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There are as many "top 10" horror movie lists as there are horror fans. And for the list to have any relevance, you have to quantify what you mean by "horror." There's the kind of movie that really scares you, and keeps you up at night. There's the kind that makes you laugh (yes, horror can be funny). And there's the kind that is just iconic--they might not scare you exactly, but leaving them off of your list is heresy.
So, because I'm unable to whittle all of those types down to 10, here is the first of several lists. Hopefully, you can use this for your Halloween night suggestion list.
Greenlee Gazette Top 10 Scary Horror Movies
1. The Exorcist (1973) - This is the granddaddy of all scary movies. Even better if you're Catholic (so I'm told), or have ever had a devil dream (which I have). Loses none of its punch, 35 years later, except for a few anachronisms that remind you: "Hey, this is a 70s movie," like lighting up cigarettes in a hospital!
2. The Hitcher (1986) - Maybe not strictly "horror," but definitely scary. The first time I watched this, I was on the edge of my seat for the whole film. Rutger Hauer is one of the scariest villains ever on screen. Skip the sequel and the remake, seriously.
3. Dawn of the Dead (1978) - The greatest zombie movie of all time packs in the gore, shocks and scares. Possibly the best low-budget horror movie of all time. Even Leonard Maltin thinks so. The sequel looks newer and snazzier, sure, but the original can't be beat.
4. The Omen (1976) - Creepy, scary and right up there with The Exorcist for religion-inspired nightmares. Yet another where you can skip the remake, but the first two sequels have their moments.
5. Halloween (1978) - The godfather of slasher flicks, this film will actually make you jump. Great suspense, good payoffs, and an incredible score. I haven't seen the remake yet, but haven't heard great things. But if you like this one, Parts 2, 4 and 5 are pretty good. The rest are rubbish.
6. 28 Days Later (2003) - A modern update of zombie movies--sort of. It will scare you, and give you a vague discomfort hours later.
7. Phantasm (1979) - This (extremely) low-budget film has more scares than some entire horror franchises. The Tall Man is one of the creepiest villains ever on film, short of Dick Cheney.
8. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - Sure, you may have forgotten that the series started out scary, but the first film in the franchise delivers the scares, and an eerie nightmare vibe. First time viewers will have a hard time sorting out dreams from reality.
9. Hostel (2005) - This is in the current trend of "horror porn," where the camera lingers on the cruelty and gore. But it is undeniably scary, and will freak you out. The sequel? Not so much.
10. Hellraiser (1987) - The series has been diluted by the countless sequels, but the original still gives me the creeps. Pinhead and his Cenobites will tear your soul apart!