The Evil Dead photo

"The Evil Dead" (1981)
Giving rise to director Sam Raimi, "The Evil Dead" has achieved cult status for combining laughs with buckets of blood. Spawning a trilogy and a successful re-make in 2013, "The Evil Dead" is one of the few horror films that will have you terrified and smiling.

"The Blair Witch Project" (1999)

"The Blair Witch Project," when it was released in 1999, was such a phenomena that many movie-goers literally thought they were seeing the actual found footage of three film students who disappeared while hiking in the Black Hills. The pieced together film which was shot for $40,000 and ultimately grossed $240.5 million, brilliantly lets the audience imagine the horror just beyond the campsite. With a few screams in the woods there and a few well placed cracklings in the darkness, "The Blair Witch Project" presents a sense of fear few films have.

"Saw" (2004)

"Saw" brought psychological horror and grisly gore to a new level. Shot in just 18 days and kicking off James Wan's horror career, "Saw" centers on two men as they are tested by serial killer Jigsaw to see if they truly appreciate life through a trial of brutal self sacrifice. Wan quickly introduces his Chekhov's gun of two hand held saws and we slowly see that these saws are not designed for the chains around their legs but something much more painful.

Many will argue that "Shaun of the Dead" should not be on this list but let's consider a few things before we rush to judgement. The film despite being a comedy is no less of a horror film and hilariously executes many of the zombie picture staples that had become cliche over time. I would also argue that despite the alpha-male hero complex many have when fantasizing over the zombie apocalypse, "Shaun of the Dead" is how most people would handle it. "Have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over." 

One of producer Jason Blum's centerpiece micro-budget films, "Paranormal Activity" spawned a massively successful franchise. Using the 'found footage' directorial style, a couple attempts to record the strange phenomena in their house and discover a demonic presence. What terrifies the audience though is not the actual paranormal activity but the waiting. There are long sequences where nothing seems to be happening but the fear that something is just within the shadows will leave you clinging to your chair.