My staff at the Catonsville Bureau took a vote on what our favorite scary movies were. We think these movies really capture fear and should be a part of any Halloween movie marathon.
13) Arachnophobia - Hate spiders? So do we. That’s why we’re starting off our list with Arachnophobia, a movie where the spiders are big, bad, and taking over small American towns. Our favorite scene: discovery of the GIANT spiders’ web in the barn.
12) The Haunting – Based on The Haunting of Hill House, a novel by Shirley Jackson, this movie drags a group of paranormal investigators to the notorious Hill House, long rumored to be haunted or cursed. One member of the group, Eleanor, becomes attached to the house, enjoying the attention afforded her as the forces of the house make her their target. The classic, black and white 1963 version is a fabulous and hypnotizing mix of the supernatural and the psychological. Fans of older movies, and horror that doesn’t rely on guts and gore, will hopefully find a new favorite in this.
11) The Grudge – The reception of Japanese horror in America has been mixed to say the least. But The Grudge, featuring our favorite Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, has perhaps had the least lost in translation. Yeah, the plot may start falling apart halfway through, but there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll be so caught up in the creepy imagery you won’t notice. As if children and attics weren’t scary enough.
10) The Blair Witch Project – This movie earns a spot in the top thirteen for a couple of reasons. First, it’s based on a real Maryland legend. Second, this movie re-imagined horror, presenting the story as a real-life documentary, and sending people into a panic that would’ve made H.G. Wells proud. Even knowing that the movie is complete fiction, it’s so well crafted that it’s easy to suspend disbelief for 86 minutes and believe that, somewhere in the woods of Maryland, unknown supernatural forces are out to get you.
9) Carrie – Forget Revenge of the Nerds, Carrie is simply about revenge. A shy and abused girl is made even more of an outcast by teasing from her high school classmates. Little do they know the target of their antagonism is telekinetic. Stephen King is an undisputed fright master, giving us reason to fear what we consider the mundane. In Carrie, we’re warned to be on our best behavior to each other. Whether you’re watching the 76 version or its’ remake, Carrie will make you thank your stars that no one you ever teased was telekinetic.
8) Saw – A serial killer kidnaps people and traps them in situations which usually result in the kidnapped parties either killing themselves or each other. And we, the audience, get to sit back and watch the moral dilemmas ensue. Saw has spawned five sequels, so filmmakers are obviously hitting the right notes with viewers.
7) Texas Chain Saw Massacre – Texas Chain Saw Massacre is classic horror. Five youths find their vacation turned into a nightmare as they stumble across a crazed and cannibalistic family in the Texas hills. Chain saws and meat hooks are repurposed in new and terror inducing ways. This movie continues to withstand the test of time, facing off with increasingly gory movies of the same genre and three sequels.
6) Psycho – A true oldie-but-goodie. Hitchcock may have spawned the trend of half naked-to-naked women in horror movies, but he does it with class. The search for a missing woman brings her sister and lover to the motel where she was last seen. As they search continues, suspicion falls on the motels’ owner. This movie puts mother-son relationships in a scary new light.
5) It – Beware clowns, sewers, and Tim Curry. It, a horrific monster that lurks in the sewer system of small Maine town and eats local children, is another product of the twisted mind of Stephen King. Seven children join together to defeat It – disguised as Pennywise the clown-, and appear to succeed. But 30 years later, the evil reemerges, and the kids, now grown, must reunite to bring it down forever. The movie runs over three hours, but all that means is you get an intermission to refill on popcorn and check your bathroom sink for blood.
(4)Nightmare on Elm Street – This 80’s classic would be in our good graces just because it introduces us to Johnny Depp. But even more potent than the future Captain Jack, is the horror that is Freddy Kruger. Unlike other horror movie villains, Freddy doesn’t lurk in a house or by a camp ground which you can avoid. Freddy hunts you where you can’t escape him; in your dreams. This movie will have you setting your alarms and overworking your coffee machine after just one watch, we guarantee.
3) Halloween - Beginning our top three is Halloween. Mike Myers, murderer and psychopath, escapes from a mental ward and returns to his old house on Halloween and no one in town is safe. In established horror movie tradition, many young, beautiful, and mostly naked people are killed in a variety of grisly and paranoia inducing ways. The embodiment of evil and madness, no Halloween would be complete without a visit from Mike Myers.
2) Poltergeist – Steven Spielberg took the American dream – nice house, good family, steady job, and lots of TV – and turned it on its’ head. When four year old Carol Anne starts talking to the TV and furniture starts moving, the Freeling family is excited by the supernatural turn their lives have taken. But excitement swiftly turns to terror as the forces Carol Anne has been talking to are not as benevolent as the family first thought. This film is filled with iconic scenes and lines; we could fill this newspaper writing about them. Don’t take our word for it, though; check this movie out ASAP.
1) The Exorcist – This battle between good and evil tops our list of must-watch Halloween movies, and we think it should top yours as well. Based on true events, the Exorcist depicts the struggle over the soul of a demon possessed girl, and is further powered by the internal plights of those who try to help her. Probably most memorable for the scene in which the little girl’s head rotates 360 degrees then vomits, The Exorcist offers more than pea soup and a nasty fall down some stairs. This movie has you questioning the power of your faith and how to judge whether it’s in your head or real.
- Maria D'Isidoro
- was sold to gypsies as a small child for half a tank of gas and a kitten. She was quickly, if not easily, retrieved by her mother after the kitten was revealed to be an Eldrich horror looking for a ride into the nearest metropolitan area to begin wreaking havoc. It's been a bone of contention between Maria and her family ever since, whether the Horror-kitten would've been more or less trouble than she grew up to be.