Tonight’s the night for scarytimes. If you’re not trick-or-treating, hole up with some classic freaks and celebrate the day of the dead that can’t stay dead. Also it’s my Halloween birthday today so I’m gonna tell you my 31 fave scary movies.
31. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Some classic Cold War heebeejeebs going on.
30. Godzilla (1954)
I always feel bad for King Kong, at the end, when they’re killing him and he’s all stuck on the Empire State Building and everything. But Godzilla is another beast altogether. Ha. Right? Rubber suit? Check. Screaming masses? Check. Totally awesome dino? GOJIRA! YA MAN!
29. Deliverance (1972)
Not a straight-up horror movie, but can you really hear that banjo ditty without shivering? So, yeah.
28. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
I actually screamed at the jumpy parts. Like real yelps, out loud, in the movie theater. It didn’t make me popular, lemme tell you.
27. Possession (1981)
The way Isabelle Adjani freaks out is I didn’t know bodies could do that stomach-churning possessed modern dancer awesome weird.
26. Black Christmas (1974)
The first “the call is coming from inside the house!” movie. In the evil is lurking right at home vein. Teens screaming, mysterious, poorly-explained insanity/cult something, an alcoholic dorm supervisor… The perfect cluster of fright flick cliches.
25. John Caprenter’s The Thing (1982)
There’s so much I love about this movie. How low-fi it is. How gross-out it is. Rolling eyeballs! People trapped at a wintry station! Like in Star Wars, except no way out with a fleet of starships really for real stuck.
24. 28 Days Later (2002)
I feel like I kind of missed the boat re: zombie flicks. It’s like the generation behind me is all pierced up and into zombies. I’m more of the shitty tattoo/ghost generation, myself. That said, this is one zombie movie I dig. Cillian Murphy’s got one hell of a scary pretty face — like that douchebag Jude Law — going on.
23. Fire Walk with Me (1992)
This is def more creepy than scary but holy bejeesus I love this movie.
22. The Others (2001)
It’s too bad this movie came out so close to The Sixth Sense because the culture of “I see dead people” sort of gave the punchline away. The Others has that Turn of the Screw slow ghost story crawl goading us into some ghosty claustrophobia. Yeah.
21. Signs (2002)
Not a lot of folks be digging this one, but I like that M. Night Shyamalan was bringing back the rubber suit alien. Post-Episode 1 gungans, I’m all about rubber suits over underwater CGI reptiles.
20. The Fly (1986)
I <3 Jeff Goldblum even at his worst. Plus The Fly is excellently, totally over-the-top gross-out. I like it when his face falls on the floor.
19. The Ring (2002)
This movie scared me way more than I thought it would. And right after I watched it, my phone rang. No joke. Download the original Japanese one too.
18. Ghost Busters (1984)
Okay so it was super scary when I was a kid — I was totally terrified of the blimpy marshmallow thing. AND it’s got the “dogs and cats living together/mass hysteria” bit.
17. It (1990)
Speaking of super scary as a kid, this movie made me scared there’d be balloons in the sink and toothy clowns around the corner. I’m still petrified of clowns. But clowns are so weird I’d probably still be freaked by them.
16. Psycho (1960)
Half-naked chicks getting knifed up is so CSI Miami, right. Okay, but seriously: The clutchy mama’s boy of Bates Motel scenario couldn’t be any more iconic.
15. The Vanishing (1988)
Rex and Saskia stop at a busy service station where Saskia is abducted. Three years later, Rex begins receiving letters from the abductor. It’s good, and the original Dutch version, Spoorloos, is the shit.
14. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)
Bradbury’s book scared me more than the movie did, but it was a birthday tradition to watch when I was still in short pants. And I still think the time machine carousel rocks.
13. Thale (2012)
This is about sexy/scary Norwegian trolls. So random. I dig.
People forget the entire series of five Frankenstein films made by Universal. The first one is brilliant, the second is one of the finest films ever made, the third one is funny, then the final two are completely ridiculous.
11. Alien (1979)
Sigourney is the bomb, true fact. This movie also freaks me out in a I don’t really believe in aliens but holy shit way. The stakes are high. And you can feel the ’80s creeping their way into the space wear getups.
10. Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Obviously, a project co-written and produced by Joss Whedon is gonna be a winner. This flick takes the Scream franchise’s self-conscious look at horror flicks but slams them in the gutter. Funny, spooky, gross and ghouly. Totally over-the-top, totally rocking the twist after twist ending.
9. The Exorcist (1973)
I saw this when I was 19 years old in the purple apartment I lived in with a med student and an astrology student (?) and I’ve never been able to watch it again. Linda Blair is so totally terrifying. Plus my dad told me it was based on a real story that happened in my city… though I can’t find any evidence to back that up. Still.
8. Carrie (1976)
Stephen King, in his book, Writing the Bones, talks about how he based Carrie on a student from the high school he taught at. Does knowing that make it creepier? Forget the remake, stick to the original with this — there’s no topping Sissy Spacek’s wide-eyed horror topped off with pig’s blood.
7. The Omen (1976)
Evil children are the pits. They throw their moms off the staircase. With their minds.
6. Let the Right One In (2008)
This Swedish movie (Låt den rätte komma in) is an extraordinary film. The story of a bullied 12-year-old boy who becomes friends with a vampire, Let the Right One In defies all the typical vampire/horror conventions.
5. V/H/S (2012)
I just watched this movie a few days ago and I’m still thinking about it. A whole swath of horror directors got together to make this and it is one freaky pell mell spooker.
4. House of the Devil (2009)
Ti West’s nod to ’80s scream flicks is non-ironically, awesomely hip. The movie freaks you out quietly, with minimal gore and lots of “don’t open that door!” heart palpitations.
3. Ginger Snaps (2000)
The Canadian cult fave takes the I Was a Teenage Werewolf genre to new levels.
2. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
I can’t explain how much I love this movie. A lot of it has to do with Mia Farrow’s hair and duds — this is a stylish flick. And creaky old people lending a helping hand to our friend Beelzebub is get-under-your-skin spooking.
1. The Shining (1980)
My mom let me watch this when I was waaay too young. And even though Stephen King hates it because of the blood elevators, there is so much to dig in this movie. The carpets. The twins. The soundtrack. The all work and no play novel. Olive Oil as Jack Torrence’s wife. You know what I’m saying. This movie rules so much, I’m gonna go home and watch it right now.