10 Essential Must-Watch Horror Movies, According To Reddit

Horror movies range vastly in quality, with certain films of the genre propitiating the stereotype of their poor quality, while others defy all expectations and become classic films in their own right. There are countless horror films worth watching, however, which can be daunting for viewers looking to break into the scary scene for the first time.

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Recently, a Reddit poll hosted by JacksonCableTV sought to help prospective horror viewers by gathering the “Ten Essential Horror Movies” to watch. Other Redditors were asked to weigh in with their own favorite horror movies. Those mentions were then tallied into a list of the most important horror films for viewers at home to watch.


Hereditary (2018)

Annie looking at a model of her mother in Hereditary

Reddit user firesharknado provided their own review of the top horror films, including a brief discussion of the 2018 film Hereditary, starring Toni Collette and Alex Wolff. They describe this film as being comprised of “pure dread and hopelessness,” also adding that the horror of this film “really sticks with you.”

Hereditary was the surprise horror hit of 2018, with many describing the film as being exactly what the horror genre is supposed to look like. The various dark twists and turns that the film takes are part of what makes Hereditary a horror movie worth watching more than once.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Leatherface From Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974

Redditor theolderthefiddle includes the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in their list of essential horror films, citing that it was “originally banned in many cinemas in the UK.” Upon being able to finally view the film, they write that it “opened up a whole new genre of movie” for them.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre falsely advertised itself as a “true story,” drawing audiences to see it in droves, making it one of the most profitable films ever at the time. The film is remembered for its terrifying atmosphere and irreverent use of blood and gore throughout its story. The franchise is slated to receive a reboot with the same name as the original film this February.

Psycho (1960)

Janet Leigh screaming in the shower scene in Psycho.

Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic Psycho is another popular pick put forward by the people of Reddit, with user lcthatch1 including it among their grouping of films necessary in order to “get a rounded idea of horror.”  They also add that the film is among their favorites in the genre.

Psycho is an all-around horror classic that still holds up today, with the iconic shower murder scene being constantly remade, parodied, and referenced in everything from Scream Queens to Looney Tunes. Nevertheless, the rest of the film deserves to be remembered for igniting genuine fear in its viewers for over sixty years.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 Freddy Krueger Smoky Alley

The original A Nightmare on Elm Street receives plenty of love from Redditors in their discussions of the horror genre. One user by the name of Dark_Vengeance even goes so far as to label the film’s villain Freddy Krueger as “the ultimate horror villain.”

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A Nightmare on Elm Street is just one of the many horror films to redefine the genre in the late ’70s to early ’80s, a new golden age of scary movies. The franchise is indeed best known for its iconic villain in Freddy Krueger, the monstrous humanoid capable of hunting people down in their own dreams, making nightmares all the scarier after viewing this film.

Scream (1996)

Scream 1996

Some films seem predisposed to appear on just about any top ten list of their respective genres. Such was the case for the first Scream movie, according to T-408, who humorously writes “If ya list excludes Scream, rethink ya list.”

The Scream franchise has long been known for referencing other classics of the genre. Its satire of horror films was so poignant and so effective that it introduced a whole new set of tropes and archetypes for the entire slasher-horror flick genre, reigniting a love of horror movies in the late ’90s.

The Shining (1980)

Jack Nicholson looking through the door in The Shining.

Firesharknado writes that Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of the classic Stephen King horror The Shining is “the best descent into madness type of horror for me. The performances really elevate it into something special.”

Though King famously dislikes this adaptation of his work, general film audiences tend to disagree with his assessment, as the film has become a staple of the genre. As mentioned in the above Reddit post, the performances of Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall as Jack and Wendy Torrance respectively have been lauded by critics and fans alike for truly elevating the film as a whole.

The Thing (1982)

Palmer mutating into a Thing in The Thing 1982

John Carpenter’s 1982 monster horror flick The Thing received plenty of love from Reddit, as different users compiled their favorite scary movies. One Redditor by the name of bacardiwynn includes the film in a list of movies that “stuck with me,” alongside other staples of the genre, such as Alien and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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The original The Thing film is a fun film to rewatch in the present day, as it stars some recognizable faces like Kurt Russel and Keith David. While the film initially opened to poor reviews from critics, it did pioneer many special effects techniques that pushed moviemaking forward. It has gained a cult following over the years of fans who have learned to appreciate the film for its faults, even becoming a classic among the horror genre.

The Exorcist (1973)

A Redditor with the handle theolderthefiddle tells a story about the first time that they saw The Exorcist, which had received an ‘X’ rating in the United Kingdom. “Me and two mates sneaked into the cinema,” they write, “and I just know the movie deserved its X rating.”

The Exorcist is a film that manages to be both scary and profound, a rare distinction among other films in the horror genre. It also managed to be incredibly controversial given its unapologetic depiction of supernatural elements including demons and possession. It remains one of the most terrifying films of all time, even decades later.

Halloween (1978)

Michael Myers in Halloween 1978

Reddit user firesharknado writes about the original Halloween film, calling it “the absolute best slasher movie” with “great characters [and] the best score in horror.” They also later go on to call the film’s killer Michael Myers “actually scary” in comparison to other classic horror villains.

Like many of the greatest horror movies, the 1978 Halloween entirely reinvented horror, especially the “slasher” subset of the genre. The film spawned several lesser sequels and, eventually, the 2018 reboot that was similarly well-received. Even so, none of the follow-up films in the franchise ever did justice to the original, which made the most of its minuscule budget to deliver one of the most skin-crawling horror movies of all time.

Alien (1979)


In discussing the original Alien film, Redditor Youreturningviolet writes “I spend a lot of time thinking how utterly terrifying Alien must have been in its first run in theaters before it was woven into the fabric of pop culture… the terror must have been delicious.”

This 1979 film from the mind of Ridley Scott changed the horror game entirely, spawning endless pop-culture allusions and ripoffs. Its tone of complete and utter terror persists even to this day, over forty years later. While other horror films have blazed paths for themselves since, none have quite reached the level of the original Alien.

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10 Essential Must-Watch Horror Movies, According To Reddit