On All Hallows Eve, we watched a couple of horror movies in honor of the day. The early feature we chose was “The Omen,” which we first saw back in 1976. Worst birthday party ever.
In trying to decide on the second movie, I pulled out Entertainment Weekly’s top ten scariest movies. Here is that list.
10. Rosemary's Baby (1968) – I was 11 in 1968 so I would not have been in the theater when a freaked out Mia Farrow asked, ''What have you done to its eyes?''
9. Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Another from ’68, and the original zombie-fest that spawned one of my my favorite TV shows with Rick and Daryl and the gang.
8. The Thing (1982) – Good remake from a solid original. We watched Kurt Russell recently in “Deepwater Horizon.” He’s held up pretty well over the years.
7. Halloween (1978) – When I was 22 I lived with some people in another city where I’d started my new job. One night after they had gone to bed I stayed up and “Halloween” came on. It still is the standard for me of all those boogeyman films. The influence of Psycho is everywhere—from the tiniest details (Donald Pleasence's Dr. Sam Loomis is named after Janet Leigh's boyfriend in “Psycho”) to the casting of Leigh's daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, as Halloween's shrieking heroine.
6. Jaws (1975) – Sentimental, salt water journey for me. This is the first movie I saw with KM. Great film to get a girl to start out holding your hand and end up sitting in your laugh.
5. Psycho (1960) – My eighth grade girlfriend’s mom told me once that she never took another shower after seeing Hitchcock’s scariest work. I don’t remember when I first saw it, probably wasn't at the premier when I was 3. It still holds up, in my opinion, as one of the scariest films ever made. Seeing “mother” through the shower curtain as she charged towards the showering Janet Leigh, is always a chilling thrill. And the black blood swirling around the white tub’s drain has never looked so real.
4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – The only horror best picture winner. Such a great film that it didn’t take too long for me to forget about Jodie Foster’s Appalachian drawl. Definitely deserves this top five ranking. And no serial killer, save perhaps Dexter, is as beloved as Hannibal the Cannibal.
3. The Shining (1980) – This was the first Stephen King novel I read. I agree with many who have gone from hating Kubrick’s creation, to loving it. REDRUM, “Heeeere’s Johnny” and Shelly Duvall running scared with her butcher knife through the Overlook Hotel are imbedded in the horror archives of my mind forever. And those creepy little twins always go a long way.
2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The great drive-in classic of the 70’s. Tobe Hooper scared the bejesus out of us with the persistent pursuit from Leatherface and his loud chainsaw. A copy of Chainsaw now resides in the Museum of Modern Art.
1. The Exorcist (1974) - Saw it first at a great old downtown theater when I was 17. There was a line at the ticket window that wrapped around the block. My buddy who went with me was the toughest kid in our high school. When he dropped me off at home afterward he asked if he could spend the night. One film critic wrote - “When my 25-year old mother in her infinite wisdom decided it was good idea to take her seven-year old Catholic son to see this movie she couldn’t sleep for weeks because he would not let her. After that, he was never the same and kept referring to himself in the third person.”
How could we not go with that?