From the beginning of tinseltown history, one of the goals of one particular genre of movie was to scare viewers enough to make them jump out of their seats! There have been more attempts than can be counted, and most of them failed. It is the ones that succeeded that we remember. And since we are close to Halloween, I thought I would ask you …. what in your opinion are the top five scary movies of all time?
There are many elements that go into a scary movie. The dark theater. The expectation that something scary is going to happen…we just do not know when. People who do dumb things when confronted with dangerous situations. (“Hey, let’s lock ourselves in the closet until help comes!” or “I know what to do … let’s stop and ask that man with a giant hook for directions.”) Of supreme importance is the soundtrack. Scary movie music makes so many scenes memorable. The Ja-Ja-Ja-Son-Son-Son whispered in Friday the 13th, the relenteless nerve-jangling piano riff of Halloween, or the horrifying terse chords of the shower scene in Psycho. More than all of that, though, is the sense of impending danger for the people in the movie, and by extension, for you.
The older I get, the less I can watch anything with much gore in it. I don’t know if that’s just me or what. These days I’d rather see a good comedy or a mystery. I see so many terrible things in the news that these things seem more real to me than they did when I was a teenager. Of course the special effects have increased the realism of these movies quite a bit since I was a teenager. A really bad disease among scary movies is the endless remaking of the same story in part 1, part 2, part 3, and so on! Never as good as the originals, the sequals are almost always a let down. But there are different kinds of scary movies. I prefer the gothic otherworld type of scary movie to the hack-em-up-hang-em-up kinds. Some movies do a good job of combining the two. I guess different things give people goosebumps, so my list might not be like yours, but I’m interested in reading yours. Here are the top five movies that were scary enough to remember. There are many others, but I think these deserve the nod for Big Poppa’s top scary movie picks, in no particular order.
Halloween. The original (and what should have been the only one!) had me sitting on my feet and yelling for Jamie Lee Curtis to run a little faster please! Halloween II was almost as good, but the formula was wearing thin. I think I stopped watching after #III, which was awful. Donald Pleasance was awesome as the unstoppable Dr. Loomis, the psychaitrist who had been Michael Myers’ doctor before he escaped. Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis sets the tone for the movie by being vulnerable, pretty, scared, alone, and a target.
The Others. It’s got everything … a big practically empty mansion, fog, unusual events that go unexplained, ghosts, creepy people in trusted positions, a romance…. just a great classic gothic tale that surprises you at the end with something you had considered, but dismissed. Nicole Kidman’s performance is flawless. This is a good one for young people who like spooky tales … no cursing, no nudity, no gore … all the things that film producers today think we have to endure to have a good movie. Not so!
A Nightmare on Elm Street. Go ahead, rent it. Turn the lights out. Get under a blanket and watch this creepfest which introduces Freddie Krugger to the horror movie world. Like many franchises, this one has been overused, overworked, and overthrown into the garbage bin. However, the first one was quite scary. We’ve all had nightmares. What if they started coming true? That was the basis of Wes Craven’s films that would invite the audience into that world where things happen that make us scream.
Poltergiest. Hey, ghosts are scary, and this movie is packed with them. Mean ones, too. Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams are perfect as the parents left with no idea how to retrieve their daughter from the television set….or from the other world that’s being picked up by the television set. Steven Spielberg’s story has you on the edge of your seat for most of the ride. Line from the movie that sometimes makes it into my everyday conversation: “Go to the light, Carol Anne“.
The Sixth Sense. I’ll never forget that feeling when the ring hit the floor. We already knew about Bruce Willis, but two big introductions were made with this movie. M. Night Shyamalan has now floored us with several outstanding movies that each had their surprising moments (The Village, Signs, Unbreakable, etc.), but he never pulled back the curtain quite like he did in The Sixth Sense. The other introduction was Haley Joel Osment, who was outstanding in the movie but never has really found a niche since. New sentence introduced into the American vocabulary: “I see dead people.” I saw a shirt even today that said, “I see dumb people”.
It was hard to pick. There are so many others like Psycho, The Ring, and even an oldie that creeped me out called “The House That Wouldn’t Die” with Barbara Stanwyck. Well, anyway, let’s hear yours! And remember… scary moments are all a matter of perspective.
Before we go, let me update you on how things went at Central today. Groups from North Carolina and Oklahoma worked around the church building painting and putting up sheetrock on the ceiling in the foyer and hallways. Pictures are up on my picture page. Both of those groups will leave Sunday. They are doing an outstanding job!
Thanks for all the comments on the last post. Hope you have a great weekend!