This article comes with a caveat: These movies scared the hell out of me when I first saw them. Years later, the scare factor would decrease for a variety of reasons (the special effects didn’t stand up through the years, the story became imitated to within an inch of its life, the director became full of himself, etc), but when I stepped into that theater (or plucked down on the sofa) and saw these movies for the very first time, they made me do strange things like wonder if I’m alone in the house, start looking around the room for shadows, and entertained the idea of turning on every light in the house. In a word, these movies scared the hell out of me.
There are other movies that are notable, but just didn’t scare me. For instance, I have all the respect in the world for John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and what it’s done for the genre, but it just didn’t scare me, mostly because I had seen too many of its imitators, and so the original scare factor wasn’t there anymore. Likewise with Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”, or some of the more classic oldies, like “Rosemary’s Baby” or “The Exorcist”. All good, even great horror titles, but they didn’t keep me scared for days afterward like the films on my list. And then are titles considered “horror” that I don’t think even fits in the genre, such as “Jaws”, the original “Alien”, or Carpenter’s “The Thing”. Yes, they are all great movies that have horror elements, but are they actually horror movies? I have to say No.
Here are the five films that did do it for me. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.