If the last list of movies left you wanting more nights where you wake up screaming, here is another list of nightmare-inducing horror films. But first, let’s review…
10. “Children of the Corn”: A satanic cult of children try to kill the outlanders.
9. “Friday the 13th”: A killer is seeking revenge against the teenagers of Camp Crystal Lake.
8. “Evil Dead II”: Ash fights against demonic possession.
7. “Nightmare on Elm Street”: Freddy Kruger haunts the dreams of children, killing them as they sleep.
6. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003): Leatherface and his cannibalistic family try to find their next meal; the tourist kids who are passing through town
And now, the list continues with two of the scariest roles of all time; Buffalo Bill and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
5. “Silence of the Lambs”
Synopsis: FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), is sent to discuss events surrounding the serial killer named Buffalo Bill with Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who lives in a single cell of a mental institution. Although Dr. Lecter is regarded as a highly intelligent psychiatrist, he has been committed to the asylum due to crimes of his own. Agent Starling must seek the advice of Dr. Lecter to save the latest victim of the deranged Buffalo Bill, who plans on skinning her to complete his transformation.
Visual: “Silence of the Lambs” is one of my absolute favorite movies. It blends elements of the crime and horror genres to create something unique and terrifying. The acting is superb by all major players in this film, and it blends the career growth of a new FBI personality who is trying to succeed in a world dominated mostly by men with the darker world of serial killer psychology. A great deal of this movie takes place during meetings between Clarice and Dr. Lecter at the asylum, but the real visual meal occurs in the acting. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins must play a variety of different roles for their characters. Foster must be a friend, a student, a woman trying to earn her FBI agent status, and her most important role is the target of Dr. Lecter’s immediate interest. Hopkins must balance his character between a curious psychiatrist who has been locked away for past crimes and the killer who still remains hidden behind the mask of civility.
Why This Movie Is Scary: Let’s not forget that “Silence of the Lambs” is a movie based around a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. Hannibal is frightening enough, even from his cell, but Buffalo Bill is the man trying to fit into a female skin suit. This movie may not be your typical horror flick, but that’s exactly why people love it. “Silence of the Lambs” is scary because it’s a psychological horror movie.
If you like this movie, I also recommend the sequel, “Hannibal.” “Hannibal” centers around the character of Hannibal Lecter, who is now free to come and go and eat as he pleases. The shocking end of this movie was talked about for many years after the release. Also, “Red Dragon” is the prequel to “Silence of the Lambs,” where the hero of the film is the man who is responsible for Hannibal Lecter’s imprisonment. That story’s villain is a schizophrenic man obsessed with the William Blake painting, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, and refers to his transformation as becoming the Great Red Dragon.
Additional Recommendations: “Hannibal,” “Red Dragon,” and “Hannibal Rising,” the story of Hannibal’s childhood experiences that influenced his unique character traits.
4. “Pet Sematary”
Synopsis: What if you could bring the dead back to life? Behind the incorrectly named Pet Sematary, where children bury their beloved pets, lies an ancient Native American burial ground. Many years ago, the natives used the burial ground to bring back their dead, but now the ground has turned sour. You can bury your dead there still, but sometimes dead is better. After a little girl’s cat gets hit by a truck, an older man named Jud who knows the secrets of the burial ground helps the girl’s father, Louis, bring her cat back to life, giving the girl more time before she must learn the harsh truths about life and death. Jud could never have guessed that the Louis’s son would also fall victim to the busy highway, but knows well enough what Louis is considering.
Visual: This movie looks good for a movie made at the end of the ’80s. It has a simplistic approach, relying more on the story than visual effects. There are a few scenes involving actors in makeup that could have been improved on dramatically with today’s technology, but some people, myself included, can still enjoy the rough appearance of things that were always meant to frighten us. This movie relies partially on the viewers imagination as it tries to evoke feelings of mortality and make us question what we might do in a similar situation. On the other hand, this movie has several scenes that still frighten most viewers with visuals. I’ll try not to spoil the movie for new viewers, but I will remind readers of this article that the main premise of this story revolves around a dead child being brought back to life from a place that has long since been abandoned because of the consequences.
Why This Movie Is Scary: “Pet Sematary” catches a lot of people off guard when they first see the film. What’s interesting about it is the investment you have in the family, coupled with the inevitable fact that something horrible is going to happen to them. What’s shocking about the movie is the way it delivers the message that every person, even small children, must learn to cope with death. This movie is scary because nobody can escape the reality of death…Nobody.
Additional Recommendations: “Pet Sematary II.”
Synopsis: This is a movie about a serial killer who wants to teach his victims to respect their lives. Two men wake up in a dilapidated underground bathroom chained to pipes at opposing sides of the room. In the middle of the room there is a bloody body that possesses a revolver and a micro cassette recorder. Each man has been given a cassette with instructions they must follow if they want to survive. This basic premise sets up the scenario for a movie crammed with violent scenes of death. By using flashbacks, “Saw” peels back the real story of the Jigsaw killer who creates puzzles for his victims to solve if they deserve to live. There are many sequels to this movie, most of them interconnecting to create a much larger puzzle to be seen.
Visual: “Saw” is dark, sadistic, and bloody. This movie, as well as its sequels, are not for the faint of heart. The victims in these movies die after scenes of torture. They are given choices, usually between doing something extremely painful and/or taboo or dieing in an extremely violent and horrific way. The settings are usually fairly dark, shifty between grimy, dirty, disgusting, and violent. Most of all, bloody, tortuous violence.
Why This Movie Is Scary: If you were to mix the unique variety of the “Friday the 13th” movies and the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies with the intimate nature of fear from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and mortality from “Pet Sematary,” you would have a big chunk of “Saw.” These films have been big hits around Halloween, and rightfully so. This movie is scary because it’s a well-rounded horror flick with plenty of violence and a good story.
Additional Recommendations: The sequels.
Synopsis: “Halloween” is still a favorite for many people. Young Michael Myers kills his sister and is sent to a sanitarium where he is placed under the care of a psychiatrist who tries to evaluate his mental state. Fifteen years later, Michael Myers escapes and goes back to his hometown where Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) begins seeing him.
Visual: “Halloween” almost doesn’t even seem like a horror movie at first glance. The majority of the movie takes place in a suburban setting from the ’70s where high school kids dominate the landscape. But after Mike Myers starts appearing in his blue jumpsuit and signature solemn mask, things start to get much more interesting.
Why This Movie Is Scary: This movie dives into the mind of a psychopath. Michael Myers is not a genius or a mindless villain. He is a deranged mental patient who escapes and comes back home where he begins a killing spree against the people who apparently have been unknowingly tormenting his psyche for 15 years or more. “Halloween” is scary because it hits home. What person on earth isn’t afraid of being visited from an escaped psychopath?
Additional Recommendations: The sequels. Also, Rob Zombie has produced a great remake of this film with a sequel.
1. “The Exorcist”
Synopsis: A little girl is possessed, and her parents have to resort to an exorcism when all else fails. A priest who has recently been doubting his faith is asked to help with the procedure. The core of the movie obviously focuses on the actual occurrence of the exorcism, but the buildup is just almost just as good. You will watch the young girl as she becomes increasingly influenced by the spirit that possesses her.
Visual: The special effects in this movie are nothing special. Like many other classics, this movie comes from a period where prosthetics and makeup weren’t as believable as they are today. That being said, this movie was extremely controversial for its time, causing many people to get sick and leave the theater after its release. The content of the movie was considered blasphemous and pornographic because of controversial scenes depicting the young girl interacting with religious items and the language used while she is possessed. The film made a lot of people uneasy, because it didn’t shy away from content which contained many religious elements, a lot of which were pushed to the extreme to make this horror classic.
Why This Movie Is Scary: “The Exorcist” has remained one of the most talked about horror movies of all time. For anyone to believe in God, the Devil must also exist. Take that idea a step further and suggest that people can be possessed by the demons from Hell. You now have reason to believe “The Exorcist” could be as real as any story from the Bible. The problem is, “The Exorcist” doesn’t deliver pearly gates and angles on clouds. It contains some of the most memorable religious profanity and blasphemy of all time. “The Exorcist” is scary because it takes on the idea of demons possessing little girls, priests who have religious doubt and, according to some of the more harsh critics of the film, you might even go to Hell if you watch it!
Additional Recommendations: Some people might say the sequels would make a good recommendation for any movie, but after trying to watch some of them I feel that a behind the scenes documentary would be better. It has been implied that a curse surrounds the movie with a large number of deaths occurring during and shortly after the production of the film.
I hope this guide has been useful in creating endless nights of sleep deprivation. Have a great Halloween, and remember that scary movies can be enjoyed at any time of the year.