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.
Shaun of the Dead
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?
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
We always watched scary movies growing up but now we never watch them. Too many nights waking up with kids/bad dreams. 🙂 We don’t technically celebrate Halloween like normal people 🙂 but instead we get a fun movie (this year it is Escape From Planet Earth – $3.74!) and get LOTS of chocolate and other fun food. Yay for chocolate!
My parents never let me watch scary movies either, because it caused too many nightmares too! I like how you celebrate Halloween. Nothing beats a good movie, scary or not, and good food, especially chocolate!
kathy @ more coffee, less talky says
how dare you put up those pictures of those scary movies when on my computer in my BASEMENT?? I legit had to put up one hand in front of the computer at the bottom of the screen while i SLOWLY scrolled through your post to make sure that anything scary was hidden by my hand until I knew the title of the movie. for real, I did that…i’m such a wuss LOL
Sorry! 😀 I’m honestly a real wimp, but all my scary movie watching must be hardening me. LOL!
Gremlins gave me nightmares when i was like 5 and still does to this day, so that my friend is my benchmark for scary. so basically all of these would be depends wearing movies. lol. jk. i can handle hocus pocus (though the guy with the stitched lips gives me nightmares don’t judge me) and beetlejuice (though again okay that is really scary!)
i bet you feel real badass next to my wimpy ness hahahaha
I never watched Gremlins because too scary – so you’ve got me beat there! I love Hocus Pocus. The only reason the guy with the stitched lips (Billy – I only know this because I watched the movie tonight) didn’t give me nightmares is because he was technically a good guy. Otherwise, I would have likely had nightmares too. And I do feel like a badass, except I’m not. I’m a real wimp too!
Rebecca Jo says
I have to be in a mood to watch a scary one. THe hubs REFUSES to watch anything with people popping up or ‘tools’ in a hand 🙂 haha
I’ll stick to my Hocus Pocus
Oh I hate it when people pop out at you. I have to be in the right mood for a scary movie too. But around Halloween, I seem to really crave them. Like I’ve been glued to my TV all weekend watching movies. I may need to get a life! LOL! And yay! Another Hocus Pocus fan!
With the movies you have listed, I agree with so many of the things you said. Yes to The Conjuring, The Ring, and I actually enjoyed all of the Scream movies. I need to see Insidious. I enjoyed that you included different degrees of scariness. I am biased, I admit, because I really like Rob Zombie. So, the one movie that we have differing opinions is that I enjoyed his reboot of Halloween immensely. I liked getting the background information to see how Michael Myers because scary, murdering, mask-wearing, hunting for his sister Michael Myers.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (I think) – the Dream Warriors one – that’s one, when I was a teen, that truly gave me nightmares for months. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre too. I didn’t mind the remake of that one either.
I enjoyed all the Scream movies too, although I haven’t seen the last one that was a reboot of sorts. The first one was still my favorites, but they all were good, which doesn’t happen often in horror sequels. To be fair, I never fully watched the Rob Zombie Halloween remake. I saw part of it but don’t remember why I stopped watching. 😀 I might have found it too scary or was feeling protective of the original, which I consider to be quite perfect (for a scary movie!). I never, ever watched Freddy Krueger because way too scary for me. I have always struggled with nightmares and tend to have vivid dreams, so the scary guy who gets you in his dreams is a no-go for me. I never saw the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre but did see the remake, which was decent.
Jana @ Jana Says says
I don’t watch scary movies as a rule but ones like Beetlejuice are okay with me. I’ve also seen Silence of the Lambs. To me that’s more psychological thriller-y and I can deal with that. But movies like Saw? NO THANK YOU.
Halloween confession: I’ve never seen Hocus Pocus. I have seen The Worst Witch about 8 million times, though.
I agree Silence of the Lambs is more a psychological thriller than straight horror movie too. I definitely do not watch Saw or Hostel kind of movies. Nope, nope, nope. No Hocus Pocus? Say it isn’t so! Just kidding. I have never heard of The Worst Witch and assume it’s a kid’s movie you watch with your daughter. I’m sure I’d love it because I love most kids movies. 🙂
As a rule, I don’t watch scary movies because they literally give me nightmares. That being said, I did see The Ring at the theater (not by choice). TRUE STORY—> Later on that night, I was on the phone and I had the tv on in the background. The tv screen did that thing it does in the movie and the screen turned grey and made that noise and THERE WAS NO PICTURE!! I may have lost my ish, because of course this happened like less than an hour after seeing the movie!!! Ugh, I still get the chills!
OMG!!! I would have freaked out and run screaming from my home. Yeesh! Nothing like that has ever happened to me. There have definitely been times that I didn’t want to go to bed after watching a scary movie because I suffer from nightmares too. And I may have on occasion woke up yelping because I scared myself awake. I should probably stop watching scary movies. But I won’t. 🙂