The Halloween season is upon us, and I thought it would be interesting to pull together the trailers of movies that terrified me the most. From childhood to the present, these are the scariest movies I can think of. Now, I’m absolutely aware that “scariest” is a relative term since it can mean so many different things to different people. I thought I would qualify the films by using the following questions:
1. Is the movie so scary that it could change one’s behavior?
2. Does the movie have a high likelihood of producing nightmares in many people?
3. Does the movie startle you, make you anxious, get your heart pumping, or just plain gross you out?
4. Does the movie present such an original concept that you are just astonished or terrified that someone thought of the concept?
I absolutely guarantee that I miss some films that you all might wish to be on the list. If you do have such a horror gem close to your heart, let me know in the comments below!
The films are in no specific order and each synopsis is from IMDB.
And with no further ado, let us begin.
1. The Conjuring
One of the most terrifying big picture movies I have seen in such a long time. I’ve followed some of the Warren’s exploits over about a decade, and their stories creep me out. Seeing those images in my mind pop up on the big screen was ultimately terrifying. I actually tried my very best to break my girlfriend’s fingers as I was pulled more and more into the creepy parts of the film.
Paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren work to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in their farmhouse.
2. Grave Encounters
While this isn’t a huge budget film, Grave Encounters is a solid horror film that ratchets up the tension with handheld footage and security camera views. The apparitions are not over-the-top special effects monstrosities that couldn’t scare a child. They were developed with just the right touch of verisimilitude and an accurate feel for what is terrifying.
On top of all that, the main actor’s portrayal of a ghost investigator is so close to Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures. That alone was worth the watch.
For their ghost hunting reality show, a production crew locks themselves inside an abandoned mental hospital that’s supposedly haunted – and it might prove to be all too true.
3. Fire in the Sky
Seriously, aliens scare the hell out of me. I remember watching “Unsolved Mysteries” years ago and be so scared by the stories of alien abductions. Aliens have unknown motives and different perspectives on what we would consider “humane treatment”. In other words, what we consider taboo may mean nothing to them. So, I was a teenager when I watched Fire in the Sky. Once again, terrified like you wouldn’t believe.
An Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.
4. 28 Days Later
Running infected. They aren’t exactly zombies, but close enough that the difference is minuscule. Both Rage-infected humans and zombies share the same goal: spread the infection and destroy human life. With amazing cinematography and impressive character development, watchers end up feeling for the survivors and the infected.
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
5. Paranormal Activity
I know, I know. By now, everyone is sick and tired of the Paranormal Activity series, but let’s face it. The first film was done right. The use of so called ‘live footage’ made the film personal and creepy. The unseen threat creates an atmosphere of horror and consistent jump scares as the couple is terrorized by the invisible force.
After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.
6. Session 9
Maybe it’s because that I was doing this type of work when I watched the movie. I don’t know but there was a special something about working in an abandoned asylum, not sure what be might be around the next corner.
Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.
Once again, it is aliens. The creepy freaks are made even more terrifying by that master of suspense: M. Night Shyamalan. Having the critters hide in a corn field is a whole different realm of horror. Watching this movie at a drive-in really added to the suspense.
A family living on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields which suggests something more frightening to come.
8. Jaws (and all of the sequels)
As a child, Jaws scared me so badly that it took me almost 23 years to set foot in the ocean. When I was a child, shadows in swimming pools brought forth images of cruising great whites with dead eyes. The terror in the sharks vicitim’s eyes is something to see. In all honesty, this movie is one of the scariest, most memorable movies I have ever watched.
When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
9. The Blair Witch Project
I don’t care what a lot of people say about this film. The viral promotions, the “is it real?” publicity, and the film itself crated a truly disturbing atmosphere. The use of hand held camera really made the story feel free and added an unnerving setting. Hearing character Josh scream in pain in the woods while the other two hunted for him was terrifying and disturbing. Overall, I walked out of the theater completely terrified.
Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.
10. The Descent
Being trapped in a cave while mutant, cannibal creatures are hunting you….I can’t think of a worse scenario. Not only do you have horror tropes but you are adding in a lack of escape or control. Crawling through a small tunnel while things are moving around your feet and you have no ability to protect yourself….true fear.
A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.
So folks, tell me what you think? Do you disagree with my choices? Why? What movies would you have on your list? Let me know in the comments section!