I don’t like scary movies. Well, I don’t like being scared. Period. So I can only take horror films in mild doses. And if I have to endure fear while watching a movie, it should be well worth my while — that is, there should be something in it that would compensate for it being a horror film. It could be visual appeal, emotional engagement, music or some other form of artistry.
Again, I don’t like scary movies. But these scary movies, I don’t mind watching over and over again. No slashers or zombies here. Some purists and die-hard fans may scoff at my choices, but if you’re a horror flick newbie, or just don’t care much for horror, you might appreciate these picks.
First up, vampires. I think they really are kinda sexy. (And this was long before the Cullens came to town, and will remain so long after they’ve been staked — or however it is that these sparkly undead are obliterated.) Looking beyond the fact that they’re bloodsucking killers, they are creatures of great passion and sensuality. Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and at the height of their gorgeousness in their prime in Interview With A Vampire... I’m getting a little light-headed. Combine all that with stellar performances, gripping storytelling, spectacular art direction, and all-around brilliant filmmaking — how can one not surrender to the lure of these two movies?
These next two revolve around ghosts. They’re basically disembodied people, and that makes some of them very easy to relate to, because I can always connect with their humanity. That’s why I love The Sixth Sense and The Others so much, because when the horror is stripped away, it reveals intense dramatic stories about relationships and the human condition.
The films mentioned so far are but palate teasers, the equivalent of dipping one’s toes in the water. If you’re in an actual movie marathon, you might want to wade in further and test your boundaries. So if you’re ready to immerse in terror…
What’s more terrifying the Devil? For me, the Devil tops psychopaths, aliens, and sharks any day. That’s why The Exorcist still strikes fear into the hearts of movie fans to this day. It’s a classic, and the one horror movie which I think any film buff shouldn’t miss.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention something from the realm of Asian horror flicks. There’s something about the way the Japanese do it that really maxes out the creepy factor. Usually the premise revolves around something really weird and ludicrous, and somehow it works. Case in point Ring (Ringu) — the Hollywood version is scary, but you should definitely watch the original Japanese. There’s a certain minimalism employed here, a restraint. Lighting is flat and quite plain in some parts, there’s not a lot of background music. It feels like a documentary sometimes. And this somehow works to send your pulse racing and blood pressure soaring, and your fight-or-flight response engaging.