October is the perfect time to get scared. All month long we look forward to Halloween, the scariest holiday of them all, so horror films and haunted houses aid us in celebrating for 31 days. That’s a lot of fear!
The horror film genre is one of the biggest and most profitable, and for good reason. People love to be frightened — at least some people do! So I thought I’d poll our writers to see which ones like a good scare, and which ones would rather go to their happy place.
The Linster: I’m many things, but a camper is not one of them. Frankly, I just don’t see the point when an air-conditioned motel room with a shower, toilet and comfy bed is cheaper than a campsite. After years of enduring ridicule for such an anti-lesbian attitude, The Blair Witch Project proved to me that my preference for comfort had probably saved my life.
That movie would never have worked now that the internet can tell us something is fake before we have a chance to wonder. But at the time, the shaky style, horrifying screams and close-ups of terrified faces haunted me for weeks. I’m still a little nervous just thinking about it.
Heather Hogan:I have never seen a scary movie in my whole entire life, because on a scale of wimp to astronaut, I am the wimpiest wimp to ever wimp. Let me paint you a picture: If I accidentally watched an episode of Unsolved Mysteries when I was a kid, I wouldn’t sleep for a month. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher made me go into a haunted house put on by fifth graders, and when the first vampire popped up out of his coffin, I wet my pants.
When I was in the fourth grade, my bus driver dressed up like Dracula, and when I got on the bus and saw her there, I went running back across the street, across my yard, and into my house, screaming the entire way to my sister, “JENNIFER, GET OFF THE BUS! IT’S A TRICK! IT’S A TRICK!” I shimmied my way out of the safety restraints and jumped into the water so I didn’t have to ride the boat into The Haunted Mansion at Disney World. And, um, what else? Oh — I still won’t answer the door on Halloween in case there are any children dressed as vampires on my porch. These kinds of movies are more my speed.
Ali Davis: Honestly, the 1968 version of The Haunting might be the scariest. It’s hella scary because there’s a lot going on, but you don’t see much — they don’t make the mistake of giving you a big ol’ monster to look at and pick apart. I still can’t go to sleep right afterwards. (Also there’s a terrific lesbian character played by the lovely Claire Bloom.)
Alien is also pretty great, and, oh, jeez — I’ll think of six more right after you post this.
Odishon (Audition) is so scary that it’s the only movie where I’ve seen people walk out — and keep walking out — through the entire movie. I can’t really recommend it, though. It’s so upsetting that I literally had to walk around outside and not talk to anyone for about half an hour afterwards.
Mia Jones: I. Hate. Scary. Movies. I have the most overactive imagination ever and when I was little I used to sleep under the covers with my stuffed animals on top of me to make it look like no one was there (besides the lump in my bed). Sometimes, I would even try to hold my breath to make sure the covers wouldn’t look like they were moving. I blame this on my mom’s affinity for true crime novels and also a very scary episode of Unsolved Mysteries I saw as a 7-year-old.
The scariest movie I saw about five minutes of before screaming and running out of my best friend’s house, was Candy Man. It took place in Chicago and while I have no idea what the plot really was, I know that I wanted no part of it.
Emily Hartl: When I was 20, I made the terrible decision of going to see The Ring in the theater with my friend Robby. We both came back to my apartment post-movie with visions of that broad coming out of the television, so we did what any other reasonable young adults would do: We had a few drinks and then Robby actually ended up sleeping over because we were both too terrified to sleep by ourselves that night. At the time, I had a television in my room, and I think it was at least a year before I was able to watch T.V. in bed without some sort of flashback to the hand coming over the side of the well. Shudder.
Fast forward to seven years later and my wife and are moving to Seattle — the place where the American version of The Ring is set. Worse, we took a ferry ride shortly after moving here to Bainbridge Island and it all came back to me: Naomi Watts took a ferry to Whidbey! (OMG, remember the horse jumping off it?) What if the B&B I’m heading towards is like that creepy cabin? They had movies available to borrow in the main room of the B&B for guests to borrow, BTW, and yes, the sea and the islands do look just like the film, foggy and eerie, which I actually really like when I’m not busy having terrifying deja vu or whatever.
Drummerdeeds: The Ring is my favorite scary movie of all time. I love the way the clues fit together, little girl crawling out of the TV (WTF?!), and, of course, a brilliant performance by one Naomi Watts. Hot damn, I’mma watch it again this Halloween season!
Dara Nai: My initial answer to this question was, “Claire of the Moon, duh.” But upon further rumination, I’ve decided to finally let Nicole Conn off the hook; for the era, she did the best she could. Besides, frighteningly bad is not the same as “scary.” And that is why I’ve picked The Exorcist, followed closely by The Omen. Turns out, the only thing that creeps me out more than awful lesbian films are children.
Bridget McManus: The Shining, hands down. Just typing the movie’s title gives me the willies. A haunted hotel, an elevator full of blood, a little boy possessed by a demon child and shouting “red rum” out of his pointer finger while Shelley Duvall wields a kitchen knife — what more do you need? Oh yeah and Jack Nicholson is in it, too. The 1980 film stands up to the test of time but don’t watch it alone.
Trish Bendix: I feel like I’m one of the only people here who actually loves scary movies! My wife and I love to rent them, even if they are terrible. Of course, we prefer really dark ones. I am partial to the kind that are more psychological thrillers – things that could happen in real life, because people are nuts. One of the most recent films that really creeped me out was Martyrs. It’s a 2008 French movie that’s being remade in America, despite so many people saying it is too disturbing. In short, the film is about a young girl who escapes after she is tortured and terrorized for no reason. Her friend tries to avenge her, but then becomes a victim herself. So, lesson learned: Never help your friends. (Just kidding.)
What’s your favorite scary movie?