In his new movie Knowing, Nicolas Cage plays a teacher who discovers some chilling predictions in a time capsule. The star, 45, likes a good scare himself: When PEOPLE asked him to name his all-time favorite thrillers, he included some of the most terrifying movies ever made. “I only left out King Kong, Terminator 2 and Gojira (the original Japanese version of Godzilla) because I wanted to focus on performance,” Cage says.
1. The Exorcist (1973) Truly terrifying, largely because of extraordinarily realistic performances by Jason Miller and Ellen Burstyn. The sound work is extraordinary.
2. The Phantom of the Opera (1925) There is only one Lon Chaney, he is the king and this is his finest work. The phantom’s face is arguably the most terrifying image on film, but Chaney somehow still makes him sympathetic.
3. The Shining (1980) Superb [Stanley] Kubrick-ian enigmatic filmmaking – plus a knockdown, drag-out uber Jack Nicholson and a phenomenally real Scatman Crothers. It doesn’t get any better then this.
4. Ringu (1998) Truly disturbing, abstract, dream-logic filmmaking. There’s nothing else like it. [Director] Hideo Nakata is an original voice in modern film.
5. The Tenant (1976) Roman Polanski directs himself in cinema’s ultimate paranoid performance and one of its most suspenseful films. Great supporting actors.
Rounding Out the List
6. The Haunting (1963)
7. Frankenstein (1931)
8. Nosferatu (1922)
9. Repulsion (1965)
10. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)