The Silence of the Lambs."
3. "His House"
Recent release, "His House," features genuine scares at every turn, following a young refugee couple who are trying to start over in England. As they adjust to their new life in a small English town, they seem to be unable to escape their harrowing experience in South Sudan, being followed by a sinister force tied to the horrors they escaped in their war-torn country.
Critics say the film breathes new life into the "haunted-house subgenre" while being a horrifying "nerve-jangler."
Told exclusively through Zoom footage, "Host" invites viewers into a video chat between six friends who hire a medium to hold a séance during lockdown. Things quickly take a turn for the worst when an evil spirit begins invading their homes — and the friends realize they may not survive the night.
Critics praised director Rob Savage for embracing limitations during the pandemic and remotely directing actors from afar. Others called the film a total "nerve-shredder" with "scream-worthy surprises."
The original "Frankenstein" film, released in 1931, brought Mary Shelley's iconic novel to life and earned a perfect score from critics. In the adaptation, Dr. Henry Frankenstein successfully creates life by assembling a creature from body parts of the deceased. When he is brought to life, the Monster is confused and traumatized and escapes to the countryside. As he begins to wreak havoc on the population, Dr. Frankenstein must track down and confront his tormented creation.
Critics called "Frankenstein" the "most influential horror film ever made" while being "violent, tragic and exciting all at the same time."