For the most part, people don’t like to be scared – at least in real life. When it comes to the movies, however, it’s a different story. Lots of people seem to love being scared out of their wits as long as all the scary stuff stays on the movie or television screen.
Most directors would probably agree that making a truly scary movie is not an easy thing to pull off. There are tons of cheesy horror movies out there that really aren’t scary at all, and some of them are so poorly done, they should be relabeled as comedy flicks. As for the true masterpieces of scary movies, many would agree that these are 10 of the very best.
10. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
Back to the vault, we go for this 1968 thriller that features a group of people trapped in a farmhouse trying their best to keep an army of flesh-eating zombies from eating them alive. This movie did a good job of accomplishing what it set out to do (scare people), especially considering that it was made with a low budget and was director George Romero’s film debut.
9. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
It probably wouldn’t be easy to find someone who has not heard the name Hannibal Lecter and this 1991 movie by Jonathan Demme is the reason. The infamous serial killer, sometimes known as “Hannibal The Cannibal” agrees to help track down another crazed murderer that is known for his grotesque fondness for skinning his victims.
This one is a bit different from the traditional horror movie that features undead killers or supernatural forces of evil. Alien brings horror to new heights – literally! Space explorers discover something more frightening than their worst nightmares in this 1979 science fiction thriller.
7. THE BIRDS
Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock is still regarded as one of the most highly-respected makers of thrillers in history. A bunch of birds attacking people might not sound all that scary, but this 1963 classic proves that a master like Hitchcock can take almost any subject and find a way to twist it into something that will have people hiding under their seats.
6. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
Freddy Krueger is pretty much a household name thanks to this 1984 file that was written and directed by Wes Craven. Featuring a deranged serial killer who stalks his victims in their dreams, this one may be responsible for keeping more people awake at night than any other horror movie.
5. The Evil Dead
Director Sam Raimi wasn’t out of film school very long when he put this 1981 thriller together and he pulled it off like he’d been making movies for decades. There’s sufficient violence, blood, and gore for it to have earned itself an NC-17 rating.
Here’s another one that takes us back a bit to the year 1982, and features a television that somehow becomes a portal to another dimension where a lot of evil things exist. Unfortunately for the people in this movie, those evil entities are not shy about crossing into our dimension and stirring up more than their share of trouble.
How many Halloween movies have been made? 5? 10? 20? It’s a bit hard to keep track of because this is a concept that has been done and done again. Despite how many times they try to one-up this one, they will never match the original. This 1978 classic was directed by John Carpenter and was responsible for movie theaters full of shrieking audiences around the world.
2. THE SHINING
If you are starting to think that the 1980s were a great time for great horror movies, you might be onto something. Here’s a movie that could be considered a “classic” even if it was made a year ago. This movie has a “feel” to it that is not easily duplicated, making it a true one-of-a-kind. If for some reason, you have never made the effort to check this movie out, you are really missing out.
The Shining was released in 1980 and frequently shows up on TV movie channels like HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.
1. THE EXORCIST
This one has easily achieved “classic” status since it was made over forty years ago. Despite the fact that it is getting up there in years, it can still put a good fright into people — especially those seeing it for the very first time. Back when it was first released, it was considered so scary that some movie theaters even made barf bags available to audience members.