Most of the greatest films of any given genre are heralded as being timeless classics which can be revisited time and time again. However, horror serves as a bit of an anomaly in that some of the most celebrated films to come from the genre end up being lauded for being so terrifying and so disturbing that they can’t be watched any more than once.
While the ‘too disturbing to watch more than once’ label is something of a badge of honor for many horror filmmakers, the fact is that many of the genre’s greatest movies only get better with repeat viewings. From smash hit slasher flicks to suspenseful psychological thrillers, these horror films were made to be watched over and over.
10 ‘Alien’ (1979)
One of the genre’s most iconic, influential, and timeless classics, Alien was celebrated as a hallmark of horror upon release and its legend has only grown stronger in the decades since. The film meticulously built up the dread and suspense as it followed the crew of a commercial spacecraft as they’re hunted down by a deadly alien after responding to a mysterious transmission.
The sci-fi horror hit served as Ridley Scott’s breakout, shedding light on the director’s ability to intricately weave a compelling narrative while sticking to, and even expanding upon, pre-existing genre tropes. A masterpiece of confined storytelling, immaculate design, and raw terror, Alien still stands as the ultimate monster horror and is worthy of multiple rewatches.
9 ‘The Thing’ (1982)
Not only one of the most viscerally terrifying horror movies of all time, but The Thing also stands as one of the genre’s most enjoyable and entertaining flicks. The unrelenting heart-pounder follows a small crew of American scientists in Antarctica who are picked off by a shape-shifting alien.
From the mounting tension as the crew explores the aftermath of the attack on the Norwegian based to the outbursts of gruesome body horror when the monster attacks, The Thing remains a gripping film no matter how many times you’ve seen it. Complimented by the cast’s flawless performances and an underlying 80s action attitude, it doesn’t lose any of its appeal when revisited.
8 ‘Halloween’ (1978)
While it can’t lay claim to being the first ever slasher film, few would deny Halloween helped pioneer the blood-splattered subgenre, seeing it rise to prominence through visceral terror and one of cinema’s most iconic villains. Following the escape and ensuing murder spree of a deranged killer, John Carpenter’s grueling slasher paved the way for an entirely new brand of horror film.
Halloween still stands as one of the greatest examples of petrifying slasher entertainment and loses little of its fear factor on rewatch. Freddy Krueger may be more fun and Jason Voorhees more prolific, but horror hounds will always revisit Michael Myers and Halloween when their heart yearns for a truly terrifying slasher spectacle.
7 ‘Evil Dead II’ (1987)
A meshing of horror and comedy as unforgettably ingenious as it was side-splittingly hilarious, Evil Dead II has long been heralded as one of the most unique and creative horror movies ever made. A slightly retconned sequel to The Evil Dead – which is itself a celebrated cult classic – Evil Dead II finds Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) charging headlong into bloody battle against the demonic deadites.
Closely interlinked with Ash’s own descent into reckless abandon, the film’s eagerness to ham up the special effects and slapstick gore ensured the unhinged sequel would become a cherished and endlessly rewatchable favorite of horror fans for decades to come. The franchise’s continued presence in pop-culture is directly linked to the popularity and fun-loving absurdity of Evil Dead II.
6 ‘Scream’ (1996)
A perfect mix of parodying slasher flicks while excelling at being one itself, Scream was instantly received a celebrated hit by horror fans due to Wes Craven’s intricate knowledge of the genre. It follows multiple residents in the small town of Woodsboro as a sadistic serial killer launches a reign of terror.
It’s ability to perfectly nail its mixture of comedy, suspense, horror, and even satire ensured Scream was able to procure frequent laughs from genre fans while never undermining itself when it came to producing thrills. It was little surprise it spawned multiple sequels which, if nothing else, were always eager to deliver intriguing observations on horror storytelling and the film industry in general.
5 ‘The Shining’ (1980)
An unparalleled masterclass of mounting suspense, technical prowess, and raw terror, The Shining stands as an endlessly rewatchable horror film due to its sheer brilliance. Adapted from Stephen King’s novel, it follows a family who relocate to the remote Overlook Hotel for the winter when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) is hired as the offseason caretaker.
Realizing the horrors within the hotel and Jack’s gradual descent into madness with long and dreadful sequences of tension, Stanley Kubrick’s direction saw that every lingering moment and music beat had the maximum effect on the audience. The weighted, agonizing suspense doesn’t ease up on rewatches which is what makes The Shining such a rewatchable horror movie.
4 ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ (2011)
A favorite of horror fans everywhere, The Cabin in the Woods parodied the cabin in the woods cliché while excelling at it. The creative horror comedy follows five college friends on a small vacation to a remote cabin where they are suddenly attacked by zombies while two scientists manipulate everything that happens.
Twisty, suspenseful, and loaded with meta-fun which intelligently prods at genre tropes, the film has been warmly received by the horror community for how successfully it flipped the script on its head. While the horror elements land impressively well and the comedy pops off the screen, it’s the precise balancing act and the weaving story that makes The Cabin in the Woods so rewarding with every rewatch.
3 ‘Get Out’ (2017)
An instant classic, Jordan Peele’s horror-thriller amassed widespread acclaim upon release and has only been viewed even more favorably since. A perfect blend of contemplative drama and social satire, Get Out follows a black photographer as he visits his white girlfriend’s wealthy family and discovers a shocking secret.
Whether it’s the film’s ability to gradually unravel the mystery, to touch on underlying racial tensions in certain social environments, or just the sheer originality of the story as a whole, Get Out offers plenty of factors which can be enjoyed and explored deeper on repeat viewings.
2 ‘Jaws’ (1975)
After almost 50 years, it is a testament to Steven Spielberg’s mastery that Jaws stills stands as the pinnacle of blockbuster horror. The Summer stunner tracks the police chief of a small New England tourist town who is joined by a rugged ship captain and an ichthyologist to hunt down a giant shark that is wreaking havoc on beach visitors.
The embodiment of heart-pounding terror, Spielberg’s ability to build suspense combined with John Williams’ terrifying soundtrack made for a timeless horror classic. Regardless of if fans want to buy in to the film’s political allegory or not, Jaws is an endlessly rewatchable horror film which is an undisputed icon of the genre.
1 ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991)
A chilling psychological thriller made famous by Anthony Hopkins’ harrowing performance; The Silence of the Lambs is the only horror movie to win Best Picture at the Oscars. It follows FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she is sent to interview an imprisoned, psychotic, psychologist who may be able to offer valuable insight into an active serial killer case.
Also functioning as a gripping crime-mystery thriller, it excels at gradually unraveling the mystery while mounting the suspense. Even on multiple rewatches, The Silence of the Lambs holds up as a terrifying psychological horror capable of making hearts race thanks to its stellar cast and Jonathan Demme’s astute direction.