If I had to come up with a list of my 10 favorite scary movies (today is Halloween, in case you didn't know), it probably would comprise almost exclusively of films made before 1990. Why? Well... I really can't say that I've been much affected by the majority of the so-called horror movies I've seen in the last 21 years, the way those I saw as a kid growing up in the early 80s (when I was finally allowed to watch some of these flicks) worked me over psychologically, and stayed with me long after I saw them.
Then again, I suppose my young, impressionable mind had something to do with that; and the fact that a lot of what I've seen in recent years, as an adult, have been retreads (directly or indirectly) of many of those old classics.
Little scares me today; I've seen enough "haunted house" plotlines; enough "don't go into the basement, but she goes into the basement anyway" scenes; enough "running away from a masked slasher only to trip and fall along the way" sequences; enough "let's exploit childhood innocence and make the children scary" plots; enough flesh eating zombies, vampires, werewolves, aliens, monsters, cannibals etc; enough "teens terrorized by some evil while vacationing in a cabin in the woods" taglines; enough Blair Witch found footage spawn; enough tales of a coming Antichrist, whether to be given birth by some oblivious mother, or resurrected from a past life; enough titles with the word "Exorcist" or "Exorcism" in them; enough "voodoo is bad" or "you are cursed" or "this place is cursed" plotlines; enough films about ancient items wielding power that in the wrong hands could spell doom for mankind...
And so on, and so forth.
All that said... obviously, the execution is what counts; one could take any one of these well-worn ideas and write a script that's actually wholly original, telling a familiar tale with some freshness and panache.
But, again, really, as I sit here typing this, thinking of the most memorable scary flicks I've seen over the last 3 decades, the vast majority of titles that immediately come to mind are movies made, I'd say, between 1970 and 1990; of course there are a few scattered about before 1970 and after 1990 (though I can say with certainty that neither Cloverfield nor Signs is one of the post-1990 titles; I was surprised to see those 2 listed on a top list on another site. Any of you reading this actually find either of those 2 films scary? Seriously?).
Anywho... to wrap this up, and get to the heart of this post... I'm curious to know what your own fave scary movies are. I'm thinking that I'll gather all your responses over the next 24 hours, and then select those titles that are listed the most; I'll then repost this entry with a short list of 5 or 10 of the most popular scary movies as selected by S&A readers.