Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Scariest Movies Ever: Top 10

This is by no means a complete list of what I find to be the scariest movies ever made, but rather one of those realizations on Halloween that I should write such a thing as I'm peeling a chocolate eyeball. It is, after all, Halloween.

An American Werewolf in London: I originally went to see this movie because (1) I heard the Rick Baker effects of changing David Naughton into a werewolf were eye-popping, and (2) David Naughton was really cute in those Dr. Pepper commercials. Cuteness doesn't prepare you for some of the most shocking scenes I've ever witnessed in a werewolf story. Naughton and British actress Jenny Agutter were charming and vulnerable, and David's sidekick, Griffin Dunne, was downright funny and at the same time haunting and menacing. I'm such a fan that I bought the blu-ray version, recently issued.

Alien. I read as much as I could about Alien before I saw it, including the novelization of the film. Still, that didn't prepare me for the claustrophobic feeling of having nowhere to go as the alien hunted down the Nostromo crew men and women, one by one. And the part where the little bugger leaps from the stomach of John Hunt? Iconic horror.

The Mummy. We're talking the original 1932 version, not that horrible franchise in the late 1990's. This Mummy starred Boris Karloff as Im-ho-tep. He never looked so ghastly, except for...

Frankenstein. Boris Karloff, don't forget, was The Monster, not Frankenstein, who was played by Colin Clive, the creator of "let my creature live!" And always remember that the story was written by a woman on a dare.

Halloween. John Carpenter hasn't hit one out of the park since he made Halloween, which made a star of Jamie Lee Curtis. What you have to like about his style was that he didn't show you everything at once, but showed us bit by bit pieces of the horror that awaited many of the young people in town. Halloween is a masterpiece of filmmaking that later slasher/horror films would do well to emulate.

Carrie.I thought I had it together, I really did, until that final scene, when I rose out of my seat, levitating, and grabbed the guy next to me. He was very surprised, as we didn't know each other. This one made a star of Sissy Spacek as well as her screen mother, Piper Laurie.

Psycho. Psycho, one of Hitchcock's "lesser" films, is a charter member of the scary top 10. Anthony Perkins' neurotic mama's boy surprised us in every scene. And Janet Leigh, supposedly the star of the film, was killed off very early -- early, yes, but in spectacular fashion. Many of us had a hard time taking a shower after that...

The Silence of the Lambs. The introduction of Dr. Hannibal Lecter would prove to be earth-shaking to us horror fans. He was a sociopath with a specific code for killing and a sort of seductive depravity. Jodie Foster's FBI trainee Clarice Starling was as helpless as a lamb in his cold presence.

The Shining. Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of a Stephen King novel about a family's plunge into insanity during a secluded winter. The idea that such horror can exist in a fixed location, an old hotel, seemed to be new and inspired.

The Exorcist. The Exorcist was so disturbing, building and building on expectation, that it seems profane with its anti-religious imagery. Imagine putting Satan into the body of a 12-year-old. But it doesn't stop there. Truly viscerally harrowing. And I could never look at the color green in the same way again.


At 5:29 PM, Blogger Adar said...

What about The Birds? I could never manage to watch it all the way through, even the bowdlerized version that used to show up regularly on TV. The most terrifying movie EVER!

Now, I will go eat some chocolate and think about something else... quick!


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