"When it comes to ripe old frighteners — or to any other overheated genre — Scorsese is the most ardent of proselytizers," writes the New Yorker's Anthony Lane in a review of that respected director's ripe-old-frightener-flavored Shutter Island, "so much so that I would prefer to hear him enthuse about Hammer Horror films, say, than to watch a Hammer Horror film." And though no Hammer productions appear on it, Scorsese, who often seems as much film enthusiast as filmmaker, has put together a solid list of his personal eleven scariest horror movies for The Daily Beast. At its very top we have Robert Wise's The Haunting, whose trailer you can watch above. Scorsese promisingly describes the story of the film, originally ballyhooed with the tagline “You may not believe in ghosts but you cannot deny terror!,” as "about the investigation of a house plagued by violently assaultive spirits." His full and frightening list--perfect for Halloween--runs as follows:
- The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963)
- Isle of the Dead (Val Lewton, 1945)
- The Uninvited (Lewis Allen, 1944)
- The Entity (Frank de Felitta, 1983)
- Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer, 1945)
- The Changeling (Peter Medak, 1980)
- The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
- The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
- Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)
- The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)
- Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
You can watch clips of all these movies over at The Daily Beast. (And if you simply can't get enough of the things, see also Time Out London's list of the 100 best horror films.) Such tastes make it no surprise to see a Hitchcock film make Scorsese's list; so much does Scorsese love Hitchcock's work — "one of my guiding lights,” he calls the maker of Psycho — that he once spoofed his own fanboyism in a commercial for Freixenet sparkling wine. For those who'd prefer a more conventional Scorsese-inspired binge watch, we've also featured his list of twelve favorite films overall and his list of 39 Essential Foreign Films. Whatever genre you favor, you could do much worse than taking his recommendations.
Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in November, 2014.
Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.