Top 10 Movies: Best Scary Movies

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This Friday marks the opening day of the highly anticipated sequel to the very popular Scream franchise.  Scream 4 hits theaters and audiences are hoping to relive the terror of the late 1990's and the films that made Courteney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell an infamous trio. 

The Silence of the Lambs Poster
Psycho Poster
The Exorcist Poster
Scream Poster

The new Scream sees the return of the originals along with a new batch of young Hollywood stars, eager to take part in the terrifying sounds of the telephone and ominous silence.  It's time to see who survives this round of the masked killer. 

To celebrate the return of another Scream movie, we thought we would look at some of the best in scary movies. 

Take a look at our top 10 after the jump and let us know:  What's your favorite scary movie?

10. Scream (1996)

Scream Poster

We can't have a list of scary movies without at least paying homage to one of the Scream films. The first film was so successful it sparked three more and we didn't get tired of the same masked killer.  It was the Halloween costume craze for years after the first film came out and created tension and suspense even outside of the on-screen versions.  Suspense and horror director Wes Craven is behind the successful franchise, but it's the one that started it all that makes this list.  At the time, Scream boasted a cast of very popular actors - some killed off within minutes of the opening sequence.  That famous opening scene will never be forgotten by Scream fans, nor will the name Sydney Prescott and the terrifying ring of the telephone.

9. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project Poster

The beginning of the docu-style horror films, the real appeal of The Blair Witch Project was the mass advertising campaign and use of unknown actors to create the illusion that the movie was actually based on real footage.  This aspect terrified audiences much more than the actual film.  Yes, the actual movie was pretty scary, but the thought that it could be real was even more terrifying.  It was the film that spawned the genre of horror movies as faux-documentaries, particularly Paranormal Activity that succeeded it.

8. Halloween (1978)

Halloween Poster

The idea of tension and suspense in heightened in this terrifying film about a generally terrifying holiday.  Director John Carpenter creates suspense unmatched by other horror films as we watch Michale Myers stalk and watch Laurie Strode before going on a killing spree.  The scene where Michael finds Laurie in a closet she has pried shut.  He begins smashing in the door before his terrifying face creeps around in plain view of Laurie.  The suspense is heartstopping.

7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Poster

This scary movie is full of blood, gore, and sadistic killings.  It follows a group of young people in a van who run out of gas in Texas.  It ends up being the wrong part of Texas as they are chased by a Leatherface who shows no mercy in his killing.  The movie features many displays of graphic violence and terrible torturous killings. It might have even acted as the catalyst to other brutal slasher films.

6. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Nightmare on Elm Street Poster

Wes Craven creates an amazing character in Freddy Krueger, which makes this film unlike most corny slasher films.  Krueger is very different and stood out - he didn't wear a mask, although his face was burned beyond recognition and he didn't stay silent, unlike most slasher film killers.  The biggest twist is that Krueger appears in your dreams - you can't ever get away because everyone has to sleep, right?  The film spawned a few sequels and to this day, Krueger is a recognizable and terrifying character.

5. The Haunting (1963)

The Haunting Poster

A terrifying film from the 1960's from director Robert Wise, the same man who brought us the family friendly Sound of Music, comes The Haunting. The film follows a group of people who go to investigate the paranormal in a old mansion.  After the four meet up in Hill House, strange things begin to happen, most of which seem centered on the character, Nell. She finds that she is both frightened of, and enjoys the attention the house affords her, and becomes drawn deeper and deeper in by the forces within the house. 

4. Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The Silence of the Lambs Poster

The scene when Clarice and Hannibal Lecter meet for the first time is terrifying, even if there is glass separating the two.  Anthony Hopkins is remarkable in his role as the psychotic cannibal who is enlisted to help catch another serial killer. It's a genius premise and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish as you wonder how this arrangement will work.  Most of the time it doesn't and Hopkin's deserved the Academy Award he won for his iconic performance.

3. The Shining (1980)

The Shining Poster

Stanley Kubrick's scary movie The Shining is made even better by Jack Nicholson's crazy performance.  Nicholson plays Jack Torrance, a struggling writer who accepts a job as a winter caretaker for the Overlook Hotel in Colorado.  Jack's son begins to see spirits at the hotel and they finally get to Jack who goes crazy and tries to murder his own family, similar to what previously occurred at the hotel.  The movie also spawned one of the most famous lines in scary movie history - who doesn't recognize the image of Nicholson sticking his head through a doorway and shouting "Heeeere's Johnny!"

2. Psycho (1960)

Psycho Poster

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense, but even he takes it to the next level with Psycho.  The movie follows the story of Norman Bates and his crazy mother who run the remote Bates Motel.  When a woman on the run arrives at the motel, she falls victim to the crazy killer.  By the time the killer is captured, the true secrets of the Bates family are revealed - and they are terrifying. The scene in the shower when Janet Leigh's character is killed is one of the most iconic in movie history and that music is still chilling to this day.

1. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist Poster

You'll want to watch this entire movie with the lights on - and you still might have nightmares.  Many filmmakers have tried to recapture the terrifying nature of The Exorcist, but none have succeeded.  The film follows a little girl who is possessed by a demon and two priests must work together to exorcise the demon from her.  The thing that makes this movie truly scary is that it is filmed and presented in such a way that it could literally be happening next door.  It's not so surreal that it's totally unbelievable and therefore, not scary.  The premise of faith and true belief is also explored in this movie and that just makes it even more real and terrifying.

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