Do you like scary movies?
I do. Horror is my favourite genre, in fact, although it’s important to note here that I like ‘creepy’ rather than ‘gory’, and my idea of creepy is… probably not all that creepy to some of you, so consider yourself warned. (But then, in the manner of all good horror movies, continue reading anyway, because as soon as someone tells you NOT to do something, you know you have to do it. Ideally in the dead of night, with only a flickering torch for company, and maybe a dog which we all know will get killed at some point. Seriously, why does the dog always have to die in a horror movie? And why does that bother me more than when one of the human characters is dramatically decapitated with an axe? So many questions…)
Now, I’m not one to adopt a “certain activities at certain times of year” approach (When people say they love autumn because ‘I love curling up on the sofa with a good book!” I always just think, “What, you can’t sit on the couch with a book in springtime?”), so I’d watch scary movies all the time if I could. As it’s October, however, and Halloween is almost upon us, I figured now would be as good a time as any to share with you my favourite scary movies. So here they are: the scariest movies ever made – according to me…
The scariest movies ever made
I’ve written about this before (in a post which I’ve just this second realised begins almost exactly the same way as this one: whoops!), but Insidious scared me to the point where I literally couldn’t sleep. Or take a shower, for that matter, because we all know that when someone takes a bath or shower in a horror movie (always in one of those old-fashioned claw-footed tubs, with a circular shower curtain around it), they’re probably going to die. I’m not going to say too much about the plots of any of these movies, because I don’t want to give too much away, but this is essentially your classic ‘haunted house’ tale, which is my favourite kind, because you can actually imagine it happening to you. I mean, when it’s something with vampires and zombies or whatever, I’m all, “meh, SO totally unbelievable!”, but haunted houses… those are, like, REAL, aren’t they?
Actually, the real reason this movie scares me so much is because it raises the possibility of things being visible in mirrors/photographs which aren’t visible to the naked eye. And by “things” I mean “Scary Things”. And if there’s anything creepier than the thought that you might be constantly surrounded by Scary Things, and you just don’t know it, I don’t want to know what it is. So, if you’ve ever had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, say, and have deliberately avoided looking into the mirror for fear that you’ll see someone reflected in it who isn’t really there, this movie is probably not for you. (Or it very much IS for you, if you enjoy scaring yourself stupid.)
Until Insidious came along, The Ring was the scariest movie I’d ever seen – and another movie which had me lying awake at night, scared to close my eyes because I knew that if I opened them, Samara would be standing by my bed, and I would literally die. There are two versions of this movie – the Japanese original and the American re-make – and, somewhat controversially, I prefer the American version. I realise I’m alone in this opinion (Well, not really: Terry agrees with me.), but I just find the American version much creepier – some of the visuals from that movie stayed in my head for a long time afterwards, and I also felt that it made better use of Creepy Samara than the original did. But that’s just me: they’re both good movies in the ‘students find a mysterious old video tape in a cabin in the woods: soon they’re all dead!’ vein. Love it.
This movie is also the reason I occasionally wet myself when the phone rings, by the way*. So there’s that.
Another haunted house movie, this one of the ‘found footage’ variety (Sidenote: ‘found footage’ movies are some of the scariest movies out there, as far as I’m concerned, because, as with the haunted houses, they’re TOTALLY REAL.): a couple start to notice strange things happening in their home, so they set up cameras in a bid to see what’s going on. Then they wish they hadn’t, because OMGSOSCARY. Also, this could SO EASILY happen to any one of us. And it probably will.
(Another sidenote: if you find Paranormal Activity as scary as I do, maybe don’t have children who will require a video monitor in their rooms. Every time I look at Max’s, I’m terrified I’m going to see something that isn’t actually there…)
This movie isn’t about The Others in the sense that I use that term: i.e. to refer to people who just Aren’t Like Us. No, these Others are Other Others. As in, even MORE Other than most Others are Other. Are you following this? This is a really awesome ghost story, with one helluva twist: in fact, I’ve always meant to re-watch it, so I can see it from that “knowing what I know NOW,” perspective, but I’ve somehow never done it. Maybe this month will be the month?
Dark Water is another movie with an American re-make of a Japanese original, but this time I have to agree that the original is much creepier. The theme for this one? Scary little girls. Because little girls can be SO SCARY, can’t they? I kinda wish I’d known that when I WAS a little girl, then I could’ve gone around creeping people out all the time. I think I actually did a pretty good job of that anyway, though, so no regrets.
This is one of those movies in which the setting plays a big park: dark, gloomy, wet… a bit like Scotland, now I come to think of it, but haunted. Oh, so very haunted…
The Blair Witch Project: once again, it’s scary because it’s TRUE. Well, not really (YES REALLY), obviously, but this is one of the early ‘found footage’ movies: my friend and I saw it in a movie theatre and agreed that it was creepy, sure, but definitely not one of the scariest movies of all time, say. Then we realised we were too scared to walk home in the dark. As you should be, people: as you should be…
So, there’s this creepy old former orphanage in the woods, right? And this young family decide that why, it would make the perfect family home, this creepy, creepy old dilapidated mansion house. I mean, what do YOU think happens? What happens is that one of the children starts to talk to an invisible “friend”, and right away the family are like, “Oh crap, we’re obviously in a horror movie here, what were we THINKING?” Nah, they’re not: because then there wouldn’t be a movie, would there? What actually happens is… I’m going to let you find that out for yourselves. Just don’t come running to me when it’s 2am in the morning and you’re too scared to sleep: because I will be too…
My best friend and I rented Candyman one night when we were at university. At the time, we lived on the top floor of one of those old Edinburgh apartment buildings that you just KNOW has probably seen its fair share of Scary Stuff over the years. Because we were absolute idiots, we watched the movie with the lights out, and, well, quite a lot of wine. And then – as you do – we dared each other to go into the dark bathroom, and say “Candyman” three times into the mirror. Even although I’m not ACTUALLY as stupid as people think I am, and I know perfectly well that movies are not real (Except Insidious, which is totes real, obviously…), I was too scared to do it: and even too scared to watch my FRIEND do it, so I ran and hid in my room. To this day, I have no idea if she said ‘Candyman’ three times into the mirror, or if she was just winding me up. She’s still alive, though, so probably the latter.
The Shining is a great book, but it also makes an amazing horror movie: like, THE BEST, seriously. I should probably have put it higher up the list, really, but c’est la vie. Again, the setting (Creepy old hotel, cut off from the rest of the world by snow) is everything here, and there are some classic scenes (scary twins, anyone?) which are practically guaranteed to make your hair stand on end. My friend and I watched this in the same Edinburgh flat we’d seen Candyman in, and we managed to scare ourselves so much we had to keep taking breaks to recover. At one point the word ‘Friday’ flashed up on the screen – to signify that it was supposed to be, you know, Friday? – and by that stage we’d worked ourselves up into such a state that we both screamed and almost fell off our seats. Now I think of it, I seem to recall wine being involved in this one, too. It’s still an awesome movie, though…
Well, you can’t make a list of the scariest movies ever without some classic Hitchcock, can you? It was between The Birds and Psycho: they’re both good, but I’ve gone with The Birds mostly so I have an excuse to show you this Halloween costume again. And also because birds really ARE scary, aren’t they? The pointy beaks. The sharp claws. The little beady eyes. The fact that they’re all secretly just waiting for the right moment to gang up and take over the world, killing everyone in their way. Yes, there are LOTS of reasons to fear birds, friends, but I think that would have to be the main one, all things considered.
Finally, it’s not actually a movie, so it technically has no place in a list of the scariest movies ever, but I couldn’t end this post without quickly mentioning The Haunting of Hill House, which is honestly scarier than anything on this list. Terry and I binge-watched it last week, and after one of the episodes, I had to be escorted upstairs to bed, because I was too scared to go on my own, while Terry unloaded the dishwasher. Later that night, I had one of those, “I need to go to the bathroom, but I can’t, because the Bent-Necked Lady will almost surely be standing behind the door when I open it,” moments. It’s THAT good, people: so, if you fancy a good scare this Halloween, and none of the movies on this list are doing it for you, head over to Netflix: you won’t regret it…