What's a good scary movie?
June 24, 2005 8:48 PM   Subscribe

What movie has scared you the most? I feel the need to be actually frightened by a movie, and that really hasn't happened very often.
posted by Newbornstranger to Media & Arts (63 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
the shining, ringu, susperia, original texas chainsaw massacre, alien...
posted by glenwood at 9:15 PM on June 24, 2005

The Exorcist gets under my skin in a major way every time I see it. Night of the Living Dead also. The Changeling scares me every time, even though I know all the plot ... maybe I'm just a wimp. I thought Don't Look Now was scary, though it's enigmatic work and (like The Exorcist and The Changeling) the feeling builds rather than striking right off and holding throughout.

Aside from those ... Repulsion and The Tenant were tense films with some frightening parts, as were Diabolique and The Devil's Backbone.

... None of those are slasher flicks, incidentally, because I just don't dig them much.

As for which one scared me the most? Probably The Exorcist.
posted by Tuwa at 9:19 PM on June 24, 2005

"Breakdown" featuring Kurt Russell. It's honest-to-god-scary because it's plausible.
posted by davidmsc at 9:23 PM on June 24, 2005

The only movie I can remember really freaking me out was 2001.
posted by selfnoise at 9:32 PM on June 24, 2005

Exorcist III
Silence of the Lambs
Manhunter (or Red Dragon, but I like Manhunter better)

Not horror, but with sincerely frightening scenes:
Das Boot
Ronin (only movie where I've been honestly afraid for the stunt drivers)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:48 PM on June 24, 2005

1. Jump out of your seat, screaming, and dropping popcorn scary?

2. Creepy, haunting, totally unsettling scary?

I thought The Others and A.I. were both very creepy and unsettling, and haunted me for days.

I haven't watched any horror flicks since I was a kid, but movies that really scared the bejeezus out of me were An American Werewolf in London and Silence of the Lambs (both gave me nightmares in addition to the immediate fright while watching the film).

'course, what scares me may not be what scares you.
posted by luneray at 9:48 PM on June 24, 2005

Pet Cemetary
posted by 445supermag at 9:51 PM on June 24, 2005

"The Sentinel" had it's moments and might have been the watermark if they had had better acting (talk about a movie ripe for remaking).

"The Exorcist" certainly -- but try to get the original cut. Screw the "Version You Never Saw" hype. The spiderwalk is cute but the rest of the editing really hurt the movie and robbed it of tauntness.

"The Invasion of the Body Snatchers". You know the scene. Also, the Sutherland remake was very good in its own right (sorry, purists).
posted by RavinDave at 9:52 PM on June 24, 2005

Jacob's Ladder, Stalker, Blair Witch.
posted by ch3ch2oh at 10:05 PM on June 24, 2005

The Grudge -the original japanese version, aka Ju-On
posted by Zetetics at 10:25 PM on June 24, 2005

the shining, ringu, susperia, original texas chainsaw massacre, alien...

Funny, that would probably be my top 5 too. And I'll throw in The Eye, Nightmare on Elm Street, and recently I saw this pretty good Thai horror film called Shutter.
posted by bobo123 at 10:30 PM on June 24, 2005

Halloween is intensely creepy and unnerving. John Carpenter's score is minimalistic, but amazingly effective at creating an atmosphere of terror (I can't listen to it at night or when no one else -- that I know of, that is -- is in the house).

Ringu (Japanese version -- I've heard mixed reactions about the U.S. remake) is quite frightening as well. There's an infamous scene towards the end that is one of the more terrifying things I've seen in a good long while.
posted by filmgoerjuan at 10:33 PM on June 24, 2005

Stalker -- that Tarkovsky thing? Bah.

Alien, and when I was very young, "Enemy From Space" aka Quatermass II.

I find Don't Look Know too scary to watch, same as The Shining, the first time.
posted by Rash at 10:38 PM on June 24, 2005

Blair Witch freaked me out, partly from the main "witch" horror bit, but also partly from the evokation of being lost in the woods.

I found The Ring scary, but in a fun way. I have no comparison to the Japanese original to offer.

Ronin (only movie where I've been honestly afraid for the stunt drivers)

heheh. word.
posted by scarabic at 10:39 PM on June 24, 2005

I thought Don't Look Now was scary

Funny to hear this one mentioned. I'd heard it was super-scary a long time ago and finally watched it last year. I found it a little creepy but ultimately funny. The one sex scene in the film is full of weird-ass armpit sniffing and after cackling over that I found it hard to get back to creeped-out let alone scared. It's more of a mood-flick so it's probably quite dependent on who you watch it with and the circumstances.
posted by scarabic at 10:42 PM on June 24, 2005

Chalk me up for another person terrified by "The Exorcist" and "Exorsist III." "Candyman" freaked me out pretty badly as well.
posted by scody at 10:48 PM on June 24, 2005

The Last House On the Left. This movie is just wrong.
posted by oflinkey at 10:52 PM on June 24, 2005

While no cheesy zombie flick is scary, if you watch nothing but zombie flicks for several days running, things start to get creepy :)
posted by -harlequin- at 10:53 PM on June 24, 2005

Blood on Satan's Claw, aka Satan's Skin. If only because it really looks like it was filmed in 17th century England. (Also, the music works into your bones after awhile.)

Oooo... Amazon UK has it on DVD... drool...
posted by Liffey at 10:56 PM on June 24, 2005

The Tenant
Exorcist III (no, really!)
The Shining
Night of the Hunter
The Innocents
The Haunting (original)
Don't Look Now
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Sutherland remake)
Deep Red
Stir of Echoes (an underrated little chomper)
The Thing (Carpenter remake)
The Birds
In The Mouth of Madness
Dead of Night
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Night of the Living Dead

More unnerving/spooky than scary per se:
The Birthday Party (Friedkin version)
Possession (the 1981 movie)
The Manchurian Candidate
The Wages of Fear

Also, my roommate is screaming across the room that Hour of the Wolf is some good times.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:58 PM on June 24, 2005

Alien is still the movie that scares me the most. However, there are a couple of scenes in both Seven and Mulholland Drive (behind the burger joint, anyone?) that scared the living fuck out of me.
posted by saladin at 11:05 PM on June 24, 2005

I still think that the Murnau version of Nosferatu is among the most genuinely frightening films ever made. Ol' Max Schreck (sp?) knew how to instill chills.

Also, a vote for the first Hellraiser movie, which is a geniunely eerie affair.

For another kind of scary, see Errol Morris's terrific Vernon, Florida, which had me fearing for the past, present, and future of the human race. Anyone who's seen this knows what I'm talking about.
posted by Dr. Wu at 11:22 PM on June 24, 2005

I second:
The Ring (I've only seen the American version)
Blair Witch
Night of the Living Dead (starts out laughably lame, becomes horrifying)

Did anyone say Poltergeist? It's probably laughable to an adult, but it scared the living shit out of me as a kid.
posted by agropyron at 11:28 PM on June 24, 2005

I saw "Suspiria" this past Hallowe'en; it didn't deeply frighten me, but the soundtrack was pretty cool mood-wise.

psychological horror tends to scare me more than slasher-y stuff; though "Candyman" was pretty freaky when I saw it several years ago.

"A.I." really disturbed me. For various reasons.
Classic episodes of the b&w "Twilight Zone" freaked me out as a kid. And now they're on DVD.

I couldn't finish watching the japanese horror flick "Audition" - it really gets under your skin.

There was a british zombie film a few years ago - I think it's called "28 Days Later" - very effective (didn't finish that one either).

Movies involving the end of the world or Man's isolation tend to get me the most.

Can't think of any other titles at the moment. You should update here and tell us what you chose! :)
posted by Radio7 at 11:43 PM on June 24, 2005

OK, so "28 Days Later" scared me good. But I think you have to be a woman for it to really scare you in a visceral way.
posted by jopreacher at 11:44 PM on June 24, 2005

The only movie that has ever really scared me is The Shining.

The Wicker Man is pretty unsettling, although too damn weird to be really scary.
posted by nicwolff at 11:59 PM on June 24, 2005

Listen to Tuwa. Them's some excellent recommendations.

I'd add the original The Vanishing to the list (if creepy's okay)--oh, I see oflinkey's got it under its original title--as well as Blair Witch Project (no, really. See it again), and the original The Kingdom and The Kingdom II.

I also agree a lot with Stitcherbeast, except for AI, which I thought was poo (and still the worst movie so far this century).

Breakdown is a terrific thriller, but I'd be hard pressed to qualify it as a horror. Very underated though.
posted by dobbs at 12:00 AM on June 25, 2005

The only two movies that ever kept me awake for months: Miracle Mile and The Day After.

Neither one a classic horror movie, yet both a lot worse.
posted by sourwookie at 12:18 AM on June 25, 2005

Ringu (skip the American remake)
The Exorcist
The Entity
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (remake)

Prince of Darkness
Hellraiser and Hellraiser II (but not the others)
Poltergeist (the original)

Still can't wait to see Ju-On.
And if they ever make a proper movie out of Silent Hill, I may never sleep again.
The Power and The Blue Man were damn scary to me as a kid.
posted by dreamsign at 12:50 AM on June 25, 2005

I thought I couldn't be scared by horror movies anymore. Then I saw Ringu. It's worth hunting down the Japanese version -- the American remake is remarkably faithful, but they made a few little changes that ultimately blunt the film's impact.
posted by jjg at 1:15 AM on June 25, 2005

The scariest film I've seen in a long time is "A Tale of Two Sisters". Not only is it really creepy, but it's wonderfully acted and beautifully shot, with colours and floral themes in keeping with the Korean folk tale on which it's based.

I really can't recommend it highly enough,
posted by Pericles at 1:55 AM on June 25, 2005

Event Horizon, up until the last 20 minutes
8MM is more twisted and disturbing than scary, but it is pretty relentless
n+1 for Jacob's Ladder

I guess Scary and Mindfuck get confused in some peoples brains.
posted by softlord at 2:10 AM on June 25, 2005

Not exactly a horror movie, but the most unsettling film I remember seeing is "Requiem for a Dream". It's the only movie (that I liked) that I can't bring myself to watch again.
posted by Penks at 2:14 AM on June 25, 2005

When I was a kid, the scariest movie I had ever seen (apart from the Exorcist) was Burnt Offerings with Oliver Reed and Karen Black. Will have to watch it again to see if it holds up but the vision of the hearse chauffeur (those of you who have seen it will know who I mean) gave me nightmares for a long time.
posted by gfrobe at 3:18 AM on June 25, 2005

Threads, the nuclear holocaust TV movie from the early 80's. There were a couple made that were similar, but Threads is generally thought to be the grimmest. They scared me more than anything before or since, I'd say.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 AM on June 25, 2005

I third Jacob's Ladder. The only movie I've ever almost walked out of due to a near-freakout. Some of the effects have since been overused in other places (music videos in particular), so they might not have the creepy impact they once did. Still, it is one seriously f'd up experience.

The China Syndrome scared me so bad about nuclear meltdown I cried hysterically, but I was 10 so that doesn't really count.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:22 AM on June 25, 2005

What, no votes for Glitter?

I'd add Tod Browning's Freaks to the list (if nothing else for some purely creep imagery) and (not that you haven't already seen them), Silence of the Lambs and Se7en.
posted by robbie01 at 6:38 AM on June 25, 2005

I saw Ju-On and Ju-On 2 at least nine months ago, and I still can't close my eyes in the shower. And for weeks after we saw them, my house-mate slept with two lights on, just in case one went out in the middle of the night.
posted by amarynth at 6:39 AM on June 25, 2005

Jacob's Ladder still gets to me, and I like scary movies.
There's that scene from The Serpent and the Rainbow which makes my hair stand on end. Brrrr. I'm going to check out Audition tonight, the friend who lent it to me says it's quite scary.
posted by boo_radley at 6:47 AM on June 25, 2005

Funny: some people find The Shining terrifying, others aren't in the least scared by it. I'm in the latter group.

As for Blair Witch: dobbs, I respect your filmic sense so highly I'm willing to see it again, but the first time around I found it fun but not at all scary; I assumed you had to "believe" it (in some sense) in order to be scared by it, and I further assumed you had to be pretty young to believe it. To me it was a clever, innovative use of video and a neat premise. But maybe I wasn't in the right mood.

Nobody's mentioned Wages of Fear, which is perhaps the scariest movie I've ever seen in the sense of edge-of-your-seat, thriller scary rather than ooga-booga spooky scary (which tends not to scare me as much, with the memorable exception of the very end of Carrie):
Throughout the past five decades, Wages of Fear has been available in several different cuts, from the full, 144-minute edition to the selectively trimmed American release. Without exception, each version has been hailed by critics for its style, depth, and power to thrill. Even Hitchcock, at the height of his powers, was hard-pressed to duplicate the one-two punch of Clouzot's em>Wages of Fear and Diabolique. em>Wages of Fear is available on home video (including an excellent DVD transfer by Criterion), but, given the opportunity, this is a movie to be seen on a large screen. There, the mastery of composition and breathless excitement come most vividly to life.
posted by languagehat at 6:51 AM on June 25, 2005

Aaand... I see I should have previewed more carefully. Also, I belatedly did a search and discovered Sticherbeast already mentioned Wages of Fear. Well, I gave it its own spotlight, and I'm not sorry. I'd do it again. Goddammit.
posted by languagehat at 6:55 AM on June 25, 2005

Not really a movie, but the (double-length) pilot episode of Odyssey 5 is surprisingly frightening if the idea of being stranded in space is scary to you. Works best in HD with a proper viewing environment.
posted by trevyn at 7:25 AM on June 25, 2005

Oh, there's a few good moments in Saw, too.
posted by trevyn at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2005

Alice in Wonderland. Must have been either this version, or this version.

(I was four at the time, so the effect now might not be quite as pronounced.)

Freaks is pretty creepy. Oh, and Spoorloos, aka The Vanishing mentioned above, by which I do not mean the Keifer Sutherland remake, which was merely ok.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:31 AM on June 25, 2005

I had been looking forward to seeing Eraserhead for years but couldn't find a copy, but when my school film club showed it, I had to leave about half an hour in.

Movies that succeed at imitating hallucinations or other kinds of scary mental episodes are the scariest for me.
posted by ITheCosmos at 7:52 AM on June 25, 2005

Rosemary's Baby. Creeped me the fuck out.
posted by klangklangston at 7:59 AM on June 25, 2005

Exorcist, obviously.
The Ring over Ringu, because it had the scene with the horses, which was a freaky-ass scene. Also, it's set in Seattle, not Japan, so it's horror happening in my neighborhood.
Event Horizon scared me too

The Omen and Rosemary's Baby too, but they didn't immediately come to mind like the others.

I guess in general the "Hell is Trying to Get Inside Us" genre scares me most. Slasher, monster, serial killer, and alien genres don't really affect me. YMMV.
posted by Hildago at 9:15 AM on June 25, 2005

Oh, and while it's not a movie, I've always told people that the book of Job is the scariest horror story ever.

On the other hand, the shortest horror story ever is this:

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door.

Sleep tight, mohaha.
posted by Hildago at 9:18 AM on June 25, 2005

Psychological thrillers rather than splatter do it for me...

Me, loooooves Cronenberg. But Dead Ringers freaked me out. You know, the scene with the gyn's tools... Even today, I catch myself surveying the instruments when I go for a visit... Just in case some are off...
posted by carmina at 9:24 AM on June 25, 2005

Ringu (Japanese version -- I've heard mixed reactions about the U.S. remake)

I've seen both and preferred the US version. In the Japanese one, the main characters kept explaining everything even the weensiest bit mysterious to each other, and then doing so again, ad infinitum. Maybe doing so is common to Japanese storytelling styles or something, but it annoyed the hell out of me.

As in:
"We will help the girl, and this will lift the curse!"
"What? You mean we should help the girl?"
"Yes. In order to lift the curse."
"Well, if you mean that in order to lift the curse, we must help the girl, I agree with you."
"Then it's settled. We will help the girl, and the curse will be lifted."
"Good. I would like for the curse to be lifted, and the way to do that is to help the girl."

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:31 AM on June 25, 2005

Me, loooooves Cronenberg

I just watched the dvd of Scanners, and came away with two realizations:

(1) The head explosion near the beginning is one of the very best head explosions ever, *especially* if you zoom in and page through it frame by frame.

(2) The man who plays Cameron Vale is truly an atrocious actor. That, or Cronenberg's direction was "Right, in this scene, your motivation is that you're a lump of coal."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:35 AM on June 25, 2005

I have to stick up for the guy who plays Cameron Vale. He's wooden but it is a creepy kind of wooden, like someone who has been deeply psychotic for most of his life and is now barely able to pass as a regular person.

Ok, either that or he did a terrible job.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2005

I have to second (third?) the Audition suggestion. When it played in the film series at my school they put a warning on the poster and before the film started. It reduced several people to tears- I though it was much scarier than Ringu. Also, Silence of the Lambs. Classic, and you won't breathe for the entire last 15 minutes of the movie.
posted by ohio at 11:24 AM on June 25, 2005

Candyman creeped me out -- until I thought it was just me. As did Suspiria. What they have in common is really bitching soundtracks -- Candyman's is by Phillip Glass. I guess that puts them in the same category with The Exorcist.
posted by coelecanth at 2:48 PM on June 25, 2005

Now. Until now I thought it was just me.
posted by coelecanth at 2:49 PM on June 25, 2005

I'm one for The Mothman Prophecies. The tone is really creepy, with one or two good drop-the-popcorn scenes to boot.
posted by greatgefilte at 3:47 PM on June 25, 2005

Funny Games. Another one that's scary because of its realism. It really could happen to you....god, it freaked me the hell out. I even feel a little bit guilty recommending it, it's so disturbing.

On the other hand, it amazes me that anyone felt a degree of emotional connection with A.I. that could possibly make them think it merits inclusion on this list (or a spot on a shelf at the video store, either).
posted by bingo at 4:10 PM on June 25, 2005

Sin City. I didn't sleep for three nights after seeing it. Although most men I've talked to thought it was super-cool, I know it disturbed me and several other women. YMMV.

I second (third?) the recommendation for 28 Days Later.
posted by fuzzbean at 6:30 PM on June 25, 2005

The Shining
The Blair Witch Project
The Omen
Nightmare on Elm Street
The Keep
The Sixth Sense

I don't think they make scary movies like they used to. I found The Ring very not scary.
posted by deborah at 7:43 PM on June 25, 2005

oh, and in The Ring? When the incident happened in the photographer's lab? A girl started screaming in the theater and had to be escorted out by her friends. Yeah.
posted by boo_radley at 9:20 PM on June 25, 2005

I haven't read the whole thread here, but I'll mention that I've only been truly scared by three movies:

The Wizard of Oz (when I was about five--when we were watching it in the living room, I would go and hide in the kitchen whenever the Wicked Witch of the West was on screen)

The Exorcist (when I was about twelve)

The Blair Witch Project (when I was twenty-eight)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:26 AM on June 26, 2005

I saw the Blair Witch Project when I was at uni. It was screened in a caverous old lecture theatre. The wind blew through the cracks in the doors. Afterwards, I had to walk home in the dark, alone. Through the woods. Scared doesn't come close. Even running, it would have taken at least 15 minutes. And you don't want to run through woods alone after seeing that movie.

I'll also second The Exorcist, The Ring, The Shining, Stir of Echoes and The Others (in no order of merit). The Others and The Exorcist should be seen alone for maximum lingering dread effects. The Others will make you scared of any old furniture you have, in particular.

Why has nobody mentioned Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come To You, My Lad - or The Stalls of Barchester? Nobody's seen either of those?
posted by paperpete at 1:54 PM on June 26, 2005

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