“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.

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Insomnia Leads to Bad Television Habits

“Last night I dreamed I had insomnia. I woke up exhausted, yet too well rested to go back to sleep.”

~ Bob Ingman

Every once in a while, when I cannot get to sleep and I have already seen the episodes of “Without a Trace” and “CSI” that are on at 2 in the morning, I’ll try to find something else to watch on television that will bore me enough so that I can fall asleep. That is when I find bizarre programs like “Bridezillas” on WE. I’m not even sure what network WE is, but I must admit that the show “Bridezillas” and its companion show “Platinum Wedding” or something like that are really something to behold, especially if you are looking for polar extremes.

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WE's Show "Bridezillas"

Apparently, “Bridezillas” is television’s answer to “Cops” for women. I haven’t seen behavior like this since I taught middle school for one year. These women actually do things on this show that cause the censor bleep button to have to be used repeatedly. One wedding, and I’m using the term very loosely here, used shotgun shells as part of the decor. In another, the bride left her rehearsal dinner to go to the store and returned two and a half hours later. All of her guests were gone, and her fiance was a tad upset. She managed to turn the whole thing around to an impeachment on her guests’ impatience. The show is like an accident waiting to happen, and the viewer wants to turn away but just can’t because it’s only going to be worse, which means that it will only get better.

One bride’s rehearsal in the church turned into such a fray with the groom-to-be’s side of the family that the priest actually had to ask them to leave. Another bride-to-be gave the wrong location to her bridal party on where they were supposed to get their nails done, and then she had the audacity to throw a tantrum because half of her party didn’t show. She got on her phone and told them all that they were out of the wedding because they “didn’t care enough to support her on her big day.” At this point, I’d be thanking my lucky stars that I was out of the wedding party, but no, the bridesmaids always want back in. What, are they crazy?

But the best one was the bride who got upset when her nephew turned up missing during the reception. Everything stopped so that everyone could search for him. The bride threw herself on the couch and had a complete meltdown because no one was paying any attention to her. Luckily, the boy was found safely and all eyes could be turned back on the bride before her makeup was smudged. I’m not making this up.

In “Platinum Weddings,” viewers are treated to weddings that are examples of the most incredible examples of conspicuous consumption known to man. Everything from traditional Indian weddings in which the groom rides in on an elephant, to weddings in which the lighting alone costs $50,000. One wedding had a drink that was designed especially for the bride and groom to be served at their after dinner cocktail bar and dance room. Of course, fireworks were set off at the appropriate time. Cakes can cost upwards of $50,000, and the flowers can run anywhere from $25,000 to $250,000. Where do these people live? On Venus?

Needless to say, I don’t fall asleep when I watch these shows because I get caught up in the complete idiocy of the whole thing and end up watching three episodes in a row. I then find myself totally disgusted with myself and feel as though I need a bath to wash off the excess in which I have immersed myself.

One day, I was unable to get out of bed at all, and I watched an entire season of “America’s Next Top Model” from beginning to end. Usually on days like these I read, but my head hurt too much, so I tuned the television to something inane, hoping that it would put me to sleep. Of course, the reverse happened. I found myself watching the progression of these 14 or so candidates, slowly being weaned down to the final 3, then 2. I had a personal favorite, and I had one candidate that I particularly disliked. Why? Why did it matter to me? Was the winner going to go on to find a cure for AIDS?

I mean, Tyra Banks is a multi-millionaire. She has managed to turn her career as a model/Victoria’s Secret runway model into a television icon. She’s savvy, and she’s incredibly full of herself. The show is just as much about Banks as it is about the women who are competing. Tyra is always talking about how she did this for this photographer and that for said designer. Supposedly, it’s a lesson for the gawky young women who are learning to become models. And you do see some of them break out and change from show to show, but really, what’s the point? The two Jays are more interesting than the models. Trying to figure out what bizarre outfit Tyra is going to wear to judging is more interesting than some of the photo shoots. I can sleep through two episodes, wake up, and still not have missed much.

I suppose that is the point of reality television. There is no point, and to try to find one is an exercise in futility. I know that there are people out there who love their reality television. I just don’t happen to be one of them. I’ve never watched one episode of “The Real Life” or “The Surreal Life” or “Survivor” or “The Great Race.” My daughter tells me that “Jon and Kate Plus 8” is a nice show, but the thought of eight children scares the crap out of me. We did watch “Holmes on Homes” for a while to get some tips on home renovation, but that got too depressing when we ran out of money to continue renovating.

I will admit to loving “Project Runway” because I love Tim Gunn, and for some odd reason, I like “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” I think that it’s because Vicki is insane, and I’m waiting for her children to snap on her. I don’t like the other Housewives shows. They were bizarre knock-offs. But late-night reality shows are an entity all their own. I once was flipping through the channels and came upon some kind of dating show on which one man and three women went on a date, or something like that. I cannot remember the name of it, nor do I particularly want to. Five minutes of the Barbie-like verisimilitude, and I thought that I might be going mad. The women were flaky, too.

I suppose what makes late-night television interesting is that I haven’t seen it before in the way that I’ve seen every episode of Law & Order, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Law & Order SVU, and CSI. Whenever there is a Law & Order marathon on, I’ll watch, but I will fall asleep. The whole idea of watching television to cure my insomnia isn’t always truthful on my part. Maybe I’m watching just because I’m bored and because I don’t want to get out of bed to peruse our extensive DVD collection to figure out what I could put on the player.

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Asia Extreme "The Ghost"

Which brings me to another point: I will watch good movies over and over again, but I have to be in the right mood for a particular movie. For example, right now, I’m in a vampire/horror mood. I’m watching the Blade movies, Saw (all of them), and maybe others, but not zombies (zombies freak me out). I have discovered Asia Extreme movies on Sundance, and I really like them. I’m not really sure as to why, but part of it is that the movies can be pretty darn scary, and I haven’t seen all of them before. I think the other part is that almost all of them are based on some kind of ghost story, which is better than a slasher story any day.

What does all of this have to do with sleeping? Nothing, except that after watching scary movies, I can go to sleep and not have nightmares. Odd, huh? You would think that I would, but I don’t. I think that it’s because my brain knows that between an Asia Extreme movie and an episode of “Bridezilla,” the episode of “Bridezilla” is definitely the scarier of the two because it’s real. There are real women out there behaving that badly and thinking that it’s perfectly acceptable to treat people like crap simply because they are getting married.

Personally, I can really understand why some men run from the alter. If I were marrying some of these women, I’d get my butt in the closest pickup truck and floor it to the next state, change my name, shave my head, grow a beard, and go to work in a field that required me to be out of the country for extended periods. Those women on that show are crazy. It’s Cops on progesterone.

I’ll watch a scary movie any day. I find them to be much more soothing and less anxiety-filled. I kid you not. But lately, I like my new technique of trying to go to sleep: I turn on my latest bedtime music playlist, turn on one of the soothing visualizations on my great big screen, and turn off the television. The dogs seem to like it, not that they really care as long as I stay still long enough for them to get comfortable under the covers. And then I try to let Hypnos carry me off to sleep so that Morpheus can bring me dreams.

“Come, cuddle your head on my shoulder, dear, your head like the golden-rod,

and we will go sailing away from here to the beautiful land of Nod.”

~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

More later. Peace.