And by "the best," I mean "my favorites." Let me add right now that I dislike all of the following: monsters, killer animals, aliens, vampires, zombies, serial killers. So, none of those are represented. Moving on:
The Guardian brings us a new poll of the Scariest Movies, but whoever they polled was largely wrong, so I had to make a new one. You'll quickly see that my taste runs towards atmospheric creepiness: yes, I know these aren't all technically "horror" - some of them are "psychological thrillers," or "suspense." But they're still amongst the scariest movies I know. I'm not listing The Shining, Carrie or The Exorcist, just because you've already seen them.
In no particular order:
Don't Look Now Blind psychics, Venice, trippy camera-work? Why yes, this is the best scary movie ever. And I'm not even getting into The Sex Scene.
Bunny Lake Is Missing Two words: doll hospital. I think that awful The Forgotten was a ripoff of this, but not nearly as creepy, atmospheric or genuinely suspenseful.
Vertigo Well, gosh, you've gotta have a Hitchcock. And for my money this is the scariest. Also, Midge's apartment is fantastic.
Wise Blood Not technically horror, but the Southern Gothic to end all Southern Gothics.
The Innocents Terrific, terrifying adaptation of Turn of the Screw. You really can't beat inscrutable Victorian children, can you?
The Haunting The Shirley Jackson novel is of course fantastic, too. The remake is fairly crap, but this is scary in that way only early-60s movies could be. And I do love a good spinster.
Eyes Without A Face Believe the hype: as beautiful and creepy as any film ever made - plus, if it could be done, the best Halloween costume.
The Wicker Man (original only!) Despite the unfortunate remake and the equally unfortunate part in the inspiration of Burning Man, this is so odd and amazing and, yes, genuinely scary, that it deserves a place in the pantheon. Remote islands, animal masks, ancient rites and Christopher Lee cannot be ignored.
The Others So the best scary movie of the past decade, although you can really only watch it once. I mean, obviously, you can watch it more than once if you want, but there's nothing like the fright of that first viewing. And Nicole Kidman is perfect! Why don't more directors understand that "remote island" plus "creepy kids" is solid gold?
Night of the Demon This '57 Jacques Tourneur is definitely "B," but it's also definitely scary. It's an adaptation of M. R. James' 1911 Casting the Runes and all I'll say is it involves Satanic cults in England.
Something Wicked This Way Comes For kids, you say? Trust, it holds up.
Night of the HunterScrew Stepfather. Unless he's singing sinister hymns and living in a fanciful black and white universe, he's got nothing on Robert Mitchum's terrifying villain!
The Shining 'Scariest Film Ever', Poll Says [Guardian]