It’s hard to beat a good scary movie. The scares, the thrills, the excitement, the adrenaline rushes, the shocks, the awes, the fears, the anxieties, the surprises, the jump-out-of-your-seat moments, and, of course, the relief when the credits start to roll combine to deliver a film experience like no other.
This top 10 list will look at the 10 scariest movies of all time.
10. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Polish director Roman Polanski is no stranger to controversy. Throughout his career, his filmography and personal life have both been subjected to criticism from film lovers and critics alike. In 1968, Polanski shocked the world with his film ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. The film starred Mia Farrow as Rosemary Woodhouse, a pregnant woman who starts to worry that her husband has offered her unborn child to a cult to be used as a human sacrifice during an upcoming ritual. Polanski utilised a number of psychological tricks to instil feelings of dread and worry in the audiences watching the film. It’s these psychological tricks that made Rosemary’s Baby so difficult to watch. Rosemary’s Baby was incredibly well received by both critics and audiences. It’s currently rated 8.0/10 on imdb.com and has a 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. Seven (1995)
David Fincher’s 1992 directorial debut ‘Alien 3’ was a disaster of a film. The film had a troubled production and Fox Studios, the studio financing the film, refused to give Fincher final cut privileges, meaning he had to compromise on his vision for the film. With 1995’s Se7en, Fincher learned from his mistakes. He enjoyed a lengthy production cycle and forced New Line Cinema to give him final cut. The result was one of the greatest psychological horror thrillers ever made. Se7en starred Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as two detectives solving a string of murders based on the seven deadly sins. Fincher gradually increased the tension throughout the film before delivering an unexpected twist ending that both shocked and delighted. Critics adored Se7en, giving it an 84% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences fell in love with it too, giving it an 8.7/10 score on imdb.com.
8. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most famous and revered filmmakers of all time. His films ‘Rear Window’, ‘North by Northwest’, ‘Strangers on a Train’, and ‘Vertigo’ are considered by most to be some of the finest movies ever made. 1960’s ‘Psycho’ is arguably Hitchcock’s most loved, most revered, and most famous horror film. The film, a psychological suspense thriller, starred Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, a secretary hiding from her boss at a motel. Things soon go awry when Janet meets Norman Bates, the owner of the motel, played by Anthony Perkins. Psycho expertly upped the suspense from start to finish. Hitchcock was a master of the suspense genre, and he used all of his tricks to deliver an unforgettable film experience. Critics loved Psycho, giving it a 96% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences loved the film too, scoring it 8.6/10 on imdb.com.
7. Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s filmography is one of legend. In the 80s, he released ‘Escape From New York’, ‘The Thing’, ‘Big Trouble in Little China’, ‘Prince of Darkness’, and ‘They Live’, and in the 90s he released ‘In the Mouth of Madness’, ‘Village of the Damned’, and ‘Escape from LA’. Carpenter also introduced the world to Michael Myers in 1978’s ‘Halloween’, a slasher horror film about an unkillable murdering psychopath with a taste for teenage blood. Halloween was a close-to-perfect slasher flick. It featured excess amounts of gore and great performances from its cast, including female lead Jamie Lee Curtis. Critics enjoyed Halloween greatly, giving it a 94% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences enjoyed it too, giving it a 7.9/10 rating on imdb.com.
6. The Ring (2002)
In 1998, Japanese horror film ‘Ringu’ was released in Japanese cinemas. The film terrified Japanese audiences and plans were soon put in motion to create a Hollywood remake for western audiences. Director Gore Verbinski was given the tough task of recreating ‘The Ring’ for the west. He enlisted the services of writers Ehren Kruger and Scott Frank to pen the screenplay with Ringu screenwriter Kôji Suzuki on hand to provide assistance where necessary. Verbinski’s remake was arguably better than the original. The film, a horror movie about an evil spirit who attacks and kills people after watching a cursed vhs tape, scared and delighted audiences throughout the western world. The film was well received by critics who gave it a 71% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film currently has a respectable 7.1/10 rating on imdb.com, too.
5. Jaws (1975)
Director Steven Spielberg is one of the most celebrated film directors of all time. Since 1975, he’s released a number of film classics, including ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, ‘Jurassic Park’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, and many more. The film that put Spielberg on the map, however, was 1975’s Jaws, a story about a group of men hunting down a killer great white shark off the coast of the fictional American town of Amity Island. Jaws had it all. Action, drama, suspense, incredible special effects, and one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time. Spielberg expertly ramped up the tension throughout the film, leaving audiences squirming in their seats. Jaws is one of the highest rated films on Rotten Tomatoes with a 98% Fresh rating. It’s also sits high on the imdb charts with an impressive 8.1/10 score.
4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
In 1981, novelist Thomas Harris presented his creation Dr. Hannibal Lector to the world for the first time in the novel ‘Red Dragon’. Lector, a psychiatrist, was a dangerous, charming, and evil man with a taste for human meat. Following Red Dragon’s success, Harris quickly set to work at writing another novel about Lector. The result was ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, which hit book shelves in 1988.
In 1991, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, a film adaptation of the novel of the same name, was released into the cinemas. Sir Anthony Hopkins was brought in to play Lector while Jodie Foster played Clarice Starling, an FBI agent trying to track down a serial killer with Lector’s help. Hopkins was electrifying in the role. He embodied Lector completely and delivered an incredible performance that won him an academy award for best actor at the 1991 Oscars. The SIlence of the Lambs featured an excellent script and fantastic direction too, with director Jonathan Demme and screenplay writer Ted Tally producing some of their best work. The Silence of the Lambs was received well by critics and audiences everywhere. It currently has a 96% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.6/10 score on imdb.com.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ shocked and surprised cinemagoers everywhere when it hit cinema screens in 1974. The film, supposedly based on a true story, introduced the world to the character of Leatherface and his family of racist cannibals. Supposedly, this family would lure travelling vagabonds to their house where they’d kill and eat them. Many countries banned the film because of its gory and unsettling content. Even the USA refused to release the film and director Tobe Hooper was forced to cut nearly 15 minutes of footage to get the film a cinema release. Critics had mixed feelings about the film. Those who loved the gory elements rated it highly, while more squeamish critics decried the film for its acts of violence. The film is currently rated at 91% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and it has an imdb score of 7.5/10.
2. The Exorcist (1973)
‘The Exorcist’ is one of the most controversial movies ever made. Its production was fraught with tragedy, including the deaths of several cast members, and it was received harshly upon release,with many cinemas refusing to carry the film. Still, critics and audiences loved it, and it went on to become a cult horror classic. The film starred Linda Blair as Regan Teresa MacNeil, a 12 year old who becomes possessed by an evil demon, and Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras, a troubled priest who tries to exorcise the demon from Regan’s body. The Exorcist was terrifying, both visually and psychologically. The film was stressful to watch too, and many filmlovers fainted while watching it. The film was received well by critics who gave it an 88% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is currently rated at 8.0/10 on imdb.com.
1. The Shining
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy..”
‘The Shining’, a film adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name, immortalised these words, forever etching them into the annals of film history. The film, written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, starred Jack Nicholson and Shelly Duvall as Jack and Wendy Torrance, a couple visiting a poltergeist infested hotel for a weekend getaway. The Shining was a hit everywhere. Kubrick’s screenplay was excellent and his direction perfect, and Nicholson and Duvall delivered arguably the best performances of their careers. Critics loved the film, giving it a 92% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences scored it an impressive 8.5/10 on imdb.com.
Today, The Shining is considered the scariest movie ever made. If you’ve never seen it before, grab a friend and give it a watch. You won’t regret it.