Great Debate #5: What are the scariest movies ever?

This is my list of the scariest movies of all-time.  What is a scary movie?  In my opinion, its is a film that produces a change in attitude, in such that the viewer feels uncomfortable or uneasy.  When seeing a scary movie, people who are affected shift in their seat and look about as comfortable as a person wearing wet pants.  That’s uncomfortable, folks.

I think the scariest movies are those that go beyond the jump scares and create something creepy, eerie, and even unpleasant.  This level of horror is hard to do, because the jump scare movies are a dime-a-dozen, so quality is a much rarer thing, in my opinion.  For a long time, people considered The Exorcist king of the horror genre.  Does it meet all my criteria for being a good scary movie?

Does it make you uncomfortable?

Does it make you anxious or nervous?

Does it present something unpleasant and horrific to you?

I would say many movies do this, but it is just a question of who does it the best, in my opinion.   The gross out factor is one thing that easily makes a person scared, but doing something horrific and tense, now that’s something else entirely.

hell1thing110.  Hellraiser (1987) – For the gross out factor, it’s either this or Event Horizon (1997), but this wins out because of its creepy style.

9.  The Thing (1982) – This movie has everything for the horror fan.  It has gross outs.  It has tension.  It has more gross outs.  It has suspense and great characters.  It’s too gross for me though, which hurts its rating.  Sorry.

8.  Prince of Darkness (1987) – I think this John Carpenter movie is gross, but it is scary nonetheless.  I don’t watch this very often, if ever, if I want to have a good day.

dead17.  Night of the Living Dead (1968) – This original classic gave me the creeps when I first saw it, mostly because of the music and the setting.  George Romero really gave us something great here and I rewatch this movie quite a bit.

session16.  Session 9 (2001) – I think the creep factor is off the charts with this little, independent film, directed by Brad Anderson.  It stars David Caruso, who is trying to figure out what is going on around him, while he does a contract job a local mental hospital, long since abandoned.  Why doesn’t anybody talk about this movie?

5.  The Shining (1980) – This movie also has the creep factor going for it.  It doesn’t make me anxious like it used to, but I pity the person who watches this unexpectedly.

4.  The Blair Witch Project (1999) – I don’t know if this is an embarrassing pick or a ballsy pick, but this movie really scared me when I first saw it.  I think all the hype helped boost the tension in my case.  I could be an idiot, but I think it still works as a scary movie. 

chain13.  Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The thing that makes me uneasy the most is when the redneck cuts himself with the knife, while he’s getting a ride from the kids in their van.  Still to this day, that scene is freaky great.  I think only the chainsaw chase or the dinner scene tops it.  It’s not so much scary to me anymore, but it still is creepy and really well done, a stylistic treat that rivals any big budget flick.

2.  The Exorcist (1973) – The build up on this one is great.  It just builds and builds until they hit you with barf propellent.  I think Jason Miller really puts on a great performance as Father Karras, a theatrical type of performance that is above and beyond what I expected.  I think this is really number one depending on how I’m feeling, but it is at the top of many lists all over the internet.  That’s because this movie has the greatest mood and tone of all the horror movies I’ve ever seen.  

 1.  The Ring (2002) – Gore Verbinski creates a really scary movie here.  He uses some tired, horror concepts, like scared teens or the boy with a gift, and gets away with it.  He twists those concepts and makes a really scary movie.  It has a creepy score, some outstandingly horrific visuals, and an anxious tone.  It’s just great.  That violin! Come on!

RottenTomatoes has the following stats:

Hellraiser – 63% Fresh

The Thing – 79% Fresh

Prince of Darkness – 57% Rotten

Night of the Living Dead – 96% Fresh

Session 9 – 63% Fresh

The Shining – 92% Fresh

The Blair Witch Project – 87 % Fresh

The Exorcist – 88% Fresh

The Ring – 71% Fresh

Texas Chainsaw Massacre – 91% Fresh