When Jimmy and I started dating we quickly discovered a mutual love of "spookers". Not "horror" films mind you, but "spookers". Movies that give you the willies without the gratuitous blood and guts.
After much deliberation, we have come up with our Top 20. My original intention was a Top 10, but we had so many favorites...
And since we love them all, I give them to you in alphabetical order. Prepare yourself...
- Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) - Okay, not really that scary. But definitely spooky, and hysterically funny. When Jimmy and I were first dating, his back went out and he ended up on the floor for several days. I came over with a care package that included a video of this movie. It's what made Jimmy decided I was the girl for him. By the way, Bud and Lou don't just meet Frankenstein in this movie, they also have run ins with Dracula and the Wolfman. A classic.
- Alien/Aliens (1979/1986) - I'm afraid this caused a bit of an argument between us. Jimmy thinks the first movie, Alien, is scarier because of the whole "unknown" element. But I have a deep love of the second one, Aliens with a "s". Sigourney Weaver's Ripley is just such a kick-ass. And I love the Space Marines she's running with, and the whole mother-protecting-her-young thing that Ripley develops when she finds little Newt. "Get away from her, you BITCH!" But I have to agree with Jimmy that when that thing bursts out of John Hurts chest in the first one...HOLY SHIT!!
- Altered States (1980) - William Hurt at his nerdy cutest. No ghosts or aliens here. The only thing to fear is your own psyche. Eeeeeee...
- The Birds (1963) - This movie has absolutely scared the poop out of me since I was a little girl. It's brilliant that Hitchcock didn't make the villians ghosts or demons, but something as mundane as a bunch of birds. And that's what makes it SO terrifying!!
- Dracula (1931) - Bela Lugosi WAS Dracula. This was a beautifully shot, acted and directed movie. The art direction in these early films was gorgeous and unforgetable. To this day, I am unable to sleep unless something is protecting my neck. True.
- The Exorcist (1973) - Maybe the scariest movie EVER. When I was 13, my parents went out of town and entrusted my welfare to my Aunt Margaret. Little did they know that Aunt M let me do whatever I wanted. She not only lent me her car (no, I didn't have a license), but she let me go see this movie in a theater. But believe me, I totally got what I deserved. That night, I slept at Aunt Margaret's house, in the guest room. I remember lying flat on my back and staring at the ceiling all night, sure I heard Satan scratching in the attic. This theme song still makes my heart stop...
- The Fly (1986) - One of the only remakes on this list. The Jeff Goldblum/Geena Davis version was both scary and sexy, and far superior to the silly Vincent Price version.
- Frankenstein (1931) - Another of the original Universal horror films, beautifully shot and acted. Boris Karloff brought such amazing compassion and pathos to The Monster. Heartbreaking.
- Halloween (1978) - The original at it's freakiest. A very young Jamie Leigh Curtis was terrific, and Donald Pleasence was at his creepy best. I don't think I've ever been able to watch this all the way through without having to get up and walk around.
- The Haunting (1963) - The amazing original, not the REALLY STUPID remake from the '90's. Brilliant acting (Julie Harris, Claire Bloom). A perfect example of the concept (seldomed realized in contemporary horror films) that we are more frightened by the unseen than the seen. We watch this almost every year, and it ALWAYS freaks me out.
- The House on Haunted Hill (1959) - Again, the original, not the REALLY, REALLY STUPID remake from the "90's. Vincent Price at his smarmy, sophisticated, scariest. Directed by the brilliant horror meister William Castle. Maybe a little bit hokey, but who cares! A classic haunted house story of a group of strangers forced to spend the night in a VERY haunted mansion. Many years ago, I discovered that the exteriors of the house were shot at Ennis House, the 1924 masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. I tracked it down in the Los Feliz hills, blindfolded Jimmy, and took him there. Scored big points with the hubby!
- Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) - Complete Southern Gothic creepiness. Wonderful acting - Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and Joseph Cotton. Psychological thriller excellence as Olivia and Joseph try to drive Bette mad to gain her inheritance. And guess what I found out? It was filmed at Greystone Mansion, the place we visited last week!
- Jaws (1976) - Maybe the only time in my life that I actually SCREAMED and jumped out of my seat in a movie theater. I wouldn't go in the ocean for YEARS after this!
- The Omen (1976) - That creepy little Damien absolutely freaked me out! And that scene when the nanny hangs herself during Damien's birthday party? EEEEKKK!
- Psycho (1960) - I mean, what is there to say about this. The shower scene! Tony Perkins! The brilliant Bernard Hermann score! "Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!"
- The Ring/Ringu (2002/1998) - Both the American remake and the original Japanese film. Maybe the most scared I have EVER been by a movie. When Jude was about 4 months old, we took a trip up the coast of California. One night, at a charming seaside inn, we borrowed a video tape of The Ring from the front desk. Now if you know anything about the movie, you know that it's about a video tape that causes death to anybody who borrows it. Enough said. I was up ALL night, having terrible dreams that people were coming to take baby Jude away. Arrrgh!
- Rosemary's Baby (1968) - Roman Polanski coolness. Mia Farrow and John Cassavettes as a young couple birthing...SATAN. Ruth Gordon as the uber creepy neighbor. And on top of everything, it was shot at The Dakota in New York, the apartment building where John Lennon was murdered.
- The Shining (1980) - While I've never thought it was as scary as the Stephen King book it was based on, Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall are having a grand old time freaking us all out. And that little kid! "Redrum. Redrum!" Chill bumps. "Here's Johnny!"
- The Thing (1982) - Strangely, NOT the 1951 original, but the John Carpenter remake starring Kurt Russell. A team of scientists trapped in Antarctica while a "thing" kills them off one by one. Suspense at it's best.
- Trilogy of Terror (1975) - A cult classic TV movie starring the super weird Karen Black. I remember seeing this when it first aired when I was a little girl, and it haunted me for YEARS. I finally found it on videotape and rented it. It's a trilogy of scary tales, the most memorable of which is the last one, called The Terror of the Doll, in which a tiny African Zuni tribal doll comes to life and chases Karen around her apartment trying to kill her with it's tiny spear and razor sharp teeth. The final scene, when Karen is possessed by the doll and is waiting for her mother to arrive, absolutely terrified me for most of my childhood.
Okay. I am now officially freaked out. I probably shouldn't be writing this while sitting in bed in the dark. Dang.
"Jimmy?" Where is he? "JIMMY!"
What was that noise?
If I don't post anything tomorrow you know that Satan, or a ghost or maybe that creepy girl from The Ring got me.
And just because I can, I'm not only submitting this to Sprite's Keeper's Spin Cycle The Halloween Edition, but also to Works For Me Wednesday. Because, you know what? It works for me.