Many people generally, and perhaps naively, consider horror to be sub-standard cinema; however, there are several examples from which to draw your support. From paranormal to slashers, physical torture to psychological trauma, there are so many paths to go down, and there are fantastic films within them all.
Yes, all film is subjective, but with that subjectivity must come some form of consensus on the quality of each individual film. And with that consensus, fans get the opportunity to see which films are considered perfect (or at least near-perfect) in the eyes of the critics.
'Eyes Without A Face' (1960) - Metascore 90
Doctor Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) is desperately trying to restore the smile of his daughter (Edith Scob) after she suffered a terrible accident in 1960. However, his approach is to steal the faces of other innocent young women and graft them onto his daughter.
Eyes Without A Face is a tight, simple story about a father who would go to any lengths to ensure his daughter the life she deserves, and a daughter who has lost all hope and hope in this haunting score.
'King Kong' (1933) - Metascore 90
King Kong tells the story of a massive gorilla from a mysterious place known as Skull Mountain (later changed to Skull Island), who ends up in New York City, seeking out his human bride, for the reason that it is still going strong today.
King Kong remains a top-tier creature feature, although it is certainly a product of the times, with several extremely outdated terms and tropes, it manages to shine with exceptional production value and a compelling story with many layered meanings. The stop-motion scenes alone merits its praise.
'The Birds' (1963) - Metascore 90
The Birds, a 1963 horror/thriller from Alfred Hitchcock, takes nature to a whole new level when a massive flock of birds brutally assaults the inhabitants of a small costal village in California.
The Birds follows Vertigo, North By Northwest, and Psycho in a way that makes viewers hesitate when they encounter a large flock of birds in real life.
'Repulsion' (1965) - Metascore 91
Repulsion follows a timid, yet disturbed, young woman named Carol, who begins to have nightmarish hallucinations centered around the men who desire her. Her worldview becomes more hazy as her mind becomes more hidden.
Roman Polanski created a believable atmosphere of tension and suspense, allowing the audience to journey with Carol into the very darkness that haunted her.
'Frankenstein' (1931) - Metascore 91
Frankenstein, making his debut as one of the most well-known horror monsters of all time, narrates the age-old tale of a man wanting to be God but failing. After he discovers the secret, and creates a new being, everything goes wrong, and he must destroy the very thing he created.
This Mary Shelley's novel of the same name has grown to be a staple of the horror genre, inspiring many more films, including Edward Scissorhands, RoboCop, Ex Machina, and Jurassic Park, among others, as well as spawning dozens of other films in the Frankenstein franchise. With its stunning scenery and makeup effects, Frankenstein is no wonder to be considered one of the top-tier horror films.
'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers' (1956) - Metascore 92
A group of people must figure out how to stop an extraterrestrial invasion of Earth, in the form of alien plant spores, before being taken over and replaced with copies, called "pod people."
The fear that pervades the 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers is absolutely palpable, and is one of the main reasons this film endures the test of time. The audience does the same, never quite being able to trust anyone in the film. For good reason.
'Don't Look Now' (1973) - Metascore 95
John Baxter, a young Donald Sutherland, plays a clairvoyant woman and her sister in this psychological thriller by Nicolas Roeg. They meet during a visit to Venice and John's suspicion starts to fade.
Things take a strange turn as John and Laura travel through Venice, looking for answers to their daughter's suicide, and with that come an unsettlingness for the audience, who, like John, is unconvinced of what exactly is going on.
'The Bride Of Frankenstein' (1935) - Metascore 95
The Bride of Frankenstein, a direct sequel to Frankenstein from 1931, explores the monster in a way that the original was unable to. However, the monster's rage after almost being burned alive is shown in a way that the original was unable to do. His joy at the sound of beautiful music, and the friendship he builds with the man playing that music, makes him a much more sympathetic figure in the eyes of the audience.
This film is more about the monster and his character arc, rather than the actual "Bride," as the name suggests. The monster manages to become a more well-rounded character, with needs and desires, and an appreciation of his emotions and actions.
'Rosemary's Baby' (1968) - Metascore 96
Rosemary's Baby is the epicenter of Satanic pregnancy movies. Touted as Roman Polanski's finest film, he manages to create tension and suspense throughout the 2+ hour runtime, just as it does with Mia Farrow's Rosemary.
This film is for you, whether you want something art house, are interested in the social commentary contained within, or are just looking for an old-fashioned dramatic horror film.
'Psycho' (1960) - Metascore 97
Psycho is Hitchcock's most popular film, and it is his most famous film. She follows a woman (Janet Leigh) who runs away after embezzling money from her boss' client, finding refuge in a roadside motel run by a man named Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), where things aren't as they appear.
With ever-increasing suspense and stunning haunting imagery, Hitchcock's skill to manipulate people's fears is on full display here, in one of the greatest ways. And the way he takes this story halfway through, in an unexpected way, are just a few reasons why Psycho is today the highest-rated horror film on Metacritic.