It’s easy to describe what categorize as a horror movie, where the main character is a victims and there’s little to no advantage for them as the villain has the upper hand on everything. But to describe what is scary is something difficult as we all have different fears. Lots of people are scared of clowns but I find them humorous, but I don’t expect everyone to say the same when I say blobs are scary. What ever the case, it doesn’t take a lot to scare me, but in order to do that is if you have everything to be believable, not a single bad acting, tone should stay consistently scary, and make memorable horror scenes that will forever scar us, emotionally. Because so many horror movies fail to do all the reasons to make a movie scary is why I consider them a movie genre that has a HUGE mixed-bag. When I want to be scared, I don’t want to be startled by jump scare (they’re not scary they’re just startling) and they go over the top with the violence that it feels more discussing than it ever is scary. To celebrate Halloween for you all, throughout October 2013 I’ve been making lists of scariest video games because I’m more of a fan of survival horror game than I am a horror movie fan. However, I managed to pick out 10 of the scariest movies I’ve ever watched and still remain scary years after I’ve seen it. If it makes that much of an impression on you, you should know that it will go down as some of the best that horror in film can offer.
Number 10. – Fatal Attraction
Yes, this movie is not a horror movie, but it’s a film that will encourage you to never cheat on your wife. Michael Douglas’s character makes the biggest mistake of his life when he has an affair with Glenn Close’s character. At first she seem like a sweet lady, but the more Douglas truest to hide call off his relationship, she become more desperate for attention and to start a family of her own. She becomes impatient, violent, murderous, and very scary at the point where she will never go away no matter how hard you try. Many people watched this movie and it convinced them that there’s a huge consequence for keeping such affair from your spouse and all the nightmares you can think of that can ruin your family. Not to mention seeing Glenn’s face at the end when she’s trying to stab Douglas from the tub, that very look of that face is more scarier than Norman’s stare from Psycho. Fatal Attraction really is a great example that good storytelling teaches its audience well.
Number 9. – The Ring
Yes, yes, I know that this movie really did rip-off many of the Japanese horror movies and used that creepy girl covering her hair is so overused in Japan that is a cliche, but The Ring just sticks out so frightening that it felt like its new again. The gift, though, outweighs the curse in this case. Starring the always strong Naomi Watts, The Ring is atypically bleak for a Hollywood-made horror film. Watts plays a journalist trying to unravel the mystery that, if ghosts turn out to be real, will kill she and her son in seven days because they’ve watched a strange VHS tape. The mood starts off oppressively grim, descends into a melancholic downer quality, and, in the scariest use of a television sincePoltergeist, ends in an incredibly unhappy fashion. There is just something far more unsettling and disturbing about that woman in the death movie brushing her hair and then turning to look directly at you than there is in all the Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and Saw movies combined. In fact, that entire death movie is filled with images that have remained firmly locked in my consciousness. The fact that these images-which are actually rather innocuous-have such an effect on some viewers is part of the key and mystery of making a great scary movie. Fear is one of the most primal of all emotions, lurking deep within the recesses of the mind. That is what frightens the poop out of one person will have no effect at all on another. The Ring benefits from its off-kilter cinematography and its small unexpected moments rather than from people jumping out from behind a corner.
Number 8. – Evil Dead
Long before he was the big-budget studio director behind Spider-Man and Oz, The Great and Powerful Sam Raimi was a film student who made this shoestring-budget horror film that turned out to be the ultimate cabin-in-the-woods chiller. (Other rookies who worked on it: future Oscar-winning director Joel Coen and B-movie actor par excellence Bruce Campbell.) Full of innovative effects born of cheapness and desperation (most notably, the demon-cam that was just a regular camera mounted on a two-by-four, carried by two guys running through the forest), Evil Dead wrings maximum horror from its relentlessly paced narrative, which has five vacationing college kids reading a cursed book and unwittingly letting loose soul-swallowing demons, rapist trees, and gallons upon gallons of blood. Raimi followed it up with a near-identical, slightly more tongue-in-cheek sequels Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn and Army of Darkness that sent protagonist Ash Williams to fight “deadites” in the Middle Ages. Though I do say that the sequels are MUCH better movies, the first remains the most inventive and most terrifying, serving up scares with diabolical verve.
Number 7. – Jacob’s Ladder
For those who call themselves a Silent Hill fan, you have to check out where the series got its inspiration from. Lyne’s chilling film bombed in the States, probably because of its origins in the murkier side of the now done-to-death Vietnam War. But, messy and maddening though some of it is, Jacob’s Ladder is also a truly scary film which is never simply a war or horror vehicle. Jacob Singer (Robbins) is a man whose life totters continually between past, present and future, between reality and terrifying illusion brought on by his experiences in Vietnam, where his unit was dosed with a vicious derivative of LSD to improve its killing power. Where the problem arises is that this scenario is only one alternative in the life of a man variously shown as divorced, studying and co-habiting, married and prosperous with children, or dead on a Vietnam field-hospital table. But Lyne’s giddying, unsettling direction conjures up moments of horrifying hallucinogenic power from the bad-trip hell of his protagonist. I admit that the plot is a mess, but because it’s so confusing makes it even the more scary. Witnessing these blind surgeons, variety of demons, and even the surgical operation, it was really unsettling.
Number 6. – The Brood
You know what’s scarier than a strict mother? How about a mother that births too many children and made an army of monsters who devours their victims? This movie just had the sickest concept I’ve ever seen in a film, but yet it makes you scared of actual mothers who want to have too many children; Octomom for instance. What’s really haunting is that all the children from this dementing mother have a very creepy make-up on them, but they still scare you because of what they’re capable of and their very motivation of chasing you down till they kill you. The Brood is a neat and creepy idea, and as you would expect from a Cronenberg horror it carries it’s fair share of the repulsive, especially in it’s climactic reveal, a moment followed by a scene of genuinely well crafted tension. Notoriously personal for the director, Cronenberg himself was going through a messy divorce at the time he wrote the film, kidnapping his own daughter for fear she would be indoctrinated into the cult his ex-wife belonged. As such the film feels like a b-movie horror film mixed with auteurist meditations, elevated by the director’s own closeness to the subject matter.
Number 5. – Rosemary’s Baby
Roman Polanski’s unofficial apartment trilogy reached its apex with this psychological chiller. Mia Farrow plays Rosemary, who struggles to rectify her stern, Catholic background with the fact that she’s reaching full bloom in the midst of the turbulent ’60s. (One telling detail: the cover of the Time Magazine issue Rosemary reads at one point screams the mostly rhetorical question, “Is God Dead?”) Rosemary’s quandary becomes full-blown dementia when she gets pregnant and starts to suspect her kindly neighbors (older, minding the generation gap) of being in a coven and wanting to sacrifice her baby. The thing that makes Rosemary’s Baby so haunted many generations is because its psychological breakdown of the main character and everyone surrounding her is just nightmarish and they did it all without a single cheap scare; not one! Of all the horror movies that deal with the dark side of religion, Rosemary’s Baby messes with your head the most. Also, this is the deepest and most personal horror movie in the list because it was inspired by the women’s right movement in the 1960’s and and managed to throw in all the frustrations of being a mother with an expecting baby to be looked at in a whole new perspective. It’s outstanding to see that Rosemary’s Baby has been scary so many years ago and yet it still screw with everybody’s mind.
Number 4. – The Exorcist
I can imagine a list of scariest movies without classics The Shining & Psycho being in there (this list for example) but Exorcist should always be on everyone’s list of the scariest movies ever seen. Back when this movie was released in the 1970s it scared audiences out of the theater because it really is overwhelming and what other movie out there has ever done that today? We were all tormented and emotionally scared at Regan’s possession and the scariest part is that it all look so plausible. It felt so real, so distinct, and so damning that it can be used as a religious study. I know that this because many of my Catholic friends takes The Exorcist very seriously and the last thing we ever want is to be possessed by the demon that dares to take over our bodies. Not to mention that Regan’s demon is just some of the most haunting villains ever where she/he does some of the most unpredictable curses and demonic powers ever seen on film and since then there have been so many Exorcist rip-offs at the point where any movie that has a demon possession concept is already stamped rip-off all over it. Exorcist still withstands because people still go see this movie in theaters today to experience what everyone felt upon its debut. Exorcist is demonstrates why Catholics of keeps Christianity close because they want to be protected by faith from the evil spirits willing to torment our bodies and souls.
Number 3. – The Exorcist III
I am one of those people who believes that Exorcist III is both a better horror movie and scarier movie than the original (and don’t even compare Exorcist II which is one of the worse sequels of all time). This under-appreciated and overlooked gem, The Exorcist III, is a head scratcher of a horror film that demands a watch from anyone who considers themselves even a casual fan of the genre. It’s scary that the demon that was in Regan’s body from the first movie somehow possessed someone in the insane asylum and even develop a third personality named Legion who’s capable of delivering more horrors outside of the cell that he’s stuck in. The great problems with modern horror is that they are too reliant on jump scares; people jumping out of shadows and loud noises that explode out of nowhere, but this movie only has one jump scare and you know what I mean if you seen it already. BothThe Exorcist and The Exorcist III create horror through atmosphere. The Exorcist III is a true triumph of the horror genre and you need to see it to believe how much more scarier and disturbing this movie really is. It deserves to be as respected as the original. The Exorcist III proves that he has a genuine talent and distinct cinematic voice. It frustrates me that I can’t tell you more about this film…but that’s just the way things have to be considering that it’s a horror film.
Number 2. – Texas Chainsaw Massacre
For those who never saw Texas Chainsaw Massacre and wonder why it’s so scary… well, that’s because this movie is seriously fucked up. This is actually THE slasher film that was so gruesome that it’s highly effective. Even Guillermo del Toro became a vegetarian after seeing this flick. I almost had the same effect after seeing all the messed up brutality going on in this film. If witch craft, possession, demons, or any monster doesn’t scare you, well after seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you will fear sharp objects and any tool used for cutting and holding our meat. And to top that, Leatherface is a big brute with the subpar dental work and a chainsaw who wears a mask of human skin. And even worse than the murdering and brutality, is that much of the terror comes from the psychologically relentless chase scenes that is just too thrilling to watch. This is the slasher film that started the slashing boom that still goes on continues like Halloween and Friday the 13th. And unfortunately, like all the other slasher films, there are too many unnecessary sequels and remakes that devalues the movies credibility. The “true story” that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was inspired by has little to do with the film. It’s amazing to see as realistic as this movie seems, it still is believable that all of these characters are getting slaughtered in the most inhuman way. There’s something about this slasher film that all the others fail to do for me, in the scares department, and that’s making the villain as ruthless as possible and the victims to be horrified as a real victim could be in that very situation. It makes not only Leatherface scary, but also the victims who witness it to look very disturbing because of the cause and effect. If only more horror movies can convey that kind of emotion, it would make the horror believable and more scarier and that’s what Texas Chainsaw Massacre does so very well.
Number 1. – Suspiria
This movie is so scary that I truly believe it’s cursed. Suspiria is really my worst nightmare. The first of Argento’s “The Three Mothers” trilogy (Inferno and The Mother of Tears followed), Suspiria is a giallo horror film about an American dancer at a German ballet academy harboring a coven of witches. Don’t bother trying to add it all up because nobody can find any logic on what on Earth is going on in this haunted mansion. The scenery in this movie is so beautiful that its scary. We always get scared of the dark, but this is the movie that reverse the whole situation and the technicolor is really nerve-recking. The film is a prime example of the stylistic choices that have come to define Argento’s work-vibrant colors, over-the-top orchestrations of violence and haunting symphonic rock scores (here provided courtesy of Goblin)-with the end result being a nightmarish quality that’s as stylish as it is polarizing. If violence is really the scares in horror movies, then Suspiria really is a movie that film that showed some of the most creative and relenting death scenes that I’ve ever seen. I remember seeing one of the ballet dancer getting stabbed multiple times by this unseen murderer that my heart sank. It was a disturbing feeling that I’ve never felt before and I dare not see if I can anything that surpass it ever again. Everything is confusing and yet, it fucks our minds so much that we can’t get function like like normal human beings again. And worst of all, the theme song composed by a band called Goblin. It’s a mixture of Chinese inspired, 70’s synth, and heart throbbing music into one that it made itself a villain. Every single time you hear Suspiria’s music, it scare you emotionally and reminds you of that very cursed movie and it still continues to give me goosebumps whenever I think of that horrifying music. No doubt, this is really the scariest thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life and it’s one of the reasons why I refuse to watch another Dario Argento’s work because the man knows horror so well that he can scare you like no one can. He’s more disturbing than some of the greatest horror comic book artists, horror director, horror video game developer, and any horror storyteller that you can think of. And Suspiria is proof of it all and I can’t dare talk about this man ever again. So Happy Halloween, everyone!