The 25 best horror movies to scare you senseless this Halloween

5. The Thing (1982)

The movie: A shapeshifting alien stalks the inhabitants of an Antarctic research station, masquerading as one of them until it gets an opportunity to attack. John Carpenter's remake of the 1950s sci-fi The Thing From Another World ramps up the gore and the paranoia, and ends on a note of resignation, not triumph.

Why it's scary: That paranoid atmosphere, for one thing and also for its ground-breaking (and award-winning) special effects work, which let bizarre alien creatures scuttle around the cast in a deeply unsettling way.

4. Suspiria (1977)

The movie: Dance student Suzy (Jessica Harper) arrives at a prestigious German academy on the same night as one of its students is mysteriously murdered. And as she settles in to her new school, she starts to notice that things aren't quite what they should be especially where the school's director is concerned.

Why it's scary: You don't watch Suspiria for the plot. You watch it because it's a super stylish assault on the senses. Everything from its ornate set design to its unnatural lighting to its prog rock soundtrack is intense and bewitching. And yes, scary. 

3. Dawn of the Dead (1978) 

The movie: Romero's sequel to Night Of The Living Dead sees the living dead causing even more carnage. This time, survivors are holed up in a shopping mall, not just a house, while the world falls apart around them. The larger scale also gives Romero scope to include more gore and more social commentary.

Why it's scary: It's all too easy to imagine that this really might be the way the world ends.  

2. The Exorcist (1973)

The movie: After messing with a Ouija board, Regan (Linda Blair) starts acting weirdly. And not just acting weirdly in a normal teenage kind of way: she talks backwards, scuttles around the house like a crab, and does unspeakable things with crucifixes. Her mother calls in a couple of Catholic priests to cast out Regan's demons, but it won't be easy.

Why it's scary: It quite simply has the most evil-soaked atmosphere of any film ever made.

1. Peeping Tom (1960)

The movie: Filmmaker Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) has trouble relating to other people, particularly women. Partly that's because he's shy, and partly that's because he's made a hobby of murdering them and filming their final moments. Peeping Tom was so reviled at the time of its release that director Michael Powell found himself unemployable afterwards which is a shame, because it's an immaculately made movie.

Why it's scary: Decades ahead of its time, Peeping Tom is a psychological portrait of a deeply damaged man. Through clever editing, it makes its audience complicit in his crimes; watching it puts you in the uncomfortable position of sympathising both for the murderer and his victims. What's more horrifying than that?