With Halloween just around the corner and many cable channels showing movies “appropriate” to the season, we thought we’d list some of our favorite scary movies. These are movies that had us wanting to leave the lights on and check under the bed for monsters. They might be movies we watched as kids even though our parents thought we were safely tucked in bed. They might also be those movies we watched on dares from our friends. Whatever the reason, they most definitely are movies we’ll never forget.
10. Jacob’s Ladder — Tim Robbins’s Vietnam Vet is haunted by more than just his experiences in Southeast Asia. His son died in an accident he blames himself for. Demons seem to be chasing him. Then there’s that pesky government conspiracy. Has he lost his grip on sanity?
9. The Mummy (1932) — Starring Karloff (does this make him the first single named superstar?) No one does menace the way Boris Karloff could and he was at his best in this movie portraying the Egyptian Imhotep who was buried alive and who has returned to find his lost love.
8. The Haunting (1963) — Starring Julie Harris, Claire Bloom and Richard Johnson, this black and white classic relies on acting and atmosphere over special effects and is still a chilling and frightening movie. Much better than the remake in 1999.
7. Nightmare on Elm Street — This 1984 movie is being remade, so be sure to see the original. Most everyone is afraid of something happening to them while they sleep. Freddy Kruger, the vengeful villain with those oh-so-special gloves, is out to even the score with the parents who killed him by killing their kids. But he does it in their dreams and it struck a primal chord in moviegoers everywhere.
6. Alien — With the tag line of “In space no one can hear you scream”, you knew you were in for a rollercoaster of emotions. Great cast and acting. Even now, after seeing the movie a number of times, the scene where the alien emerges from John Hurt’s chest during the crew’s mess still gets to me.
5. The Omen (1976) — A great cast that includes Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and David Warner. Directed by Richard Donner. It also has one of the scariest kids ever. The haircut, the eyes, the clothing all combine to cue the reader to the fact there is more to the little boy than meets the eye. Add in the scene where the nanny kills herself for him and then the look on his face after sending his mother over the railing and it is easy to believe he really might be the anti-Christ.
4. The Exorcist (1973) — Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, director William Friedkin combined to make one of the scariest movies of all time in our opinion. No parent wants to think of anything happening to their child. But to have that child possessed by the devil, to see her suffer physically and emotionally is worse. Who can forget the scene where little Regan’s head spins on her shoulders and that horrible voice that comes out? All I know is I can never look at a can of split pea soup the same ever again.
3. The Shining (1980) — This is the movie that made us all decide we never wanted to be snowbound in a hotel anywhere or any time. Jack Nicholson’s descent into madness was pure genius. The scene where he uses the ax to hack through the door and, as he sticks his head through the opening, smiles maniacally and says, “Here’s Johnny” is a classic.
2. Halloween (1978) — Again, we’re talking the original and not the remake. This is the movie that crowned Jamie Lee Curtis as the queen of scream and started the slasher craze. But this movie stands out from most of those that came after it because Laurie wasn’t completely empty-headed. You cheered for her and wanted her to win, to survive instead of hoping Michael would find her and end your misery. When the final showdown came, she did her best to protect the kids in her care and then fought back. In our opinion, this was one of John Carpenter’s best.
1. Psycho (1960) — Alfred Hitchcock was the master. How many people to this day still think twice before taking a shower in a motel or hotel? Acting, music and atmosphere made this movie one of the scariest of all time. It didn’t rely on graphic gore or violence. Yet it still stands the test of time. Run, don’t walk, to find a copy and see it again.
Of course, there are other fun and scary movies besides these ten. Some of the others we discussed were Night of the Living Dead (1968), Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) — Leatherface. Need I say more, Poltergeist, Nosferatu, and John Carpenter’s The Thing.
What are your favorite scary movies and why?
Other movies that have been recommended by our FB followers are: “The Blob” (the original), “The Crawling Eye”, “Them”, “The Ring”, “The Univited”, “Carnival of Souls” and “Kwaidan”. Can you think of any others?
Here’s another question, are the old movies better at scaring you than the newer ones? Why?