The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
One of the scariest movies because: It's straight-up exploitation done right: The body count is high, and the evil guys are fearsome both in appearance and demeanor.
What the critics say: "I can't imagine why anyone would want to make a movie like this, and yet it's well-made, well-acted, and all too effective."—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
One of the scariest movies because: This murderfest is filled with unsavory characters—humans with dark personalities and darker motives, plus an assortment of bizarre and terrifying beasts. Not for the faint of heart.
What the critics say: "It's the voluptuous residues of Hellraiser, not a low-voiced dude with a porcupine head, that spark the fear of mortality."—Eric Henderson, Slant
The Thing (1982)
One of the scariest movies because: It's impossible to know whom to trust in this film about an alien parasite that imitates humans.
What the critics say: "The Thing is a peerless masterpiece of relentless suspense, retina-wrecking visual excess and outright, nihilistic terror."—Adam Smith, Empire
28 Days Later (2002)
One of the scariest movies because: These zombies are faster than you, plus their brain-eating disease is transmitted via blood. Which flows in excess here, naturally.
What the critics say: "28 Days Later is loaded with terrific images and extraordinary little moments... even as it inexorably deteriorates into Scooby-Doo terrain."—Andrew O'Hehir, Salon
One of the scariest movies because: Thanks to inspired directing from Brian De Palma, every moment in this film is filled with dread as the story inches toward its big, bloody finish.
What the critics say: "Brian De Palma's Carrie is an absolutely spellbinding horror movie, with a shock at the end that's the best thing along those lines since the shark leaped aboard in Jaws."—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
One of the scariest movies because: It might not seem horrifying on the surface, but director Steven Spielberg revels in layering on pulpy gross-out moments: a feast of monkey brains! bugs crawling everywhere! a shamanic ritual removing a man's still-beating heart! While not traditional gore or suspense, the yucky bits stay with you after the lights are on.
What the critics say: "There's no doubt about it—the movie, in addition to being endearingly disgusting, is violent in ways that may scare the wits out of some small patrons."—Vincent Canby, The New York Times
The Sixth Sense (1999)
One of the scariest movies because: Haley Joel Osment's Academy Award-nominated performance is chilling. "I see dead people" is one of recent cinema's most famous lines for a reason.
What the critics say: "The movie is a maximum creep-out. It's invasive. It's like an enema to the soul as it probes the ways of death—some especially grotesque in a family setting."—Stephen Hunter, Washington Post
The Omen (1976)
One of the scariest movies because: It presents a horrific situation that's impossible to grapple with: How do you deal with your murderous child, even if he is the antichrist?
What the critics say: "...fun in a portentous sort of way."—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
One of the scariest movies because: It's styled like a documentary, making the terror startlingly plausible.
What the critics say: "The Blair Witch Project leaves its horror to the audience's imagination, and in doing so creates a truly scary horror film, something akin to a lost art these days."—Keith Phipps, The A.V. Club
The Haunting (1963)
One of the scariest movies because: The atmosphere is stifling, even if the special effects don't quite hold up nearly 50 years later.
What the critics say: "[Director Robert] Wise makes the house itself the central character, a beautifully designed and highly atmospheric entity which, despite the often annoyingly angled camerawork, becomes genuinely frightening."—Time Out London