There's nothing quite like seeing a scary movie for the first time. The unknown and tension-filled atmosphere of horror films rely so much on those first viewings when they can catch an audience by surprise. Some horror movies can be extremely scary the first time you see them only too lose a lot of that suspense when revisited. One the opposite end of things, there are those few great entries in the genre which can be watched again and again and still give audiences the creeps.
It takes a lot for a horror movie to stand the test of time. With the passage of time, an audience's perception of what is scary can change dramatically. Here are some horror film that got scarier over time and some that did not age well.
10 Scary: The Exorcist
The horror genre can sometimes be looked down upon as less substantial than other genres, but the right filmmaker can show how amazing a horror movie can be. Director William Friedkin is responsible for such classic films as The French Connection and Sorcerer, but The Exorcist may be his great work as a filmmaker.
The story follows a young girl who is possessed by a demonic entity and the two priests who attempt to save her. Friedkin's atmospheric filmmaking help maintain the tension of the film after all these years and it still manages to shock even the more desensitized modern viewers.
9 Not: Frankenstein (1931)
There is no denying the impact Frankenstein has had on pop culture close to a century after its release. Though not the first depiction of the famous monster or his tale, it has become the most iconic with much of the film providing the inspiration for how most of us think about the character. But in terms of a scary movie, it has lost a lot of its impact over the years. For audiences at the time, the reanimated corpse who becomes a mindless and dangerous killer could very well have been scary. But after all this time, the film hardly seems like a horror film at all with nothing that would really shock audiences today.
8 Scary: A Nightmare On Elm Street
The right premise can do a lot to make a horror movie appropriately scary. The idea of a killer who can attack when you inside your dreams is a concept both brilliant and terrifying. It was that hook that has continued to make A Nightmare of Elm Street a creepy and bone-chilling film.
From horror movie icon Wes Craven, the film remains extremely effective today thanks to its deeply unsettling killer, Freddy Kruger. While not all the effects hold up, the overall movie is still scary enough to make it hard to get to sleep.
7 Not: Carrie
There have been a good deal of Stephen King adaptions over the years with some being good and some falling flat. Carrie is certainly one of the best movies to come from King's work. The story follows a shy, outcast teenager named Carrie who is raised by her overbearing and strict mother. As high school bullies continue to push Carrie, the girl starts to unlock dark and hidden abilities.While still a great film from Brian De Palma, there aren't too many scare to be had. The slow-burn approach helps build the tension but most of the horror takes place at the end of the film and lacks the impact once you've seen it already.
6 Scary: Alien
Alien remains one of the most groundbreaking and stellar horror films of all-time. The sci-fi tale follows a small crew of an industrial space ship who get an unwelcome stowaway on their ship -- a deadly alien. The movie introduced one of cinema's most iconic creatures and kick-started a franchise which is still going to this day.
The film, directed by Ridley Scott, does an incredible job building upon the sense of danger. The danger grows just as the alien does as more of the crew is picked off. Even if you know those famous moments are coming, it doesn't stop them from being anymore shocking.
5 Not: The Ring
The Ring is one of the many American remakes of acclaimed Japanese horror films. Unlike most of those other remakes, this actually ended up being a fairly solid retelling of the Japanese film Ringu. For audiences who were not familiar with the original, this dark and creepy story of a mysterious videotape that kills anyone who watches it was a terrifying surprise.
Unfortunately, so much of the shock and horror of The Ring comes from the unknown. After the film's popularity and subsequent sequel, the twist has widely known and the film suffers now on rewatches.
4 Scary: The Thing
Many horror fans would name The Thing as the greatest film in the genre and it is hard to argue with that assessment. From the brilliant mind of John Carpenter, this claustrophobic masterpiece centers on a remote research facility in the Arctic where the inhabitants become prey to a shape-shifting alien.Somehow, the practical creature effects still hold up amazingly well to this day which has a lot to do with how the film is still so scary. For a movie that relies so much on not knowing where the threat will come from next, The Thing remains a terrifying experience no matter how many times you watch the film.
3 Not: The Blair Witch Project
Credit where credit is due, The Blair Witch Project was a phenomenon at the time of its release. Thanks to a brilliant marketing campaign which had moviegoers everywhere talking, the film made a massive amount of money on a tiny budget. The film follows three film students who set into the woods to make a documentary about a local urban legend.
The film may have helped to start the horror genre's fascination of found footage movies, but it is far from the most effective use of the concept. The film is effectively suspenseful on first viewing but it's actually tedious to revisit.
2 Scary: Halloween
Halloween was one of the films that started the slasher genre which is still popular in horror movie today. It also remains one of the best entries in the genre and created one of the most infamous horror movie killers of all time. The John Carpenter film tells the story of Michael Myers, a cold-blooded killer who returns to his hometown on Halloween night to kill again.
Though the violence and gore of the film will not compare to more recent slasher films, or even updated Halloween films, the original is still eerie as hell. Myers is the quintessential masked killer and his emotionless carnage is still unsettling.
1 Not: Scream
After years of being parodied, it's easy to dismiss Scream as just another lame teen slasher film. However, most people forget that the Wes Craven film is actually a very clever deconstruction of the slasher genre with a masked killer stalking good-looking teens who seem to know they are in a real-life horror movie. The film is still very entertaining even now -- it's just not very scary.
There were certainly some shocking twists in the film that were effective upon its release, but now the film works much better as a comedy. It is very intentionally funny and smart which makes up for the lack of genuine scares it delivers these days.NEXT: 10 Deadliest Horror Movie Slashers, Ranked