THE Exorcist was named the greatest horror film yet in a new poll. The 1973 supernatural thriller came out on top in retailer HMV's annual survey of more than 6,000 customers, published, appropriately enough, in time for Halloween.

Directed by William Friedkin, the movie, which also scooped the most votes last year, features performances by Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn and Max von Sydow.

Second spot went to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson, which came top two years ago.

British director Ridley Scott's deep space adventure Alien came third.

Jonny Scurfield, HMV DVD buyer, said there has been a surge of interest in the horror genre – probably more than in any other category, with customers in their late teens and early 20s leading the way.

He said: "Halloween has become a key retail event, with sales of horror DVDs more than doubling in the past three years, and this year, with the doom and gloom of the credit crunch, you get the feeling it may prove a bit of a boom for horror, with more people staying in to watch their favourite movies."

He said the advent of DVDs had brought a greater interest in more contemporary types of horror, such as "slash" movies by directors like Eli Roth.

The oldest film in the Top 50 is director FW Murnau's enduring classic Nosferatu, released in 1922.

The most recent titles are director Masayuki Ochiai's Shutter, Frank Darabont's The Mist and Juan Antonio Bayona's The Orphanage, all of which were released this year.

  • The survey was conducted on hmv.com over a four-week period between September 19 and October 20.
  • Top 50 scary movies for a harrowing halloween!

1. The Exorcist. William Friedkin (1973) 2. The Shining. Stanley Kubrick (1980) 3. Alien. Ridley Scott (1979) 4. The Silence of the Lambs. Jonathan Demme (1991) 5. Saw. James Wan (2004) 6. Halloween. John Carpenter (1978) 7. A Nightmare on Elm Street. Wes Craven (1984) 8. Ring (Ringu). Hideo Nakata (1998) 9. The Wicker Man. Robin Hardy (1973) 10. The Omen. Richard Donner (1976) 11. The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock (1963) 12. The Thing. John Carpenter (1982) 13. Lost Boys. Joel Schumacher (1987) 14. Dawn of the Dead. George A Romero (1978) 15. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Tobe Hooper (1974) 16. Jaws. Steven Spielberg (1975) 17. The Blair Witch Project. Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez (1999) 18. An American Werewolf in London. John Landis (1981) 19. Se7en. David Fincher (1995) 20. Poltergeist. Tobe Hooper (1982) 21. The Amityville Horror. Stuart Rosenberg (1979) 22. Candyman. Bernard Rose (1992) 23. Scream. Wes Craven (1996) 24. Carrie. Brian De Palma (1976) 25. Friday the 13th. Sean S Cunningham (1980) 26. Final Destination. James Wong (2000) 27. The Evil Dead. Sam Raimi (1981) 28. Hellraiser. Clive Barker (1987) 29. Hostel. Eli Roth (2005) 30. Salem’s Lot. Mikael Salomon (2004) 31. The Descent. Neil Marshall (2005) 32. The Hills Have Eyes. Wes Craven (1977) 33. Wolf Creek. Greg McLean (2005) 34. Misery. Rob Reiner (1991) 35. Rosemary's Baby. Roman Polanski (1968) 36. Child’s Play. Tom Holland (1989) 37. The Orphanage. Juan Antonio Bayona (2008) 38. The Entity. Sidney J Furie (1981) 39. Nosferatu. FW Murnau (1922) 40. Night of the Living Dead. George A. Romero (1968) 41. House on Haunted Hill. William Malone (2000) 42. The Haunting. Robert Wise (1963) 43. It. Tommy Lee Wallace (1990) 44. Audition. Takashi Miike (1999) 45. The Changeling. Peter Medak (1980) 46. The Mist. Frank Darabont (2008) 47. Suspiria. Dario Argento (1977) 48. The Vanishing. George Sluizer (1993) 49. Shutter. Masayuki Ochiai (2008) 50. Planet Terror. Robert Rodriguez (2007)

  • Put the frighteners on...

GOT a film to frighten? Then the organisers of the Bourne To Die film festival want to hear from you.

The horror film fest runs at the Regent Centre, Christchurch from January 16-18 next year showing 15 feature films and the winning entry in a short film competition to be judged by Peter Stanley-Ward, director of Small Town Folk; Sean Cockwell from eatmybrains.com and festival director Ged Hall.

Among the festival highlights are the European premiere of silent horror film, Cruel, as well as Dark Reel, Home Movie and The Double Born, an intense sexual thriller from the team behind the Hellraiser series.

Entries for the short film competition must be submitted by December 1. Full details at bournetodie.com

What's your favourite horror? Let us know below...