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These are the 20 scariest horror movies of all time

Horror movies have changed dramatically over the decades to keep up with ever-evolving audiences. Some of the old classics, while still artful and entertaining, no longer have the power to shock. Others, however, have stood the test of time.

What makes a movie scary? Some would say it’s the jump-scare — the “boo!” moment that jolts you out of your seat. Others might point to a particularly ghastly monster or a preponderance of gore. And who’s to say what’s more terrifying — a ghost, a creature or a plain old murderer? Much of what jangles your nerves depends on the fears you bring into the theater.

The best horror movies find a sweet spot: A primal, universal terror made vivid by skillful filmmaking. That formula will surely never age. Here, just in time for Halloween, are 20 of the scariest movies of all time:

20. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2009) This no-budget indie about a possessed McMansion helped kick off the current horror craze. Slamming doors and flickering lights — and not much else — make this a yelp-out-loud treat.

19. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984) The movie that gave us the blade-fingered Freddy Krueger (and the film debut of Johnny Depp) looks a little dated now, but director Wes Craven’s blend of dreams and reality still has the power to unsettle.

18. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) The zombie genre starts with George Romero’s ghoulish, gory classic. AMC’s “The Walking Dead” may have more splatter, but this one really stares into the existential abyss.

17. ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) Roman Polanski’s film about a pregnant woman (Mia Farrow) who gets snookered into Satanism is a slow-building chiller, but the climactic payoff is one of the best you’ll ever see.

16. GET OUT (2017) Jordan Peele’s story of a young black man (Daniel Kaluuya) meeting his white girlfriend’s parents

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