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Five Scariest Movies (plus Family Friends Chills)

John on October 31, 2008 at 3:23 pm

It’s Halloween. I’m burned out on politics. So here are the five scariest movies I’ve seen. Of course I’d love to hear your suggestions about what belongs on this list. BTW, these are not in order. They’re all really scary:

  • The Exorcist – It’s not the pea soup, it’s the great directing and scary sound FX. If this movie doesn’t scare you, I’m afraid you’re already a ghoul.
  • Alien – I saw this when I was 13 and I still, occasionally, have nightmares involving cramped, dank corridors full of these things. I think the second film is a better movie (how many times can the cat be a plot device!), but the first one is definitely horrifying.
  • Jacob’s Ladder – The first time I watched this I was alone, at night. Not a wise move. This is just about the only film that uses the logic (or illogic) of nightmares to good dramatic effect. If you watch this with a bunch of people during the day, it’s not all that scary. Watch it alone in the dark and then tell me it doesn’t give you chills.
  • Blair Witch Project – Again, it’s not the running and screaming that get you. The scene near the beginning where the little girl tries to cover her father’s mouth is better than any special effect. Brilliant. Terrifying. I’ll probably never watch this again.
  • The Grudge – This movie is rated PG-13, so I’m embarrassed to say that the first 20 minutes scared the crud out of me. Once again, it’s not special effects or dismemberment that’s scary, it’s films that capture the subtle feeling of dread. Please, do not let your 13 year-old see this, unless you want them to have nightmares for weeks!

Best scary movies I’ve seen recently:

  • The Ruins – Surprisingly effective horror/thriller.

Finally, if like me you have kids, check out this post of family friendly recommendations from 2006. I notice that one of the ones on my list just made Wired magazine’s list of the top 5 scary movies you’ve never seen, Curse of the Demon (1958). If you haven’t seen Curse of the Demon, it’s definitely worthwhile.

Update: Ed Morrissey and Ace have some lists going as well. Ace puts The Thing (1982) at the top of his list and I have to agree. My favortie Kurt Russell film and my favorite John Carpenter film.

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Category: Movies |

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