Top 5 Scariest Films

It’s common knowledge that I am a lover of scary films. It’s like going on a scary ride, you struggle with most of the ordeal, but when its over, you know it was well worth it. Unfortunately, horror films don’t have the same affect on me as they used to. Perhaps it faded with age, or maybe I watched so many I became desensitised to them. I hope, for the benefit of my sanity, that it’s the age option. Regardless, I can specifically remember several films that had a lasting impact on me due to being scared, and here is the top five that I came up with.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

This film is a 1920’s masterpiece, and featured perhaps the very first twist ever seen in the history of cinema. Anyone knows that black and white makes even a comedy a little frightening, so when you combine black and white with a horror-thriller, you know you’re in for a treat.


Not only is this one of my favourite films, it’s also up there as one of the scariest I’ve watched. A film with very dark themes like this one is an easy way to setup a very scary environment for the viewer. A brilliant and thrilling film – perhaps not for the faint hearted.

Cabin Fever

Before Eli Roth brought you the messed up film Hostel and it’s sequel, he made this low budget horror, which proved to be a commercial hit. Basically a virus breaks loose amongst a group of friends who take up habitat in a remote shack in the middle of a forest, and as a result they became terribly disfigured. These images take a little while to be erased from your mind at the best of times, let alone after watching it on late night television with no else to keep you company after your brothers had already bailed.

House of Wax

As a lover of scary films, I am a little offended that the fairly abysmal House of Wax made the list, let alone in 2nd place. How is this so? Well, the way in which I watched this film is unique, in that I never watched the whole film in its entirety, just the scariest parts, as that was when I was called out to the room to watch along with a group of my brother’s mates. Hence, I remember nothing but frightening scenes from this movie and this one scene that has always stuck in my mind where a bloke suffering perhaps the worst fate I’ve ever seen for a character in a movie. I won’t give it away, but let me give you 3 words that will serve as a clue – Achilles, Thread, Wax. Have mercy!

Skeleton Key

When a film’s subject is based around supernatural themes such as ‘hoodoo’ or ‘voodoo,’ you know you’re in for a pretty scary film. Skeleton Key freaked my entire family out with it’s black and white flickering flash backs with some pretty disturbing images on screen. Not only is this a bloody scary film, it’s also brilliant; hence the honour of the number 1 position.

Please, do not be shy; let me know what films have scared you the most in the comment section below, and if you’re game enough to watch the films on my list, I’ll certainly be more than happy to watch the films you find the scariest.

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20 Comments on “Top 5 Scariest Films”

  1. Karen B Says:

    I agree with you about Saw – it’s not for the faint-hearted and I couldn’t put myself through it again.
    AS for my journey of scariest films …..
    I would have to say The Shining would have to be up there – number 1 or 2 I think – a good old-fashioned slasher flick of the 70s.
    Then there’s The Amityville Horror – the original, which was pretty jolly scary back in “the day” (the 80s) I think they over-did its original idea of blood seeping through walls etc in many subsequent films.
    And Audrey-Rose, about a little girl who has strange flashbacks of a life she’s never known.
    Finally, shouldn’t Wolf Creek be up there? I heard it the other day (as others were watching it at home) – in some ways the sound effects are scarier than the actual film!
    Well, there are some of my scariest movies. In agreement about Skeleton Key too – haven’t seen the others – the older you get the harder it is to put yourself through it, I think

    • filmstank Says:

      I definitely want to watch the films you’ve listed, classic horrors are the greatest. What about Alien? Didn’t that have a pretty big impact on you?

      Re Wolf Creek, yeah it definitely had its moments, but I just think that scary films don’t get me like they used to, hence Wolf Creek not being on the list.

      • Karen Says:

        Yes! That’s right – Alien – took years to get that image of that
        ******* SPOILER ALERT***********
        “thing” coming out of his chest out of my mind. Couldn’t watch again.
        There was another one – Magic (about 1978 I think ) with Anthony Hopkins – he was also in Audrey Rose (mentioned before). It was about a ventriloquist’s dummy that takes over the real person. Really creepy.
        I agree with Con about The Exorcist – some of those old style horrors had original ideas that were copied over and over – kind of lost their impact after a few hundred films copied, I think.
        I had to leave the room during one of the moments in Wolf Creek. Took me about 2 years to get the courage to watch it!

  2. Con G Says:

    Umm, how are The Exorcist, Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween in this list?

    • filmstank Says:

      Good question, and simply put, I haven’t seen them. (Perhaps I have seen an episode of Nightmare and/or Halloween, but they’re a little too corny for any lasting impacts to be had). I believe that these days though, if I was to watch those films, it wouldn’t have an impact like these films on my list have had. The films on the list are the ones that I’ve seen that have had the biggest impact on me (except Dr. Caligari, which is just an awesome scary film). I’m definitely keen to watch the films you’ve listed though.

  3. Con G Says:

    Not in this list*

  4. When I was about 12 years old I watched “CandyMan”. Honestly, I was so scared I could not look in a mirror for days.

    Have you seen Candyman?

    I think the thing that made it seem so terrifying was the simplicity. Saying three words into a mirror. That’s all it was. I love the simplicity.

    I love that you put ‘Saw’ in there. Whilst I’m not as big a fan of the entire series as yourself, I certainly think the original is a masterpiece. Despite the elaborate torture scenes, the film is a rather simple (and brilliant) concept. ‘Tis simply amazing.

    As for Skeleton Key, I don’t really remember it being overly scary. So to demonstrate that I trust your judgement, I am going to view it again. But this does raise an interesting question: if you are told in advance that a film is going to be scary, does this expectation ruin the ‘scary’ potential?

    To illustrate, when I saw ‘Saw’ on the big screen- when it first came out- I was going in completely cold. I had no ideas and no expectation and, frankly, it blew my mind. Wow!

    • filmstank Says:

      I haven’t yet seen Candyman. Would you recommend it?

      Good man for taking up the challenge to view it again. Perhaps if you don’t remember it being scary you, in fact, weren’t that scared at all. Or maybe you were distracted. Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and go with distracted. I look forward to hearing your updated thoughts on the film soon.

      You are very right to raise that question. It is very risky to give someone expectation for a movie, and not just with a horror. Going into a film hearing it’s brilliant usually ends in disappointment. But does it apply for horror’s? Perhaps if a film is genuinely scary, it doesn’t matter what expectations you have, you will still be scared. Although people’s opinion on how scary a film is differ. So I may find a film very scary, yet you wouldn’t, even with no expectation – so I think that me telling you it was very scary would have little effect. Although I’m really only hypothesizing here, no facts have yet been determined. What are your thoughts?

      I am very jealous of your ‘Saw’ experience.

  5. T-Bag Says:

    A nice top 5 list.

    Two that I would put up there:

    The Blair Witch Project:
    This leaves EVERYTHING to the imagination, maybe that is why I found it so terrifying. Not to mention it is was one of – if not the first of its kind, a handy-cam ‘documentary’, as we were led to believe. The events that happen in this film just terrified me beyond belief – I have a wild imagination and even though I found it terrifying (especially the end scene) I loved every bit of it!

    The Exorcism of Emily Rose:
    Although the majority of this is based in the court-house, around the death of a girl. There are still scenes thrown in throughout. And as you mentioned in your article, anything involving the supernatural is bound to provide terror. Not to mention I had a very unique experience as I watched this, to add to the terror.

    Both these films, unreal!

    • filmstank Says:

      Two films I have been meaning to watch for quite some time now. Definitely very keen to see those films. Although do you perhaps think that now we know the Blair Witch Project is fake, it loses it’s effect?

      • T-Bag Says:

        Yes, the Blair Witch won’t have the same impact on you in this day and age. Since people have taken the same idea for other horror films.

        It is still worth a watch, keeping in mind that no one knew it was fake, and the supernatural themes of the ‘witch’ still intrigue and make the hairs stand up!!

  6. Karen Says:

    What were the three words? Or would that spoil the whole thing??

  7. Karen Says:

    By the way, I think that the film “Magic” spawned the Chucky film genre thing – the dummy’s name was Chucky. And it had this scary way of saying something (can’t remember what!) to let the ventriloquist know that he could see/hear him. Spooky!

    • filmstank Says:

      I think you’d definitely be right about the “Magic” film inspiring the Chucky series. I’d definitely be keen to watch the Magic film, I’ve seen a Chucky film, definitely not great.

      The three words are there: Achillies, Thread, Wax. I can explain to you what these mean at a later date – a very graphic death for a character in a film.

      Good call about The Exorcist being the originator of what now seem like worn out techniques, a shame really that that’s the way it’s resulted, therefore meaning newer generations cannot see the brilliance that they were at the time of release.

      • Karen Says:

        Sorry I meant what were the three words in Candyman that Dave saw? I’m absolutely never going to see a film where someone is tortured with thread and wax. Definitely not for me!

      • filmstank Says:

        Yeah, I will never recommend that film to anyone, and I will never watch it again. Horrific.

        As to the 3 words, I am eager to know as you are. I think they’re just to do with the urban legend, and therefore I don’t think they will ruin the plot. Dave! Please let us know.

  8. I personally think age changes the way we think of such movies. Funny how you watch these old movies and they almost seem in part like a comedy.

    Having said that, I think an old Alfred Hitchcock is one I first can remember being scared at, called “The Birds”. I agree too with The Amityville Horror and The Shining and probably Alien.

    I think another would be Silence of the Lambs.

    There is someone in the family who might even include a movie called “Matilda”, no explanation needed and I wont say anything else.

    It’s funny how we can all see something different in a movie, what scares one person seems to have no impact on another, thank goodness for being different.

    • filmstank Says:

      Very wise words there Mr. Beckman.

      Haha, well played with the Matilda card. We’ll keep names out of it for now.

      I 100% agree with what you said about films seeming like comedies when you watch them at an older age. That’s how I felt when watching some of the older Nightmare on Elm Streets, or Friday the 13th type films.

      I guess I’m going to have to do myself a favour and hire out The Amityville Horror, The Shining and Alien. I’m also interested in watching the classic “The Birds” too.

      • Karen Says:

        I don’t recommend Alien – maybe like you not recommending House of Wax. The “image” is really hard to get out of your mind I think.
        I agree about The Birds – Hitchcock had a certain way with horror – subtly done, not excessive blood – a lot left to the imagination, creepy music, shadows etc.

  9. cb Says:

    old mate you have lost your mind. plain and simple, how cabin fever made your list is an age old mystery and utter disgrace, z grade acting butchered this film and the concept is so damn hollywoodish i find it quite offensive to even regard this film as horror. fair enough, context played a large part in your decision but please be aware that a quality scary flic is frightening even in the midst of the most wonderful circumstances…may i suggest you rewatch this debacle without such dire surroundings…please and thankyou

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