Team Social’s Very Scary Movie List!
1. Trick r’ Treat 17. Puppet Master
2. The Witches 18. The Changeling
3. 28 Days Later 19. Alien
4. Silent House 20. Babadook
5. Saw 21. Blair Witch Project
6. The Birds 22. The Conjuring 2
7. The Little Mermaid 23. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
8. Ringu 24. The Shining
9. Annabelle 25. Child’s Play
10. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) 26. Evil Dead II
11. The Thing (1982) 27. Poltergeist
12. Jane Eyre 28. Halloween
13. Cabin in the Woods 29. The Strangers
14. The Exorcist 30. American Mary
15. Wolf Creek 31. Rosemary’s Baby
16. The Mothman Prophecies
Tanya Jensen’s Top 12 Scary Movies
1. Wolf Creek (2005), Director: Greg McLean – an Australian slasher totally harnessing the grittiness of 70’s
slashers. Love it. I think there’s an American flick by the same name – not that one.
2. The Orphanage (2007) - Not to be mistaken with The Orphan) – Spanish, pulls the rug out from under
you. Beautifully shot.
3. REC (2007) – the original Spanish version – creepy as heck… with one of the most terrifying creature endings
4. Splinter (2008) - Director: Toby Wilkins. Really well made, UH-MAY-ZING in-camera monster
effects. Reminiscent of ‘80s monster movies.
5. Halloween (1978) – doesn’t get better than that. No explanation needed
6. The Conjuring (2013) – perrrfectly captures 70’s horror. Takes it’s time and doesn’t give you any cheap
scares. You care about the family and Vera Farmiga is great in it.
7. The Exorcist (1973) …I mean come on!
8. High Tension (2003) – French. Reeaaaally good, brutal and with a cool twist.
9. Poltergeist (1982) – terrified me as a kid. Spielberg. Has some amazing set pieces (the chair sequence, anything to do with the TV, the tree, the toys!) Spielberg takes his time in introducing you to the family before sucking you
into a world you wish you could get out of.
10. Eyes Without a Face (1960) - French, black and white – if you want some variety. It’s creepy.
11. The Devi’s Rejects (2005) - Director: Rob Zombie. Watched it once… never again. It was incredibly well made. If you want characters to get under your skin in a bad way, this flick is it. One of the most brutally
uncompromising films I’ve seen.
12. The Omen (1976) – one of my favourites. The original, not the remake. Creepy kids, deaths through skewering’s and decapitations – can’t ask for more. Also Gregory Peck.
Josh Comeau’s Top 10 Scary Movies
The Thing (1982) Trailer:
Starring Kurt Russell Keith David
*SPOILERS AHEAD* This is one of my all-time favorite scary movies. The isolated atmosphere of the research camp, in the unending white expanse provides the perfect other-worldly platform for this intense psychological thriller. Although many initially look upon The Thing as your typical B Monster Movie, upon viewing, it’s obviously anything but.
From the first beat of that suspenseful soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, you’re sucked into a world of mystery, suspense, monsters, isolation, and distrust. Not knowing who at any moment is still themselves, as the numbers of the camp slowly dwindle one by one and rampant paranoia grips everyone.
From the suspicious husky dog who turns on the kennel in one of the most disturbing surprise transformations in movie history, to the absorption and subsequent reveal of Bennings as one of the first victims, in a bone chilling moaning wail as he’s set fire to by Mack (Kurt Russell), to the finale leaving Childs (Keith David) and Mack sitting amongst the burning debris, the last two survivors.
And as the fire dies down, and the cold begins to creep forward in the darkness, Mack and Childs staring suspiciously at one another, we hear that slow thematic beat of the soundtrack creep up once again, suspense and paranoia returning in the form of the terrifying unknown.
The film is an exercise in an extremely well-plotted mystery set in the genre of sci-fi horror. Even at the end it leaves you doubting who is really who, who is still themselves, and what really happened. The film preys on that ultimate fear of the unknown. To this day there are still many fan theories surrounding the plot and it’s still healthily studied and debated as a masterpiece of suspense and horror, which is why it makes my number 1 for the ultimate scary movie.
Alien (1979) Trailer:
Starring Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton, Tom Skerrit, Veronica
Klaxons blare, orange warning lights pulse and spin, coolant issues forth from the walls, ceiling, and floor. A woman panting and screaming in terror sprints down a narrow, claustrophobic corridor, headed for a ladder. As she reaches the ladder and starts to climb, she stops midway and glances back down the corridor, a look of terror bordering on hysteria clearly across her face.
Cut to the top of the ladder surrounded by a porthole.
All the noise fades away, the klaxons go silent, the warning lights out of focus in the background, as a hand slowly grips the top of the ladder and the woman’s eyes, pupils dilated with terror peek over the edge, her ragged terrified breathing bordering on hyperventilating.
It’s the only sound that permeates the situation, a perfect punctuation and description.
It’s coming for her.
There’s no way to truly put Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien into perspective without directly describing the film itself, and the content of this film, it’s symbolism, story, and message could easily fill a review hundreds of pages long. Suffice to say, it’s one of the most terrifying twists on the classic monster movie format. Whilst many people gravitate towards the infamous chest-burster scene, one that has been rehashed many times since in Hollywood, it’s the hour of film beforehand that make that scene so brilliant.
Alien is a film where the moments without the monster, its whereabouts unknown, that are truly the most terrifying.
Ridley Scott delicately dances the audience on a razor blade for most of the film, to such an extent that the audience wishes the monster would come already, that the horror would begin, if only to end this horrible sick-in-your-gut tension that permeates the film endlessly. Alien is a masterpiece because it’s the quiet parts that are the most terrifying.
In space, no one can hear you scream.
And you wish they could.
JAWS (1975) Trailer:
Starring Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw
JAWS is that movie that altered the world’s collective consciousness. It awoke that primal fear of places that man wasn’t meant to go. It made us fear the water again. The film was originally meant to be a throwaway B monster movie for then-amateur director Steven Spielberg, but technical issues, setbacks, budget problems, and a shooting schedule that went well over 3 times it’s end date and budget, forced Hollywood’s newest young director to think on his feet and re-invent the story into one that was
Hitchcock-ian in its pacing and style. The result was a film that changed the scope of the summer blockbuster from the romance and adventure movies of the 50’s and 60’s, to the faster paced, suspense-filled action/horror movies that would dominate the box office for decades to come.
And it made you think twice before putting on a lifejacket again.
The single greatest psychological point used in the film, is ironically, the absence of the shark itself. For much of the film, the shark is suggested, through waves, bumps, barrels, and one point, even a wharf, but most ominously, through two notes in the movie’s soundtrack. So famous that virtually everyone in the world knows those two, terrifying notes that precede the arrival of the monster of the deep. But Spielberg remains clever, at one point suddenly quieting the entire soundtrack, so that there’s suddenly naught but silence when the monster leaps from the depths and cripples the boat of our heroes. Spielberg cleverly changing the rules and your conditioning so just when you feel comfortable you know when to look away, he pulls the rug out from under you.
The absence of the monster is further supported and given gravitas by the support of the three main actors. Shaw,
Scheider, and Dreyfuss put on a masterclass of acting, giving their situation all the dire weight and terror it deserves.
Most infamously, by Robert Shaw (Quint) who near the penultimate point of the film during the hunt for the monster, marooned alone at sea, with no land in sight, in the heart of the monster’s territory, delivers one of the most bone chilling monologues about his history with sharks, the legendary story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.
Barely blinking, with his eyes hauntedly staring ahead, right through the other actors and the bulkheads of The Orca,
Shaw recalls his traumatic experience, his fear of the ocean and what they’re facing, and his steely determination to overcome it, and why the other two, and the audience should be afraid of the monster, and that one way or another, they aren’t safe.
Venture too deep, the film says.
And it’ll come for you.
The Exorcist (1973) Trailer:
Starring Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn
To accurately describe The Exorcist, instead of talk about what the film IS, all one can really do is talk about what the film DOES.
There’s a great news segment on the film during its first week of release in middle-America in 1973 that captures the effect of the film perfectly.
It’s a 10 minute segment of just people fainting in the lobbies, having anxiety and panic attacks, full-on breakdowns, and even hospitalization, unable to handle the stress of the film.
And we haven’t even got into the theatre and taken our seats yet.
From spider-crawling backwards down the stairs and vomiting blood, to multiple obscenities, head spinning, vomiting green bile, levitation, and speaking in tongues, all by an ancient demon terrorizing a well-off New York family in the guise of Reagan (Linda Blair), a young girl, the film is a non-stop masterpiece preying on our fears of death, hell, evil, and faith.
The Exorcist was the first film to exit the tried and true method of monster movies that had been the staple of horror since the inception of film, with classic monsters such as Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein, and The Mummy. Instead,
The Exorcist used the audiences own latent fears, doubts, and beliefs to terrify them, instead of telling the audience what they should be afraid of point-blank, the film leaves much to the imagination, using the young Linda Blair as a conduit for all of our fears, leaving it open to interpretation, each person seeing in this little girl what they fear most.
This is a masterstroke, as the demon itself preys on fear, weaknesses, sowing seeds of doubt, leaving the whole audience in fear that they might be next, that this evil could be anybody.
And it knows deep down what you fear most.
“Your mother’s in here Karras, would you like to leave a message?”
The Conjuring (2013) Trailer:
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Lili Taylor *SPOILERS AHEAD*
I like to look on The Conjuring as a reboot of the entire horror genre. At the tail-end of the 1980’s after the slasher genre of horror movies reigned supreme, the horror genre in general fell into disarray, with focus shifted more towards poorly animated CGI monsters, flash and no substance plots, gore, and low budget efforts, the horror genre became less of a full course meal, and more a disposable fast food source of entertainment.
A diet director James Wan was clearly sick of being presented with, so he set out to redesign the menu itself.
The Conjuring is a textbook schooling of “that’s how it’s done” in horror. James Wan goes old school, bringing back the pacing, look, feel, and presentation of those classic horror movies that scared our grandparents, parents, and even the younger generations with ease. Proving that sometimes the old tricks are the best tricks.
The movie uses very little CGI effects, pulling out the old tool box of tricks and effects to scare the pants off you such as doors closing, knocks, and subtle rumbling noises. Why scare someone with a badly animated CGI spirit that cost a fortune, when you can have two hands come out of the dark and clap twice?
The film is extremely apt at using suggestion and inferred events to slowly build up the pace. One such masterful scene involves one of the children awakening in the middle of the night, and in a terrified voice, informs her sister that she can see someone standing in the dark behind the door. All the audience can see is the darkness behind the door, nothing visible, and then the door itself slams shut with a bang.
Nothing fancy, nothing over the top.
Just the dark, the door, and an actress selling it all.
And it’s the single most terrifying scene I can recall in years.
I’m still terrified to play hide and seek or hear someone clap in another room…
Thanks James Wan.
The Conjuring 2 (2016) Trailer:
Starring Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Lauren Esposito, Frances O’Connor
Continuing his home-run with The Conjuring (2013), director James Wan takes us to school once again, showing us what we should really be afraid of, and giving Hollywood a lesson/reminder that when it comes to horror, sometimes less is truly more.
The film employs some of the same tricks its predecessor did, setting back up an established universe of horror, putting a brand back on the genre once again. In no way though does the film stumble or get stale at any moment, the tricks given a different wrapper, and some all-new ones put in place to prevent you from ever getting comfortable, from ever being able to predict what may happen next.
The film masterfully toys with those of us who would dare call ourselves horror experts, connoisseurs of the genre, easily able to predict the film due to many years previous of conditioning by formulaic horror films, and completely knocks us on our butts.
James Wan delightfully dances with us on the edge of a knife, keeping tension ever-present and high strung. Such as with a now-infamous scene involving a painting of an evil nun that through camera and light trickery, toys with the audience for over five minutes as to whether the painting is really a painting or a demon standing in the room, such to the point that the audience is a nervous wreck by the time the painting finally does reveal itself as possessed. Proving that even when you think you know, you don’t really know.
The film also continues the tradition via James Wan of using all the movie magic to avoid poorly done CGI or cheap effects, to keep the classic look of the film as much as possible. None so well-done as a scene involving the ghost of Bill
Wilkins, possessing the spirit of Janet (Madison Wolfe). Out of focus behind Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson), who is communing with the spirit of Wilkins, we see Wolfe transform slowly into Wilkins out of focus, almost not-noticeable, and then ever so quickly back into Wolfe, the effect done so subtly it’s almost not noticeable, but an easter egg in a film full of such subtle but powerful easter eggs throughout. It’s a film that makes you not want to look away for fear of missing something, but it’s something none of us would want to ever see.
I hate creepy nun paintings…
The Shining (1980) Trailer:
Starring Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
*SPOILERS AHEAD* It goes without saying that Jack Nicholson is the single creepiest man to ever set foot in Hollywood. I mean seriously, if you could name one person who more than likely doesn’t have to reach very deep into his psyche to imagine murdering someone with an axe through a door, it would be Jack Nicholson.
It’s that same psychopathic approach to his performance in The Shining that made it such a cult horror classic that’s still a tour de force even today. Combined with the maniacal genius of Stanley Kubrick, a director who’s eccentric tendencies almost rivaled the legend that was his many hit films, The Shining is (no pun intended), a shining example of a story of one man’s descent into madness.
But unlike most movies where the audience watches the maniac from afar, twist into madness, the viewer separate from the insanity, watching it as if from the other side of the glass, and fearing with the heroes and on the run emotionally with them, The Shining takes a very different approach.
Kubrick and by extension through Nicholson’s performance, takes us along on the descent into madness along with them. We follow step by agonizing step his slow and gradual descent into insanity, leaving us questioning what’s real, what isn’t, and if what’s happening is even right or not.
Even the structure of the hotel, which has hallways and rooms that appear and disappear throughout the film, leading to dead ends or open up in areas where they shouldn’t exist, to the appearance of people in the hotel that shouldn’t be there, but aren’t always questioned by Nicholson, leaves us wondering. Are they ghosts? Are they hallucinations? Is
Nicholson possessed or simply gone insane? And if so, why?
And that’s what makes the film truly terrifying as we don’t know his motive or why these things are happening, and if any of it is even real.
And neither does he.
We find ourselves suddenly on the other side of the glass with Nicholson, the safety net gone, leaving the theatre questioning our own sanity as much as his. Kubrick shows us how easy it is to undo the threads of sanity with just a couple tugs, and how fragile our minds truly are.
All it takes is a little work and no play.
The Silence Of The Lambs (1991) Trailer:
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Ted Levine
In 1991, Anthony Hopkins was dating TV star Martha Stewart. Hopkins hadn’t truly broke yet as an actor, playing a few bit parts in movies, making the bulk of his career via stage performances in both the US and in London. All of that changed however, when his role as the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter hit the screens in February of 1991.
His performance was so startling, so unique and terrifying, that he captured the imaginations of audiences for years to come.
So terrifying in fact, that Martha Stewart broke up with him because after seeing the film, she couldn’t see him as anything other than Dr. Lecter.