Thursday, October 27, 2011

What's your scariest movie?

With Halloween fast approaching, what is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? We all have one. An experience so frightening that it kept you up for weeks, resulted in therapy that is ongoing to this day, and accounts for your aversion to clowns. Could be Freddy or Jason or Chucky or Fran Dreschler – but surely there is one horror movie stalwart that still sends shivers up your spine. Maybe a Gothic classic where an old Hungarian actor skulks about in the night shrouded in a black cape. Or a maniac named Jigsaw terrorizes Shawnee Smith through six sequels. (By the way, when a parent names their son Jigsaw, what do they expect?) Perhaps you’re more of a science-fiction buff and Alien makes your skin crawl. Or the Creature From the Black Lagoon still comes to you in dreams and wants to borrow your girlfriend for the weekend. What movie frightens you the most?

For me, it’s one you probably have never heard of. It’s called THE 27th DAY, and it was a low-budget black-and-white film made in 1957. I saw it a few years later during a Saturday afternoon kiddie matinee at the Stadium Theater on Pico Blvd. near Robertson in Los Angeles. It was on a double-bill with a film about giant ants threatening civilization and picnics.

THE 27TH DAY had hardly any special effects and there were no hideous monsters. Gene Barry and no one else I recognized starred. The storyline was utterly confusing and the movie was very talky. I didn’t scream even once. And yet, it scared the shit out of me.

Here’s the plot. An alien from outer space beams up five people from around the world to his spaceship, which I just assume is hovering over New Mexico. They’re each given three capsules enclosed in a clear little case. Today they'd be mistaken for birth control pills.   Only these five can open their cases with telepathic brain waves. Once open, these people have the power to send the capsules anywhere they want and they will destroy everything and everyone within three thousand miles. So let’s say that Pez dispenser you bought from a guy in Florida was cracked and he wouldn’t take it back. Just vaporize the son of a bitch… and, y’know, 40,000,000 other people.

If these five people can go 27 days without blowing up the world then the Alien would either leave or the five people would get a space-age home tanning salon, or something – I forget.

For the next hour these five run around. They’re chased. One opens his case. One commits suicide. In the end, someone figures how to reprogram the capsules and it sets off this worldwide piercing sound that kills enemies.  Don't ask me why Eydie Gorme hitting a high note kills evildoers but in this case it does. 

You’re probably going, “Gee. People have capsules. That’s waaay more scary than a psychopath who cuts out your boyfriend’s entrails and then makes you eat them.”

But it was.

Remember, this was the ‘50s during the height of the Cold War. We lived in fear every day of worldwide nuclear obliteration. This little movie tapped right into our visceral panic and paranoia that we were all going to die. Eating your boyfriend’s entrails would be really gross but seriously, what are the chances that was going to happen to you? But this! The capsules were a metaphor for “the button” and at any moment some guy who looks like a Russian Howie Mandell could hit it and blow us all to kingdom come. Oh yeah, and then there was an Alien from outer space. Those don’t tend to sit well with little kids.

I was traumatized for about a month.

Did not see it again for a long time. It never showed up in old TV movie packages. And then about fifteen years ago TBS had a weekly sci-fi feature and I saw that it was going to be on. Excited, I stayed up to watch it.

Here’s the weird part: I’m sitting with my wife and saying, “Okay, now they’re going to go to the space ship” then “Now they’re going to Gene Barry at a race track”, etc. I hadn’t seen the movie in like a gazillion years and had previously only seen it once and yet I was able to call out scene-by-scene in order. That’s how much it made an impression on me.

Watching it again, I could see why it unnerved me so. The notion of paranoia and leaving the fate of the world to potential idiots is fucking SCARY! Real fucking SCARY!

So that's the movie I found the most frightening.  I doubt if Wes Craven will ever do a remake. I don’t think the original print will be re-mastered for 3D and IMAX. But these movies have a lasting effect on you. Some people are scared of birds, or showers, or chainsaws. I see Benadryl capsules encased in clear plastic and I have to leave the room.

So what’s your scariest movie?

126 comments:

Kirk D G said...

The original "The Hills Have Eyes" was terrifying especially since we watched it on a warped black and white tv in cottage country.

Also, the Salem's Lot mini series (David Soul) was a terrific scare for a young kid. My parents were away and I watched with my sisters. We made sure every window was locked that night.

Wesley Mead said...

Inside (À l'intérieur). The only film I've ever been genuinely terrified of as an adult.

John G said...

As a kid: The Exorcist on late-night TV.
As an adult: The Others.

bettyd said...

I am not a slasher horror fan, so I have no comments on any of those.

Silence of the Lambs was the most stressed I've been in a movie. I was in high school in the 70s for first time I saw Psycho (the original) in black and white on a UHF channel. I made my dad watch it with me, I was so scared.

Se7en still makes me creep out to this day too. I'm getting the willies thinking about some of the gross scenes there.

Bob "Melon" Melonosky said...

I have another Cold War story.

My mom took me to the original Planet of the Apes. The final scene with the Statue of Liberty half-buried freaked me out.

My mom explained that it was really earth and we had finally dropped all the atomic bombs. Bad idea mom.

I didn't sleep all night. The next morning my mom found me at the kitchen table with Volume A of our old Encyclopedia Britannica trying to figure out how nuclear war turned us into apes.

I sleep better now, not really.

poopypants said...

The last time I was scared by a movie was Poltergeist.

I was six at the time and I still can't imagine what prompted my parents to take me with them. My bedroom was a top floor room with a giant tree right outside just waiting to eat me like in the movie.

So that was a problem for a while, but unfortunately once I got over that fear it seems movies lost their ability to ever frighten me.

Sure, they can surprise me. I can become tense with anticipation. But never anything approaching actual fright that might linger beyond the moment.

Rory W. said...

"The notion of paranoia and leaving the fate of the world to potential idiots is fucking SCARY! Real fucking SCARY!"

Wait, are you talking about "The 27th Day" or the GOP presidential field?

Sorry, it was there, had to take it.

cam.robbins said...

When I was ten- ish I saw theSea World Jaws and was convinced that a great white lived in the deep end of the pool.

There was also what I think was a made-for-TV movie about a garment factory fire in NY. One of the workers was raped in the back room before the fire broke out and she died in that back room. That freaked me out. And then there was the scene where the workers were jumping out of the building to their deaths rather than die in the fire itself. One of the factory owners threw out his money to people below before jumping. That scene stuck with me too and was one of the first things I thought of when I saw people jumping out of the twin towers.

*shiver*

Mac said...

I remember watching THE THING as a kid. God knows how - I must have convinced my parents it was about a nice thing, not a thing that kills people.
I remember it had some really funny moments, which seemed to make it even scarier, maybe because it made you drop your guard.
I haven't seen it for years, I don't know how it would stand up. Not very well I hope. Going to bed with the light on and checking under the bed would be a bit embarrassing at my age.

Roy said...

Macabre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macabre_%281958_film%29) -- the scene where they open the coffin kept my young self up all night.

Anonymous said...

"It's Complicated"

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

"Psycho" was the scariest movie I ever saw, followed closely by the original "Halloween." I saw "Psycho" in the theater when it first came out. Couldn't believe they'd actually killed off Janet Leigh--the name star--and almost took my boyfriend's thumb off when the mother was revealed. I did not take a shower for years without first locking every possible door--the outside ones, the bathroom door, etc.--and then I couldn't close my eyes. To this day, if I think about it when I'm in the shower, I have to open my eyes (and I still make sure the doors are locked).

Chip said...

Deliverance.

PatGLex said...

I don't do horror movies, or vampires. [Books or movies.] Stay far away from them. No zombies, either. But back in the day [college] I did watch The Exorcist and I think that was the scariest movie I ever saw. Didn't help that I was a cradle Catholic.

scooter said...

Perhaps because it wasn't a "horror" movie that I could easily dismiss, Todd Haynes' Safe had my skin crawling for days, and still makes me think about the world a little differently.

basura said...

I saw the original Village of the Damned (1960) when I was *6* years old. I guess my older brother took me.

But I can still think of those creepy kids' eyes glowing and it still gives me the heebie jeebies.

Iain Coleman said...

Threads. A BBC TV movie from 1983, following various groups of characters in Sheffield in the run-up to, and aftermath of, a nuclear war. For Americans, imagine if The Day After was British, and good. It can all be found on YouTube, and still packs a hell of a punch today.

RCP said...

The Haunting (1963) because I first watched it - half of it, anyway, when I took my hands away from my face - when I was 5 in 1966. Seeing a face appear on the wall accompanied by mingled voices scared the crap out of me. So did Mrs. Dudley. Mom and Dad were there with pretzels and Coke - parenting in the 60s. Also: Night of the Living Dead, which I tuned into when I was around 10 and somehow alone at home - just the opening scene of Johnny and Barbara driving out to a cemetery in the middle of nowhere about 15 minutes before dark was chilling.

ElizabethH said...

"Sybil," which I saw as a child. SideshowBobSound every time I think about it, esp. the water torture.

The book "Christine" scared me enough that I don't need to see the movie. I still look sideways at my car when I leave it in the garage.

Any Law&Order episode w/Elisabeth Roehm in it. Just kidding, sorta.

danrydell said...

Jaws. Then Halloween.

Phil H. said...

Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) and Pink Floyd's The Wall (1982) - My chemical intake at that time may explain why I cannot think of either move to this day without my skin crawling.

Roger Owen Green said...

The Leech Woman, which I saw when I was about nine. Terrified me. Wrote about it HERE.

Mike Duffy said...

Nice summary of THE 27TH DAY:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_27th_Day

404 said...

Poltergeist, definitely, had the most impact on me. I wasn't allowed to watch it, but when it came on HBO I snuck over to my friend's house.

You remember scene where the little stuffed clown came to life? Well, I come home from watching the movie only to find out that my parents had decided to rearrange my room, and had hung up all my stuffed animals (yeah, I had stuffed animals as a 9-year old boy. Deal with it) over my head.

So I spent the next three years or so each night afraid to move, staring at the animals over my head as they all seemed to stare back at me. If I had known then what the word "karma" meant I would have appreciated the irony.

(honorable mentions: Alien, for scaring the crap out of me on my 12th birthday at 2 am, and The Shining for being the movie that STILL gives me the most creeps today).

PS--At the same time that Poltergeist happened, a made-for-TV movie came on about a strangler that also scared me. So I spent the next three years or so sleeping not only on my back afraid to move, but also with my hands around my neck to ward off any would-be stranglers lurking in my closet).

JazMac said...

"Don't Look Now." Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, directed by Nicholas Roeg. Sutherland is a restoration architect who's gone to work in Venice following the drowning death of their young daughter back in England. Bodies in the canals, creepy old English psychic sisters in the pensione with a message from their daughter, a figure in a red slicker he keeps seeing (just like his daughter was wearing). Was creeped out the first time I saw it, then years later it was on TV and I thought, no problem, but YIKES. Still couldn't handle it. Maybe if I saw it again today...

charlotte said...

My husband and I agreed that it wasn't any one particular movie that had been most scary to us growing up, it was a particular element that some very disparate and sometimes otherwise not-scary-at-all movies shared: actors looking directly into the camera for a moment.
For my husband it was when Raymond Burr looks at camera in Rear Window. Brrr...
For me it was that moment in The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch of the West, teasing Dorothy from inside the crystal ball, turns and looks straight at camera. Not cool, Wicked Witch! You're not supposed to do that! ;)

PreachersKid said...

As a grade-schooler, the original "House on Haunted Hill" scared the crap out of me. Years ago when my son was also in grade school, he and a buddy watchd the old black and white original version, and it had the same effect on him.

By the time I got into college, "The Exorcist" haunted my dreams for years to come. Bill Friedkin, the director, even came to my college and showed a film clip of some of the special effects, but it still gives me the yips to this day.

Janet T said...

I saw " the Birds" when I was five. (Mom and Dad were playiing cards and left us on our own) My older brother could not sleep for weeks.
I've been watching "American Horror Story" I actually have to get my mind around watching it before I can just sit down and watch. I'm still not sure exactly who is alive and who is dead but pretending to be alive Freaks me out a bit.

Brian Fies said...

When I was about 8 I saw "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (thanks, Mom!), in which Charlton Heston blows up the world to prevent skinless irradiated telepaths from...blowing up the world? That wasn't healthy for my psyche. Around the same age, I caught 10 minutes of a Dracula movie on TV (don't know which one) that forevermore left me uneasy sleeping with my neck exposed. But it was seeing "The Exorcist" around age 18 which broke something inside me that took a while to fix.

Brian Fies said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phillip B said...

"Carrie" - it was able to surprise me with things that quickly became cliches.

And "The Terminator" - not normally considered a horror movie, but Schwarzenegger was more scary as robot than he was as a governor...

Emily Blake said...

Honestly, JESUS CAMP.

But if we're talking actual horror movies, Poltergeist scared the bejeezus out of me.

Please Don't Eat Me said...

The original Omen was just creepy and scarred me for life (I'm pretty sure it's the reason why I quit being a Catholic--though there may have been other reasons, too.)


I remember watching The Blair Witch Project and with a half-hour to go standing up and screaming at the screen, "Just kill them already! Please kill them. Puhleeeeze!" And then I sat down and went back to sleep."

spreng said...

Invaders from Mars (1953).

Clark Anthony said...

One of the most frightening films for radio men-of-a-certain-age has to be, "Play Misty For Me".

erniecanuck said...

In 1965 Roman Polanski wrote and directed "Repulsion" and stared Catherine Deneuve. I was head over heels for her well before that movie which made the suspense all the more, well, suspenseful. Sigh.
Twenty years later she was chosen as the model for the symbol of the French Republic. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Its not a horror movie, but The Abyss (with Ed Harris & Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) totally freaked me out. I am terrified of going into the ocean, river, pool...and that gave me nightmares for months.

When I was twelve, a friend and I went to see a double feature at the local theatre. Change of Habit with Mary Tyler Moore and Elvis Presley. That was the one we were most excited about, but we stayed for Wait Until Dark. Both of us screamed like the little girls we were when Alan Arkin jumped out of the shadows at Audrey Hepburn. Scared us to death. But what a movie!

Pam aka SisterZip

Jason said...

"The soil of a man's heart is stonier, Louis."

Just thinking of that line in Fred Gwynne's voice sends chills down my spine.

DogsOnDrugs.com said...

I've never seen a movie freak as many people out as did The Blair Witch Project. I saw grown adults asking theater employees to walk them to their car the night that I saw it.

Personally, I don't get freaked out by movies. But as a kid, the scene in Deliverance where the hand broke the surface of the water towards the end stuck with me for quite a while.

Nathan said...

For my sixth birthday, I talked my mother into taking my party to see The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I started crying about 15 minutes into it and spent the rest of the movie out in the lobby while my friends enjoyed the movie and/or making fun of me.

I guess a close second would be a movie I worked on a few years ago called Spinning into Butter. Can you think og many things scarier than Sarah Jessica Parker having responsibility for solving race relations in New England? I still shudder thinking about it.

dgwPhotography said...

I don't think any movie scared as many people as Jaws did. There are still people who won't swim at the beach because of it.

DanTedson said...

The Nightmare on Elm Street movies messed with me when I was a kid to the point that I stopped watching them. They were about Freddy coming in your dreams, so you thought about them most when you were about to go to sleep, and going to sleep in a dark room is already the scariest part of a kid's day. I only saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers as an adult, but it occurs to me that the ending with Donald Sutherland pointing and screaming would have really unnerved me as a kid.

A friend and I watched The Human Centipede for the first time recently. This is a guy who works out religiously, runs half marathons, that sort of thing. Halfway through, he left, I thought to go to the bathroom, but he admitted afterwards that he was worried he was going to throw up. It made me a little queasy too, which is rare.

YEKIMI said...

As a kid: A 3D movie called "The Bubble". I went with my older sister and by the end of the movie I was hiding behind the theater seats yelling at her "I wanna go home!"

Adult: "Alien". After that movie was over, to get to my car, the side exit for the theater [which was in a mall....do any malls have theaters anymore?] was down a long dark hallway with only one working light and all sorts of pipes for water, A/C, etc. looking just like the interior of the spaceship. I literally ran like Carl Lewis down that hallway and didn't stop till I was in my car. Even then I took a good long look in the back seat area just to make sure nothing was lurking around.

JeffG said...

Believe it or not, when I was about six years old, I was traumatized and lost quite a bit of sleep due to a Bob Hope special.

It was a murder mystery parody where Hope was throwing a party and various celebrities were being grabbed by a masked killer, who would suddenly jump out of closets or other such places. At that age, I didn't pick up on the parody aspect of it and the idea of people suddenly being grabbed like that scared the heck out of me. The punchline of the show was that Johnny Carson turned out to be the killer, but I had no idea who he was at that age.

The show aired back in the mid-70s and I'd be really curious to see it again now that I'm an adult.

The Gallery said...

"The Vanishing" with Keifer Sutherland, Jeff Bridges, and Sandra Bullock makes me shudder to even think about! It's not only because of the claustrophobic nature of the crime involved, but also by how realistic the initial abduction is. Shudder.

BigTed said...

I think scariness is definitely multiplied when you're young. When I was 4 or 5, I saw an old black-and-white Japanese monster movie on TV. A giant alien creature that had come to take over Earth -- a lesser Godzilla that was probably an actor in a cheap rubber suit -- frightened the bejeepers out of me.

AlaskaRay said...

I remember that movie and might even have seen it at that very same show at the Stadium. I remember that the kicker was the capsules gave one the power of "life or death" not "life and death", which is how they figured out how to use them to wipe out all the evil people.

The picture that gave me nightmares for a week was "Day of the Triffids" a Btitish flick made sometime in the '60s. It scared the shit out me and I would eat broccoli for... well I still won't.

Ray

Retro Blog said...

The Boston Strangler, had me jumpy for a few weeks.

Scribe said...

my scariest, cannot even see the trailer or pics from it, movie is
"the Serpent and the Rainbow". Being Jamaican anything involving voodoo (or what we call obeah) is a little too close to home.
#2 is the first Hellraiser. the scene where the body comes back together is still stuck in my head.
both these movies have made me very afraid of the horror/suspense genre as a whole. to this day (i'm now in my 30's) i have to be very careful what movies i watch. they can't be too real to life, and that includes ghosts cos i do believe thats possible even if i havent experienced it myself.

JackR said...

The Exorcist was a good one, but I thought the book was much more creepy. I had every light in the room on while reading that book.

Silence of the Lambs is my winner. That was the only movie I've ever seen that gave me nightmares.

iain said...

1980's "The Changeling" starring George C. Scott. It's a fairly low budget Canadian production that manages to be light on the gore, but also scary & very suspenseful.

Anonymous said...

Mia Farrow in See No Evil needs a mention...

Mark Bennett

-bee said...

The thing that most made marks on me as a child were:

a) there was a weekly 'Creature Feature" on the local TV station that had a montage of moments from monster movies, and I was completely freaked out by a clip at the end from "The Crawling Eye".

b) There was an episode from an old B&W anthology series where a woman put on a wig or necklace and became a monstrous killer, but am not sure which show this was from.

The movie which has most freaked me out as an adult was a British made- for-TV movie from the 80's called "Threads" about a nuclear holocaust and its aftermath in England. What is horrifying has nothing to do with graphic depictions of people being blown up or dismembered, its watching human civilization disintegrate and people turning on each other in a desperate struggle to merely survive (sort of similar to the recent movie "The Road" but much more powerful).

GRayR said...

For me the movie that literally changed my life was; On the Beach (1959), "a post-apocalyptic drama film", I was nine years old.

For me, that movie was the epitome of Nuclear War terror. I went on to join the Navy, Nuclear Subs (boomers) and lived too much of my life underwater, waiting for the end of the world "Battle Stations Missile, This is not a Drill"

I have nightmares of submarine duty to this day.

G

Jake Mabe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake Mabe said...

As a kid it was "House of Dark Shadows." I watched it a couple of years ago and still had a nightmare involving Nancy Barrett in the scene after she's turned into a vampire and is walking around that creepy mansion in Tarrytown, N.Y., in a flowing white dress.

Of course, I also still have dreams from the same movie about Kathryn Leigh Scott and her miniskirt, but that's a different story...

Jon J said...

The Thing...hands down. Some of Mr. Dillon's finest work.

velvet goldmine said...

When I was a kid my babysitter let me watch a movie called Sssssss, about a mad scientists trying to turn people into king cobras. I'm sure I'd laugh my ass off if I saw it now, but I only pretended to take baths for weeks after that because I was scared of snakes in the pipes. (Get yo mofo snakes out of my mofo drains!)

Here's the imdb:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070622/

Eric J said...

As a kid: Them! I saw it on Netflix a few weeks ago and the noise the ants made immediately raised the hair on the back of my neck. Otherwise it was 50's hokey for an adult.

As an adult: Rosemary's Baby. I've wanted to see it again to see if it is still scary, but I can't make myself do it.

The Jnow said...

For me it was an episode of "Twin Peaks". The one after Agent Cooper (Kyle McLaughlin) has been shot and is lying on the cabin floor, and the Tall Man shows up (played by Lurch from Addams Family movies). I think it was just the way it was shot... extreme low angle, Tall Man filling the frame, and probably too big for small room... But that image just terrified me for some reason. I had to sleep, not only with the lights on in my room, but the room next door, the hallway and the bathroom light had to be on as well! THAT'S HOW TERRIFIED I WAS! A similar thing happened when 20/20 did an episode on people claiming to be abducted by aliens right out of their bedrooms... SCARY to a 9 year old!!!

gottacook said...

Special Bulletin, the early-1980s TV movie starring Ed Flanders and Kathryn Walker as news anchors. An early Herskovitz/Zwick production. Unbelievably effective. Anyone who's seen it will remember it.

JED said...

Alien. I went to see it when a research ship I was on came into port after we'd been out at sea for a month. A group of us saw it and were freaked out by the realism and claustrophobia of the Nostromo (the ship in the movie) and how much like our ship it seemed - dirty, nothing worked quite right, cramped. The thought of a menacing alien on a ship with no escape really resonated with us. Then we had to go back out to sea for another month! We saw things in the shadows the whole time.

Mike said...

Never mind that American schlock. This is the classy stuff:

Dead Of Night (1945) from Ealing Studios.
The NY Times raves here.
See the whole film here.

The Woman In Black (TV 1989) from the Susan Hill novel.
Forget the Daniel Radcliffe remake, this is scary.
See the whole programme here.

Though not scary, you may also enjoy:
Theatre Of Blood (1973).
Vincent Price, as a Shakespearean ham, takes revenge on critics.
See the whole film here.

Blair Ivey said...

Not a fan of slasher films, but I do like the original Halloween. Jaws and The Exorcist are very good, but my favorite is the 1957 British film Night of the Demon.

Blaze Morgan said...

Blood and entrails splashed across the screen aren't scary. They're disgusting. People scared by guts better avoid thinking how sausages are made.

I recall being terrified out of my childhood skin by one scene in "Curse of the Werewolf". Despite his protestations, Oliver Reed is thrown into the village jail for disorderly conduct and backsass. He's sharing the cell with the town drunk. The town cop pays him no heed. Then the moon rises and Oliver changes and the poor town lush is shredded...which we see only by shadow and the expression on the jailer's face. Then the wolfman rips off the cell door and does the jailer. Too bad the rest of the movie is a talk-talk-talk snooze.

A movie that creeped me out was a dark comedy called "After Hours". The two hours of the poor boob just trying to get home really worked my nerves. The surreal tone of the script struck me just like a nightmare where one runs but goes nowhere.

Andy Cook said...

Like ‘Pam aka SisterZip’, for me it’s The Abyss because of one scene.

It’s the one where Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio deliberately drowns herself. Something that goes “boo!” and makes me jump is easily watched but that drowning scene freaks me out on a deep psychological level.

Now I think about it, I also saw a film set in Canada where two guys are isolated and one gets pinned by a large log floating in the river. The tide slowly comes in, the water rises and… you can guess the rest. Saw it once about 30 years ago and although I can’t remember the title, that scene still haunts me.

benson said...

@Nathan Me, too on Ghost and Mr. Chicken. I was probably 7 and it was quite scary.

And @Pam, we, too jumped at Wait Until Dark.

And the wonderful climatic scene in Carrie, even though I saw it in a college cinema class. (And learned the wonderful trivia about that scene)

And another one comes to mind, too. Again about 7 years old, folks were out shopping for groceries, and it was the first appearance of Cesar Romero as the Joker on Batman. Really creeped out this 7 yr. old.

kingvermin said...

Aliens, because it's one futile scenario.

As a kid, it's thinks like John Carpenter movies that scare you, without totally punching you in the brain.

But then again, as a kid, I loved Ghostbusters, and was concerned for the well being of the characters. "i thought they got Dana!" in my 8 year old voice...

As an adult, I don't watch horror movies. It's the suspense that gets me. No Country For Old Men was intense...and nihilstic!

My all time favorite horror movie has to be Christine. As a kid, "dude, that car is ALIVE! NOOOOO!" As an adult, it's solid editing but I'm having a lot of laughs.

I never got at the end: what story did they tell Harry Dean Stanton for him to be standing there with them at the junkyard, "you two are heroes?" What sort of report did he file?

"Suspect's friends broke into barred crime scene still under investigation. Suspects friends hotwire bulldozer. According to suspect's friends, suspect showed up with possible vehicle used in various hit and runs of victims that were known to suspect and his friends. According to suspect's friends, suspect was killed in vehicular homicide attempt. Suspect's friends further advise that vehicle, powered and driven by itself, continued to attack them. Suspect's friends used hotwired bulldozer to crush vehicle still believed to be car used to intentionally kill victims of homicides still in investigation.

Suspect's friends are to be commended for their actions."

Mike Schryver said...

Horror movies have never scared me, but little moments can.

The moment in the opening of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, where a big eye crosses the screen and opens, terrified me when I was little.

The scene in CABARET (I'm not kidding) where the people in the park sing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" still scares the willies out of me.

Kirk said...

I've always like horror movies, especially as a kid, but I've never really been scared, or even WANTED to be scared, by them. It was just the overall weirdness of horror movies that attracted me, being a weird kid myself. I was a bit disappointed when, sometimes during the 1970s, somebody decided the vast majority of horror movies should no longer take place in the 19th century. To me, that only added to the weirdness. Since I also loved comedy as a kid, the "Abbott and Costello Meet..." horror comedies were a special treat.

One movie that did scare me quite a bit as a kid had nothing to do with science-fiction or the supernatural. It was a made-for-TV movie called "The Old Man Who Cried Wolf" with Edward G. Robinson as the title character. In it, an old man witnesses a murder. Nobody believes him, and he gets murdered himself. That scared me, because, unlike ghosts or martians, this seemed like something that could happen in real life.

Graham Powell said...

The movies that scared me most were JACOB'S LADDER and THE EXORCIST III. Not much gore, but very unnerving.

Also, the scene behind the diner MULHOLLAND DRIVE almost made me jump through the roof. If you've seen it, you know what I mean.

Lee said...

Invaders from Mars, because the aliens took control of Mom and Dad!

Rodan and Mothra (Godzilla, not so much). Our local municipality used to test the civil defense sirens every now and then and whenever I heard that chilling honk, honk, honk I was sure one of those monsters was on the way. Also had nightmares of Mothra chasing me down the street.

Sue said...

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, without my mothers knowledge, my Dad dropped off my 8 years older brother and I to see Godzilla. I could not sleep in my own bed for at least a week. Mom was not too happy with Dad.

Then as a teen it was Phsycho. Showers were terrifying for quite a while as were unknown basements.

When in college my five roommates and I went to Wait Until Dark. When Arkin jumped out there were five women, who had been sitting in their own seats, on one lap. When I got back to the dorm, for god sakes I checked under my bed and all the closets, just in case someone was hiding there.

fred said...

friday question;
On Mash was Potter's son in law and Margret's dad the only " relatives" to make an appearance at the 4077th?
Also how about Sparky, Radar's trading/radio buddy? Don't remember ever seeing him at the 4077th either.

Pumpkinhead said...

Movies never scare me much, but there are a few sort-of exceptions I can report:

I've never seen the movie, but the TV commercial for the movie Beyond the Door scared the everliving shit out of me when I was a little kid.

I forget the name, but we rented some dopey VHS video from the video store (ha, remember those from your childhood!) that portrays itself as being the homemade video of some nutjob serial killer (I guess that's kind of redundant) who videotapes himself doing his killings, and in the end, it turns out that supposedly the vhs tape you've rented from the video store is his actul homemade tape, one of a kind, and he follows home the people who rent it from the store and kills them, so the video grows with a new victim each time someone rents it. He ends by saying that now that you have finished watching the video, he is outside your house waiting to come in and kill you and add you to the tape. We knew it was bullshit - what, he'd wait in video stores for weeks on end for someone to rent it, then lurk outside someone's house for three days til they finally watched it - but... fuck me, I just had to.. I peeked outside after the movie was over to make sure he wasn't there.

Also, not a horror film, but The Black Swan made me more uneasy than any movie since I can't remember when.

Plus, believe it or not, the word verification for this post is "bloode." Really.

Janice said...

I know The 27th Day, and I used to have the novel as well. It's a great movie, one that shows you don't need fancy effects to make a riveting thriller, all you need is a cold and nasty concept.

rchesson said...

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON 1981)

Saw it soon after release and with the special effects, was sufficiently scared as to have the creeps while walking home afterwords. I know, it has as much humor as it does frights, but the Nazi werewolf attack does it every time.

Also the original VANISHING (1988 film by George Sluizer not the english language remake). Definitely the creeps.

Anonymous said...

PSYCHO, by a mile. The idea of Norman Bates living with his dead mother's body in that weird house still creeps me out. The shot of Mother, sitting in her rocking chair in the corner of the fruit cellar, is the scariest movie shot ever (even before the chair turns around)!

Peed myself said...

Attack of the Killer Shrews (1959)

Sgt. Bailey said...

The gi-ant movie -- "Them!" -- scared me for years after I saw it as a youngster. I swear I could hear the high-pitched noise they made as I walked home. (Cicadas, some would claim.) Years later, I met James Whitmore, who appeared in it, and told him my feelings. Curiously, he didn't care and didn't offer an exorcism. As an adult, Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" had me not looking at anything for a long time.

birdie said...

Silkwood. Scares me more than any horror movie out there. When those sirens go off and they have to do the scrubdown...holy crap. And it's just one hell of a movie. Love it.


Runner up: The China Syndrome. That car chase scene with no music - just the tie schreeches - makes me go off the rails every time. Having no score for that movie was the smartest thing they ever did.


i wonder if Ken has an opinion on that. heavy handed, spielberg-esque scores versus minimal ones. I think a spare score typically creates the most tension, and i hate when film is drowned out by something syrupy. potential friday question, ken?

Zirbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Craig Edwards said...

Iain - "For Americans, imagine if The Day After was British, and good." Or maybe we'll just know you are British, and a pretentious git.

JeffG - that Bob Hope special was called "Joys" - play on "Jaws" - and the reason Carson was killing everybody was so they would get off so his show could come on!

Mike - American shlock, eh? Yeah, wanker, it's classy to post links to copyrighted films - whether they're on YouTube or not.

Scariest movie ever - if they adapted this comment list - and showed Iain and Mike onscreen. I'd never sleep again.

Zirbert said...

I was a huge horror fan for years. I got bored with and wandered away from the genre when torture porn replaced real horror. I trust that if actual horror ever comes back, the Internet will let me know.

For me a good horror movie isn't about gore, and certainly isn't about cheap "jump shots" (the inevitable cat leaping past the nervous babysitter, etc.). It's about creepiness. If I want to turn every light in the house on after the movie, then it was good.

There are three movies in my personal hall of fame:

The Shining (the quick flashes of the little girls in the hallway)

The Changeling (the ball bouncing down the stairs, George C. Scott playing the tape back, slower and slower....)

Dawn of the Dead (Romero's original, not the 2004 remake, which wasn't bad either)

Any of these three will still, after a couple of decades and multiple viewings, give me a restless night or two.

Breadbaker said...

The Birds. I saw it as a kid and it gave me nightmares. I saw it as an adult and the memory of the nightmares was so real I thought I was 8 again.

ME (aka Mia) W. said...

The Vanishing -- Jeff Bridges is very creepy. Dead Calm -- you'll never take a boating vacation.

xjill said...

I hate horror/scary movies because I was scarred as a child by Poltergeist, which I saw when I was WAY too little. So, Poltergeist.

YEKIMI said...

Oh, I saw a couple more that really frightened me "Meet Dave" & "The Adventures of Pluto Nash". Real horror movies! [or should that be horrible movies?]

Matt said...

Devil Dog, Hound of Hell. It was a TV movie in the 70s, so it was probably more cheesy than scary. But I was 5 and it is the only movie to give me nightmares.

slummingitforthelord said...

Night of the Demon. 1957 British horror movie directed by Jacques Tourneur.

Cap'n Bob said...

I watched old horror movies on TV when I was a kid and they all scared me. Nowadays I have no interest in them. The scariest thing I saw as an adult was a few moments on Roseanne with her and Shelly Winters competing for the ugliest lump of blubber prize.

Bill Weinberger said...

"Alien" got me so wound up, I was incredibly relieved to discover it was still daylight when the exit door opened. In the dark of space, I'd forgotten I was at a matinee.

Terry T said...

I was a kid when a local station played "5 Million Years to Earth" on a Saturday afternoon. Must have been the early 1970's. I'll never forget that giant luminous devil filling the sky!

DAVID BISHOP said...

Jaws: The Revenge. Yoiks!

cshel said...

When I was a little kid, my older sister always watched scary old movies on TV late at night. If I wanted to stay up late and watch TV, I had to watch them, too. Ones that stand out as especially traumatic were:

The House On Haunted Hill
The Crawling Hand
Psycho

A bit later in life:

The Exorcist
Jacob's Ladder

The Exorcist was so scary to me at the time because, before that, I had never known about the idea of being possessed by the devil. How can you guard against that?! I didn't want to be alone in a room for about three days, and I had to sleep with the lights on for about three months. We made my dad take our Ouija board and drive it somewhere else and throw it away. The movie makes me laugh now.

Jacob's Ladder freaked me out because I have such a fear of losing my mind anyway. I'm curious to see it again, to remember why it bothered me so much the first time. Nah...

Frank Abe said...

Carrie. Especially the ending. I literally jumped out of my seat.

D. McEwan said...

I think the movie I found scariest, that still made me leap and gasp (I have never screamed at a movie) even the second time I saw it, and the third, was the Polanski masterpiece REPULSION. Sorry to recommend a movie made by a child rapist, but Repulsion is scarier than Psycho, scarier than The Thing, even scarier than The Exorcist, which isn't easy. The Exorcist was damn scary!.

And here's the good news: TCM will be running Repulsion at 1 Am on Halloween. (Technically, 11/1/11.) That's for the West Coast, consult your local listings or TCM's web page. But keep a light on while you watch it.

D. McEwan said...

"Pumpkinhead said...
Also, not a horror film, but
The Black Swan made me more uneasy than any movie since I can't remember when."

That's because The Black Swan IS a horror movie.

GMJ said...

I'm surprised no one said "Showgirls". (Re: "Scream" reference)

As a kid:
The Blob
(The Steve McQueen original)

As a late-teen/early adult:
Psycho (The Hitchcock version)

As an adult:
The Silence of the Lambs
(Preferably, watching the film for the first time on cable after midnight!)

Henry Sheppard said...

I still shudder at the memory of Yentl.

Pat Reeder said...

Not a fan of horror movies, especially not the slasher variety, but I remember as a kid being creeped out by several "Twilight Zone" episodes (especially the one with Billy Mumy sending people to the corn field) and by "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," which also had a great creepy score by Vic Mizzy. I couldn't scrub that movie from my subconscious, and I used Bon Ami!

I do recall very clearly, though, the first thing I ever saw on a screen that scared me so much I wouldn't even walk through the room when my older brother was watching it. It was a sci-fi marionette show called "Fireball XL5." Today, it's like watching "Team America: World Police." But when I was five, something about those creepy looking marionettes dangling from their strings and walking around herky-jerkily with their arms outstretched like zombies (and in black and white on our old TV) scared the living bejeezus out of me.

Pat Reeder said...

PS - I have to quote my favorite line from a horror movie. It's from "The Car," a flick about a demon-possessed car that runs over people. A panicked James Brolin bursts into the room to warn his family of impending doom and declares, "The CAR...is in THE GARAGE!!"

He should have won an Oscar just for being able to deliver that line with a straight face.

Tony said...

Wake In Fright - an Australian movie from the early 70s. A school teacher in a small town full of macho kangaroo shooting alchoholics (including Donald Pleasance as the town doctor who eats raw kangaroo testicles) is about to leave to go on holiday in Sydney but loses all his money and gets stuck in "The Gabba" and can't escape. It's like The Prisoner in the violence-fuelled outback and is absolutely terriffying.

Nick said...

Definitely Event Horizon (1997) i think... a haunted space ship with something really creepy on board... Sam Neil's dead wife keeps re-appearing and he doesn't think there's something WRONG... *shudder* still can't watch it even today...

Kathy said...

when I was very little there was a TV movie on, "Fire in the Sky." My mom kept getting scared herself, and she would cover my eyes, which made me a lot more scared than the movie ever would have. I keep looking to see if somehow there's a copy of that somewhere. I'd love to know what was so terrifying. Though I'd probably be disappointed.

True story: my roommate saw JAWS when she was ten or so and to this day it scares her to swim anywhere. Even in pools.

404 said...

Yes! Event Horizon is creepy as hell!!!

Linda said...

That scene from Jason & the Argonauts where the skeletons came on to the ship terrified me. Also Blood and Black Lace. Pretty much stopped watching scary movies after that. So, it's been a while.

chico385 said...

The scariest movie that still terrifies me to day is called "the creature from black lake."

It came out in the late 70's and the scene where the creature smashes the window of a parked van still scares me to this day.

I don't think that it is even on dvd that is how bad a movie it was.

Barry Salberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk said...

I said in an earlier comment that I've never been particularly scared by horror movies, but I do have a favorite: THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Pure batshit crazy fun.

D. McEwan said...

"Linda said...
That scene from
Jason & the Argonauts where the skeletons came on to the ship terrified me.

No such scene. Ray Harryhausen's unforgettable scene with Jason and two of his Argonauts fighting 7 skeletons takes place entirely on land. You may recall it ends with them jumping off a cliff, which breaks the skeletons apart, as Jason swims for his ship.

Kirk, while I've never found Bride of Frankenstein even remotely scary, not even the first time I saw it when I was 9 or 10, it IS my all-time favorite movie of any sort. #1 Bride of Frankenstein, the most over-the-top wonderful black comedy ever made! Dr. Pratorius is my idol. "Do have a little gin; it is my only weakness." That movie ws gayer than The Boys in the Band.

Ron said...

1. 1953 3D "House of Wax" saw as 10 year old in original 3D release at Picwood in west L.A. Surprised no mention of this but I guess most who read this blog have not seen in 3D as youngster.
2. Rosemary's Baby

Kevin Jq said...

I haven't seen it since high school so it's probably not as scarey as I remember, but Phantasm scared the hell out of me.

When I was really young they used to show a movie called "Ssssssssss" on cable, about a guy who literally turns into a snake, also very horrifying.

I recently watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre for the first time, that may be the only movie that's ever freaked me out as an adult.

The Curmudgeon said...

Hitchcock's The Birds. Still haven't been able to sit all the way through it and I saw it (or started to see it -- I couldn't bear watching it) at a summer camp 40-odd years ago.

And that's another thing. Who the heck runs scary movies at summer camp?

DanTedson said...

Coincidentally, it was actually an episode of Cheers that changed forever how I watch horror movies. It was the "Yacht of Fools" episode from season 6, where Frasier talks about Invasion of the Body Snatchers really being about the cold war with the pod people representing the dehumanizing effect of the McCarthy hearings. Ever since, I can't watch a horror film from the 50's or 60's without reading something into it.

Marianne said...

The legend of Boggy Creek-can't watch it alone-ever.

Brent said...

I'm not a big scary movie fan, but many, many years ago my then-girlfriend dragged me to an Alien/Poltergeist double-feature. Holy crap. As we were walking through an alley afterward to where the car was parked, some loud noise happened, trashcan lid, maybe. I got so much air my fat ass could have dunked over Shaq. Thus endeth a relationship...

RJ Battles said...

A lot of people mentioned the same ones:
"Event Horizon"
"The Blair Witch Project"
"Pet Semetary"
and I'd like to add-
"Amityville II The Possesion" It scared me when I was a kid and I saw it last month and it's still creepy.

One thing that really scared me as a kid was "Superman III", the one with Richard Pryor- there's scene where a woman gets sucked into a machine and wires wrap around her and she comes out all evil. I've seen that scene as an adult and it isn't as scary now.

D. McEwan said...

"DanTedson said...
Frasier talks about Invasion of the Body Snatchers really being about the cold war with the pod people representing the dehumanizing effect of the McCarthy hearings."


While that is a perfectly valid reading of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, anyone familair with the politics of Don Seigal, who directed it, would assign it the opposite reading, that it was a McCarthyesque view of commie infiltration. Which of your friends are Good Ammurricans and which are secret commie monsters?

The fact is, it it's not intended so specifically. Any dehumanizing effect on people can be represented by the pod people. Religion, for instance, is GREAT at creating pod people. Scientology is a real pod person generator. But it's good to be looking for the metaphors in 1950s sci-fi movies, because they are there.

The novel Who Goes There?, which The Thing was based on, also had people being turned into undetectable monsters, but the movie, made in the very early 1950s, has the American military,who had just saved the world from Tojo and Hitler, equal to the challenge of an alien invader.

Most of the giant monsters of the 1950s were metaphors for the atomic bomb. Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, made by us, the only country ever to wage nuclear war (to our eternal shame), is upbeat. The military again has no trouble dispatching the radiation-spawned beast. (And the military clean up science's mess. George Bush would love it.)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters, an extremely similar film (They were frank that they'd been "inspired" by Harryhausen's beast film), made by the country we dropped the bomb on, who knew first-hand the horrors of nuclear war, which they were still suffering from, has a very different mood, all very downbeat and somber, with a mournful score, and an emphasis on the rows of pathetic, wounded victims, burned and scarred. No jaunty military there, just a guilt-ravaged scientist who sacrifices himself to destroy the threat.

Just because they were light entertainments, doesn't mean they were not about stuff.

Ron said...

The Fearless Vampire Killers directed by & starring Roman Polanski with Sharon Tate. A hilarious and scary movie I absolutely recommend for Hallowe'en if you can find it.

DanTedson said...

"D. McEwan said...
But it's good to be looking for the metaphors in 1950s sci-fi movies, because they are there."


Seems like they performed a public service as a relief valve for all the pent-up tension. Kind of a perfect storm of fear of the bomb and obsession with UFOs. Though some would argue Hollywood created that obsession since Roswell didn't enter public consciousness until the 80's.

Sometimes I wonder if once you start looking for it, though, you're going to see it whether it's there or not. Either way, I'm glad I only do it with that particular genre of films. I'd hate to be watching She's All That and thinking about what they're trying to say about stem cell research. Still, I guess that's better than watching She's All That and thinking about She's All That.

D. McEwan said...

"DanTedson said...
Seems like they performed a public service as a relief valve for all the pent-up tension. Kind of a perfect storm of fear of the bomb and obsession with UFOs."


That was exactly their psychological function, even if their purpose was to generate money. And UFOs stood-in for ny fear of any foreign invasion, generally from "commies," who were pretty much sold to us as aliens in the 1950s anyway.

In the preface to his first non-fiction book, Danse Macabre, Stephen King writes of being in a theater seeing Ray Harryhausen's Earth vs The Flying Saucers, pretty much the ultimate flying saucer movie, one afternoon when they stopped the film so the theater manager could announce the news that the Rooskies had just launched Sputnik. Suddenly, the movie wasn't so much fun, and a while lot scarier.

Must have been a rerelease, because the movie came out in 1955, well before Sputnik. I saw it in its original release, and it scared the crap out of me, but for a different reason. I was 5 and couldn't read yet, so I thought it was The Newsreel!!! When it went on too long for a newsreel, I realized it was "just a movie" and settled down to enjoy watching Washington DC get creamed.

diane said...

The episode of Twin Peaks where Bob comes over the back of the sofa still gives me chills. Might not have had the same effect had I not spent many hours in that living room. My boss owned the home that they filmed in and it hit me as much more "real" than any other place might have.

DanTedson said...

D. McEwan said...
"I saw it in its original release, and it scared the crap out of me, but for a different reason. I was 5 and couldn't read yet, so I thought it was
The Newsreel!!!"

Ha! That's fantastic. "And I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords!"

ToddA said...

As an adult, horror movies just don't scare me. I'm too aware that people are acting. The closest one that almost worked was WOLF CREEK a few years ago.

As a child I was terrified by WILLY WONKA because I couldn't understand why all of the children kept dying. BEETLEJUICE was pretty scary in parts. PEEWEE'S BIG ADVENTURE with the large marge sequence was pretty crazy. And there was a Halloween fantasy episode of THE FACTS OF LIFE where Blair starts murdering everybody for borrowing her shoes or something? Yeah, it was much easier as a kid...

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Definitely The Exorcist. I was raised Catholic. Enough said.