Del Stone

Del Stone
Location
Fort Walton Beach, Florida, U.S.
Birthday
November 25
Bio
I am a journalist and the author of many works of fiction published professionally in the United States and abroad.

Del Stone's Links

MY LINKS
No links in this category.
Editor’s Pick
OCTOBER 15, 2010 4:22PM

The scariest movies of all time

Rate: 24 Flag

Ah, October. The weather cools, the sun dims and the silver screen fades to black as memories of carefree summer give way to the approaching bleakness of winter. Halloween is saved until that last day of the month and allows us a final anticipatory shiver before Thanksgiving and Christmas steer our thoughts to cheerier points on the compass.

Here in the South, Halloween is denounced as a celebration of everything Satanic. But for those whose minds aren’t clouded by dogma Halloween is not at all about Satan but a harmless – even healthy – indulgence in fear. A brush with death, be it riding a roller coaster or slowing down to gape at a car accident, reminds us that we alive! It tells us the reaper’s shadow will fall on us one day, but not today.

Human beings have been telling scary stories since the day they began inventing fictions to get at their truths. Today some of those stories are played out on theater screens, computer monitors and television channels. Like all stories, some are better than others. And in October, when many of those stories turn to the dark subject at hand, some are more frightening than others.

The mechanics of moviemaking – how the scenes are filmed, the lighting, the score, the script – can make a difference between a merely scary story and a memorably frightening story. Ultimately it is the story itself, and how many of our buttons it pushes, that decides whether it makes this list.

Google “scariest movies ever made” and you’ll find thousands of such lists. Everybody has an opinion because the process of list-making, at least in this case, is subjective. In compiling this list I tried to use at least some objective criteria:

- Was the movie talked about?
- Did it kick-start a genre?

But in the end my final criterion was:

- Did it scare the hell out of me?

You may not agree, which is fine. Feel free to add to this list. If I agree with you I may modify it. Obviously this list is confined to movies I’ve seen.

Without further delay, here’s my list of the scariest movies ever made:

10. "THE INNOCENTS"

innocents 

Directed by Jack Clayton, starring Deborah Kerr, released in 1961

Plot synopsis: A governess is hired to care for two children at an English country estate. Over time she believes the children are being manipulated by the spirits of the former governess and the valet, who were involved in a relationship. She forces the children to confront their possessors with dire results.

Modern audiences would not appreciate the subtle storytelling of “The Innocents” but it is a masterpiece of suggestion that builds its terror upon a languid unfolding of events. Based on the novel “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, “The Innocents” evokes a period in England when the aristocracy adhered to rigid social and moral protocols, all of which come unraveled as the truth reveals itself. Cinematography is, as the British would say, spot on as Clayton uses distance and shadow to hint at the presence of ghosts.

Most terrifying scene: Kerr looks across a lake on a gloomy, drizzly afternoon and sees a woman dressed much as herself standing in the bullrushes, staring at young Flora.

Creeps rating: 7 (on a scale of 1-10)

9. "THE HAUNTING"

The Haunting 

Directed by Robert Wise, starring Julie Harris, released in 1963

Plot synopsis: A timid and repressed woman who spent the prime of her youth caring for an ailing and demanding mother receives an invitation to investigate a haunted house. Uncharacteristically she accepts and is immersed in a world that both repels and appeals to her as the house seems to choose her over the others as the focus of its malevolent interest.

Hill House, the 19th century mansion alleged to be haunted, becomes an avatar for evil as an innocent and regret-filled Nell, played by Harris, seeks an adventure that will bring meaning to her drab life and Hill House provides that adventure, though not in the way Nell expected. Based on the Shirley Jackson novel “The Haunting of Hill House,” “The Haunting” never once shows the evil face of Hill House and accomplishes its scares through odd sounds, dark shadows and Nell’s internal monologue. Modern directors could take a lesson from what Wise accomplished – again through the power of suggestion.

Most terrifying scene: Nell and Theo are huddling in their bed as something monstrous smashes against their bedroom door.

Catch phrase: You may not believe in ghosts but you cannot deny terror.

Creeps rating: 8

8. "THE RING"

Ring 

Directed by Gore Verbinski, starring Naomi Watts, released in 2002

Plot synopsis: When her niece dies under mysterious circumstances, Rachel must track down a video said to possess the ability to summon the murdering spirit of a little girl. That leads to the discovery of a horrible family secret long thought to be sealed in an old well.

While “The Ring” seems preoccupied with ghosts and murder mysteries the real villain is technology. A videotape reveals the horrible thing that happened to a little girl on the family’s farm. A message of death arrives via telephone. Even the answering machine isn’t immune. And when the girl arrives – it’s through the television. Based on the novel “Ringu” by Koji Suzuki and the movie “Ringu” directed by Hideo Nakata, “The Ring” reminds us that while technology can be useful and fun, it can also become the instrument of our death.

Most terrifying scene: Rachel’s ex, Noah, has been trying to determine the origins of the videotape when the little girl, Samara, crawls across the video landscape and through the TV screen, into Noah’s loft.

Catch phrase: Before you die, you see.

Creeps rating: 7

7. "JAWS"

Jaws 

Directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Roy Scheider, released in 1975

Plot synopsis: A great white shark begins terrorizing a New England community called Amity. Local officials want the threat covered up for fear the tourists will stay away but the town’s new police chief, Martin Brody, is determined to warn people and destroy the shark.

“Jaws” sparked a national mania of shark phobia and the movie’s slogan, “Don’t go in the water,” became a catch phrase for any dangerous or terrifying experience. The shark became a symbol for that which cannot be seen and told us that despite humanity’s mastery of the planet, in some places we are not at the top of the food chain. Based on the Peter Benchley novel of the same name, “Jaws” also condemned government officials and businessmen who valued money over human life. To this day the musical score to “Jaws” is used to convey impending doom.

Most terrifying scene: Martin Brody is leaning on the transom of the boat, smoking a cigarette, when suddenly the shark appears and rears its head from the water.

Catch phrase: Don’t go in the water.

Creeps rating: 7

6. "PSYCHO"

psycho 

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Anthony Perkins, released in 1960

Plot synopsis: A young woman steals money from her employer and flees by car to meet up with her lover. She grows tired of driving and, caught in a storm, stops at the Bates Motel where she encounters the proprietor, a quiet young man who not only runs the motel but tends to his domineering mother. Later she discovers that things are not as they seem – horribly.

You wouldn’t think a movie could turn people off showers but that’s what happened in 1960 when “Psycho” was released. The movie came as a rude shock to film fans unaccustomed to unspeakably twisted characters fetched straight from the mental institution psychiatrist’s couch. Perkins’ manic evil and Hitchcock’s sly direction produced a movie that would live in our nightmares for a long time. Even the score, the cacophonic shrieking of the murder scene, remains planted in our collective consciousness.

Most terrifying scene: Marion Crane is taking a shower when a mysterious figure appears behind the curtain. The curtain is pulled back and a knife descends – repeatedly.

Creeps rating: 9

5. "THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE"

Texas Chainsaw massacre 

Directed by Tobe Hooper, starring Marilyn Burns, released in 1974

Plot synopsis: A group of young friends drives through the Texas wilds in their hippie van to visit grandfather’s old house. There they encounter a band of cannibals, including a vicious, mask-wearing hulk who goes after them with a sledge and a chainsaw.

Brutal violence and unrelenting terror mark “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” an independent horror film from director Hooper that slashed its way onto American movie screens in 1974. The film was shot on a $140,000 budget and took in $30 million at the box office despite being banned in several foreign countries. Jason, Michael and Freddy all owe their existence to “Chainsaw,” which pioneered the slasher genre, though by today’s standards the film is tame. Still, it made an impact, and that’s without the slick production values of a Hollywood movie. Audio levels are rough, seeming to change from scene to scene, and even the “color” of the movie shifts as if Hooper were scrounging for film stock (although this appears to have been mastered out of the DVD release). After “Chainsaw” it became impossible to drive through rural areas and not wonder what might be going on behind the quiet doors of the quiet houses on the distant hills.

Most terrifying scene: Sally is trying to help her wheelchair-bound brother when suddenly Leatherface appears and revs his chainsaw.

Catch phrase: Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Creeps rating: 10

4. "HALLOWEEN"

Halloween 

Directed by John Carpenter, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, released in 1978

Plot synopsis: On Halloween night in 1963 young Michael Meyers catches his teenaged sister having sex with her boyfriend. Enraged, he stabs her to death. Michael is institutionalized until the night before Halloween in 1978 when he escapes the asylum and returns to Haddonfield to resume his murderous rampage. There he finds Laurie Strode, who looks like a good surrogate for his sister. But first he must do away with her circle of friends.

Audiences ran screaming from theaters in 1978 when “Halloween” was released. Filmed on a $320,000 budget, the movie grossed $60 million worldwide and advanced the agenda of horror moviemaking’s revenge slasher. Its allegorical implications were obvious: Teens who have sex die, as did Michael’s sister and Laurie’s promiscuous friends. Laurie herself, who doesn’t date, dresses conservatively and quakes at the thought of attending a dance with good-looking Ben, rises above her tormenter. Like “Jaws” and “Psycho,” “Halloween” featured a musical score – written by Carpenter himself – that continues to suggest menace.

Most terrifying scene: Lynda is lying in bed, waiting for Bob, her boyfriend, to return with a beer. They’ve just had sex. A figure with a sheet appears in the doorway and Lynda assumes it’s Bob, pretending to be a ghost. It’s not.

Catch phrase: The night HE came home!

Creeps rating: 9

3. "THE EXORCIST"

Exorcist 

Directed by William Friedkin, starring Linda Blair, released in 1973

Plot synopsis: An actress and single mom living in a Washington, D.C., suburb begins to fear for her daughter’s soul after weird events take place and the girl’s behavior becomes unmanageable. She turns to the Catholic Church for help and two priests are dispatched, a younger man who questions his faith and an older priest who knows exactly what they are facing.

Based on the William Peter Blatty novel of the same name, “The Exorcist” unleashed a wave of religious fervor and demonic terror in the United States when it was released in the early ’70s. Its message – that the devil was not a concept but a real embodiment of evil – compelled doubters to seek the comfort of the church, no doubt equally compelled by the film’s apparent message that mainstream America’s gradual rejection of traditional values would tip the balance in the war between good and evil. Shocking special effects coupled with a raw, visceral script produced a film many people consider to be the scariest of all time. Who can forget little Regan’s head spinning around or the puke flying?

Most terrifying scene: Regan vomits green goo into the face of a priest.

Creeps rating: 9

2. "NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD"

Night of the Living Dead 

Directed by George Romero, starring Duane Jones, released in 1968

Plot synopsis: A space probe returning to Earth brings with it a form of radiation that causes the dead to come back to life and seek human flesh. A woman and her brother are visiting their father’s grave when they are attacked by one of the dead. The woman escapes and flees to a farmhouse, where she finds other survivors hiding. Together they must defend themselves from the hordes of zombies descending on the house.

“Night of the Living Dead” is another of the low-budget, black-and-white horror movies that struggled for distribution and eventually achieved cult status. Shot for a mere $112,000 it has grossed over $30 million worldwide and has been admitted to the National Film Registry. Its unvarnished brutality and gore was criticized as an attack on the Vietnam War, but today it better serves as an allegory for the zombification of Americans through our infatuation with consumerism and mass media. Whatever the case, “Night of the Living Dead” horrified moviegoers with scenes of the walking dead munching on intestines and blasé sheriff’s deputies shooting zombies in the head. It has become a Halloween staple and solidified Romero’s title as King of the Zombies.

Most terrifying scene: A little girl, Karen, has died of a zombie bite. She reawakens and comes after her mother with a cement trowel.

Creeps rating: 10

1. "ALIEN"

Alien 

Directed by Ridley Scott, starring Sigourney Weaver, released in 1979

Plot synopsis: A commercial freighter sets down on an alien planet after receiving an unknown transmission. There they find a derelict spaceship and something else, row upon row of what appear to be eggs. Something explodes from one of the eggs and infects a crewmember, who is brought back to the freighter for medical treatment. Later an alien hatchling emerges from the crewmember’s body and begins to prey on the remaining crew.

Few movies can match “Alien” for its unrelenting tension. From the moment the Nostromo shuttle sets down on LB426 events proceed from bad to worse, then worse, then worse again. From a storytelling perspective alone “Alien” is a masterpiece.  But it is also one of those rare films where every part is executed to near perfection, from the script to the cinematography to the musical score. Scott creates a gritty, sweaty, claustrophobic world aboard the Nostromo, one where human lives are subordinate to corporate greed. Conversations overlap one another, technology fails, darkness settles in and guess what? Something is out there. “Alien” may be set on a spaceship but it is a horror movie through and through. When you are alone in the dark, and you hear a strange sound, your instinct is to ask, “Who’s there?” Most really scary movies force you to ask that question. “Alien” provides a most unpleasant reply.

Most terrifying scene: Kane is enjoying a meal after being released by the face-hugger. Suddenly he begins to convulse and a sinister, reptilian creature bursts from his chest.

Catch phrase: In space, no one can hear you scream.

Creeps rating: 10

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
"Silence of the Lambs" was the only movie I ever walked out of, because the knots in my stomach hurt so much I couldn't stand it. Ironically, it was during the most cliched scary movie scene -- the heroine wandering around in a dark basement.
A great list, Del, and I have seen every one of these. I guess I like to be scared!
Loved many of your picks, especially "Jaws," "The Ring," "Alien" and "The Exorcist." But IMHO you left out a few of my own personal favorites: "The Omen," "Rosemary's Baby" and "Don't Look Now." DLN has the added advantage of an incredibly sexy scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.
No Wicker Man (1973)? That would be my number one -- and it's completely bloodless. Most scenes take place in full daylight, and there isn't a single scene where something jumps out at the audience. The truly scary thing about it for me is that it's all plausible -- no spirits, ghosts, or creatures. Just people being people.

Maybe that's why Psycho is considered so effective -- it's possible.
The four scariest, most un-nerving films I have ever seen are as follows:

1. Night of the Living Dead. The original black and white version by George Romero. I saw it in Queens, NYC when I was 8. I stayed up late on Halloween to watch it while everybody was asleep. It gave me nightmares for years. My area of Queens was framed-in by cemetaries. As an 8 year old, this gave me poor prospects for survival in a zombie, undead awakening situation.

2. Nosferatu. Also in black and white. I watched this with my wife late at night on a cold, windy night. The movie's images are still in my head. There is a rhythm, a beat, if you will, to silent films. The moving image, the words that flicker upon the screen, the moving image again. Word--image---word. It is like a book of sorts, with moving pictures, though. This was a horrifying book, the images of Nosferatu going up the stairs, his shadow projected upon the wall. They terrified me and my wife also had bad dreams.

3. Blair Witch Project. I saw this in high school and I felt they were all the stupidest kids ever. Why didn't they sharpen sticks during the day and turn them into stakes? At night time, climb the tall pines and point the stakes down. Whenever something came up the tree, stab down. They would have the high ground, projected-reach advantage in terms of weaponry, as well as gravity on their side. There is no way they could lose. They were also stupid to enter a confined, fortified space at night time, where the enemy had them at a distinct disadvantage, where he could ambush and defeat them. They deserved their fate.

I disected the strategy of these kids constantly while I was in high school, and with my friends, discussed various, alternative methods the kids could have pursued in order to survive and also, to hunt, pursue, capture and then kill the witch that pursued them.

4. The Road, with Viggo Mortenson. This movie disturbed the hell out of me. The flicker, the hints, the suggestion of images and horrors not shown is what made it all the more disturbing. This is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen.

I do think Americans are becoming fascinated with the secular apocalyptic genre. It says something about where our culture is headed.
The four scariest, most un-nerving films I have ever seen are as follows:

1. Night of the Living Dead. The original black and white version by George Romero. I saw it in Queens, NYC when I was 8. I stayed up late on Halloween to watch it while everybody was asleep. It gave me nightmares for years. My area of Queens was framed-in by cemetaries. As an 8 year old, this gave me poor prospects for survival in a zombie, undead awakening situation.

2. Nosferatu. Also in black and white. I watched this with my wife late at night on a cold, windy night. The movie's images are still in my head. There is a rhythm, a beat, if you will, to silent films. The moving image, the words that flicker upon the screen, the moving image again. Word--image---word. It is like a book of sorts, with moving pictures, though. This was a horrifying book, the images of Nosferatu going up the stairs, his shadow projected upon the wall. They terrified me and my wife also had bad dreams.

3. Blair Witch Project. I saw this in high school and I felt they were all the stupidest kids ever. Why didn't they sharpen sticks during the day and turn them into stakes? At night time, climb the tall pines and point the stakes down. Whenever something came up the tree, stab down. They would have the high ground, projected-reach advantage in terms of weaponry, as well as gravity on their side. There is no way they could lose. They were also stupid to enter a confined, fortified space at night time, where the enemy had them at a distinct disadvantage, where he could ambush and defeat them. They deserved their fate.

I disected the strategy of these kids constantly while I was in high school, and with my friends, discussed various, alternative methods the kids could have pursued in order to survive and also, to hunt, pursue, capture and then kill the witch that pursued them.

4. The Road, with Viggo Mortenson. This movie disturbed the hell out of me. The flicker, the hints, the suggestion of images and horrors not shown is what made it all the more disturbing. This is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen.

I do think Americans are becoming fascinated with the secular apocalyptic genre. It says something about where our culture is headed.
Some of these movies are entertaining, but I have not been frightened by the "supernatural" since I was a child (probably because it does not exist?). There are much more disturbing movies about events and ideas found in the reality of man. (i.e. Schindler's List, 1984, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, etc.) Want to frighten me? Show me the latest poll about the scientific comprehension of the average U.S. citizen, or their critical thinking skills.
Great list! Night of The Living Dead definitely kick-started a genre.

I try to imagine what it would have been like to be the first folks to see the original (James Whales) Frankenstein movies before Frankie became a pop culture merchandising machine ... horrified I bet.
Great list. That scene you describe in The Innocents also was featured as the cover of the first Black Sabbath album.

And imagine how the first audiences woudl have reacted to Psycho. When had a movie ever killed off its top-billed star before the half-way mark? There's no way that anyone would have been expecting that, and then the way she was killed...

The Exorcist stands out for me. I hadn't read the book and read the reviews cursorily. It came out on a Thursday and the next morning I had a doctor's appointment in the city. After the doc I had lunch with my gf and then had an afternoon to kill before she got off work. So I decided to see The Exorcist. I was unprepared and scared as hell. For me, the worst scene was Regan levitating from the bed. This was compounnded by the panicky women in the next seat who grabbed my arm, causing a rapid levitation in me. After I left the cinema I felt like the whole world was different than what I thought I knew.

That evening we went to a wild party where there was much to drink and smoke. We capped the night off in the usual gf-bf way and it must have been well past 3 before I fell asleep. Under the circumstances I would normally have slept till noon. But by 8:00 a.m. I had to get up as I'd had five hours of the worst nightmares ever. It was about ten years before I could bring myself to watch it a second time, and that was on TV.
A good list, but incomplete without "Beach Blanket Bingo."
Thanks, I loved your post! "Amityville Horror" is what scared me the most, both the book and the movie. Yikes!
Wow, we agree on our horror! Great list. I haven't seen The Innocents, but now I must due to the rest of your list. Mine would include "Gaslight"--so frightening because so possible. And "Straw Dogs," which while not a horror movie, per se, is horrifying. And finally, " The Birds." I still get freaked out when I see birds all lining up together on wires..... Bravo! Fantastic scary list. Seeing the stuffed mother in "Psycho" gave me nightmares for weeks and showers still make me nervous..... "Jaws"? Still find it hard to go into the water past my waist and must sit down to watch it every time I see it on TV.... and "The Haunting" is hands down the most chilling movie I've ever seen.... it took me 4 attempts before I could make my way all the way through it. Horror at its finest!!!! Happy Halloween!
Oh I agree montanarose with all 3 of your personal favorites... The Omen, Rosemary's Baby and Don't Look Now all scared the beejezus out of me--in the best possible way!
John - I thought about adding "Silence of the Lambs" but so much of it is a police procedural. Still, it's a darn scary film.
Montanarose - Neither "The Omen" nor "Rosemary's Baby" developed the sustained, unrelenting sense of fear I thought was necessary to add them to the list. Somehow I missed "Don't Look Now."
Cribbage - Sorry. Saw the newest version of "Wicker Man" and it didn't do a thing for me.
You forgot --

"Les Yeux Sans Visage"

"Peeping Tom"

"Island of Lost Souls"
Hard to argue with any of these, Del, although I'll take your word on Chainsaw Massacre. I find I don't care for the gore that's deemed necessary in most contemporary horror films, so I'd have to say The Haunting is about the creepiest thing I've seen. The book was excellent, too.
Rwoo5g - I considered "Blair Witch" and "Nosferatu" but in the end decided against them. "Blair Witch" became tiresome - for me - and the only really scary scene was right at the end. "Nosferatu" was certainly groundbreaking and the scene you describe was beyond creepy. But I think the years separating the movie from us have defanged the vampire.
Wind Chill - Amen! Between video games, "smart" phones and the Internet we are becoming a nation of lobotomites.
Scarlett - I'll bet they were scared ****less!
Abrawang - Really? I'll have to check out that album cover. Sounds creepy.
Conrad - OMG, you're right!
Good list, and I like the additions suggested in the ocmments. The original The Omen is still pretty spooky. And The Exorcist is still great. John Carpenter's original Halloween is an amazing example of what can be done with simplicity. Blair Witch Project seemed scary at the time but doesn't hold up.
I admit to not having seen everything on your list, but from movies I have seen, I'd definitely include the wonderfully eerie, "Carnival of Souls." "The Shining" especially it's Arbus-inspired twins also still scares me.
Audition by Takashi Miike is by far the scariest film I've ever seen. It succeeds in lulling the audience into a false sense of security, like you're in a light-hearted romantic comedy. Then it dives head first into a twisted nightmare that could potentially have been avoided; cutting back and forth between what is, what was, and what might have been. The conclusion haunted me for weeks, and weeks more before I dated anyone again.
"Jaws" is a classic!
Nice collection of scary memories.
Venus - I considered "Amityville" but couldn't get past all the absurd sequels and remakes.
Renee - Happy Halloween to you too! "The Birds" was an honest contender for this list. I first saw it in 1965 and it scared me to death. I too can't see a power line sagging with birds and not think of that movie.
Seer - "Hell House" was a possibility. I loved the book too.
Black Jack - "Anger Heart" just didn't leave an impression.
I wonder if the IT folks at Salon can block these auto-ad comments. They're really annoying. It seems the more I delete, the more appear. Anybody have success in stopping them?
In the time it took me to delete the 10 or so ad "comments" that were on this post, two more appeared. I wonder if deleting them attracts more?
Ghost Story, the opening scene when the man in the high-rise hotel room comes back to the bed and the woman rolls over onto her back...
A fine list. How about a few foreign movies as well? "Diabolique" and Guilliermo Del Toro's "Orphanage" come to mind.
David - Haven't seen "Peeping Tom." I'll have to check it out.
I remember the scene of the two women lying in bed in the Haunting while the doorknob rattled and decided scary movies were really not for me. I remember as they were all leaving the house, one of the husbands says something about going back in to get his wife's things from the house and I yelled at the TV "ARE YOU CRAZY??GET OUT OF THERE!"
Oh, Forgot to mention Don't Look Now. Sometime in the 1970's, set mostly in Venice with Donald Suthlerland and Julie Christie, a couple that recently lost their young daughter. Venice at night is creepy in and of itself. In the last scene Donald Sutherland is following what seems to be a little girl in a red cloak through Venice. Watching him, you just know that is one of the classic scary movie "bad ideas" but he keeps going and ends up shot.
The movie "IT" scared almost everybody I know to some degree or another, weather it was the blood coming up out of the drain or the creepy clown luring them into the drains, either way, people were scared! It's still widely talked about today...and I saw it when I was 8! LOL

The Shining. I prefer the remake (It was a T.V movie). You may laugh at me, but I found the character that I call "The ugly green dead woman in the bathtub" horrifying! I think it's her eyes. And yes, you will know who I'm talking about when you watch the movie.

Nightmare on Elm Street is also a good one. Freddy scares the crap out of kids but he's not so scary when as you grow older. What I think is the really scary part is you're not even safe in your own head, in your on subconscious! There's really no escaping the threat then! Anyone who really thinks about is going to be scared to one degree or another by that thought.

13 Ghosts has it's moments. I think the worse part about that one is the idea that...let's see if I can get the quote right, There are always ghosts around you, most of them just don't want to hurt you. Kinda a creepy concept! LOL

Hope I helped! :D
I've seen most on your list and I like your selections. I'd add "The Silence of the Lambs", "Suspiria" by Dario Argento (great creepy soundtrack also), and the Swedish "Let the Right One In" (I haven't seen the American remake, but plan to soon.)

For great old campy horror films, I recommend "The Old Dark House" (featuring a young Gloria Stuart of "Titanic" fame), "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein", all by Frank Whale.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
This is a fantastic list. The Exorcist still creeps me out; although the "Last Supper" scene in Alien is one of the scariest things in a movie I have seen.
I had a roommate in college who said, "You know how you get so scared you throw up?" Um, no. But she was so scared watching The Grudge in the theatre she threw up a little. Now THAT is fear.

Honestly, I've only seen a couple of these, but I refuse to watch Jaws. I have an irrational fear of sharks (I live in Utah for Pete's sake) and I can't even get through one episode of Shark Week, so it's out. The rest, I'll fast forward through them with the subtitles on. I have enough nightmares as is...
The Shining and the omen and exorcist come to mind too. And, this movie "the brood' -this little creature in a skiing jacket - till today just thinking about this creature shakes me p.
Alien is, indeed, one giant suspensefest. The scene that totally scared the crap out of me was Harry Dean Stanton standing in that giant room with the water dripping down; he takes his hat off and the scene just goes on and on forever. White knuckles with a terrifying payoff!
I like your list, but I'm afraid I just can't watch "The Exorcist" with a straight face. Alcohol was involved. It's a long story.

Four of the scariest movies I've ever seen aren't on your list - or probably on anyone else's, my taste is a bit .... different.

1. "Strangers on a Train" This completely freaked me out. It was just eerie.

2. "Cape Fear" That would be the original, with Robert Mitchum as the lead crazy. I actually had bad dreams because of this one. The re-make was...lame by comparison. See the original.

3. "Night of the Hunter" You have to watch it to catch the atmosphere. Menace hangs over this movie from start to finish.

4. "Duel" This was a VERY early made-for-tv movie by Steven Spielberg, starring Dennis Weaver and a very large truck. There is no dialog. The entire plot hinges on a murderous truck driver that we never see, relentlessly trying to kill Weaver, who's in a car. It's VERY scary.
When I read your headline, and before I read your article, The Haunting was the first film that came to mind. It's horrifying and so well crafted. And put to the test, it's frightening to watch time after time even without the element of surprise.
The scariest, creepiest movie I ever saw was John Carpenter's 1982 remake of "The Thing", starring Kurt Russell and Wilford Brimley, make-up and effects by Rob Bottin. The location (research outpost in freezing Antarctica) plus the monster (alien shape-shifter) combined to keep me in nerve-wracking suspense for the whole movie. How were the Good Guys going to escape? There was no place to run to, and eventually, no way to call for help! How would they know whom to trust? The monster could be anyone, a good friend, the boss, or that guy everyone barely got along with! And how could the monster be killed? Could anyone be sure that it was really dead? I love that if you watched it today, you would still have questions about it. Twenty-eight years after its release, "The Thing" can still be found on cable TV and has a die-hard fan base plus a website, Outpost 31. See it if you haven't already... and don't see it alone!
Boanerges - Actually "Massacre" wasn't that gory, certainly not by today's standards!
Nick - thanks. One movie I'm tempted to add is John Carpenter's "The Thing." I didn't because it came and went from theaters so fast it barely made an impression. But it has survived the years and become a cult favorite.
Marion - You know, I was seriously disappointed with "The Shining." The book was so intensely scary yet both Kubrick's movie and the made-for-TV movie never captured the intensity of the printed page.
Aaron - I've heard of "Audition" but I've never seen it. Guess I'll have to look it up on Amazon.
Great post, Del. I understand what you mean about comparing both films to King's novel "The Shining." Although I will say that I think Kubrick's version is incredibly effective, it just has to be viewed with little expectation. Forget the book and take it as is.
Matt - I'd completely forgotten "Ghost Story." When it came out I remember talk of it being a really scary movie but after seeing it I didn't think so. Isn't that the book that put Peter Straub on the map?
Kevin - Maybe if I hadn't read the book first the movie would have worked better for me. The book was just so damned good - I've never had a book raise goosebumps like "The Shining." At one point I had to put it down, I was so frightened.