12 Horror Movies You NEED To See (VIDEO)

08/15/2013 08:10 am ET Updated Oct 15, 2013

When an innocent, wide-eyed girl spends her fourteenth year reading nothing but the Brontës, V.C. Andrews, and Stephen King, something happens to her brain.

At least, something happened to mine.

The gothic Jane Eyre and the mad Wuthering Heights got all muddled up with Flowers in the Attic and It and The Shining and Carrie. Those books ate my innocence--I was way too young to be reading some of the things I read. I guess you could call my new book, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea, the permanent damage left behind by that reading. But I regret nothing. Reading horror so young gave me an edge. A bite. It sparked something in me...something odd and dark and powerful.

I didn't just read horror as a kid. I watched it too--whenever my careful mother wasn't around to stop me. (My father, on the other hand, would watch horror movies with me, in secret.) "Cujo" and "Pet Sematary" at an all-girl all-night school lock-in. "Halloween" on an old TV in an Airstream camper, the fireflies flashing outside the small windows. "The Shining" in an old farmhouse with the winter wind screaming down the chimney. Have you ever been so flat out terrified you can't move? Because I have. It's horrible. And wonderful.

Here is my list of 12 classic horror movies. There will be some notable gaps. For one thing, I'm still sort of a wimp when it comes to certain kinds of horror. I get nightmares. But this is actually a good thing because: A) Having a vivid imagination is what allows me to write scary books in the first place, and: B) Wimps make the best horror movie viewers, because we get scared. We are the intended audience.

Two Short Disclaimers:

1. There is only one true "haunted house" movie on this list. I lived in a haunted house in college. When I pressed my ear to the wall in my hallway I heard a baby crying. There were no babies in the building. The nightmares have finally stopped and I'm not going to screw things up again by watching "Paranormal Activity" or "The Conjuring." This is not to say I don't have a gothic passion for crumbling, tumbledown mansions. Manderley in Rebecca, Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre. I live for malicious housekeepers and mad women in attics. I have a dilapidated mansion in Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. I adore cobwebbed, peeling-wallpapered, rat-infested manors. I just draw the line at ghosts.

2. True blue classic horror movies such as "The Exorcist," "Psycho," "Rosemary's Baby," and "Jaws" are on pretty much every horror list. So I left them off mine.

Horror Movies You Need To See