Do You Like Scary Movies?

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I’m rather a fan of horror movies. I enjoy the temporary sensation of fear, in much the same way as I imagine skydivers do. I also like the way in which a brief spell in the darkness throws real life into a brighter relief by contrast. Horror movies also make ideal communal viewing. When your companion jumps out of their skin, you have an excellent opportunity to laugh at them. They can do the same to you. Amiable bonds are forged.   

The term ‘horror’ is a strange one. It implies outrage, being aghast. Throwing up one’s hands in horror. That doesn’t quite describe what one feels when watching an effective horror film. A lot of horror films are ‘horrible’ (i.e. revolting) but these tend not to be the best. The best ones evoke terror but would not be described as ‘terrible’. The nomenclature is all over the place.

When people ask me for my scariest films, I offer The Blair Witch Project, or perhaps Open Water ( both 15 certificates) and then wait stoicly until their laughter has died down. Some people think that you need all manner of comical excess to make a good scary film, but it ain’t necessarily so.

The other day, I had the pleasure of watching Ghostwatch. This was a fictional drama, but was aired in the guise of factual documentary on the BBC. It was aired on Halloween 1992, and featured daytime television luminaries Michael Parkinson, Sarah Green and Mike Smith, as well as loveable Liverpudlian Craig Charles. The DVD release earned a 12 certificate, but it was considered so frightening that it could never be broadcast on television again. It was brilliant, especially when you imagined what it would be like to watch it live, thinking it was genuine. Apparently (according to the inlay notes) it generated mass panic amongst the public at large, a bit like after War of the Worlds. Oops.

Anyone care to name a truly scary film or TV programme? Bonus points will be awarded for lower certificate films.
 

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10 Comments on “Do You Like Scary Movies?”

  1. Ross Says:

    Wolf Creek was very unnerving, creepy and gruesome. “Head on a stick”. Nuff said.

  2. Doug Says:

    Not seen it. Bonus points are not awarded, as I suspect it relies on excesses. But I will check it out, since you are usually so sensible in your recommendations.

  3. J Says:

    I have to admit that the denouement of Blair Witch gave me the phear. Apart from that, Jaws still gives me a thrill – the tension is astonishing and is arguably rooted in the fact it’s more of a character piece – Brody, Quint and the character played by Richard Dreyfuss. Quint’s speech is horrific.

    The only other two films that jump to mind are Aliens and a lesser known John Carpenter work called Prince of Darkness. The former is surprisingly gore free apart from a couple of set pieces. Most of the horror relies on devices such as the motion sensor and the shadow laden set. Prince of Darkness gets its scares from the sense of impotence from the impending inevitability of evil. It also has a wonderful recurring device of transmissions from the future that are targeted at people’s dreams.

    Thinking as I type, the scariest film I have ever seen has to be The Descent. not because of the grot – there is lots – but the claustrophobia of setting the films underground in dark caves and narrow tunnels.

    Brr.

  4. J Says:

    Whoah…nearly forgot: the original (Japanese) version of The Ring.

    Scary.

    Biscuits.

    J

  5. Another Mrs H Says:

    Return to Oz
    Certificate PG

    The most scary thing I have EVER seen with the witch with lots of interchangeable heads and they all woke up in the gallery and started screaming. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!
    TRAUMATISED!!!!

  6. Ross Says:

    Return to Oz is an excellent nomination! The Wheelers (the queen’s cronies I think) were pretty creepy…

    It’s not a film but does anyone, ANYONE, remember a kids TV show from the (very) early 80s called something like Gideon the Goose? It was animated and possibly dubbed from French. The main protagonist was Gideon who had a freaky prehensile neck. As a toddler it was the scariest thing I’d ever seen.

    This freaky French goose stays with me still…

  7. Doug Says:

    Nice. The original Ring was very scary, as was the remake (to only a slightly lesser degree).

    The Descent? Nyeuch. One of those ubiquitous ‘film-of-two-halves’. The first half was about as scary as you can get. Then there was all the chasing around in the dark, which got a bit tedious. Oh look, another axe in the head. Next.

    This Return to OZ sounds intriguing. I wonder if it will have lost any impact now that we’re adults. The same goes for the (possibly imaginary?) Gideon the Goose. If we’re talking about scary children’s programmes, might I suggest Terrahawks?

    OK. Here’s one. The scariest ‘U’ certificate film. Let’s start the bidding with 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  8. Ross Says:

    I checked out Gideon the Goose and it did indeed exist! Tim Brooke-Taylor did the voiceover and Gideon had a very long neck! Also, one commentator noted that it was a very sad programme – emotionally not socially – so my memory was accurate!

    Oh, and you can’t casually poo-poo The Descent…I was with you and I think you may’ve casually poo-pooed such was its scariness.

    Tone reduced by one unit.

  9. Doug Says:

    I don’t recall being the one who screamed in the middle of a public cinema…

  10. Ross Says:

    It’s a fair cop – hairless underground vampires make me scream


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