Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining'
Now is the time to pop in some popcorn, turn off the lights, make sure to look behind the curtains and get scared to death by this list of Top 10 Scariest Moves, in preparation for Halloween.
This list was compiled through students’ opinions and critically acclaimed horror films. This includes a variety, movies from past decades and the present decade, as well as films that have had a huge influence on the horror movie industry and others that have the potential to change and mix up horror movies. It ranges from zombie films to slasher films to psychological thrillers.
Warning: possible spoilers ahead.
10. “Paranormal Activity”
After seeing this film, sleeping alone in the dark just seems a whole lot scarier. Directed by Oren Peli, “Paranormal Activity” uses a technique called “found footage,” the type of intentionally amateurish shaky-camera footage also used in “Blair Witch Project.” The psychological thriller-horror movie cost a mere $11,000 to make and was shot in a week. The film is about a young couple, Micah and Katie, who start living together. Katie claims that she has been haunted by demons since she was a little girl. After contacting a psychic, the couple decides to set up a camera in night vision on a tripod by their bed to document the paranormal activity that ensues.
Brittany Hallett, an 18-year-old freshman business and political science major, said the most frightening part of the film was the normalcy of the characters.
“The scariest thing about [“Paranormal Activity”] is that the female lead [Kate] seems so normal,” Hallett said. “The movie wasn’t the greatest work of film, but after I saw it…I was definitely scared to be in the dark alone.”
9. “28 Days Later”
British zombie classic “28 Days Later,” directed by Danny Boyle, takes place in a post-apocalyptic London. Zombies are no longer slow-moving and sluggish, but rather enraged and agile. These are not the zombies pop-culture fanatics knew and loved in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The plot takes off when animal rights activists break into a lab to free monkeys, despite the scientists’ warnings. The monkeys were being tested on and infected with a disease referred to as “rage.” These infected monkeys spread the disease to the animal rights activists.
The movie cuts to main character, Jim, waking up from a coma in a deserted hospital in what is now an abandoned London. The rest of the movie follows Jim and three other survivors, Frank, Hannah and Selena, as they try to survive in a bleak new world.
8. “Friday the 13th”
Hockey masks take on a new negative connotation in this movie. Directed by Sean S. Cunningham, “Friday the 13th” transformed the horror movie franchise. Although most of the franchise is not very popular with critics, there is no argument that the original “Friday the 13th,” contains some of the best slasher scenes in horror movies of all time. The plot is based off Jason, the antagonist, who drowned at the bottom of a lake at summer camp due to a camp staff member’s incompetence. The lake is apparently “cursed,” and many years later, Jason becomes an unstoppable serial killer bent on revenge.
With Halloween only a week away, there was no way “Halloween” could not make the list. Director John Carpenter immortalized the name Michael Myers. The plot begins after Michael murders his older sister when he was just six on Halloween; he then escapes the psychiatric ward and goes on a massive killing spree.
6. “Rosemary’s Baby”
This 1960s classic tells the story of a mother actually giving birth to the literal spawn of Satan. This horror film was directed by Roman Polanski in 1968 and follows a newlywed couple, Rosemary and Guy, who move to an apartment in New York City. This apartment has an unsettling history of unusual tenants and mysterious events. Rosemary learns she is pregnant and is to give birth on June 1966, otherwise known as 6/66—the number 666 being the unholy number for Satan. Rosemary suffers through the pregnancy with horrible back and stomachaches, and even begins craving raw meat. Rosemary thinks that many of her neighbors and friends are conspiring against her and her baby and struggles between saving her child or destroying Satan’s second-coming.
5. “Nightmare on Elm Street”
Ever scared those nightmares might actually come true? Well in this case they do. “Nightmare on Elm Street,” directed by Wes Craven in 1984, follows Freddy Krueger and his bladed gloves as he haunts the nightmares of children living on Elm Street. The children’s death in nightmares results in their death in reality. When main character Nancy realizes that her friends are dying in their sleep, she realizes she has to stay awake in order to conquer Freddy Krueger.
4. “The Ring”
Ever pick up the phone and expect to hear “seven days” in that creepy, yet childlike tone? Well horror moviegoers can thank “The Ring” for that. Directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson, “The Ring” begins when two teenage girls, Katie and Becca, watch a haunting video tape. After viewing the tape, Katie dies and Becca is placed in a psychiatric ward. After Katie’s death, Ruth, Katie’s mother, asks her sister, Rachel (Naomi Watts) to investigate the death. After making a copy of the tape and viewing it, Rachel begins experiencing strange side effects including nosebleeds, night terrors and indescribable situations.
Chelsea Peterson, an 18-year-old freshman international affairs major, said she found one scene particularly chilling.
“The scariest part is when the water comes out of the TV and Samara comes out and kills Rachel’s ex-husband because you are not expecting it at all,” Peterson said.
This film perhaps best started the slasher movie genre and influenced many of the movies on this list. “Psycho” was directed in 1960 by famed director Alfred Hitchcock, who transformed the horror movie genre. This movie is in black-and-white and emphasizes the creepy music before the slasher scenes and uses the notion that what one does not see is infinitely scarier than what one does see. This movie is based on the real crimes by Ed Gein as it follows character Marion Crane, who lives an average and uneventful day, with the exception of sneaking away during lunch breaks to meet her lover, Sam. One day her boss asks her to deposit $40,000 to the bank, however, she heads toward California to meet Sam. She thinks they can start a new life together since Sam cannot afford to get married because his money goes towards alimony. Marion gets tired of driving and decides to stop at the Bates Motel where she meets Norman, an odd and off-balance character who runs the motel, yet seems to be controlled by his dead mother. Marion’s sister contacts a private detective in search for her sister and contacts Sam after Marion Crane goes missing.
2. “The Exorcist”
What happens when the standard cultural values that view children as beautiful, innocent and pure are challenged? The answer: a demonic, evil, possessed little girl named Regan, who is the main character in “The Exorcist,” directed by William Friedkin. A struggling actress moves to Washington, D.C. for a role in a movie, while her daughter Regan begins struggling and showing some scary and obvious psychological and physical signs. When medical evaluations and therapy cannot help her, the mother turns to two priests to help conquer the demon that possess Regan. Weston Brown, freshman 18-year-old open-option major, said “The Exorcist” continues to freak him out.
“‘The Exorcist’ was the scariest movie I’ve ever seen and it gave me a new fear of falling down those stairs,” Brown said.
1. “The Shining”
Topping our list at number one, “The Shining” is based on the book written by Stephen King which takes place in Colorado’s backyard, the mountain town of Estes Park. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick and stars Jack Nicholson. A family goes to an isolated hotel, so the head of the family, Jack Torrence can finish his novel. While staying at the hotel, the son, Danny, discovers his telepathy powers, in which he can see visions from the past and future of trapped memories in the hotel. This power is called “the shining,” hence the title. Due to cabin fever and writer’s block, Jack slowly begins to drift into insanity. He interacts with past hotel guests and waiters, who convince him to fix his family, causing Jack to act out in psychotic violence. The most dramatic and scary part of the movie is when Danny writes “REDRUM” on the mirror, which spells “murder” backwards.
Derek Bertha, an 18-year-old freshman open-option major, said the film wasn’t simply a straight horror flick, but more of a psychological thriller.
“It’s about a man’s battle verses seclusion and himself,” Bertha said. “It also doesn’t help that there are only three main characters.”
All of these films are worth seeing at least once because they are captivating and truly freighting. None of these movies are for the faint of heart or those who are easily frightened.
This list could not include every movie, some honorable mentions were “The Sixth Sense”, “American Psycho,” “The Devil’s Rejects,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.”
Contact Staff Writer Emily Cavanagh at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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