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Top 10 Best Scary Movies… You’ve Probably Never Seen

Top 10 Best Scary Movies... (List) (Horror Movies) What are the best scary movies to have been ignored, overlooked or forgotten? Some of the choices here you may have heard of but never seen, while others may mean nothing to you at all, but if you’ve walked the well worn path of horror movies, prepare to take some diversions you’ll find ghoulishly entertaining.

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979)

Top 10 Best Scary Movies
This is a movie of two halves – the first 20 minutes, and the rest. The rest you can discard. The opening sequence is a complete short film in itself, telling the classic urban legend of the babysitter alone in a house who starts receiving strange phone calls asking her to “check the children”. Unlike the hamfisted remake, this is a masterclass of suspense that pulls no punches, and it’s accompanied by an excellent score.

SESSION 9 (2001)

Top Scary Movies
Before he made The Machinist and (another) hidden gem Transsiberian, director Brad Anderson tackled this ‘ghost’ story set in an old mental hospital. The great cast – David Caruso, Josh Lucas, Peter Mullan – play members of an asbestos removal company contracted to go in and clean up. Before long the imposing energy and the influence of old patient case files is sending the group into madness. Session 9 makes full use of its creepy location, creating a foreboding sense of dread while keeping the scares grounded.

PARENTS (1989)

What if your seemingly normal parents were really cannibals? What if the meat you were being served at dinner was really the houseguest who visited yesterday? This 50s-set story taps into something eerie from the ‘perfect homemaker’ era, with Randy Quaid on career best form as the creepy dad. Directed by Bob Balaban, who went on to do Seinfeld, this sits on the nightmarish, skin-crawling side of black comedy.

BURNT OFFERINGS (1976)

Top 10 Best Scary Horror Movies
Before Oliver Reed became the comedy drunk of the tabloids he was one hell of an actor. And he took leading man duties here in what was, in many ways, a precusor to The Shining. Ben (Reed) accepts a post as a caretaker, with his wife and young son, in an old gothic house. Unfortunately it’s a house from hell which rejuvenates a part of itself with each death on its premises. With great character actors like Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith and Karen Black, the top quality casting lifts the whole film. It’s a little slow perhaps but makes up for it with a truly chilling ending. Also features the scariest ever chauffeur in a movie.

THE EXORCIST III (1990)

After the absolutely disastrous Exorcist II, who would want to see Exorcist III? Well, it’s a whole different sort of film entirely. Unlike its predecessor it’s written and directed by Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, and based on his best selling novel, Exorcist: Legion – the true sequel to The Exorcist. Gone is Linda Blair, and it actually has very little to do with exorcism, instead focusing on a philosophical police detective (screen legend George C. Scott) investigating a strange series of satanic murders in Georgetown. The movie is full of visual invention, scares and creepy confrontations.

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20 Comments »

  • Dalmatian Jaws said

    Iiiiiinteresting. I picked up Cry-Wolf out of a musty box in the back of my office … and didn’t hate it.

    However, Exorcist III is a reprehensibly awful movie. Maybe even worse than the two prequels. That scene, though, is brilliant. But literally the only scary and/or watchable part in the entire thing.

    Session 9 has been a favorite of mine for years. And I didn’t realize it was by The Machinist director! Awesome!

    I’m going to check out House and Ravenous. I’ve wanted to for years but never got around to it!

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  • samma said

    oh lord. i grew up on House && House 2 (the 2nd story)…

    fkn Kudos. :)

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  • Kr0ss said

    Session 9 and Ravenous – two of my favorites right there.

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  • gd smith said

    Ravenous is a great film.
    My top ten at the moment.
    Altered. this is one of the best low budget horror films in years.

    Stagefright. stylish Italian slasher film with a love it or hate it soundtrack and owl masked killer. Nods at Swan Lake.

    Rogue. Very funny and stylish jaws throwback.

    Bedlam. Val Lewton proto feminist and political allegory set in the famous asylum.

    Strange Behaviour. Weird cross between teen slasher and the Manchurian candidate.

    The Plague. Steinbeck inspired parable about sin and redemption masquerading as a killer zombie children flick.

    Evil Aliens. Welsh gore fest,so lowbrow you can feel your brain cells dying as you watch it. fantastic, obviously.

    The long Weekend, Aussie Eco and marital problems horror.

    Brotherhood of the wolf. Part Sherlock Holmes. part Kung Fu and conspiracy movie.
    The innocents. Turn of the Screw as good as the Haunting.

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  • Paul Baines said

    Sure the special effects in Society aren’t that convincing, neither are the actors, yet it remains that the plot as metaphor for the indulgences of the plutocracy cannot be beaten. This is one of a very few films that should be remade, absolutely top notch.

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  • AristotleP said

    Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice

    I’ll have to check out a few of those.

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  • Joshua said

    Wow….usually I see the ol’ favorites lined up like a 1920′s chorus line, but was presently surprised to see your list!

    I’ve seen all of ‘em except for Behind the Mask – can’t wait to pick it up at the local VHS rental outlet! I hope it comes in Beta…

    Buuuuut, did we forget Gerald Kargl’s 1983 “Angst”? I bet you a small percentage of people have stared at this unbelievabely disturbing masterpiece. To be honest there are a TON of flicks that are collecting dust somewhere, waiting to disturb and torment the masses….but Angst has the ability to get under your skin and stay there like a Mozambuqian sand worm.

    To anyone that reads this….PLEASE….find Angst and watch it.

    To help tantalize your tastebuds, Gaspar Noe (Irreversible, Carne,I Stand Alone etc.) “cited Angst as an influence on his filmmaking style”

    Nice list my friend. Very nice.

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  • P Bonk said

    I’m surprised no one talked about the horror of Burnt Offerings. Karen Black had roles in a few genre (what I think were) made-for-TV-movies. I vaguely recall The Pyx, but I look back with great horror and fright on Burnt Offerings. I recall seeing it when I was 8-10 years old and remembering how scary it was. When I saw it a few years later and was able to competent the story line, I don’t think I slept. A truly terrific horror masterpiece. I wonder if it still stands up today. (Guess it’s time to bring the 12 year old son out to watch a movie with his ‘pa)

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  • Noynoy said

    This is one great list for the top 10 scary movies of all time.

    But there is one movie I saw that is not a horror movie but I think it’s a scary movie. The title is The Good Son (1992) which stars Elijah Wood and Macaulay Culkin. This psychological thriller is something that makes you not to look to some disturbing scenes such as the one when the mother is holding up to two children in each hand clutching above a high cliff, and should decide who to let go off one hand since she can’t save them both; one is her son (Culkin) and the other is her nephew (Wood); the one she saves from falling off a high cliff is her nephew; The dysfunctional behavior of the character Culkin portrays thinks like the devil himself. I kinda describe more of a psychological movie rather than a devil movie like most horror movies; but The Good Son I think still belongs to the top scariest movies of all time.

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  • JillianMaria. said

    Welpp;
    Thoooooooooooooooose Was Retarded.
    I Don’t Think I Liked Any Of Those.
    If I Were You; I’d Look At A Movie Called “Gothika.” Very Watchable. Also “Death Tunnel.” Very Suspenseful As Well, But Absolutely My Favorites There’s Also One Called “The Orphange; Or El Orphanato.”<– (That One's En Espanol). I Dont Know About ^Those^ They Just Don't Seem Like My Kind Of Movies.(:

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    • Really? said

      You don’t “think” you liked any of those?
      So you’ve never actually seen them?
      Anyway, most people have seen Gothika and certainly The Orphanage, as both were both pretty big hits.

      And btw, it’s “Thoooooooooose WERE retarded”.
      Of course, most people have moved beyond using that word as an insult, but hey.

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  • Juish said

    Dead End…smart? Creapy? Atmospheric? That film sucked more than a Thai brothel. Why Ray Wise decided to star in this film is beyond me, after being the president in Red Alert 2. The film itself is in no way creapy, I’d lean more toward crappy. I think even the bargain bin would be ashamed to have this film.

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    • Sheridan Passell said

      It has 86% on Rotten Tomataoes. Critics and I disagree with you.

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    • Terry said

      Well I agree with Juish and really couldn’t give a toss what Rotten tomatoes rating it has. I found Dead End to be tripe too! Just because a bunch of critics think it’s dead-set clever doesn’t mean it actually is. Just like all the movies the critics trash are often – surprise!!! – actually really good. I generally don’t agree with critics (with rare and obvious exceptions) and certainly never watch a movie because a professional movie-watcher tells me to. I sat through the entire Dead End movie waiting for it to get interesting but it never did. It was just one long boring movie about incredibly stupid people driving along in a car. The characters were thin stereotypes, the dialogue stilted and silly and nothing actually happened. Oh and then there’s the ridiculous ending. What a waste of time. I think I deserve a medal for persevering, especially for putting up with the world’s most irritating female character – the whinging nagging mother.

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  • Kelley said

    You have excellent taste! Like another reader, I was expecting to the the usual lineup of mainstream films. I’m very happy to have found this list!

    Please also watch “Images” by Robert Altman. A very disturbing premise and creepy atmospheric film. Filmed in Ireland too, I believe.

    Also, “The Changeling” is really great (although it may be one of the “mainstream” now). A great story nonetheless.

    Thanks for this list!

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    • Sheridan Passell said

      Thanks Kelly. I haven’t seen Images, I agree The Changeling (1980) is a terrific ghost story.

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  • PeppermintSchnapps said

    Noroi (The Curse) from Japan has a terrifying climax — although perhaps not quite worth the two hours of build-up, it’s worth a look.

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  • puppy said

    i’ve seen all them. they FREAK ME OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i only see 10 minutes then done!

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  • Cannibal OX said

    Was suspicious of this list until I saw you listed Ravenous. Awesome movie with some good laughs. love the score as well. “He Was Licking ME!”

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