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Top Ten Scariest Horror Movies

Updated on June 19, 2015

1) Alien

“In space, no one can hear you scream”. The tagline alone strikes fear into my heart. This movie was the catalyst for the sci-fi horror genre. Like other classics such as Jaws, this film starts off at a slow pace, building up the suspense and tension as it goes along. It starts simple; the members of the charter ship Nostrumo get woken up early by a distress call from a near by planet, they go investigate, and then things go horribly wrong. The crew is just as unaware as we are as we watch this alien lifeforms grow into the terror that is the xenomorph. Everything about this movie screams classic; the set design, the music, the acting and of course, the Alien! This movie was also the spark for all of it’s sequels, plus the Alien vs predator franchise and it is well worth watching!

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2) The Descent

This movie is the reason I do not go spelunking anymore. It’s about a group of women who decide to go exploring in these unknown, uncharted caves. It starts out as happy, nature, friends adventure time, but then in slowly descends into a disturbing, sinister plot that is just too gruesome for words. The women slowly find out that they are incredibly lost, and that they are being stalked by these cave demons that not only have a lust for human flesh, but also mass poop in pools of guts. The atmosphere is super gritty, and disturbing, and the feeling of no hope is incredibly strong. This is one of those “no happy endings for anybody ever” horror movies that make you feel terrible after watching it. Personally, I hate those types of movies. The whole reason movies exist is to make the audience feel like they've been entertained, and even though this movie does evoke many feels, they are not the good kind.

3) Poltergeist (1982)

Directed by Steven Spielberg, this movie captures the director’s desire to explore the unknown through film. Like his other movies, this one starts off as a happy feeling family movie that slowly turns darker as the plot progresses. A typical american family—happy wife, good husband, three adorable kids etc— move into a new house, ready to start their new life in the quiet suburban town. At first it’s perfect, but then the wife begins to notice strange things happenings around the house—like chairs being stacked on top of each other—. She mentions it to her husband and he shrugs it off, but then strange things keep happening. They happen so much that the couple finally give in and hire a psychic to help them out. The psychic tells them that their house is haunted because it was built on top of an indian graveyard, and that they are in the presence of a poltergeist. All sparkles and glitter, right? Wrong. They then find out that they are all in the presence of something more sinister; a demon that wants to take the soul of their youngest daughter. This is when the movie starts to turn into more horror, the famous catalyst night (human eating tree, angry closet, maggots, skeletons in the swimming pool) happens, and it’s history from there. There needs to be more ghost movies like this one, because it hits all of the points on the head.

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Stacking Chairs

5) Dawn of the Dead

Written and directed by George A Romero, the infamous mastermind of the zombie horror genre, Dawn of the Dead takes first place as the best zombie film ever made. It is gritty, and gory but what makes it stand out of the character development. We follow the main character as she tries to survive the start of the zombie apocalypse. This film has hard core, brutal zombie chase scenes that really keep your heart pumping. This is also that zombie film with the baby—you know the scene I'm talking about—probably the most disturbing zombie scene of all time, which is why it made this list. Like The Descent, this film does not have any happy endings for anybody. it is incredibly disturbing, bloody and gory but it makes one great zombie film.

6) Paranormal Activity Franchise

I know this franchise is universally known for it’s cheap jump scares and over done, 1st person camera work but to be honest, these movies scared the pants off of me. Especially the first one—the others got continuously stupider as they went on—, there was something about the 1st person camera that worked in the first one, it made it seem real—like this could happen to anybody on any day of the week. It was also my first ghost movie that explicitly dealt with real demons, and explained their origins. The demonologist was super interesting to listen to, and the fact that he got scared, scared me more than anything else. I think the scariest part for me was the powdered footprint scene-man that scary!! They really did a good job with that part, and it was totally believable. The best part about this franchise though, are the parodies that came out on youtube right afterward. So funny!!

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Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin Parody

6) The Shining

I always remember watching this one when I was in the 7th grade, we had just started it and that creepy shining music was just starting to play, and then boom! The word WEDNESDAY popped up onto the screen in bold letters and my mom screamed bloody murder. We still tease her about how she got scared by Wednesday. This DVD always goes into the freezer after watch it to make sure Wednesday—-or Jack—doesn't get us during the night. This film is another one that sparked a huge following, including parodies made by the Simpsons and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It is truly terrifying though, Stephen King is really the king of horror. Besides Wednesday, there are not too many jump scares in this film, it’s more of a psychological thriller. Watching Jack slowly descend into insanity is truly what makes this film a gem. By the time Johnny comes out, you are tense with fear that the family won't survive.

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The Simpsons Parody

7) The Grudge

This Japanese remake tells the tale of a misunderstood ghost who simply doesn't know anybody, oh and also there’s a ghost cat. That doesn't make this movie any less terrifying though. It is dark, and gritty and incredibly sad. It starts with a woman (YAY for Buffy!) who has recently taken a job inside this old creepy house. Things start off alright, but then it just gets really weird. The ghosts inside the house do not like this newcomer, and there are quite a lot of jumpscares in the beginning. The real horror is the fact that this particular ghost is a stalker. It really creeped me out that the ghost would stalk anybody who entered it’s home and then kill them in their own house. There’s something really drubbing about that—being in danger in a place where you thought you would always be safe.

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8) IT

Another Stephen King classic, this film (It actually started out as a two part mini series on TV, but then turned into a movie because of it’s success) explores the true essence of fear in nightmares. It is about a group of kids who are torments by an evil demon who can shape shift into anything. It feeds off of the fear of children, and has a nasty habit of killing them too. This movie is definitely the reason why so many people are terrified of clowns. Tim Curry, who plays Pennywise—the terrifying clown really steals the show in this one. He is witty, insane and absolutely horrifying. And also—look at those claws!!!! So scary!!!

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9) Blair Witch Project

This movie was the start of the found footage first person hand camera genre. It’s about a documentary film crew who go into the woods to track the Blair Witch, they start the film voicing their doubts about the legend but little do they know that the witch actually exists, and is extremely murderous. This film was so convincing that they actually had a rescue crew go out and search for these kids. It was all made up though (I hope). The best parts were the night scenes where they would hear various creatures running around their tent. The emotions in these scenes were legit, the actually director of the crew didn't tell the actors that they would be running around trying to scare them at night. It worked, but the poor actors must have had a heart attack!

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10) Arachnophobia

Spiders. Big, poisonous pissed off spiders. Need I say more? When I first saw this movie, I refused to turn my lamp off for a week because I was terrified a spider would bit my hand as I reached for the switch. I also refused to go into our basement because we happened to have a giant fake spider down there that we would put out for halloween each year.

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Which one do you think is the scariest?

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