Halloween is only a few days away and that means it is time to select the scary films to watch while passing out candy. Pick the wrong film and it will be like being on a date with a zombie.
What scares people varies widely. A spider can send some running while for others it is the latest Adam Sandler movie. The one thing to keep in mind when determining the scariness of a film is that it has nothing to do with blood and gore or loud noises. The films need to have a story that creates chills.
Some scary movies have not aged well as in the case of “The Blair Witch Project.” It would have made the list years ago but now it just looks like a shaky mess.
Here are the selections starting with number 10 and working toward the top choice.
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968): This American psychological horror film was written and directed by Roman Polanski. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. Mia Farrow plays a young woman living in a creepy Manhattan building who gets pregnant. The fact this is one of the few films where Satan ends up the big winner is enough to earn it a spot on the list.
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956): Long before Freddy Kruger made it difficult to go to sleep, this film made it tough to catch a nap. If a person fell asleep, they would be reproduced exactly by aliens. The cliffhanger ending gives the film a final big scare.
“Get Out” (2017): There is something about having some type of creature take over a person’s body that is the creepiest. In this case wealthy people bid on the right to take over the much healthier bodies of younger people. Jordan Peele filled the movie with scares despite a very low budget.
“Psycho” (1960): Alfred Hitchcock created one of the most terrifying characters in film history with Norman Bates. The reason the film works so well is that Bates doesn’t do anything supernatural. He could be the clerk at any creepy motel off the beaten path. Staying close to reality always amplifies the scares. Be sure not to pick up the remake as it is not as good.
“Annabelle” (2014): This film makes the list for two reasons. It is the second offering in the very strong “Conjuring” series. The fact the focus is a creepy doll also earned it major points (just beating out “Chucky”). The film was inspired by a story of a doll named Annabelle told by Ed and Lorraine Warren of “Conjuring” fame. A film has high scary potential if the main character is scary just sitting in a chair.
“Talk to Me” (2022): The creation of co-directors Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou has breathed new life into the familiar teenager-in-peril horror genre. It is one of the creepiest films of the year. The danger comes from the mummified hand of a medium that has been encased in porcelain. The history of the medium being able to contact those in the spirit world infects a group of teens. Don’t see it with the lights off or alone.
“Nosferatu” (1922): It is hard to believe that a film that was created more than 100 years ago could be as scary as a movie made this year. The fact is that this production created the blueprint for horror movies that continues to be used today. Special effects may be better but the silent German Expressionist horror film directed by F. W. Murnau is visually stunning and features a soundtrack that amps up the scares.
“The Ring” (2002): The film on this list is a remake of a 1998 Japanese film (equally as scary). A journalist must figure out a way to escape death after watching a cursed videotape that seemingly kills the viewer seven days after viewing it. The creepy scene of the young girl with long black hair crawling out of the TV is enough to cause nightmares and has been copied in other movies multiple times.
“The Exorcist” (1973): It has been 50 years since the film was released but the moment “Tubular Bells” from the soundtrack is played it causes immediate chills. The fact it was the first horror movie to be nominated for an Oscar as best picture is proof of what a monumental impact the film had on the horror genre.
“Halloween” (1978): The true test of how scary a film can be is how close to reality the story gets. If you watch the original film, everything up to the final scene stays within the borders of reality. This is why the first film is the best and remains the top pick at Halloween.