Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best Scary Movies of All Time -- Of ALL Time. (Part 2)

Well, I hope you made it through the beginner movies, kids, because horror movies these days are a bit more of a step up. As I stated in my last post, I'm not big on gore (which is even more gross these days) so I am not a fan of the Saw series or Hostel or any of those gross-for-gross'-sake movies/franchises. That said, I now present to you the scariest movies from 1990 onward.

(PART 2)

1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
One of the best horror films of all time, I've seen this one for countless film classes and still love it. The story follows Clarice Starling, a student at the FBI Academy who becomes a key piece in solving the abduction of a state senator's daughter, whom the police believe was taken by serial killer Buffalo Bill. Enlisting the help of a convicted serial killer named Hannibal Lector, Clarice needs to find the missing girl before it's too late. The only major American horror movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture, the way that it's edited, acted, and executed is really just impeccable. Might be a little too intense for some, but the perfect scary movie.

2. Scream (1996)
Classic slasher film that brings all the unspoken tropes of horror movies to the surface. Teen Sydney (worst name ever) is a student at a local high school where her friends have mysteriously started being murdered by a man wearing a mask. Tongue-in-cheek but still pretty scary, this film is great for horror movie fans and newbies alike.

3. Blair Witch Project (1999)
The one that started the found-footage trend. A troop of college kids are making a documentary about a local witch and hike into the woods to get footage of some local stories. They soon lose their map, get disoriented, and start to find and hear strange things around their camp sites. Wierd bundles of sticks and circles of rocks might seem relatively nonthreatening, but added to the tension and hopelessness of being lost in the woods, this movie has you on edge throughout. Still one of the best found-footage movies out there.

(Embedding was disabled on the clips I found, for a scary scene go here)

4. The Sixth Sense (1999)
The original DAFUQ!? plot twist ending, this movie follows a psychologist as he attempts to help a kid who tells him he can "see dead people." (Come on, had to put that in there.) Some seriously jumpy scenes, and the plot is sewn up so tightly that you have to watch it a few times to really appreciate it. The best ever from M. Night Shamalan (although I wanted to put Signs on here and everyone at my office got belligerent at me...still think it's pretty good, but that's apparently just me...).

5. The Ring (2002)
The first terrifying movie I can recall having seen, I'm pretty sure I watched the bulk of this from underneath a blanket. A weird video tape has been circulating and once you watch it you only have seven days to give it to someone else -- or else you die. When a reporter tries to get to the bottom of these seemingly mysterious deaths, she discovers the disturbing story behind the tape and tries to figure out how to stop them. Based off of the original Ringu, The Ring is still plenty terrifying.

6. The Grudge (2004)
Ahhhhhh, that creepy girl and her child and those noises that they make with their mouths!! Help! Another based on an Asian original (in this case, Ju-On), The Grudge actually takes us over to Japan where a young American woman is studying and living with her boyfriend. After becoming an in-house caretaker for an old woman, she begins to feel like she's being followed by something sinister, as are those around her. The Asians really have a way with the supernatural and this remake is pretty near to the original in its scary originality. These aren't your evil, grinning spirits, but tangible, blue things that pop up out of NOWHERE. Still scares me. (Disclaimer: if you thought you could hide from ghosts in your bed, this movie will destroy you. See above scene.)

7. The Descent (2005)
AWESOME creature feature, and very original. Instead of zombies, ghosts, and werewolves, The Descent rigs up some original and pretty scary cave creatures. After a group of thrill-seeking girls decides to take on an uncharted cave, they are unpleasantly surprised when they are met with a small population of cave-people that slowly pick them off, one by one. The central character is a total bad-ass, and it's one of the (SPOILER ALERT) few scary movies that ends with closure (depending on which ending ends up being used. I've seen both and I much prefer one over the other.).

8. [REC] (2007)
Best. Zombie. Movie. I've. Ever. Seen. This Spanish horror movie is much better than the American remake (Quarantine) and much more unsettling. A reporter is covering a local apartment building when all of a sudden the building is quarantined. But one by one, each of the residents of the building starts turning into zombies. Just wait for the scene with the little girl. And the end scene. Scary stuff.

9. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Um, yeah. The first time I saw this movie, I was so on edge that I had to sleep over my friend's house. With the lights on. And I was 19 years old. Another successful found footage movie, this one will either bore you to death or scare the shit out of you. Something deeply disturbing about being stalked by the intangible, and everything seems SO normal in this that it's even more unsettling when things start to happen to this couple. If you like this one, be sure to catch the second and third ones, not bad considering they're sequels.

10. Orphan (2009)
Okay, I hear you laughing, but Orphan is a pretty well executed horror flick and the first time I saw it, I didn't anticipate the ending at all. Originality in scary movies is always delightfully welcomed (there are only so many movies that you can make about serial killers and zombies) and this one is a unique spin on the usual "bad seed" kind of films. After a couple is still reeling from having a relatively recent stillborn baby, they decide to adopt from a local orphanage. Seeing something special in a little girl who is a bit apart from the others, they decide to take her in. But Esther proves to be quite the sadistic daughter; torturing her siblings and giving due payback to bullies at school. Great character development for a horror movie, especially from the ever classy Vera Farmiga. Good ending and pretty creepy how well she knows how to torture her new family.

11. Insidious (2010)
The notorious. Some love this one and some don't, but I still love Insidious, stylistically and plot-wise. A boy falls off a ladder one night and then never wakes up the next day. His parents find out that (SPOILER ALERT) he is gifted at astral projection, or projecting his soul outside of his body. Ghosts, demons, and everything in between then show up, seeking to possess the kid's body for themselves. Notable soundtrack ups the creep factor tenfold for Insidious, which has jumps, creeps, and a unique plot. What more can you ask for?

12. The Innkeepers (2011)
While I'm not a huge fan of Ti West's other horror film House of the Devil (really sharp esthetically but just takes to long to get moving), The Innkeepers was freakin' terrifying. Another case of "Everything is normal -- NO IT'S NOT!! -- Okay, now it's normal again...Or is it?" West takes his time delivering the scares, and by the ending you're jumping out of your seat. Help.

13. The Possession (2012)
Another interesting spin on a typical plot, The Possession is basically a Jewish spin on the traditional possession tale. A little girl finds a mysterious box at a garage sale and accidentally opens it up. Insatiable hunger, aggression, and an uncanny ability to move things with her mind alert her parents that something may be wrong with the girl. An interesting casting choice with Matisyahu as the rabbi that tries to help the girl, the rest of the cast delivers a pretty believable film.

14. The Woman in Black (2012)
Okay, ignore Harry Potter up in here, but this movie is chilling. A woman in black haunts the house isolated at the end of a swamp and picks off little children in the village below. Trying to crack the case is a young lawyer, who is met by more than one instance of inexplicable phenomena. Scary stuff and lots of jumps.

15. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
In the same sort of wheelhouse as Scream, Cabin in the Woods pokes fun at the stereotypical horror genre. A group of teens decide to vacation at (you guessed it) a cabin in the woods, but the longer they're there, the more differently they begin to act. As they begin to morph into the stereotypical horror movie roles (jock, nerd, slut, stoner, and virgin), we begin to learn more about why they're changing and what the bigger picture is behind all the horrific things they see throughout the night. Scary enough but also really great fun! (See: the merman.)

16. Mama (2013)
Two baby girls find themselves alone in an abandoned house in the woods, but are astonishingly discovered there years later and restored to their existing guardians. But they are far from normal. Growing up far from socialization, the girls are taciturn and skittish. As they begin to warm up to their new "parents," the thing that took care of them in the woods isn't too happy at being replaced. Despite "showing the monster," I still really like the bulk of this movie. And seeing Jessica Chastain as a punk rock chick is pretty interesting in its own right.

Can't even bring myself to inflict the red trailer upon you all...

17. Evil Dead (2013)
HAVE A DRINK HANDY WHEN THIS ONE ENDS. I was so shaken up after seeing this in theaters that I came home and had a whiskey. A group of teenagers go to a cabin in the woods to help their friend go through detox. After discovering a basement full of dead cats, one of them discovers a book wrapped in garbage bags and barbed wire (clearly just screaming "READ ME!") and -- get this -- reads from it. Unleashing the EVIL DEAD (see what I did there?), the girl starts acting crazy weird. Thinking that she's just going through detox, her friends don't worry seriously at first...until the blood starts to flow. Good god. This movie is (and I say this in all seriousness) horrifying. Gore, gore, gore, gore, gore. Far less cheesy than the original, this one had me INCREDIBLY on edge.

18. The Conjuring (2013)
THIS ONE TOO. One of the best formulated scary movies I have seen in years, The Conjuring features a family of girls who have moved into a new house that doesn't want them there. After being tormented in innumerable ways by the spirits that infest the house, the family enlists the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two mediums who try to cleanse the house. But this exorcism is far from easy, and as the group wanders deeper into the mystery of the spirits of the house, things get more and more extreme. This movie has all the things that scare you: murder, ghosts, possession, demons, and a nostalgic set that hearkens back to the 1970s. Well acted and well executed, The Conjuring is a new classic.

Honorable Mention:

Signs (2002) I don't care what you say, I like this movie so shut up.

The Others (2001) Great plot twist at the end still keeps this one pretty fresh. And those pale children that can't go outside and talk to the disembodied Victor? Um yes, still super creepy.

28 Days Later (2002) Great zombie movie but I got REALLY annoyed with two things that happen in this: that drop of damn zombie blood falling in that poor man's eye and the weird thing that happens with the soldiers at the camp. Other than that we good, 28 Days Later. You do you.

An American Haunting (2005) This one, to be perfectly honest, isn't incredibly scary, but it has a few moments that stick with me. There aren't a ton of scary movies that take place in colonial America (which, quite frankly, is a bit surprising because being in an undeveloped country actually sounds pretty unnerving if you ask me...). Scary scenes get a little blurred by the ending, which isn't my favorite, but up until that part seeing this poor girl get tortured by the intangible is creepy enough.


  1. Great list! Love a lot of your picks! I saw Silence of the Lambs for the first time this year. It was terrifying and lived up to its hype. Scream is one of my favorites to watch for Halloween. I think I can quote the last hour or so.

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