I’ve always loved Halloween. I like how everything turns different when it’s almost Halloween. The TV shows would do Halloween specials where they show scary stuff, cable movie channels would show scary movies back to back, and not to mention the awesome costume parties.
There’s just this infectious air of anticipation all around. It’s almost like Christmas too. 🙂 But another reason why I’m drawn to this occasion might be because of my interest in creepy, scary and dark stuff. Horror and I go way back, by the way. I have Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to thank for that. I guess it was a given for me to like Halloween this much, being a lover of the creepy and the macabre.
I like to think that I’ve seen my fair share of scary movies, although I feel like there’s still so much good stuff I haven’t seen yet. Like Rosemary’s Baby and Children of the Corn. Oops. Hey I never claimed to be at the pinnacle of horror movie fandom. There’s still so much to see and so much to learn from horror masterpieces. But I made a list (off the top of my head) of the scariest films I have seen so far. Ranked according to how much they disturbed me and how many sleepless nights I had after watching.
7. Donnie Darko (2001)
Yeah yeah I know. This is more of a sci-fi, psychological kind of film. But I think there are enough elements in the film that would make it scary, like that bunny. But you know what, the bunny didn’t scare me one bit. I think THIS scene was the scariest:
I think it’s more of the realization that came after seeing that particular scene. But I LOVE this movie. It’s actually one of my favorites.
6. Skeleton Key (2005)
This movie isn’t really up there along with the scariest ones. In fact I feel like if I was a real horror movie critic I should be ashamed of even putting this on my list. But what made it unforgettable for me are the songs playing on that damn record player. I really couldn’t get those songs out of my head hours after seeing the movie. Downright creepy.
5. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
When I watched this film for the first time, it was for research purposes. I was part of a theater guild in college and we had tomake a play with Expressionist elements. So of course the movie came up when I was researching German Expressionism. It really is a work of art. All distorted shapes and haunting music. The visuals and not to mention the plot twist really stuck with me. This is the perfect horror movie well-deserving of its acclaim.
4. Ring (1998)
Yep I’m talking about the 1998 Japanese Ring movie. The original and the best. (Sorry, Hollywood) Everything in this movie is 100% scary. It’s weird and really creepy at the same time. I don’t know how Japanese filmmakers do it but I’ve noticed something with their cinematography. It’s like there’s always a sense of foreboding in all the scenes. Even if the scene is set in a bustling street during the day you still feel like you’re not safe and that nothing good will ever happen in the movie. Only darkness and horror. But it’s executed in a subtle and non-tacky way. I noted the same with The Grudge‘s cinematography.
3. Rose Red (2002)
I could go on and on about Stephen King being a kind of hero for me. The guy’s a genius. Out of the countless horror books he wrote and the films made out of them, I’d have to say Rose Red stuck with me the most. Probably because I recall not being able to sleep after watching the miniseries.
Rose Red generally received mixed reviews from critics, unlike other highly praised Stephen King films. But I don’t know, I guess it’s the thought of a house making people disappear and the spirits being stuck inside forever. Those and the ghosts that look like this:
2. Nosferatu (1922)
I don’t know about you but there’s something about old films that make them scarier than today’s technology-enabled films. I think it’s the lack of CGI that makes the monsters and ghosts more organic and realistic. Another product of the German Expressionist movement in the 1920’s, it was an unauthorized Dracula adaptation. Bram Stoker’s heirs sued the makers of Nosferatu for copyright infringement and ordered all copies of the film to be burned down. But one copy purportedly survived and distributed around the world, garnering a cult following. And thank God to whoever saved that copy, otherwise I wouldn’t have this guy in my nightmares.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
I haven’t been able to watch this film again after seeing it for the first time back in 2005. I can’t believe I even made it to the end of the movie back then. It was too nightmarish, too terrifying and too real-looking. With real-looking I mean the make-up, the demonic voices and the perfectly executed scenes just look too real. So hands down to this movie for traumatizing me for a whole week and making me have a kind of immunity to other movies with similar themes.
So there you have it! The movies that terrified me to the core. I still have a lot of horror classics that I haven’t seen yet. And other lesser-known indie films that have great reviews. So maybe there’ll be a part 2 of this list. Happy Halloween!