“You don’t need eyes for where we’re going.” ~ Event Horizon
“Oh Yes, there will be blood!” ~ Saw II
After I finished my favorite 100 movies, I began to realize that I couldn’t stop with just that one list. I felt that I really needed to do a list of my favorite scary/horror movies since I am such a big fan of the genre. Let me clarify, though. I don’t like slasher movies like the whole Friday or Nightmare franchises or Texas Chainsaw movies. I also don’t do zombies, with just a few exceptions. And in movies like Scream and I Know What You Did, I just couldn’t get over the silliness.
You won’t find a lot of movies on my list that you normally find on a best horror movies list simply because I like psychological scary more than gorey blood scary. I like ghost stories, and I really enjoy plots in which perception and reality are questionable. Some of the movies that I have included may not be considered horror movies to purists, but there was some element within them that gave me the willies. For example, The Exorcism of Emily Rose isn’t really a scary movie in the traditional sense, but since the plot was supposedly based on a real event, I was left with a definite feeling of discomfort after watching it.
“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows” ~ Japanese Proverb
I am a big fan of Korean and Japanese horror movies, as well as vampire movies and movies about serial killers. I will warn you about a few of the foreign films that I have listed. Audition/Odeshon seems pretty normal and a bit slow in the beginning, but the last thirty minutes are absolutely horrifying and pretty graphic. In fact, I’m not sure that I would have watched it if I had known that beforehand. The same goes for the pacing of Ju-Rei: It’s slow in the beginning, the quality of the filming is not great, but it delivers in the end.
“Listen to them, the children of the night. What sweet music they make.” Dracula, Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Sometimes I have chosen the remake, and sometimes I have chosen the original. It may have to do with casting or effects. Can’t really explain that one. I do include some classics, like “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” which was pretty scary to me when I watched it as a girl. There used to be these creature feature fests on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. That’s how I first became addicted to scary movies, and “Creature from the BL” was rerun several times.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” ~ H. P. Lovecraft
Don’t ask me why I like to scare the crap out of myself because I really don’t know. I think that part of the reason is that watching these movies goes back to the old Aristotlean concept about audiences and tragedies. That is, people watch these sorts of things (of course, he was referring to plays) to purge their own emotions about pity and fear.
That being said, Aristotle’s premise about why people want to see tragedies, including some of Shakespeare’s goriest plays (Titus Andronicus anyone?) is because as common people, we cannot experience tragedy on our own, so we empathize with the tragic hero/heroine, and thereby rid ourselves of our own pity and fear.
In true tragedies—in the Aristotleansense—the protagonist must be someone with power, influence or something that places him or her above everyone else; otherwise, there could be no fall. The fall comes from hubris, or conceit: that is, the hero believing that his life is untouchable, or the heroine believing in her infallibility.
The horror often came from the factors that actually worked to bring down the protagonist; for example, in the play Dr. Faustus, the audience was treated to the doctor being dragged down to hell because of his deal with the devil. Renaissance special effects.
Don’t really know what sent me off on that tangent other than my own reasoning for watching the things that I watch sometimes: If you watch a scary movie, perhaps you can get rid of your real-life fears. Of course, the opposite may be true: you watch something so scary that you are unable to leave it alone; it haunts you and keeps you up at night.
All righty then. So here is my list of horror/scary movies. Some are scarier than others, and some are campy scary. It goes without saying that you will probably not agree with my choices, but oh well. At least I tried. As always, please feel free to comment on my choices and suggest others, just remember, I’m not claiming that these are the best, just the ones that I like the most.
” To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.” ~ Katherine Paterson
My Favorite Scary Movies
1. Event Horizon: Scared the crap out of me the first time and every other time
2. Silence of the Lambs: Fava beans and a nice Chianti
3. Saw 1-4: Where does he get those toys?
4. Jaws: We need a bigger boat.
5. Ju-On/Ju-On 2 (The Grudge, Japanese): Evil houseand woman crawling on walls; part 2 still has evil house
6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Gary Oldman as Dracula in a visually stunning production
7. Ryeong (The Ghost, Korean): Sometimes amnesia can be a good thing
8. The Others: The entire mood of this one really got to me and stayed with me for a while
9. Psycho: Hitchcock. What else needs to be said?
10. The Ring: Creepy, ultra creepy.
11. Dusk ‘til Dawn: Vampires, Quentin Tarantino, Salma Hayek and a snake
12. Ils (They, French): Come out and play?
13. El Orfanato (The Orphanage, Spanish): Surreal and ultimately, heartbreaking
14. Stir of Echoes: Kevin Bacon wields a jackhammer
15. The Lost Boys: Young Kiefer Sutherland with fangs—too cool.
16. Se7en: Gruesome deadly sins played out on screen with nothing spared
17. The Grudge: American remake not quite as good as the Japanese version, but still jumped during the shower scene
18. Dead Calm: The whole premise still gets to me.
19. The Dark: Sean Bean and people jumping off cliffs in Wales
20. Rosemary’s Baby: Don’t drink the milkshake
21. Misery: Don’t make Kathy Bates angry.
22. The Birds: Oh man. This one gave me nightmares for days
23. Underworld: Victor doesn’t like to be awakened before his time. One of the more stylish vampire movies to come along in a while.
24. The Exorcist: First scary movie I almost saw when I was a teenager.
25. The Shining: Heeeeere’s Johnny!
26. Halloween: First scary movie I actually saw most of
27. Hostel: I didn’t want to see but I couldn’t stop watching
28. Interview With a Vampire: The vampire revue was bizarre, and Kirsten Dunst as perpetual child Claudia was truly disconcerting
29. Stigmata: Gabriel Byrne as a priest and Patricia Arquette as the victim of stigmata. Religious fervor gone wild
30. Alien: Hate those drooling creatures, love Ripley
31. Aliens: Paul Reiser as sleazy corporate guy in outer space. They should have listened to Ripley
32. Sei mong se jun (Ab-Normal Beauty, Chinese): Girl likes to take morbid pictures
33. I Am Legend: I know that it’s a remake, but I still liked it. In the end, sadder than I thought that it could be
34. Ju-Rei (The Uncanny, Japanese): Slower paced, reverse action; different but still scary
35. Carrie: Revenge is not served cold in this movie
36. The Strangers: Movies based on true events always freak me out, and masks take the scary factor up a notch.
37. Ringu (The Ring, Japanese): Very scary with lots of long black hair
38. Chello hongmijoo ilga salinsagan (Cello, Korean): Makes teachers everywhere afraid to fail someone
39. Gawi (Nightmare, Korean): With friends like these, who needs enemies?
40. The Abandoned: Woman returns to rural Russia to claim family farm but should have stayed home
41. Frailty: A creepy Matthew McConaughey in an unexpected turn
42. The Exorcism of Emily Rose: How did she get her body to do that?
43. Subject Two: Medical student gets involved in science project over and over and over again
44. The Exorcist III: Legion: Based on a really good novel, and let’s pretend Exorcist II never happened
45. Chakushin Ari (One Missed Call, Korean): Don’t answer that phone
46. Conjurer: What is real and what is imagined?
47. Shutter (Thai): Spirit pictures are not good things
48. Rinne (Reincarnation, Japanese): Bad casting comes back to haunt director
49. Orora-gongju (Princess Aurora, Korean): Little girl lost, mom loses mind; everyone pays
50. Odishon (Audition, Japanese): Makes Annie in Misery look like a character from Walt Disney
51. Sinderella (Cinderella, Korean): That’s taking plastic surgery too far
52. Resident Evil 1: Laser room had me yelling at the TV: Run!!
53. Resident Evil II: Why don’t they just die?
54. Blair Witch Project 2: Darker and more disturbing than the first
55. The Descent: Caves, claustrophobia, creepy monsters. Enough said.
56. Predator: Those dreads don’t do a thing for you, but you are better looking than the Alien creature
57. Blade: Vampire half-breed with an attitude and über-cool leather coat
58. Blade Trinity: Watch out for the Pomeranian
59. 1408: They told him not to stay.
60. Blade II: Daddy isn’t such a nice guy
61. From Hell: Johnny Depp as drug addict takes on Jack the Ripper. Abattoir is an understatement
62. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: I actually felt sorry for Kenneth Branagh for his folly
63. Frankenstein (original): I always felt sorry for the monster when he tries to talk with the little girl
64. Funny Games: Why are they wearing white gloves?
65. Dead Birds: Crime doesn’t pay
66. The Omen (original): Decapitation is never good
67. Blair Witch Project: Original concept works as long as audience doesn’t leave thinking that it’s real
68. End of Days: Gabriel Byrne as the Devil is very charming if you can get over that whole evil power thing
69. What Lies Beneath: Harrison Ford plays against type as the unexpected bad buy
70. Thirty Days of Night: Vampires everywhere and not a sunset anywhere
71. The Jacket: A cadaver drawer is not prescribed treatment for mental patients
72. Creature from the Black Lagoon: I loved this movie when I was a kid
73. The Sixth Sense: Psychological thriller that messes with your mind
74. The Vanishing: That whole buried alive thing really bothers me
75. Haunted: If she looks too good to be true, she probably is
76. Silent Hill: The ashes should be the first clue.
77. Dead Silence: Very creepy ventriloquist dummies
78. Sleepy Hollow: Johnny Depp, hollow tree full of skulls, lots of blood
79. Signs: Creepiest alien noises
80. The Ghost of Mae-Nek (Thai): New couple buys old house; ghost included
81. The Prophecy: Christopher Walken as an angel with jet black hair
82. The Hitcher(original): Why would anyone mistake Rutger Hauer for a safe passenger?
83. Wind Chill: Don’t get lost in the snow
84. The Mothman Prophecies: I’m scared, but I don’t know why
85. Red Dragon: A tattooed Ralph Fiennes and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter: great combo
86. The Ruins: These plants are not for smoking.
87. The Bad Seed: That is one scary little girl
88. The Secret Window: Johnny Depp plays an eccentric who may be seeing things. Really?
89. The Skeleton Key: Why doesn’t anyone ever pay attention to their best friend?
90. House on the Haunted Hill: Whose party is this anyway?
91. Hannibal Rising: Serious childhood issues and brutal forms of retribution
92. Salem’s Lot (the original): Floating dead kids at the window
93. The Reaping: Lakes of blood, locusts. Time to go now
94. Spirit Trap: Student housing certainly has changed
95. Constantine: Unique use of the electric chair
96. The Craft: More campy than scary, except for the snakes.
97. American Psycho: Black humor, Christian Bale, lots of plastic, and a chainsaw
98. Flatliners: Young interns play with life and death, and Kiefer Sutherland sees things that aren’t there
99. Near Dark: Vampires in love. Very campy
100. Taking Lives: Ethan Hawke has an identity crisis, or two, or three
You sleep well now. Okay?
More later. Peace.
10 thoughts on ““We all go a little mad sometimes.” Norman Bates, Psycho”
Lita – Good list! But, alas, who could forget the nasty little man in Poltergiest 2, standing at the front door uttering “Let me in”. Still gives me the creeps!
And, although a made for t.v. movie – Burnt Offerings???? Bette Davis ,Karen Black and I forget his name – Oliver something. The scene with him in the wheelchair by the pool and the water is trying to “eat” his son?
It must be my lost memories, but I don’t remember watching Poltergeist 2. I think that I saw Burnt Offerings, but I don’t remember anything about it.
So sad when the memory goes.
I really like the list. I’m telling you, top 100 favorite scary movies, that’s a tough topic. There’s a lot of “sacred ground” there. Great addition of Friality, that’s one of my favorite movies. This had to be a hard list to make, because this is a real specific genre.
The one that I have to chuckle about being in the top movie is Event Horizon. The following that I share is only opinion and should not be read into as judging someone’s taste. Now, I totally understand how it can be a scary movie, but my mind always flashes back to a local movie reviewer in the local paper. Specifically about Event Horizon, they said (now I just pulling this out of memory) “This movie is so bad that the only way that could have gotten such a great actor like Lawerence Fishburn to do it would be by kidnapping his children.” I remember watching the movie thinking, “huh, you know what? They’re right.” I’ve watched it a couple of times since then, and I still keep going back to it, so it can’t be that bad. It is an interesting take on the whole haunted house idea.
I do have to laugh about the addition of the Mothman Prophecies. Not that it’s not a scary movie, because it is. I just went to high school in the town that the movie takes place. As a matter of fact, I remember when the screenwriter came into town to do research. It’s a small world I suppose.
I know that a lot of people would disagree with me on Event Horizon, but there is something about that movie that really gets to me. I think that it’s the whole Sam Neill cut up face thing. That and it’s one of the first scary movies where I made myself watch the entire thing without closing my eyes, so it’s burned on my retina.
Mothman is scary, but I’ve never figured out why other than the fact that it’s supposedly based on a true story. Small world about your high school is right.
Yeah, I remember that whole face cut up thing. There’s something about it that just sticks with you. I also think that there’s something “magical” (and I use that term loosely) about the first scary movie you make yourself watch. I think my was one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies.
The whole Mothman thing is based on a book written by Richard Keel. It is really a non-fiction about researching the whole Mothman experience. It’s interesting to see how the local legend has grown. I had friends who’s parents swore they dress up as mothman and scared people. I knew other people that swore they saw mothman. It’s one of those weird local legends. I got interviewed about it once in grad school by a socioligist simply because I lived in the area. They said it was an area that the local folks didn’t talk to a lot of reseachers.
It’s kind of like your first love. You don’t forget them, but in a kind of I can’t believe I actually thought that he was cute kind of way. Whereas your first self-imposed scary movie is like the first time you eat a strange food: kind of icky but ok, but the second time it gets better, and by the third time, you’re hooked.
Too funny about you being questioned just because you came from the area. Did you make up things or tell the truth?
OMGawd Dusk til Dawn?? I would have never found Tarantino on my own, good to have very weird friends… but when you consider the photog… you totally get the blood spew because he’s so intense. I am huge big smile. Sorry, OMG, so sorry. skimmed quick. Still smiley face. Will definately rake through tomorrow. 100, still? WOW. yes wait I love the mind bend stuff most too. Tarantino is wacked.
Tarantino is the kind of graphic gore, but I love his quirky sense of humor, which crops up in all of his movies. Dusk til Dawn was so Tarantino. I couldn’t believe that I actually liked it in spite of all of the gore.
So many scary movies here but I think the scariest for me was the Omen. I saw it alone and was terrified. In recent years, I cannot bring myself to watch anything scary or violent, so I have missed seeing many of the movies listed here.:)
I don’t know why I love scary movies, but I do, just not lots of blood, more psychological, like the books that I read.