The Exorcist (credit: Warner Bros.)
Since the invention of moving pictures, the horror story has been a fixture in visual storytelling that has terrified audiences everywhere. Thousands of films have been made but only a handful has certainly stabbed our hearts and left a horrific and permanent memory in our minds. We tell ourselves, “It’s just a movie…” but then again, it does stir the imagination.
In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve compiled the Top 40 Scariest Movies of All Time. To narrow down the list from the thousands of horror films can be frightening in it’s self. But some will agree with the results…and those who don’t…well…we did warn you. So, do enjoy…
#40 – SAW (2004)
With a dead body laying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them.
Starring Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell and Danny Glover
#39 – HELLRAISER (1987)
An unfaithful wife encounters the zombie of her dead lover, who’s being chased by demons after he escaped from their sado-masochistic Hell.
Written & Directed by Clive Barker – Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins and Ashley Laurence
#38 – EVIL DEAD II (1987)
The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holds up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.
Written & Directed by Sam Raimi – Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry and Dan Hicks
#37 – BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
Mary Shelley reveals the main characters of her novel survived: Dr. Frankenstein (goaded by an even madder scientist) builds his monster a mate.
Starring Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and Colin Clive
#36 – POLTERGEIST (1982)
A family’s home is haunted by a host of ghosts.
Written by Steven Spielberg – Starring JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke and Craig T. Nelson
#35 – THE EVIL DEAD (1981)
Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.
Written & Directed by Sam Raimi – Starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss and Richard DeManincor
#34 – THE CABINET OF CALIGARI (1920)
Dr. Caligari’s somnambulist, Cesare, and his deadly predictions.
Starring Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt and Friedrich Feher
#33 – A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971)
In future Britain, charismatic delinquent Alex DeLarge is jailed and volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy developed by the government in an effort to solve society’s crime problem… but not all goes to plan.
Written & Directed by Stanley Kubrick – Starring Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee and Michael Bates
#32 – FAUST (1926)
God and Satan war over earth; to settle things, they wager on the soul of Faust, a learned and prayerful alchemist…
Starring Gösta Ekman, Emil Jannings and Camilla Horn
#31 – MOTHMAN PROPHECIES (2002)
A reporter is drawn to a small West Virginia town to investigate a series of strange events, including psychic visions and the appearance of bizarre entities.
Starring Richard Gere, Laura Linney and David Eigenberg
#30 – 28 DAYS LATER (2002)
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Directed by Danny Boyle – Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris and Christopher Eccleston
#29 – JACOB’S LADDER (1990)
A traumatized Vietnam war veteran finds out that his post-war life isn’t what he believes it to be when he’s attacked by horned creatures in the subway and his dead son comes to visit him.
Directed by Adrian Lyne – Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Pena and Danny Aiello
#28 – JAWS (1975)
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
Directed by Steven Spielberg – Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw
#27 – AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
Two American tourists in Britain are attacked by a werewolf that none of the locals will admit exists.
Written & Directed by John Landis – Starring David Naughton, Griffin Dunne and Jenny Agutter
#26 – INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
In San Francisco, a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion.
Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum
#25 – THE RING (2002)
A young journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone in a week of viewing it.
Directed by Gore Verbinski – Starring Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson and Brian Cox
#24 – DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)
Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia SWAT team members, a traffic reporter, and his television-executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall.
Written & Directed by George A. Romero
#23 – LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
Oscar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl who turns out to be a vampire. In 2010, an American version was made called “Let Me In.”
Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar
#22 – THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend… The Blair Witch
Starring Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams and Joshua Leonard
#21 – PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007)
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.
Starring Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat and Mark Fredrichs
#20 – FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
Camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to re-open a summer camp that was the site of a child’s drowning.
Starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King and Jeannine Taylor
#19 – A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
In the dreams of his victims, a spectral child murderer stalks the children of the members of the lynch mob that killed him.
Written & Directed by Wes Craven – Starring Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp
#18 – THE SIXTH SENSE (1999)
A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.
Written & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan – Starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette
#17 – DRACULA (1931)
The ancient vampire Count Dracula arrives in England and begins to prey upon the virtuous young Mina.
Starring Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler and David Manners
#16 – FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
Horror classic in which an obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses.
Starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive and Mae Clarke
#15 – KING KONG (1933)
A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal giant gorilla who takes a shine to their female blonde star.
Starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot
#14 – CARRIE (1976)
A mousy and abused girl with telekinetic powers gets pushed too far on one special night.
Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and Amy Irving
#13 – THE OMEN (1976)
An American ambassador learns to his horror that his son is actually the literal Antichrist.
Starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and Harvey Stephens
#12 – THE HAUNTING (1963)
Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity.
Starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson
#11 – NOSFERATU (1922)
Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter’s wife. Silent classic based on the story “Dracula.”
Starring Max Schreck, Greta Schröder and Ruth Landshoff
#10 – HALLOWEEN (1978)
A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes on a mindless rampage while his doctor chases him through the streets.
Starring Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran
#9 – NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.
Director George A. Romero
#8 – ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968)
A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life.
Starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon
#7 – THE THING (1982)
Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills.
Starring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley and Keith David
#6 – THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
Five friends visiting their grandpa’s old house are hunted down and terrorized by a chainsaw wielding killer and his family of grave-robbing cannibals.
Starring Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal and Allen Danziger
#5 – SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and Scott Glenn
#4 – ALIEN (1979)
A mining ship, investigating a suspected SOS, lands on a distant planet. The crew discovers some strange creatures and investigates.
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt and John Hurt
#3 – PSYCHO (1960)
A young woman steals $40,000 from her employer’s client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother.
Starring Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles
#2 – THE SHINING (1980)
A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.
Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall and Danny Lloyd
#1 – THE EXORCIST (1973)
When a teenager is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
Starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair