The Exorcist was named the greatest horror film yet in a poll.
The 1973 supernatural thriller came out on top in retailer HMV’s annual survey of more than 6,000 customers, published as Halloween approaches.
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 in the HMV poll went to director Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson, which came out top two years ago.
British director Ridley Scott’s deep space adventure Alien came in third.
Jonny Scurfield, HMV DVD buyer, said there has been a surge of interest in the horror genre - probably more than in any other movie category, with younger 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.
The HMV Top Ten
1.The Exorcist. William Friedkin (1973) 8.8 per cent
2.The Shining. Stanley Kubrick (1980) 7.6 per cent
3.Alien. Ridley Scott (1979) 5.8 per cent
4.The Silence of the Lambs. Jonathan Demme (1991) 5.7 per cent
5.Saw. James Wan (2004) 5.4 per cent
6.Halloween. John Carpenter (1978) 4 per cent
7.A Nightmare on Elm Street. Wes Craven (1984) 3.9 per cent
8.Ring (Ringu). Hideo Nakata (1998) 3.3 per cent
9.The Wicker Man. Robin Hardy (1973) 3.1 per cent
10.The Omen. Richard Donner (1976) 3 per cent
... and the rest
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)