This is a rundown of the most hair-raising, terrifying horror films ever made. All of them were made and released a while ago, but continue to set the standards for scares as far as this genre is concerned. Check ‘em out if you dare…
The Exorcist, 1973
The controversial possession movie by William Friedkin, in which a young Linda Blair playing Regan degenerated into a vulgar, vomiting, head-spinning demon’s plaything, affected viewers and reviewers so badly in cinemas in the 1970s that the movie theatres started providing vomit bags with their tickets, and the home video was basically banned in the United Kingdom for more than 10 years.
Scariest moment? Regan puncturing her groin with a bloody crucifix while her head spins on her neck, spewing swear words, is still one of the most shocking scenes ever caught on camera.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, 1974
The embodiment of the nasty in 1970s videos, and the starting point for the hulking, masked, psychopath-from-hell motif, is actually unexpectedly low on gore by modern standards. But the grainy realism and consummate intensity which unfolds as a gang of youths fall foul of Leatherface and his cannibal crew cemented The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of the most disturbing horror films ever made.
The worst bit? Leatherface popping up inside of a doorway, clubbing one of the characters, Kirk, to his knees, and then slamming a metal door shut behind him, with the sound of squealing pigs in the background.
The Omen, 1976
The desolate, nihilistic tone of horror movies from the 1970s reached its apex in this weird tale concerning Biblical prophecy, death-by-photography, and Damien, a devil-child somehow being protected from being destroyed by dark forces and Satanic sects. The ominous choral soundtrack by itself is terrifying enough on its own, but then you add self-sacrificing nannies, priests getting speared, and secret 666s emblazoned on scalps and you’ve got spine-tingling frightening.
Best moment? Although this is difficult to determine when you take today’s special effects into account, Keith Jennings’ decapitation is teased, hinted at, and signposted so expertly it has remained one of the most memorable deaths in the history of horror.
Make sure to take your mind off of what you’ve just seen by taking a walk, playing pokies online, or having a chat with a friend before you to to sleep, otherwise a nightmare may be looming!
The Shining, 1980
Over the course of one isolated winter, the many spirits still lingering at the Overlook Hotel slowly start turning writer/caretaker Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, into an ax-wielding maniac in this Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King classic. From the terrifying twins in the corridor to the long-dead lady in the bath and the scrawling of REDRUM all over the doors, the iconic director’s eye for the unsettling was never more magnificent.
The most frightening? Heeeeere's JOHNNY!
The original Japanese version about the cursed videotape that kills anyone who watches it is a lot more frightening than the American remake. This is in large part to the fact that Sadako, the girl trapped in the well and bent on vengeance, is far more sinister in the original. The worst scare? When Sadako creeps out of the well, claws her way towards the camera and then climbs right out of the screen will give you nightmare, no matter what you do!