5. Get Out (2017)
The movie: Mid-20's photographer Chris is driving out to rural New York to meet his girlfriend's parents for the first time, but he's a little nervous. "Do they know I'm black?" he tentatively asks Rose, but she's having none of it: "My Dad would have voted for Obama a third time if he could have!". Phew! What could possibly go wrong?
Why it's scary: Bubbling with resonant social commentary, layered with hard-hitting goosebumps, and sprinkled with uncompromising humour, Get Out is a modern horror masterpiece in every sense of the word. Not content with scaring you just for its 90 minute run-time, director Jordan Peele wants to draw your attention to the real frightening truths rooted deep in the identity politics of contemporary America, and his grand reveal is more horrific than any jump scare could ever hope to be.
4. 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.
3. 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.
2. 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.
1. 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. The Exorcist is relentless in its determination to creep you out, but ignore the scares for a moment and you're still left with an exceptionally smart and sophisticated film that demands your unreserved attention and has kept people talking to this day. A bona fide cinematic masterpiece that just so happens to be an edge-of-your-seat scare-fest too.