Seven Deadly Films
What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? You know, the one that kept you up all night? In October of 1998, Purdue University did a study to find out what movies truly terrified the most people. Overall, they found that seven specific movies, now revered as horror classics, chilled people to the bone. They called their findings, “The Seven Deadly Films.” Think you can handle them?
7. Scream - Wes Craven directed this iconic slasher movie in 1996. It’s unique combination of horror and the satirical commentary on the genre helped it to completely revitalize the horror scene of the 90’s. The plot centers around a group of teenagers being systematically hunted by a masked killer and their desperate struggle to find its identity. The mask of the iconic killer, Ghostface, is still a wildly popular Halloween costume choice today.
6. Friday the 13th - This cult classic centers around Camp Crystal Lake and a mysterious killer who targets camp counselors. The film starts with a flashback 21 years in the past, then fast forwards to the 1980’s where the rest of the film takes place. This wildly popular slasher brought more than $39.7 million into the box office, and the franchise was revived in 2009 and now hosts 12 films, a television series, comic books, novellas, and more. Jason's hockey mask has become one of the most recognizable images in popular culture.
5. Halloween - Much of Friday the 13th’s success was attributed to the powerhouse popularity of Halloween. The film tells the story of Michael Myers, who after killing his sister and being institutionalized, later escapes and returns to his childhood home and begins stalking a girl named Laurie. Unlike many other “slasher” films, Halloween actually shows little gore. It’s also credited with being one of the highest grossing independent films and is still considered a classic today.
4. Poltergeist - Unlike most of the other films in this list, Poltergeist is a supernatural horror. This means that it focuses more on spirits and building suspense than it does on physical violence or gore. The 1982 classic has spawned 2 reboots of the same name and centers around restless spirits who communicate with a girl through the television static before taking her into their realm, leaving her terrified family to rescue her.
3. Nightmare on Elm Street - Wes Craven makes yet another appearance on this list. Nightmare on Elm Street was terrifying because it prayed on the moments when people are most vulnerable: during sleep. Half nightmare, half reality, wholly terrifying. Freddy Krueger only attacks when you’re asleep. The film sparked an entire franchise of sequels and, like others on this list, is a major classic today.
2. The Shining - The Shining has arguably made more impact on pop culture than any other horror film. From quotes like, “Here’s Johnny!” and “Come play with us,” to simple stills from the film footage, pop cultural references to this film are everywhere. The plot focuses on a man named Jack who seeks solitude for his writing at an old hotel...some might say it has a shine to it.
1. The Exorcist - The Exorcist is arguably the scariest and/or most revered horror movie of all time. To this day, many people refuse to discuss it or even watch it because of not only the violently depicted demonic presence, but also the suspicious things that happened around set. Family members of those involved were involved in accidents, and other incidents occurred. Released in 1973, it was the first horror movie to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is a tale of a mother’s love for her daughter, a girl who becomes violently possessed, and the priests who try to help her.
Because this study was carried out nearly 20 years ago, some might see this as an antiquated list, but true horror fans will disagree. They still make an enormous impact on not only the horror genre, but on the entire film industry. Have you seen the modern versions? Do you think there are scarier movies? Share with us!