Your personal list of the scariest movies of all time will depend on what scares you most-ghosts, monsters, other people, aliens, and so on. Some movies stand out because of their plot, some because of the gore or other special effects, and in some cases, there's just "something creepy" that you can't shake once you leave the theater or turn off the television.
The Scariest Movies of All Time
When you want to be scared, there are certain movies you can almost always turn to.
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Part of what makes Paranormal Activity so creepy is the fact that it looks like a home video. A couple move into a new home and are frequently disturbed by a demonic presence. Much of the movie is filmed in the dark and there's plenty of anticipation as viewers wait for a door to slam, something to break, or a figure to appear in the shadows.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
This is another home movie type of film, and it was at its scariest after it was first released because some viewers thought it was real footage that had been discovered after the students behind the camera had disappeared. Three students went into the woods in Maryland to film a documentary about the Blair Witch and never returned. The footage turned up a year later.
The Shining (1980)
A writer, Jack Torrance, and his family take over an isolated hotel over the winter. The writer goes insane from cabin fever, pressure to meet a deadline, and the evil spirits in the hotel. Meanwhile, his son discovers his gift, called The Shining, the ability to see what happened in the hotel in the past. Jack turns on his family and tries to murder them amidst the creepy visions.
Novelist Paul Sheldon crashes his car as he's making his way through a blizzard in Colorado. Annie Wilkes, a huge fan of his and a former nurse, takes him to her home to help him heal. Since she's such a fan, of course she asks to read a copy of his newest manuscript. Once she's demonstrated her outrage over what happens in the book, Paul knows she's insane. Due to his injuries, however, he can't escape. Later, he finds that she's killed her father, a roommate, and a few patients. She tortures Paul and talks of wanting to kill him, too. He buys himself more time by asking to finish the book first.
The Ring (2002)
There's a cursed video that kills anyone who watches it within seven days of the viewing. Journalist Rachel Keller is investigating the tape since it killed four teenagers, including her niece. She finds that she and her son are in danger, and has to race to understand the curse in order to save their lives.
The Exorcist (1973)
A 12-year-old girl, Regan, becomes possessed by something evil. Her mother enlists the help of priests in an exorcism, but the demon won't go down without a fight.
The Stepfather (1987)
When one set of wife and kids isn't good enough for him in his search for the perfect American family, Jerry Blake kills them, changes his name and the way he looks, skips town, and moves on to the next widow with children.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Five teens are on their way to visit their grandfather's grave. They pick up-and quickly drop once he proves himself to be crazy-a hitchhiker. Soon after they drop him off, they stop in the middle of nowhere at a house, hoping for gas. In the house is a family of psychotic cannibals and their leader, Leatherface. The teenagers start dying at the hands of Leatherface one by one.
This classic Hitchcock film is still one of the scariest movies of all time. Marion Crane takes $40,000 from her employer, heads out of town, and checks into the isolated Bates Motel because she needs a break from her disappointing life. Though she decides to return home and return the money, she still decides to stay the night in the creepy hotel with the soft-spoken Norman Bates and his mother, who suffers from mental illness. She doesn't make it out alive, and things just get crazier as the investigation for her disappearance goes on.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This movie reminds viewers that the people who seem the most charming and educated could be hiding a very dangerous secret. Hannibal Lecter, former psychiatrist and infamous serial killer, is in prison, but FBI agent Clarice Starling needs his help tracking down a new serial killer on the loose. A twisted relationship results in which Clarice has to give Hannibal Lecter details about her own life in exchange for clues that will enable her to catch the killer.
Watching the Scariest Movies
When you watch the scariest movies of all time, you might not want to do it alone. If you're in the mood for a scary movie marathon, get together with a friend and come up with a list of each of your favorite scary movies, plus a few that neither of you have seen. It's a fun way to spend a rainy weekend…just hope the lights don't go out.