There are some terrible horror movies out there. You know, the ones that make you laugh rather than give you the creeps? But if you want to avoid those in favor of the films that are going to make your palms sweat, you’ve come to the right place. A group of scientists conducted an experiment dubbed the Science of Scare Project, strapping heart monitors to a group of people and sitting them in front of 100 hours of horror movies. And the results were able to reveal the most heart-poundingly scary movies ever made. These are the ones to add to your Halloween watch list.
15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
For those horror aficionados who grew up in the 1970s, Tobe Hooper’s low-budget The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is probably the most terrifying movie of all time. Audiences hadn’t seen anything like the sight of masked cannibal Leatherface torturing a bunch of 20-somethings with his beloved chainsaw before. And nearly half a century on, it still has the power to bring out audiences in a sweat.
Increased heart rate
The scientists, who were backed by website BroadbandChoices.co.uk, found that the franchise-spawning slasher increased audiences’ heart rates by an average of 12 BPM. And there was also one particular moment when this jumped all the way up to 98 BPM. This could have been the moment of the first gruesome kill, the hellish dinner table scene, or the finale where Sally finally manages to flee the clutches of Leatherface for good.
You might have expected John Carpenter’s Halloween to be higher up the list. After all, it was the film that established Jamie Lee Curtis as the ultimate scream queen, introduced us to masked killer Michael Myers, and paved the way for countless slasher imitators. Still, a 12 BPM increase is nothing to sneeze at.
Still good for its age
And at one point the iconic horror even pushed audiences’ heart rates past the 100 BPM mark. Could this have been the moment when a young Myers bludgeons his older sister to death in the opening scene? Well, Halloween has so many great nerve-shattering kills that it’s hard to determine. It’s also the highest film on the list to have been released before 1980.