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This Movie List was Acting Strange, When the Movie Nerds Arrived They Called the Police! You Won't Believe What They Found Inside!



Rotten Tomatoes ran an article about the scariest horror movies of all time ( The article was based on the results of a poll. I don’t give a lot of credence to these sorts of polls for a variety of reasons.

The general public may be less aware of the scariest films, as they are too extreme for most people. If you poll ten million people about which peppers are hot, a sizeable percentage will name jalapenos, but true aficionados of spice would never consider that pepper spicy at all. It’s the same sort of situation here. Then there is the problem of self-selection bias. People who really, really love a certain film will feel more reason to vote for it than people who are more interested in simply finding the truth of the matter.

All of that aside, I decided to take a look at what their results cast as the ten scariest movies.

It isn’t a bad list. It’s also not a great list. Let’s get into why.


Here’s the list:

1. THE EXORCIST (1973)

2. HEREDITARY (2018)


4. THE SHINING (1980)


6. THE RING (2002)

7. HALLOWEEN (1978)

8. SINISTER (2012)

9. INSIDIOUS (2010)

10. IT (2017)



The first thing that stands out is the recency bias. 60% of the titles were released after the year 2000. None of the listed films were released before 1973, a mere 50 years ago. All ten films are American. It feels unlikely that given the entire history of cinema and the worldwide appeal of horror as a genre, that the ten scariest would all fit into this very narrow box. I feel like Italy, Spain, France, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, the UK, and Mexico all might like a word about this list.


Without getting too deep into the weeds, let’s look at some of the specific films.  Hereditary (2), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (5), and Halloween (7), are all real contenders for this title. Of the other seven films listed, only The Shining (4) is even a realistic choice as runner-up. The rest are weak sauce at best.

The Exorcist (number 1 here, somehow) is not a scary film. It isn’t even a good film. It’s Boomer nonsense, that hasn’t aged well. It’s sequel, The Exorcist 3, is superior to it in every way and could have claim to a place on this list.

The Conjuring is entertaining enough for light horror, but doesn’t have any genuine scares. Insidious gets a bit closer, but still doesn’t hit the mark.

Sinister has a few moments of real fright, and some clever jump scares, but isn’t in the realm unrelenting terror that we would expect from such a list.

IT is delightful and well made, but really only scary if you are under 18 years old, or never saw the 1990s TV version or read Stephen King’s novel.


The Ring is very good, but overshadowed by the original Ringu, which (aside from a single line of dialogue) is much more effective.


I know what you’re thinking: Okay Nate, if you’re so damned smart, what are the ten scariest movies ever made?


I’m glad you asked. These are –

1.       The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

2.       Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum

3.       Hereditary

4.       Frontier(s)

5.       Martin

6.       The Descent

7.       Audition

8.       Martyrs

9.       The Legend of Hell House

10.   House by the Cemetery


I will not be taking questions.


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