This Halloween, there will be many exciting ways to spend your night. You might prefer dressing up and collecting candy, but some people have a different tradition. This Halloween, pick a scary movie (or multiple scary movies), make some popcorn, and turn off the lights. I have compiled a list of some of the scariest movies of all time for your reading pleasure. I hope this guide will help you make a more informed decision about what to watch on October 31 or whenever you get the craving for a good horror movie.
10. “Children of the Corn”
Synopsis: A man and woman traveling across country find themselves in a seemingly abandoned city. They learn that they are the only adults in a town inhabited by children who worship the devil. The grownups must fight to escape the children who believe it is their religious obligation to kill them.
Visual: This movie is fairly basic when it comes to the horror genre. Closer to the end there will be some special effects that are far less than spectacular by today’s standards, but it doesn’t seem to take away from the movie all that much. Most of the story is centered around the barely inhabited small town and the vast fields of corn that are prominent throughout the movie. The settings are well lit, and most scenes actually take place during the day.
Why This Movie Is Scary: There is a certain taboo about children doing adult things. This movie isn’t afraid to put small children into the roles of deranged occultists and send them hunting down the adults for religious reasons. In the movie, children are killed on their 18th birthday as part of a religious ritual. Grown men and women are obviously against the rules, so they have to be killed. Why is this movie scary? Fanatically religious occultist children who want to kill adults is really creepy.
Additional Recommendations: The “Children of the Corn” sequels.
9. “Friday the 13th” Series
Synopsis: This series of movies begins with an unseen killer in the first “Friday the 13th.” The legend of Jason Voorhees is that of careless teenagers who allowed a boy to drown in Camp Crystal Lake while they were drinking and fornicating. For this reason, Camp Crystal is going to face serious consequences. I’ll try not to ruin the movie with any spoilers but, seeing as these movies are classics, most of you already know how the story goes. For anyone not familiar with the series, or only slightly familiar, the iconic hockey masked serial killer doesn’t appear until “Friday the 13th Part III.” Up until the third movie, the killer is virtually unseen or has his head covered with a bag.
Visual: This is another movie from the ’80s. The first movie is from 1980, and all sequels up to “Friday the 13th Part VIII” (1989) are all from the ’80s. The main visual experiences from this movie franchise are going to be gratuitous in nudity and violence. Not specific to the first movie, the “Friday the 13th” series contains a lot of teenagers trying to have sex with each other and subsequently dying throughout the films. The question is, “How will they die?” Jason has a variety of different methods he enjoys using, and he never seems to run out of new and inventive ways for brutally killing his victims. His weapon of choice is a machete in later films, but you can expect a lot more than simple decapitation kills.
Why This Movie Is Scary: The first movie in the series is a favorite for most. Ironically, Jason doesn’t even show up in the first film. Regardless, this movie is scary because of the variety of different death scenes. In later movies, Jason is pretty disgusting to look at as well…and he won’t die! Jason Voorhees keeps coming back for more and more killing. He goes to New York in Part VIII; he goes to Hell in the ninth movie; and he even goes to Space in “Jason X.”
Additional Recommendations: The sequels, “Freddy vs. Jason.”
8. “Evil Dead II”
Synopsis: When the main character, Ash Williams, goes to a cabin in the woods with his girlfriend, he discovers a tape player. Recorded is a chant from a book called the “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, the Book of the Dead.” The chant unleashed an evil spirit that creates a nightmarish Hell on Earth for Ash. He must face this force on his own, because soon after the spirit possesses his girlfriend, Ash must decapitate her to save himself.
Visual: This movie is an acid trip without the need for illegal substances. The spirit that is released causes a wide variety of unexpected events. The actor that plays Ash Williams, Bruce Campbell, portrays this role perfectly. The movie is funny as well as strange, mixing the hero’s persistent will to survive with unlikely obstacles he must overcome. One example is a classic scene where he must fight against his own hand, which has become possessed and tries to kill him.
Why This Movie is Scary: If you want to watch a man come close to losing his sanity then this is a really great movie to see. Ash must face such a wide variety of obstacles that he really does become a hero in many people’s eyes. You will watch him fight, struggle, and balance between survival and insanity. This movie is scary because it’s insane. You never know what to expect next.
Additional Recommendations: The first “Evil Dead” is almost the same movie as this sequel, but with a lower budget. Also, you might like the third installment of this series, “Army of Darkness,” a movie that takes Ash to another realm of existence where he faces an army of undead creatures and monsters.
7. “Nightmare on Elm Street”
Synopsis: Teenagers are being stalked and killed in their dreams, and they can’t figure out why such a thing would happen. Their parents are keeping a dark secret hidden, but Freddy Kruger is still coming for you. Don’t sleep or Freddy will find you in your dreams and kill you.
Visual: The first movie is from 1984. The makeup for Freddy looks pretty good for that time period in my opinion, and some of the special effects are impressive as well. A lot of the action takes place in dream sequences, so you will be seeing some bizarre things. Freddy is a witty serial killer with plenty of sarcasm and cheesy jokes, making him extremely memorable character. His simple costume (striped shirt, brim hat, and spiky clawed hands) creates the icon, Freddy Kruger.
Why This Movie is Scary: Any kid who watches this is going to be plagued by nightmares where the boogey man is supposed to kill you while you sleep. What does this mean for the average underage viewer? It means the dream could have been real, and they merely escaped one of Freddy’s attempts at killing them. If you wake up in the middle of the night from a dream like that you might be hard pressed to return to sleep. “Nightmare on Elm Street” is scary because Freddy kills you while you sleep. For an interesting twist, check out “Freddy vs. Jason” to see the two iconic serial killer/monsters in the same film.
Additional Recommendations: The sequels, “Freddy vs. Jason.”
6. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003):
Synopsis: This is a remake of the classic, and I believe it has lived up to expectations. A group of teenagers are on their way to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert when they encounter a hitch-hiker. The girl they pick up is visibly upset and crying. After she kills herself, the teens’ plans drastically begin to change. They don’t realize it yet, but they have stopped in a town whose only inhabitants come from a poor family of cannibals who can only afford to eat what they kill.
Visual: The 2003 remake contains better visual effects than the original, but what I like about the film is the use of this technology. There are so many newer horror movies that overuse technology, but “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” only uses what it needs to create a macabre atmosphere. Old meat with flies buzzing around, dirty bathrooms, and seemingly normal individuals who live in mostly normal conditions until you see the room they use to butcher their food. All of these things add to the visual appeal of the film. Then there is the violence. The violence in this movie is more personal than a quick kill from a slasher movie. The movie spends enough time with each character to build an involved interest in them. In addition, the acting is great. There is real emotion portrayed in this movie and not just endless screaming.
Why This Movie is Scary: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is based around circumstances where a family becomes so impoverished that they have to find a solution to their own survival. It claims to be based off real life events, but that’s really stretching the truth. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Silence of the Lambs,” and “Psycho” use very generalized elements of a real life horror story involving a man called Ed Gein. A nice addition to this movie is the prequel. Released in 2006, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” shows how the TCM family began their new way of life. This movie is scary because, despite its very loose ties to real life events, it still attempts to portray the story in a realistic way, and it makes the viewers contemplate such a scenario as reality.
Additional Recommendations: “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” original (1974) and the prequel to the remake, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.”
I hope these movies have you excited for the next five in the list. So make sure to check out “A Guide to Halloween Movies, Part 2” which contains the next five scary movies that you should be afraid of – also on Yahoo! Voices. Things only get scarier from here, so grab a friend and hold on for dear life.