Scariest Horror Films Of All Time
We’ve all seen our fair share of horror films. Some are more frightening than others and some leave an impact that stays with you long after the film is over. This list is dedicated to films that are not just great horror films, but terrifying films as well- films that have ingrained themselves into our memories and refuse to let us forget them anytime soon. These films may not be for everyone but they all deserve recognition for their place in cinema history and the place they hold (or should hold) in our hearts and minds.
Here is a list of the top ten scariest horror films of all time:
10. I Saw The Devil (2010)
Korean director, Jee-woon Kim, delivers a slasher film that is as steeped in drama as it is horror. What begins as a romantic tale of revenge turns into a twisted battle between good and evil. In his quest to take down those responsible for killing his fiancé, the main character winds up becoming as sadistic and deranged as the killers themselves.
9. High Tension (2003)
Pascal Laugier’s French horror film tells the story of two young women who are brutally attacked by a masked killer in their isolated country home. One manages to escape and goes looking for help, only to find that the attacker has followed her. Despite its low budget, High Tension is absolutely disturbing because of its relentless and graphic violence.
8. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Tobe Hooper’s low-budget classic follows a group of friends who are terrorized by a family of cannibals in rural Texas. The film is gory, suspenseful, and downright terrifying- it’s no wonder that Leatherface has become one of the most famous horror movie villains of all time.
7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Wes Craven’s classic slasher film is the story of a group of teenagers who are targeted by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), a child killer who stalks them in their dreams. The film was groundbreaking for its use of special effects and its graphic violence, which helped to make it one of the most successful horror films of all time.
6. Saw (2004)
James Wan’s low-budget thriller was one of the first films in what would come to be known as the “torture porn” genre. The story follows two men who wake up in a room with a dead body and a door locked from the outside; they soon discover that they must play sadistic games run by a mysterious figure known as “Jigsaw” if they hope to survive. The first entry in the Saw franchise would go on to spawn six sequels, most of which aired on Halloween night.
5. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic who takes a job as an off-season caretaker at the ominous Overlook Hotel in Colorado. Once there, he falls prey to a host of strange visions and notebooks filled with childlike writing and disturbing images. The Shining is often cited as one of the greatest horror films of all time, in part because of Nicholson’s iconic performance.
4. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This found footage horror film follows three student filmmakers who venture into the Black Hills Forest near Burkittsville, Maryland to document the legend of the Blair Witch. They are never seen again, but their footage is found a year later, revealing that they were likely killed by the witch herself. The Blair Witch Project was successful both critically and commercially, and helped to popularize the found footage genre.
3. Jaws (1975)
This Steven Spielberg classic tells the story of a small coastal town terrorized by a great white shark. The movie is equally famous for its tense, edge-of-your-seat action sequences and for the fact that Spielberg was able to convince the studio to let him shoot from the shark’s point of view in order to heighten the suspense. It is widely regarded as one of Spielberg’s best films, and one of the most successful horror movies of all time.
2. Psycho (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic is widely considered to be one of the best films ever made, as well as an important work in the history of suspense cinema. The story follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a thief who steals $40,000 and flees her office job in search of happiness. She is stabbed to death in the shower by a mysterious figure never identified but generally believed to be Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the son of Marion’s employer. Critics praised its innovative use of editing and sound effects, and it was nominated for four Academy Awards.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
William Friedkin’s The Exorcist is often cited as the most frightening movie ever made. The story follows Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), a young girl who starts to exhibit signs of demonic possession after playing with an Ouija board. Her mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), turns to a pair of priests, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller), for help. The film is famous for its shocking, gory special effects as well as its intense atmosphere of dread. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won two.
These are just a few of the many great horror films that have been released throughout the years. Do you have an absolute favorite among the ones listed in this article? Do you think that there are any great horror movies excluded from the list? What makes for a truly scary horror movie, in your opinion?
Think back to when you first saw these films; did they scare you more because of their special effects or soundtracks, or was it simply the terrifying scenes themselves which made them so frightening? Let us know in the comments below!