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In the entire breadth of the horror film genre, only one can be the best of all time -- and one of the top five may surprise you.
A new survey tasked 2,000 Americans to pick the best horror movie of all time and found The Exorcist made a head-turning finish in first place.
The second and third place prizes are awarded to Halloween and Friday the 13th respectively, with A Nightmare on Elm Street following close by.
Also cracking the top five was, interestingly, the supernatural thriller, The Conjuring. This relative newcomer from 2013 eeked out such classics as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and The Shining.
The surprising new results emerged from a survey conducted by digital movie and TV service, Vudu, which also found psychological horror to be the most liked sub-genre, with paranormal horror, and comedy horror following close by.
The best horror film villain crown goes to the Freddy Kreuger of A Nightmare on Elm Street fame, who barely clawed his way past Michael Meyers (Halloween) and Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th), who came in second and third respectively.
If you like getting scared, then there’s nothing better than catching the classics, or heading to the theater to take in the latest horror movie. But for some, it’s a completely dreadful experience.
In fact, 36 percent of respondents agreed that sitting through a horror movie is pure torture, with 39 percent saying their palms are on the sweaty side throughout the experience.
The survey also found that the average American will start to get nervous and anxious only 13 minutes into a horror movie.
Jenni Readio, Sr. Director, Merchandising & Licensing for Vudu, said, “Scary movies are great, but they aren’t for everyone. That’s why Vudu tries to highlight great films that appeal to wider audiences and tolerances. Halloween is as fun or scary as you make it, so we offer a range of movies, from kid-friendly to classic slasher, so movie fans can find just the right amount of scare to sit through.”
It turns out just sitting through an entire horror movie is an achievement for most, as over half of Americans (53 percent) say they feel “accomplished” after sitting through a particularly scary film.
Additionally, the survey revealed that horror movie fans are not very fond of remakes. One question tasked respondents with picking the superior film between the remake and original - and not one remake was victorious.
The highest scoring remake was Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with just 21 percent of survey respondents saying they preferred it over the original, followed by The Ring (also 21 percent.)
Comedy horror was another subject that got special attention in the study and found that Ghostbusters is America’s favorite of that sub-genre, with Zombieland, and Gremlins rounding out the top three.
“There’s always room for comedy horror on everyone’s watchlist, especially for classics like Ghostbusters. It’s full of talent as big as the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man himself. It’s one of my favorites, and it’s definitely worth revisiting as part of our free Movies On Us collection,” said Mitch Tai, Sr. Manager, Movies On Us.
While the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man might not haunt your nightmares, one-third of Americans (31 percent) are still scared of horror movies and the characters that first frightened them as kids, with some developing fears that followed into adulthood as a result.
The biggest fear? Clowns. Thanks, Pennywise!
TOP 20 BEST HORROR MOVIES
The Exorcist 50%
Friday the 13th 48%
A Nightmare on Elm Street 47%
The Conjuring 45%
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 43%
The Amityville Horror 43%
The Shining 39%
Paranormal Activity 34%
The Purge 33%
The Omen 32%
Night of the Living Dead 32%
Cabin in the Woods 31%
TOP 10 BEST HORROR VILLAINS
Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street) 62%
Michael Meyers (Halloween) 58%
Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) 54%
Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) 49%
Leatherface (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) 42%
Pennywise the Clown (IT) 42%
Chucky (Chucky) 42%
Regan MacNeil (The Exorcist) 38%
Norman Bates (Psycho) 37%
The Creeper (Jeepers Creepers) 37%