“We all go a little mad sometimes.” Norman Bates, Psycho

  

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“You don’t need eyes for where we’re going.”  ~ Event Horizon

 

“Oh Yes, there will be blood!” ~ Saw II

the-exorcistAfter 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

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Kiefer Sutherland in "The Lost Boys"

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.

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Brad Pitt in Se7en

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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?

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More later. Peace.

This is your mind on . . .

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MRI of a Full-Blown Migraine

Today’s Topic: Brains and How They Sometimes Don’t Work

Isn’t it beautiful? Looks like something that could have been done by one of our contemporary artists, depicting a monster of some sort, branching out, seeking entry any way that it can. The casual observer, having no idea what she is looking at, could be mesmerized by the successive branches, the way that they crawl, unabated. In a way, it reminds me of Sigourney Weaver’s Alien: not in its form but in its relentlessness. If only I had one of those wonderful guns that she had in one of those movies (don’t remember if it was 1, 2, or 3) so that I could blast the living hell out of it; of course, that would mean blasting the living hell out of my head . . .

But if you’ve ever experience a real migraine, you might concur that that option might not seem like a bad idea.

I’ve suffered from migraines since I was a teenager. I’ve gone through periods during which they have been debilitating, lasting for weeks, and then periods in which they have been dormant. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason. Medical science will tell you that women suffer from migraines more than men; I would like to add that that is probably because women have to deal with inanity more than men, but we shall not go there today as I do not have the stamina for that argument.

Common triggers for migraines include caffeine, but caffeine is also used as a curative for migraines. Explain the logic in that. One time, while my doctors were trying to find something to relieve the pain of my migraines they gave me something called cafergot, which made me so deathly ill that I threw up for hours, which tends to defeat the purpose of alleviating pain (have you ever thrown up with a migraine? Just try bending over with a migraine . . .).

Other triggers can include chocolate, peanuts, red wine, stress, sleeplessness, certain fragrances, bright lights, MSG, pot, and loud noises.

I love peanut butter and good chocolate. I suffer from bouts of insomnia. I used to work with a woman who bathed herself in Giorgio perfume. My dogs know when I have a migraine and bark in unison at air. I love Chinese food, which usually contains MSG. When I worked, I never turned on the overhead lights, and always caught crap about it because no one believed that it triggered my headaches; they just thought that I was being eccentric, which I am, but I wasn’t.

One of the worst migraines I ever had lasted for weeks and weeks. I imagined the worst scenarios. I had a CT scan of my head, and a CT scan of my sinuses to see if perhaps they were impacted. That was one of the most painful tests I have ever endured, mostly because I was in pain from the migraine, and the test involved putting myself face down for the test . . . lovely. In the end, the doctors decided that the migraine was probably caused by my body readjusting itself post-partum (I had just had my second child), and my hormones were out of whack.

But about four years ago, I finally found a pain management group that treats my back pain and my migraines. I’m now on a maintenance medication to try to prevent the migraines, and then I have a relief medication that I can take at the onset of a migraine. This usually works, the key word being usually. Sometimes, though, there are still the rare ones that knock me off my feet for a few days.

This one now is the result of being off my maintenance medication for a week (a snafu in my mail order for my refills), and compounded stress. In fact, I just realized that I’m typing with squinted eyes, which means that I probably should sign off for now. I just wanted to share the beautiful artwork with you and let you know that yes, I’m around, but now, I won’t be writing one of my usual blongs.

More sometime later. Peace.