SURVEY SAYS: What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?

October 28, 2010 ( - Halloween falls this weekend – and to help you get ready for the occasion, this week I’m bringing back one of our favorite surveys - “what’s your favorite scary movie?” 


Well, first off, though I provided a list, once again readers had some suggestions that weren’t on it.  So, before we get to the survey results, let’s acknowledge those:  

  • An Inconvenient Truth 
  • Audition, The  
  • Deadly Blessings 
  • Dracula (1931 version) 
  • Frankenstein (1931 version) 
  • House on Haunted Hill (1959) 
  • Motel Hell (a true Drive-in Classic)  
  • Spiral Staircase, The (1941) 
  • Stephen King’s Children of the Corn (1984)  
  • Stephen King’s Pet Cemetery 
  • Super Size Me 


As for the movies that were selected, but by not enough to make our top 10 list:  

  • 2001, A Space Odyssey 
  • 28 Days Later 
  • Alien 
  • Aliens 
  • Cape Fear 
  • Dawn of the Dead (1978) 
  • Don't Look Now 
  • Exorcist, The (2004) 
  • Haunting, The (1963) 
  • Hitcher, The (1986) 
  • Hocus Pocus 
  • Jaws 
  • Night of the Hunter 
  • Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 
  • Omen, The (1976) 
  • Paranormal Activity 
  • Ring, The 
  • Saw 
  • Scream 
  • Seven 
  • Stephen King's "It" 
  • Wait Until Dark 
  • Wall Street  



And as for that top 10… 












OK – before we get there, we also got some fun verbatims – here’s a sampling: 

So hard to pick a favorite.  

Don't Look Now was a close second for me, but The Shining is, perhaps, my favorite movie (scary or otherwise).   You might also consider adding Invasion of the Body Snatchers the next time that you run the survey.  

I cannot watch scary movies. I get freaked out enough when I watch Ghost Investigators on discovery channel!  

Such a hard decision between The Shining and The Birds! I saw The Birds when I was in late elementary/early middle school one evening at a friends house. For the next week I couldn't look away from the sky. I didn't see The Shining until I was in college and it was the first time, in a long time, a movie actually caused me to be scared. OH and Candyman *shiver*, that movie still freaks me out. I recently watched Paranormal Activity. I didn't chose it for this survey because the movie itself isn't great but it certainly does succeed in building suspense.  

I hate them!  

Hitchcock was the master.  He could scare the pants off you without the needless gore or violence.  

My friends and I were 16 years old when we saw it.  My friend admitted two weeks later that he slept in his parents on the floor that night because he was so freaked out.  And yes he still a friend, and of course I still remind him about it - like an real guy friend would.  

Nobody like Hitchcock could build up drama with plot twists and anticipation.  I still keep telling Martin Balsam not to go up those stairs.  Most of the others on your list should be rated in the "gory-est", not "scariest" category.  Poor story-tellers substitute blood for building up fear through anticipation.  

Paranormal Activity was so scary, it affected my sleeping habits for days!  

I love your inclusion of Wall Street and Hocus Pocus.  The movie still to be made that will frighten me the most is the one about financial reform, or worse yet, "The Obama Years: 2009-2016".  

The ones that scare me the most are the ones that lead to that "catch in the throat" kind of suspense. A lot of the ones on the list have it, including Jaws and Halloween ('78), but the feeling of being "hunted" is what gets my bones to freeze!  

Actually "The Shining" but saw "Wall Street" and had to chuckle & select it!!  

I voted for The Audition as the scariest movie.  However, the real answer would be any movie in which Keanu Reeves speaks- his acting is more scary than any of the movies listed above.  

"Wall Street"  BWAHAHAHA  Very clever!!!  

Never, ever watch the current graphic, gore-filled movies, and am mystified by their popularity.  I did watch "Signs", and it was the creepiest, most frightening movie I've ever seen while being virtually gore-free.  I think most of the scary movies substitute grahic gore for talent.  

Scary movies are just too darn scary for me!  

"The Shining" was truly frightening and suspenseful.  Many so-called scary movies are really just gory horror movies with thin plots.  

Silence of the Lambs is the only movie that ever had me really looking over my shoulder on the way out of the theater. A) It wasn't supernatural, so it could really happen; and B) I saw it at a midnight show, at a theater about five minutes from the place where Hannibal Lecter escapes.  

Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter is evil personified.  

Where is Friday the 13th?  Pretty much my 2nd choice.  

Always loved the birds - even now, i can see they are fake, but still brings chills as they peck away  

I can only take so much scary so when it gets bad I close my eyes or turn them off...LOL  

“I don't like scary movies because they are SCARY!”  

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted “I had to cover my face, close my eyes and peer through my fingers to make a pick.”  


Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey! 


Oh – and as for the top 10… and MY choice for scariest movie! 


#10:  Rosemary's Baby (1968) 

A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life.  

Trailer online at 



#9 Psycho (1960) 

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

Trailer online at 



#8 Night of the Living Dead (1968) 

Before this classic, zombies were pretty tame stuff... 

The trailer is online at 



#7 Stephen King's Storm of the Century (1999)   

A small village off the mainland is about to receive a huge winter storm. It won't be just another storm for them. A strange visitor named Andre Linoge comes to the small village and gives the residents havoc. He knows everything about them, and when he tells the truth about one of them, that person denies it...  

Tell him what he wants to hear....and he'll go away....  This made-for-TV mini-series takes a long time to get through...but it's got a great ending! 

The trailer is online at 



#6 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!   

The trailer is online at 


#5 The Sixth Sense (1999) 

After this one, we all saw (or felt) dead people...

The trailer is online at 



#4 The Exorcist (1973) 

This one made my head spin!     

The trailer is online at 


#3 The Birds (1963) 

Another Hitchock classic.  Apparently birds of a feather, flocked together, can be trouble!

The trailer is online at 


#2 Silence of the Lambs (1991) 

Ah yes, Clarice, fava beans, and a nice chianti!

The trailer is online at  


#1 The Shining (1980) 

Here's Johnnie! 

The trailer is online at 


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!