Over the years we have been blessed with a variety of awesome horror films that have made us jump, scream and hide behind the couch. But some of these films have terrified us so much that we are unable to sleep due to the haunting images we have watched on-screen. It has been extremely difficult to narrow down hundreds of great horror films but here are the 15 movies that gives you nightmares immediately (in chronological order) –
Nosferatu (1922) – Directed by F.W Murnau
This horror classic from the German Expressionism era stars Max Schreck as Count Orlok, a mysterious figure who plans on buying a house in Wisboug. He summons real estate agent Thomas Hutter (Gustav Von Wangenheim) to sign a contract in his castle, located in Transylvania. When Hutter realises that Orlok is a vampire, he is locked inside the castle while Orlok travels to Wisboug to feast on the blood of Hutter’s wife Ellen (Greta Schroeder). Despite ‘’Nosferatu’’ being an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘’Dracula’’, the film is without a doubt one of the best and scariest versions of the novel. This is due to its use of light, shadows and the eerie performance from Schreck, making the film chilling and creepy to watch.
The shadow of Orlok creeping up the stairs to Ellen’s room…actually any scene involving Orlok. He is one terrifying dude.
Psycho (1960) – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock’s psychological thriller follows Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), a secretary who goes on the run after embezzling a large amount of money from her employer’s client. Her trip goes awry when she stops by at the Bates Motel for the night and meets the shy and reserved Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), the proprietor with a dark secret. ‘’Psycho’’ was a ground-breaking film at the time of release as it featured suspense, thrills and shocking moments such as killing off the protagonist halfway through the film, which diminished the audience’s expectation that the heroine in horror films always survive.
The Shower Scene.
The Exorcist (1973) – Directed by William Friedkin
One of the most shocking films to ever grace the big screen, ‘’The Exorcist’’ tells the story of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), a young girl who ends up possessed by the demon Pazuzu. The drastic changes in Regan leads to her mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn) to contact Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) and Father Lankester Merrin (Max Von Snydow) to perform an exorcism on Regan. ‘’The Exorcist’’ has left a massive impact on the horror genre as it become one of the first films to deal with the possession and exorcism of a child. It had also pushed boundaries by making the film’s content extremely disturbing, causing many people to vomit and faint in the movie theatres. The popularity of ‘’The Exorcist’’ has spawned a film franchise, a TV show on FOX, a West End production and has been the subject of many heart-stopping viral Internet screamers.
The Spider Walk
The Crucifix Scene
A possessed Regan spins her head at 360 Degrees
The Projectile Vomiting
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – Directed by Tobe Hooper
Set in the blistering heat of Texas, two siblings Sally (Marilyn Burns) and Franklin (Paul A. Partain) go on a road trip with their friends to visit their grandfather’s grave. During their journey, the characters pick up a hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) who turns out to be deranged. After throwing him out on the road, Sally, Franklin and their friends are unaware that this is the beginning of their terror as they get attacked by Leatherface (Gunner Hansen), a chainsaw-wielding maniac and his family of cannibals. ‘’The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’’ popularized the slasher genre in the US, paving the way for other classics such as ‘’Halloween’’ and ‘’Friday the 13th’’ in the late 1970s and 1980s. The film was also infamous for its marketing campaign, which claimed that it was ‘’based on a true story’’ as an intention to attract a wide audience. Thankfully, the plot was entirely fictional and there was no real Leatherface roaming around Texas with a chainsaw!
Leatherface’s first appearance as he kills one of his victims with a hammer.
The dinner with Leatherface, his family and Sally (who is tied to a chair)
Jaws (1975) – Directed by Steven Spielberg
Regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Spielberg’s ‘’Jaws’’ is set in the beautiful resort town of Amity Island, where residents are in a frenzy over a series of shark attacks that occurred on the beach. Amity’s police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) attempts to close the beach following the attacks but the idea does not go well for the town’s mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton). After a shark-related incident involving Brody’s son Michael (Chris Rebello), the chief teams up with shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) to get rid of the deadly creature once and for all. ‘’Jaws’’ unleashed the notion of the summer blockbuster and at one point became the highest grossing film of all time, until the release of ‘’Star Wars’’ in 1977. What makes the film unsettling to watch is the recurring underwater shots of the swimmers in the shark’s point of view which are accompanied with the iconic suspenseful theme tune by John Williams. This brings the fear of what is lurking underwater, making people afraid to go swimming.
Hooper finds Ben Gardner’s (Craig Kingsbury) severed head.
The shark’s appearance in the iconic ‘’You’re gonna need a bigger boat’’ scene.
Carrie (1976) – Directed by Brian De Palma
Stephen King is an acclaimed writer, notable for terrifying readers with his horror and science fiction novels. His work has been adapted into many successful films and TV shows throughout the years, starting with an adaptation of his first novel ‘’Carrie’’ in 1976. A fresh-faced Sissy Spacek portrays the titular role of Carrie in the film, a timid teenager who is constantly teased by bullies in high school. Outside of school, she is abused at home by her religious mother Margaret (Piper Laurie). Following a series of strange incidents such as smashing lightbulbs and breaking mirrors just by looking at them, Carrie realises that she has telekinesis. She begins to fully take advantage of her new powers after her perfect prom night with the popular boy in school goes horribly wrong. ‘’Carrie’’ can be described as a chilling version of Cinderella with gallons of blood and a very angry prom queen. Despite her epic attack on her tormentors, you can’t help but sympathise and root for Carrie, who just wanted to be liked.
Carrie’s revenge on her bullies at prom.
The final scene of the movie.
Alien (1979) – Directed by Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott’s ‘’Alien’’ focuses on seven crew members of the Nostromo star-ship. When they discover a nest of eggs inside a derelict spaceship, an organism from inside the eggs attacks one of the members Kane (John Hurt), leaving him in a coma. Shortly after Kane recovers from his accident, he is suddenly killed by a creature, which slowly transforms into an aggressive extra-terrestrial being called the Xenomorph. Although ‘’Alien’’ is generally classed as science-fiction, it does belong in the horror genre due to the film’s frightening antagonist, the graphic deaths and the incredibly tense atmosphere throughout the film as the characters are stranded in the spaceship with the Xenomorph.
The chestburster scene.
The Evil Dead (1981) – Directed by Sam Raimi
In 1978, student Sam Raimi directed a low budget short film called ‘’Within the Woods’, which follows a group of friends spending a weekend in a remote cabin. Raimi’s best friend Bruce Campbell appeared in the film as the antagonist who accidentally destroys an Indian Burial Ground, turning him into a zombie and attempting to kill his friends. Following the positive reception of ‘’Within the Woods’’, Raimi directed a feature-length remake in 1981 with a larger budget. This remake was retitled ‘’The Evil Dead’’. ‘’The Evil Dead’’ was set in a same location (the cabin) but the plot and the characters are slightly different from ‘’Within the Woods’’. Instead of an Indian Burial Ground, the group of friends discover the Necronomicon, which is known as the Book of the Dead. Bruce Campbell returns to the cabin, this time as the heroic protagonist Ash Williams, who must defeat his possessed friends and destroy the Necronomicon. At the time of its release, ‘’The Evil Dead’’ was notorious for its extremely gory content. Due to this controversy, the film was banned in some countries and was branded as a ‘’Video Nasty’’ in the UK. ‘’The Evil Dead’’ will induce nightmares to those who are very squeamish.
The tree rape.
Ash’s sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) stabbing his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker) in the ankle with a pencil.