One of the weakest areas for the Hindi film industry is its horror movies. Granted, every once in a while, Bollywood comes up with something brilliant in the horror genre, but most of the time it is more of the same old uninventive plot lines and second grade production values. We don’t want to diss Bollywood as much as we want them to pull up their sleeves and give us some good horror movies – but the mediocrity of most Bollywood horror movies is one of the biggest reasons why people are so crazy about Hollywood horror movies in the first place. Be it a sleepover with friends, or a random day off of work, horror movies go well with everything. So for your next viewing, we’d like to suggest 25 best Hollywood horror movies that make up for some great binge watching.
1. The Exorcist
There are a few things that make The Exorcist a cult-classic. Not only does it have one of the scariest scenes in the history cinema, but the fact that makers were able to reach that level of excellence back in 1973 makes it a masterpiece in its own right. Without the technological advancement of today, makers of The Exorcist were still able to produce something so genuinely horrendous that people call it one of the best movies in the horror genre to this day – and that is something. The Exorcist is easily one of the best Hollywood horror movies ever made.
2. Psycho (1960)
There’s a reason why Alfred Hitchcock is still remembered as the “Master of Suspense.” The director is known for a number of outstanding movies, and even in his exceptionally brilliant filmography, Psycho is easily one that fans loved the most. Even though critics didn’t initially warm-up to the movie, it garnered so much praise from general audiences that it became an instant hit, and critics had to re-evaluate their assessment of it.
3. The Shining
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”
The sentence marks the descent of The Shining’s protagonist’s (or should I say antagonist’s?) mental state, but it would be safe to say that there’s absolutely nothing dull about Jack Nicholson’s rendition of one of Stephen King’s most notorious madmen. Nicholson manages to portray Jack’s plunging into the darkness believably and urgently. The Shining doesn’t derive its value as much from jump scares as it does from the viewer’s anxieties and trepidations.
There are only over eighty shark attacks each year worldwide, of which less than five turn fatal. So if shark attacks are a fairly unusual occurrence, how come people seem to be irrationally afraid of them? For that, we have Steven Spielberg to thank. Even though the plot of Jaws does not deal with paranormal instances, it manages to capture audiences with well-directed action sequences and characters that are fleshed out well enough to deserve the viewer’s sympathy. Unlike some other movies in the list, Jaws depends heavily on jump scares, but still manages to not feel repetitive.
5. The Thing
Based on the sci-fi horror novella named Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr., The Thing is a successful crossover of generally two disparate genres: Science fiction and horror. It follows the story of a group of American researchers who find an alien parasitic life-form that consumes and mimics other organisms. While the movie wasn’t well-received when it was first released, with critics as well as general audiences criticizing it for its nihilistic attitude, it was well-liked by audiences who watched it on home video and television.
6. The Omen
After losing his son in childbirth, Robert secretly adopts an orphan without telling his wife. After a series of violent and mysterious events occur when Damien grows into childhood, the couple is horrified to learn that Damien is the prophesied Antichrist. The film was an instant hit with moviegoers, even though critics did take their sweet time to warm up to it.
7. The Blair Witch Project
The only thing scarier than a horror movie is a horror movie based on true events, which is why The Blair Witch Project was marketed as a true horror story. The movie is in the format of recorded footage, purporting that the actors appearing in the film are either dead or missing. The movie follows a group of filmmakers who want to make a documentary on the fabled Blair witch.
Seven follows the story of a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as inspiration for the murders. Seven was well received by critics and general audiences alike and was particularly praised for its dark theme, gore brutality, and an unforgettable climax. Pitt’s performance was also lauded.
9. Get Out
When an African-American man decides to visit his white girlfriend’s parents, everything seems normal enough. However, as the movie progresses, things begin to look severely out of joint. Get Out received great reviews overall, and was praised for its use of black comedy and for touching upon important social themes.
10. Night of the Living Dead
As an independent horror movie, Night of The Living Dead was produced on a limited budget of just over $100,000. However, upon its release, the movie was so well-received that it ended up earning over $30 million – almost 250 times its budget, making it one of the most profitable horror movies ever. Night of the Living Dead follows a group of people in Pennsylvania who lock themselves up in a cottage to keep out a horde of flesh-eating zombies.
11. The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs gave us Hannibal Lecter – one of the most horrifying characters in the history of cinema – and he wasn’t even the actual antagonist of the movie! Even though more of a thriller than a horror, The Silence of the Lambs taps into our anxiety by introducing a seemingly real villain – a serial killer who seems to have a taste for young girls. While it was criticized for its portrayal of LBGT issues, the movie was generally well-liked by audiences as well as critics.
12. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a slasher film that follows a group of friends who fall prey to a family of cannibals. Like The Blair Witch Project, this movie was marketed as based on true events as well. Due to its unrestrained use of gore and violence on screen, the filmmakers had difficulty finding distributors, and the movie ended up being banned in several countries. Despite initial mixed reviews, the movie went on to earn over $30 million, and is considered today as a major influence on the genre of slasher films.
Saw follows the story of two men who wake up to find themselves chained in a decrepit bathroom, with one of them being tasked to murder the other. The makers struggled to produce the movie in their home country, Australia, and had to pull investors from America. In the end, the movie was produced on a budget of just over a million dollars, and ended up earning over a hundred million in the box office – making it one of the most profitable horror movies since Scream (1996). Even though the movie was criticized for a weak screenplay, its plot and direction were praised.
14. A Nightmare on Elm Street
After all her friends are killed in their dreams by a mysterious man, Nancy realises she must not fall asleep if she wants to live. A Nightmare on Elm Street employs many tropes associated with low budget horror movies of the time, however, the film over the time has become a cult-classic, and has been especially praised for its theme of blurring the divisions between dreams and reality.
Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, It follows a group of children who must fight together against shape-shifting monster named Pennywise who tortures and feeds on children. Upon its release, It became the highest grossing horror film of all time (inflation unadjusted) and was well received by audiences as well as critics. It is considered one of the best Stephen King adaptations so far.
A family moves to a farm house. Shortly after, they discover crop circles – signalling the possible presence of alien life. Even though certain aspects of the script were criticized, Signs was a commercial succes and was well received by audiences and critics.
A sequel to the 1979 movie Alien, Aliens follows the story of Ellen Ripley, who wakes up from stasis after 57 years, and must warn everyone about a race of predatory aliens. Aliens is considered to be one of the greatest movies of the 80s, and recieved almost unanimous praise upon its release. It was lauded especially for its action sequences.
18. The Conjuring 2
When strange events start to occur after one of her children plays with an Ouija board with her friend, Peggy, a single mother, contacts Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Conjuring 2 is the second instalment of The Conjuring Series, and the third movie in The Conjuring Universe. The Conjuring 2 received generally positive reviews, and a spin-off based on the origin story of its antagonist, The Nun, was released in 2018.
19. Rosemary’s Baby
Rosemary’s Baby follows the story of a couple trying to have a baby who move into a new, fancier apartment, only to be welcomed by neighbours who seem to be involved in a satanic cult. Upon its release, the movie earned universal acclaim, and has since been regarded as one of the best Hollywood horror movies ever made, making it an all-time classic.
20. House of Wax
The movie follows a disfigured sculptor who decides to fill up his destroyed wax museum by killing people and putting up their wax-coated corpses on display. House of Wax was the first 3D movie from a major American production house. Even though initial reviews of the movie weren’t encouraging, over the years it has amassed a notable following.
21. Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity follows the story of a young couple that believes their house is haunted. To find out what’s causing the disturbance, they set up cameras all over their house. Made on a tiny budget of just over $200,000, Paranormal Activity ended up earning over $193 million, making it the most profitable movie ever made, and one of the best Hollywood horror movies till date. Because of its minimal budget, the movie had an indie feel that the critics and viewers especially liked.
After a seven-year-old child murders his own sister, he’s sent to prison. Fifteen years later, he escapes and flees to his hometown in search of his next victims. Once released, Halloween turned out to be one of the most successful independent movies of all time – grossing over $70 million in revenue. Halloween is credited as the first of the many slasher movies that have come after it.
23. Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th follows a group of camp counsellors who are murdered one after another while trying to reopen a summer camp. The success of Halloween encouraged the production of more slasher movies, Friday the 13th being one of them. Upon its release, it became a financial success, even as critical response was divided. Even though many aspects of the movie were praised, its use of graphic violence wasn’t appreciated as much.
24. 28 Days Later
After a highly contagious virus is accidentally released, the society is on the brink of a final breakdown. Sounds eerily familiar, does it not? Directed by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle, 28 Days Later was unanimously praised for its direction, cinematography and screenplay, and became a commercial success. The movie is often credited with resuscitating the zombie horror movie genre.
Hereditary follows the story of a family that is haunted by a mysterious presence after the passing away of the family’s matriarch. The movie went on to earn widespread acclaim, with many considering it one of the best Hollywood horror movies of the 21st century. The movie has been especially praised for its realism, tight screenplay and clever plot twists. Toni Collette’s performance is also noteworthy.
Did you like our list of the best Hollywood horror movies? Did we miss any of your favourites? Comment below to let us know!