Halloweeen time is here once again. Chills are in the air, the days are short and cloudy with the occasional thunderstorm. The nights are getting longer. My tastes run towards the spooky, the spine-tingling. The house is decorated with skeletons and broomsticks and, except for my village of Halloween horror (my toys, as I like to call them), I like to draw on the feeling of the spooky more than the kitsch of Halloween. So what is it about the heart-pumping, spine-tingling, uneasiness and fear that I love so much? In my household, with two young kids and a husband whose tastes don’t turn toward the thrill of fear, I find myself alone in my love of being scared. My daughter is trying out the whole love of the scary, but sometimes even Goosebumps movies are too much for her. My son was obsessed with the scary when he was in preschool. He wanted to watch endless hours of Goosebumps movies and listen to the scary tales. He would wake up in the middle of the night on our get together movie nights if there was a scary movie on as if he knew what was on and wanted to come watch it, but now he can’t stand the scary. The older I get, the harder it is to recapture that fear while watching scary movies. My mind is too jaded I guess, I notice the imperfections, the plot holes and the bad effects too much, but there are moments that will always stand out in my mind that still give me a thrill. My love of the scary movie goes back to my childhood. Watcher in the Woods started the love of the spooky for me, fairly close to the age my daughter is now. I started reading Stephen King books at 11. I would stay up late watching Nightmare on Elm Street movies until all hours of the night while my little brother pleaded with me to watch something else. When Halloween time comes around again, there are the tried and true movies that still give me a chill, even if it just a remembrance of my youth, so here are my top five scary movie moments of all time in no particular order.
- Poltergeist- Carol Ann in front of the static TV. I don’t know why this particular moment of the movie is the one that always got to me. Maybe because as a child, I looked a lot like Carol Ann, especially from the back with my long white-blonde hair. Maybe that scene of all the scenes in the movie is the one that put my childhood self fully into the movie. Maybe it is the simple fact that growing up, I saw a lot of static TV while trying to stick a pencil into the VCR so that the movie would work and sometimes, I too would hear voices in the static.
- Nightmare on Elm Street- The bathtub scene. This was always the scariest part of any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies for me. To be honest, I was always more amused by the movies than scared, which may be why they were my go to nightly horror fest moves. But something about this scene always made me wary to bathe. Soaking in the tub, fully relaxed and completely vulnerable only to doze off, which I did often in the tub. The next moment a gloved hand with razor blades comes up through the water. Always got to me and still pops into my head on the rare occasion that I can actually find the time to take a long soaking bath instead of a quick shower.
- Psycho- Once again with a bathing scene, it’s the shower scene in Psycho that gets me. I still get a little uneasy about taking a shower when no one else is home. There’s something about the sensory depravation of being in the shower, drawing of the curtain that blocks your view, closed door and steam that freaks me out. Or maybe I’m just afraid of bathing in general.
- Children of the Corn- scary kids. They get me every time. Kids are already freaky enough and it really isn’t such a leap to imagine them as psycho killers. Children of the Corn is just one of many scary kid movies. From the old to the new, they send chills down my spine and make me watch my own children out of the corner of my eye.
- Watcher in the Woods- I have to throw this one in there as it is the movie that started my love of the genre. As a child I found the whole movie to be quite the perfect ghost story with a touch of the mystical. Watcher in the Woods, while a ghost-type of story is not actually a ghost story, nor is it truly scary. The entire movie is filled with moments that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, but at the same time, the girls in this movie try to find out the truth and fix it. And with a tagline of “What can’t be explained must be explored”, it reminds me even now that curiosity is vital to survival.
There you have it, my top 5 scary movies/moments. It’s not the blood and gore that get me. The typical tale of teenagers in the woods never really freaked me out, not even when I was a teenager in the woods. Too much camping I guess. It’s the little things, the small moments or the characters that do it to me every time. What are some of your scariest movie moments and why? Are they the go-to horror movies of your youth, or are there new ones out there that qualify enough to scare you?