Crapper’s Delight: These Horror Movies Will Scare Your Pants Off

In July of 2013, a horror movie called The Conjuring hit theaters and made away with $42 million in its first weekend — the box office record for an original R-rated horror movie opening. The movie — starring Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as husband-wife paranormal investigators enlisted by a family to exorcise their haunted farmhouse — was also lauded by critics. The Conjuring scored an 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as praise for its smart plot, cinematic beauty, and well-crafted scare-moments that harken back to classic horror films like The Exorcist.
The key to The Conjuring's tremendous success — and the reason it got a sequel, The Conjuring 2, this summer — is really pretty simple: It scared the shit out of people. And from the paranormal fright-fests and the psychological thrillers to the classics, that's what a good horror movie does. So we decided to round up the best scary movies — i.e. the ones most likely to make you shit your pants.
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Get Out (2017)
Intelligent and downright terrifying, this movie has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and is already considered one of the best movies of 2017. From the mind of comedian Jordan Peele, Get Out tells the story of a young Black man named Chris who goes to visit his white girlfriend's family for the weekend. At first, Chris attributes the family's overly friendly attitude to nervousness about his race, and brushes off the the family's Black servants' strangely stiff behavior. As the weekend progresses, Chris begins to realize there's something seriously amiss.
2 of 25
Don't Breathe (2016)
We'd venture to say that the best horror movies center on a group of naive teenagers who are asking for trouble, and Don't Breathe is one of them. This time it's three thieves who decide to break into the wrong person's house — and, as you can probably predict, things take a wrong (and chilling!) turn.
3 of 25
The Grudge (2004)
This remake of a Japanese film made waves back in 2004 for being truly scary. As in, peek-through-your-eyes kind of scary. The story centers on a curse that happens when a person dies feeling intense anger or sadness. As you can imagine, anyone who encounters that curse is pretty much doomed, as we see with the protagonists, the Saeki family. Things get both weird and creepy with this grudge — resulting in the perfect kind of guilty pleasure horror movie.
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The Skeleton Key (2016)
When Kate Hudson's character arrives to help an elderly woman take care of her paralyzed husband, she's given a skeleton key to the house, which opens all of its many rooms — except one. Set in New Orleans, this tale of dark voodoo magic, also starring Joy Bryant, will haunt you long after you've finished watching.
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10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
When you think of John Goodman in a movie, you're expecting a film filled with laughs, right? Wrong. One Refinery staffer calls this Goodman-starring film about a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who gets in a car accident and then becomes convinced the world has ended "the scariest movie she's ever seen." Yikes.
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Scream (1996)
It's an accepted fact that 80's babies — and people of all ages, really — have a soft spot for Scream. The small town horror movie is partially horror movie satire, but even with its comedic elements, it's still make-you-jump-scary. And what made this slasher flick an instant cult classic was its lineup of 90's stars: Neve Campbell, Drew Barrymore, Rose McGowan, and Courteney Cox and David Arquette (whose meeting on set would later lead to a marriage and child). Dig in, enjoy, and try not to shriek too loudly.
7 of 25
The Awakening (2011)
This is one creepy film, let us tell ya. After World War I, a British ghost expert and writer — Florence, played by Rebecca Hall — receives a visit from Robert (played by The Affair's Dominic West), a teacher at a boys boarding school who wants her to come investigate some suspicious happenings. We'll leave it at that for now as to not spoil anything, but this movie has all the makings of a perfectly eerie film: Dark hallways in a super old building, frightening children, and British accents. Eek!
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The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
You've heard this concept before: A group of friends get together for a weekend trip that doesn't end so well. In 2012's Cabin In The Woods, these kids were played by Chris Hemsworth, Kristen Connolly, Jesse Williams, Anna Hutchison, and Fran Kranz, college students headed to a remote cabin where they're met by some unexpected neighbors. This film is actually part comedy, you'll be sure to laugh (who doesn't laugh when Chris Hemsworth is involved?) but there are also plenty of genuine scares, too.
9 of 25
28 Days Later (2002)
Long before The Walking Dead, a horror movie called 28 Days Later tackled a familiar post-apocalyptic question: What would happen if an infectious plague arrived and wiped out the majority of humans on Earth? This horror flick follows a group of people through 28 days of that hypothetical situation, from day 1 — infection — to day 28, which...well, no spoilers here, but let's just say as each day progresses in this film, things get much scarier.
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The Omen (1976)
This is the perfect pick for scary movie night if nothing makes your skin crawl like a creepy kid. The 70's thriller starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the parents to Damian, a little boy whose fifth birthday brings on a series of frightening incidents (Murder! Suicide! Um...monkeys?!). The random occurences provoke a series of important questions: Who IS Damian? Could he be a devil child? And will you ever forget his sinister blue eyes after watching the movie?
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11 of 25
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
There have been quite a few iterations of the tale of Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding, cannibalistic killer inspired by real-life murderer Ed Gein. But we promise you: The scariest of the bunch was the original 1974 version. Even the trailer is enough to leave you creeped out!
12 of 25
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
In 1999, moviegoers were simultaneously scared out of their wits and confused by TBWP. The story about three film students who went missing near Burkittsville, Maryland was shot documentary-style using fake "found footage." It was so convincing that many people believed it was real. While it turned out The Blair Witch Project isn't real, that didn't change how freaking' scary this film is. If you've never seen it, prepare to jump (and maybe scream or gasp a few times).
13 of 25
The Birds (1963)
The debate over which Hitchcock movie is the thriller director's best continues on. But one thing most every Hitchcock fan can agree on: The Birds is pretty darn creepy. The story about a young woman (this marked Tippi Hedren's big-screen debut) who unknowingly stirs up a series of bird attacks in a small California town is the stuff nightmares are made of. Warning: If you haven't seen this film yet, once you do, you may never look at a flock of birds the same way again.
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The Ring (2002)
You can pretend you're above this Naomi Watts adaptation of the equally-scary Japanese Ringu. But anyone who says watching Samara climb out of the TV didn't give them nightmares is full of shit. On second thought, maybe not so full.
15 of 25
The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece remains the gold standard of the genre over 35 years after its release. And while by now we're all familiar with the Stephen King adaptation's scariest scenes — it's become something of a pop culture reference-point — witnessing the horrors inside the Overlook Hotel for the first time is like watching a waking nightmare.
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The Babadook (2014)
This small, Aussie sleeper-hit is another modern classic. A woman and her son are relentlessly tormented by a creature born from the boy's coloring book in this restrained arthouse-horror triumph. It's more suspenseful than gory, and the scares are scream-worthy but not cheap.
17 of 25
Psycho (1960)
The only problem with Alfred Hitchcock's iconic psychological thriller, starring Janet Leigh? Your personal hygiene may be put in peril for days after witnessing the famous shower scene.
18 of 25
Paranormal Activity (2007)
The ultimate supernatural fright-fest is a downright chilling viewing experience. Who knew sleepwalking and tangled sheets could be so unsettling? The low-budget original, by the way, stands head and shoulders above its many, many sequels.
19 of 25
Insidious (2010)
Modern horror master James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) knows how to deliver on both smart story-lines and good, old-fashioned jump-scares. There are several moments in the movie that should be flagged for their pants-ruining potential, but this one is just so unexpected.
20 of 25
The Exorcist (1973)
The first hit movie about exorcising the demons from a possessed child is also the best. No fancy special effects needed to spook the crap out of you here — just a disturbing puppet and good editing.
You know what they say, parents: Teenagers are hell.
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21 of 25
It Follows (2015)
This shrewdly effective scary movie will make you afraid of, well, any other humans walking at a normal pace in your general vicinity. But the artsy Halloween-esque indie is a must-see and totally worth both the paralyzing aftermath (and the new pair of jeans).
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The Conjuring (2013)
Yes, this one's on here because it's a must-see before the sequel. But even as a standalone, this tightly edited terror of a movie is full of perfect jump-cuts that, as previously discussed, may require you to conjure up some new pants.
23 of 25
The Strangers (2008)
Perhaps the scariest part of this movie is the fact that it was inspired by true events. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a couple on vacation terrorized by three masked intruders out to get them for no apparent reason. It could double as a two-hour sales pitch for a home security system.
24 of 25
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
We hesitated to include a Roman Polanski film on this list, but if you've seen this macabre classic one you'll know why we did. Stay away if you happen to be A. a new mom, B. trying to get pregnant, or C. wearing your favorite jeans.
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A Tale Of Two Sisters (2003)
This psychological horror gem, which inspired 2008's lesser The Uninvited, hails from South Korea. After a girl gets home from a psychiatric-hospital stay, increasingly freaky shit involving dead birds and mysterious bruises starts happening to her and her sister. Is the evil stepmom to blame?
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