Freddy Krueger: obviously scary. Hopping through nightmares, knife-fingers, it’s all there. Also obviously scary: Jason Voorhees. Seemingly unable to die, and again with the sharp stuff. These guys are patron demons of horror, killers who play by the movie-monster rules, whose scariness is telegraphed from the second you see them.

Sometimes, you don’t need something pointy coming at you to get your adrenaline pumping and your fingers clasped in front of your face. A movie can be plenty scary without a place in the Halloween horror canon. All it needs to do is worm its way into your head and make you really, really stressed about what’s going on. Maybe it’s a traditional psychological thriller. Maybe it’s an unsettling examination of the horror that lies within the human mind. Maybe it’s got Jake Gyllenhaal in it. 

Here are 10 flicks guaranteed to raise your blood pressure, one way or another, if you’re looking to get into a scary mood off the bloody path.

“Rebecca” (1940): Come through, Daphne du Maurier! There are plenty of Alfred Hitchcock films that could land on this list — the whole lot could be Hitchcock, honestly — but the director’s adaptation of du Maurier’s gothic novel is perhaps my favorite. And brother, I watched a lot of Turner Classic Movies as a kid. Joan Fontaine stars as a young bride whose brooding new husband, Laurence Olivier, is still hung up on his dead first wife, the titular Rebecca. They move into Olivier’s scary mansion, where his housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), dresses like the ghost of a pilgrim and chips away at Fontaine’s peace of mind — like if Regina George had a severe middle part in her hair — in the name of the sainted Rebecca, whose legacy isn’t what it seems. A suffocating black-and-white thriller.

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