What films are constantly touted as being the scariest of all time? Lists come out every year from various media and no two are ever the same. Out of ten different lists, the following five classic films have appeared the most frequently and these old-school scares are guaranteed to send a chill down your spine.
5. Alien, 1979
A science fiction horror film about a murderous alien who stalks and kills the people aboard a spaceship, very much resembles a haunted house type film, only it takes place on board a spaceship and has an alien instead of monsters and ghosts.
The most common element of horror in haunted house type films is when things jump out unexpectedly or when the audience is waiting for something to jump out, which this film has lots of and where it derives most of its horror appeal.
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called it “as violent and gruesome and blood-soaked as the title promises,” and American film critic Rex Reed said it was the most terrifying film he had ever seen. This gruesome film about a group of friends who fall prey to a murderous family while visiting their grandfather`s old farmhouse, was banned outright from some countries and removed from theatres after various complaints.
Nonetheless, the film grossed $30 million dollars and inspired a re-make in 2003. Loosely based on the story of real life murderer Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre inspires fear as a result of its desolate Texas setting; broken down homes and hardly a soul around, the character of Leatherface with his mask made out of human skin. And just when you think it can`t get any worse, it does.
3. The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
A blending of crime and horror, this film centers around the need for FBI trainee Clarice Starling to consult with cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, in order to apprehend another serial killer, “Buffalo Bill.”
Roger Ebert called The Silence of the Lambs a “horror masterpiece” and describes the fear in this film as inspired by the “terrifying qualities” of Hannibal Lecter, especially when he is first seen by Starling. “His speaking voice has the precision of a man so arrogant he can barely be bothered to address the sloppy intelligence of the ordinary person. The effect of this scene is so powerful that it underlies all the rest of the movie, lending terror to scenes that do not even involve him.”
Fear is created through the suspense of trying to discover what’s really going on and the idea that no one is safe as the unknown murderer might appear at any moment.
1. The Exorcist, 1973
In February 1974 Stanley Kauffmann wrote in The New Republic, that this was the scariest film he’d seen in years, “… If you want to be shaken—and I found out, while the picture was going, that that’s what I wanted—then The Exorcist will scare the hell out of you.”
Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel by the same name, The Exorcist is concerned with the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s desperate attempt to free her daughter by having her exorcised by two priests. The power that the demonic presence wields is particularly frightening especially as it gets stronger and stronger, transforming the young girl into a terrible monster.