9 Horror Movies That Are Actually Scary

If it didn't give you nightmares, it didn't make our list.
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If it didn't give you nightmares, it didn't make our list.


10 Cloverfield Lane opens this weekend, and it's bound to be remembered as one of the scariest movies of the year. We always knew John Goodman had a little bit of menace in him, but by God he was terrifying in this. Prepare to be way more scared than you ever expected to, when you least expect it. And in honor of the terror in 10 Cloverfield Lane, here are nine of our favorite horror movies that were genuinely scary. 

Alien (1979)

Ridley Scott’s original, CGI-free possession movie made Sigourney Weaver a star and star-gazing just a little bit scarier.

The Exorcist (1973)

If you can’t trust precious little girls not to be evil monsters, who can you trust? The Exorcist singlehandedly destroyed the idea of childhood innocence and condemned Linda Blair to a lifetime of being known for only one thing: A spinning, spewing head. 

The Shining (1980)

This Kubrick-King collaboration gave us the iconic imagery of the scary twins, REDRUM, and the sea of blood running through a hotel hallway. But it's a testament to Stephen King's story, Stanley Kubrick's direction, and Jack Nicholson's acting that the most terrifying scene in the movie involved just an author and his typewriter. 

The Blair Witch Project (1999) 

If you could get past the shaky camerawork, which made a few people who saw it in the theater nauseated, The Blair Witch Project — which came on the scene before found-footage was a thing — terrified audiences who weren't sure if it was a documentary or a scripted movie.

Let the Right One In (2008)

There isn't any hide-under-the-covers terror in the original Swedish vampire movie (unless you count the crazy cat scene), but the atmosphere is dripping with fear and menace from the first frame until the very end. This isn't only one of the best horror movies of the last decade, it's one of the best movies of all. 

The Babadook (2014)

Australian director Jennifer Kent's surprise hit about a children's book character who comes to life to haunt a widowed mother and her young child ruined bedtime storytime forever. You can't get rid of the Babadook!

The Ring (2002)

Static-y TVs, dark abandoned wells, and little girls with long black hair covering their face is a pretty damn good formula for a movie that will scare you out of your wits. Unsurprisingly, the Naomi Watts movie is an adaptation of a Japanese horror movie, because nobody knows horror like Japanese moviemakers. Fun (embarrassing) fact: After I saw The Ring I spent the next couple of days living in fear that I would die because I saw the tape. 

Poltergeist (1982)

This ghost story would have been scary enough (static-y TVs and innocent little girls, again!) if i weren't for the tragic and terrifying curse believed to plague the franchise: One of the young actors, Dominque Dunne, was murdered in her driveway just months after the film was released. A few years later, Heather O'Rourke, who played the angelic young daughter in the family, died at age 12 of septic shock. And two actors in the sequel died within about a year of its release. 

The Witch (2016)

Is 2016 the year of great horror movies? Before 10 Cloverfield Lane dropped, some critics were calling The Witch the scariest horror movie in years. Robert Eggers' directorial debut mines unspeakable tragedy and a crisis of faith for maximum terror.