I have been a huge fan of scary movies since my pre-teen years. It’s Halloween month, so it’s the perfect time to share my “Best Scary Movies” list with you. I have to say, compiling a limited list (I settled on around 50) was a near impossible task for me because there are SO many good scary movies out there. So, I broke it down into popular categories and then chose my top 5 in each category. (Side bar: Because there have been so many questionable remakes over the years, I’ve included the year to make sure you get your hands on the correct release.)
Grab your girlfriends, bucket loads of popcorn, a couple of bottles of great wine and enjoy a Halloween girls’ night in with some of my scary movies picks.
I originally compiled this list last year. In the last 12 months there have been some brilliant new releases. I’m not allowed to add to much here (have far exceeded my word limit), but just had to give these a super quick mention. The latest Halloween movie starring the original “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis has just been released and is smashing the box office! I also strongly recommend you have a look out for “The Quiet Place and “Hereditary”.
SCARY MOVIE CLASSICS
Psycho, 1960. At the time of its release, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was the most shocking movie audiences had ever been exposed to. A beautiful blonde on the run with cash stolen from her employer. A shabby motel run by a soft-spoken madman with a penchant for taxidermy and serious mommy issues. The shower scene is still one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history.
The Exorcist, 1973. The scariest demonic possession movie ever. The now infamous spider-walk scene (excluded from the original release) still freaks me out!
Halloween, 1978. This was my first slasher movie, introduction to the terrifying Michael Myers and the birth of Jamie Lee Curtis’s “Scream Queen” title. I was hooked!
The Amityville Horror, 1979. A supernatural haunted house movie based on alleged true events involving a demonic presence and family murder.
The Fly, 1986. A masterful and way more terrifying remake of the 1958 original. A brilliant scientist rashly tests a teleportation device with himself as a passenger and no idea that an innocuous housefly has joined the experiment. Things get gruesome when the scientist starts evolving into a fly.
STEPHEN KING: THE MASTER OF HORROR
Carrie, 1976. No remakes, watch the original. A classic horror story involving teenage angst, the cruelty of teenage bullying, and ultimately the inevitable reprisal. This was Stephen King’s brilliant debut novel.
The Shining, 1980. Jack Nicholson’s performance in the Stanley Kubrick directed ghost story classic is unforgettable. “Here’s Johnny!”
Cujo, 1983. A friendly, good-natured St. Bernard turns rabid after being bitten by an infected wild rabbit. A mom and her 4-year old son trapped in their broken-down Ford Pinto become the focus of Cujo’s rabies rage.
Pet Cemetery, 1989. A desperate father attempts to reanimate his recently deceased son by burying him in an ancient Indian burial ground with supernatural powers. Needless to say, what returns is not his son.
The Mist, 2007. An idyllic seaside town is overrun by a supernatural mist bearing terrifying creatures. However, it’s the ease with which humanity breaks under pressure that’s the truly terrifying tale. Spoiler alert: The ending is heart shattering.
And don’t forget to go see the recently released IT (2017) based on my favourite Stephen King novel. I even managed to drag Mich to see this with me.
Ridley Scott’s ground-breaking Alien is my #1 movie of all time. It spawned an epic franchise which currently includes 6 full length features. The original four films which started with Alien in 1979 and ended with Alien: Resurrection in 1987. Then there are the more recently released prequels, Prometheus, 2012 and Alien: Covenant, 2017. Although the timeline actually starts with the prequels, I’d still start with Alien to fall in love with Geiger’s awesomely designed Xenomorphs (the Alien) and Sigourney Weaver’s gritty heroine, Ripley.
For the Alien franchise fan, The Alien: Covenant Prologue, The Crossing is a short prologue released online (after Prometheus) shortly before Alien: Covenant. It gives viewers a little insight into what happened to Elizabeth Shaw and David after Prometheus.
The Thing, 1982. This is a fantastic movie set in remote Antarctica where a parasitic alien life form is uncovered by scientists. It can imitate the human form causing paranoia among the survivors who get picked off one by one.
Predator, 1987. Arnie in the jungle with an entire team of impressive biceps sent on a rescue mission that goes woefully wrong, thanks to a far more impressive alien predator visiting earth for a hunt. Brilliant.
Pitch Black, 2000. Vin Diesel is marooned on a planet with a ramshackle transport ship crew, ill-equipped to deal with the ravenous creatures that inhabit the planet. Fortunately, the creatures stick to the dark but, a month-long eclipse is about to descend upon them.
Pandorum, 2009. A pair of crew members on board a spaceship wake up with no memory of who they are or why they’re there. Then they discover they’re not alone.
CREEPY SCARY GHOST/HAUNTED HOUSE STORIES
The Others, 2001. In my opinion, Nicole Kidman’s best movie. A beautifully made, clever, and insanely creepy ghost story.
The Orphanage, 2007. Suspenseful and full of eeriness, this Spanish-language movie is a masterpiece of subtle horror.
Woman in Black, 2012. Creepy, gothic ghost story. This time I’ve actually recommended the remake.
The Babadook, 2014. A recently widowed mother of one starts to believe her young son, who says that the monster from a scary bedtime story is real. Is it?
Crimson Peak, 2015. A haunting, dark, gothic mystery.
Jaws, 1975. Steven Spielberg’s classic that sparked a global fear of swimming in the ocean. “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”
The Descent, 2005. A girls’ spelunking week-end away ends in a claustrophobic fight for survival. Makes for some paralytic terror fueled scenes. There’s a pretty good sequel too.
Rogue, 2007. An enormous, and very clever, 8-meter croc traps and stalks a bunch of tourists on a river safari in the Australian outback.
Cloverfield, 2008. A found footage film following a group of terrified young New Yorkers trying to survive a gigantic monster, and a bunch of other smaller yet equally aggressive creatures, attacking the city.
Trollhunter, 2010. A Norwegian found footage film about students who, while investigating a series of strange bear killings, stumble across a real-life Troll Hunter.
Rosemary’s Baby,1968. A gamine Mia Farrow becomes the focus of the attentions of some very strange, elderly neighbours. She falls pregnant under some seriously questionable circumstances and grows increasingly disturbed and doubtful of the intentions of those around her. The film doesn’t rely on a shock ending for impact.
Silence of the Lambs, 1991. The unforgettable introduction of Anthony Hopkins as the terrifying Hannibal the Cannibal on my birthday, Valentine’s Day. Happy Birthday to me.
Se7en, 1995. Kevin Spacey is terrifying as a psychotic murderer on the loose, targeting people he thinks is guilty of one of the seven deadly sins. He finally taunts Brad Pit and Morgan Freeman into a horrifying show down. “What’s in the box?”
Identity, 2003. Ten people are trapped at a remote inn thanks to a raging storm. A killer starts picking them off one-by-one, but which one of the stranded is hunting the rest? There’s a great twist in this tale.
Get Out, 2017. How well do you know your girlfriend? Maybe do some background checks before spending a week-end away meeting the family at her childhood home.
SPINE CHILLING SUPERNATURAL MOVIES
Poltergeist, 1982. If I’ve learned one thing from horror movies, it’s to make sure your house isn’t built on an ancient burial ground.
The Blair Witch Project, 1999. One of the original documentary-style, found footage films that follows a group of friends who venture into the woods in search of the Blair Witch, a local legend. They discover more than they bargained for.
The Sixth Sense, 1999. “I see dead people”. Enough said.
Insiduous, 2010. Distraught parents come to realise there’s a supernatural cause to their son’s sudden and inexplicable coma. Grandma’s seen it before and calls in the help of an expert. Although glimmers of Poltergeist emerge, it still delivers a great scare.
It Follows, 2014. A teenage curse is passed on during sex and delivered by a supernatural assassin. This movie will leave you trying to come up with plans of escape and how to survive the constant supernatural threat.
Dawn of the dead, 1978. The ultimate classic Zombie movie.
28 Days Later, 2002. In my opinion, the most stylish and terrifying post-Apocalyptic Zombie movie. Imagine waking up from a coma in a deserted hospital 28 days after a deadly virus has ravaged the planet. Oh, and the virus has left behind The Infected, rage-filled zombie like survivors who want to rip your head off and can run really, really fast.
Shaun of the Dead, 2004. The brilliant British comedy Zombie movie.
REC, 2007. The acclaimed Spanish found-footage Zombie movie. Considered one of the best found-footage horror movies, this spawned another American remake, Quarantine (also not a bad movie).
Zombieland, 2009. The quirky American comedy Zombie movie.
An American Werewolf in London, 1981. A pair of buddies are backpacking through England when they get set upon by a fierce creature one dark, stormy night. One dies while his buddy survives with some pretty bad bites and scratches. Shadowed by the ripped-up ghost of his best friend and comedic side-kick, he starts turning into the creature that attacked him.
Ghostbusters, 1984. New York is held hostage by a ghoulish invasion with only the inimitable Bill Murray and his ghost removal service crew to save his love interest, played by Sigourney Weaver, and the city. “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”
Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, 2010. An enormously underrated and funny movie. Tucker and Dale are pair of dithering hillbillies trying to enjoy a peaceful fishing trip at their dilapidated cabin in the woods. When a bunch of preppy college students arrive, a series of unfortunate events has them mistake our affable pair for murderous rednecks. Hilarity ensues. ” Tucker: Oh hidy ho officer, we’ve had a doozy of a day. There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property.”
The Cabin in the Woods, 2012. Teenagers are basically pawns in an elaborate global game to appease the gods threatening to destroy earth. There’s so much going on in this fun movie you simply have to watch it, even if only to appreciate a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth.
Grabbers, 2012. A small Irish seaside town is overrun by blood-sucking creatures from the deep. The only way to survive is to head to the local pub and stay drunk!
The title “slasher” sums up the sub-genre – the situation might change but the psycho killer, gratuitous violence and bloody outcome are pretty much the same. American Psycho is the only one in this selection that deviates a bit from the formula.
Friday the 13th, 1980. The movie that gave birth to one of the most prolific horror movie franchises. Teenagers preparing to open a lakeside summer camp are stalked and gruesomely murdered.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984. I was afraid to sleep for a while after watching this. A horribly disfigured maniac stalks and kills teenagers in their dreams.
Candyman, 1992. A student discovers that an urban legend she’s been researching is all too real.
Scream, 1996. A teenager and her friends are stalked by a serial killer with a thing for scary movies. “Do you like scary movies?”
American Psycho, 2000. I’ve never looked at business cards the same way. Christian Bale is far too convincing as the psychopathic killer living a very successful double life.
THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST
This list was originally published in October 2017 and is still awesome today, 31 October 2018.