It wouldn’t be Halloween without everyone and their geeky sister throwing in their two cents about which scary movies freaked them out the most. We wouldn’t be G4 if we didn’t chime in too.
We decided rather than do our version of a “Scariest Movies of All Time” list, we’re going to focus on those specific moments in films we love that keep us up at night, those memories that scare or disturb us so much we see them whenever we’re alone in the dark. Some of them will be from movies that are terrifying from soup to nuts (it’s a real phrase, I swear). Some of them will be the only scary moment in the whole flick.
Our focus is on the truly frightening, rather than just thrilling or suspenseful. Aliens is a good example of the kind of movie that makes a lot of lists but won’t be on ours. Yes, we were on seat’s edge while watching it, jumping and cringing at moments, but neither of us went home afraid an alien was going to jump out of our closets. Because we have decided to make up this criteria, the arbitrary integrity of our list demands we leave Alien, Aliens, Jaws and the like off our list whether we like it or not. We’ll find a list for them some day, too.
Before we begin, pay attention to the titles. If you haven’t seen the movie, know there will be spoilers.
Now, in no particular order:
1. Skin and Bones Episode 4 of Fear Itself. Fear Itself was billed as bringing some of the most talented writers together to create an anthology of scary, tv movies. Truth be told, Skin and Bones was the only episode that wasn’t disappointing. Directed by Larry Fessenden and written by Mick Garris, it tells the story of a man turned windego in the American northwest. This show was tremendously well made, with several moments that gave me shivers. It stands as my favorite windego story to date (yes, even far surpassing our beloved Supernatural). I would love for you all to watch it, so I’m going to avoid giving away too much of the plot.
The moment that freaks me out to this day when I think about it is a shot of the man in question laying in bed, with nothing but his head showing above the covers. His face is so gaunt, his expression so creepy – he looks hungry, for real. As the camera moves around the room from the POV of visitors, his eyes follow them, adding to the creep level. (P)
2. Phantasm. No disrespect to Kane Hodder, Gunnar Hansen, John Jarrat- but no one can hold a candle to Angus Scrimm as “the Tall Man” in the terrifying villain department. I barely remember any plot points of the film, but scene after scene is seared in my memory. One of the most chill inducing is the book of old photographs, and this one’s head turns around to look at the viewer. Gave me nightmares as a child. (B)
3. Jeepers Creepers 2 .I think the opening with the kid in the cornfield is phenomenal. The brightness of the sun against the gold corn just adds to menace of the scarecrow we see first only in the background. I may have been expecting it all along, but the moment that scarecrow moves his head was a scary, scary moment. Be on the lookout for Jeepers Creepers 3.(P)
4. Wolf Creek. When we think smart, heroic Liz is going to get away and be the lone survivor, Mick’s stabs her from behind, and renders her a living “head on a stick.” The scene is as bad as you can make it because after all you’ve seen so far, your mind can go to darker places thinking of everything he will do to her. She’ll die a thousand horrible deaths off screen in viewers’ minds. I don’t love this movie by any means, but it seems like something that could really happen and that scares on a base level. (B)
5. Carrie. Chock full of jump out of your seat moments, the one that stayed with me is the end where Amy Irving’s character goes to the “grave” of Carrie, the arm reaches out of the ground and grabs her-then she wakes up and is at home in bed. That’s the first time I remember a movie making me jump out of my seat. (B)
6. The Others. In my recent review of Paranormal Activity 3, I state that one of the things I like about the franchise is that they are making the classic ghost story scary again. The Others does that as well, and does it brilliantly. The scene in which the medium opens the doors on the children is one of the greatest jump moments in my long history as a movie goer. Not only did I jump and scream the first time I saw it, I jumped and screamed the second time. It’s that scary. (Also worth noting, The Others would make my list of “best twist endings” even in the post Sixth Sense world) (P and B)
7. The Exorcist. The entire movie. Seriously, once the story gets going- it’s a neverending assault of traumatizing visuals. And being from St. Louis where rumors circle about the hospital and the priest where the supposed real events occurred, it’s just all around a wonderful horrifying movie experience. Bex can’t walk into a dark room without expecting to see Regan’s spinning head for a split second. (B and P)
8. The Strangers. You know the scene. The boyfriend is out to get cigarettes. The girl hears strange noises. As she gets a drink of water, the audience sees what she does not – a man in an hella creepy mask. The lack of music in this scene, the total quiet, contribute to the way this scene haunts me when I’m alone in the house. . (P)
9. The Blair Witch Project. The end, when we see Michael standing in the corner with his back to the camera. There is something so deeply unnerving about this scene. We know from previous exposition that this is how children were made to stand while other children were murdered, according to the lore of the town. The childlike stance implies all sorts of horror in that room. Bex’s cat sits and stares into a corner like this sometimes and that even freaks her out. (P and B)
10. The Sixth Sense. For the most part, this movie was one of those that was only scary while watching. It’s “feel good” enough in nature that I didn’t leave with much unease. There is one exception, however. That kid who says, “Come on. I’ll show you where my dad keeps his gun,” and then turns around to reveal a gaping hole where the back of his head should be. I’m not sure why, but the fact that he’s dressed 70s style adds to the effectiveness. (P)
11. Scream. When Drew Barrymore’s character’s is attacked outside her home, she calls her parents. Her folks are arriving home and are at their front door. But she can’t talk because of her damaged throat so her parents can just listen to her be killed in their own backyard, unknowingly so close and so totally helpless. (B)
12. The Descent.Part of this film’s terrifying charm is it’s ability to make you feel confined and claustrophobic as if you are trapped in the cave with those women. I watched this movie lounging on the couch half asleep, I jolted upright, wide awake. The women realize they are standing in a pile of bones and and the camera is unsteady as it finds its focus on one of them with the “crawler” right behind her and it takes a bit out of her. (B)
13. 28 Weeks Later. I know there is something of a debate about whether or not 28 Weeks Later is a zombie movie or an infectious disease movie. The truth is, either way movies about zombie-like-things, even lightning fast ones, don’t freak me out after they are over. So why is this one on the list? Because of the scene in which a father, who at one time ran like holy hell while his wife was presumably murdered by the infected, confronts his very much not dead, but totally infected wife. She bites him, he kills her. The whole thing is bloody and awful, but it’s also so sad. Honestly, this movie gets ya on a lot of levels. That scene still gives me chills. (P)
14. The Ring. I mean, take your pick, right? I know once a movie gets to the point that it’s being parodied in Scary Movie sequels it loses a little bit of its punch, but lets all admit this was one scary damn movie when it came out. For me, the real “What the eff is happening!!!!!???” moment is when chick comes out of the TV. I mean, I have no idea how they pull that off without it just seeming cheesy, but it works. By then, the movie has you. You buy it. AND YOU OWN A TV. (P and B)
15. The Grudge. Not so great story but creeptastic visuals. When SMG passes by a mirror and the audience sees the ghostly reflection and she is unawares. I always have to look twice really fast at mirrors. (B)
16. Waxwork. (the 80′s version). China gets sucked into the Count Dracula world in the wax museum. She’s dining on what she thinks is steak tartare with The Count and several others. Later she opens a door and sees her fiance on a table in a bloody room – realizing it was fiance tartare she was eating. Gag. (B)
17. Insidious. This is a scene that we overlooked while watching the movie. It was called to our attention afterward, which makes it all the more creepy. The Tiptoe Through the Tulips boy is standing the corner totally unnoticed by Rose Byrne’s character (and us) while she innocently carries laundry through the house. Notice anything here 38 seconds into this video. If you still don’t notice anything, they’ll point it out to you 1 min 36 sec in. Shiveree. (P and B)
18. Buffy the Vampire Slayer -we know it’s not a movie, but the episode Hush was very unsettling. Proffitt gets a scare from the Gentlemen hovering down the dorm floors while Bex is rattled by Giles’ lady friend of the week at the kitchen sink looking out into the night and seeing a Gentleman floating by. (P and B).
19. Salem’s Lot. The original mini-series. Another reason to be afraid to look out your window at night. The recent child vampire victim shows up floating outside his brother’s window asking to be let in. (B)
20. Poltergeist. It’s not the chairs that move with no one’s help, the snowy television, or the little girl communicating with the spirits that are terrifying- it’s that clown! Who thinks a clown is a good idea for a kid’s room anyway? Stormy night, clown doll on a chair, boy checks under the bed-nothing-boy sits up and the evil clown doll is behind him as it wraps its long arm around the boy’s neck. That solidified the clown-phobia for life. (B and P)
That’s it for us, at least for now. We’d love to hear from YOU. Which moments in TV or movies renew your fear of what’s in the closet, under the bed, or hovering just outside your window at night?
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