With the ultimate Horror movie countdown going on here at Superficial Gallery, it’s hard to recommend movies for Halloween. Acadia has the science; they’ve painstakingly compared lists and polls of horror movies to come up with a consensus for you. What have I got to bring you compared to that? Maybe some movies that genuinely scared me. They’re not necessarily horror but each one has a frightening moment I’ve remembered. I urge you to check some of them out. You might just laugh at them but then again not an awful lot scares me so….
I didn’t bother to put these movies in any kind of order or priority. The only criteria is that there was something in them that frightened me.
Marathon Man (1976)
Everyone has been in a dentist chair. How can you not squirm when the concentration camp dentist drills the restrained Dustin Hoffman’s teeth while repeatedly asking a question he can’t answer. Anesthesia? Nazis don’t need pain remediation and they buy extra loud dental drills.
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Are those live rounds fat boy? Your ass belongs to the Marine Corps and this is boot camp before the Jarheads got warm and fuzzy. You’re not even going to make it to exotic Vietnam to meet interesting and stimulating people of an ancient culture and kill them. You’re going to sit there in the latrine and show us what bugshit crazy looks like before leaving your brains on the wall. “Seven-six-two millimeter. Full metal jacket!”
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
It’s an old movie in black and white. How can an old flicker film with no sound be scary? Guess what that’s not a trick. Buster Keaton is standing there with perfect precision and timing hoping he didn’t screw up and the two ton facade isn’t going to crush him to death. It’s bordering on the suicidal.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Two children walking home through the dark scary woods at night. They’re attacked and the little girl can’t see the assault because of the ham costume she’s wearing. Is it the frightening man who lives in the area? Everyone has been spreading rumors about how strange he is.
Un Chien Andalou (1929)
It’s actually a cow eye being cut open with the straight razor. Everyone knows it’s a cow eye right? They’d never film someone slicing open a woman’s eye like that…would they?
Squeal like a pig. You hear so many jokes about that scene because it’s one that scares the hell out of a lot of guys. Being raped and humiliated at the point of a shotgun is a nightmare that they stepped around in Lawrence of Arabia. It’s likely that T.E. Lawrence was traumatized for life by an institutional rape when he was a POW.
Salem’s Lot (1979)
Vampires have to be invited in. It’s a total cliché but when there’s a dead boy floating outside your window smiling and scratching while asking to be let in you’re going to have a nightmare about it.
Annie Wilkes who is Paul Sheldon’s NUMBER ONE FAN decides he shouldn’t run away so she places a thick block of wood between his two ankles and whacks his foot so it’s visibly bent. The real clincher of this scene is the “Trust me it’s for the best.” Then she does the right one and says: “God, I love you.”
American History X (1998)
So often in movies there is violence without meaning. In American History X we see real violence without meaning but we understand it. One man forces another to bite down on the sidewalk curb and then stomps on the man’s head to snap his neck in half and teach him a “real lesson.” It doesn’t matter which one is black and which is white it’s pure hate.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
After a full movie of the insanity of Vietnam we think we’re inured to more violence then the native tribesman slaughter an ox which is intercut with the killing of Colonel Kurtz and we understand senseless butchery.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
You’ve been killed. Don’t you remember?
Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don’t look back. Keep Running! Keep Running! Bambi runs and dashes behind a snowbank into the thicket then there is a BANG. Mother. Mother! Mother, where are you? So many of these older Disney movies just grab a kid right where it hurts.
Casino Royale (2006)
This is another one that a lot of men joke about. There isn’t a man alive who didn’t feel it when Le Chiffre tied Bond to that open bottomed cane chair and started in with the knotted rope. “Now the whole world’s gonna know that you died scratching my balls.” The punch line wasn’t what guys were remembering walking out of the theater.
The Birds (1963)
Here’s a movie that makes no sense. Birds are going to peck my eyes out? Huh? Why is this getting me all wound up I’m not scared of birds? Then there’s the scene where the gas station burned and you’re part of the mass panic mob mind. You never look at birds on a wire in the same way again.
The freaks seek revenge during a rainstorm crawling through the mud with knives in their mouths to disfigure Cleopatra the gold digger and truly turn her into one of them. From now on she’ll be the half-woman, half-chicken part of the sideshow. Hercules the strongman just gets emasculated off screen. Which one of them got the better part of the deal?
Cape Fear (1991)
The original is pretty scary but when Bobby De Niro’s Max Cady poses as a drama teacher and then verbally and physically seduces the sexually curious troubled teenager Danielle the alternating fear and excitement is a compelling fright for anyone who’s ever cared about a young woman.
The Cell (2000)
There are many disturbing visuals to represent the mind of the sadomasochistic serial killer Carl Stargher but one wonders at yourself for seeing the beauty in the image of the segmented horse after it’s suddenly bisected by panes of glass and still pulses with life.
If you’ve driven on a highway you’ve been scared by a big rig roaring passed buffeting your smaller vehicle with wind as it goes by. Duel is a whole movie of a man in a Plymouth Valiant being chased by a faceless psychopath in cowboy boots.