My Halloween plans are simple: make Max wear a costume and watch scary movies while indulging in too many snacks. Growing up, I never, ever, watched anything scary. If I did, it led to many, many nightmares. Only within the last 10 years or so, have I summoned the courage to regularly watch scary movies. And I kind of like them, particularly the ones with real scares versus torture porn/slasher films. Those movies make my eyes close because the never-ending violence grows tiresome, not because I’m ready to leap out of my chair and run around my apartment shouting redrum.
FYI — you won’t find The Shining included here. Like Stephen King, I wasn’t a fan of the Stanley Kubrick movie but loved the book and highly recommend it.
Scary Movies for the Brave and No-So Brave
Here are a few of my all-time favorite scary(ish) movies. You won’t find many classic scary movies because I was too young and too scared to watch them years ago. And now, still scared. 🙂 My rating is based on scariness (not how good the movie is) with 5 pumpkins meaning you ought to wear Depends while watching. And don’t forget — I’m a wimp!
One of the first horror movies I ever watched and Mike Myers still gives me nightmares. Between being apparently unkillable (or at least until his movies stop making money) and never speaking, he represented a real boogey man. The original remains the best — ignore the sequels and reboots. Compared to some of today’s torture porn movies, it may not seem horrifically violent but is still quite bloody. It also has the very familiar horror trope of people who just had sex dying. I only mention this in case you decide to watch this movie with your kids or parents. I’m 41 years old and I don’t want to watch any movie with my parents with nudity, because that would be a real horror.
Today, this movie would likely be categorized as a psychological thriller versus a horror film. I never watched any of the sequels and they may have been more standard scary movies. Regardless, this remains an iconic classic for a good reason. I sat on the edge of the seat the entire movie and it is one of my all-time favorite movies. Fun fact: during my first viewing, a strong rainstorm messed up my satellite reception, right at the infamous shower scene. I may have screamed louder than Janet Leigh did.
The image of that freaky, inky girl coming out of the television set still gives me nightmares. EEK!!! One of my friends rented the movie from Blockbuster (yes, both me and the movie are old) and we huddled together to watch this very creepy movie. An intense movie with lots of good scares because creepy kids are the worst. The very, very worst. And I still don’t accept movies from friends. 🙂
Most scary movies don’t get rated very highly, but The Conjuring has an 86% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is by no means high-brow, but it’s not your typical stupid horror film either and has an actual plot and people you care about. Plus, I feel very strongly that Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston are national treasures. The Warrens are real living people and how much credence you give to their paranormal investigations is up to you, but this is a good horror movie, whether you believe them or not.
Did I mention I like Patrick Wilson? He is in this one too. A child trapped in a coma that is so much more. A scary, scary witch and a weird psychic and lots of things that go bump in the night. It was also directed by James Wan who also directed The Conjuring and is well-known for making actual scary movies versus torture porn.
Silence of the Lambs
This is not a traditional horror movie and did not make my list originally. But to my surprise, many horror film lists prominently feature it, and Hannibal Lecter definitely scared me. Sir Anthony Hopkins well-deserved Oscar throws me off because horror is never Oscar bait. But classifying it as a horror film makes sense when you look a little closer. Hannibal Lecter is unstoppable, eats humans and the scene where he escapes was intense. So yeah, he is one scary dude. He also forever paired fava beans and Chianti together too.
The fact that Stephen Spielberg couldn’t even finish watching the movie convinced me to see this on the big screen. Overall I liked it but didn’t consider it terribly scary. Sure, maybe (absolutely), I screamed at the end, even though I knew that scare was coming, but I was just being a good audience member. 😀 Anyway, I went home feeling very cocky, because unlike Mr. Spielberg, I stayed for the entire movie. However, when it was time for bed, I kept putzing around, finding little things to do. At some point it dawned on me that I didn’t want to go to bed because spooky things happen while you sleep. So yeah, this is a scary movie. A simple story but sometimes simpler is scarier because it actually feels real.
Do you want to play a game? I didn’t. I only went to this movie because a group of my college friends wanted to see it and peer pressure. 🙂 To my surprise, I enjoyed the movie because it was funny and sarcastic and had a logical villain versus a spirit or unkillable boogey man, like Mike Myers or Freddie Krueger. I also felt immense relief that I didn’t humiliate myself at the movie theatre or need to keep the light on at night. But I also refused to answer the phone for a good week afterwards.
This is not your normal zombie film. Yes, plenty of blood and gore fill the movie, along with unexpected jokes and humor. It’s just two guys and their friends who want hangout at the pub. And zombies. Also, I feel compelled to do a Zombie PSA. Apparently in zombie movies, no one has ever watched a zombie movie or read a zombie book because they shoot everywhere but the brain. Any zombie fan knows that you always shoot zombies in the brain. And now you know too.
This is one you can watch with your children. I also watch it every year because Freeform plays it at least a 100 times during the Halloween season. Okay, 100 is probably a bit of an exaggeration. But you can’t miss it. I’m not sure why I love it so much (the talking cat, Binx) but I do. It’s not scary but more sweet and fun.
Come on, say it with me: Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! I have so much love and affection for this movie. It’s another one that any time I see it on TV, I have to watch since my childhood favorite, Winona Ryder and an unrecognizable Michael Keaton star in it. And all I can say is that I’m so glad Tim Burton had not yet fallen in love with casting Johnny Depp in every quirky role, because no one but Michael Keaton is Beetlejuice. No one!
Yes, I also watch Monster House every Halloween. What can I say? I love animated films and find Tim Burton (beyond Beetlejuice) to be a bit exhausting. Everyone also had that spooky “house” growing up where only the brave or stupid dared to tread on their lawn or knock on the door. That’s this movie. It’s obviously a children’s film, but very young children might get spooked by the house. It does eat the kids. 🙂
Happy Halloween Viewing
Obviously, what is scary is highly subjective. A genuine horror cinephile would likely mock my list and call me a wimp (and not incorrectly), but I don’t care. My list differs day-by-day (somewhat) and depends highly on my mood.
What I do know is a good scary movie should actually frighten you, whether you fear everything that goes bump in the night or are rarely fearful. In the moment, you may laugh in the face of ghosts, goblins and slasher killers but later … When you are in that magical space, between sleep and consciousness, shadows darken your walls and a funny sensation creeps up your spine that someone is ….
Your turn: What are your favorite scary movies? Will you be enjoying any scary movies this Halloween weekend?