As we wile away the hours waiting for Maximum Overdrive and for Dead Set to start (Monday Oct. 25 at 10 p.m. ET), we’re getting in touch with our inner Type A personality and making lists. We already counted down our top zombie films, but while zombie films are generally gross what with all the limbs falling off and shovels to the head (or lawn mowers in the case of Dead Alive), they don’t usually create lasting psychological damage. While we love Evil Dead 2, it’s no Jaws. We’re looking for the movies that make you think twice before walking up a certain flight of stairs, dipping toes into the water, or changing addresses. So today we’re making a list and checking it twice of the scariest movies ever. Disagree with out choices? Tell us in the comments.
When a demon possesses a little girl, an exorcism is her mother’s only hope. The Exorcist has been freaking the heck out of people since its release in 1973.
A perfect couple in the quintessential New York apartment eagerly await the arrival of their first baby. Until they realize something is off. Namely, that the baby is the spawn of the devil. Seems the realtor forgot to mention the satanic cult living next door. Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby is a creepy masterpiece.
The original Dutch version of The Vanishing is a haunting film that will make sure you keep eyes on your loved ones at all gas stations and rest stops.
When George C. Scott moves into a mansion on the outskirts of Seattle he gets a lot more than peace, quiet, rain, and double nonfat cappuccinos. Instead he moves into one of the most unsettling ghost stories ever in The Changeling. Gold star performance by an inanimate object goes to the wheelchair in the attic.
From “Redrum” to those ghastly little girls to “All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy” to almost every scene with Jack Nicholson in it there are so many frightening moments in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining we don’t know where to start.
Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, hell is a lot worse than Dante lead us to believe. As IFC’s Will Weinand said, “You get stuck in eternal torment just for being curious. And the Cenobites don’t just destroy your body, they torture your soul for eternity.” Yep, that sounds terrifying.
When Ridley Scott commissioned H.R. Giger to create an alien the resulting xenomorph was unlike anything else in sci fi horror films. Alien took the fear of the unknown and made it ten times worse by putting a team of scientists in outer space facing down a creature that stalks you, uses you as an incubator, and then hunts you. Also, androids, an evil mega-corporation, and death by magazine. Death by magazine, people!
John Carpenter’s 1978 low budget tour de fear, Halloween is one of the most widely imitated horror films of all time. And for good reason, it is completely terrifying.
Steven Spielberg’s Jaws has been turning happy swimmers into frightened landlubbers since 1975.
Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone is an evocative tale of revenge set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War in an always creepy abandoned school. The ghosts are serious and so is the fear.