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Top 10 Scariest Horror Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Matthew Thomas Things are about to get scary. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 scariest horror movies. For this list, we’ll be looking at traditionally dark horror movies and how terrifying they are. Despite their many scares, movies like “Jaws” won’t make the cut. Special thanks to our users c64audio, Seania Fox, Waynoidz, ian hille, Ian Macari, Ciaran Boylan, Jake Qualls, Awesome One and Carlos Cervera for submitting this idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest

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Script written by Matthew Thomas

Top 10 Scariest Horror Movies

Things are about to get scary. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 scariest horror movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at traditionally dark horror movies and how terrifying they are. Despite their many scares, movies like “Jaws” won’t make the cut.

#10: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

Gritty and foreboding in every scene, this slasher flick revels in all the violence and gore that it could possibly throw at its loyal audience. When a group of friends decides to pick up a hitchhiker on their way to a family homestead, they have no way of knowing just how horrible their world is about to become. Here’s the short version: awaiting them with open arms and empty stomachs near their destination is a family of cannibals who use the bones of their victims to furnish their home. Among the most wantonly violent films ever made to this day, if this massacre doesn’t chill you to your very core, we don’t know what will.

#9: “The Blair Witch Project” (1999)

One of most successful indie flicks ever, “The Blair Witch Project”‘s marketing campaign made it the most talked about movie in America. The fact that the trailer and teasers that whet the appetite of audiences everywhere gave away virtually nothing about the plot made all of the found footage flick’s twists and turns entirely shocking. Its utterly unknown stars allowed us to empathize completely, which made those surprises even more terrifying, while the simple yet horrifying closing seconds ensured this film is one of the scariest of all time.

#8: “Child’s Play” (1988)

While on the brink of death, Lakeshore Strangler Charles Lee Ray imbues a child’s toy with his soul to ensure that his reign of terror will never end. Children are without a doubt what most people want to protect in this world, so when this film centered itself around the idea of having a ruthless killer cuddle up to an innocent child it became many adults’ worst nightmare. Anchored by the effortlessly creepy voice work of Brad Dourif, any movie that could make children fear the very playthings they adore so much is positive to scare many for years to come.

#7: “Paranormal Activity” (2007)

Based principally around home video camera footage of a couple being haunted by supernatural phenomena in their new home, this supernatural horror combined everything that made “The Blair Witch Project” and “The Amityville Horror” classics of the genre. This time, however, the specter doing the haunting is a demon that feeds off of negative energy and has latched itself onto Katie. In “Paranormal Activity,” we get to see the psychological damage that prolonged exposure to a force of pure evil wreaks on a completely typical couple while getting further thrown for a loop by the many suddenly scary moments played out in front of us. Enthralling and unsettling, it is the moments of quiet and static that give the sudden action the ability to scare us to our bones.

#6: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)

It’s a simple fact of life: we all must sleep. And try as we might, we are incapable of staving off sleep forever. That’s why a horribly disfigured man who wants to kill the younger members of our society in grisly fashion while they sleep is an entirely creepy prospect. Enraged by his murder at the hands of parents who believed he killed their children, Freddy Krueger managed to stave off the hell he deserved. Despite the later chapters in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise devolving into over-the-top humor, this first flick is played so seriously that we suggest you don’t view it just before bed.

#5: “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)

Like many young couples who are finding their way in the world, Rosemary and her husband Guy are trying to conceive a baby. That is where the resemblance to a typical story ends as Rosemary soon finds herself the unwilling focus of a strange group of people and their malevolent plans for her child-to-be. The mere idea of something so evil growing inside of you would be blood curdling to most of us, but when you consider the totally natural love you’d feel for any child you mothered, things become positively chilling.

#4: “The Omen” (1976)

In this Richard Donner flick, the suspected Antichrist is not in the womb or a crib, but comes in the form of a young and at-times innocent-looking child. Ready and capable of destroying anyone who stands in his way or displeases him, Damien’s life is surrounded by grief, misery and death. Fraught with violent visuals like decapitations and hangings, “The Omen” doesn’t pull any punches as it delves into the life of the world’s most evil little boy. Excellent performances and incredible suspense make this movie one of the best horror films of all time.

#3: “The Ring” (2002)

What would you do if your son had seven days until he dies in horrendous fashion? And what if your son’s fate was inexorably tied to your fate? These are the questions that this remake of the 1998 Japanese film of the same name attempts to answer in the most unnerving way possible. Fueled by amazing sound design and a gripping score, every moment of “The Ring” will have you recoiling in terror. No need for loads of gore here; with just lots of disturbing visuals, the use of psychological horror and a haunting vibe, it’s no wonder the movie was both a critical and commercial smash.

#2: “Alien” (1979)

Despite the science fiction elements of the story, there can be little debate that “Alien” is in fact also a horror film. Being stuck inside an environment you can’t escape with a mindless creature who only wants to kill you is a creepy idea, to be sure. Combine that with the fact that even the calm of an innocent dinner scene is the setting for unparalleled alarming moments, like this movie’s unforgettable chest burst, and it becomes clear that Ridley Scott’s space adventure doesn’t only grab you by the neck, but also never lets you go again.

Before our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “The Descent” (2005)
- “The Grudge” (2004)
- “Halloween” (1978)
- “The Conjuring” (2013)
- “The Strangers” (2008)

#1: “The Exorcist” (1973)

What is it about a child and demons that has so enthralled filmmakers over the years? In this case, we’re introduced to Regan, a friendly twelve-year-old girl who becomes possessed by a demon after playing with a Ouija board. A terrific and refreshing concept for a horror film got taken to the next level by William Peter Blatty’s exceptional screenplay and the amazing direction of William Friedkin in “The Exorcist.” Unflinching and truly scary, this is what we’ll always imagine an actual possession would actually look and feel like. Forcing us to imagine how helpless we’d feel if this ever happened to our loved ones, then compounding that with moments like when the demon tells the priest about his mother’s fate in Hell, this is as scary as scary gets, and undoubtedly a horror classic.

Do you agree with our list? Which horror movie do you think is the scariest? For more film Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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