Friday, October 26, 2007

Reel Fear

Inspired by Von Monkerstein, and with fright week here, I decided to come up with my list of movies that scared me. Not just scared, but scarred. These all left a mark of some kind, a lingering influence.

eXistenZ (1999)
This one is about fantasy, real life, dreams, nightmares, the lines we draw, the nature of reality. Doesn't sound terrifying, I know, but this one lodged in my head like a rock in a shoe. Can't watch it again.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The old worn-out plot of of having a bunch of people spend the night in a haunted house for some big $, but this was before it was worn-out. The scene where the person who falls into the vat of acid comes up as a skeleton is the very reason I'm afraid of still, deep bodies of water -- that and water moccasins -- and now we've got the death by amoebas up the nose scariness going on. I was 6 when I saw this movie and it scared the bejeebers out of me. Now it's cheezy and funny, and has Vincent Price in it. Always a bonus.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
There are soooo many movies made about serial killers, but this one is the most frightening to me, because it seems like you are looking at real life. It's not Hollywoodized, and by that I mean it's not presented as fine art and cinematography with the well-placed lenses, enhanced colors and splatters. It's more like you are looking in on a real scene. Saw it once. Can't watch it again.

A Little Peace and Quiet (1985)
OK, it's not a movie, it's a Twilight Zone, and not even a "classic". This is one directed by Wes Craven from the 2nd TV series. It has always haunted me. a frazzled housewife (Melinda Dillon) finds a magic stopwatch that can stop time and motion, then with another click starts everything moving again -- she finds it's great for silencing the kids and commotion, getting through traffic, making shopping less stressful, or just getting a minute of peace. Then, when it's announced that nuclear missiles are incoming, the town erupts into chaos until she freezes the moment with the stopwatch. She sees the missile, right there frozen in the sky, maybe one second from hitting its target. That's how it ends.

Village of the Damned (1960)
Talk about bad seed!! For me this is the first "let's face it, children are scary" movie, now a common theme. And if they aren't scary enough on their own, then make them all joined at the brain, offspring of the same alien malevolent parentage. They know your thoughts, so you'd better be good and obey... or else.

Natural Born Killers (1994)
The enjoyment that the subjects get out of killing, and the media's equal joy in covering it. That's disturbing enough. Then Mr. Bs. co-worker went on and on about how cool it would be to do what they did. I got freaked out over this one and stayed that way.

The Wicker Man (1973)
I didn't see the recent re-make of this one and don't want to see it, but I enjoy this older version very much. It's about religion, and puts it very much under a harsh light, including the religion of the victim. When the villain in the movie is devils, angels, the anti-christ, stuff like that -- they don't scare me, I just switch those off -- gods are not scary, it's the true believers that are!!! This one does not have supernatural critters in it, it's all pretty real stuff that you might encounter yourself in a similar situation. Also, the movie has a lot of mystery going for it, right up until the last scene. If you've seen it on basic cable, you haven't seen it. The DVD has nude scenes (Britt Ekland). Highly gratuitous, IMO, unless they are just there to add to the whole surreal experience... and they do.

The Birds (1963)
I dearly love birds, but I still think of this movie when there are a love of them around, filling the trees and wires, and making a deafening racket (like they are now -- it's bird season). The scary part is that the villain is a perfectly normal thing that turns deadly, and you never even find out why. It made a lasting impression.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and excellent remake (1978)
Have not seen "The Invasion" with Nicole Kidman - maybe a rental sometime if we can't find anything else, it's not reviewed very well (not that that's ever stopped me). Anyway, everytime it seems like someone's behavior has changed to the point that they are not acting like themselves, we say "did you check for pods?". This is a paranoia-enhancing concept, where if you are not one of them, you have to pretend to be. A Fascist State controlled by aliens, and if it's a Fascist State, what does it matter if it's aliens or politicians?


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I am totally with you on the original Wicker Man, eXistenZ, and both versions of Body Snatchers. All those films rocked.

MichaelBains said...

gods are not scary, it's the true believers that are!!!

Put that line in the "No Truer Words" category!

The Grudge is the first flick in a long time to make me keep on peekin' at the closet as I tried, tried, to fall asleep. Niiice...


TaraDharma said...

the 1960 version of 13 ghosts scared the crap outta me. Of course I was about 8 years old at the time of seeing it....

my parents wouldn't let us watch The Birds which, of course, made it all that more appealing. When I finally saw it - yikes!

Ellie said...

A Little Peace and Quiet's ending got me too Blue. Then there is the scene in The Birds where they are boarding up the windows and shutters when a huge Gull tries to get in.

But for me it's always been Zombies and Night of the Living Dead.

Mando Mama said...

Oh, that scene from The Birds. I do the same thing, that movie just flashes in my head anytime I see or hear a huge crowd of birds anywhere around...

What a fun post. I have movies I can't watch again. Silence of the Lambs was like that for me. Books are worse. I read Amityville Horror and was forever waiting to be awakened in the middle of the night to marching band music in my mother's house.

Wait...what was that? A TUBA? I don't have a tuba...gotta run...