So I put a note on Facebook about my top ten scary movies and video games. I’m gonna go more in depth for each one here. Now, let me explain my criteria. Some of you may be wondering why none of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies are on here, though I am a rabid fan of the series. Or Friday the 13, Halloween, Poltergeist or other such movies. One of my biggest factors in listing a film was if I was still scared AFTER the movie. All of these following movie left a lasting impression on me, whether just for the rest of that night, a few months, or even to this day.
Let’s start with the movies. I’ll add my favorite scariest moment for each while trying to remain spoiler free. In no particular order:
People either hate or love this movie. This movie suffered from what I’m calling the Blair Witch disease. I saw BW after all the hype hit, and I didn’t find it scary at all, but I understood how people could find it scary. Now PA, on the other hand, I saw before it all hit. See more about that night here. But after that movie, even with all my own personal paranormal experiences, things were put in a different light for me. A week or so after we (we as in the Spelling Bee cast, in case you didn’t click the link) saw it, we went to two haunted houses on two different occasions. Both times, the gang was in a silly mood and couldn’t decide who would go in first because they were all afraid of what waited inside. While the guys fought over it, it clicked for me. I just thought to myself, “This isn’t Paranormal Activity.” I basically just calmed myself down and remembered all the tricks I know they pull in haunted houses to scare and that they can’t touch you, remembered all the real things I’ve been through and how I came out. I led the way each time, and people cringed behind me, my friend LA even occasionally clutched my arm. Nothing has scared me since, except for The Strangers, which I’ll explain when I get to that one.
Scariest moment: For me, pretty much how a good portion of it reminded me of one of my own particular experiences.
This is the only movie that has scared me since I saw Paranormal Activity, and it’s because how it’s based on true events. Loosely based or completely based doesn’t matter; it delves into how crazy some people can be. How they can just come into your home, torture you, then kill you and not see anything wrong with it. I watched this movie alone in my house and even though it was the middle of the day, especially with my surround sound, I still found myself nervously and quickly looking behind me every now and again just to make sure no one was standing there.
Scariest moment: When you see the Strangers were already in the house before they even know it.
The ExorcistFor reasons I will not go into, I will only say I did not finish watching this movie.
Scariest moment: leave me alone. 😛
Not many people found this movie very scary. What I think really added to this movie is if you have read the short story it’s based on. There was a lot you may have missed if you didn’t know to look, or listen, for it.
Scariest moment: I don’t really have a scariest moment, but the sound really set the mood. If you’ve read the book, you know about the constant references to being on a boat. Listen carefully and you will hear the constant creaking sounds of a rocking boat.
A movie starring The Greatest American Hero, William Katt, this movie was just one of my favorite movies growing up. Anytime I saw it was going to be on HBO, I made sure to stay up so I could watch it. A Vietnam vet who is a horror novelist moves into a recently deceased relative’s house-you know things are gonna happen! Richard Moll, Bull of Night Court fame, was in it also, as well as George Wendlandt. This cult classic had the unfortunate luck of getting a comedic sequel. It sucked donkey balls.
Scariest moment: Chimney. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.
Ah. Scottish werewolves. A military group gets dropped in what is supposed to be a training session against a rival military group, but after finding all but one of the opposing team mauled, they find out this was not intended to be a training experiment. Awesome awesome movie. This is the movie that inspired me to start my ghost stories in Scottish accent, but that’s another story. I had the priveledge of seeing this at the Alamo Drafthouse with the director/writer in attendance. There was a ton of homages in the film to other horror/sci-fi flicks, which if we didn’t catch he made sure to point out. There is no spoon.
Scariest moment: “You’re right behind me aren’t you?”
Night of the Living Dead
I am fortunate enough to say that the first zombie movie I have ever seen is also the one that started it all. It is also the first horror movie, I can remember seeing. I saw it on a Halloween night. I was dressed as Dracula and was about to walk out the door. I went through the living room and my brother was watching it. I had only missed the first few minutes he said, and I was right on time to see the first shuffling animated corpse. I just stood there mesmorized by what I was seeing. Curiosity kept me interested, but fear kept me from moving. I literally watched the entire movie standing in the same spot and I didn’t go trick-or-treating that night.
Scariest moment: Going into the basement
I watched this movie thinking I was getting ready to watch a comedy on HBO. I didn’t know what it was about, just that John Goodman was in it; I was too young and dumb to know the definition of the title. This movie left me with it’s titles namesake.
Scariest moment. The shower. I still panic a little every now and then when I have to wash my hair and close my eyes.
Great great film directed by Frank Darabont, who is bringing us Walking Dead, based on a story by Stephen King. Another movie I had the privelege of seeing at the Alamo with the director. He had to rewrite the ending so that… well… so that it actually HAD an ending. Stephen King himself admitted that he didn’t really give it an ending, but if he did, he would have given it the ending Mr. Darabont did.
Scariest moment: Well… because of Arachnophobia, that whole scene in the pharmacy.
28 Days later
An amazing take on the zombie genre made even better with the crazy awesome soundtrack. To see it take affect on people so quickly, LIVING people, just made it nuts. I highly recommend getting the DVD and checking out the alternate endings.
Scariest moment: Subway tunnel.
And now for the games. I wanted to keep it fair, so franshises only get one spot, I didn’t want most of this list to be Silent Hill and Resident Evil. Although because of that, I don’t have a top ten. Again though, I had a criteria. The fear had to stick with me even when I turned off the game. There had to be a feeling of isolation in it-so no multiplayer games. And you might be wondering why Bioshock is not on the list… I was never really scared. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love the games. They were certainly intense and raised my pulse at moments, but it wasn’t scary if that makes sense. I dunno. Moving on.
The Silent Hill series
Whether you’re looking for your daughter, the wife you thought was dead, or just tyring to figure out how you’re connected to the city, Silent Hill will always have a place in my heart. Quality started to go downhill after the third one and while Homecoming showed promise, it let me down because, for a PS3 release, it was very much a PS2 game. Especially when they really dropped the ball on the UFO ending. What? Oh yeah, each game has multiple endings including a UFO ending. And I think the first one did it best. Everything you had to do to get to that ending got me more and more creeped out, then when I finally got it, they dropped that comedy bomb on me and I couldn’t stop laughing.
Favorite game of the series: While I think 2 is the best, the third one if probably my favorite (maybe tied with the first one), if only for the fact that you can change costumes, including unlocking a Sailor Moon-like outfit with super powers.
Wow. In space, no one can hear you scream… except yourself. To hear that muffled scream in your spacesuit whenever you died was so freakin awesome. And there was such camerawork in the game that I had never seen before which gave it a greater sense of urgency whenever it needed it. My roomie played it and couldn’t stop. I came home from work one day and he was further than I was. I didn’t want to hear anything, and so to avoid spoilers, I got on my computer and put on the headphones and listened to Rammstein really loud. When David got to the final boss, I could hear him screaming like a little girl even over the music.
Scariest moment: Getting to the medical lab and seeing that little scene playout between the doctor and the “patient”.
The Resident Evil series
Zombies, zombies and more zombies. And then not zombies but alien things that were just basically like super zombies to me. I don’t really know how to explain it, but the more complex the flowing storyline gets, the more I enjoy it.
Favorite game of the series: I would have to say the second of the series. Not only did I get introduced to Claire Redfield (REDHEAD ALERT!!!), I get my first dosage of replay value. When the game is over, you can play through again as the other character and choices you made on the first run through impact what happens in the second go round. And then you find another ending after the first one.
Now this game did its best to mess with the player. It included a sanity meter which affected your game experience depending on it’s level. Did your game flicker and go back to the title screen? That was the game messing with you. Did it delete your file instead of saving it? Another trick. It was so cool to get so stressed when you thought the worst only to find, basically, the game was screwing with you. The real downside was you had to play for all three demigods (?) before you could get to the ultimate ending. There was no difference between the three except inserting the proper animation/voice for each demigod.
Scariest moment: Bathtub. Nuff said.
A man gets sent to a prison island for a crime he may or may not have committed. The way you play the games affects whether or not he is guilty as you experience flashacks revealing more of his story as the game progresses. The demons on the island are all based on different forms of execution, from gas, hanging, lethal injection, to a firing squad. No matter how you play, this guy’s got a demon within that needs to be released. Literally. Too bad the sequel was utter crap.
Scariest moment: Hearing that blade-y sound alerting you that one of those blade demons was nearby.
I don’t remember much of the plot on this one, I just remember how messed up it was and how I had a few sleepless nights from playing it. But man, you just gotta check it out. For the fear inducing moments, or at least to mock how stupid the main character is based on her choices or just the lame physical acting.
Scariest moment: Baby’s room. Green foggy thing and the teddy bear.
Friday the 13th
This game didn’t remind me of any of the movies at all. But starting a game where ROCKS are your only weapon?!? The weird mood setting 8-bit music really helped creep me out. I found this game scarier than any of the movies.
Scariest moment: Bumping into Jason before you’ve gotten any weapon upgrades.
Since I didn’t have ten games for my list, I’m going to include two bonus scary moments from games that weren’t in the horror genre.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time-Whenever that freakin mummy thing would scream before jumping on you and you would freak out, mashing buttons to try to get him off of you.
Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask-ANYTIME you put on one of those three main masks. The freakin cutscene would send a shiver up my spine each and everytime. You have no idea how relieved I was when I discovered you could skip it.
Well, I guess that’s it from the pulpit today. Have a great Halloween!