Friday's Top Five: Scary movies
October 28th, 2011
12:00 PM ET

Friday's Top Five: Scary movies

It would be a waste of time to figure out why, but it goes without saying that scary stories can be extremely entertaining. And there’s no better way to get in the mood for Halloween than by locking your door, staying up late and watching your favorite flicks that’ll totally freak you out.

From CNN Geek Out: Movies that scare the people who scare us

Hollywood has invented numerous ways to give us nightmares. Monster movies (really the first foray into making audiences scream) employ werewolves, vampires, reanimates and other supernatural beings. The monsters are often conflicted, guilt-ridden creatures that suffer as a result of the crimes they commit against humanity.

Horror films could technically encompass all of the sub-genres of scary movies but for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say they shock and awe audiences as they torture their characters. These films present imagery so disgusting and horrific that instinctively you want to turn away.

Naturally, you keep watching until you’re completely grossed out or thoroughly desensitized. Slasher films, probably the simplest formula of the entire genre, unleash relentless killers into suburbia, summer camps and boiler rooms where they prey on a large majority of the film’s cast.

Now it’s obvious that the scope of this week’s topic is too broad to simplify into a single list. It really requires two, with the first being the A-list. These films transcend the label of "scary" movies because of their critical acclaim and the legends that directed them.

The second list is devoted to B-list cult classics. These low-budget drive-in favorites are not known for their quality of acting but are entertaining nevertheless. The movies on both lists will scare the bejeezus out of you all the same.

So if your Halloween just isn’t complete without watching a zombie marathon, if masked maniacs are more your speed, or if you think Santa Carla blood-suckers are the best boogie men… tell us what movies make you scream.  If you want to take this further, share the scariest theme music too…Bernard Herrmann anyone?

Top 5 A-List:

1. "Psycho" (Alfred Hitchcock/1960): “Oh, but she's harmless. She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.” – Norman Bates


2. "The Shining" (Stanley Kubrick/1980): “I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.” – Jack Torrance


3. "The Exorcist" (William Friedkin/1973): “What an excellent day for an exorcism.” – Demon


4. "The Silence of the Lambs" (Jonathan Demme/1991): “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” – Hannibal Lecter


5. "Cape Fear" (Martin Scorsese/1991): “Counselor! Come out, come out, wherever you are!” – Max Cady


Top 5 B-list (Dedicated to the slashers and the cheesy film taglines):

1. "Friday The 13th" (Jason Voorhees): “If you think this means bad luck...YOU DON'T KNOW THE HALF OF IT.” – movie tagline


2. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (Freddy Kruger): “One, two, Freddy's coming for you. / Three, four, better lock your door. / Five, six, grab your crucifix. / Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. / Nine, ten, never sleep again.” – Children


3. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (Leatherface): “America's most bizarre crime! Brutal beyond description! Grisly beyond comprehension!” – movie tagline


4. "Halloween" (Michael Myers): “The Night he came home.” – movie tagline


5. "Hellraiser" (Pinhead): “It will tear your soul apart.” – movie tagline


soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. M@x

    No Pet Cemetary? That sister thing with the weird, backwards chest scared the holy hell out of me as a kid. Odd that there was no mention of "An American Werewolf in Paris", either.

    October 31, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Royce

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    know so much approximately this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.
    I feel that you just can do with some % to power the message house a bit, but instead of that, this is wonderful blog. A great read. I will definitely be back.

    October 31, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kris

    Both of those are WAY better lists than what IMDB came up with.

    October 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. 4x-treme


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    November 17, 2011 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. Tim

    That'd be Phantasm....

    November 8, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Rock


    November 1, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. Smack-it-up-Flip-it-Rub-it-down

    The BEST horror films of all time!!

    1. The Innocents (1961)
    2. Phatasm (1979)

    November 1, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Demo

    You guys are retarded! Don't you guys have a game of risk or stratego to play in your mothers basement?

    October 31, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Greg

    No mention of Vincent Price as the tortured vampire-zombie hunter in "The Last Man on Earth" ?

    "Morgan... Come out, Morgan... Morgan..."

    October 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ashley

    Really? Jason over Michael?? You disappoint me CNN.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • M@x

      It wasn't even Jason, it's his mother.

      CNN chose Jason's MOTHER over Michael.

      October 31, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    "Manhunter" and "Seven" are among the scariest films I've seen.

    October 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Least frightening serial killer in films:

      Brad Pitt in "Kalifornia"

      October 31, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Greg

    Jack Torrance, the alcoholic, struggling writer in "The Shining" was based on Stephen King himself, according to his 2000 book, "On Writing".

    October 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      I would highly recommend On Writing by King – if you're writing or planning to, write a novel.

      November 8, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jorja

    The Changeling (1980 film starring George C. Scott) is one of the scariest movies ever!

    October 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      Finally, someone else recognized how scary that movie is – I'm a published horror novelist, many times over, and that movie absolutely knew how to scare you – don't show the demon, just hint at it. And the POV was magical. Thanks.

      November 8, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      I had never heard of that movie up until a couple years ago when my gf made me watch it, and i have never regretted that decision great flick

      November 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • aces

      You read my mind, that is always the first one to pop up in my head. That wet ball,,,never forgot it....

      November 16, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. T in Orlando

    No Night of the Living Dead (original)? That was the first movie that came to mind when the "B-List" category was described.

    October 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mo

      I agree! The original Night of the Living Dead should at least be number 2 if not number 1. It scared us speechless with never ending horror.

      November 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. philygirl

    I definitely agree with Psycho – #1 pick. Good list!

    October 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  16. JD

    October 29, 2011 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  17. @itsamemario

    Missed you !

    October 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  18. itsamemario

    best halloween themed movie is trick r treat, if u dont know about it get on it, its a good lil collection of interwoven stories taking place over one halloween night. its worth it just to see the fat kid from bad santa bite it..

    October 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Erik

    Poltergeist is what scared the #@$# out of me as a kid...

    October 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |

    Who is Bernard Hermann–is it reall Pee Wee?

    October 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Amy

    I agree – I like Evil Dead too.

    October 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Observer

    I had to sit through "Yentl" years ago when my gf reeeeeally wanted to see it.
    Oh, the humanity!

    October 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  23. no monsters

    And The hand that rocks the cradle.

    October 28, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  24. For the love of...

    PLEASE stop posting those stupid video of that "woman". She is NOT funny, entertaining or anything of the sort. She is just flat out stupid and annoying!!!

    October 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  25. no monsters

    Sleeping with the enemy scared me !

    October 28, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  26. loretta

    October 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  27. loretta

    October 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Inge

    Although not very scary, I love Evil dead..
    The Blair witch project started to become scary when a friend and I camped out in the middle of nowhere and you start hearing these little noices around you.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  29. xdougx

    Cape fear? Seriously? Nothing scary about it. How about Carpenter's The Thing?

    October 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doug Funny

      That movie actually scared me...

      October 29, 2011 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • jack

      Cape fear version '60 with Robert Mitchum was not a horrific movie but a good thriller movie...

      October 29, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • spitless

      Only scary part of Carpenter's "The Thing" is Carpenter still got work after that mess!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  30. michaelfury

    …yet from those flames
    No light, but rather darkness visible
    Serv’d only to discover sights of woe,
    Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
    And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
    That comes to all; but torture without end
    Still urges, and a fiery Deluge, fed
    With ever-burning Sulphur unconsum’d:
    Such place Eternal Justice had prepar’d

    – Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I

    October 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Missy

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre scared the crap out of me! I'm sure folks will think of a bigger list than this. Looking forward to seeing your responses.

    October 28, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Calvy

    Really? Cape Fear over Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

    October 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • yosh

      Two different categories

      October 28, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah B

      Yeah I also thought that about When reading that but then I notice that they were in two different categories.

      October 30, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phillco24

      Cape Fear was scary because it was something that could happen in real life....DeNiro plays a truly sadistic evil guy without the use of a mask or nine inch claws.

      November 12, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |

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