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The Scariest Movies Ever Made 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 29, 2020 558.5k votes 26.1k voters 738.4k views 487 items

List Rules Only major releases - no made-for-TV or direct-to-video. May include movies outside the straight horror genre.

These are the all-time scariest movies ever made. Many of these movies have become part of the pop culture lexicon due to their popularity. This list features movies from across the horror spectrum. The definition of "scary" isn't restricted or limited to a specific type of horror movie, for example, The Exorcist, a supernatural horror movie would be on here similarly to serial killer movies like Halloween, The Amityville Horror, and Saw. The same goes for psychological thrillers like Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, which is one of the scariest movies of all time. There are also horror movies from all over the world on this list like 28 Days Later.

Some of these films are considered the best of all time, while others feature some of the greatest actors and best directors of all time.

Vote for the best horror movies you think deserve the highest ranking, vote down any you don't like and be sure to rerank this list any way you like - your reranks will affect the final tally.

 

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1
The Exorcist is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair

Released: 1973

Directed by: William Friedkin

The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 ...more

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2
The Conjuring is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
carlybobarly added Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Joey King

Released: 2013

Directed by: James Wan

The Conjuring is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan and the first installment in the Conjuring series. Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) are ...more

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Why Do People Stop Watching 'The Conjuring' At The Moment Lorraine Falls Through The Floor? #63 of 241 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #13 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

3
The Texas Chain Saw Mass... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal

Released: 1974

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

This movie is a 1974 American slasher film, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who cowrote it with Kim Henkel. It stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar ...more

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The Most Chilling Quotes From 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' #1,390 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #213 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

4
It is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
ChadrickH added Tim Curry, Seth Green, John Ritter

Released: 1990

Directed by: Tommy Lee Wallace

It is a 1990 psychological horror/drama miniseries based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. The story revolves around an inter-dimensional predatory life-form, which has the ability to ...more

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Horrifying Things That Happened In The Book 'IT' Way Too Awful for the Movies #854 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #14 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

5
A Nightmare on Elm Stree... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Johnny Depp, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp

Released: 1984

Directed by: Wes Craven

A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American supernatural slasher horror film written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film stars ...more

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6
The Silence of the Lambs... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Isaak

Released: 1991

Directed by: Jonathan Demme

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American thriller film that blends elements of the crime and horror genres. Directed by Jonathan Demme and starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, and Scott ...more

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7
The Amityville Horror is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger

Released: 1979

Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

The Amityville Horror is a 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart Rosenberg, based on Jay Anson's bestselling 1977 novel of the same name. It is the first film in the ...more

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#17 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #24 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies #4 of 15 15 Pretty Good Horror Movies Where No One Dies

8
The Shining is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Jack Nicholsan, Shelley Duvall, Scatman Crothers

Released: 1980

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

The Shining is a 1980 British-American psychological horror film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, co-written with novelist Diane Johnson, and starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, ...more

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9
Insidious is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson

Released: 2010

Directed by: James Wan

Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film directed by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell, and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne and Barbara Hershey. It is the first installment ...more

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#108 of 241 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #20 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #1 of 15 Non R-Rated Horror Movies As Scary As Anything

10
Halloween is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence

Released: 1978

Directed by: John Carpenter

Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more

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11
The Omen is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner

Released: 1976

Directed by: Richard Donner

The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick ...more

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12
The Ring is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Naomi Watts, Pauley Perrette, Brian Cox

Released: 2002

Directed by: Gore Verbinski

The Ring is a 2002 American psychological horror film directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts. It is a remake of the 1998 Japanese horror film Ring, which was based on the novel Ring ...more

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13
Pet Sematary is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
TheAntiochGhost added Stephen King, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby

Released: 1989

Directed by: Mary Lambert

Pet Sematary is a 1989 American horror film adaptation of Stephen King's novel of the same name. Directed by Mary Lambert and written by King. Andrew Hubatsek was cast for Zelda's role. Author ...more

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14
Poltergeist is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke

Released: 1982

Directed by: Tobe Hooper

Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural thriller film, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg. It is the first and most successful entry in the Poltergeist ...more

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15
Alien is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott. The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo encounter the eponymous Alien, a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial set ...more

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16
The Evil Dead is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
e61121169 added Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi

Released: 1981

Directed by: Sam Raimi

This film is a 1981 American horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi and executive produced by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who also stars alongside Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. This film ...more

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#151 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #1,035 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #16 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

17
Saw is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Danny Glover, Monica Potter, Shawnee Smith

Released: 2004

Directed by: James Wan

Saw is a 2004 horror film written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, in Wan's directorial debut. In the film, Adam (Whannell) and Lawrence (Cary Elwes) awaken chained in a large ...more

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18
Sinister is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
e61121169 added Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Fred Thompson

Released: 2012

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

Sinister is a 2012 supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson and written by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. It stars Ethan Hawke as fictional true writer Ellison Oswalt who ...more

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19
The Thing is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Kurt Russell, Keith David, John Carpenter

Released: 1982

Directed by: John Carpenter

The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a ...more

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#95 of 241 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #85 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #543 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

20
Psycho is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
RobertPugliese added Alfred Hitchcock, Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins

Released: 1960

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is a 1960 American horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane, who ends up at a secluded motel after taking money from ...more

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#8 of 241 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #168 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #153 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

21
Jeepers Creepers is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
cmandda2 added Justin Long, Eileen Brennan, Victor Salva

Released: 2001

Directed by: Victor Salva

Jeepers Creepers is a 2001 American horror film written and directed by Victor Salva. The film takes its name from the 1938 song "Jeepers Creepers", which is featured in the film.

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22
28 Days Later is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Cillian Murphy, Christopher Eccleston, Naomie Harris

Released: 2002

Directed by: Danny Boyle

28 Days Later is a 2002 British post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Danny Boyle. The screenplay was written by Alex Garland. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson, ...more

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23
The Descent is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
liplip added Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid

Released: 2005

Directed by: Neil Marshall

The Descent is a 2005 British adventure horror film directed by Neil Marshall. Six women enter an unmapped cave system, become trapped, and are hunted by flesh-eating subterranean humanoids.

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24
The Grudge is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
AnnyMouso added Sarah Michelle Gellar, KaDee Strickland, Bill Pullman

Released: 2004

Directed by: Takashi Shimizu

The Grudge is a 2004 American horror film and the first installment in The Grudge franchise. It is a remake of the Japanese film Ju-on: The Grudge. The film was released in North America on ...more

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#65 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #4 of 15 Non R-Rated Horror Movies As Scary As Anything #42 of 115 The Best Horror Movie Franchises

25
Hellraiser is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Scariest Movies Ever Made
Doug Bradley, Andrew Robinson, Ashley Laurence

Released: 1987

Directed by: Clive Barker

Hellraiser is a 1987 British horror film written and directed by Clive Barker, based upon his own novella The Hellbound Heart. The film spawned a series of sequels.

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#207 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #26 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #6 of 93 The Goriest Movies Ever Made