Psycho (1960)
The mother of all horror movies,* Psycho is such a standard-bearer that it’s easy to forget how knee-knockingly, teeth-chatteringly, heart-poundingly scary it is. Never one to settle for cheap and easy gore, Alfred Hitchcock takes a straightforward story—a girl on the run stops at the wrong roadside motel—and builds barely tolerable suspense using silence, aerial and close-up shots, creepy camera angles, and an overabundance of taxidermy. Two sequels, a made-for-TV “prequel,” a Gus van Sant shot-for-shot remake, and thousands of imitations have come and gone in the 51 years since Psycho hit screens, but nothing comes close to the terror and delight one feels when seeing it for the first (or fifth, or 15th) time. —Emily
* Bad pun intended.

Carrie (1976)
Horror movies are either scary (things popping out of other things, alarming images, screechy violin music) or creepy (things feeling vaguely wrong, building tension, ideas that straight-up disturb you and stay with you instead of just freak you out for a moment). Carrie is both. It’s about a high school girl with no friends, an overbearingly religious mother, and telekinetic powers. It starts with a scene in the locker room (which, by the way, is the most pornographic thing to ever exist in a non-porno movie, what the hell) where Carrie gets her period for the first time. Because her mom never told Carrie what a period is, she freaks out and everyone laughs at her. Then, since her mom believes blood is the sign of sin, shit goes down at home. Then, a boy feels bad and asks her to prom. And then, the best half-hour of a movie ever! Blood, murderous rage, religious imagery suddenly made terrifying. The scariness of the murderous-rage part will make you scream, and the creepiness of the revenge of the outcast will stay with you for a long time. Plus, being made in the ’70s and half taking place in a house lit by candles and covered in crosses, it’s really pretty. Also, Sissy Spacek goes from the prettiest girl in the world to a terrifying slinky column of blood in two seconds, and it’s amazing. —Tavi

House/Hausu (1977)
Technically House is a horror movie, but really it’s a psychedelic, Technicolor, bizzaro adventure that, by the time the end credits come up, will have you going “What the hell did I just watch?” The movie follows a schoolgirl named Gorgeous and her crew of friends (with equally awesome names, including Kung Fu, Fantasy, and Prof) as they go to visit Gorgeous’s aunt, who lives in a creepy old house—see where this is going? Almost immediately, the girls realize that something is not right with the establishment, as they are picked off one by one in the weirdest ways possible. If the general plotline sounds conventional, the super-cheesy special effects more than make up for it: phantom limbs fly through the air, electric skeletons dance menacingly, and you will never look at white cats the same way again. —Anna

The Craft (1996)
This movie was my everything when I was a teen and started my goth phase. In it, the new girl, Sarah, makes friends with three classmates who are rumored to be WITCHES. Because of her natural magical abilities, she is soon accepted into their coven, where she shows them how to levitate, cast love spells, heal scars, cast revenge on racist bullying classmates, and even use a “glamour spell” to change hair color at will (my favorite spell since that would save me a lot of $ on hair dye). When teen witch Nancy said to a bus driver, “Mister, we are the weirdos,” I felt right at home. —Marie

Scream (1996)
Have you ever seen Scream? You HAVE to see Scream. It’s genius because if it scares you, GOOD, and if it doesn’t, well, they just spent the whole movie making fun of horror movies, so geez, that wasn’t the point anyway! Basically there’s a serial killer in the town of Woodsboro, California, and all the teenagers realize they’re living in a horror movie, so they try to survive based on the rules they know from all the classics. It’s funny, because the teenagers are just so hilarious (Stu from Scooby Doo!!), but also terrifying and also bloody. Plus, two of the main characters were also in The Craft, so like, how could it NOT be AMAZING? —Tavi

Hard Candy (2005)
After flirting heavily online, 14-year-old Hayley (Ellen Page) and 30-something, clean-cut creeper Jeff (Patrick Wilson) meet in person at a cafe and then decide to go to his place. You think you know exactly where this is headed, but trust me, you don’t. Hard Candy is one of the most chilling thrillers that I’ve seen in the past couple of years. It. Is. Brutal. And when I say brutal, I mean that both in the sense that the movie is at times graphic, and that the drama is extraordinarily taut. The back-and-forth between the two actors is masterful, but Page in particular kills it. If she isn’t already on your list of badass actresses to idolize, this is the movie that will secure her spot. —Amber

The Exorcist (1973)
Often cited as the scariest movie of all time, this story of a young girl possessed by a horrible entity is completely engrossing and also, in some weird way, sort of relatable? The plot is simple: Young Regan accidentally invites a demon into her house. Uh oh, that demon takes over her body. But it’s not just an demon, IT’S THE DEVIL. Then some VERY terrible things happen (people die, heads spin, someone masturbates with a crucifix, etc.). The movie had people fainting and vomiting in the theaters! The special effects are so gruesome, it’s hard to not be freaked out. This movie was the reason why my mother wouldn’t allow me to have a Ouija board for so long, but she let me get one once she realized that I am actually the Devil. MUHAHAHAHA! See it! It’ll make you cry for your mom! —Hazel

Audrey Rose (1977)
“Suppose a stranger told you your daughter was his daughter in another life? Suppose you began to believe him? Suppose it was true?” That was the tagline for Audrey Rose, which is like a made-for-TV version of The Exorcist. Plus, the daughter bears an uncanny resemblance to Regan/Linda Blair. Sir Anthony Hopkins (aka Hannibal Lecter) plays the possibly deluded former dad infiltrating Audrey Rose’s new fam. The vibe is great: lots of raining, crying, screaming, and window-banging. There are also night terrors, a canopy bed, and great late-’70s fashions. —Sonja

Halloweentown (1998)
Watching this Disney Channel movie is a stressful experience. Mostly, it stresses me out that Marnie actually is a witch and her mom won’t let her be one. Being a witch > being normal; come ON, mom, you’re ruining her life! Also, the obnoxious younger brother is named Dylan, which really cramps my style. Otherwise, Halloweentown is the best made-for-TV Halloween movie of all time. When I saw blocks of this movie and its sequels (Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge, Halloweentown High, and Return to Halloweentown) on the cable guide every October of my childhood, I knew it was time to slip into the Piper family’s world, with their wobbly little witch grandmother and her town of Halloween spooks and people with jack-o-lantern heads. When a-hole bro Dylan tells Marnie that he’d rather watch a Nat Geo doc than go trick-or-treating or generally enjoy childhood, she replies, “Halloween is COOOOL, Nature Boy.” That line validates everything I believe in. —Dylan

Rear Window (1954)
Nobody does voyeurism like Alfred Hitchcock. That dude is just OBSESSED with other people’s business, right? Rear Window is a fantastic thriller starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. Confined to a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment, Stewart’s character, Jeff Jeffries, spies on his neighbors through his window. But fishy things start to happen. What happened to his neighbor’s wife? Who killed that neighborhood dog by breaking its neck? Oooh, spooky! If you’ve seen the 2007 movie Disturbia starring Shia LaBeouf, basically that was a remake of this much better movie. Is it weird that Rear Window really makes me want to spy on people? Hopefully one day I can live in the city and spy on all my neighbors. Oh my god, I’m so creepy! I guess Hitchcock will do that to you. —Hazel

Edward Scissorhands (1990)
When this movie came out I remember reading somewhere that Johnny Depp based his portrayal of the boy with scissors for hands on a dog. And he totally plays Edward as a stray puppy adopted by a kind Avon lady (Dianne Wiest) and brought to her home in the pastel suburbs. He’s all soulful eyes and mute yearning, and he’s so gentle—even though he could kill you with his bare hands, he chooses instead to use those hands to make topiary and paper dolls and trim your bangs. I think every adolescent hetero girl pines for a boyfriend who’ll curb his dangerous nature out of love for her—see also Edward Cullen—which I guess just means every tween girl loves doggies? (Except for all you freaks who prefer cats.) Edward Scissorhands is a really cute guy who is also a doggie. What could be better? This movie also has Winona Ryder, so it’s officially the best. —Anaheed

Suspiria (1977)
The Italian filmmaker Dario Argento + a fancy ballet academy in Munich = super Euro. Also, outstanding. The beautiful designer clothing. The coven of witches. The architecture. The blood. The stained glass. The wallpaper. The furniture. The knives. The popping candy Technicolor (better than Hitchcock’s Marnie). The soundtrack by Goblin. The amazing Jessica Harper. The maggots. All perfect. —Sonja

The Shining (1980)
I love almost any scary movie, mainly because it’s an excuse to grip the hand of a cute guy while we cheer on the character who doesn’t die in the end. The Shining, however, is more than just a scary movie; it is a cinematic masterpiece. Set in a spooky old hotel in the middle of nowhere, the film explores the limits of the human psyche, and tests the boundaries of familial relations. It is also pretty incredible aesthetically, from the opening credits to the last frame. Just keep a friend’s hand nearby—director Stanley Kubrick’s got quite a few surprises in store. —Cynthia

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The story follows a group of friends as they head into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about a local urban legend called the Blair Witch. They disappear, and a year later “recovered footage” of their trip is found, and that’s what makes up this movie. The whole thing is filmed with handheld cameras and although there are no scary monsters, gory situations, or other horror-film clichés, your heart will pretty much be beating out of its chest cavity by the end. I loved it so much that I went to see it THREE times in the movie theater, which, for a girl who isn’t into scary movies AT ALL (i.e., me), is a big deal. I really don’t know what attracted me so much to it either; maybe because there was something oddly IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU about the premise, ’cause who WOULDN’T go explore the myth of a witch who lives in the woods? Well, I wouldn’t, of course, because I’m a total scaredy-cat, but like, I would LOVE to? The scene of Heather apologizing to all her family for getting everyone involved in such a crazy situation is totally legendary, thanks in no small part to all the snot that is visibly hanging from her nose throughout most of it. So for ultimate witchy vibez (REAL ones), hinting at stuff that’s scarier than anything they could ever show you, AND snot-on-command, The Blair Witch Project is an essential scary-movie experience! —Laia ♦