I used to think I didn’t like horror movies. But over the years I’ve learned that there are just certain kinds of horror movies that I don’t like, which generally can be put into 2 categories: gory and demonic. But watching a movie that creeps me out or gives me the spooks, that I can still appreciate. So without any further ado, here are the ones that reached their objective especially well with me:
9. Fright Night (1985) — I was with two fellow teenage boys who also happened to be my cousins. We rented this one from the Irving gas station down the road and loved the scariness of this vampire movie so much, we rewound the tape and watched it again.
8. American Werewolf in London (1981) — This time I was a preteen and seeing the main character transform into a werewolf was just horrifying to me. I still liked the movie though, and it seems to me there were even times in it that I laughed.
7. Signs (2002) — I was 30-years-old watching this one, but I did find it very scary at points. Shyamalan has a real gift of setting up a scene to scare you unexpectedly. I had that same enjoyment of being scared as I did when I watched Fright Night all those years earlier.
6. A Distant Thunder (1978) — I grew up in a church that was very practical and pragmatic in its approach to “win souls.” One of the popular methods of the day was to show scary movies about the “end times” to congregants. The movie was truly Christian as it showed no gore, no nudity, and had no swearing. It did, however, show adults and children alike being led to a guillotine to be executed for not taking the Mark of the Beast. It definitely scared me enough to make sure I was saved. And I mean like REALLY saved.
5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) — Though I don’t like demonic, this movie was based on true events and was listed as one of the most redemptive movies of 2005 according to a magazine I’d read that year. My sister had told me about the movie as well as the magazine review, so we decided to do watch it together. I believe it was daytime and we made sure the sun was shining in as we watched. We might have even played Abba music before and after the viewing. Scares me just thinking about it. (I mean the movie, not Abba)
4. The Sixth Sense (1999) — Again, I was a grown man at the viewing of this film, though there were so many scenes that were super scary to see. And the fact that it wasthrough a child’s eyes made it even scarier. And if Shyamalan set up good scare scenes in Signs, he does it perfectly—and twice as much—in this one.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999) — This is my favourite kind of scary movie. It is so minimalist in its approach to scare you. And to really scare a person, you don’t need the bloody or drastic displays that you see in so many movies. There is nothing you can see in TBWP that is typical in horror films. No scary faces or figures. No weapon being suddenly wielded. No death being displayed. No making you jump. You see nothing that should really scare you, but you better believe it will. I love this movie.
2. Jaws (1975) — I was a preteen watching this one too, and it is the first movie I can remember having to close my eyes during a scene. One of the characters wants to get a better look at the shark (WTF??) and decides to go into the water in a shark cage. I was angry at him for deciding to do that, and even angrier at the other two characters for not stopping him. When the cage is starting to get lowered, I did more than close my eyes. I left the room. Just couldn’t handle the scary.
1. Paranormal Activity (2007) — Like The Blair Witch Project, this movie shows you nothing. It simply shows very usual people in very usual situations experiencing the unusual. I think that is what scares us the most. This was another movie that made me close my eyes, and by this time I was pushing 40!
Congratulations The Sixth Sense. This is your week.
Best Actress: Demi Moore in Ghost.
Best Actor: Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters.
Best Quote: “He’s cute. White, but cute.” — Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown in Ghost.
This month I’ve watched The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Frankenstein (1931) and Dracula (1931). Sadly, I found them quite boring. But it is always a treat to see the movies that were the genesis of so many things we see in our Halloween celebrating today. Happy Halloween everyone.