Happy Halloween: Some hair rasing statistics on horror movies

The spooky season is now upon us. You've probably bought your costume and organised your trick or treat outing or Halloween party, so what better time to look at that staple entertainment of All Hallows' Eve - the scary movie.

We all like to shut the door, turn the lights down and settle into a good horror film on the most haunted night of the year, and there are some spine-tingling charts to be taken from scary film statistics.

Whether or not you count it as a 'horror' film in the classical sense, the highest grossing scary movie of all time is Jaws (1975). With figures adjusted for inflation, the Steven Spielberg masterpiece took $1,098,900,000 at the box office, way ahead of the second highest-grossing horror flick The Exorcist (1973), which tool $885,500,000. Here's a round-up of the top ten by the amount they took in dollars:

Of course, 'scariness' is a very subjective thing - what one person finds utterly terrifying, the person next to them in the cinema may find laughable. While that makes pinning down the 'scariest' movie or movie moment virtually possible, it hasn't stopped scientists from trying.

Website Play.com conducted a poll of 10,000 people and asked them to vote for the film which most frightened them. Coming out on top was Stanley Kubrick's cult horror flick, The Shining (1980), which was followed by Wes Craven's original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and The Exorcist. They then hooked up some willing victims to heart rate monitors in order to find the scariest scenes.

With pulses rising by 28.2% the 'Here's Johnny' scene from The Shining was rated the most scary. In second place was Nancy Thompson bringing the evil Freddy Krueger into the real world, with a 26.7% jump in heart rates, and in third place was The Exorcist's Christine MacNeil investigating things which went bump in the attic, with 24.8%. Overall it was The Exorcist which delivered for the long haul, with an average pulse rate increase of 25.9%.

Now let's turn our attention to a chilling chart depicting the body count for some of the scariest Halloween franchises. At the bottom of the list comes Psycho and the Bates Motel TV series it spawned, littered with a rather unimpressive twenty corpses. All the way at the other end of the scale, the highest body count comes with the Friday the 13th series and its 146 hapless victims. Here are the top sixteen film franchises by estimated body count:

If ever there was a chart to give you nightmares, that was it. So whatever scary film you're settling down to watc as the witching hour draws near, we hope you have a truly terrifying Halloween...