Scariest movies of all time

by votesmall | created - 14 Aug 2011 | updated - 03 Apr 2014 | Public

These are the scariest movies I have ever seen. Note: These are in a random order, except for the first seven.

Movies that were juuust missed include: 2 Girls, One Cup

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1. The Shining (1980)

R | 146 min | Drama, Horror

63 Metascore

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers

Votes: 715,626 | Gross: $44.02M

By a landslide, The Shining is the freakiest movie I have ever seen. It involves a struggling family taking care of a desolate hotel in the Colorado mountains over the winter. The son sees strange and increasingly bizarre visions and the father's stress finally gets to him and he begins a downward spiral into madness. There are too many freaky scenes in this movie to count, but one of the creepiest is when the clearly insane Jack tells his son he loves him. Seems like a pretty straightforward scene, but he says it with such a lack of affection the creepy atmosphere really kicks in. The words are meaningless, and it worries you that could your own father go insane like this? Stephen King said Kubrick didn't know how to make a horror film, but I and many others disagree. He knows how to correctly make a subtle horror film, without all of the lame cliches. Very messed up film that shows the deteoriation of a person's sanity and the only scary movie to actually give me nightmares to this day, and I'm 16.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

R | 91 min | Horror

78 Metascore

Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, John Saxon

Votes: 171,558 | Gross: $25.50M

I saw it first when I was about twelve, but I kept running into the garage because I was so scared of it, so I only saw the opening! This movie was truly scary. Even though I have already seen it, it still scares me, espescially the opening, Tina's dream, and Nancy's school chase. The film is so creepy because you don't know what is a dream and what isn't. A lot of scenes are freaky and unnatural, much like real nightmares. Also, it does a great job of imitating dreams that we all have, such as the inability to get away from a persuer, distorted reality, passages leading to different rooms, and a horrifying persuer.

3. Halloween (1978)

R | 91 min | Horror, Thriller

78 Metascore

Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran, Nancy Kyes

Votes: 180,203 | Gross: $47.00M

The original Halloween is second only to A Nightmare on Elm Street. The lighting and atmosphere makes the outfit. There are several scenes that just unnerve you. These include Laurie Strode, a teenage girl from the fictional small town of Haddonfield, Illinois, who is walking home from school when she sees a man in a white face mask. It is only shown for a few seconds at a distance. Laurie stares but she turns to face her friends and looks back again and he is gone. She runs up to the hedges he was standing next to and he is gone. Laurie comes home and brushes it off, as it is Halloween and the man was probably just trying to creep her out. Laurie goes upstairs and looks out her window and sees the same man, his white mask amongst white sheets blowing around and drying in the yard. She looks again and he is gone. For the rest of the night, Laurie is stalked by the psycho, who begins murdering her friends with a kitchen knife and his bare hands. Laurie, who is home alone babysitting, faces the charge of saving the kids who she is babysitting and herself from the maniac who has broken in. Laurie soon discovers that the man is Michael Myers, an escaped mental patient who murdered his sister and now that he has escaped, is planning to orchestrate a savage killing spree to kill his other sister, Laurie. Not at all bloody. Halloween, much like The Shining, gets its scares from atmosphere. Very spooky and suspenseful film.

4. Jacob's Ladder (I) (1990)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

62 Metascore

Mourning his dead child, a haunted Vietnam War veteran attempts to uncover his past while suffering from a severe case of dissociation. To do so, he must decipher reality and life from his own dreams, delusions, and perceptions of death.

Director: Adrian Lyne | Stars: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello, Matt Craven

Votes: 84,534 | Gross: $26.12M

5. Scream (1996)

R | 111 min | Horror, Mystery

65 Metascore

A year after the murder of her mother, a teenage girl is terrorized by a new killer, who targets the girl and her friends by using horror films as part of a deadly game.

Director: Wes Craven | Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich

Votes: 246,034 | Gross: $103.05M

Wes Craven, creator of A Nightmare on Elm Street, has made another masterpiece. Very original and scary film.

6. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

R | 81 min | Horror, Mystery

81 Metascore

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

Directors: Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez | Stars: Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard, Bob Griffin

Votes: 207,206 | Gross: $140.54M

This film made me scared to go to camp in the black hills. It involves student filmmakers who head into the woods of Maryland to investigate the history of their town, which involved a witch who was hung from a tree and caused the town to have bizarre happenings. They are warned the woods are haunted, but go along anyway, and find a creepy stone cairn cemetery, in which they knock over one of the cairns by accident. Soon, they become hopelessly lost, and discover that their map is missing, that they have been hiking in circles, hear strange noises at night such as rustling and someone outside their tent, and find a strange slime-like substance on their gear. I think what makes this film so creepy is the fact that you don't know what it is. You never once see the witch, and it is up to your imagination to decide what it is and what has become of the people. Isolation can be really creepy, folks.

7. Session 9 (2001)

R | 97 min | Horror, Mystery

58 Metascore

Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.

Director: Brad Anderson | Stars: David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon, Paul Guilfoyle, Josh Lucas

Votes: 47,657 | Gross: $0.38M

A small haz-mat/asbestos clean up crew is hired to renovate an abandoned asylum. They all have their problems, some pretty serious personal issues, in fact. One day, one of them comes across a storage room where he finds a box filled with tapes, recorded sessions of a patient with multiple personality disorder. Mike becomes obsessed with the tapes as tensions rise within the group.

Session 9 is easily one of the scariest movies ever made. It should be number 4, but I forgot to put it in that spot. None the less, Session 9 does not rely on blood and gore, or jump scares, even. It relies on the history of the asylum, the child-like toy piano music and laughter, the acting, how creepy the building is and how the characters slowly descend into madness are winning combinations. Session 9 shows you that, anybody could snap, any time. Session 9 also has a homage to The Shining as it has a title card with the day name on it.

8. Misery (1990)

R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

75 Metascore

After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen

Votes: 153,290 | Gross: $61.28M

This is every celebrity's worst nightmare, trapped alone in the middle of nowhere with an obsessed fan. Based on Stephen King's story, it involves a romance novel writer named Paul Sheldon who is preparing to leave from Colorado. He has just finished a new manuscript and proceeds to drive, but a blizzard happens and wipes out his car. He soon finds himself rescued by the seemingly friendly Annie Wilkes, a former nurse and farmer. She claims that she is nursing him back to health in her home. He is honored, but she soon begins to have voilent mood swings and obvious signs of severe obsession, later going on to burn the manuscript when she doesn't like it. But she really snaps when she reads his latest romance novel, where he has killed off the protagonist. She forces him to write another book, where she survives. But as she becomes more psychotic, he discovers all attempts of escape blocked and discovers that she is willing to murder anyone who attempts to rescue him, virtually cutting off contact to the outside world, as everyone else presumes him dead.

9. The Changeling (1980)

R | 107 min | Horror

A man staying at a secluded historical mansion finds himself being haunted by the presence of a spectre.

Director: Peter Medak | Stars: George C. Scott, Trish Van Devere, Melvyn Douglas, Jean Marsh

Votes: 24,274

They don't make them like this anymore. Suprerior haunted house thriller with a lot of screwed-up scenes. Gets better with every viewing.

10. P2 (2007)

R | 98 min | Crime, Horror, Thriller

37 Metascore

A businesswoman is pursued by a psychopath after being locked in a parking garage on Christmas Eve.

Director: Franck Khalfoun | Stars: Rachel Nichols, Wes Bentley, Simon Reynolds, Philip Akin

Votes: 28,325 | Gross: $3.99M

A very excellent film that takes place inside a parking garage. Don't let its looks fool you, this is a smart and seriously scary film in the veins of Misery and Halloween, that rely on suspense and atmosphere, rather than buckets of gore to get the scares. Worth a watch.

11. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

85 Metascore

A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme | Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney, Kasi Lemmons

Votes: 1,038,960 | Gross: $130.74M

FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is forced to interview a cannibalistic serial killer (Anthony Hopkins) to recieve clues on another serial killer (Ted Levine) who is kidnapping and killing young women. The beginning is slow. But it gets creepy when she discovers a certain type of bug inside all of their victims. The Silence of the Lambs is pretty creepy, and Anthony Hopkins does very well as Dr. Hannibal "the cannibal" Lecter. It is famous for "put the lotion in the basket!" scene.

12. Saw (2004)

R | 103 min | Crime, Horror, Mystery

46 Metascore

Two strangers, who awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there, soon discover they're pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer.

Director: James Wan | Stars: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whannell, Danny Glover, Ken Leung

Votes: 334,602 | Gross: $56.00M

I saw Saw on scifi at night in bed. It was terrifying. But then it got gory, which ruined it.

It involves two people who are shackled to the floor of a filthy restroom in an abandoned mannequin factory in an unnamed city. One is a doctor who is thinking about cheating on his wife, and the other is a photographer who has been hired to capture him doing so, but has not yet. They soon see a television come on, which features a freaky looking puppet named "Billy". Billy is the tool of the Jigsaw killer, who uses it to communicate. Saw has several subplots. These include two police officers who come to the factory to investigate, the people in the restroom's histories and families, a girl named Amanda who is the first to survive Jigsaw's traps, and Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) himself. It turns out that Jigsaw puts people in these situations to appreciate life or become better people. However, it is done in a sadistic manner. He puts them in traps which will kill them if they do not get out in time. They technically kill themselves as it is up to them to survive. The people in the restroom wind up playing "the game" which is finding clues to their situation in the room, and how to get out. Eventually the doctor is told that his family is also imprisoned, and that they will die if he does not kill his cellmate.

Saw is a great film, but it is very gory, and therefore, very distracting. The premise is fantastic, but the gore really slows that down. It is very suspenseful and enticing. The atmosphere is somewhat dark, the acting is great, the camera angles are fantastic, the traps are awesome, and the premise is suspenseful and enticing. Saw is very scary, but also very gory. The sequels (save the first and last ones) were all direct-to video and therefore very gory.

13. The Strangers (2008)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

47 Metascore

A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.

Director: Bryan Bertino | Stars: Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, Gemma Ward, Alex Fisher

Votes: 103,247 | Gross: $52.60M

Psychopaths in masks decide to randomly torment an estranged couple who are in an isolated country home.

What's so scary about this is the clausterophobic atmosphere, but also the idea that this could actually happen.

14. The Exorcist (1973)

R | 122 min | Horror

82 Metascore

When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.

Director: William Friedkin | Stars: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb

Votes: 312,774 | Gross: $232.91M

A girl is posessed by a demon and begins to exhibit strange powers.

15. Triangle (2009)

R | 99 min | Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

A group of friends suffer a yachting accident and take refuge on a cruise drifting on the open sea, but quickly realize they were better off on the upturned yacht

Director: Christopher Smith | Stars: Melissa George, Joshua McIvor, Jack Taylor, Michael Dorman

Votes: 81,377

16. Psycho (1960)

R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

97 Metascore

A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock | Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin

Votes: 493,474 | Gross: $32.00M

17. Pet Sematary (1989)

R | 103 min | Horror, Thriller

38 Metascore

Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

Director: Mary Lambert | Stars: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Brad Greenquist

Votes: 73,272 | Gross: $57.47M

18. 28 Days Later... (2002)

R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.

Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Alex Palmer

Votes: 329,534 | Gross: $45.06M

19. The Fly (1986)

R | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

79 Metascore

A brilliant but eccentric scientist begins to transform into a giant man/fly hybrid after one of his experiments goes horribly wrong.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Joy Boushel

Votes: 135,116 | Gross: $40.46M

20. Halloween II (1981)

R | 92 min | Horror

40 Metascore

While Sheriff Brackett and Dr. Loomis hunt for Michael Myers, a traumatized Laurie is rushed to hospital, and the serial killer is not far behind her.

Director: Rick Rosenthal | Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers, Jeffrey Kramer

Votes: 58,499 | Gross: $25.53M

21. Day of the Dead (1985)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Thriller

60 Metascore

A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

Director: George A. Romero | Stars: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Jarlath Conroy

Votes: 54,947 | Gross: $5.80M

22. Antichrist (2009)

Not Rated | 108 min | Drama, Horror

49 Metascore

A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

Director: Lars von Trier | Stars: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm

Votes: 99,638 | Gross: $0.40M

23. Boogeyman 2 (2007)

Unrated | 93 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A young woman with a long-term phobia of the boogeyman voluntarily checks herself into a mental health facility with the hope of conquering her overwhelming fear. However, much to her ... See full summary »

Director: Jeff Betancourt | Stars: Danielle Savre, Matt Cohen, Chrissy Calhoun, Michael Graziadei

Votes: 7,028

Everybody says that this movie is terrible. But it really isn't that bad. Boogeyman 2 has awful acting, except for the heroine, and some rather pointless nudity. About half-way through, it gets good. I saw this in bed on tv at 11:45 PM. It only made it more creepy.

The plot involves a group of people with irrational fears or problems who are put into a mental asylum for a short while. When most of the staff leaves for the night, a mysterious masked figure begins using their own irrational fears against them, in increasingly horrific and disturbing ways. When there are only five left, fingers are pointed in every direction as they desperately try to survive until morning, when the rest of the staff gets there. The remaining patients are left to roam the empty asylum as the "boogeyman" chases them throughout its long, winding hallways and floors. Then there are only two left. The heroine flees from the boogeyman. Where does she go? The only safe place. The DARK BASEMENT. I cringed knowing that I would have done the same thing. I would have hesitated then fled down the steps. The boogeyman chases her and easily does the creepiest thing in the movie.... drags his knife along the cement wall, scraping the wall, taunting her. Desperate to live, she tries to outsmart the boogeyman and save herself.

Is it a masterpiece? No. It's a direct to video release. But it's still scary. I think that the reason for this is that it's shot in a mental asylum, which is always freaky, and that it's shot in a dim, eerie atmosphere, which isn't always freaky and usually annoying, i.e, District 9. The chase scenes are always intense and freaky, and remains extremely scary to me. I recommend this to people who like to watch horror films in the dark, alone.

24. Antropophagus (1980)

R | 90 min | Horror

A group of tourists become stranded on an uninhabited island where they are stalked by an insane, violent, and grotesque killer that slaughtered the town's former residents.

Director: Joe D'Amato | Stars: Tisa Farrow, Saverio Vallone, Serena Grandi, Margaret Mazzantini

Votes: 4,344

25. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

R | 88 min | Horror, Thriller

43 Metascore

Ten years after his original massacre, the invalid Michael Myers awakens and returns to Haddonfield to kill his seven-year-old niece on Halloween. Can Dr. Loomis stop him?

Director: Dwight H. Little | Stars: Donald Pleasence, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, George P. Wilbur

Votes: 34,053 | Gross: $17.77M