SURVEY SAYS: What's Your Favorite Scary Movie?

October 27, 2011 ( - Monday, of course, is Halloween.  

To help you get ready for the occasion, this week I’m bringing back one of our favorite surveys – our reader choices for favorite scary movie.  


Now, we’ve accumulated a pretty good list over the years – but when it comes to picking a “favorite”… well, here’s what was on our list that didn’t garner any reader support: 

  • American Werewolf in London 
  • 28 Days Later 
  • Crazies, The 
  • Dawn of the Dead (2004) 
  • Dog Soldiers 
  • Drag Me to Hell 
  • Exorcist, The (2004) 
  • Halloween (2007) 
  • Hitcher, The (1986) 
  • Jeepers Creepers 
  • Legend of Hell House, The 
  • Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 
  • Ring, The 
  • Rosemary’s Baby 
  • Scream 
  • Signs 
  • Silver Bullet 
  • Stephen King’s “It” 
  • Stephen King’s Storm of the Century 
  • Uninvited, The (1944) 
  • Uninvited, The (2009) 
  • Wolfman, The (2010) 



Our next “tranche” got support – but not much: 

  • Don't Look Now 
  • Blair Witch Project, The 
  • Cape Fear 
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) 
  • Evil Dead, The 
  • Haunting, The (1963) 
  • Jaws 
  • Paranormal Activity 
  • Saw 
  • Seven 
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) 
  • Wall Street 
  • Wolfman, The (1941) 
  • Woman in Black, The 


The next group took us up to the top 10 (barely), and included: 

Night of the Hunter 

2001, A Space Odyssey 



Birds, The 

Hocus Pocus 


And then – we had the bottom five of the top ten: 

Night of the Living Dead (1968) 


Silence of the Lambs 

Sixth Sense, The 

Wait Until Dark 

And then – the top five.... 



#5 Halloween (1978) 

Michael Myers taught Jason and Freddy everything they know...and who would have thought that a white WIlliam Shatner mask could be SO creepy?  And it has one of the best soundtracks of ANY modern horror film!   



#4 Psycho (1960) 

Hitchcock at his chilling best.  A movie that changed how we felt about showers...forever!   



#3 The Shining (1980) 

Here's Johnnie! 



#2 - The Omen (1976) 

She did it all for you, Damien!



...and this year's top vote getter for most scary movie...

#1 The Exorcist (1973)   

This one made my head spin!    

...and then there were some interesting reader verbatims... 


I like scary stories that have a twist like the Sixth Sense not those that just have blood and guts and not plot! 

Not good to watch right before bedtime... 

The most scary movies are any Tyler Perry - Madea movies 

I find horror movies from the 30s to be far superior to today's productions, and no I am not old enough to have been around when they were released. 

The recent ones seem to be more "contrived". 

They don't make 'em like they used to! 

"Inside Job" was pretty scary too. 

Other favorites are The Demon from sometime in the 50's and The Horrors of Dracula, a Hammer film of the 60's. 

Seriously HATE scary movies.  I have such horrible dreams after watching them. 

"General Rule:  The director's cuts often ruin the original by indulging the art-house fancies of the director 20 years later.   

Here's another general rule:  If the movie is made from a Stephen King novel, there is a 70% chance it was made for about 10 bucks, with production values so low it can't be scary.  That's a real shame.  The 30% that were made with a real budget by genuine filmmakers (think ""Christine"") were great movies, but not especially scary." 

Orphan should be added to the scary movies list.  I almost had to leave the room for that one! 

For their time "Jaws" and "The Exorcist" (1973) changed the thriller genre back to poppin-outta-seat movie going. But, for today, the Republican debates are scarring the hell out of would be voters looking for sanity, unity and sensible direction. Don't tune in if you're looking for something other than junior high antics from both moderators and candidates. 

Psycho still stands as #1.  The Shinning is a very, very close #2. 

The decapitation still gets to me. 

I heard that Paranormal Activity movies were good, so my wife and I watched the first one last night.  Very scary.  Like the best scary movies, it makes you frightened of something common to your ordinary life (your bedroom, going to sleep) like Jaws did for going in the ocean.  It was made more scary when, about 20 minutes after my wife and I went to bed, one of the kid's bathroom suction toys fell of the wall and made a loud crash.  I don't think my wife slept a wink after that. 

Scary movies are too scary these days! 

I don't like scary movies and I typically don't watch them.  Wall Street was an expose of greed and ruthlessness and how it is applauded and valued in society.  I don't consider it a scary movie, I consider it a cautionary tale, a fable, maybe even a parable. 

I have nightmares for days after watching scary movies, yet I keep watching them.  What can I say? 


It's really close between the Omen and the original Halloween as the scariest of all time. The first 2 Alien movies were right up there also.  

No thank you, although I just noticed Wait Until Dark on the list which did scare the life out of me as a teenager when it first came out.  So if I cared about scary movies I'd probably check that one. 

Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell is the most fantastic actor on earth. Period. Love him. 

Hands down the original Halloween...I literally had nightmares every day for 3 years after seeing it! Thanks mom and dad!! 

"The Thing" gave me nightmares for YEARS. 

I am excited to see that someone else thinks Wait Until Dark is a scary classic.  Not enough people have seen it.  I went to see it my Freshman year in college with my roommates.  We returned to our room after the movie and started talking.  All of a sudden, a window shade retracted on its own, making that signature womp, womp womp sound as it wound around the roller.  We all jumped and SCREAMED so loud, it brought people from all over the floor!  Not only is that movie scary while you watch it; it stays with you!  And it is all the scarier because it is so plausible... 

The original Exorcist, which I saw in a movie theatre for the first time, was the only movie in which I closed my eyes during certain scenes. 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “I don't do scary.  I think the price at the gas pump is still pretty scary.” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!  

...oh, and you are interested in the REAL Editor's Choice(s)?  keep reading... 


The REAL Editor's Choices 

Now, not that it (perhaps) matters lots, but as I thought back over my history with scary movies, I realized that WHERE you see a movie, WHEN you see a movie, and sometimes WHO you see it with, all have influences.

Without question, the movie that most unnerved me when I saw it in the theater was "The Exorcist."   Of course, that was back at the time when people were coming out of that film claiming to be possessed (or having seen it with someone who started acting that way), returning home and experiencing objects moving around, etc.   That, and unlike movies about fictional monsters, or reanimated zombies, it seemed like it could happen.   Perhaps the best evidence of how it affected me - I slept with the lights on that night (and I was still living at home with my parents at the time).   But, as creepy as it was, I wouldn't call it the scariest movie I ever saw.

As for the where you see it, I saw "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" for the first time at a drive-in theater.   Now, it's one thing to see a scary movie in a crowded theater.   But even though the screen is far away, and the picture tends to be grainy (that added to the realism - and it was, after all, based on "actual events"), I was so scared that - well, let's just say I wasn't interested in sticking around for the second feature.

The scariest black-and-white movie I ever saw was "The Haunting" (though "The Night of the Living Dead" was close).   If you haven't seen it - or haven't seen it in a while - check it out.   One of the best ghost movies ever!

Let's face it - there are lots of great scary movies - every time I get goosebumps, I still think of "The Sixth Sense", I'll never forget that scene from "Poltergeist" where the clown comes from under the bed, and yes, if I had lived near the ocean after I saw "Jaws", I surely would have skipped the beach that summer.   "Halloween?"    A true classic (the soundtrack is wonderful!).   Looking for a good werewolf movie?   "Silver Bullet" is great - or check out "Dog Soldiers" for a new twist on the genre.   One with a really creepy (no pun intended) ending?   Check out "Jeepers Creepers" - or for a new selection, how about the closing scene in "Shutter?"   For my money, the scariest ending ever?   "Carrie."

More recently, I'd have to say that "Paranormal Activity" came as close to recreating the experience I remembered when seeing "The Exorcist" back in the 1970s.  Fortunately, I was no longer sleeping alone at the time.  "Mirrors 2" wasn't a great movie - but it WILL make you think the next time you walk by a mirror in a dark house. 

Still, the scariest movie I ever saw on a television screen - and my choice for scariest movie - was "The Evil Dead."    Oh, sure parts of it look kind of campy now (Sam Raimi was a long way from Spider-Man), but it scared the (*&*(& out of me the Saturday night I watched it with some friends - fortunately we weren't in a cabin in the woods!