I was never one for scary movies growing up. I just didn’t see how they were fun or enjoyable, all that jumping and shrieking at something you knew wasn’t real, yet had the power to creep into your dreams at night. I also don’t like too much blood and gore, although I did manage to sit through a majority of the SAW films. I preferred my Halloween movies to be more along the lines of Hocus Pocus or that Christina Ricci Casper nonsense. They don’t bother me as much anymore, mainly because I don’t believe in ghosts or demons. The movies that scare me have to have some roots in the realm of possibility. And they can be fun every once in a while, as long as I have some alcohol in my system, a pillow to hug, and a big group of friends to scream with. That being said, I haven’t seen a whole lot, therefore my list of “favorites” wasn’t too hard to come up with. Check ‘em out.
5. Poltergeist (1982)
The only real classic on my list. I saw snippets of the end of Poltergeist once when I was little and flipping channels at my grandparents’ house. I later saw it in full when my father, using his excellent parenting judgement, popped it in one night. I was 12. My sister, only six, enjoyed it almost more than I did. While the whole face-peeling scene was a little squeamish, the Steven Spielberg-written ghost story has remained a favorite to this day. It’s a bit ridiculous at times between the killer clown doll and the tree that eats kids, but I love Craig T. Nelson and I can’t help but think of the corresponding Family Guy episode (“Petergeist”) when I watch it these days. Stewie busting out into Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” cracks me up every time. Plus, there’s that whole creepy “curse” coincidence of the deaths tied to the film.
4. Cabin Fever (2002)
Oh, this movie. I think the only reason I like it so much is because my sister and I had a blast tearing it apart while we watched it. (There are some movies we watch simply for the sheer pleasure of mocking them half to death.) We really only watched Cabin Fever because our buddy Shawn Hunter was in it, and we had such a good time laughing at the absurdity that all the blood and gore (like, ugh, that leg-shaving nightmare) barely even bothered us. To this day, we can’t eat pancakes without one of us whispering the word in the same tone as this crazed child; I mean, he’s a pretty skilled little ninja Barbie. The movie’s concept as a whole (a group of college grads go for a little cabin trip and contract a flesh-eating disease) is disgusting … but it’s still strangely fun to watch.
3. The Descent (2005)
I watched The Descent in college with four or five girlfriends and a whole lotta liquor; we received a noise complaint from all the screaming. Most of us were members of our university’s Outing Club and I myself had already gone on a trip that involved rappelling into a small hole in the ground and crawling around in mud for a while. A friend warned me when I borrowed it that I’d never go caving again and he was right. This B-horror flick finds a band of thrill-seeking Brits trapped underground with a bunch of hungry humanoids they dub “crawlers.” They’re basically a terrifying cross between LOTR’s Gollum and the orcs. It’s a dark and dank bloodbath, but because you’re not really connected to any of the characters, it’s almost fun to watch them get picked off one by one.
2. The Ring (2002)
My high school best friend forced me to watch this with her during one of our Friday night sleepovers. Thankfully we spent the night in the same bed because otherwise I would’ve spent the next ten hours flinching at every creak and staring at the blank television like I knew it would pop to life at any moment. As it is, I probably got less sleep than she did, but at least I felt somewhat secure sandwiched between her and the wall. Looking back on it now, it’s not the scariest movie out there, but The Ring is still one of the creepiest things I’ve ever watched. Knowing that Samara was played by the voice of Lilo doesn’t help erase the vision of that evil little girl CRAWLING OUT THE DAMN TV. *shudder*
1. The Strangers (2008)
My college roommates and I used to host an annual scare competition in our apartment. For the month of October, we’d keep a tally of who got spooked the most. It got to the point where we’d each take roll call when we got home from class, we were so paranoid. The “winner” (or loser, technically) had to provide the booze for our scary movie night. Our junior year, we watched The Strangers. And it was such a bad experience for all of us … we triple-checked the deadbolt on our door a thousand times and my best friend Zach took a tennis racket with him to the kitchen for a glass of water. Just crazy. This movie scared the hell out of me, because it goes back to what I said in my intro—it could be real. The tagline is terrifying. “Because you were home.” Excuse me while I’m never home again.
So what movies are on your must list of horror flicks? Did you re-watch any of them this season?