Friday, November 6, 2009

Scary Movie Smackdown

Disclosure: I'm a scary movie junkie. Last weekend, in honor of Halloween, I saw two new horror movies: Paranormal Activity and The House of the Devil. Maybe there's no way the former could have lived up to its hype, but suffice it to say that I was very underwhelmed. Admittedly, the Blair Witch-style hand-held cinematography made me very nauseated and I had to stare at the floor of the theater for at least a third of the movie so as to not vomit. So maybe that affected my opinion of the film's merit.

The House of the Devil
, on the other hand, is being added to my Favorite Scary Movies of All Time list. Like Paranormal Activity, 90% of the movie is buildup -- nothing truly horrifying happens until the last 20 minutes. But I was on the edge of my seat the whole time and duly impressed with the whole look/concept of the film. I'm not a film critic so I won't go into more detail about that, but if you're interested, check out the trailer here.

What are my other favorite scary movies, you ask? In no particular order:

The Descent (2005)
I have never screamed louder in a movie theater. I also love that before the supernatural element is introduced, the premise (being trapped and lost in a claustrophobic cave) is already scary as hell.

Ginger Snaps
In 2004, I went on two dates with this guy and on date #2, we watched Ginger Snaps, which he owned on DVD. Though the relationship went nowhere, I will always be indebted to him for introducing me to this Canadian werewolf flick. I could write an amazing women's studies paper on this movie; it conflates the fear of female sexuality with the werewolf myth. It's smart, funny, gory, and very suspenseful.

I've seen it probably a dozen times and it never gets old. I love how Ridley Scott uses silence and minimalist sound design to create an eerie, lonely atmosphere. And Sigourney Weaver kicks ass.

The best adaptation of a Stephen King book, in my opinion. And the unexpected last scare? Classic and oft-imitated, but not yet surpassed.

Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Say what you want about Roman Polanski, but this film is a masterpiece. Period. Somehow, a ridiculous-sounding premise (a woman is impregnated by the Devil) seems completely plausible.

28 Days Later
Zombies don't really scare me that much -- they are slow-moving and kind of stupid. But
28 Days Later uses a disease/plague metaphor (the zombies are "the infected") and makes the idea of a zombie apocalypse seem all too real. Also, the infected are NOT slow-moving.

Fright Night (1985)
Ok, ok, this movie is pretty dated and not that scary...but it terrified me when I saw it as a kid and I still find it tremendously entertaining. Plus, Chris Sarandon makes a sexy vamp.

The clown, the tree, the swimming pool filled with skeletons....

The Exorcist
Saw this fairly recently and was pretty shocked by how explicit it was. I totally get why Linda Blair grew up with serious psychological problems.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
This movie is not kidding around. It's balls-out violent, not to mention weird and truly disturbing.

Feel free to weigh in on any classics you feel I've missed....


J.A.G. said...

Rosemary's Baby. Hell, yes.

I find The Shining incredibly freaky, if not scary. Similarly, The Night of the Hunter and Let The Right One In.

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

Rosemary's Baby and 28 Days Later.
Great list thanks for sharing.
All the very best.