There is a LOT more than one scary movie out there, the genre is anything but new. But among all the scary movies that have been made, several have risen to the top. Now, everyone is going to have different opinions on which ones are best, but the only real way to choose is to watch these movies and see. These movies are classic horror movies, ones that everybody should see at least once. Not only are these great movies, they are compelling and scary. These horror films will keep you up at night, thinking about how good they are.
Which Scary Movie is the Best?
We won’t be covering the more depraved side of horror with this list. All of these movies might not be family-friendly, but they’re mild on the scale of terror. So this list isn’t exactly for the faint of heart, but nobody will faint from seeing these movies. Classics don’t have to be gory or disgusting, in most cases they aren’t. But one thing is for sure, these movies are a cut above the usual cheesy horror flicks. So let’s get down to the list, see what terrifying displays await us this October. That way we’ll all be a little more prepared when things go bump in the night.
5. The Shining (1980)
This Stephen King classic was turned into a scary movie by directing genius Stanley Kubrick. While many liberties were taken with the details from the book, this stands as a horror icon with the obvious star of the show being the performances of Shelly Duvall and Jack Nicholson. This movie is a slow burn, making you ache with anticipation for the entire first act. Jack Nicholson presents himself as a perfectly normal writer who is struggling to find a job. Shelly Duvall is his doting wife who takes care of their son Danny.
But from the first time you meet this family, you know something feels off somehow. The suspense is palpable in this thriller while you’re desperately trying to figure things out. This culminates in one of the grandest and strangest reveals in horror history. By the time you see what’s been going on the whole time, it’s far too late. This movie is a classic because it was done incredibly well at every level. The original book is a terrifying masterpiece. The acting in the movie is top-notch and establishes more connection to these characters. Not to mention Kubrick, as always, directing this movie to become his personal message. While conspiracy theories abound around the film, the only thing for sure is The Shining is terrifying.
4. Psycho (1960)
By the time they remake this again, we still won’t be able to tell why it’s so good. With all of the different aspects of this film coming together, it’s difficult to pin down. Psycho is a perfect horror movie, and that’s saying something. There’s enough chills and scares in here for just about anyone. From the very moment we meet Norman Bates, we know something is wrong. But by the time we figure out just what’s happening, it’s far too late. With one of the most recognizable scenes in horror history, this tale will terrify all. But it’s not just Norman who has his secrets. This entire movie seems to be slipping something into your drink. You can’t trust anything you see or hear. By the time the final reveal happens, there’s nothing you can do about it at all. It’s clear that Hitchcock was a legend for a reason. This movie still stands head and shoulders above most. Which allows us to see how amazing the film really is. Even with the remake involved, the original is still a horror classic.
3. Carrie (1976)
Modern master of horror Stephen King’s first book was turned into a chilling movie. King almost threw out the manuscript before his wife saved it from the trash. Thank her for this incredibly scary trip through adolescence. Carrie is an awkward child raised in an abusive and religious home. She tries desperately to fit in with the other kids at her school but always stands out from the crowd. Not finding acceptance at home or at school, Carrie longs to be a part of something. With her religious zealot of a mother constantly abusing her to keep her down, it’s hard for Carrie. School gets progressively worse for Carrie, culminating in what has to be the most famous dance scene in cinema. This scary movie is a look into the inner workings of cliques and high school in general. It showcases the horrors we experience at that age quite well. One thing is clear from this scary movie for sure: Stephen King did NOT enjoy high school. Overall, this chilling tale grips us in its clutches and won’t let go. Lots of movies have tried to end as epically as this one, but none have mastered it. If the end hasn’t already been ruined for you, it’s definitely not what you think. King shows his true colors in one of his first, and arguably best works.
3. Get Out (2017)
Get Out is a modern classic, and basically, everyone who saw it would agree. Jordan Peele took his directorial debut EXTREMELY seriously and knocked it out of the park. Get Out features a storyline that terrifies people who aren’t even affected by it. Like most of the movies on this list, a masterwork of suspense is between you and the violence. This film draws you in with a false sense of security before ripping the rug out from under you.
Things start with a seemingly normal drive out to the country. This is interrupted almost immediately and sets the tone for the whole movie. Don’t get comfortable while watching this scary movie; you will regret it to be sure. Get Out takes a horrifying look at the inner workings of people’s minds. Jordan Peele takes a common racial issue of cultural appropriation and turns it into a patchwork of terror. The journey the viewer goes on with the main characters is life-changing. You begin to see things from different angles and become terrified of seemingly harmless things. If this movie doesn’t have you jumping out of your skin, check your pulse. Get Out is truly terrifying and earns its place on the list even just two years later.
2. Halloween (1978)
Halloween is one of the most terrifying horror movies ever to be made. Not only is John Carpenter at his absolute best, but the entire movie is a masterpiece. From the acting to the camera work, all the way to the bone-chilling soundtrack, this movie is basically perfect. Following the exploits of serial killer Michael Meyers as he cuts a swath of blood and terror across his hometown.
Beginning with Michael’s early years where he snapped and killed his sister, we see his troubled ways. He escalates his crimes once escaping from a mental institution and goes on a rampage on Halloween night. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Laurie Strode, a babysitter placed in harm’s way. This was a formative role for her, garnering the attention it deserved. Her breakout performance brings real shock and terror to the audience. It seems like nothing can stop the evil that is Michael Meyers. But the real terror of this film is that there’s nothing supernatural about the killer. In fact, the horror comes from the fact that he’s just a person. There’s no supernatural force keeping him alive. He doesn’t need to be bound to the body of a doll. Michael Meyers is just a human with an unshakeable will to kill others. The real darkness in this scary movie is one that’s inside all of us. That’s why this movie is a classic. It turns our glance into the mirror, to look at ourselves.
1. Scream (1996)
Watching most horror movies can be a frustrating task with common tropes and people most often running into danger instead of away from it. It seems like people who are in a horror movie haven’t SEEN a scary movie. After enough experience, it would seem that if you knew enough of the rules, you could survive.
Enter the world of Scream, where college kids start ending up dead. The kids in the movie have seen horror films and know all the rules. But that doesn’t stop them from being mercilessly slashed in the process. Taking all of the tropes and turning them on their head, Scream tries to make a new kind of film. It’s made clear through the course of this movie that no matter what you know, you can still die. That’s the real terror, because we’ve all sat and said we could survive this movie. But Scream challenges you to see that in this world, the killer reigns supreme. Don’t worry about gore with this one; most of the scares are psychological. But that doesn’t stop them from being horrifying.
So Which Will You Watch…?
With Halloween season upon us, it’s always a good idea to watch some scary movies. Getting into the mood for this holiday is spookier than most. But with enough popcorn, and maybe leaving the lights on, these movies will definitely get you ready. Not to mention they’ll get you ready to run, scream, and maybe even survive.
My name is Jon Schmitt and I am a writer through and through. Though I’ve spent my whole life obsessed with various sections of Nerd-dom, the thing I like most is writing. If I’m not here on the site, you will probably find me nose-deep in a book, playing games, or reading comics… and always with a cup of tea.