Top 10 Scariest Movies of All Time

For over a century, horror flicks have gripped us in their clawed grasp, serving up spine-chilling suspense, gut-wrenching gore, and scream-inducing jump scares. Sure, what makes you sleep with the lights on might be another person's yawn-fest, but there are those hallowed gems that send universal shivers down our spines and haunt our dreams for nights on end.

From the unholy rites of The Exorcist to the insidious dread lurking in Hereditary, this list spans the full spectrum of horror's subgenres - supernatural hauntings, knife-wielding slashers, edge-of-your-seat suspense, mind-bending mysteries, dystopian sci-fi, and soul-shattering psychological horror. Each film on this list is a maestro of fear, whether through skin-crawling storytelling, eerie cinematography, or performances so memorable they're seared into the horror hall of fame.
The Top Ten
1 The Exorcist

The Exorcist is definitely the scariest movie of all time, in my opinion. I remember watching it for the first time when I was about 12, and I was absolutely traumatized. The scene where she was stabbing the cross into her vagina and then proceeds to turn her head all the way around was absolutely horrific to me. This movie scared me so badly the first time I saw it. I was too scared to sleep with the lights off that night and found myself praying to God because of how disturbed I was by the movie. I can only imagine how much more terrifying it would've been to have seen this movie back in 1973 when it first came out.

Glad to see you got it right! With film special effects these days, there isn't a chance for another movie to scare the world the way The Exorcist did when it came out. People were throwing up or passing out in theaters, or having priests or nuns bless them before they went in. I don't think any movie can distance itself from its genre as much as The Exorcist did. That bar was set in 1973, and no movie after that has touched it. All other movies after that leave room for different opinions, but I can make a case for The Exorcist!

2 The Shining

It always amazes me that people find The Exorcist, a movie where a silly-looking kid moves her head 360 degrees, to be the scariest ever. However, a realistic movie about a person slowly going insane and attempting to kill his wife and child - while also featuring one of the best acting performances of all time - is not considered scary at all. Regardless, this film stands tall in front of every other horror movie, not just because of its scares, but also because of its incredible pacing, acting, directing, and score. It is, of course, the most gorgeous horror movie ever made.

I know some of you think that this isn't really scary, and that is your opinion. But think about what it must feel like to have your own father try to murder you. The voices he hears tell him what to do, and he actually does it. He goes crazy and murders a guy who wants to help. The one thing that this movie does to me is make me realize it could happen. This could come true, and it doesn't have to be with a guy who hears voices. A man can kill his family, planning it and not caring about what happens next. The fact that your own father, who is supposed to protect you, is the one harming you, is why this movie is scary to me.

3 A Nightmare on Elm Street

This is a classic film that is thrilling, scary, and interesting. This movie definitely piques my interest. It conveys a frightening message: if you die in your dreams, you die in real life. While this is not true, it did give me a few nightmares. What scared me the most about this movie were Freddy's nails and the way he spoke, telling the kids that he was going to kill them. The first time I saw this movie, it scared me. However, after watching it multiple times, it became less scary but more interesting.

What I love about this movie is its interesting but threatening and scary storyline. My favorite character is Nancy. She is excellent at acting scared and is great at screaming. Freddy is a frightening yet funny character who kills teens but is also hilarious. I wouldn't classify it as a comedy or romance. It is definitely a horror film, but some things the characters say are funny. I think it was intended to be a scary yet funny movie.

The number of times I've seen this movie is probably 14. I've watched it so many times that I can memorize some of the characters' lines. I love how the movie starts off with the teens dreaming about Freddy, but then, as the movie progresses, one of the characters dreams, and her bedroom turns into something like a snow room. I wouldn't say that it's the most popular movie, but it is well-liked. There are, I think, about 3 or 4 other movies in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, but I would say the one that came out in 2018 was the best one.

4 The Conjuring

I haven't seen many horror movies. In fact, I haven't seen many movies at all. But after watching The Conjuring in daylight (12-14 PM), I couldn't go to sleep easily for more than a week. This is a true horror movie. It's not a slasher film full of blood and dismembered body parts. What's very scary about the movie is its true story. It's not just about a serial killer or a deadly virus. It's about a cursed house and a witch who serves evil as her master.

No one dies in the movie, and there aren't many animation scenes, but it's very scary because it attacks your mind and your beliefs. And the fact that it could happen to all of us is unsettling. But in the end, God helps the characters and saves them from evil. Well, you know, only God can save us.

I am very attached to The Conjuring. I really want to go to the Harrisville, Rhode Island, farmhouse and live there for several days so that I can discover the truth. The night I watched the movie, I thought that all the paranormal activity had happened to me. When I came to know that the story is true, that was the most surprising moment. From the day I watched the movie, I have been searching for what really happened in that farmhouse. Hello, I am from India, and I would like to find out what really happened to the Perrons.

5 Halloween

Masks have always frightened me. I freeze, and I notice a tightness in my chest. I have to make myself look at them. I would hate to come across someone wearing that mask, which is why I dislike Halloween as well. You go out to get candy, and then bam! You run into someone wearing that mask, and you're freaked and scarred for life. I'm having a mild anxiety attack right now, just having to face up to comment. I still have not brought myself to watch all those movies, even though I own them.

For a 1978 movie, it was scary as hell! The way Carpenter used camera angles, long lens shots, wide shots, and shadows had never been seen before. It felt very realistic because people like Michael can have super strength and be unfazed by pain. When he disappeared at the end of the movie, it freaked me out for two weeks. Also, Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter deserves some love. It's the darkest and best-directed film of the series.

6 The Ring

I couldn't sleep that night. It was the longest night ever. Guys, if you want to have some fun, watch it alone with no lights. It will scare you. I have seen all horror movies, both old and new - Paranormal Activities, The Conjuring, Blair Witch, etc. This isn't about nostalgia. The Ring is simply the best. Especially if you are bored of those blood-dripping, predictable horror movies. The movie has a grim feel to it that continues throughout. Great concept, suspense, and I loved the background score of that creepy tape.

People need to realize that this movie is a psychological horror film. If you prefer jump scares, scary imagery, or gore to play out the scares while watching a horror film, then this is not the movie for you.

The Ring gets into your head with its dark, grimy atmosphere, an overwhelming feeling of dread that is felt throughout the film, and Hans Zimmer's atmospheric score. It's a silent yet effective psychological film.

7 Insidious

This movie was the first American horror movie I have ever watched, and it was really creepy. For nights afterward, I dreamed about all sorts of creepy stuff. I still remember having to turn on all the lights in our house because I was so creeped out. But for me, it was the best horror movie experience ever. Ever since I watched it, I've been less bothered by other horror movies that are even more disturbing and scary.

I was either 10 or 11 when I first saw this movie. I was in my mom's room with her and my sister. We got this bootleg CD from a friend, and the title of this movie was on the CD. From the moment the title card popped up on the screen, I was scared. Throughout the movie, until the last 15 minutes, I was under the covers. I didn't watch the last 15 minutes, unfortunately, because the movie froze on us. But that was good for me because the ending had one of the scariest horror movie twists.

8 The Grudge

The Grudge will probably always have the scariest concept for me because it executes my biggest fear factor elements so well:

1. You can't defeat the entity, physically or otherwise.
2. You can't escape the entity. No matter what, it is somehow able to find you wherever you go.
3. You can't reason with it. It will never stop until it gets you.

Basically, all you can do is live out however long it decides to wait before it comes for you. The moment it does will be horrifying as you notice that little movement in the corner and have the dreadful realization that she's here.

To all the people over the age of 40 who are beholden to so-called "classics" such as The Exorcist and The Shining: yes, those movies had their moments (well, The Shining did. The Exorcist is actually a comedy). This is much, much scarier. Just as technology has led to exponentially faster computers, horror films have become exponentially scarier. This is psychological horror. The focus is on manipulating you. All the buttons are pushed at the right times to disturb your very core. You can watch The Exorcist by yourself, but you cannot watch this film alone without experiencing weeks of paranoia afterward.

9 Friday the 13th

The first film is the best. A camp counselor watches in horror as her friends and colleagues fall one by one, each in more gruesome and bloody ways. She finally discovers who her tormentor is and finishes her off with one of the most iconic deaths in horror movies: a decapitation using the villain's own axe. The movie also sets up the franchise, which did eventually get old. Yet, this film still stands as the reason superstitious people beware of Friday the 13th.

I watched this when I was only 11 - that's right, 11! It's so suspenseful, especially when the girl, whose name I forget, is just walking to her cabin. She runs into hanging bodies with slashed throats, and it's so SCARY!

Pamela wasn't even a villain! She was just a protective mother who snapped when neglectful camp counselors allowed her only son to drown.

10 Saw

Saw may not be the scariest movie on this list, but it is damn good entertainment. All it took was an amazing script to make this such a memorable horror film. It should have no association with the other films in the franchise.

As I write my opinion on this movie, I get chills. I have flashbacks of watching it for the first time in the dark in 4th grade. I remember the sleepless nights and the tears. I dreaded nighttime. I watched the movie again when I got older, thinking I'd get over it, but I didn't. Just looking at the cover of the disc scares me. Every time I look at the TV in my living room, I imagine Jigsaw's face popping up. This movie really makes me want to be a better person, just so I don't ever have to be in that predicament. This should be number one, and I'd like everyone reading this to vote for it. Thank you.

The doll and the gore don't scare me. It's my imagination. I imagine myself in their situation and think of the sacrifices I would make to survive. The first one didn't scare me as much, but the others were pretty brutal. Imagine cutting open your eye to save yourself from getting killed with a mask full of nails. To this day, I still watch YouTube videos that teach you how to survive. Honestly, my imagination is the scariest thing.

The Contenders
11 Psycho

Definitely not the most terrifying movie, but very suspenseful and shocking. I found myself on the edge of my seat the entire time I was watching this movie. Though not the scariest, it's definitely one of the best.

This movie really made me question what Hollywood puts out there. It's that scary! I wet my pants every time I hear that horrific music! I couldn't take a shower for days, and I feel uncomfortable writing about it right now. Alfred Hitchcock is a master of horror. Let's all hope that this never happens to us when we go to live on our own.

Well, this is why I now shower with people in the house and have my music playing so I don't have to feel so terrified. However, NOES (Nightmare on Elm Street) is a little scarier - maybe about ten times scarier. Because what's worse than the fear of sleep? You can't avoid it. But yes, this is also really scary.

12 Paranormal Activity

Now, this is what I call a horror movie. After years of watching dozens of horror movies that amused me - keeping me laughing as if I were watching a comedy - I watched this one. This reaction is largely due to my beliefs about the dark world of demons and goblins, which are based on religious views. I'm embarrassed to say that I was 29 years old, but I couldn't sleep for four days in a row. Seriously, not even for five minutes straight, not until the sun rose! After that, the nightmares continued for three months, though I did manage to sleep.

The craziest thing was that I couldn't wait for the sequel, which spared me the insomnia and gave me straight nightmares for one month. The third installment didn't bother my sleep but got me thinking about my beliefs. As for that third movie, it didn't interest me at all. I kept seeing the teasers and trailers and thought to myself, "Really? Are they serious now? The story is getting so ridiculous!"

This was the first horror movie that actually scared me. I don't find little girls, clowns, or maniacal killers that scary. They're a bit cliché now. But this movie struck a chord with the fear of the unseen - what demons come out at night. Is that weird bump in the night just the house adjusting, or is it something more?

I remember I was a freshman in college when I watched the first one. I didn't get any sleep that night, and when I did manage to fall asleep, I had nightmares. My first case of sleep paralysis was after that movie. The second time I had sleep paralysis, I felt a presence and saw a shadowy figure looming over my bed. I heard someone ask me my name. I refused and told it to leave. I broke free eventually and prayed about it.

I haven't experienced nightmares or sleep paralysis for four years now. I know these are normal symptoms, but I believe in God, and I'm terrified of demons. This movie brought those fears out of me, so I'm not surprised I had bad nightmares. However, I do thank God for answering my prayers. No demon-related nightmares and no sleep paralysis for four years now. Oh yeah, this is a terrifying movie - laugh out loud!

13 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

How can movies like The Conjuring, Insidious, The Ring, The Grudge, Saw, and Friday the 13th be ranked higher than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)? It's a joke. If you argue that it's a classic film, and that's why we put less impressive movies ahead of it, then who made this list? Are they kids? Those movies are not scary. They just copy films like The Exorcist, The Shining, or Halloween. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is the number one scariest movie of all time. If you've seen a big guy with a skin mask running after you with a chainsaw, ready to cut you up and eat you with his redneck family, that's scary. It's original, and then people started copying this film, and the list goes on. Let's add The Blair Witch Project to make it even more of a joke with the others. They don't even show a witch. A scarier witch movie is Suspiria (1977). This is the worst list I have ever seen. Some movies on the list I don't mind, but let's try not to make the list a joke.

14 Stephen King's It

This movie, haha... I could not sleep alone for months after watching it. I was probably about 10 or 11 the first time I saw IT. My best friend's mom had this porcelain clown that looked like the IT clown. It sat in her living room where I slept when I stayed with them. I broke it. Ever since I watched this movie, I have punched two clowns and one friend for scaring me with a clown. This movie is just plain creepy.

I saw this when I was five and am now eternally creeped out by any clown that looks even a little bit like the one in this movie. It doesn't help that I now have the image of that clown's head popping out of the shower drain every time I think of this. It's pathetic to say, but I'm scared so much by this movie!

I was never scared of clowns, but this one put a scare in me that I may never shake off. I read the book first and was creeped out. The movie just drove the scare home! It was one of those types of movies where you tried to turn away but just had to keep watching for fear you would miss something. Deliciously unnerving.

15 The Silence of the Lambs

This movie is the most amazing one I've ever seen in my whole life. It gives me chills, and I'm not even sure whether it's a horror movie or more of a thriller. Either way, this movie is the best. Most people my age haven't seen it (I'm 14) because they haven't heard of it, or due to its older quality. But honestly, this movie is so amazing. I love Anthony Hopkins, so when I saw that he played Hannibal Lecter, I was thrilled. This is honestly my favorite movie in the world.

This is the scariest movie I have ever seen. The dialogue and images go deep into your psyche. The worst part was when I first saw this movie when it came out. My best friend and I went together. We came home from it, and to go to her house, we had to go through a dark alley and through her mom's closed store. We were terrified to be out in the dark after that film!

I love it! Aman28 is right! There are no characters like Michael Myers or Damien (although I still like The Omen). It's quite scary. However, I can't really talk. I've only seen Psycho, The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist, and The Omen.

16 Jaws

Jaws launched the career of one of the greatest directors of our generation. It is one of the greatest films ever made. This movie scared the hell out of everyone who saw it in 1975 and emptied the beaches as well. What truly makes this movie great are the characters in it. The shark is almost secondary, which is why it works. You're invested in the characters. You care about what's happening to them. It's a true masterclass in great movie-making. And for anyone who argues that "the shark looks fake" or "it's not scary," obviously your taste in movies is at an elementary level. You should stick to Sharknado or Deep Blue Sea, I guess.

A masterpiece! Other horror films (Insidious, Paranormal Activity, The Ring) cannot hold a candle to this thriller. While other films taunt you with visions of monsters, spirits, and vampires, Jaws brings you a REAL horror story that looks like it could have happened just yesterday. You will be squeezing the life out of your armrests while you watch a shark creep ever closer to an unsuspecting victim. Closer... Closer... Dun dun... Dun dun... Dun dun dun dun... Dundundundundundundundundun...

17 The Thing

I had to vote for this one. I can't believe it's so low on the list. This movie scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. It features a parasitic, shape-shifting alien that can mimic anything it comes into contact with. Boasting some of the best practical special effects ever - like the spider head, the guy getting his arms bitten off by someone's torso, and the dog sprouting tentacles - it truly is disturbing. Add to that the sense of paranoia, the Arctic location, and John Carpenter's brilliant music and direction of a top-notch cast, including Kurt Russell at the top of his game. The Thing is scary. It's the stuff of nightmares.

The fact that this is ranked below Stephen King's It, a terribly outdated, boring, and unscary movie, is just absurd. This movie has held up well. The characters don't make moronic moves, the special effects are like no other, and there's a sense of paranoia and isolation that makes the movie feel much more terrifying. All the subtle details really add to the film. This should at least be in the top 10.

18 Child's Play

I'm not scared of Chucky, but he's my favorite slasher. Plus, I have a doll that is scary! If he's in the same room as me, he's allowed to haunt my dreams - unless he's not in the room. The weirdest thing is that I hadn't had nightmares for a long time until I got him. When I got him, he was talking even while he was turned off.

My first nightmare involved him killing my grandma and cousin. The next one had him making me kill someone. After that, he kept appearing, and I would have dreams about being chased the moment I saw him. There was also a dream where he tried to kill me because I started liking something else. It's scary because, when I stopped paying attention to him, he tried to kill me in my dreams. This is similar to the plot of Seed of Chucky, where he tries to kill Tiffany because she left him. But other than that, I'm not scared of him because I know Chucky can't physically hurt me. However, I feel like he's torturing me the way Freddy Krueger does.

19 Alien

When I left the cinema after watching it, I found myself looking up at walls and trees, afraid that an alien might be waiting somewhere. I had never experienced anything more horrific before, and it's been 40 years since! What was new after 2001 and Star Wars was the organic element - the fluids, bones, and skulls representing death. This, combined with the claustrophobic, dark environment and the soundtrack, added up to a masterpiece that stands alone in the science fiction genre.

Sadly, Ridley Scott tried to explain the backgrounds again and again with Prometheus and Covenant, which are just B-movies with A-budgets. Why can't we just leave the mystery as it was, created by Hansruedi Giger?

At the time this movie came out, it scared the bejeezus out of me. I was so shaken that I had to stop off for a drink before going home. Nowadays, it doesn't seem so scary. But it did break ground for really scary flicks.

20 Rec

This is easily one of the scariest horror films ever made. The acting is brilliant, the story is great, and there are some really shocking moments in it. I would recommend it to any horror fan out there, or anyone who wants to be scared out of their wits. I've got all three films of the series and would definitely suggest watching the second one, (REC), as I believe it's even better. The third one is not quite as good but still very entertaining.

I think the only reason it's not higher on the list is because of subtitles.

Watch this at night by yourself or with a scary movie connoisseur, and you will see why this Spanish horror film is the scariest horror film out there. Quarantine is the American remake of this movie. More frightening than 28 Days Later, Exorcist, or Dawn of the Dead, this zombie-movie epic will leave you shaken up and curled up under a blanket.

So, Paranormal Activity, Human Centipede, and Predator made the list, but (REC), the scariest, most chilling movie ever made, didn't make the cut? Well, that's as terrifying as (REC) itself. This movie will leave you crying, screaming, and it will definitely give you nightmares. Paranormal Activity has nothing on this and never will.

21 Scream

Can someone explain to me why Insidious and The Conjuring are ranked higher than Scream, a classic that almost made me pee my pants? This is one of my all-time favorite horror movies. The acting was good, the plot was so good you could never guess what was going to happen, and there was actual character development. On top of that, it had the main quality people look for in horror movies: it was actually scary! I know it's rare, but sometimes horror movies are actually scary. Insidious and especially The Conjuring sucked.

Alongside Halloween, this is my other all-time favorite horror series. Much like Halloween did in its time, Scream completely re-energized the horror genre, which had grown stagnant. It paved the way for a whole new generation of scary movies. The film is so well-written, with characters that are actually well-developed. When you actually feel emotion when the characters are in danger, you know you've got a good one.

22 The Woman in Black

I've seen everything, for sure! I love horror movies, and this is the scariest movie ever! I've seen every movie above it and none of them are as scary as The Woman in Black. The first time I watched that movie, I was very tired, but by the middle of the movie, I couldn't sleep anymore. After the movie, I was scared by every single sound and afraid of being in dark rooms.

Such a scary movie! I could barely believe what I saw. I really feel sorry for the children. On the way home, I still remembered what happened and even had a nightmare that I was one of the children. Despite that, I would want to watch this movie again. It was so emotional. Decent movie? Yes, yes, yes!

Terrific movie. Definitely the scariest movie I have ever seen. So many of the choices above this one aren't scary at all and shouldn't be on this list. Scary Movie? Come on, let's be real here. If you are reading this, please see this movie before it's out of theaters!

23 Amityville Horror

The original is a good movie, but the remake from 2005 actually scared me. And I don't scare easily! I was ten when my little sister, my mom, and I watched it. I'd never admit this to my family, but it scared me so badly that I had to sleep with my mom that night. C.S.

How is this one not in the top 10 at least? The original was scarier than the remake! Different things scare people in different ways, I guess. Compiling this top 10 list would be tough, but Amityville Horror definitely deserves to be up there.

I watched it for the very first time with my friends and, God, it left me speechless! I couldn't sleep for weeks, afraid of being alone.

24 Sinister

Actually, this is the scariest movie I've ever seen, with "The Conjuring" being a close second. The atmosphere, the demon, the tapes, the buildup, etc., were perfect to get you scared. It was not as predictable as other scary movies, and the ending actually did surprise me. But this should be in the top ten, at least if "The Conjuring" is there.

I honestly can't believe this movie is ranked so low here! I expected it to be at least in the top 10! It scared the hell out of me. I can't even watch the trailer without getting scared. I honestly thought it was a hundred times better than The Conjuring! This is so underrated!

Such an awesome film. To me, this is a perfect movie that doesn't fall into all the clichés and typical scripts of horror. Sinister ticks every box for me and will most probably always be my favorite horror movie ever.

25 The Blair Witch Project

It's hard to put into words what made this movie so scary. The shaky realism of the filming, the unnerving realism of the actors' performances, and the fact that you never see the monster all contribute. Its presence is always there, and it really creeps you out with the eerie things it does to torment the characters.

This is the best horror movie I've ever seen. With about a $20,000 budget, it leaves such an impression. Despite the fact that nothing is actually shown - no monsters, zombies, ghosts, and so on - it's one of the scariest movies I've ever seen. If you don't think so, try watching it inside a tent in the woods at night.

I have to say that there are a few movies scarier than this, but this movie is on a level of its own. It feels so real, and the fact that you never know what it is makes it worse. The nauseating, claustrophobic feeling you get is killer.

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