RT's Top 20 Halloween Movie Countdown, Part 1

by | October 26, 2006 | Comments

Just what does Rotten Tomatoes deem the all-time scariest horror flick? Is it a gruesome slasher that results in heightened anxiety and sudden spine-tingling jolts and jumps? Or, is it a psychological thriller that plagues the subconscious for weeks to come?

Author: Christina Troup

We searched the site for the top 20 horror/suspense movies to reveal the numero uno cinematic scare just in time for a frightful Halloween film fest.**

Today’s installment kicks off the countdown; check in every day ’til October 31 as we serve up the best reviewed frightening flicks for your Halloween viewing pleasure!

Oh, and be afraid. Be very afraid.

Top Horror/Suspense Films by Tomatometer, #20-16

20) Open Water (2004) 72%

It might as well be space because in the Caribbean Sea no one can hear you scream. Well, save for the circling sharks below. In the slow-paced psychological thriller "Open Water," married couple Susan and Daniel embark upon a deep sea adventure to rest, relax and reconnect. Unfortunately for the twosome, they are accidentally left behind by their diving team, smack dab in the middle of the deep blue. The pair struggle to survive amid tumultuous elements and inhospitable oceanic critters. Oh, and get this, it’s based on a true story, so you may want to rethink that next seaside getaway.

Starring: Blanchard Ryan, Daniel Travis
Directed by: Chris Kentis

19) Joy Ride (2001) 73%

Breaker, breaker 1-9. If there’s a lesson to be learned from the horror meets the highway jaunt "Joy Ride," it’s that one should never mess with a guy who goes by the name "Rusty Nail." Tetanus, people. Tetanus. Of course, on-screen bros Paul Walker and Steve Zahn didn’t get the memo and end up messing with a mentally unstable truck driver via CB radio. Essentially, a mean-spirited joke goes awry and the two brothers, along with potential love interest Leelee Sobieski, find themselves in the path of a madman’s quest for revenge.

Starring: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski
Directed by: John Dahl

18) George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005) 74%

After a lengthy hiatus, horror master George A. Romero returned in 2005 with yet another unsettling tale of life among zombies in "Land of the Dead." This time around, the living dead and humans co-exist, but not without a structured caste system in place. Romero’s societal commentary tackles the issue of the "haves" and "have-nots," where the wealthy live in luxury, safe behind walls of protection while the not-so fortunate are relegated to life in streets. Regardless, no amount of money can keep the ever-evolving lineage of zombies at bay for too long.

Starring: Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Asia Argento
Directed by: George A. Romero

17) Signs (2002) 75%

Honestly, which is scarier: the little girl that asks for a glass of water or the bobble-headed aliens lurking about in M. Night Shyamalan‘s "Signs?" Beyond the suspense of who, or perhaps what, is behind the crop circles in the cornfield, "Signs" digs a little deeper and brings up issues of faith and religion. The tale of the Hess family and the series of peculiar events that have lately befallen them is a perfectly chilling romp for the whole family to enjoy.

Starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

16) Audition (1999) 76%

The first half of "Audition" is slow-moving, like a glob of peanut butter lodged in the back of your throat. But by the latter half, chances are you’d prefer that things had kept at their leisurely pace. Not for the faint of heart, Takashi Miike‘s disturbing tale of courtship is a perfect example that it’s never wise to mislead a woman. After all, it’s all fun and games until someone severs a limb.

Directed by: Takashi Miike
Starring: Ryo Ishibashi, Eihi Shiina

Tune in tomorrow for the next five titles, in our four-day countdown to Halloween’s #1 rated horror flick!

**These are our top-Tomatometer picks with at least 40 reviews counted, which is why some of the classics of spooky cinema aren’t included.

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