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Stephen Wagner

The Scariest Movies of all Time

By October 14, 2011

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The ExorcistWe all like scary movies any time of the year, but the Halloween season definitely provides the atmosphere for a good cinematic scare.

What are the scariest movies ever made? What are the movies that get inside your head and scare you in the dark of night long after you've seen them? The Exorcist? Halloween? Poltergeist? The Ring?

Here's a list I compiled several years ago of the movies I think are the scariest. Most of them are older films, and I have to admit that the list might be out of date. But I can't think of any more recent movies that I felt were really scary. (And here's a list of my favorite paranormal movies.)

How about you? Here's another list of movies created from reader feedback. But that list really needs updating, too. In the comments section below, give me your suggestions for the scariest movies you've ever seen. It's okay if your suggestions are already on the list. I just want to get a good, updated list.


October 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm
(1) Scott says:

Poltergeist made for many sleepless night for me and I was 19 or 20 years old living with my parents. THe night I saw it I was probably more scared than any other movie I’ve seen in my lifetime. Friday, the 13th (the first one) was even worse, but luckily I rented the movie at home and I shut it off after a while. To this day I’ve yet to see the entire movie (and I’m 50ish). I’ve seen some of those other movies you mentioned and they’re pretty good. I haven’t seen the exorcist, and I don’t think I’d ever want to watch it. Just not into that type of thing.

October 16, 2011 at 12:16 am
(2) Visara says:

Poltergeist scared me also. I was about 11 when I saw it in the theater. I remember the clown doll scene got me the worst….when the clown’s face changed into that grimacing, evil smile.

The Exorcist was pretty scary too, but the movie that scared me the most when I was a kid was the Amityville Horror. The original one with James Brolin and Margot Kidder. Gave me nightmares for months. That was an evil, evil movie!

October 16, 2011 at 2:19 am
(3) Scott says:

yes, that was one scarey moment, because things were thought to be back to normal and then the clown doll disappears and he looks under the bed and it grabs him and pulls him under the bed. He finally beats it off, and then all hell breaks loose. The Amityville Horror was really scarey, agreed. My coworker mentioned that he could never buy a house that looks anything like that house and I couldn’t either. I think I saw parts of that movie at home and that helped because I could stop it and come back to it.

October 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm
(4) Javier says:

For me it’s The Thing (1982) because of all the horror movies i’ve seen this one gives me the creeps. It’s not because of how the monster looks like, it’s because you can’t trust anyone that you know when bad things start to happen.

October 16, 2011 at 5:28 am
(5) Scott says:

“can’t trust anyone that you know when bad things start to happen.”

true in real life as well, you realize how few true friends you have and you can count them on the fingers of one hand

October 17, 2011 at 9:25 am
(6) Charlie says:

Easily the scariest movie I have seen.
“Paranormal activity”

“It wasn’t even fun” was quote I heard a while back.

It hit something very deep in me.
The reality of it just gave me some very sleepless nights for quite a few weeks after I saw it.

The others are stories with actors and that is quite obvious. Lots of fun but not terrifying.

October 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm
(7) Scott says:

“Paranormal activity” looked like a scarey one, and I’ve heard movie critics even say that you’ll be scared for a few days afterward and that’s pretty rare to hear. But the one sort of flaw I feel it has is that the guy stays with the woman in the house until his demise. The entity is apparently connected to her. She stand next to the bed at night looking at him and can’t remember it the next morning. There’s monster foot prints clearly seen in the powder he puts down in their bedroom. When a character in a movie sees a bunch of bad things going on like that and he stays there in the house I can no longer feel for the that person because it become unrealistic and I know he’s is doomed. I like characters that act like me and I would have been out of there almost immediately.

October 17, 2011 at 10:48 am
(8) Susan says:

Amityville Horror, the original from 1979 always scares me, especially the music, it makes my hair stand on end. I also believe in the supernatural, and have had some experiences in my life.

October 17, 2011 at 11:00 am
(9) Edwin Bushaw says:

The last part of Carrie I will never forget. That was the 1st movie Carrie the remake you can show at a drive in & wouldn’t miss any thing.

October 17, 2011 at 11:02 am
(10) Kari says:

I think the scariest movie I have ever seen is The Ring Spoiler : When the girl crawls out of the tv near the end made me jump out of my seat.

October 17, 2011 at 11:03 am
(11) Bonnie says:

Pyscho is the movie that scared me the most, I hated trying to take a shower after seeing this movie. Then when they made Pyscho 2… I was afraid it would be a slasher movie but again it was just weird enough to work on your mind. I could never see Anthony Perkins in any other movie witout comparing it to Pyscho.

Also the Body Snatchers (1956) scared me a lot when I first saw it. I remember one night I woke up and heard scratching under my bed and went running down the hall calling my mom. I thought it was a pod under my bed crackling open. It ended up being our outside dog that somehow got in the house and under my bed. But I was sure one scared kid there for awhile.

October 17, 2011 at 11:46 am
(12) Brenda says:

The Changeling is a creepy, scary film. The wheelchair scene always scares me, no matter how many times I’ve watched the movie.

October 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm
(13) Tiffany says:

The Changeling is my #1 pick. I’m like you, even 30 years later it still terrifies me. I had nightmares about the tub as a child.

October 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm
(14) Alice says:

I’m past 30, and I don’t get scared easily on the movies, but “The Fourth Kind” really gave me the creeps… especially because in the middle of this film (I was watching it by myself in my bedroom, late at night), my bedroom door opened all by itself. Apart from it, “Blair Witch Project” also scared me a bit.

October 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm
(15) Wendy says:

I have to agree on “The Fourth Kind”. Creepy things happened to me on several occasions after watching that movie. It got to the point where I wouldn’t even allow the movie to be brought into my home….

October 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm
(16) Donna S. says:

My votes for scariest movies:

The Entity

October 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm
(17) Katherine Dye says:

One movie that gave my whole family cold chills was the movie “Insidious”.

October 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm
(18) Patricia says:

The red faced thing was super creepy! Definitely creeped us out too and not much does anymore.

It really is rare anymore that I like a scary movie. They are usually cliched and you see the scares coming a mile away. Insidious managed to actual break the mold and make me jump.

I also liked both Paranormal Activity movies. The Fourth Kind kept me creeped out several days after I saw it, absolutely hated that movie and would not watch it ever again

October 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm
(19) donna says:

Picture mommy dead a movie i saw as a kid with my mom on late night tv. i remember the song, “the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, in your stomach and out your mouth. ‘ For months after i had nightmares from the song and the hand that grabbed the girl by the ankle in the dark. Now as an adult i want to see the movie again.

October 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm
(20) Geri says:

My all time favorite movie is Practical Magic. However,the scariest for me is Stephen King’s The Night Flier. And I like Silver Bullet.

October 18, 2011 at 12:41 am
(21) Michael says:

“The Shining” is my choice for scariest film. That one scene, where the big-wheel riding toddler sees those two girls in the hallway, still freaks me out !!

But the really scariest film isn’t even a horror film – it’s the British film “Threads” – about the effects of a nuclear war on England.

October 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm
(22) Greg says:

The Omen was my first horror movie, saw it at the show could not sleep for weeks, light had to be on every where I went, even now don’t like watching it.

October 19, 2011 at 7:49 am
(23) marg says:

I Spit on Your Grave – hands down

October 19, 2011 at 10:26 pm
(24) Thomas says:

Paranormal Activity was pretty wild. Watched it in the dark by myself and didn’t sleep for nights, only when the sun was up did I sleep.

October 20, 2011 at 4:13 am
(25) chuck cooper says:

The original movie “The Thing” really frightened me, but I was only about 8 or 9 years old when I first saw it, and it was on black &white TV in the basement of our house;it was in the late afternoon and a storm brewing outside? I think it was in early October! I remember having nightmares about this movie for years after! Later on when I was oldet I saw it again and wondered why it scared me so much, since it was actually kind of tacky the second time around? It was all to do with set and setting, I think, and my young age!!

October 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm
(26) Tiffany says:

The Changeling. The Grudge (very, very creepy)
I really liked The Others too, not really that scary, but still a great horror film. Insidious was a good one too, I have to agree.

October 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm
(27) Tiffany says:

Another one that just popped into my head is Deadbirds. It’s more of an indie film, but it’s really good. And The Messengers had some creepy scenes.

Of course, there are some great zombie/plague movies out there as well. The 28 days franchise, Dawn of the Dead (the remake especially), Quarantine I&II.

And …. my all time favorite slasher series is hands down Friday The 13th!

March 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm
(28) Randy says:

Phantom of the Megaplex still stands as the only movie to ever give me a nightmare.

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