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The Horror!

I'm struggling to maintain my Friday Friendliness here. Let's go from music to movies while I try to keep a lid on my urge to rant. Some Brit scientists have come up with a formula for determining the scariest horror movie:
(es+u+cs+t) squared +s+ (tl+f)/2 + (a+dr+fs)/n + sin x - 1. Where: es = escalating music u = the unknown cs = chase scenes t = sense of being trapped s = shock tl = true life f = fantasy a = character is alone dr = in the dark fs = film setting n = number of people sin = blood and guts 1 = stereotypes
Their winner? The Shining. On which I call BS. The Shining had its moments, but Shelley Duval and that little kid were so annoying it was hard to be sympathetic towards them. Plus, I read the book and was sorely disappointed that there was no topiary scene in the movie. I'd been having a conversation with Allah in which I bemoaned the fact that there are no good horror movies anymore. Even the latest crop - 28 Days, the remake of Dawn of the Dead, Jeepers Creepers - none of them succeeded in scaring me. And what more does one want from a purported scary movie than to be....scared. While I am a big fan of cheesy slasher flicks (see, Prom Night) and general gore (see, Dead Alive), those things don't scare me as much as entertain me. When it comes to being frightened, I prefer my scares to be psychological. I find movies are also scarier if the fear is subtle or unnerving, as opposed to making you jump out of your seat on cue with the scary music. Which is why movies like Friday the 13th are fun and movies like Session 9 are scary, and movies like Last House on the Left can leave you feeling creeped out for days on end. Using the formula above, I went over a few of my own favorite horror/scary movies. Now, math just isn't my thing, especially alegbra, so I'm sure some mistakes were made in the computations. Regardless, I was able to come up with a list of movies that scored well. And The Shinging nor Blair Witch (which I thought was heinous) are nowhere to be found. Also: Before anyone opens up the discussion, The Wickerman was NOT scary. It was horrid. Bad. Laughably bad. * The Exorcist. Probably the last movie that frightened the bejesus out of me. * Candyman. I found this movie to be both evil and frightening. Not only could I not look in the mirror for days after (I know I wouldn't be able to help myself from saying the dreaded words), but it's one of the few movies I have not been able to watch a second time. It comes on the tv, I go running from the room. * Magic. Anyone remember this? Anthony Hopkins is a ventriloquist with an evil dummy. Probably frightened me more than most people because I always thought dummies were evil to begin with. See, also: evil monkeys. * Evil Dead. Most of you know that the Evil Dead trilogy rank as three of my favorite movies ever. ED2 and AoD weren't so much scary as they were fun, the first, Evil Dead, was truly creepy. * Lady in White. One of those psychologically creepy movies. * The Entity. Ok, this wasn't really a great movie. But I will never, ever in all of my life forget the image of those invisible fingers pressed into Barbara Hershey's breasts. That's what I put through the calculator for now. I'm sure you'll come up with dozens of your own, and several arguments as to why my choices are wrong. But, as always, I welcome dissent.

Comments

The Entity was on last night. It said to based on true events...

The Exorcist was big-time scary. I only saw snippets of Magic when I was a kid, but enough to realize that it was a good one.

Evil Dead 2 is both funny and scary. One of my faves.

I still use the Joe Bob Briggs formula for scary movie evaluation, which was heavily weighted towards the amount of boobs and blood in the movie. Part of the problem with making scary movies is that we've gotten a lot harder to scare, thanks to The Exorcist, Psycho, Amityville Horror, etc. etc.

The first 15min of When A Stranger Calls-so freaky! The rest of the movie bit.

Have you checked the children?

When the director's cut of The Exorcist was released a few years ago, the TRAILER freaked me out. I'm there with you on Candyman. To add two more, Pumkinhead and Funhouse -- cheesy, but for some reason both these movies disturbed me. The only recent release that had made me jump while watching is Gothica.

I can't pass a graveyard without thinking about the original "Night of the Living Dead". That movie scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid.

I'll second Candyman.

Although it's more sci-fi than horror, the original Alien still gives me the heebie-jeebs.

Scariest movie ever, the only one that make me shreik: "Wait Until Dark" -- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062467/ .

I hear ya on session 9, that movie was fuxxored.
"Do it Gordon." Yeeeesh.

I also liked The Ring. First time I saw that flick I found myself screaming out loud. That just scared me even more.

the Ring was scary enough. I closed my eyes when they showed the terror-frozen faces, but I heard that they were very well done. great dead-wet-body-walking sound effects too..

Yeah, I remember "Magic," and it creeped me out too.

Now that I think about it, the movies that scare and disturb me most now are movies that show the evil in people... not a separate evil entity. But I digress...

Anything with Pee Wee Herman scares the hell out of me......

I always thought The Birds was terrifying, because it didn't involve anything supernatural and there was never any explanation for why those damn birds just started attacking people.

Children of the Corn - partially because of where I live and partially because if you have kids and have seen them totally pissed off, you wonder if they really could turn on you some day.

Lisa, that's why the Twilight Zone episode where Billy Mummy sends his relatives the corn field scares the crap out of me.

Everytime one of my kids has "that look" we say, Ahhh, s/he's going to send us to the cornfield!

The ring was definitely creepy but I didn't get the ending till i saw the deleted scenes and someone explained it to me, heh.

Exorcist is probably the scariest movie I've seen.. Especially the new scenes..

My wife hates scary movies, and Blair Witch made her stay up half the night after we saw it. Of course, we were some of those suckers who bought into the hype that it was really a documentary, not a fake documentary.

The scariest character for her, in any movie she's ever seen, is E.T. I'm not sure I agree with scary.. creepy, sure but not scary. Anyone else have a fear of ET?

The Blair Witch Project wasn't originally terrifying. However, the same night I saw the movie with some friends, we decided to test our mettle by going to a remote camping spot and spending the night. That upped the fear factor a little bit.

"Resident Evil" creeped me out. Flesh eating zombies...yech! I agree with you about evil ventriloquist dummies. There is a Twilight Zone episode with Cliff Robertson and his evil dummy that I just can't watch.

The only thing more scary than an evil dummy is an evil dolly.

I can't watch the Exorcist - even well into my 30s and that movie still messes me up.

I remember The Changeling scaring the crap out of me years ago, but I haven't seen it in a while and don't know if it would stand up to a second viewing.

I came up with Smokey and the Bandit, but I think at some point I multiplied when I should have divided.

The Craft, The Ring, Alien, Aliens (Alien II), Jurassic Park, The Serpant & the Rainbow, The Stand (TV Miniseries), It (TV Miniseries)

The original "Carnival of Souls". "The Ring". Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13" is worth watching. I agree with Michele that "lady in White" is good, but it suffers from a cliche'd wrapper story -- the writer who returns to his hometown and tells the ghost story as a flashback.
"The Others" has a high creep factor but I'm not sure it will hold up over repeated viewing. Another decent Nicole Kidman flick is "Dead Calm".
"Eraserhead" didn't really give me the creeps but it did give me a headache. "resident Evil" is primo zombie fare. Great use of color, too. Watch for the scenes with predominant reds.

Speaking of Carpenter, what about Prince of Darkness? (And The Thing?)

Not incredibly scary, but very, very good, at least as I remember it.

There is still nothing that will make you think twice about or flat out reject doing something perfectly normal like Jaws did.

People cancelled vacations because of that movie.

"The Ring" and "Ghost Story" scared the hell out of me. My all time favorite 'terror movie' is the old B/W version of "The Haunting". All these movies had great storytelling as well as an excellent use of sound.

BTW: Actually got scared by a game the other day. There is this level in Theif III called 'The Cradel'. I could not get to sleep that night. Whole level is set in an orphanage that was turned into an insane asylum that burned down, killing both inmates and orphans. I remember thinking that level would make a great movie.

Kong

And it completely fits the formula. How did they miss THAT? Shining has scarier music than Jaws? no way. And all the way down the formula Jaws just owns The Shining.

And before I forget: "Something Wicked This Way Comes" also gave me the wiggins.

Kong

I can't believe no one has mentioned Poltergeist...it had the best of the evil worlds...the possessed clown puppet! Oh and a tree eating a kid and a pool full of corpses.

"I always thought dummies were evil to begin with."

Hey! I'm not evil. Just horribly misunderstood.

The kids went to see The Village last night. Don't know how scary it is, but they seemed to like it.

Shyamalan's movies always creep me out when I'm in the theater, but then make me go "that was pretty dumb" after the fact. I've heard that he avoided that this time, but I haven't seen it, yet, so I don't know for sure.

Willy Wonka, no doubt.

This is a little obscure, perhaps, but did anyone else see "The Hills Have Eyes"? Made on the cheap but truly creepy.

Agree with some of the other folks...Carpenter's remake of "The Thing" was great. Truly edge of your seat stuff when they're testing to see who's infected.

I know, I know, I should have better things to do... but mathematics intrigues me.

The problem with the formula is that there are no bounds defined for any of the parameters. Ideally, you need to know the bounds so you can calculate maximum and minimum values for the formula. That way, you know how scary things are on a scale of ....

I do see a couple of questionable items in the formula, but without any bounds, I don't know whether I've found a bug or not.

I am so glad I was a kid when some of the really scary movies came out. My dad was so cool he took my friend and I who might have been in h.s. to see Dawn of the Dead as a midnight movie. It was so overwhelming I almost gave up scary movies.

The one that terrified me was Phantasm. Can't remember why.

Then the first Nightmare on Elm Street - they didn't play nice if you weren't even safe in your sleep!

And the first Halloween rocked.

Alien.

Saw at age 17, a year after release, at a college movie night. Nightmares for years to come

Beth,

I'm with you on Phantasm. It was the first horror movie I saw at a sleep over. I think it was the Jawa-like midgets that spooked me.

There is one movie, and one movie only, for which I shudder at the thought of ever having to watch it again. And that movie is "The Exorcist."

I was upset for days after seeing The Ring. Days.

Session 9 was sufficiently creepy. I thought "The Others" was a really well done classic-Hollywood-style horror flick.

Michele, have you watched The Shining miniseries from 1997? If you can get past the fact that the role Nicholson made famous is played by Stephen Weber from the TV show "Wings," it's actually a pretty good show. And there is a topiary sequence, because for the miniseries King wrote the screenplay himself.

Exorcist is, indeed, terrifying. I'd have that one on my Top 5. But I think the scariest movie I've ever seen is Rosemary's Baby.

The Ring is also freakin' SCARY

Oh, and yes, I remember Magic. I didn't see it until I was an adult, but I remember the COMMERCIAL for it gave me a nightmare.

Poltergeist is still the only movie that really gives me the chills, but Sixth Sense made me check under my bed before I went to sleep.

You have to rent 'Don't Look Now'
Julie Christy and Donald Sutherland

'Klute' is real scary to..

Has anyone seen Prince of Darkenss (1987) by John Carpenter? That's one of the all time scariest movies I've ever seen. I don't want to give it away, but the last scene in the end of the movie gave me nightmares for days.

The very first segment of the very first episode of Night Gallery, the one where the painting keeps changing and shows the man getting out of his coffin and heading towards the house. I was about 12 years old and I couldn't sleep that night at all.

The Exorcist is pretty high on my list of scary movies, and The Exorcist III deserves a mention as well. The old woman scrambling like an insect across the ceiling...**shivers**

Event Horizon was a good evil flick. The chick with no eyes was both beautiful and terrifying. Good stuff.

Hellbound: Hellraiser 2 is another favorite of mine, especially the unrated version. When the Doc handed the crazy hallucinating guy a straight razer, I knew this movie was something special. Oh, and kick-ass skinless people effects.

Stuff from my childhood that freaked me out: Watership Down was terrifying to me as a 7 year old, with Fiver prophesying about "so much blood" covering the fields. And General Woundwort ripping up other bunnies. Actually, it's still pretty freaky to me.

And lastly, Galaxy Of Terror. Sure, it's a crappy movie, but when I was 10 and I saw that dude's cool-ass crystal throwing weapon shatter and then creep up his arm under the skin, I couldn't play with my throwing stars for a week. Well, ok, two days, but it was still whack.

I second the guy who mentioned "Event Horizon". That's the only movie to have successfully scared me since I turned 13 or so, and that includes "Exorcist".

The depressurization scene still makes me writhe in my seat.

"I'd been having a conversation with Allah in which I bemoaned the fact that there are no good horror movies anymore. Even the latest crop - 28 Days ..."

I don't know about you, but Sandra Bullock creeps me out.

I don't see it here yet so I'll cast my vote for the film which scared me the most: an old Robert Altman flick "Images".

It doesn't really fit the horror genre, since it's about the horrors inside you rather than outside you. But it certainly scared the daylights out of me.

Only one truly scary movie if you're past thirteen...Roeg's "Don't Look Now"...just typing the name of that film gives me the creeps.

A.L.

i was shocked at how much the Ring scared me. i think it was the weird-factor that made that happen.

It's been a while since I've seen a truly creepy movie coming out of the angloshpere. The Japanese and Koreans, however, have made a few spooky low-budget horror flicks.

The Ring, both the original and the Hollywood remake, are worthy. Also Juon, which is to be soon remade by Spiderman and Evil Dead director Sam Rami, manages to be delightfully campy and creepy.

but
something wicked this way comes
has got to be up there.

and clowns. anything with clowns it it.

The Last Wave. It made me stay in bed all weekend when I first saw it. Then I went and spent eighty-four dollars on the videotape (that was when they were first selling movies on video; I was smart and bought the VHS version). I still have it.

Michele,
Didn't know you were such a horror flick fan! I HIGHLY recommend you run out RIGHT NOW and rent a copy of Guillermo Del Toro's "The Devil's Backbone." I'm a jaded old horror film fan that never gets creeped out by anything anymore, but that flick really raised the hairs on my neck. I'm serious - it's beautifully done, has a wonderful script, and some indescribably eerie moments that you won't soon forget. I think it's the creepiest horror film that's been released in the last 10 years!

You're right about The Wickerman, its a curious film but not a particularly good one and definitely overrated.

My candidate for scariest film would be The Innocents which is a loose adaption of The Turn of the Screw, only with a weird - very weird- sexual undertow added. It was made in the UK in 1961, had Deborah Kerr in it and is very hard to find. Its vaguely similar to The Others in style, but better still.

Nomads, starring Pierce Brosnan and Adam Ant.

Manhunter, the original Hannibal Lecter film.

Arlington Road, with Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins

Bob Roberts, with Tim Robbins. If you don't think candidates on both sides are doing this sort of thing, you aren't paying attention. I think the next slew of Presidents are going to come from the ranks of unexperienced Congressmen/women, cause long terms in Washigton seem to corrupt just about everyone.

My top choices (after the Exorcist of course): "The Legend of Hell House" and "The Bird with the Crystal Plumage."

Nomads was another good one. And this one that I just remembered: Cronos, a Mexican vampire movie, incidentally another Del Toro job. Kind of. Until then I'd never associated the words "gothic" and "creepy" with Mexico; but that was until I met all the Mexican Bauhaus fans. (Actually, they were kind of a jolly bunch. Still, Mexico City was once a site of a lot of human sacrifice, and then there is the Wall of Skulls. (Warning: huge image, takes forever to load.) Everyone else wants to go to Cancun -- I want to go to Mexico City.)

The Unnameable, based on an H. P. Lovecraft story.

Signs, by Shymalan. It's the only movie that made me scream. The suspense had me hiding behind my hands like an 8 yr old. Worse. Most 8 yr olds were probably laughing at me.

But Christ, that really messed with my head.

Can't wait to see The Village. Looks wonderfully scary, though I've heard it got bad reviews from some major person.