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Since Halloween is less than a week away, I thought "Horror Film Theory" might make for a nice late-night change of pace. I've done this diary in past years around this time, and it's always interesting to see what scares people.

I've always thought this topic was interesting, because I've heard friends talk from time to time about films they felt were traumatic and that scared the hell out of 'em as a kid. However, when I use the term "traumatic", what we're really talking about are movies that first exposed children to the harsh realities of the world. The films that peeled away a bit of the innocent way children look at the world, and opened their eyes to a possible darker reality. Or it could of been that horror movies that you sneaked & watched on HBO when you shouldn't have been, and caused you to sleep with your light on for a month. These are the films that either made you cry your eyes out, or "scarred" you for life... or at least for a couple of weeks.

Sometimes the scariest things in movies or books is not only the killer, monster, or demon jumping out of the dark, but it can also be about the mundane or the scariness of normal that you don't really see or think about. Some of the best works of literature & film scare people with what they can get the viewer or reader to imagine to be behind the creaking door, without ever spelling out what was really behind the door, or even if there was really anything behind the door. For a little kid, what lurks underneath their bed can be anything the fear of their mind can imagine. The best horror films & literature brings people back to that point for the story.

So with that in mind, what do you think is the scariest movie ever?

In C.S. Lewis' novel "The Screwtape Letters," there's a moment where a Demon worries that a true victory over the forces of God may be fundamentally impossible. His lament being based on the idea that "evil" is really a perversion of "good." Without good's existence, there can be no perversion & therefore no evil.

If you think about it, that same dynamic is at the core of most scary stories. They're all based around the idea of something disturbing (or perverting) our normal concepts of how things are supposed to be. It might be a house that's making noises, moving things and trying to eat a little girl. Or maybe there's something in the woods other than deer & squirrels. Or it could be a human being who is not quite as human as they're supposed to be for some reason or another.

Horror is a Genre of fiction that exploits the Primal Fears of viewers with things ranging from the Uncanny Valley, Body Horror, and Suspense to cause the viewer anxiety, fear, and ultimately thrills. It uses various Horror Tropes to cause these effect; however, partly due to the rise in complexity of Special Effects, overuse, and viewer desensitization, several of these are now cliché.
Beyond that, in horror movies bad things happen to the characters if they break certain rules:
  • Teenagers + Alcohol & Drug Use = They Will Die.
  • People being terrorized by weird shit happening in their home will care more about their mortgage than their children, and will stay inside of the house that is literally screaming for them to "GET OUT!"
  • When the shit hits the fan, instead of running out the front door when confronted by serial killer/monster/alien, characters will instead find a way to trap themselves inside their domicile by running up the stairs, or into dark basements & closets.
  • As a general rule, having a party in a horror movie is very bad. While it might seem like a good idea to get peoples' minds off of the killing & mayhem that is taking place all around them, all the party usually does is pool the teenagers together to die as a group.
  • Since one of the things people do at parties is have "fun" in various ways, Teenagers + Premarital Sex = They Will Die.
  • Also, as your friends/family are being hacked to bits day after day, it just sets the mood and always the perfect time to have sex with the boyfriend (who may or may not be the killer).

The basic slasher film has its roots in a myriad of places. For example, how about Number 333 in the Aarne-Thompson classification system of Fairy Tales, otherwise known as the tale of "Little Red Riding Hood."

The fairy tale we know as Little Red Riding Hood is derived from two sources; Charles Perrault ("Mother Goose") and The Brothers Grimm. However, the story is much older than either of them, and, like a lot of well known fairy tales, in Little Red Riding Hood's original incarnations it's quite gruesome. In some of 'em, the Big Bad Wolf actually feeds the grandmother to a naive Little Red Riding Hood, and then gets her to disrobe & get in bed with him.

  • In The Brothers Grimm version, the girl and her grandmother were rescued by a passing hunter, and then proceed to fill the Wolf's belly with stones.
  • Perrault's version is noted for adding the "Red Hood," which takes on some symbolic significance since there is no happy ending for his Little Red Riding Hood. The Wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood... The End. Perrault intended the story to be a moral to young women about "all wolves" who deceive. The redness of the hood has been interpreted as a symbolic representation of sin, sexual awakening, and lust.

Variations of almost every element of Little Red Riding Hood appears in modern horror movies. The Big Bad Wolf is the archetypal "slasher" villain; a predator who shows almost (or true) supernatural abilities to deceive & manipulate his victims, which are almost always mainly women. Throw in Perrault's sexual symbolism, and you have the virginal "Final Girl" of many horror films.
The simplest definition of this is "the last character left alive to confront the killer" in a slasher flick. The character in question tends to follow a certain set of characteristics. The most obvious one is being (almost) always female. She'll also almost certainly be a virgin, avoiding "Death by Sex," and probably won't drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or take drugs, either. Finally, she'll probably turn out to be more intelligent and resourceful than the other victims, occasionally even evolving into a type of "Action Girl" by the movie's end.

It's also interesting to note how the Final Girl can be interpreted in film theory. On one hand, the character seems to be the living embodiment of stereotypical conservative attitudes of what women "should be". On the other, feminists have noticed that through this device the mostly male audience (or...not) is forced to identify with a woman in the climax of the movie. In practical terms, the makers of a horror film want the victim to experience abject terror in the climax, and feel that viewers would reject a film that showed a man experiencing such abject terror.

Stephen King, in his book Danse Macabre, argues that all horror stories are centered around keeping the status quo & a fear of the change, with the "change" represented by the force that has invaded the Norman Rockwell-esque family, house, community, etc. And since that force is killing off the characters who "sin" and the character who's "pure" survives, some have argued that there's elements of moral conservative messaging to the stories.

1978's 'I Spit On Your Grave' was (and arguably still is) very controversial, having been banned in a lot of countries. The controversy largely stems from a very graphic rape scene, and how you interpret the film. Is it a movie portraying the horrors of rape, and the revenge of a strong woman that's not going to take it? Or is it misogynistic trash that titillates its audience with sadism against a female protagonist?

"This woman has just cut, chopped, broken, and burned five men beyond recognition... but no jury in America would ever convict her!"
This has long been the dichotomy of the 70s/80s era exploitation films. Some Feminists saw sexism in the T&A or the acts of violence directed at the female characters. However, the other side of the argument is some of the exploitation films were also the first films to have strong female characters that weren't dependent on men to "save" them.

From a 2009 Los Angeles Times article on Feminism & Exploitation films:

"Even in the mid-'70s, the kind of proto-feminist element was being written about," said Kathleen McHugh, director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Women. "Feminist film scholars were writing about Roger Corman and Stephanie Rothman, locating a feminist impulse in the standard plot, where you have these powerful, self-assertive, one might even use the term 'extremely aggressive' women who are wreaking vengeance against forces, people, men who are trying to keep them down."
However, not everybody saw it that way. For example, with 'I Spit On Your Grave,' Roger Ebert wrote a scathing review, calling it "an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures."
July 16, 1980

A vile bag of garbage named "I Spit on Your Grave" is playing in Chicago theaters this week. It is a movie so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I can hardly believe it's playing in respectable theaters, such as Plitt's United Artists. But it is. Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of, my life.

This is a film without a shred of artistic distinction. It lacks even simple craftsmanship. There is no possible motive for exhibiting it, other than the totally cynical hope that it might make money. Perhaps it will make money: When I saw it at 11:20 a.m. on Monday, the theater contained a larger crowd than usual.

It was not just a large crowd, it was a profoundly disturbing one. I do not often attribute motives to audience members, nor do I try to read their minds, but the people who were sitting around me on Monday morning made it easy for me to know what they were thinking. They talked out loud. And if they seriously believed the things they were saying, they were vicarious sex criminals.

Back in 1980, Ebert & Gene Siskel devoted an entire show to "Women in Danger" films. During it, Siskel proposed the theory that these films were a reaction to the gains made by the women's movement, and fulfills a fantasy for some men of seeing a woman cowering and being "punished" whenever they have sex or do something un-lady like.

From TV Tropes' "Sorting Algorithm Of Mortality":

  • If characters should be smart enough to run out the front door, brand new cars, which had no sign of problems earlier in the film, usually have problems starting.
  • Cellphones, flashlights and any equipment that might be helpful either will not work, will be lost in a stupid way, or be just out of reach.
  • Do NOT go into the bathroom!!! Bad shit lurks in bathtubs & behind shower curtains.
  • Do NOT go into the woods if you hear an eerie sound coming from that direction! Whatever it is can stay in the fucking woods. Let nature deal with it.
  • If the lights go out, do NOT look for the circuit breaker! Look for the damn door!
  • If something from outer space should land near you, instead of running the fuck away, idiots will be curious and run up & poke at it.
  • Apparently all evil monsters, aliens and serial killers are racists, since people of color hardly ever survive, and usually die first in horror movies.
  • Words that should never come out of your mouth: "Hey, did you hear that? It sounds like screaming and a death rattle coming from the other room. Let's Go Check It Out!"
  • If they should be dumb enough to "go check it out" and with a group larger consisting of more than 3 people, the characters will not do the logical thing of staying together when trying to escape from the haunted house, scary-ass woods or other place in the middle of nowhere. No, they must split up so they can "Cover More Ground" and be killed off one by one.
  • People over the age of 30 are useless. This includes the police, your parents and anyone of any authority. No matter how much evidence you may have that weird shit is happening, your parents will not believe you. In fact, the more you protest, the more they will think you are crazy and take actions that will indirectly help the killer to kill you (e.g. the parents in the 'Nightmare On Elm Street' films loading their kids up with sleeping pills).

That last bulletpoint is interesting in that a feature in a lot of scary stories/horror films (and literature in general) is "the chickens coming home to roost" and that adults have secrets & can't always protect you. Freddy Kreuger was burned by the parents of Springwood, Ohio and now exacts his malice on their children. Jason Vorhees drowned while his Crystal Lake camp counselors were off having sex. The two sisters at the center of the 'Paranormal Activity' films suffer from a demon because of a deal made by their grandmother. One interpretation of Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' is that it's an allegory for Native American genocide.

This also gets back to some of the stuff in the "morality algorithm" above. In a lot of films, the victims become "damned" by their own actions. They do something that allows the audience to accept/understand their death because they "have it coming." (see Asshole Victim) For example, if you should ever be in a situation where you have a camera and weird shit starts happening that could possibly harm you or those around you, please for the love of God just PUT THE CAMERA DOWN and get the hell out!

This also comes into play with a lot of Science Fiction based Horror where great minds of science can't just leave good-enough alone, and end up opening up an inter-dimensional portal to a hell dimension, or the miracle cure ends up being a nasty killer virus or has some unforeseen side-effects, which leads into the last set of rules.

  • No matter how much a scientist is told their experiment is dangerous, this supposedly smart person will ignore all the warnings staring them in the face and proceed to horrifically mutate himself and others, or put the existence of every man, woman, and child in danger.
  • The character set-up at the beginning of the film as the town drunk/idiot/batshit crazy person will always know more than everyone else by the end of the film. In fact, at some point toward the end, he will explain the entire plot to the main character (and audience), as well as the motivation for the monster/killer.
  • Politicians and military leaders will bring in scientists to analyze the weird shit that is happening, and then proceed to ignore every bit of advice that said scientists offer.
  • The lead female character, who has done nothing but scream, run, and cry for 90% of the movie, will display a clever genius-level intellect by film's end, when confronting the unspeakable evil.
  • Nothing is ever truly dead, even when killed in the way that is supposed to kill it once & for all. Also, the protagonist who has spent the last hour running for their lives from the horrible menace that was trying to murder them, will nonchalantly turn their back on said psycho just because he/she/it is lying still.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    My first memories of Halloween are of dressing up like Spider-Man and Darth Vader. I vaguely remember my parents getting me a pretty nice Spider-Man costume to wear to my pre-school on Halloween. It even had the authentic mask, which would probably violate current child-safety laws since it was the equivalent of putting a plastic bag over a 4-year old's head.

    The next costume I vividly remember was a Darth Vader get-up. However, it wasn't nearly as real-deal as the one the kid in the VW commercial wears. The mask sorta looked like Darth Vader, but it was one of those kid's costumes you see at the grocery store where it looks nothing like what it's supposed to be. I remember the cape was yellow and had a picture of Darth Vader on it.

  •  "The Social Network" ;) n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  Brazil (6+ / 0-)

    Fail Safe and other realistic nuclear disaster movies...

    Going by the TV Tropes table, the white Pollyanna/fool surviving and the black man dying sure fit what happens in Apocalypse Now.

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:29:01 PM PDT

  •  Aww, what difference does it make? They're all (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Trix, Avila, Aunt Pat

    going to laugh at you anyway.

    I'll tell you what justice is. Justice is a knee in the gut from the floor on the chin at night sneaky with a knife brought up down on the magazine of a battleship sandbagged underhanded in the dark without a word of warning.

    by BFSkinner on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:31:09 PM PDT

  •  Silence of the Lambs. Scariest movie ever. (8+ / 0-)

    Jaws wasn't bad either. The first one, the first time.

  •  Idiocracy (6+ / 0-)

    Most terrifyingly plausible movie since Soylent Green.

    Everything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

    by GreenPA on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 08:41:04 PM PDT

    •  this is where i will perch (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      when i rouse myself, in a few hours.
      let me rouse with strength.

      Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

      by greenbird on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 11:27:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Exorcist... (9+ / 0-)

    the only movie I ever had a hard time sleeping for a couple of nights after viewing and the book was even worse.

    •  You grew up Catholic? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny the Conqueroo, Aunt Pat

      I am guessing b/c it didn't have that effect on me, but it had that effect on friends of mine who actually did grow up Catholic.

      I grew up in a Protestant faith, and thought The Exorcist was an okay movie. But it didn't terrify me.

      Never read the book, though.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 12:34:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, actually... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, Youffraita

        I'm a non-believer, raised Protestant. I always wrestled with why it affected me so. I saw it at a theater with a friend and had no idea what the movie was about, just that he had told me it was supposed to be a "cool" movie, we walked into the middle of the first airing that night right before the projectile vomit scene and thought to myself, "What the hell kind of movie is this"? Then shortly after that the theater was evacuated because of tornado warning. After sitting through the complete second airing I went home alone to my dark apartment, the lights were off from the tornado and couldn't sleep that night.

        I can't explain why it affected me so and reading the book about a year later brought it all back again. The subliminal perception special effects may have had something to do with it, I didn't notice the split-second flashing of the horrific faces until I saw the movie again later and had read about them in advanced. The movie still gives me the creeps.

    •  Exorcist III (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny the Conqueroo, Aunt Pat

      An extremely under-rated sequel that I found absolutely terrifying - excellent performances from George C. Scott and Brad Dourif, and a great story that expands on the original.  Highly recommended.

      "Soon the super karate monkey death car would park in my space. But Jimmy has fancy plans... and pants to match."

      by Dave Brown on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 04:59:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This century? Probably 'The Descent'. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Youffraita, sideboth, Aunt Pat

    Only movie I know to have made me and some of my other un-scare-able friends jump in the theatre (and not just due to loud and silly shock moments... It's genuinely fucking scary.)  It shouldn't be, considering we do see the monsters, and they're fairly conventional as far as design goes.  But since you're already wound up into a bag of nerves by that point, thanks to skillful use of claustrophobia, they could throw a goddamned teddy bear at you and it'd have been effective.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:10:59 PM PDT

  •  Not a Movie But a TV Karloff Episode: "Grim Reaper (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Youffraita, Aunt Pat

    " from his 60's Thriller series, starring, to my great recent surprise on looking it up, William Shatner later of Star Trek and Natalie Schafer later "Mrs. Thurston 'Lovey' Howell" of Gilligan's Island.

    61, I was only 10, for whatever reasons this short scared the living b'jaysus out of me.

    Youtube doesn't have the full episode, so the spoiler is the skeleton with the sythe comes out of the painting and slashes people.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 09:20:35 PM PDT

  •  When I was 6 years old, it was (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Youffraita, Aunt Pat

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Don't know if it was the 1939 version, or the 1923 version. I only know that I had nightmares for quite a while and I never again knowingly went to see a horror film. Ever. Completely dislike the genre.

    •  Heh, agree: completely dislike the genre (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      but for a different reason. I come from the sf/fantasy end of genre y horror stories Make No Sense.

      Oh, you built this mansion over an Indian burial ground two hundred years ago, and the ghosts are Only Now starting to kill the Teenagers in the Attic and Basement?

      FAIL. Not plausible. Don't insult my intelligence.

      But all horror movies do insult my intelligence...and I spend the entire movie pointing out the logical flaws in the plot.

      So, not only am I not scared, I have annoyed everyone within hearing, who might have been able to suspend their disbelief if they didn't have this asshole (me) telling them how stupid the plot is.

      And that's why I don't watch horror movies, except to point and laugh.

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 12:44:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Scariest movies I remember (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Doctor RJ, Youffraita, Aunt Pat

    Night of the Demon has the most terrifying - or really, terrorizing - scene in acoustic terms (yeah, I know). The way I remember it (must have been 30 years since I saw it), there's this traumatized guy who has seen the eponymous demon and at the outset of the scene is shown unconscious on an examination desk with a bunch of doctors and whatnot around him trying to bring him back. The scene is filmed in total silence for what I remember to be a full minute or so. Then without warning you hear this ear-splitting scream, as the guy has apparently come to. Stupid stunt nearly gave me a heart attack.

    The visual equivalent of that is the creepy stuff creeping up on the reliably unwitting protagonists in the Poltergeist movies, as far as I'm concerned. Yuck.

    And for some reason, the one "classic ghost story" that really spooked me as a kid (or teenager) was Hitchcock's Rebecca, based on a Daphne du Maurier novel, I'm embarrassed to admit :-)

    "I understand, Mr. Spock. The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity."

    by brainwave on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 10:31:42 PM PDT

    •  Don't be embarrassed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      brainwave, Aunt Pat

      Rebecca -- I'm not sure I've seen Hitch's version, but I definitely read the novel -- is very creepy.

      It's the definitive Crazy Lady In The Attic Who Wants To Kill You And Set The House On Fire.

      IIRC, of course. ;-)

      Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

      by Youffraita on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 12:49:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whatever happened to baby jane (6+ / 0-)

    An oldie, but a goodie. The mental breakdown over years leading to an intentional/unintentional murder spree. Baby Jane, off the deep end trying to kill her way into past adoration she had as a child. Dressing in frilly little girl dresses and unleashing rage at any who refuse to adore her. Venting her pain and rage on her sister Blanche, torturing her slowly to death....(shudder)...
     In the end, so out of touch with reality, she dances on the beach for the crowd, while her sister dies in the sand a few feet away. After finding out, that yes, Blanche had tried to kill her. Blanche, the victim of both her own attempted murder and the insane sister it spawned. No hero, no redemption, no one 'wins'.

    Only in our dreams are we free. The rest of the time we need wages.-Terry Pratchett

    by Shippo1776 on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 10:39:09 PM PDT

  •  Larry Clark's "Kids" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    It's not even close.

    "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back."

                                                           -- Saul Alinsky

    by Seneca Doane on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 12:18:10 AM PDT

  •  Psycho. Shower scene. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 12:28:43 AM PDT

  •  Ghost Story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    I can't quite explain why, but Ghost Story messed me up so badly that I remember it vividly more than 30 years later, and I cannot bring myself to watch it again.

    It's not even gory. It's just disturbing.

    As it happens, one of the actors, Craig Wasson, is the son of my elementary school music teacher.

    "They let 'em vote, smoke, and drive -- even put 'em in pants! So what do you get? A -- a Democrat for President!" ~ Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

    by craiger on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 01:48:58 AM PDT

  •  This is an easy one (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    Schindler's List

    If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

    by Major Kong on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 02:54:20 AM PDT

  •  The Haunting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    the original one scared the bejesus out of me. It's so well done, with just the pervasive sense of malevolence that no, is not just in your imagination. The scene with Clair Bloom and Julie Harris huddled in bed with the presence outside in the hallway, OMG!

    Second thing that scared the heck out of me was an episode of Thriller called "The Hungry Glass" that featured William Shatner that was about a young couple that buys an old house and there is an issue with a mirror in the attic. I saw this as a child on TV when co-incidentally my family was renting an excessively creepy old New England house for the summer. Way to go, Mom and Dad! Rent weird house and then let child watch Thriller episode about haunted house. Also, put child in isolated third floor bedroom and adamantly forbid nightlight. Arrrghhhh!

    Third scary movie was Invaders From Mars, the original, with people roaming around and falling into alien sand pits where they get replicated. I love the circular plot device where the last scene repeats the first scene and you get that little Tommy or whatever his name was is trapped in an Alien Groundhog Day.

    I think it is the movies that scare you when you are at an imprintable age that really stay with you a lifetime. After that, you have a bit more of an internal defense system when you can reassure yourself that it's just a movie.

    That being said, the only other movie that actually SCARED me as an adult was the original Dutch version of The Vanishing. That's because living breathing evil people do exist and could be buying coffee right next to you at a highway rest area.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 03:23:50 AM PDT

  •  "The Shining" both book and movie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, Front Toward Enemy
  •  The movie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat

    "Testament" with Jane Alexander scared the hell out of me. Post nuclear world. It gave me nightmares for a long time

    "Another world is possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by jazzizbest on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:04:54 AM PDT

  •  Not a movie, but an episode of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnny the Conqueroo, Aunt Pat

    "Night Gallery" I saw when I was about 8.  I don't remember the title, but it was the one with a carnivorous doll, one of those 2-foot high dress-up dolls that were the fore-runners of today's horrible "collectible" costumed dolls.  When she was going to kill, she'd have a toothy smile.

    Put my sisters off dolls for life.

    "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

    by DrLori on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 06:10:35 AM PDT

    •  The Night Gallery episode... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, Buckeye54, DrLori

      The Caterpillar was my favorite. Where an earwig agonizingly bored through a man's brain by entering one ear and exiting the other. After amazingly living through the ordeal the episode ends with a doctor telling the guy that he was the first to have lived through this only to find out that the earwig was a female and had laid eggs. Creepy!

      •  I loved that one, too. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Johnny the Conqueroo

        What I remember most about it was the rain.  And the fact that he was trying to kill his wife.

        Talk about your just desserts.

        But after the doll episode, I loved the one about the Nazi war criminal who would escape into the landscape painting, going back day after day until he'd fully prepared for his disappearance. With Nazi hunters literally two steps behind him, he reaches the museum and finds the exhibition has been changed, and he spends eternity as the Christ in a modernist crucifixion painting.

        "I speak the truth, not as much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older." --Montaigne

        by DrLori on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 10:27:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Ring. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Front Toward Enemy

    Ted Cruz president? Pardon my Vietnamese, but Ngo Pho King Way.

    by ZedMont on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 07:08:21 AM PDT

  •  A few comments: (0+ / 0-)

    First, when I was in college, I took an elective on film appreciation which primarily focused on the different genres.  One of the ones we studied was horror and the salient point that I recall was that horror movies are almost always about teenagers and coming of age and coming to terms with sex, drugs, etc.  A point was also made about the color red and its allusions to sex and  blood (specifically menstrual).  Many comments in the diary reminded me of these points from the class.

    Second, what one finds to be scary seems to be a rather personal thing.  For example, many people find the slasher or other monster movies to be scary, while I do not.  I find 'supernatural' ghost phenomenon to be scary, which may be due to my own experiences with it.  

    Third, as far as scary movies go, I have a couple.  As I mentioned above, I tend to like (find scary) supernatural type stories, in particular British horror, and in this regard one of my favorites was Haunted by James Herbert (link is to the book, but I first saw the movie).   I also found the movie Witchboard, which involved the use of a Ouija board to be scary, but again this has a lot to do with my (negative) experiences using one.  Lastly, I would mention the John Carpenter movie 'Prince or Darkness' which was about a team of investigators who unwittingly opened a doorway to bring the devil into our world.  The movie didn't scare me, but I watched it with a 16 year old (at the time) friend who was a devote Catholic and it scared him so badly that he wanted to call his stepmother to come and take him home.

  •  Scariest damned scene in all movie history! (0+ / 0-)

    Is that scene with the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. There has never been anything else close to that scary. I can still feel my fear even today, 55 years later.

  •  a few that worked for me... (0+ / 0-)

    ...although I'm bound to forget something that worked even better...

    Probably the scaredest I've been in a movie theater would be The Amityville Horror or the Cat People remake, but I was around 12 at the time.  I was also really squeamish about gore, and the arm-ripped-off scene in Cat People bugged me 'cuz I was afraid they'd show something worse.  Now gore doesn't bother me at all, and neither movie's particularly scary.  I wasn't scared by gore again until I saw Lucio Fulci's Zombie.   Wasn't quite prepared for that splinter-in-the-eye scene going as far as it did. :)

    The Blair Witch Project was really good, although a lot of people hate it.  It's one of those movies that either works for you or doesn't.

    The Exorcist, o' course, is great.  The original Night of the Living Dead still packs a punch, too.  And Dawn of the Dead is no slouch.

    Suspiria worked really well.  Any Dario Argento or Mario Bava movie ranks high with me.

    There's a made-for-British-TV movie called Ghostwatch that traumatized the country, and it does mess with you a good bit.  It's hard to track down here in the states, though.

    One horror movie I'm obsessed with that few people seem to know about is Messiah of Evil.  It's not terrifying, really, but it has a very weird, dreamlike creepiness to it.  You can find it on public-domain DVD collections very cheap.  I've probably watched that thing 30 times now.  Other obscure, cheap-public-domain favorites of mine are Don't Look In The Basement (this movie breathes down the back of your neck) and Silent Night Bloody Night (which is not the killer-Santa-Claus movie).

    I also like The Innkeepers and House of the Devil quite a bit.  Last House On Dead End Street is really disturbing just for the whole nasty vibe of the thing.  The Haunting is great (I fell asleep during that and had one of the best nightmares I've ever had).  Also like The Changeling a lot.

     And there are tons more I know I'm forgetting...

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Mon Oct 28, 2013 at 08:43:56 AM PDT

  •  The original 1953 War of the Worlds. (0+ / 0-)

    As seen by a 6 year old, the night of one of the greatest meteor showers ever in Oct 66', it was the TV premiere of the movie on NBC. Just as the Sun went down I was playing outside with a buddy, and there was amazing meteor shower with explosions in the atmosphere, with colors like a fireworks show. Come 9pm, the movie.

    Scared the living shit out of me, made me a scientist and astronomy fan for life.

  •  Dat of the Trifids would be up there too. (0+ / 0-)

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