25 Scary movies to get a budding horror fan started

I love horror movies. One aspect that every horror fan immediately jumps to when watching a new one is was it scary? Well here’s my list of the 25 scary movies wort watching. Enjoy. These are not ranked but number 1 is the scariest to me.

1.   Poltergeist

Others don’t find this one as terrifying as I do. To me it’s scary on several levels. One the movie itself has some good freights. But the real terror is the behind-the-scenes horrors associated with the making of the film. Not just the stuff about using real dead bodies in the making of the film. I am talking things like two of the children in this film DYING not long after it’s release. The movie itself is about a family who lives in a haunted house built on top of a cemetery.

2. The Last House on the Left

This is a classic. It’s from a time when movies moved much slower than they do now so it won’t grab modern viewers the same way it got me. This movie has a subtle terror as it’s a tale of two country girls going to the big city, getting kidnapped, raped and then worse. The twist towards the end is what makes this one work though.

3. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Krueger is the clown prince of horror. But before he was a wise-cracking Spider-Man wanna be he starred in a legit scary horror film about teens dying one-by-one at the hands of a serial killer out for revenge.

4. The Exercist

This movie deserves the praise it gets for being terrifying. No matter your religious beliefs this movie should chill you to the bone. It’s about a young girl who becomes possessed by a brutal demon that doesn’t want to play nice as it taunts the priests trying to expel it from within her. It’s a slow build but well worth it in the end.

5. The Omen

Yeah I know this list isn’t looking that different than others but the Omen scares the shit out of me. The scene with the dogs in the cemetery is enough to cause chills down my spine. It’s about a boy who is supposedly the Anti-Christ. That’s all you need to know.

6. Friday the 13th Part 2

Of all the slasher films this franchise is the most well-know for the body count. But it’s not known for being scary. While the franchise relies heavily on jumps cares, this first outing with Jason at the helm does in fact offer some good scars. Mostly it’s the mood and the tone of the film but it works better than all the others as a legit scary film. The rest are shock value at best. It’s a serial killer flick.

7. House of 1000 Corpses

To some a modern retelling/knockoff of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to others it’s a deep dive into the fucked up mind of southern country folks with nothing better to do. As a trans woman living in the south this movie chills me to the bone. I know people who could be this family.

8. The Ring

Not instantly scary or gut wrenchingly terrifying but it has an aura of freight to it. This was one of the few scary movies that chilled me as much on the third viewing as it did the first. It’s about a ghost that kills you after watching a haunted VHS tape. Doesn’t sound scary but it works, for me.

9. Oculus 

This one took some twists I didn’t expect. The reveal at the end helped make it all come together. This one plays with your sense of reality so that’s where most of it’s scares come from. You feel fear for those kids and their tortured mother. The premise is chilling too, a haunted mirror. Mirrors are often used as windows to other dimensions in horror so to have it be the killer was interesting.

10. Human Centipede

After clean up the vomit from watching this film you’re going to question everything you know about humanity. This movie is a twisted film about a sick scientist that sews humans together ass to mouth. It’s as fucked up as it sounds.

11. Saw

More about the visuals than the story but it has some good scares. The rest of the series is trash so stop here. It’s a madman who murders people with elaborate traps.

12. Silence of the Lambs

More a thriller than pure horror this one gets its scares in the tension it builds. It’s about an FBI agent trying to save a kidnapped woman who turns to a famed cannibal in custody for assistance. It’s more in the details this one.

13. The People Under the Stairs

This is the SCARIEST fucking movie I have ever seen. I refuse to rewatch it to this day. It’s about a family that kidnaps kids and tortures them in their basement. View at your own risk.

14. The Hitcher

This is about a man is stalked by a hitch hiker. It’s probably not scary anymore but as a kid it messed me up.

15. Hellraiser

This is about a man who summons demons that drag him to hell to torture him. He some how escapes and spends the rest of the movie piecing his broken body back together using the blood of the living. Then his niece get’s wrapped up in the hell raising and the demons unleash their terror on her too.

16. Psycho

It’s a classic but it’s damn worth it. Norman Bates is a staple in the horror genre. This dude is fucked up in the head. One of the earliest true horror movies.

17. The Changeling

This is a story about a man who’s wife and child die in a horrific car accident. He moves into a haunted house where he uncovers deep dark secrets about a certain red-leaning politician that unleashes a scared ghost with a will to cause trouble.

18. The Conjuring

The whole series should do the trick but that first film scared me to my bones. It’s about a family being terrorized by demon. It has a dead witch who sacrificed herself, allegedly, to Satan, and a couple of ghost hunters in over their heads.

19. The Hills Have Eyes

It’s a family on vacation lost in the desert. They get found by cannibals and gore ensues. It’s also scarier for someone who’s lived in that desert and knows people like this.

20. Pet Semetary

The original is the scary one. This is about a family who buys a house in the mountains that is built near a haunted pet cemetery. The book is far, far scarier but the film captures it’s essence well enough.

21. Needful Things

Speaking of the devil, in this film he comes to a small town to trade treasures for souls. He ends up causing some terror along the way while amusing himself in the process. Perfect for those while a slight evil bent in their own souls.

22. 28 Days Later

The only truly scary zombie movie ever made. That’s all you need to know.

23. Phenomena 

This one is weird but it has scares. It’s about a girl who talks to bugs. She is alone and has no friends. She uncovers a serial killer murdering girls her age and it comes after her. She isn’t sure if it’s human or what but it’s got some gore, some scares and really cool nightmare scenes.

24. Candyman

The original. This is a movie about a former slave who was killed and his specter returns to enact revenge. A nosey reporter uncovers his story and also sparks his interest. He spends the movie courting her while framing her for his kills.

25. Sorority Babes in the Slime-Ball Bowl-O-Rama

Not at all a scary movie but well worth the watch just for the title alone and the cheese ball factor. It’s not even trying to be scary. But it has some amusingly bad acting.

Published by

Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos.