The Seventh Seal
You can keep your Hannibal Lecters and your Jasons and Lestats. For sheer, quake-inducing fear, none of 'em comes close to the Grim Reaper, aka Death. And the most enduring cinematic depiction of the guy with the scythe was forged by Ingmar Bergman back in 1957. The Seventh Seal, set in medieval Europe during a time of plague, stars a very young, ruggedly handsome Max von Sydow as a knight back from the Crusades, weary of war and killing, who finds himself literally pursued by Death, who wants both the knight and his wife. But being a sport, Death offers to wager both their lives on a single game of chess. Over the course of their game, the pair engages in protracted discussions of the meaning of life, religion, and where God enters into all this, if He does at all. Unexpectedly humorous and filled with compelling imagery, The Seventh Seal (in Swedish with English subtitles) won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and cemented Bergman's reputation as a great director. About 15 years later, von Sydow would do battle with the devil himself in The Exorcist. Talk about a résumé!