Graveyard Shift

The Best Intelligent Horror Movies 

Ranker Film
Updated November 13, 2019 666.7k votes 25.5k voters 267.1k views 113 items

List Rules Vote up the best intelligent horror movies.

If you think horror movies are nothing more than slashers slashing, supernatural creatures wreaking havoc, and gallons of the red stuff, think again; intelligent horror movies demonstrate that smart horror exists - and is really good to boot. The best intelligent horror films operate at multiple levels, weaving social commentary into plot lines that are equal parts thought-provoking and terrifying. 

From Jordan Peele's Get Out to John Krasinski's A Quiet Place, there's no shortage of films that prove horror is actually smart. But what are the smartest entries in the intelligent horror genre?

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Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

Released: 1973

Directed by: William Friedkin

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Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

Released: 1980

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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David Lamotte added Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

Released: 1978

Directed by: John Carpenter

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David Lamotte added John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie

Released: 1976

Directed by: Brian De Palma

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Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson

Released: 2010

Directed by: James Wan

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It Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor

Released: 2017

Directed by: Andy Muschietti

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Bruce Willis, Mischa Barton, Haley Joel Osment

Released: 1999

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

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The Ring is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Naomi Watts, Pauley Perrette, Brian Cox

Released: 2002

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

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Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Shawnee Smith

Released: 2004

Directed by: James Wan

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The Conjuring 2: The Enf... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O'Connor

Released: 2016

Directed by: James Wan

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The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Wade Moosewah added James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger

Released: 1979

Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

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Alien is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ridley Scott

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Ali Larter, Seann William Scott, Devon Sawa

Released: 2000

Directed by: James Wong

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Greg Kootstra added Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner

Released: 1976

Directed by: Richard Donner

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Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Amy Acker

Released: 2012

Directed by: Drew Goddard

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David Lamotte added Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris

Released: 2002

Directed by: Danny Boyle

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David Lamotte added Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Fred Thompson

Released: 2012

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

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Scream is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Nicole McMenamin added Drew Barrymore, Rose McGowan, Courteney Cox

Released: 1996

Directed by: Wes Craven

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David Lamotte added Tom Savini, Ken Foree, James A. Baffico

Released: 1978

Directed by: George A. Romero

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Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Randy McDowell

Released: 2007

Directed by: Oren Peli

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David Lamotte added Vincent Price, Richard Long, Elisha Cook

Released: 1959

Directed by: William Castle

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Psycho is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Intelligent Horror Movies
Greg Kootstra added Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

Released: 1960

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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Lena Headey, Ethan Hawke, Adelaide Kane

Released: 2013

Directed by: James DeMonaco

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