Monday, October 3, 2011


Everybody has their own Top 10 scariest movies, so here it is mine:

1. "The Exorcist" (1973)
I was about 5 the first time I watched it and yes, it scared the shit out of me. The real terror of "The Exorcist" may not involve Satan and possession, but the helplessness of a parent trying to save a child. Of course, a ton of harrowing special effects and director William Friedkin's somber respect for the supernatural subject matter doesn't hurt either. It's horror for grown-ups.

2. "Psycho" (1960)
Alfred Hitchcock's blueprint for contemporary horror: More than just a film, "Psycho" was a cultural slap in the face. Censors wanted to ban it, while screaming audiences couldn't get enough of it. Hitch employs all of his tricks - shifting audience sympathies, killing off the main character halfway through the film and a ton of macabre humor - but more importantly he makes the horror internal. Norman Bates isn't a monster in the classic sense; he suggests that the greatest evil can lurk beneath the quietest, most pleasant surface. And no one, of course, can possibly match Anthony Perkins' amazing, subtle and creepy performance as Norman Bates.

3. "Poltergeist" (1982)
This is still one of the best ghost stories ever made. The film takes the safety and ordinaryness of the American suburb and turns it into a house of horrors. And it all begins with some strange and amusing poltergeist activity in a young family's home, and gets serious when five-year-old Carol Anne disappears. A team of paranormal investigators is called in, but it's a task none of them are quite prepared for.

4. "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)
Jodie Foster never signed back onto the "Lecter" franchise, and that's all the more reason to watch the original as many times as you can stomach it. Lecter versus Starling. Hopkins versus Foster. Buffalo Bill, in night-vision goggles and a human-skin suit, versus the world. All that psychological suspense aside, we know you jumped 35 feet in the air when Lecter snapped suddenly at the glass... Go on, fess up.

5. "The Sixth Sense" (1999)
Nine-year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) always seems disturbed, frightened... and his mother cannot figure out why. He finally confesses to psychiatrist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) that it's because he sees dead people - everywhere... and they're not always pleasant to look at. This movie has a surprising ending!

6. "Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)
Before dream-killer Freddy Krueger became a quipping pop-culture reference, he represented the most twisted monster unleashed on the public since Halloween's Michael Myers. Seeking vengeance by slicing and dicing the children of the parents who murdered him, Freddy scared the hell out of Cineplex audiences. His on-screen entrance remains terrifying, as does much of director Wes Craven's surreal, smart and shocking masterpiece.

7. "The Fly" (1986)
What do you get when you cross a classic Kafka tale, a lot of goop, Geena Davis, and Jeff Goldblum? No, the answer's not "Reading Rainbow." "The Fly" is a psychological thriller as it flips human morality on its head (think twice before you crush that little ant under your foot). The movie also has enough special effects to make your stomach churn; and that maggot scene, well… you get the idea.

8. "Halloween" (1978)
It was all downhill from here on out for Jamie Lee Curtis. And we mean that. Would she ever scream like this again? Hide in a closet while a very persistent Michael Myers spent about, oh, say, 78 minutes trying to hack through the door? Did we mention she's related to the killer? Little known fact: John Carpenter wrote the theme song himself. Genius like that doesn't come along many times in a lifetime, folks.

9. "Alien" (1979)
Sigourney Weaver: hot. Alien monster: ugly. Throw them together in a futuristic, highly stylized space battleground: beautiful. And terrifying. "Alien" was important not least because it showed that the science-fiction horror genre was one of possibility - this movie was also intelligently rendered, psychologically powerful, and, well, gross. Where else can find a bloody creature being birthed from a human surrogate?

10. "The Ring" (2002)
Naomi Watts. Very good looking, yes. Sassy? Yep. Try squaring her off against a weird chick who really wants to climb out of a well and kill people and eat their guts. OK, well maybe she doesn't want to eat their guts. But she does a good job of killing a lot of people in this cinematically beautiful horror romp - and she scares the bejeezus out of Naomi Watts in the process. Hey, that little kid playing the doomed son is cute, but kinda freaky. Extra points for that.

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