On the way home last night, my family stopped at a couple of the specialty Halloween stores that have finally opened their doors to freaks like us. Every year, we like to add at least one animated zombie/skeleton/ghost to our extensive outdoor decor - yeah, it's a creepy tradition, I know.
I think we found this year's winner.
I've watched a lot of scary movies over the years, and few have given me more than a subtle heart palpitation. But the Exorcist (1974)... I still shudder thinking about some of those scenes.
At the Spirit of Halloween store, there is an animated REGAN - her head spins, she throws up. And she's creepy as all get out. I'm both repulsed and fascinated by her all at once.
Seeing her made me think of which Halloween movies I'll indulge in over the next few weeks - which got me thinking about the Top 10 flicks that have honest-to-goodness given me the chills.
In no particular order:
1. The Exorcist (1974) - Never mind the fear-factor of the movie itself; some believe the actual set was cursed. A priest was regularly brought in to bless the stage, and in addition to other eyebrow-raising activity, the harness broke during Linda Blair's thrashing on the bed scene, causing permanent damage to her spine. Ouch!
2. Hostel - Though not scary in the typical "made me scream" kind if way, Hostel stayed in my mind for a disturbingly long time. Graphic sex and gore aside (and there was a considerable amount of both), the premise made me rethink ever (ever!) staying in a hostel, especially in Europe. *shudder*
3. Seven - The last few scenes in this movie literally blew my mind. And offered a rare "better than average" performance from Brad Pitt. Yes, there's a lot of gore, but I enjoyed how the theme was played out. Kind of wish I'd written that little horror gem.
4. Saw - Only the first, though. There was a certain brilliance about the execution of the first movie that seemed ahead of its time. I often guess movie endings - not so with Saw. Not to mention, Tobin Bell as Jigsaw was amazing, and I enjoyed seeing Cary Elwes again, even if he's not as cute as when he played Wesley on The Princess Bride.
5. Silence of the Lambs - One of my writing mentors, bestselling author Gary Braver, claims Silence of the Lambs is an example of a perfect thriller. I would agree. It's also a great example of how a book CAN be successfully transcribed to film. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most ingenius bad guys ever, and Anthony Hopkins nailed the role.
6. Jaws - I love Shark Week on the Discovery channel - now. But years ago, when I first Jaws, I vowed never to go into the ocean again. This movie scared the crap out of me. Like most of my fave horror/thriller movies, it's only the first one that gave me genuine thrills. The rest of the franchise just reenforced my already healthy fear of sharks.
7. The Shining - Jack Nicholson and those freaking creepy eyes. Need I say more?
8. Halloween - I mostly remember this movie as being scary when I watched it as a teen, but then I saw it again a few years ago and realized it was a bit campy. So why is it on the list? That music! Nothing gets the hairs on the back of my neck standing taller than its oh-so-familiar and creeptastic theme song.
9. Alien - Forget Lara Croft, for me, Sigourney Weaver was the original kick-ass heroine of film. I loved her in Alien, and I admired her bravery because them alien creatures were downright scary. Yes, I screamed during this movie. Multiple times.
10. The Collector - A little like Saw, the mastermind behind the absolute torcher in this movie makes my heart race. The gore factor is high, but it's balanced with a healthy amount of suspense. I covered my eyes, tried to hide UNDER the couch, and screamed. A lot.
I've by no means seen every horror movie produced, and I'm sure I've missed some classics. While I can appreciate the genius behind anything by George Romero, or the horror franchise flicks like Nightmare on Elm Street, I wasn't frightened by those movies - entertained, absolutely! But scream-worthy? Not so much.
I'm curious, though...what's on your list? And if suspense - not gore - is the object, what movies might you recommend for my thrill-seeking family this Halloween?
27 sleeps, my friends. 27 long sleeps.
P.S. - Are you following the Crossroads Blog Tour on Twitter? (@TheCrossroadsBT) Get the inside scoop on the 15 paranormal authors taking part in this year's creep-a-thon. The tour starts October 22.
P.P.S. - Want to win a copy of SPIRITED anthology? Check out this hauntingly cool contest at Leap Books and Bridge Social Media. Don't forget to follow @Spirited13 on Twitter for extra clues.