There are some who would say the only reason to read an opinion-based internet list is to condemn the ranking. If you do, you probably think “Who is this guy, and why does he have such terrible opinions?” But Paste magazine approached the project with a lot of experience.
This list has been a long time coming for Paste. We are fortunate—some would say “cool enough”—to have quite a lot of genre expertise to call upon when it comes to horror in particular. Several Paste staff writers and editors are lifelong horror geeks, and there’s also a strong sentiment toward the macabre among several of our more prolific contributing writers. Case in point: We have so many writers focused on horror that we’ve produced huge lists of the best horror films on Netflix,Amazon Prime and Hulu that are all updated on a monthly basis. We’ve even given you the likes of the 50 best zombie movies of all time, and the 100 best vampire movies of all time, if you can believe that.
And yet, somehow, despite all that expertise, we’ve never put together a definitive ranking of the best horror films of all time. That ends now, with the list below: a practical, must-see guide through the history of the horror genre.
There are classic films on this list, of course. There are also likely a handful of independent features that will be unknown to all but the most dedicated horror hounds. There are foreign films from around the globe, entries that range from 1922 to 2017. In some cases, you will likely be shocked by films that are missing. In others, you’ll find yourself surprised to see us going to bat for films that don’t deserve the derision they’ve received.
But even better than finding your opinions validated or contradicted is the opportunity to seek out horror films you’ve never seen to watch during the Halloween season. You might want to skip ahead to the top 25 first (where you’lll most likely find some movies you’ve never seen), but then you’ll want to go back and read the entire list.