Movies that scare the people who scare us
"The Descent" (2005) follows a group of women on a caving expedition that (surprise!) goes horribly awry.
October 28th, 2011
10:21 AM ET

Movies that scare the people who scare us

A chill is in the air, dread spirits are walking the earth and, as Halloween approaches, everyone from the most diehard horror geek to the casual fright fan is filling their queue with horror films to celebrate the season.

To be sure, there are plenty of of options.

But while the masses may have flocked to see "Paranormal Activity 3" last weekend (its $54 million made it the strongest September/October film opening ever) genre fans were no doubt dwelling in the gooey viscera of more underground fare.

To help you out of a potential celluloid jam, we talked with some of our fan-culture favorites, asking them for their recommendations on potentially obscure (and sometimes absurd) horror flicks you should check out this Halloween.

Bruce Campbell (Actor, "Evil Dead," "Burn Notice")

'The Tenant' by Roman Polanski because it only uses your head. There’s no special effects, there’s no monsters, there’s no digital. It’s awesome. It’s scary as hell. It’s creepy - the anti-monster movie. There’s no giant creature that’s been bit by a radioactive spider, nothing stupid like that. It messes with your perception of reality, and to me, that’s way scarier than a creature ... .

Or I would go with something like ‘Frankenstein 1970’ just to see how horribly outdated the movie was.  It was made in 1958. What, did they think 1970 would never come? ‘Frankenstein 1970’ is a pretty bad one if you just want to see a kitschy, bad horror movie.

Joe Hill (Author, "Horns," "Locke & Key")

I think you have to look abroad, for starters. You have to get over that hump where you say, ‘foreign films are hard work, foreign films can’t be fun.’ I just saw one that’s out of Ireland called 'Isolation' that has to be one of the most absolutely revolting specimens of horror cinema ever put to screen, and I mean that in a very affectionate way. There is more cow afterbirth in this movie than there is in all the horror films made in the last decade ... .

It is about genetically modified cows creating these kind of cow-cockroach spawn that spin out of control in this mucky, muddy, nasty-looking Irish farm. It sounds like a joke. Just talking about it I can feel the urge to start spitting out cow puns – it was udder-ly disgusting – but it’s actually played very seriously. It is real dark, and real grim, and very affective. And very, very nasty. It’s not for the squeamish ... . You’re just kind of like, ‘Did someone slip me something before I sat down to watch this film, which is like the most outrageous thing I’ve ever seen.’ But it’s great.

Max Brooks (Author, "World War Z," "The Zombie Survival Guide")

I don’t know if it’s scary, it depends on your tastes, but it is a cultural imperative. It is called ‘Wild Zero.’ It is Japanese and it is the story of aliens trying to take over the planet by raising the dead. So there’s an alien-engineered zombie plague, and the only people that can stop it are a young Japanese man, his transsexual girlfriend and a Japanese rockabilly band called Guitar Wolf. That is a real movie. I have no idea what the intention was. I look at this movie and think everybody has to see this movie.

I don’t know what to make of it to this day. I love it. I just keep watching it … . I showed it at a screening in London in 2006 as I was hosting a zombie film festival there, and the kids just went crazy for it. There’s incredible violence, there’s gore, there’s weapons. And the band Guitar Wolf? It’s a real band.

Danielle Harris (actress "Hatchet II," "Halloween" franchise. Director, "Among Friends")

The first time I saw ‘The Descent’ [about a group of women who spelunk into a cave of hungry humanoid bat creatures], it wasn’t a big movie in the theater. I just got it from someone on DVD. It didn’t have a whole big to-do about it, but that was something I thought, ‘this is really rad, I love this kind of stuff’ …  I tend to gravitate toward the female-driven, kind of sick, twisted ones.

There’s not enough female serial killers in films so movies like ‘The Descent’ are the closest thing to the f-ed-up chicks who are manipulative but are still in the horror world. They’re a little bit more realistic but are kind of like crazy women ... . The movies I’m writing and making, I’ve got those elements. I want to have the underground, very cultish movies that are chick flicks for messed up girls.

Miko Hughes (Actor, "Pet Sematary," "Mercury Rising")

Well there’s one that’s a cult classic that has kind of gotten more awareness in recent years. I don’t know quite how underground it’s still considered, but it’s a Japanese film called ‘Audition’ [about a scorned maniac actress]. I love that one. It doesn’t present itself as a horror movie and is only crazy in the last 10 minutes. It is really suspenseful and has a great slow build, and you kind of forget that what you’re seeing is a horrible incident because you get lost in the story.

So when events take a turn, it really takes you by surprise. It is hard to sum it up without giving away the twist but it is definitely a Japanese film; the pacing is a bit slower. It is a movie worth paying attention to, because when it does twist, it just reels you in.

Neil Gaiman (Author, "The Graveyard Book," "Neverwhere," "Sandman")

[Neil, who was shooting scenes for the DVD of the upcoming 3D animated short film "The Price," sent along three suggestions via super-assistant Cat Mihos]

1. "Wicker Man" (1973) Not so much a horror movie as a scary commentary on society.

2. "Carnival of Souls" (1962)

3. "Night of the Demon" (1957) But fast-forward the first five minutes, in which Gaiman says the studio "hands everything" to the viewer and ruins the suspense.

(And, speaking of ...)

Christopher Salmon (Director, "Neil Gaiman's 'The Price' ")

I have always maintained a great love for John Carpenter's "The Fog" (1980). Conceived as an old-fashioned ghost story, this ghastly yarn recounts how a small group of gold-bearing lepers in search of sanctuary were misled to their deaths by the greedy townspeople of Antonio Bay 100 years ago and whose vengeful spirits have now returned on the night of the town's centennial celebrations.
Mr. Carpenter's early work contains sequences of genuinely searing suspense and palpable tension, and the wonderful score (which he also created) is almost as iconic as his previous work in the original "Halloween."
soundoff (158 Responses)
  1. fitfordragoncon

    These are supposed to be "obscure" horror movie recommendations? "The Descent"? "Wild Zero"? Are we supposed to be surprised that Guitar Wolf is a "real band"? Is it even possible that any of these wouldn't be considered standards to any horror fan? Maybe to Joe Blockbuster this is some real whacked-out stuff, but to anyone who is even remotely familiar with the genre these are all just the essentials.

    November 3, 2011 at 2:34 am |
  2. Anonymous

    28 days later.....

    November 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  3. JJ

    "The People Under the Stairs" freaked me out. Several scenes from "Jurassic Park" and "Saving Private Ryan" ranked high on the fright list as well.

    November 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Mr.M

      The best scary movie I ever saw was "I spit on your grave."

      November 1, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  4. Kim

    To Dave, there is nothing immoral about liking horror films. In fact, there are sound psychological reasons for liking horror films: first of all, watching a horror film offers people a chance to experience the end of the horror at the conclusion of the film; unlike in real life where the horror of this world continues on, and always has and always will for untold millennia. In this respect, horror films offer closure, something that most people want but are often denied in real life. Lastly, in horror films, the bad guys usually get punished and don't get away with their horrific deeds and so, horror films can offer justice; at least, a symbolic, representational justice and as we all know, justice if often not part of real life either.

    Also, when people are all together in a dark theatre and are all scared at the same time, that is a bonding experience and an adrenaline rush as well.

    November 1, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  5. slupdawg

    "The Shining" and "Phantasm". They both came out when I was the age I could first see horror films, and they scared me to death.

    November 1, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  6. Yikes!

    Anything with Adam Sandler in it is terrifying.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  7. Scott

    Cannibal Holocaust. The only horror movie to freak me out.

    October 31, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  8. Cruiser42

    The scariest movies I've ever seen are Jaws (saw it when I was 7 and I wouldn't go swimming for the rest of that summer), Alien (I watched it peeking through my fingers at age 10) and Prince of Darkness (made me doubt my own existence).

    October 31, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Jim

    Last House on the Left, nuff said.

    October 31, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  10. Bob

    Roman Polanski's "Repulsion" also fits into the very creepy but not gory genre.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Most things that Roman Polanski does– particularly to drugged, underage girls– lead to Repulsion.

      October 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
  11. The Balcony is Closed

    Going to see Jaws at age 9 runied me for any sort of deep water. John Carpenter's Halloween, to me, is the perfect scary movie. I was watching it the other day and I was reminded of how the tone of dread permeates this film. From the musical score to the pacing to the composition of the images within the frame, nothing but dread.

    And Ridley Scott's Alien is another perfect scary movie. The perversion of the set and creature designs, and the editing are perfect examples of building tension. Not seeing much of the creature was a great way to build suspense as well.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  12. Rhino

    The Fog! nuff said.... The Changeling with George C. Scott is amazing

    October 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  13. Al

    Pet Cemetery freaked me out.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Leaf on the Wind

    "Starship Invasions" sounds like fun to me. If anyone wants to see it, imdb has it listed as 1977, directed by Ed Hunt, and starring Robert Vaughn and Christopher Lee (always a plus in a scary movie).

    October 31, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  15. Greg

    Another scary indie movie that was released recently and very good – Grave Encounters.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  16. Greg

    Movies to watch on a dark Halloween night with the lights out – The Strangers and Insidious.

    October 31, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  17. The

    Blair Witch Project and The Grudge

    October 31, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  18. Chrissy

    The first "Hitcher" flick, that was a great suspense thriller. I liked Paranormal 1 for a similar suspenseful scare. Its what your own mind does with that kind of move that makes it scarier than simply watching someone else's imagined gore-fest.
    When I was young (too young), I saw a movie called "Starship Invasions" that was really scary. The concept was that aliens wanted to take over the earth, but to do so, they had to eliminate the majority of people first. Their plan was to broadcast this special mind control device that caused people to try and commit suicide. They were usually powerless to try and keep from trying to kill themselves, even though they sometimes didn't want to and couldn't understand why they were obsessed to do so. It kinda ended up being a 1000 ways to die sort of movie. disturbing. Does anyone remember that??

    October 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      THE ORIGINAL DAWN OF THE DEAD! Saw it at a midnight showing when I was 14... that was the scariest ride home @ 3am EVER!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  19. Scott

    One movie that I thought was scary and not mentioned here is "The town that dreaded sundown" Not much gore but based on a true story. It's scary to think there are really sick f$@%s like this in reality.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  20. MaDdAgGer

    Exorcist and Salems lot are the two scariest for me of all time. even today exorcist still freaks me out.
    for the new genre of scary, although most of the movie is laughabel, paranormal activity 1,2 and 3 have moments that will make the hair on your neck stick up.
    Night mare on Elm Street part one was awesome, i could hear the screetching of his razorblade fingers in my sleep for months after i saw that one.
    I dont get scared any more as an adult, but still get creeped out by certain movies. I mean haev you ever seen michael jackson's video

    October 31, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Ben Coates

      Yes! Salem's Lot (1979 version) - scariest film of all time. Exorcist had its moments - but I only found the dream scene truly tough to watch. The little girl didn't frighten me at all.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  21. Carrie

    The Tenet by Roman Polanski and the 1963 original The Haunting with Claire Bloom – are the best psychological thrillers, even better than guts and gore.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  22. zacherly

    the original house on haunted hill, the screaming skull, horror hotel, curse of the doll people, and of course Psycho, are a few old black and whites that kept me from getting out of bed at night.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  23. Deathstalker

    You know what scares me.. Movies like to big to fail.....

    October 31, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  24. jimdad

    The original made for TV “Don’t be Afraid of the Dark” really freaked me out but was only about 10 at the time. No idea why my parents let me watch it. I was scared to be alone for years.

    October 31, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  25. diana

    "The Tingler" with Vincent Price

    October 31, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • zacherly

      good one..only the ending was scary though

      October 31, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  26. Sean

    The strangers. . . scared the hell out of me, especially the masked faces peering into the windows when your not looking. . .

    October 31, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  27. Shannon

    Jeepers Creepers – the first one. The license plate on the old car was awesome!

    October 31, 2011 at 10:59 am |

      Yes! Not many movies have freaked me out but the first Jeepers Creepers had me afraid to turn the lights off.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:30 am |
      • Dori's Hot Sister

        Yes! And it wasn't as simple as "Beating You", but "Be Eating You"....when that psychic cleared that up, I got even more chills than I had before!

        October 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  28. Cullen

    For me, you gotta be in the right atmosphere to be scared. Watching a scary movie with the lights on or with a big group of people won't have the same effect as watching it with the lights off, or with candles and alone or with one or two other people.

    Alien comes the closest to being the scariest for me. Unlike a lot of horror movies, the victims cannot escape the thing that is killing all the slasher movies, all the victims have to do is drive away...

    Movies I love that don't necessarily scare me are: Halloween (1978), Night of the Demons (1988), Dracula (1992), Hellraiser, Event Horizon, and The Shining.

    October 31, 2011 at 7:31 am |
  29. Nico

    I have to say that Antichrist was one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. It is dark and graphic from start to finish. Martyrs is a little French film that is pretty scary.I still love John Carpenters The Thing, and there's The David Lynch film Lost Highway.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:38 am |
  30. Ryan

    The Descent was stupid. Only part I didn't like was when that part of the cave collapsed on top of that lady and she couldn't get out since I'm not really claustophobic, just don't like that whole idea of being trapped like that.

    What movie scared me was the remake of House on Haunted Hill. Went back to my cousins house afterwards and (they live in the country) and kept hearing things all night. Family lore is that their house is on a Native American burial ground and my uncle saw an orb shoot through their house one night, so I was scared to death.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:53 am |
  31. Kim

    I always felt that The Shining was incredibly scary! When that kid, Danny, sees the dead girls covered in blood and then yells Redrum later in the film, I had chills and felt terrified. I was afraid and uneasy for days and that film still scares me all these years later. The music in that movie added a tremendous amount to the tension, fear and suspense too. What could be scarier than being trapped in a remote, haunted hotel with a homicidal maniac?

    Pet Cemetery and Cujo were also extremely frightening.

    Stephen King has certainly been responsible for a lot of literary and film horror these past few decades.

    October 31, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • tcp

      Still have a hard time walking down hotel hallways alone because of those two little girls. The Shining lands SQUARELY at the top of my horror heap!

      October 31, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Ben Coates

      If you found The Shining scary, try the 1979 version of Salem's Lot. It's a slow burner (2 hours 43 minutes), but from the time you see the first vampire, it's the creepiest ride you'll ever take. There are images in that film which beyond the initial startle you will not be able to look at. The Shining has a similar overtone of the grave throughout, and in this sense, these two films are in a class by themselves, but whereas only the bathroom scene in The Shining scared me, there are 4-5 scenes in Salem's Lot that are hard to watch.

      October 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  32. Bob

    The Devils (1979).

    October 31, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  33. WobblyOne

    I was in junior high school when the original "The Thing From Another World" starring James Arness as the alien monster hit the screen. That movie made me sleep with the light on for several weeks! The musical score still gives me the willies.

    BTW, it is rumored that Howard Hawks was the uncredited director.

    October 31, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  34. Mavsfan93

    Hatchet 2 was the most effed up movie i've seen to date, but then one that has left a mark on me the most is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2003). The "chasing" scenes in that movie where Leatherface is sprinting towards the kids with his chainsaw gave me the chills.

    October 30, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  35. gail

    All good ones. To me, The Silence of the Lambs. I guess because it all could really happen. Also Alien.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  36. dave

    You all are truly a bunch of sick fux to like horror movies...

    October 30, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  37. Nate

    Paranormal Activity did scare me. Just the thought of it makes me shiver. Could not bring myself to watch the newer ones. I am more afraid of the unknown. Monsters... etc.. don't scare me at all. I am really afraid of things that you cannot control. Control freak??? No, but I don't like the thought of complete helplessness. Like in the The Excorcism of Emily Rose I couldn't imagine being in that scenario. Seeing demons and no one can help you. Even in public she was haunted. That would be just horrible. Seeing that it was also based on a true story did not help either. I kept waking up for the next couple of weeks at around 3 AM which they call the witching hour in the movie.

    October 30, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Mick

      I guess it's all in what you believe. For me, I believe in ghosts and, like you, that paranormal stuff scared me. It creeped me out to picture my loved one standed at my bedside, just staring for hours. I believe in the possibility of being possessed by demons (more ghostly vs religious though...if that makes sense). I for sure know that rabies is real! (That's why Cujo is my fave!) I know there are crazy people out there that just wanna kill! (The Strangers!) That's why those movies creep the crap out of me! But stuff like Insidious (half man, half goat stuff.....the further?!.....), well that's just silly to me!

      October 30, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Wisco30

      The Exorcism of Emily Rose really freaked me out too...and just like you, for some reason I kept waking up at exactly 3:00am. i would be almost paralized with fear and would hide under my covers like a little kid!! 🙂

      October 31, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  38. Sherri

    I was born in the early 50's and the only movie that I have ever seen that really, really scared me was The Exorcist. It was the first of it's kind and people actually got sick, cried, freaked out and even left the theatre. I went home and locked myself in the bathroom until daylight (hey, I lived in the country). I have never watched it again, but have watched lots of other scary movies and none of them made me feel that way. The Strangers scared me somewhat, I think because it could happen. When alone I worry about a loud knock at my door!!!

    October 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Megs

      I have never watched The Exorcist all the way through because it frightens me so deeply that I just can't stay in the room with it. The make-up job was the most horrible and frightening thing I can imagine even to this day. My sons played a joke on me several years ago (they actually didn’t know about my “Exorcist aversion” until after they did this); they sent me an email of pretty poetry scrolling up the screen with sweet music softly playing in the background. After several minutes it suddenly broke to the demonic face from The Exorcist accompanied by a loud scream, which I screamed along with, pushing myself away from the computer as fast as humanly possible (I admit this was sorta funny, but I didn’t sleep for a solid week). The only thing I don't like about Halloween each year is knowing that at some point that face is going to pop up unexpectedly and mess me up all over again, LOL.

      October 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Bill

      The Exorcist never scared me. The special effects didn't look real to me, Linda Blair's head turning around as it did is impossible in real life, doubt in a case of demonic possession (if there is one) that it would happen.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  39. Leslee

    Psycho. I still lock the bathroom door when I take a shower. Psycho wrecked me.

    Night of the Living Dead. Terrifying. I needed a nightlight after that.

    Seconds. A John Frankenheimer film starring Rock Hudson that's pretty freakin' scary in its own way.

    October 30, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  40. Mabel

    The Haunting (1963). Don't bother with the remake.
    John Carpenter's The Thing. The original was good, but not scary. The blood test scene has so much tension you'll need a Valium afterward.
    Exorcist III. A MUCH better sequel than Heretic (urp!) and actually has some parts that freaked me out.

    There just aren't many that scare me anymore; I'm too jaded and have watched too many of them. Also, thanks to the Internet, there are much more horrible real-life things to see online. If you want grue, just do a search. But be warned; it'll make you ashamed to be human.

    October 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Kay

      I love John's Carpenter's "The Thing"! I loved the suspense and tension between the characters in the movie. I wonder if the next remake is going to be as good.

      October 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  41. Jax

    Okay, I searched all the posts, some really good suggestions, but I have yet to see one that my husband tricked me into seeing. (yes, I usually don't watch horror movies) was Deep Rising, directed by Stephen Sommers stars; Treat Williams, Famke Janssen and Anthony Heald.

    It's a B horror movie but it's got some parts that made me literally hide behind my husband on the couch. 9afterwards of course I smacked the snot out of him afterwards for tricking me) It alwso has soem humor in it, so thos of you with a decently strong stomach that like a little humor with your horror, check it out.

    October 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
  42. Mike in Montana

    'The Exorcist' and 'Poltergeist' was enough for me and that was years ago.. Haven't watched a scary film, since.. Mike in Montana

    October 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  43. Johhn

    There are no I repeat NO movies that scare me or my 14 year old daughter. NONE! I wait and wait to see if a movie will be made that will give me a scare or two. I see every great, good and really bad ones that are made. It's my favorite genres. Still waiting for a Halloween haunt that will scare me as well. I've done my own for 12 years now and while my customers are terrified a have never been. I hope one day a movie is made to scare the hell out of me.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Thia

      I agree with you and I find it depressing that the 'scary movies' really aren't. The Ring was funny (although kind of interesting), Paranormal Activity was lame. The original Texas Chainsaw was a little scary as was Saw, but I'm waiting for a truly scary movie!

      October 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • JLS639

      I watch them for the story. I like movies about clever heroes and clever villains or monsters (movies with an unkillable nemesis are boring). Some movies startled me here and there, but none have ever scared me since I was maybe 12. I like Alien, Aliens, The Thing, Manhunter and probably some others if I thought about it more. None made me feel fear for more than 1 second startle.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  44. Ms. Happy

    I still think "Jaws" is one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. It's the one movie that's affected me my whole life! I still can't get in the water without thinking about what's below me that I can't see.

    October 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Phil


      October 30, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
      • Kate

        Yes! Hellraiser was so creepy! So happy that someone mentioned a Clive Barker film.

        October 31, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
      • traci

        Hellbound!!! Hellraiser two... some of the most haunting imagery of hell... i know that THAT must be what its like.

        October 31, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  45. Cal Strange

    Wild Zero is amazing, best drinking game ever. Anytime someone combs their hair or yells "Rock n' Roll", take a drink.

    October 30, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  46. sybaris

    Saving Private Ryan. There is nothing scarier than war.

    October 30, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • mls

      best response...thank you

      October 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
      • Wisco30

        oh geeze, lighten up.

        October 31, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  47. stamps

    Evil Dead 2.....dead by dawn....dead by dawn.... best horror movie EVER!!!

    October 30, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  48. BCope

    How can you not mention "The Exorcist" or "Poltergeist"! That amazes me!

    October 30, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  49. SilverBelles

    The Uninvited...ray milland version....good, classic ghost story....The Others..nicole kidman version....Event Horizon...scared the hell out of me.....the Original "The Thing"....John Carpenter's was good but the original is still the best....I really love the stuff that doesn't depend on gore and special effects...I think the Saw movies are just tripe.

    October 30, 2011 at 1:35 am |
  50. brokenteeth

    John Carpentars The Thing , Poltergeist , Nightmare on Elm street the original , most of the 70's slasher Italian movies .

    October 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • MMallon

      #3: Rob Zombie's 2007 remake of "Halloween."
      #2: John Carpenter's 80s remake of "The Thing."
      #1: Zack Snyder's 2004 remake of "Dawn of the Dead."

      This in no way is a commentary on the original versions of these films. They are fine pieces of cinema in their own right.

      October 29, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
      • Bleep

        Agree with 1 & 2, but Rob Zombie's Halloween? No way, not even close. Normally I hate Americanized Asian Horror, but 3 should be "The Ring".

        October 30, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  51. Greg

    If you REALLY want to watch a movie that will mess you up - check out Amityville II: The Possession - some of the most horrifying scenes i've ever witnessed in a movie.

    October 29, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  52. Christine

    Carpenter's Prince of Darkness freaked me out enough that I had to leave the theater. 30 Days of Night scared me, but I stayed seated:)

    October 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Depends on what kid of "horror" I'm not much into the kill / guts / gross horror, but go more for the psychological type. For me, one of the scariest movies ever was called "Raising Cain" with John Lithgow. If you truly want to be scared, it is a fantastic movie. "Poltergeist" also to this day scares me. Makes me glad for cable ... no "snow" screens. Others that have gotten to me: "The Prince of Darkness" (mentioned above), "The Serpent and the Rainbow" and "The Belivers" with Martin Sheen.

      October 31, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  53. Mick

    I have to say that Cujo is my all-time favorite horror film! So simple, real, and terrifying! To this day, no movie has ever had such an intense scene for me. (Maybe spoilers!) The part where she gets out of the car...thinks she's safe....then he jumps on her and throws her back into the car.....all as her son watches in pure terror. That scream/cry still resonates. I literaly was watching the movie through my fingers!

    October 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • horseyone

      Sorry Mick, Cujo is in my book as the stupidest movie ever. I mean, come on, a rabid dog? Sad, but not scary.

      October 30, 2011 at 10:20 am |
      • Beth

        it's not the rapid dog that's terrifing, its you and your child not being able to exscape from it! and the book ending is the sadiest because the boy dies

        October 31, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
      • TechGirl03

        ever see a rabid animal in the aggressive stage, it can be scary as hell

        November 1, 2011 at 5:22 am |
      • Mick

        I've seen a rapid dog....and luckily I was on the other side of the fence. I was able to get away from it.....they couldn't. I was terrified just in that moment I had. I couldn't imagine being trapped by one.....let alone, one that big and powerful! So I would say that's probably the most real fear for me. It's a movie that didn't have to rely on any gimmicks or even some crazy story line. It was so simple.....middle of the breaks down.....and you're now trapped in your car by a rabid dog. What do you do/CAN you do?

        November 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  54. Nick

    Event Horizon is very scary, or at least it was when I saw it like 10 years ago.

    October 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  55. Darlin

    One movie that creeped me out was The Exorcism of Emily Rose and I love horror movies. The Centipede was just disgusting. But I liked it. I saw the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the remakes. The original was the best. It was real like. The remakes were all about the gore.

    October 29, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  56. solowd

    "Alien" is absolutely the scariest movie ever made. Nothing comes close, though some good ones are listed in the story. I remember seeing "Alien" as a kid and not understanding how scary it was. That's how you know a movie is really scary–it's more frightening to see as an adult than as a kid.

    October 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • asgardshill

      I so agree with your post. The scene where the facehugger bursts out of the egg onto John Hurt's face is my gold standard for horror.

      October 30, 2011 at 8:13 am |
      • YooperG

        Agreed – the 1st Alien was fantastic! The scene where they are watching on the computer screen while the monster approaches one of their crew / it was like i was there, staring at the computer and screaming to get the &*#$ out of there!

        October 30, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  57. Matt

    The original Black Christmas (Canadian 1974), Jacob's Ladder (1988) and The Strangers.

    October 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Jill

      Matt, you are right on with the Black Christmas! I was so scared after seeing that, I don't think I slept for a week.

      October 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  58. T3chsupport

    Oh, and I forgot!
    Still on Netflix in the instant movies queue, in the Horror section, is one of the best B movies I've ever, ever seen. It's called Terror Vision. It's the funniest horror movie I've ever seen. It should not be missed. Watch it while you can!

    October 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Enrique D.

      Thanks for the pointer. I dropped "TerrorVision" and "Isolation" (mentioned above) in my queue. The following are all streaming as well - One of my faves, "Misery", has not been mentioned. "BTK" is based on a true story and is decent. "Megan is Missing" is one of the most disturbing movies I have ever seen. "The Human Centipede: First Sequence" is more weird than frightening. "Thirst" is a good Korean vampire flick. "Paranormal Activity" and "Paranormal Activity 2" are great if you enjoy the atmospheric. "Shutter Island" is worth a look, and I recommend "Session 9" to anyone who hasn't seen it.

      October 30, 2011 at 7:36 am |
      • Kate

        Good call on Session 9. So, so creepy.

        October 31, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
      • Bill

        The Human Centipede was such trash. I was embarassed that I had actually seen it on pay per view. So a waste too.

        October 31, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • YooperG

      My favorite B-movie horror/comedy was Rory Calhoun in Motel Hell. If you want to laugh and squirm at the same time, this is the ticket – I think it's like from 1970. Thumbs Up!

      October 30, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  59. T3chsupport

    The Others. Stir of Echos. Event Horizon.

    October 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  60. Massive Marbles

    I like the traditional stuff like, The Exorcist, The Thing, Pitch Black, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Although I haven't watched it because it the sickest movie ever, the Human Centipede.

    October 29, 2011 at 8:30 am |
    • palintwit

      Wait until you see "Human Centipede 2" starring the entire Palin family. Or how about "Human Centipede 3" starring the entire GOP 2012 presidential line-up ?

      October 29, 2011 at 10:28 am |
      • mike


        October 31, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  61. sweets82

    Insidious! It came out earlier this year and messed me up. There's so much suspense. The old woman from it made me terrified to close my eyes. Tip toe through the tulips is a song I never want to hear again. It scared me worse than the Shining.

    October 29, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • Mick

      I hated Insidious! I'll say the first half was good. All the way up until Barbara Hershey showed up. Then it got ridiculous! AND I like Barbara! I felt they tried to scam a bit of the Poltergiest....but didn't do it any justice. It was just so silly! The one creature I expected to have a huge role (because he was talked up so much), had nothing! His "big scene" was so insignificant. And the ending just ruined it further. I was just so disappointed because I really wanted to like it! I even tried to give it a second chance and paid for it again, but I couldn't even finish it the second time because I was just irritated by that point.

      October 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  62. azmike

    I know that the Shining and Psycho movies scared the hell out of me back in the day. Jack Nicholson was tremendous in The Shining and Anthony Perkins was just scary period!!

    October 29, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  63. wendy

    I agree with Carpenter's The Fog, but I also lost it with The Legand of Hell House with Roddy McDowel. For a fun scare, get drunk and watch Blackula.

    October 29, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  64. Mick

    The original 'Night of the Living Dead'. When it was first released, people were freaking out about it.

    October 29, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  65. David

    Psycho had a lingering effect on me..saw it when i was home alone and 12 years old...could not take a shower at night, if i was the only one in the house...the exorcist is one of my all-time favorites, as is The Grudge!

    October 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  66. dieseltdi

    It took me three times to get through John Carpenters version of the Thing. Still creeps me out to this day. Very different from the original with James Arnes (Gunsmoke) as the "Thing". I also remember being scared to death by those early day horror movies like The Wax Museum, Frankenstein and others that I saw as a kid. Like Jimmy Buffet says, "Vampires, Mummies and the Holy Ghost, these are the things that scare me the most."

    October 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  67. Dean

    Suspiria – by Dario Argento – you will never wear any footwear again that leaves your toes exposed. That whole scene containing the open toe sandals, between the visuals and the music, when it ended I just left. I figured this was at the beginning of the could only get worse...or better depending on what you like about horror movies.

    October 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  68. Erica

    I think the 1982 version of The Thing had to be the most scary movie I have ever seen, Being chained to the person next to you when you find out he is harboring an alien life form... common!

    October 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  69. Bemis29

    Grizzly, Amityville Horror, Prophecy, The Haunting, Exorcist, Shuddered Room and Burnt Offerings scared particular the Exorcist and Amityville Horror. As a child the scene where " Jody " was looking through the window with the red eyes gave me nightmares for weeks. Now as an adult no movie really scare me anymore....and in fact many of them make me laugh.

    October 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  70. Bemis29


    October 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  71. A7XChristen

    I was born of the 80's and the first horror/scary movie I remember seeing was the first Poltergeist movie...and it scared me to death! I admit, I'm still kind of creeped out by it today. Something more recent that scared the crap out of me was Insidious, creepy!!

    October 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • JJ

      Agreed. "Poltergeist" broke new ground in the scary flick genre. Perhaps it was because of the evil that undermined an otherwise placid suburban setting. It's certainly one of the fright flicks I tend to remember.

      November 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  72. guest

    By the way, if I'm not mistaken, Night of the Demon is the film immortalized in the first song in The Rocky Horror Picture Show by the lyrics:

    Dana Andrews said prunes
    Gave him the ruins
    And passing them used lots of skill

    October 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  73. hawaiiduude

    looks like a commercial for ocean spray cranberry juice.

    October 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  74. guest

    The Other (the one from the early 70s, not the Nicole Kidman "The Others") had a real creepy feel; likewise The Shining and Rosemary's Baby. If you go more for gore, IMHO nothing beats the original Last House on the Left, horror without the penchant for silliness to break it up (OK, the police scenes had a little of that, but nothing like we see in a lot of other "horror" films). For something a bit older, check out the original Night of the Living Dead, The Innocents, and Carnival of Souls.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • ol cranky

      The Other you're thinking about is based on a thomas tryon book. He also wrote a book called harvest home. Both were made into movies and both were really disturbing. I have to admit, I'm surprised the Other hasn't been remade.

      Do you also remember the Sentinel (based ont he Konvitz book)? I think they ripped some of the ideas from that to make a movie called The Beacon which could have been done much better (it was just too cheesy for a flick made in 2009). There was a sequel to the sentinel that really should have been made into a movie too

      October 31, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  75. ChaunceyJenkins

    Have to agree with Mel, Burnt Offerings scared the daylights outta me when I was young. So damn creepy, but underrated. Also Jacob's Ladder was underrated as well.

    October 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Lisa

      Love Burnt Offerings. The actor that played the husband in that movie was in another favorite movie of mine: The Brood. I watched it as a kid and can't believe my mom allowed me to watch it. The movie was truly before its time. Check it out!

      October 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  76. DDSilks

    For me, the one that blew me away waw Alien.

    October 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  77. John

    The Strangers and The Devils Backbone

    October 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  78. twiga

    Guitar Wolf is not rockabilly, they are awesome. As is Wild Zero, although I'm not to sure what it's about because the dvd has a drinking game as a special feature.

    October 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • mondeparfait

      Guitar Wolf definitely is more punk in the Ramones tradition, and I wouldn't consider Wild Zero to be a horror film (too goofy to be taken seriously), but I have to agree with Brooks. It is a great film. Don't do the drinking game. You'll get liver poisoning within the first hour.

      October 28, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  79. palintwit

    "Human Centipede 2" starring the entire Palin family with special guest star Michele Bachmann 'bringing up the rear'.

    October 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  80. Razor

    The Exorcist! Got to be the Creepiest.

    October 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  81. Mel

    Burnt Offerings with Karen Black, Burgess Meredith, Bette Davis and Oliver Reed was one of the scariest I've ever seen. The house and everyone in it, would rejuvenate, become new again, but others didn't.... I love the fact it's not blood and guts, but a real old fashioned scary movie

    October 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  82. Lila

    John Carpenter made me love the whole horror genre. I remember watching Halloween home alone when I was a little kid(I had to sneak to watch it) and the Fog. Glad someone mentioned that great movie. Descent and Audition are great too. Every Halloween though nothing beats old original horror movies like the Wolfman, Frankenstein or anything with Peter Cushing or Vincent Price. Something about the music, acting and old castles in black and white films with the grainy sound that just can't be beat.

    October 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  83. Brian Jones

    So amazed that someone (Max Brooks in this case) brought up Wild Zero. That movie is truly one of the most over the top horror films ever.

    "Ace! True love knows no boundaries, color or gender! ROCK AND ROLL!!!!"

    October 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  84. Prizrak

    Check out "Event Horizon" low buget but got the job done. Also this Korean film called "A Tale of Two Sisters" creepy, and the end will make you say, 'WHAT!?'

    October 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Binky42

      Event Horizon is the scariest movie I have ever seen! Sam Neill still freaks me out today because of that movie. It's a great sci-fi/horror crossover.

      They did an American remake of Tale of Two Sisters a couple of years ago. It's called The Uninvited. It wasn't as good as the original, but still pretty cool.

      October 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Monster

      That's the first movie that popped in my head too. Loved it when i saw it and really didn't know what to expect at the time.

      October 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  85. Susan

    I agree with Ms. Grammar. The original "The Haunting" from the 1960s was genius and scared the crap out of me. The scene where the two women roommates were terrified, and the one thought they were holding hands in fear and told her room mate that she was crushing her hand....Oooooh, that says it all to me and I still get the chills when I think about it. That was a true horror film.

    I also heartily endorse "The Changeling" from 1980, starring George C. Scott. That too was one scary movie.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Annie

      I was in my 30s when I watched The Haunting in the late 60s on TV and had nightmares! Completely terrified me!!!

      October 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Kathy A

      I saw The Haunting in the theater, in my teens. Scared me to death. The hand-holding scene, and also the scene in the library, where they're hearing gigantic echoing pounding noises in the hall outside, then the library doors start bulging inwards. Ack, scares me even now!

      October 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
      • Old Hoosier

        Kathy, if my (old) memory serves, I believe that scene was in the bedroom with the ladies. The noises started in the hall and you KNEW that 'something' was out there and wanted in – very badly. It got quiet, then the doorknob started to turn. One lady whispered to the other, 'Did you lock the door?' The other answered, "No. I thought you did.' Even now – scary!

        October 29, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • Jim

      I agree, the Haunting (original) was the scariest. I remember watching it on I think it was Sir Graves Ghastly show on Saturdays (in Detroit in the 60s). The part that got me to turn off the set if I remember right was when the statue stepped on someone's toe?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  86. Drake

    Wow, I never thought I would say this in relation to a CNN blog, but these are some excellent films. It's refreshing to see that even insanely busy guys like Neil Gaiman have seen and appreciated some of the more interesting horror fare of the last half century from both the U.S. and far abroad. 🙂

    October 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  87. Nashvilledeb

    The original "King Kong!" It gives me chill bumps to this day. The fog that the ship goes through as it approaches the island is creepy, not to mention the sound track. And that huge ape is one scary dude.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  88. Jables19

    The Eye (Original, not the Jessica Alba version) was super creepy. I have a whole article on my fave scary movies

    check it out at

    October 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  89. gimsy

    Woman in Black, late 1980s, British.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  90. Dingus McGringus

    "Undefeated" was one of the funniest horror movies ever.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  91. Ms. Grammar

    "The Haunting" The original version with Julie Harris. Best scary film EVER!.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  92. Rick

    I agree with Christopher Salmon's opinion of rthe 1980 version of The Fog. That movie was one of the few that really stayed with me after having seen it back in the 19080's. Friday the 13th, Holloween, and other chop up movies could not hold a candle to the suspense of The Fog....

    October 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
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