Thursday, June 15, 2006

scary movies


what's the scariest movie ever?

what's YOUR scariest movie?

when i was a little kid, i was afraid of scary movies. they gave me nightmares...and DAYmares! maybe it's 'cause my imagination was set on 'high' but, man, i would SEE things! shadows shifting, shapes moving, tricks of the light...tricks of the dark.

so i became kind of a wuss about scary movies. my brother will tell you the story of how i was even scared of "attack of the 50 foot woman" but i think that was more of the terrifying hype our babysitter, debbie reismeuller, gave it. (i made her pay for that that night, i can tell ya...)

so as a kid i could watch monster movies; king king, godzilla, and even the blob (although i think the blob gave me a couple nightmares too...). but even the tame stuff SUGGESTED too much for my imagination to play with later on.
i stayed away.

jump to 1979 and i'm a senior in high school. and getting out with my friends and partyin' and havin' a great time and we'd go see ANYTHING at the movies just to get outta the house. by now, i've gotten more of a handle on my imagination and not scaring myself anymore (well, not as often...). and, a huge comic book freak, i also dig science fiction. and i hear that there's this movie coming out called 'alien'. and it sounds great. and i tell all my friends. and soon it's the movie that 'todd says we GOTTA see." so now i'm associated with it, invariably linked to it for all eternity.
and i hope it doesn't suck.

and it doesn't.

and it's not JUST a science fiction movie. it's one of the most suspenseful, scariest movies EVER!

(now i'm not just the funny guy or the comic book guy or the will-do-anything-for-a-laugh guy--i'm also the guy who knows scary.)

a year later, i'm in college and dating my first real girlfriend, karen, and we're looking for any excuse to get out. we go to the movies a lot, but i hear about this new movie coming out called "friday the 13th"; it's s'posed to be good. and though "halloween" had come out a couple years before, and "phantasm" and "texas chainsaw massacre" showed up shortly after that, it was jason and his hockey mask (or rather, jason's mom and her hockey mask) that started that wild, 80's, slasher/stalker/splatter gore-fest for me. karen and i went to see ALL of them and though i soon had to start wearing extra shirts to keep her from leaving her nailprints in my arm, we jumped and winced and screamed (she screamed, i didn't scream) through hundreds of horror flicks, both good and bad. when karen and i broke up, it was my roommate, dennis who became my new horror movie partner.
we saw everything.

fascinated with the make-up and special effects, i started reading fangoria religiously.

some movies were great, most were good (for what they were; low budget b-grade horror flicks), some were god-awful.

but there were some--a handful or so--that were too much. the really gory ones that made you worry about what you had for dinner. the ones that made you realize that the little voice inside your head was quietly repeating, "don't show that, don't show that, don't show that, don't..."
zombies feasting on the guts of a not-yet-dead guy in "dawn of the dead".
karen and i watched most of "mother's day" through our fingers, i kept asking her if she wanted to go. i think we changed our seats twice with that in mind.
dennis and i saw "mausoleum" and both later agreed that the scene where the woman pukes up most of her internal organs was a little much.

the one's that got me the most however, were the scenes of what i call "helpless horror"--where the imminent victim is somehow trapped and just waiting for the horror to happen. the original "prophesy" (not the angelic christopher walken one--the monster one from the 80's) has a scene like that where an injured member of the group is strapped to the top of a jeep to be transported to a hospital. when the monster knocks the jeep over, everyone gets free...'cept the poor guy tied to the roof! he's a goat staked out for sacrifice! the rest of the movie might not be that much, but they build that scene so well.

but my personal all time worst is called "horror planet", a british import that went by another name over there. an 'alien'-spawned space flick, the crew on this distant space station are mining some precious stone in the mega-sub-zero caves/ cataacombs beneath the surface. they hafta wear heat infused spacesuits or they'll freeze instantly and they use these quantum-laser devices that look like electric hedge-clippers to cut through the rock. of course, their activity and heat in the bowles of these mines awakens a swift, ravenous monster that is leaving big bloody hunks of it's victims all around the caves. so there's like 5 of 'em left, they're out in the tunnels, they get the alert that the monster is coming, and in the rush to get to the air-lock, the captain gets her boot caught between a rock and the tracks they've laid for their mining cars. she is literally, like, 15 feet from the air-lock. the others are inside but the outer door gets stuck open, so they can't get out to help her. they can watch her though. trapped! helpless horror! the monster is coming! she is panicking! her foot is stuck! all she has is the hedge-clipper thing to defend herself...


but if she destroys the integrity of the suit, she'll freeze within 30 seconds!
but the door is only 15 feet away!
(or five one-legged hops...)
as the others watch (and scream silently for her NOT to do it)
she opens her face mask, jams the heat/air tube into her mouth and begins to saw away at her own trapped leg...

dennis tells me that i kept saying "no no no no no no no no" during that scene.

so, that's me. that's my horror trigger.

but that's mostly gore horror, slasher horror, the visceral stuff.
we really didn't mention the suspense horror, the building terror, the slow-burn stuff.
"the exorcist", "the omen", "the sixth sense".

sorry, i've gone on waaaaay too long.

two years ago, bravo made a list of the 100 scariest movies.

let's make our own list.
what are yours?



Rich Faber said...

Ok,Todd, as you know, I'm not a horror guy, but you did mention something in your post that made me remember something I've been meaning to tell you for a while...

Well, you mentioned The Blob. Did I ever tell you that I live in the town where it was shot? What Phoenixville, PA is most famous for (aside from it being one of the places The Sundance Kid lived as a child) is it's the home of the Colonial Theater, where the movie theater scene in the Blob was shot, as well as where a lot of the exterior scenes were shot. Every year, they do a reenactment of that scene where everyone runs from the theater. It's a big event here, and it's called "Blobfest!"

We moved here the year of the 50th anniversary of the movie, but unfortunately, weren't aware of the festival until after it had passed; which is a shame because "The Blob" happens to be Traci's favorite horror movie!

Anyway, if you ever do make it down for a visit, we'll go see a flick at the Colonial, and you can pretend you're Steve McQueen... ;-)


todd said...

that is some of the coolest news i've heard in a while! i would LOVE to go to blobfest!
saturday mornings i was glued to the tv, watching hour after hour of cartoons, my dad yelling, "get outside! it's too nice to be indoors!" there were two times i remember him actually calling my brother and i IN from playing outside to watch movies he wanted to share with us. the first one was "the blob", the second one was "the magnificent seven". (he also plunked me down in front of the set to watch the first ever episode of "batman" saying, "watch--i think you might like this..."
little did he know... : )

thanks for the cool blob story--and don't be such a baby. watch somethin' scary! : )
thanks, man!

Scott Weinstein said...


This is a fun list. I'd have to say my first thought when you say scary movies is The Shining (or the Shinnin' if this is on the Simpsons.) I was too much of a coward to watch horror movies as a kid, so I didn't see the Shining until college. And it scared me silly. It's too bad Hollywood has overused the creepy little girls bit, because those pasty twins are the most frightening thing i've ever seen.

And I'd have to follow it up with Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte with Bette Davis. We watched this in middle school once, during the middle of the day, in a crowded classroom, and I still had nightmares for weeks. This also may explain why I couldn't watch another horror film until college.


Rich Faber said...


No problem. As for watching a scary movie, I can now admit that the reason I didn't want to watch Blair Witch with you and Howard that time we stayed with you, was not because I wanted to wait to see it with Traci. It was because I knew there was no way I'd be able to sleep in that house-in-the-woods of yours, after watching that movie! ;-)

Now it can be told...


Brian said...

Hey Todd,

The Blob certainly was one of the stand out scarry movies from my childhood and the Shinning was another stand out thriller.

As for the original Friday the 13th, my cousin Niki's husband, Barry Abram, was the cinematographer on that bad boy so I'll have to vote for that as No. 1.

todd said...

cinematographer on the original...?!
NICE! : )

ha! yeah, i'll give ya that. dani used to get spooked out here sometimes when she would be home alone. but then, she always had gretchen to protect her.
still a baby. but thanks for reminding me of blair witch for the list...

never saw 'hush hush sweet charlotte' (though have always meant to 'cause stephen king mention's it in 'on writing') but i will definitely be looking for it now! thanks!

so we've got friday the 13th
the shining
hush hush sweet charlotte
the blob

anybody else?