There will always be a debate as to the scariest movie ever made, as people have different tastes, and different things scare different people. "Ringu" might frighten people in Japan but seem tame to Americans, while "The Silence of the Lambs" may not have the same effect on audiences unfamiliar with the true-life serial killers the stories within were based on. The following films, however, are contenders for the scariest movie ever made to a number of people, due to the fact that they continue to haunt viewers long after the credits roll. Here they are, some possibilities for the scariest movie ever made.

  1. "Alien." Ridley Scott's psychological piece of sci-fi horror, set on a spaceship in the far reaches sent to explore at unknown planet, may be the scariest movie ever made simply for its mix of horror elements. Like many great horror films, what you don't see is much scarier than what you do, but it does not skimp on the violent gore, either, with its surprising burst of an alien from the chest of a poor man on the ship. Like another contender for the scariest movie ever made, "Alien" also kills off the biggest name in the cast, in a shocking moment.

  2. "Psycho." The modern slasher film, and the horror genre as a whole, was born from this Alfred Hitchcock classic that still has people nervous to take a shower in an unfamiliar bathroom. This story of the strange goings-on at the Bates Motel is more than fifty years old and still shocks viewers new to its masterful use of suspense, surprise, and that old trope, what you don't see is often scarier than what you do see.

  3. "The Exorcist." This story of demonic possession, based on a true exorcism held in St. Louis, MO, is many viewers' choice for the scariest movie ever made. Gross-out scares, haunting imagery, and crises of faith intermingle in this story of two priests trying to rid the devil from a poor little girl (Linda Blair, in a career-defining role). Few who have seen "The Exorcist" can forget even a single frame.

  4. "The Silence of the Lambs." This contender for the scariest movie ever made features not one, but two terrifying, iconic villains, serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) and the captured cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins in an Oscar-winning role. Another piece of psychological horror, this one is particularly scary because it deviates from the realm of the supernatural, much like the final film on our list of contenders for the scariest movie ever made.

  5. "Zodiac." David Fincher's chronicle of the Zodiac Killer, who haunted Northern California following the Summer of Love, and was previously fictionalized as "The Scorpio Killer" in "Dirty Harry," may be one of the scariest movies ever made simply because everything terrifying in the movie really happened. And because the killer may still be out there.

-Travis Peterson