20 Horror Movies Everyone Should See Once

Every year provides plenty of horror movies, but only a select few over time have been must-sees.

There are many horror films out there, but only a few are of a must-watch level of quality. The following are the absolute best of the best. The ones that no one, film fan or layperson, should ever miss out on. Each of the following films holds considerable impact, whether they were made at just the right time or featured jut the right cast list or had the ideal director. They’re all at least a little different from one another, but what unites them is pure quality. From zombie movies to man-with-a-knife shockers, these are the horror films that no one should live a life without seeing at least once.

Alfred Hitchcock blew the doors off the horror genre with Psycho, crafting a film that terrified audiences then and retains much of its effect even 60 years later. Whether it’s the film’s protagonist bait-and-switch, Anthony Perkins’ performance, or the infamous shower scene, Psycho is a film that’s been emulated many times since its release.

A truly bizarre film, it’s hard to believe Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds exists. But, it does, and there’s little doubt that no director besides Hitch could have made it not only scary, but anything other than laughable.

Roman Polanski is widely considered one of cinema’s greatest (and most controversial) masters. A big reason for this is Rosemary’s Baby, which helped put him on the map in a major way just one year before he (and his wife, Sharon Tate) would make the airwaves in a different, far sadder, way.

The ultimate fright flick, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist has as much power in the 2020s as it had in the early ’70s. No matter how many different, specific, new narratives are crafted, now matter how advanced special effects get, there’s simply no topping every element of The Exorcist’s production.

Outside The Exorcist, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the scariest film ever made. There’s absolutely nothing in it that couldn’t happen in real life…and that should be enough to send shivers up anyone’s spine.

Quite possibly the most famous and revered horror film of all time, John Carpenter’s Halloween has had more positive words written about it than are in its entire screenplay. From the haunting opening scene to Jamie Lee Curtis’ Boogeyman line, it’s perfection.