"The Shining" makes the top 10 of virtually every list of scary movie rankings as does "The Exorcist," "Silence of the Lambs," "The Ring" (both the Japanese and American versions), "Halloween" and "Psycho." Beyond those list staples, ideas of what is scary seem to be very subjective.
"Poltergeist" is commonly named among the scariest films, though not everyone agrees it belongs in the top 10. Not all of the top-rated films are commonly known films. The films that top the ratings lists of both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes are both relatively obscure films. "The Ornate Lock" ties with "Psycho" for IMDb's number-one spot, while "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," a film made in 1920, captures the Rotten Tomatoes top spot with a 100 percent approval rating from critics.
Other more common inclusions include "Rosemary's Baby," "Night of the Living Dead," "Alien" and "Saw." Of the six films that are consistently named among the top-10 scariest movies of all time, four of them were made prior to 1980. In addition to being among the scariest movies, the American Film Institute lists "Psycho" as 18th in its list of 100 greatest American movies of all time and "Silence of the Lamb" as 65th.