What’s Scary?

It’s Halloween once again! I’m too introverted to go to a party on a regularly dressed day, let alone on a day where there’s sexy vampires and drunk men in ironic penis costumes roaming around so each year I buy a box of candy, make a pot of coffee, and use the time to get through some horror flicks. Because of my squeamish nature I do what any self-respecting 26-year old child would do and force somebody, usually Jim, who is also on the jumpy side, to join me in a blurred night of sugar comas and paranoia.


In the last two years we have watched solid amount horror movies.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, The Omen, Ju-on: The Grudge, Alien, Aliens, Friday the 13th: Part 1, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Conjuring, The Conjuring: Part 2, Annabelle, The Fly, Psycho and The Shining.


What did I find scary? Each of these deserves their own review but horror films aren’t my thing. So, these are briefly what I found scary or not scary about each.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) : The burly, moaning, other-person’s face wearing, chainsaw swinging maniac wasn’t what disturbed me about this low-budget success story. It was his deranged human-flesh eating family and his decrepit grandfather that got to me. There’s nothing more sinister than a manic family losing their minds right down the barrel of the lens. Meanwhile as the tied-up leading lady wriggles around on a LITERAL armchair. A chair with human arms as arms of the chair. Classic. Creepy not scary.


The Exorcist (1973) : The jump cuts. Nothing like splicing a deformed, vomiting, levitating face in quick flashes to wake you up. The story was eerie and for me was really well put together. Eerie not scary.


The Omen (1974) : This one was not scary, even by my standards. You could have taken any of the shots, put sad violin music to it and marketed is as a tragic drama. Boring not scary.


Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) : The Japanese have a whole different view of scary. Rooted in the supernatural, it’s very unexpected. Which made it even more scary. See the original though, not the American remake. Ominous not scary.


Alien & Aliens (1979 & 1986) : Suspenseful doesn’t describe. But it’s what you can’t see that scared me. The hunt of the Alien. The claustrophobia of the spaceships. The effects are funny, mostly because I saw Spaceballs first and  I still can’t shake the “Hello my Baby” spoof scene. Suspenseful not scary.


Friday the 13th Part 1 (1980) : Jump scares were good. The twist at the end even better. More terrifying than the thought of Jason to be honest. Who doesn’t love to see Kevin Bacon at summer camp? Jumpy not scary.


Halloween (1978) : Michael Myers has confidence. Menacing confidence. But, honestly didn’t find it scary just frustrating. The guy struts around, which I get is supposed to bring suspense but I mean – just run away. He won’t catch up. He won’t die but he won’t catch up. Frustrating not scary.


Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) : Oh damn, young Johnny Depp. The concept is so interesting but they really fall short timing wise. I could see when everything was going down and when the scares were coming. Interesting not scary.


Conjuring 1 & 2 (2013, 2016) : Big guys with chainsaws, no problem. An alien with a lust for the hunt, no big deal. Turning into a fly, fine. Funny even. The Conjuring 1&2, pee my pants scary. The use of silence was terrifying. The issue is twofold you never see anything and the unknown is scary. The second issue is most of the other movies were monsters, the devil in a child’s body, or a creature from outer space etc. Tangible, breathing, walking things. Things that can die. Things I can wrap my head around. Spirits, possessions, hauntings – all unexplained – is scary. Conjuring 1&2 scary.


Annabelle (2017) : Although of the same universe as Conjuring 1 & 2, and scary in some parts it lacked that mystery you had in the other films. Also, they explained everything, a rather lame excuse for their daughter’s haunting, rather than leave the story open. Also isn’t the doll supposed to be haunting an apartment at the beginning of Conjuring? But at the end of Annabelle the doll is just a doll? Come on guys. Sloppy not scary.


The Fly (1986) : All was well, sure Jeff Goldblum is always Goldbuming but the movie was pretty tame. Until the main character arm wrestles with a drunk in a bar and breaks the mans wrist bone in half. And Cronenberg never shy’s away from such things. He needs you to watch it in full. But overall the movie bounces from disturbing to comedic rather nicely. Squirmy not scary.


Psycho (1960) : The granddaddy of horror/thriller movies. The one that started it all. A wonderfully put together film but in today’s cinematic climate not scary. The ending however still left me feeling uneasy so kudos to Hitchcock!


The Shining (1980) : Everybody always talks about The Shining, how beautiful it is. The imagery, the poetic horror Kubrick creates. The bloody elevator. The twins. All eerie and all mysterious. It left me feeling uneasy for sure but it didn’t scare me.


All in all the 70s was the magic decade for horror movies, the exception being The Omen. None but the Conjuring and the second Conjuring left me sleepless and very jumpy for the rest of the night. Then again, it could simply be a matter of me not being able to look past the time in which the movie was made in. Different things scare different people. Murders and serial killers, not scary. Aliens, getting there. Supernatural vengeful, pure evil spirits that can walk through walls, possess you and desire to torment you for the hell of it, can’t do it. Too scary.


What scares you?


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