Halloween Special: Our Favorite Scary Movies
In honor of Halloween, the EH staff reveals the movies that pop goosebumps on our arms and zip chills down our spines.
In honor of Halloween, we took an informal, non-scientific survey of the EH edit staff. The goal: assemble a list of movies that fill us with equal parts fear and delight. We achieved our goal (see below for the results), but we also inadvertently learned some spooky stuff about our own staff. For example:
- Classic horror movies still freak us out years after their original release.
- Our staff continues to appreciate the unique talents of Freddy and Jason, this in spite of the waning pop culture relevance of both characters.
- Some of us have seen movies that maybe 10 other people on the planet have viewed.
- Julie Jacobson’s odd pick is scarier than any of the movies on this list.
And so without further adieu we present ... Our Favorite Scary Movies!
Bob “Harvester of Sorrow” Archer’s Eye-Closers
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Freddie Krueger. Dead girl in a body bag. Trail of blood. Need to know more?
The Shining (1980)
This movie has lots of scary scenes, but the one that sticks in my mind is when Jack Nicholson starts talking to the ghostly bartender.
Sin-dee “The Omen” Davis’ Screamers
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070047/ The Exorcist (1973)
When it debuted I had just made my confirmation at the Sacred Heart Church. Even as I have grown older and wiser, this movie still has the same hair-raising effect on me.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Hannibal (2001)
Beginning to end, these movies had me on the edge of my seat. The greatest adrenaline surges came in “Lambs” when Clarice Starling was trying to feel her way around in the dark and Buffalo Bill had the advantage of night goggles.
The Omen (1976)
~WHY~ did they do a remake? This was perhaps an even better mind-bender than “The Exorcist.” The different locations helped make this movie even more engaging. How can the very things we come to adore—babies and dogs—turn against us?
The Bad Seed (1956)
Didn’t we all grow up with the one kid in our grade-school that you just knew was evil to the core? This movie confirms it. This perfectly cute, blonde, grade-school girl is a smart, cold-blooded killer. She is so perfect nobody suspects. It seems that she would get away with it all, except fate intervenes. Let’s just say that not all Hollywood movies have a happy ending.
The perfect synchronization of music, silence and timing made this a jump-out-of-your-skin flick. The music made my heart race, and when there was silence and serenity ... a head rolls out of a boat and the shark lunges for the screen—Ahhhhh!
Lisa Witchypoo Montgomery’s Evil Curses
The Exorcist (1973)
Believe it or not, I just watched the original for the first time last year. Any movie that mixes religion with horror really freaks me out. It took me years to build up my courage to watch this one.
The Ring (2002)
The killer is a little girl that materializes through the help of a “tainted” videotape. Whoever watches the tape is literally scared to death. You might be, too.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This was always a big hit at slumber parties. The thought of going to sleep and meeting up with Freddy was enough to keep everyone awake the entire night.
Hide and Seek (2005)
After the death of her mother, a little girl develops an imaginary friend who starts to do really naughty things, like killing people. Her psychiatrist father, Robert DeNiro, is concerned. His attempts to push the imaginary friend from her mind don’t work ... but I can’t tell you why.
Jason “Chicken” Knott’s-so-Fast to Cue up these
Stood in line for the late-night show and got home about 2 a.m. ... didn’t sleep.
The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1977)
Still the scariest movie I have ever seen—and it was made long before horror flicks began overusing the he’s-not-dead-yet scene. ~(Good luck finding a DVD. -ed.)~
Arlen “Treehouse of Horror VI” Schweiger’s Avian Boo
The Birds (1963)
Hitchcock’s bird rampage paved the way for other scary animal flicks like “Jaws,” “Cujo” and “Arachnophobia”—especially with the great director’s graphic schoolchildren chase scene. As frightening as that was, though, the one in which Hitchcock pans over the birds just sitting in rows like an army ready to attack makes my spine tingle more than any other.
Jason “The Creature From Down” Unger’s Hide-and-Peeks
Crop circles or something more? The suspense is incredible. The first time I saw it, I was scared. Now I’m just scared of Mel Gibson.
Rachel Scare-i-cola’s Low-Light Frights
The same guy who made Dracula enlisted an army of, well, freaks, to deliver the story of greed and betrayal. It’s been banned in a few countries, which should be a qualifier for any great horror movie.
Friday the 13th, Part 2 (1981)
This was the first horror movie that I ever saw, during a slumber party. I think we must have watched it about 17 times in a 24-hour span. Sort of makes it a little less scary, but it and Jason Voorhees will always have that special place in my heart.
The commercial for this Anthony Hopkins movie used to scare the crap out of me when I was a little kid. In fact, my brother used to taunt me whenever the commercial would come on, trying to pry my fingers from my eyes. Once I got older, I sat down to watch it ... it was stupid! A guy with an evil puppet? Hard to believe this is the same guy that was Hannibal Lecter, but maybe I had just built it up in my head too much.
Great cast and excellent premise. It’s not exactly your “classical” horror movie, but—and shield your eyes if you don’t want to see a major spoiler—I give two thumbs up to any film that puts Gwyneth Paltrow’s head in a box.
Evil Dead 2 (1987)
I have to root for this low-budget underdog. With the lead star’s hand becoming possessed, do you really need other effects? Although there was a start to this trilogy, this was the movie that really made me aware of actor Bruce Campbell, director Sam Raimi and his shaky-cam.
Kathy Bates was born to play this role. When the movie came out, I decided to read the book first, and could picture her in that role. Little did I know that her performance was actually twice as creepy. I still can’t hear the word “hobble” without wincing.
Steve “Medieval” Castle’s Darkest Corners
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
In this B-movie classic, a doctor keeps his fiancee’s head alive (Jan in a Pan). Then she nags him and worse—develops telepathic powers. It’s every man’s worst nightmare!
Fatal Attraction (1987)
Every married man’s worst nightmare.
The Birds (1963)
No, Tippy. Don’t go in the attic. Please! But she never listens.
The Thing (1982)
When the guy’s head pops off, sprouts giant insect legs and crabs across the floor, the stoner character says it for us all: “You have got to be (expletive) kidding me!”
That wooden dummy is pure evil. I still can’t watch a ventriloquist.
Perfect title, perfect plot, perfect suspense. But it also spawned a slew of slasher flicks—and it gave us the proverbial girl who gives the killer a second chance ... and a third ... and a fourth. Thank you, Jamie Lee Curtis.
An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
What’s scarier than Al Gore on the big screen? What he says we’re doing to our planet. It seems that the human race is this planet’s biggest horror story.
Julie “The Meathook” Jacobson’s GoreFest
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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
When that mean guy comes to steal the children, now that is scary. Cover your eyes! (We know, weird. But nothing else scares “The Meathook.” We’re serious. Nothing at all. And that’s the scariest part. -ed.)