In honour of Halloween, we've checked all the doors are locked, cuddled up to our favourite teddy bear and dug out the 13 scariest horror films of all time…
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
For a whole generation, Freddy Krueger was the source of more nightmares than a convent-school head nun. Ignore the ill-chosen Dennis the Menace shirt; it's all about the fire-damaged pizza complexion, the slasher glove and – here's the kicker – the fact that he only appears when you fall asleep. Anyone else fancy a late one tonight?
The Shining (1980)
“Here’s Johnny!” All work and no play made Jack Nicholson a dull boy in Kubrick’s chilling screenplay adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a family looking after an isolated, snow-bound hotel for the winter. Most parents can sympathise with a loss of temper after discovering their child has been scrawling lipstick on the mirror. Not all of them start smashing down doors with a hatchet afterwards.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Yes, we know it's a remake. Yes, we think it's scarier than the Wes Craven original. No, we've not been smoking anything suspect while we cower behind the sofa. The Hills Have Eyes is jumpy, heart-in-mouthy (yes, we made that up) and horrifying in equal measures. It tells the story of a family who break down in the New Mexico desert, only to be attacked by mutants born of the Cold War nuclear testing. Whatever – it's horrific. Who said remakes were all rubbish? Yes, we probably did. We were wrong.
The Thing (1982)
One of the most repulsive monsters in cinema history, the alien "thing" works its way through a scientific expedition in an uncompromisingly gory fashion, sparking paranoia among the survivors with its ability to imitate other lifeforms. Complete with the John Carpenter seal of dramatic tension, The Thing is a cult horror classic.
The Omen (1976)
There’s a lesson to be learned from The Omen: if you accidentally adopt the Antichrist, try not to let on. A series of gruesome deaths befall pretty much everyone attempting to get to the bottom of young Damien’s diabolical parentage. Back in the real world, parents simply stopped naming their offspring Damien, before happily trotting off to watch the three sequels. A fourth film was released on June 6, 2006.
Friday the 13th (1980)
It's the old tale of a bad thing happening in a nice place, and nothing ever being right again. Things go downhill when Camp Crystal Lake has a bit of a hiccup in its health-and-safety record, and somebody's not happy about it. Not one bit.
More after the break...
Its edge may have been dulled by the endless sequels (such as Saw 3D, in cinemas now), but taken in isolation this is a clever shock-fest with a good cast and a grimy feel that rekindled the horror genre. Two men (including The Princess Bride's Cary Elwes) awake chained up in a bathroom and given impossible choices by their captor, the mysterious Jigsaw. It's good, honest.
The Exorcist (1973)
This iconic, head-twisting tale of demonic possession is the most famous and profitable horror film of all time. It's also seriously chilling, tense and worryingly well acted. Watch it – the power of Christ compels you!
The Evil Dead (1981)
Director Sam Raimi's CV now includes Xena: Warrior Princess and the Spider-man series, but this film was the one that kick-started his career. Bruce Campbell and the rest of the cast head off to an isolated cabin in the woods and unwittingly resurrect an ancient evil, resulting in squelchy gore, crazy camera movements and an unforgettable tree-rape. The two sequels are all about slapstick and one-liners – brilliant but without the scare factor and invention of the original.
The original slasher flick sees six-year-old Michael Myers kill his older sister on Halloween and then get locked up in a mental asylum. 15 years later he escapes and terrorises the residents of his old town with a big knife, no motive, no mercy and definitely no running.
The Orphanage (2007)
Everyone knows that small children are just about the scariest thing you can put in a horror film – Kubrick famously rammed that home with those twins in The Shining. This one is set in an old orphanage, full of children, some of whom might not be so alive or friendly.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The genius behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre lies in what you don't see. The iconic Leatherface, his trusty chainsaw and his twisted cannibalistic family create the same bowel-emptying fear today as they did 36 years ago.
This Japanese classic (remade in the US as The Ring) is still iconic for the infamous scene in which the little girl in desperate need of a haircut crawls out of a television. A no-nonsense supernatural horror flick that we strongly recommend you watch on a projector screen while your TV's safely locked away. Now if you’ll excuse us, our phone’s ringing…
If you don't share this list with 13 of your friends, you'll die. Possibly. Okay, probably not.