Seven of the Most Popular Horror Films of All Times

It's normal to be fascinated by scary things. In this article, read about seven of the best horror films.
Seven of the Most Popular Horror Films of All Times
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Written by Camila Thomas

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Horror films attract an immense audience. Even though they generate fear and paranoia in their viewers, the public continues to demand and enjoy this type of entertainment. But why do we like horror films so much?

Various researchers who study this kind of phenomena say the reasons are simple. People like horror films because they make us feel in control. We know that what we’re seeing on the screen isn’t real. Also, we know the movie will end and that we can pause it or stop watching it if we can’t stand it any longer. In this context, we have total control over our emotions.

If you’re a fan of horror films, then you might enjoy this selection.

“Some people ask why people would go into a dark room to be scared. I say they’re already scared, and they need to have that fear manipulated and massaged. I think of horror movies as the disturbed dreams of a society.”

-Wes Craven-

1. The Shining

The Shining is probably the most popular horror film in history. It’s based on the book of the same name that was written by Stephen King in 1977. The movie tells the story of Jack, a writer who accepts a position as manager of a secluded hotel in the mountains during the winter season. However, the hotel hides a terrible secret: a story of murder followed by possession and horror.

In short, while Jack is living in the hotel with his wife and son, his mental health deteriorates until he becomes a danger to his family. Of course, supernatural forces drove him mad little by little.

Written and directed by John Carpenter, Halloween is a 1988 film. It tells the story of Michael Myers, a young man who ended up in a mental institution. Michael was imprisoned after killing his older sister, Judith.

Fifteen years later, Michael escapes from the mental institution in order to return to his hometown. Once there, he plans to kill more people on Halloween (hence the name of the film). However, he’s chased by his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, and then…

3. The Exorcist

The Exorcist is a 1973 horror film, an adaptation from the novel of the same name. In the movie, Regan is a 12-year-old girl who lives in a small town. After playing with an Ouija board, and contacting a supernatural spirit, the teenager begins to act in a rather peculiarly demonic way.

Regan begins by uttering weird sounds. Then, she steals things from her mother and exhibits superhuman strength. Her mother soon becomes convinced that Regan is possessed by some evil spirit and decides to act on her hunch. Thus, she contacts two priests who specialize in exorcisms. However, the girl is possessed by a very powerful demon and it won’t be easy to convince him to let go of her.

4. A Nightmare on Elm Street


A Nightmare on Elm Street is the first in a series of highly popular 80s films. It tells the story of four teenagers who’re harassed and murdered in their dreams. The curious thing about these dreams is that, when they die during a dream, they also die in real life.

The teenagers don’t understand the cause of this strange phenomenon. However, they know that if they fall asleep, they’ll most likely die. Nonetheless, they soon discover that their parents have kept a secret for many years. This secret will be the key to understanding the reason behind their nightmares.

5. Poltergeist

Poltergeist is a 1982 Steven Spielberg film. In its beginnings, it was conceived as a horror sequel to the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. However, the concept soon changed.

The film Poltergeist tells the story of a family that lives in a quiet suburb of California. Suddenly, the peaceful life of the Freeling family changes completely. Their house has an evil spirit: a Poltergeist.

Soon after, the younger daughter of the Freeling couple disappears and her parents realize that she’s somehow inside the TV. The evil spirit will soon begin to attack the rest of the family, trying to eat them one by one.

6. The Conjuring

Like Poltergeist, and the acclaimed film The Ring, the 2013 film The Conjuring is a horror movie with supernatural overtones. In fact, Ed and Lorraine Warren are a real-life couple of researchers of supernatural phenomena. Which makes the story, just another horror fantasy, contrary to what they might like you to believe.

In the film, the Warrens go to a house that’s seemingly haunted. This house is constantly under attack by evil supernatural spirits. Soon after, they discover that the house once belonged to a witch named Bathsheba, who sacrificed her newborn son to the Devil. Bathsheba is the spirit that’s been attacking the owners of the house. The Warrens must try to get rid of the evil spirit of Bathsheba through any means.

7. The Babadook

This Australian film The Babadook is very well-known within the horror genre. The movie was released in 2014 and tells the story of Amelia and her son, Sam. When Sam, who’s six, begins to show confusing and erratic behavior, Amelia begins to worry.

Sam asks her to read him a bedtime story. Thus, he gives her a book she never saw before. The storybook’s title is Lord Babadook and has a character of the same name. It’s a humanoid who tortures his victims after they learn of his existence.

Thus, after torture begins, Amelia gets increasingly paranoid. At the same time, the presence of the Babadook also scares Sam. But how does one get rid of a being that you simply can never get rid of?


These are just some of the horror movies that have made history in the world of horror films. Of course, there are countless great horror movies that didn’t make the list. Watch these, watch those, watch them all.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.