Just for grins, today I decided to do a quick one-poll question at work. I'm new there, and I thought it might break the ice. It did. It may also have convinced my coworkers that they've allowed a real lunatic onto the staff, but at least I'm entertaining! And harmless.
The question was: What is the scariest movie you've ever seen? I did tell them all that it did not need to be a paranormal/supernatural movie, just something that scared them. Some of the answers surprised me.
The top contender was The Exorcist (that got my vote, too.) A very close second was Paranormal Activity. I think two people chose Paranormal Activity III and one person chose the first of the series, but I kind of put them together. The rest of the list:
Children of the Corn
Night of the Living Dead (the original b/w film)
The Blair Witch Project
Child's Play (while Chucky is creepy, my idea of a scary doll has a porcelain face and 19th C clothing)
Nightmare on Elm Street
The non-supernatural movies included Silence of the Lambs, The Usual Suspects, Manhunter, and even Snakes on a Plane! I'm sure that anyone reading this can come up with a host of other titles not brought up here.
It was fascinating to watch my colleagues come up with their answers. Some of them could pop out a title without blinking an eye. Two of them decided to think about it and came back to me hours later. And a number of them told me "I don't watch scary movies." And then they would proceed to tell me the movie that was the last straw for them.
I have a few others besides The Exorcist, myself. The original version of The Haunting, also in black and white, with Julie Harris and Clair Bloom, scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. I actively avoided anything with zombies in it, and as an adult The Changeling (George C. Scott) still comes back to bother me from time to time.
If you're ever stuck for a topic of conversation, try asking someone this question. For some reason, it's really fun to talk about movies that traumatize us for weeks!