Every station on television runs some sort of “scary movie” marathons in October. Most scary movies are awful, but if they’re done right, they can be a lot of fun to watch even if they are bad. If they’re done wrong, however, they’re just plain bad.
These are called, “thrillers”. Usually they try to be really serious and really scary. Usually they really fail.
While scary movies usually aren’t very scary, unless you are a total wuss, there are a few in my mind that stick out as being really creepy. These are those movies:
Invaders from Mars (1986)
I tried not to include anything from early childhood, because everything scared the crap out of me back then. However, this movie still counts because I can see how the concept of Invaders is still legitimately scary today.
The Invaders from Mars I saw was a remake of a 1953 film of the same name. A young boy sees something odd going on behind his house, and soon finds aliens have taken over the minds of his parents. He desperately tries to tell people what is going on, but of course nobody really believes him. Too bad. After everybody else starts to catch on, it is way too late, and the aliens have a stranglehold on the community that neither the cops, nor the military can break.
When I picked this movie out, I thought I was going to watch something with neat aliens in it. What I got, was a movie that told me that all of the people I looked to for protection can not stop an impending alien invasion and a month of sleepless nights.
Pumpkinhead is not really that scary, but it is a damn good. A monster movie at its core, Pumpkinhead does something I’ve seen few monster movies do; character development. The killings don’t start right away. Instead you get to watch a hard-working country man and his son bonding for about half an hour, right before the kid gets killed by some punks on vacation. It only makes sense that dad would want revenge, and that a scary-ass demon summoned by a swamp witch would be the best way to to get it.
It is also the first monster movie I saw in which there seems to be a reason the kids have to die, besides them being in the wrong place at the wrong time, touching the wrong thing.
Pet Cemetery (1989)
Pet Cemetery is scary because it was just a simple, almost believable story. No monsters. No aliens. Just a dead kid and an Indian burial ground. What could go wrong with that?
A lot. When a family moves into a nice house on the country, they find out that:
1. If you bury a dead cat in the back yard it comes back to life terribly ungrateful.
2. If your kids gets hit by a semi-truck and you also bury it in the back yard, it comes back to life terribly ungrateful.
Anybody who’s seen this movie knows why little kids will always be creepy, and why I jumped into my bed from a distance for quite a while after watching Pet Cemetery.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Paranormal, schmaranormal. The Blair Witch Project was the original “home movie” horror film, at least the first widely known one. It’s simple story and zero budget scares turned out to be pretty terrifying, actually.
Some film students go into a rural community looking to do a documentary on the Blair Witch. Naturally, they take to the woods and end up experiencing some very scary things first-hand. At first, they believe they are being tormented by “townies”, but they soon find themselves lost and dealing with some really scary stuff. They also go crazy.
I’m so sorry, Heather’s mom. I threw that damn map in the river. I thought for sure she would put out on this trip.
I don’t know if this was scary because we all lived in the damn woods when this came out, or because we frequently went camping. Nobody believed that the story was actually true, as the movie would us believe, but everybody half expected ghost children to beat on the tents anyway.
The Orphanage (2007)
The latest film I’ve found to be genuinely scary is The Orphanage. It is the story about a woman who brings her family back to her childhood home, an creepy seaside orphanage. Of course, there are plenty of ghostly children still about, which is great, because her own eventually disappears. Mom realizes juniors imaginary friends might be real and might be the key to his disappearance, but then again, maybe not.
This movie was scary because it had scary kids in it. The atmosphere of the movie is very creepy, and so are the visuals. The mystery of the missing child adds a lot of intrigue, making it more than just the normal ghost story and it all ends in a very, very interesting way.
So, if you’re not out chasing zombies tonight or looking to see if some other poor nerd dressed as a pony for Halloween, load up, rent or steal a few of these flicks. If you don’t want sleep, that is.