After yesterday's Monday Discussion where people shared their favorite scary movies, Verna from the BPL Reference Desk, was inspired to compile this annotated list of her personal top 13 horror movies. This also marks the first of what I hope to be a few guests contributor posts during this month because even I cannot stand 31 Days of just me.
So without further ado....here's Verna:
If you are a fan of horror films, here are 13 that you don’t want to miss. Some are new, some are vintage, and all can be ordered through Netflix or through interlibrary loan at your public library. All of these movies will give you chills along with a great story. There is no gore for gore’s sake. The real terror is in the telling of the tale. So pop some corn, double check that the windows and doors are locked and turn off the lights. But don’t let your foot dangle over the edge of the sofa…
The Twisted 13 (in no particular order)
1. The Others (2001)
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Stewart who lives on the British Isle of Jersey with her two small children just after the end of World War II. The children are photosensitive or allergic to light, she tells the three new servants who arrive unexpectedly at her house. Soon strange things happen; footsteps are heard when no one is there, the piano plays inside an empty locked room and the children claim to see and talk to ghosts whom they call “the intruders.” A must see for all horror fans!
2. The Changeling (1980)
George C. Scott is a musician composer who has just moved to a huge scary looking Victorian house after losing his wife and daughter in a car accident. He soon finds that he shares the house with the ghost of a murdered child; a decades long hidden crime connected to a wealthy and powerful political family. Extra screamy: the child’s ball rolling down a set of stairs.
3. Devil (2010) What can be more terrifying than being stuck in a high-rise building elevator? What if you are stuck with four other people and one of them might be the devil? From the creepy and unsettling opening credits that feature an upside down New York City to the claustrophobia of being trapped, this movie is sure to send shivers down your spine. Just when you think you’ve used the process of elimination to figure out who the killer is, think again.
4. The Exorcist (1973) Some say this is the greatest horror film ever made and even after 30 years it still sets a very high bar. No matter how many times I watch it, I discover new things to be frightened by. Based on a true story, Chris MacNeil is a world famous actress shooting a film in Washington DC when her teenaged daughter starts behaving strangely to say the least. From its Oscar nominated performances and design to never seen before special effects, this movie will have you sleeping with the light on for days. Extra screamy: the spider walk down the stairs. EEK! This scene was not in the original film but can be seen in the 1998 digitally remastered DVD version, The Exorcist: 25th Anniversary Special Edition.
5. Halloween (1978) The first of many roles that would earn Jamie Lee Curtis the name of Scream Queen during the 1980’s. Laurie Strode is babysitting on Halloween night while a crazed killer has just escaped from a mental institution and is on the loose. We are drawn into the story at our most vulnerable, as children sitting at home on Halloween night telling scary stories about the boogie man with the lights turned off. Only for Laurie, the story hits close to home. We can’t look away as the terror and suspense builds while we watch the children and teens battle and ultimately outwit the boogie man in the end. Well, outwit him just enough to last seven sequels. Extra screamy: the image of the boogie man sitting up after Laurie believes he is dead.
6. Alien (1979) In the not too distant future, a crew of commercial astronauts is awakened early from their cryogenically induced sleep after their ship’s computer has detected a distress signal coming from a distant alien planet. They are required to investigate and find a field of strange alien egg-like pods. Unwittingly, they transport one of them onto their ship. Extra screamy: calling the ship’s computer mother.
7. Paranormal Activity (2007) Shown in the style of “found footage,” Katie and Micah move into a house they believe may be haunted until Katie shares that she has been tormented by some kind of presence since childhood. They set up a video camera to record the supernatural activity and eventually consult with a psychic who leaves in a panic. Not a good sign. Very scary with an equally frightening sequel and a 3rd to be released October 21, 2011. Extra screamy: the non-human footprints found in talcum powder that Micah sprinkles outside their bedroom.
8. The Ring (2002) Rachel, a reporter with a small young son, investigates the sudden death of her teen niece and finds it somehow linked to a cursed videotape that causes the death of the viewer within 7 days. After her young son views the tape she is determined to uncover its origin and bring an end to the curse. Helping Rachel is her sometime boyfriend Noah who also views the tape and dies in a way that gives new meaning to the term reality TV. Extra screamy: the creepiness of the tape itself and the shaky shadowy images.
9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) A remake of a 1956 release that was remade again in 2007 under the title Invasion, this version is the best of the three. Donald Sutherland is a San Francisco health inspector who along with his friend Elizabeth stumbles upon an extra-terrestrial plot to rid the earth of humans and replace them with duplicate pod versions. There is no way to know who can be trusted. The great ending makes this movie extra screamy!
10. The Shining (1980) Based on Stephen King’s awesome novel by the same name, Jack Torrance is a frustrated writer who takes a seasonal job as the winter caretaker of an isolated hotel deep in the Colorado mountains. Along for the ride are his wife Wendy and their young son Danny, who is psychic. Before the hotel closes for the season, the head chef, Dick Hallorann, gives the family a tour. He telepathically communicates with Danny, calling their gift “shining.” Things go smoothly for a while but not for long. What fun would that be? Extra screamy: room 237.
11. Salem’s Lot (1979) Also based on a novel by the great Stephen King, this film stars David Soul as Ben Mears, a writer who returns to his small hometown of Salem’s Lot (short for Jerusalem’s Lot) to write about the Marsten house; the spooky old house that has haunted him since his childhood. He is unable to rent the house after it is purchased by a mysterious stranger who has also purchased an antiques store in town. Soon the townspeople begin to disappear and return as vampires. Along with teenaged Mark Petrie, who survives because of his knowledge of horror movies and books, Ben tries to save his town. Extra screamy: Ralphie Glick knocking on the outside second floor bedroom window of his brother.
12. Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Some people joke about selling their soul to the devil, others actually try. Mia Farrow is Rosemary Woodhouse, the young wife of a New York City actor who comes to believe that her husband may have made a deal with the devil to further his acting career. She fights against this belief but her due date may be a clue; June 28, 1966 (6/66). Extra screamy: the secret door in Rosemary’s closet that leads to the meeting place of the coven.
13. The Omen (1976) The soundtrack for this movie is so spooky, it alone can give nightmares! After the sudden death of their first infant child, Robert Thorn with the help of a priest and unbeknownst to his wife, switches his dead child with another whose mother has not survived childbirth. Soon after, Thorn is appointed ambassador to Great Britain and strange deaths befall those close to the family. Thorn searches for answers and investigates the background of his adopted son which leads to the discovery of a birthmark made up of certain numbers beneath the hair on his scalp and a confrontation with pure evil. Extra screamy: A scene in the remake released on 6/6/06 where Mia Farrow portrays Damien’s nanny and communicates with him in silence while they eat strawberries. She is such a great actress we can surmise exactly what they are “talking” about.