Saturday, October 22, 2011

10 of the Scariest Films I Have Seen

Most “scary” movies are scary the first time around. There’s always the unknown—will there be a jump right around the corner? Is something gross about to pop out of nowhere? However, after you know what is coming, there is almost no movie that can truly scare. Perhaps gross-out, depress or traumatize but that is not exactly scaring. Most horror these days is not about scaring people—at least not in the way that makes you keep thinking about the scariness and the implications of the horror after you leave the theater. What follows are ten plus movies that truly do scared me, and still do every time I see them:

1. “Rear Window” 

The well crafted suspense thriller from Hitchcock places the viewer in the perspective of the hero/man damsel in distress so effectively that when the killer looks right at the camera towards the end, audiences audibly react, and I still get shivers every time.

2. “El Laberinto del Fauno” 

Creepy throughout in that fairy-tale way; especially in the scene where our heroine is tasked with stealing a dagger from the Pale Man. All she has to do is resist the food on his table. Anyone familiar with fairy-tales sees what is coming a mile away and is on pins and needles throughout the scene.

3. “The Sixth Sense” 

Shyamalan had a knack for creating disturbing scenarios. His films “Signs” and “The Village” have some masterful moments as well. The one that really works on me is the woman in the kitchen scene. The foreshadowing done at the very beginning of the film sets us up. Then every moment from the trip to the toilet to the medium shot of the kitchen with those stark white cabinets and their black knobs… [shudder] I used to replay this scene in my mind against my will every time I had to go alone across town in the middle of the night to the church kitchen in the basement and back into the boiler room where the ice machine was. Surprisingly I had to do that on more than one occasion.

4. “Psycho” 

Most people would think the shower scene; and I do have problems taking a shower without the bathroom door being locked. However, the one that really gets me most is the one where the detective climbs the stairs and the shot switches to an overhead view as Mother comes out of her room…

5. “Jaws” 

I don’t swim in open water. I even have problems in large pools early in the morning when I am the only person out there, swimming laps. If I think Jaws, my workout is over.

6. “The Ring” 

The atmosphere created by these Japanese inspired films (“The Grudge” is another good example) stays with you. It doesn’t hurt that I watched this on a TV set, and—I kid you not—the phone rang as soon as it was over! Also, for a kid who hid under the covers for years, having the ghost show up down there is just wrong.

7. “Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens” 

There was a moment when I was six years old when I caught the scene of the vampires shadow ascending the stairs. There has yet to be anything on film to equal that terror.

8. “El Orfanato” and “El Espinazo del Diablo” 

Ghost stories get to me. That is strange because there is usually no threat. Maybe it is because they are so implausibly wrong. (More on these ones here.)

9. “The Others”

This ghost story gets me more than most; especially the scene with the old lady under the veil. Why? I don’t know.

10. “It” 

I first encountered “It” as a teen when the opening scene was told to me by another kid. That alone was enough to scare me. Watching it done so well on film was a tough feat for someone who was already scared of clowns for ten years before the novel was ever written.

A few other films meriting a mention:

“The Strangers” 

Terrifying in its plausibility.  Look closer.

“Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II” 

Images too disturbing to show here.

“The Wizard of Oz” 

The witch appearing in the middle of Munchkin Land, or lurking on the edges of the Woodsman’s grove are horror for the childhood target audience.

“The Shining” 

I have yet to watch this thing in its entirety. That is how much what I have seen of it scares me.


  1. I don't like scary movies usually, but we did get Copycat a couple of weeks ago at Hastings because I like it and still find it scary.
    I like Rear Window a lot, but don't find it scary.
    I still can't watch Psycho since my parents took L and me to see it at the movies when it came out! I screamed hysterically when Mrs. Bates was revealed.embarassing my parents.

  2. I need to revisit Copycat. I remember being impressed in the theater and I keep telling Cheryl she needs to see it.


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