The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
A drive-in classic made with a creepy, nonexploitative finesse that's almost Hitchcockian. It raises the low-budget power-tool slasher movie to the level of art.
Night of the Living Dead
Stanley Kubrick turns Stephen King's domestic ghost story about a kid who sees visions of his father's hidden malevolence into a gothic horror movie as dislocatingly odd as it is scary. Just because Jack Nicholson's marvelously controlled nutjob performance (''Heeeere's Johnny!'') is drop-dead funny doesn't mean it's not also seriously terrifying.
The Silence of the Lambs
More artful than The Exorcist (and just as disturbing), Roman Polanski's chiller gives you a magnificent case of the everyday shivers. Mia Farrow is a pregnant New Yorker who never suspects that the quirky old couple down the hall are Satan worshippers.
The granddaddy of all slasher films (as well as the most profound horror movie ever made), Hitchcock's famous thriller takes the revolutionary step of killing off its heroine (Janet Leigh) halfway through, all as a way of placing the audience in the mind of a madman (Anthony Perkins).