Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Top 10 Scary Movies/Books
Don't forget to visit both Kate's and Tiff's Blogs for their challenge posts of these. Horror has many varied sub-genres and I'm curious to see where they lie on the horror subject, but it is absolutely my all-time favorite movie genre, so I'm excited about this list, for sure!
For me, I work in a path lab, so gore doesn't affect me in the least. I know what a dead body looks like or what guts look like, so what is portrayed in movies is just plain ridiculous, even with today's technology. Jump scares are good for the moment, but once they are over, they are pretty much forgotten. I much prefer the type of movie that is a subtle scare, the kind that you don't realize is scary until the lights are off and your mind starts wandering back to the movie and you can't get it out of your head.
This time of year I spend a lot of time watching horror movies and I've been hitting Netflix hard the past couple of months, but I don't think my ultimate horror list has been altered by a single one of those movies because basically the horror movies today are utter crap. My list tends to go further back, maybe to a time when I was more impressionable, but I think it was because the writing was just better. Sure, movies today may have amazing special effects, but if the story isn't there, then it's just a waste of time because my imagination has nothing to run with and my imagination can run pretty easily given the right material. Oh, and I'm going to try to find trailers for these, but some of these are so old, I'm not sure the quality will be great, so please forgive me!
#1: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET
When I refer to this movie, I'm always talking about the original 1984 version, definitely NOT the crappy remakes from a few years ago. Yes, by today's standards this movie is cheesy with extremely outdated special effects, but back in the day when it came out, it scared the living crap out of me. To this day, I still have Freddy dreams every once and a while and I don't even need to watch the movie again to have one. I have the complete Freddy box set (of course), so they do get the occasional view session. When I was a kid, I had a lot of nightmares due to various personal reasons, so a demon who feeds on nightmares is my own personal brand of boogeyman (and everyone has one). I also remember the lyrics to the children's nursery rhyme about Freddy like it was a 30 year old Duran song...one, two, Freddy's comin for you...three, four, better lock your door...five, six, grab your crucifix...well, you probably know the rest.
#2: THE EXORCIST
Again, I'm not talking about the remake or any of the sequels, but rather the Linda Blair original. I'm not sure if the possessed kid scared me more or the priests constantly yelling and screaming at a kid, but whatever the case, this movie isn't one I can watch alone, even to this day, at least not after dark. The pea soup throw up is stupid (although an incredibly popular scene for some reason), but the head twisting thing and the whole (and I'll try to put this delicately), pleasuring oneself quite violently with a cross is pushing boundaries for just about everyone...no matter your temperament or religious affiliation (or lack thereof). The fact that this movie was based on a true account of an actual exorcism doesn't help matters any (no matter how much of it was dramatized for our enjoyment). As with any great classic, this movie has been remade and sequeled to the max, but nothing beats the original. And all the bad ju-ju that happened to the cast and crew of the movie makes for a great story all on it's own.
#3: THE HAUNTING
Yes, as you've probably guessed, I'm referring to the original 1963 version of this movie in all it's black and white glory. There is nothing overtly scary about this movie...there are no jump scares, or visible ghosties, not even the creepy cherubs that dominate the remake are present here (a truly crappy piece of cinema FYI)...this movie is all psychological. You never see what's banging on the door, or making the light fixtures wiggle, or even sneaking up behind you, but you know there is something there. You feel the terror that each character feels, there is no way to avoid it. I would even probably say that this movie would probably be tied for second instead of third.
#4: THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
One of my biggest fears is of trees and forests and a movie set exclusively in the woods sounded like a good scare, so off to the theater I went expecting the scare of my life. But an hour and a half of shaky cameras, horrible acting, nerve-ending torturing sound effects, and quite possibly one of the most dumbfoundedly stupid endings ever, and I was laughing like a loon when I walked out. I thought it was quite possibly the stupidest movies I had ever seen...that was until I was home alone. I was twitchy, everything seemed to be moving around me, shadows shifting, I was hearing things I shouldn't have been hearing, basically my imagination was running in hyperdrive. By bedtime, I was convinced there had to be suggestive messages embedded in the movie because I was terrified. Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all that night or a couple of subsequent nights and I had to sleep with the lights on for at least a month or so afterwards. As an afterthought, I realized this movie was far more clever than I initially gave it credit for because it left it up to me to find the terror in it and I apparently made it my own. I haven't tried to watch it since because I don't want that bad juju in my house. The sequel, however, is truly a work of total dookie.
#5: HALLOWEEN II
Other than Freddy, the typical horror movie villain doesn't scare me...Jason (he just needs a hug), Leatherface (he only does what daddy says), Saw (he serves no purpose), not even Michael Myers (again, another hug needer who has family issues) typically bother me...usually. But when you are talking Halloween II (again, the original), all bets are off. It always surprises me how many people have never seen this movie. It takes place immediately after the first movie ends, with Laurie in the hospital trying to recover from the events of movie 1. Anyone who has been in a hospital at night knows they are creepy (it's the sterile and empty hallways and the overall air of sickness and death), but throw in a serial killer who was murdered hours earlier and is still stalking you when your injured and unable to defend yourself, well, you might as well just lay there and let him chop your head off, it would be easier! It's not Michael per-se that gets me, it's being stalked in a hospital. Laurie somehow always manages to survive (at least until movie 7 or 8...I lost count), though, even if no one else does.
Yes, this is a very cheesy movie about spiders and it even has Jeff Daniels and John Goodman in it, adding to the cheese-factor...but since I suffer from severe Arachnophobia and I saw this movie in the theater, I live in terror that I might actually be flipping channels one day and this movie will appear on my screen. Since technically I can't flip channels anymore because I went straight to Hulu and Netflix watching, this movie will NEVER end up in a queue for me, at least not by my hand. I can't even subject myself to look for a trailer for it on YouTube, so you're on your own there. Just for the record, I am also no longer friends with the person I saw this movie with either...it ruined a friendship.
#7: PET SEMATARY
Once upon a time, there was a great horror writer named Stephen King. His villains weren't clowns or giant spiders, but actual evil things like dead people, ghosts, witches, vampires, etc. He wrote the stuff of nightmares and I held him in very high regard. But then his writing changed, his scare factor turned into more of a laugh factor and I was officially done with him. They say he got even worse after his accident, but I haven't even tried to read anything since Needful Things (which was a really great book after a series of suckers, but the movie was laughable).
But one of his older novels, Pet Sematary, is, without a doubt, the scariest book I've ever read in my entire life and still is to this day. Anyone willing to write (in detail), the smushing of a child by a semi truck and his subsequent re-animation, has my utmost regard. Movie-wise, the second movie to Pet Semetary is far better than the first (a rarity, but true), but anyone who has ever read the book, can't sit through the movie without laughing (although I still love the theme song by The Ramones, hence the video clip below). Actually, most movie adaptations of his books suck and it's just sad really, especially since he usually has script approval.
#8: APRIL FOOLS DAY
Yet again, I am thinking about young me here (and the original version, if you couldn't tell already). In my mid teens (aka, the mid 80's), there were a string of stupid horror movies that were more gory than scary with stupid kills and even stupider killers. April Fools Day was different. You didn't understand why the killer was killing and you never knew who was next. The ending, was a complete and utter twist that no one saw coming. Once you've seen it once, however, the effects are ruined and can never be duplicated, but I've tried hundreds of times throughout the years. It's still my great 80's go-to horror movie and just typing this makes me want to watch it again. Do I really need to reiterate to stay away from the remake? Nah, didn't think so. And anyone from the 80's can just hear names like Deborah Foreman and Clayton Rohner and get all kinds of excited...and 80's fan's dream cast sans a brat pack member!
#9: STARSHIP TROOPERS
OK, so this isn't a horror movie, but a movie about giant alien bugs is pretty darn scary to me! I've seen it dozens of times and every single time I've had nightmares from it. It's stupid and cheesy (I hate to keep using that word, but it's never been more apt than in this case), but seriously...giant...alien...bugs!
#10: NEW NIGHTMARE
We started with Freddy and we're ending with Freddy. Of all the sequels and the remakes, this is the only other Freddy movie that gets to me (and I have watched it numerous times compared to the first one). Since I already have "Freddy issues", making him "real" was brilliantly cleaver and extremely terrifying (at least to me). Then, of course, you have original cast members coming back as themselves as well as the creepy kid from Pet Sematary playing Heather Langenkamp's son, and it's sheer Wes Craven brilliance! Not a lot of people give this movie enough credit, but anyone I've known that loved it as much as I did also has Freddy issues, so maybe that's why we "get it" and it affects us so. There are other movies in the series that aren't bad, like The Dream Warriors, but this one is a true sequel to a fabulous classic movie, made even more poignant by the death of Wes Craven.
There are other movies I really wanted to include, but I would need more than a top 10 list...movies like the original Amityville Horror and the original Omen would be next down the list, but I would also add one remake, Thirteen Ghosts (the original version was incredibly stupid). The remake of Thirteen Ghosts isn't a scary movie overall, it's the ghosts themselves that got to me, each one of them taps into a particular fear, fears which I pretty much have all of, so that's why I find that movie scary. I might even include the Friday the 13th version where Jamie Lee Curtis has a kid of her own (a very young Josh Hartnett) and Michael's back to his old tricks...it wasn't particularly scary, but it was a great story. Of all the new batch of movies I've been watching lately, only one has stuck with me (although not enough to sleep with the lights off), and that was Mercy. I always did love a good possession movie.
When it comes to books, there are so many great ghost stories, like that of the Bell Witch or The Amityville Horror or even A Haunting in Connecticut, but the crappy movies made from these great books or stories (excluding the original Amityville), diminished any terror level they might have held for me in the past. I typically tended to lean more toward true ghost stories than fiction, so my fictional horror library is small and I didn't have much to pull from there. But I did still manage to get a list, even if there was only one book on it!