Okay, so Yahoo Entertainment conducted a poll recently on the 10 scariest movies ever made. Of course, It's a load of shit. Okay, there's some good choices there, but seriously... Saw at #2? Friday the 13th at #6? Hostel at #8?I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER at #10? I mean, I'm not surprised considering the people voting were probably pimply little dweebs, but whatever. There is no excuse for I Know What You Did Last Summer (we can be thankful it wasn't I Still Know...) or Friday the 13th (which I enjoyed, but scary? Hell no). Some of those (Saw and Hostel) are clearly of the gore > scares ratio. Gore doesn't equal scares, people. Squirms doesn't equal scares. Covering your eyes 10 times doesn't mean it's scary. It means it's gory. So, as somebody who is always keen to make a list off the top of his head, here is my list of the 10 scariest movies I've ever seen. I haven't seen all the classics, but I don't care. This list also isn't just the 10 best horror movies. That's a different list altogether.
Oh, and for the record, the only ones on their Top 10 I haven't seen are Candyman (bees freak me out. Like, I have a major phobia of them) and Hostel (because it just looks gross).
Before I start the list though, let it be known that The Swarm isn't on there, however, that movie scared the bejesus outta me when I saw it as a five-year-old. I'm fairly certain it was that stupid-arsed Michael Caine movie that to my chronic phobia of bees and wasps (thank god we don't have hornets in Australia cause I couldn't handle three!!!)
10. Ringu, 1998, dir. Hideo Nakata
The Japanese original Ringu is scary (it's sequels are not). The American remake is most definitely not (and it's sequel even less so. I feel asleep during it when seeing it at the cinema!) My feeling is that this whole cursed-video-tape schtick was only good for one go around. We know all the tricks after the first time. When I watched the original it was shortly before the release of the Naomi Watts starring remake. It made me pumped because this one was just pure class. It's eerie damp darkness creeping through the television screen. Plus, they didn't feel the need to explain every single thing (if memory serves) like the US version.
9. The Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984, dir. Wes Craven
I love Wes Craven. Y'all know that. Elm Street universe was the very first Craven-made film that I was made privvy to. I remember seeing bits and pieces of the original when my brother hired the VHS. I also remember scenes from one of the sequels, but I don't remember which. I also remember the Freddy's Nightmare television show, which was probably awful but helped warp my fragile little mind at the end of the '80s (although the only one I remember is one involving an athletics race and girl getting decapitated by the finishing line!) Anyway, the movie's scary. Just the idea that a hideously burnt peadophile janitor can kill you in your sleep is enough to send shivers up my spine. Add that to Craven's visual knack and Johnny Depp in a midriff-baring top. Well... it's scary folks. Really fuckin' scary.
8. Signs, 2002, dir. M Night Shyamalan
Now, I know this is one that most people won't agree with me on, but bare with me. The movies I find scary, for the most part, are the ones that are set in worlds in which I can imagine myself. Now, while I can't picture myself as a Pensylvanian farmer (sorry for the mispelling), I can picture myself freaking the fuck out over what happens in this movie. I can imagine sitting in front of the TV wanting to know every single update. I can imagine getting scared as word of an alien attack nearing my house. I can imagine being confused and frightened and all that. So while watching Signs, I was scared. Shyamalan really worked it so well here. By keeping it on the farm, it felt realistic, but you knew that the rest of the world was under threat too. Which is where War of the Worlds went wrong - that felt like where Tom Cruise and his bratty kids went, there were aliens. In that we got no sense that aliens were taking over the world. In Signs, while still having it from one family's point of view, it felt like the end of the world. The supreme moment is the video on the TV of the alien. Sure, it looks like a man painted green, but it gets me every time. So well done.
7. Scream & Scream 2, 1996, 1997, dir. Wes Craven
I've discussed Scream before. It changed my life. I won't discuss these films much more, but I will say this - anybody who didn't get a bit edgy while watching the opening scene of Scream 2 (ya know. the scene set IN A MOVIE THEATRE) obviously didn't get it.
6. Arachnophobia, 1990, dir. Frank Marshall
I've never jumped in my seat so many times as I did with Arachnophobia. Sure, it's a pretty pedestrian thriller (although much much better than The Swarm, which if I weren't afraid of bees, I would find about as scary a chew toy), but Marshall uses all the old tricks and just works them non-stop. The spiders jump out at characters, the long shot of spiders covering the walls, the shots of spiders walking in a hiding spot only to have a person reach in, they're all there. But they work. I am scared of big spiders and this movie has them in spades, so it's only natural.
5. Alien, 1979, dir. Ridley Scott
I said up above for Signs that I get scared in movies when it's based in some form of reality. Well, here's an exception, but it's still bloody frightening. The claustrophobia is terrifying, you can feel the sweat dripping from their foreheads. It's one movie where I occasionally find myself yelling at the characters to get out of a room or to not enter one or whatever. And as we all know, the chest-bursting scene is just horrific. When you see it for the first time, you gasp and scream "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" and that's what you should be doing thanks for Ridley Scott. Oh, and yes, Aliens is pretty damned excellent too.
4. The Birds, 1963, dir. Alfred Hitchcock
Yes, Hitchcock has made many horror movies, but none of them had such an overpowering sense of dread like The Birds. The plot really does sound ridiculous (a flock of birds take over a coastal town) and I was skeptical the first time I sat down to watch it thinking that not even Hitchcock could make it scary. But low and behold, he did and HOW! It really is one of those movies where after watching it you think every single unknown sound is something sinister. You hear something outside "Oh my god!!!" And to top it all off, it's even scarier because you have no idea at all as to why it's happening. It just happens with no explanation and that's scarier than 15 minutes worth of exposition (thank you Spielberg and Morgan Freeman)
3. Night of the Living Dead, 1968, dir. George A Romero
This is pretty much the only movie (although the Dawn of the Dead remake gets very close) in which I am truly terrified of zombies. I'd never been scared by zombies (or vampires or witches) until this movie. I just find the whole thing kinda silly and only good for a few jumps (usually), but this... this is scarier than a room full of possessed cockroaches. And tragic too.
2. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974 & 2003, dir. Tobe Hooper, dir. Marcus Nispel
One thing I refuse to ever do through the outskirts of Texas. If I ever go to Texas in my lifetime I will not leave the major cities. I know it's incredibly silly of me and any Texans out there are sure to be offended, but I have a serious belief that everybody living in Texas who doesn't live in a major city and has less than the correct number of teeth is a cannibal who most likely traps people and kills them with a power tool of some sorts. I can't help it, I just do. I'm sure there's a few that think all people in Australian outback are Mick Taylor-esque backpacker murderers. It's just the way these things go. Both Massacre films scare the living fuck outta me. I almost don't believe how scary they are, but they are indeed. I know it's not cool to love the 2003, but I do and I've made it clear before as to why I do. But for pure balls-to-the-wall "why am I watching this?" horror, the original is the leader. These two films I just scream at the screen constantly as I huddle up with my knees against my chest then muttering to myself "i can't watch this..." but I do. I'm not sure why. But I do. So, any Texans out there who wanna dispell any myths, don't bother cause it ain't gonna work. Oh, and doesn't the original just have the best tag line ever? "Who Will Survive... And What Will Be Left Of Them?"
1. The Blair Witch Project, 1999, dir. Daniel Myrick & Eduado Sánchez
I know since 1999 it's become fashionable to hate on The Blair Witch Project, but there are still some of us in the blogosphere who continue to get spooked by it. As I keep saying, I find movies scarier if I can place myself in the situation and by george I think this is about as realistic as it gets. I hate camping, but this just solidified it. I sort of never want to go camping ever again. The night scenes are beyond scary for me. Just... unimaginable terror for me. The day scenes are, at times, just as bad because you know what's going to happen. Just thought of being out in the woods and hearing those voices and noises just... ugh. I literally just got a shiver up my spine. And the ending? Well... the ending is just the gosh darn scariest thing I've ever seen. First time I watched it I was sitting there with my hands frozen to my cheeks, shaking my head actually saying "No, No, No, No, No, No, No" as Heather raced down the stares yelling out "JOSH!" and then the very final seconds...? I gasped and just sat there motionless for, like, 15 minutes. It really shook me. That final frame is so haunting.