The greatest horror movies of all-time hit the screen in this week’s 12-Inch Poll. Because when you love horror, it’s always Spooky Season.


You see, I really enjoy watching horror movies. In fact, I shared a list of what I believe to be the 12 best modern horror movies. I’ve also done a poll asking you to vote for the greatest horror movie villains. You’ll see some of those baddies show their faces–masked or otherwise–in this Poll. But I’m casting a wider net here, and going back much further than just the last few years. In fact, there’s nine decades of horror cinema represented in the list below.


Usually for an exercise like this, I’m making a list of 12. Because I’m Adam 12. That’s the bit; that’s my thing. But as I started to list favorite horror films of mine and horror films that are widely regarded as all-time greats, I began to realize that 12 wasn’t going to cut it. So I took the 1 and the 2 and I flipped ’em around and ended up with a list of 21 horror films spanning almost ninety years of big-screen scares. So let’s see what made the cut!


What Are the Greatest Horror Movies of All Time?

A disclaimer, of sorts, to start with. “Scary” is relative. So don’t expect to find every movie on my list to terrify you. For example, I started with the original Dracula from 1931 starring Bela Lugosi. Does it pack in the scares today? Of course not. But it sure as hell did when it debuted and it’s a classic that deserves its due. What I’d like you to do is scroll through my list, consider each film for both its place in the horror cannon and its place in your heart, and vote for the one you think is the greatest. And if a favorite of yours didn’t make the cut, let me know on the ROCK 92.9 Facebook or Twitter.

  • Dracula (1931)

    I put Gary Oldman’s 1992 portrayal at the top of my list of greatest Draculas. But Lugosi defined the role.

  • The Wolf Man (1941)

    Lon Chaney, sitting in the makeup chair for hours, having yak’s hairs glued to his face one by one. That’s dedication.

  • The Blob (1958)

    Sure, it’s kitschy to look back on it now. But this one was a bit of groundbreaking horror back in the day.

  • Psycho (1960)

    What’s scarier than another human being who’s lost their mind? And has a big knife at their disposal?

  • Night of the Living Dead (1968)

    The fact that this was shot in black and white and is still as unsettling and terrifying as it is? Romero is a horror genius.

  • Rosemary's Baby (1968)

    ’68 was a stacked year for classic horror, between the movie that launched the zombie genre and this bit of terror.

  • The Exorcist (1973)

    This movie is over a half-century old and is still topping “scariest movie of all time” lists. Impressive legacy.

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

    It was a rite of passage growing up as a Gen-Xer: hearing your friends talk about watching this one but never actually seeing it yourself. Wait, was that just me?

  • Jaws (1975)

    Imagine making a horror movie that’s so visceral and effective it makes people say: “Yeah, I’m not swimming in the ocean ever again.”

  • Suspiria (1977)

    Don’t sleep on this one. It’s a cult classic that’s been remade and while it doesn’t have the cache of some of the movies on this list, it’s still damn good.

  • Halloween (1978)

    My favorite horror film of all-time. My favorite film of all-time. So you know where my vote is going.

  • Alien (1979)

    I begged my dad to let me watch this one when I was too young to be watching movies of this ilk. I regretted it immediately.

  • The Shining (1980)

    Books have been written about Kubrik’s take on King’s tome and King’s changing opinions on the film over the years. No need to rehash all that here: this is an absolute classic, hands-down.

  • Friday the 13th (1980)

    Was this the first Slasher? No. But did it pretty much define the genre? Yes.

  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)

    That transformation scene is still one of the most terrifying visuals ever put to film.

  • Poltergeist (1982)

    Cursed set. Cursed film. Cursed cast. Still, and all-timer.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

    There are few horror villains more iconic than Freddy Kruger, and that counts for something.

  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

    There’s not a lot of psychological horror on this list, but leaving this one off would be a travesty.

  • Scream (1996)

    Redefining horror films and slasher films for a new generation. It spawned an entire franchise, too.

  • The Ring (2002)

    That scene. Early on in the film. You know the one. It sticks with you.

  • It Follows (2017)

    Wanted to round out the list with something more recent, and I think this one’s a winner.

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