1. The Exorcist (1973)
When The Exorcist hit the theatres in 1973 it was so terrifying that it caused bouts of fainting and vomiting. There were even reports of cinemas providing barf bags and ambulances standing by outside.
Developed from the novel of the same name, The Exorcist was based on the real-life exorcism of Roland Doe. During a screening in Rome, a 400-year-old steeple was struck by lightning, crashing into the plaza below. Furthermore, during filming, the house was burnt down yet Regan’s room was untouched.
To add to the demonic legacy of the film, nine people died during its filming. Actor Jake MacGowran died of a heart attack, while actor Jason Miller’s toddler son was struck by a motorcycle.
Furthermore, actress Mercedes McCambridge lived a horror story of her own when 10 years later her son shot his wife and children before turning the gun on her self. And this is all before we even talk about the movie.
2. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
A play on the idea that nightmares could actually kill you, Freddy Krueger brought the fright to the one safe place left. If a generation of kids were afraid to go to sleep then that’s one hell of a successful horror flick.
3. The Shining (1980)
While it might not live up to today’s horror standards, The Shining is a tense, psychological classic. Based on the famous Stephen King novel, Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson procure some of their finest work here.
I’ll never forget how to spell ‘REDRUM’ again, and the creepy twins talking in unison have become a horror staple among many others. ‘HEERE’S JOHNY!’
4. Ring (1998)
The original Japanese version of Ring has to take the stake in terms of all time horror quality. Compared to its sightly dulled down American counterpart (2002), spearheaded by Dreamworks, Sadako is absolutely terrifying making for one of the scariest movies ever made.
Countless hours of sleep have been lost over the years due to this film and has probably convinced a lot of people not to watch as much TV, or pick up the phone.
5. The Orphanage (El Orfanato) (2007)
Laura returns to the orphanage she grew up in with the ambition of using the space as a facility to help disabled children. Instead she enters into a nightmare where her own child is taken from her by Tómas, his imaginary friend. This Spanish horror lends itself to a sophisticated audience, and that isn’t because it comes with subtitles! The Orphanage was continually praised for its lack of cheap thrills associated with typical modern horror films, including the one thing that most critically lack; empathy for the main characters. As is to be expected from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro, this film is full of atmosphere, imagination and genuinely terrifying moments.
6. HALLOWEEN (1978)
Halloween is the bible for modern day slasher films. It follows Laurie Strode and her teenage friends as they are stalked by escaped lunatic Michael Myers. Unlike Rosemary’s Baby, Halloween prays on teenage anxiety: peer pressure, responsibility, and sexual repression. Director Jon Carpenter assembled all the tropes that we are now all familiar with in modern day horror films; borrowing from past masters such as Hitchock to build atmosphere and suspense, as well as pioneering the use of first person filming from the POV of the killer. Halloween remains one of the highest grossing independent films of all time.
7. ’The Blackcoat’s Daughter’ (2017)
The writer-director Osgood Perkins sets his atmospheric feature filmmaking debut, “The Blackcoat’s Daughter,” at a mostly empty private Catholic girls’ academy, where a worldly senior played by Lucy Boynton reluctantly looks after a timid freshman played by Kiernan Shipka. While the two young ladies wait for their parents to pick them up, they investigate strange noises around the building. In a separate story line, a mysterious woman (Emma Roberts) races toward that same school. Perkins brings these pieces together for a gruesome final act, rooted in the idea that one bad choice in youth can haunt a person forever.
8. The Witch (2015)
Self described as a ‘New England folk tale’ – although it’s more like a fairy tale from hell – Robert Eggers’ terrifying period drama follows a Puritan family after they are ejected from their colony. Screaming ‘don’t do it’ at the screen just doesn’t work as William (Ralph Ineson) takes his wife Katherine (Kate Dickie) and his five children into the deep, dark woods to survive alone on a farm. It’s not spoiling anything to say that it doesn’t go particularly well. Following Thomasin, the eldest daughter of the family played by Anya Taylor Joy in her first credited role, we witness the tense unravelling of a dysfunctional family faced with the horrific prospect of an outside force staring out at them from the trees.
9. Scream (1996)
By the late ’90s, horror was looking a little tired. The masked slasher trope was staggering along in a dire need of a cup of very strong espresso. What it got instead was Wes Craven’s Scream which, despite being parodied into Inception levels of postmodern irony since, reinvigorated the genre with its perfect blend of knowing comedy and scares. Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, and Drew Barrymore as teenagers talking fluent horror movie while being picked off by a genre-obsessed serial killer? Oh go on… Add in Courtney Cox – at the giddy heights of Friends fame – as intrepid news reporter Gale Weathers and Scream is a modern horror classic.
This hit true crime series profiles the fascinating cases of women accused of murder. Who are these women? what drives them to kill? Did they really do it?
Hereditary is the rare horror film that keeps you guessing—or more accurately, keeps you screaming “WTF?!”—throughout the entire thing. Filmmaker Ari Aster’s directorial debut blends real-life horrors with the genre’s stalest motifs into something truly original.
12. The Conjuring
The best/worst part aboutThe Conjuring? How much of it is true. Set in 1971, this movie introduces us to the Perrons, a large family that moves into a creepy Rhode Island farmhouse and gets all kinds of haunted. Real-life supernatural investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) roll in to get rid of the demonic presence lurking in the house, and it’s all extremely nope-nope-nope from there.
Just a casual Alfred Hitchcock movie about a murderous dude who’s living with the corpse of his dead mother and running a hotel, totally normal stuff, nothing to see here!