October 31, 2014

The 11 Scariest Films of All Time According to Martin Scorsese

It's Halloween and you want to watch a spooky flick, but Friday the 13th and Killer Klowns From Outer Space just aren't cutting it anymore. Why not refer to a list of horror films made by a filmmaking master with an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema? 

Even though he tends to be a bit of a genre-bender, Martin Scorsese isn't what you would call a horror filmmaker. However, the man's brainpan is brimming with knowledge about cinema of all kinds, which is why it was such a treat when The Daily Beast took the opportunity to ask the legendary director to list what he thought were the scariest movies of all time. Here's the list:

  1. The Haunting (1963)
  2. Isle of the Dead (1945)
  3. The Uninvited (1944)
  4. The Entity (1982)
  5. Dead of Night (1945)
  6. The Changeling (1980)
  7. The Shining (1980)
  8. The Exorcist (1973)
  9. Night of the Demon (1957)
  10. The Innocents (1961)
  11. Psycho (1960)

As you can see, we've got some of the usual suspects sprinkled in there -- The ShiningThe Exorcist, and Psycho, but the thing I love about the other films is that, even if they're not considered the best horror films of all time (I doubt that's what Scorsese was implying anyway), they certainly were made in times when horror film was on the rise and at its best.

He lists several films from the 1940s, which came at the tail end of the Golden Age of Classic Horror cinema (roughly 1919 to 1948), but the majority come from -- I don'tt know -- let's call it the Golden Age of New Horror -- that long stretch between the 60s and the 80s when Alfred Hitchcock, George Romero, Roger Corman, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and so many others were working hard to scare the bejeezus out of us. It was a time when the horror filmmaker was well-known and well-respected. This is when we saw filmmakers really push the boundaries of horror cinema, invent new ways to shock and horrify with special effects, and turn the scary monster at your door into the evil that lurks within us all.

Which horror films make your list of the scariest of all time? Let us know in the comments below!     

Your Comment

13 Comments

In alphabetical order: Many of these have been seen so many times that it is easy to overlook how damn scary they were when they came out.

Alien
Don't Look Now
Eyes Without A Face (Franju)
Halloween (Carpenter)
Let The Right One In (Alfredson)
Magic
Psycho
The Orphanage
The Serpent & The Rainbow
The Shining
The Thing From Another World (Hawks / Nyby)
Vampyre (Dreyer)

And special mention to Herzog's version of Nosferatu. More existential then scary but some of the most beautiful imagery you will ever see from the horror genre'

October 31, 2014 at 11:15PM

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These are some that actually scared me:
The Orphanage
The Shining
Let The Right One In
It Follows
Rec
28 Weeks Later
The Conjuring
A Nightmare On Elm Street

November 1, 2014 at 2:33AM

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Stu Mannion
writer/dir/dp
570

28 days later??

November 13, 2014 at 9:20AM

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Nick Capezzera
DP & Editor
234

Dreamcatcher

November 1, 2014 at 5:06AM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
982

Saw The Innocents for the first time a few months back - it's incredible and has stayed with me. If you haven't seen it, it's a masterclass in visual storytelling and intelligent horror.

November 1, 2014 at 8:26AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3030

Deborah Kerr's reactions to the children, particularly Miles, remains a classic of movie acting. This movie also caused me to leave my pants on the seat :-)

November 6, 2014 at 5:26PM

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Aleks Ozolins
Digital Film Advertising Producer
83

It's a brilliant performance - Subtle, confusing and deeply disturbing!

November 7, 2014 at 6:30AM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3030

Different take on horror (I think the scariest films are the ones that make you actually afraid for *your real life*, after all movies are really about the audience) but my top 5:
1. Synecdoche New York
2. Food Inc
3. Stalker
4. Cinemania (kinda specific to filmmakers/critics)
5. Only Interstellar Pinballs Live Forever

November 1, 2014 at 11:08AM

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The taste of horror is very personal, everyone has his personal scary list, who be scaried from splatter, who from psichological plot, everyone can list many different movies. Here some of mine.
1 - Poltergeist
2 - Evildead (80)
3 - Scanners
4 - Creature of black lagoon (that inspired spielberg for Shark Pov)
5 - Wolfman (49)
6 - They Live
7 - Videodrome
8 - Cabal
9 - Hellraiser
10 - Nightmare on Elm street : New Nightmare

November 7, 2014 at 7:56AM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director
559

The first film that scared me was The Haunting. I had flu like symptoms, alone at home, the only light in the house was the bluish glow from the black & white TV. There was a sound effect of a creaking door that was eerily similar to our door to the basement. Scared the crap out of me.
Loved the creepy vibe of Videodrome, The Brood.
Alien
The Shining
Texas Chainsaw Masacre, because it threw subtlety out the window.
The Birds, scared me more than Psycho.

November 12, 2014 at 5:57PM, Edited November 12, 5:57PM

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Tom Montvila
TVProduction supervisor
241

These all seem like lists of movies that are good AND scary. But this is the list of movies that either had me sweating or gave me the worst nightmares, regardless of how much I did or didn't like them:

Evil Dead (2013)
The Conjuring
Insidious 1&2 (James Wan is good at his job)
The Hills have eyes (2006)
Scream
Thirteen Ghosts
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Sixth Sense

All of these movies, as an adult(ish), I would still have my hands over my face at parts.

And I'll throw Nightmare on Elm St and It in there just cause when I was a kid I couldn't even look at the screen.

November 14, 2014 at 10:57AM

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Patrick Fahy
Shooter/Editor
69

hey this is just an idea, take it or leave it, but when you all link to movies, you could link them to their page at http://www.canistream.it, which tells you where movies are digitally available and provides links to those outlets. i know it sounds like i, like, work for them or something, but it's actually pretty convenient. just wanted to throw that out there. keep up the good work

October 11, 2015 at 2:39AM

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The Haunted House is also quite a classic and inspired a few filmmakers...

October 11, 2015 at 3:14AM

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Alex
19

Alien, for sure.

October 30, 2016 at 7:10PM, Edited October 30, 7:10PM

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Emil T. Jonsson
Filmmaker
8