Welcome back to our look at Geek's 30 Scariest Movies Ever! If you missed out on yesterdays list you can check that out here, I highly recommend it. Now if you're wondering how we determined our list of scariest movies ever, it took a bunch of science-y math like stuff that I don't fully understand. Geek Magazine contributor Brian Kronner compiled the list from a number of movie aficionados to give us the best sampling of films possible. Geek Magazine staff writers, contributors here at GeekExchange, and a number of actors, producers and directors also chimed in to make this the scariest list of scary movies possible.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s take a look at #20-#11 of Geek’s Scariest Movies Ever!
#20 – Dawn of the Dead
Yet another horror movie that has enjoyed a popular remake, Dawn of the Dead wowed audiences in 2004 with its new take on a popular horror theme. Up until this point zombies had always been a popular horror monster, but were always a slow-moving, easily escapable brood (With one exception, that we will talk about tomorrow). This all changed with Zack Snyder’s take, as the zombies became a quick, frenzied, vicious monster that brought new levels of horror to the classic zombie mythology. Keeping the satirical look at modern consumerism alive, the survivors take shelter in an abandoned shopping mall and make a life for themselves. Of course, as we all know when dealing with zombies, that never lasts.
I was a little unsure of whether or not I agreed with the remake making it onto our list and the original not, until I took a closer look at the title. We are talking about the Scariest Movies Ever here. While Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was a breathtaking piece of cinematic history, it told a story of survival and the horror of humanity as opposed to trying to scare the crap out of you at every turn. This is something the remake excels at with the lightning quick zombies, fast paced story, and amazing makeup effects. - S. Fraser
#19 – Psycho
The grand-daddy of modern horror; Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece is a look into the mind of one truly deranged individual. The fact that Norman Bates murders Marion Crane isn’t what is scary. It’s not even that he dresses as his mother to do it. What is so frightening is that he actually believes his mother is the one who killed Ms. Crane, and he carries on full conversations with a woman whom he murdered years earlier. It’s the fact that his mind is broken. Norman Bates for all intent and purposes is a likeable character when we meet him. We feel sorry for him and root for him to escape this wicked matriarchal figure. We don’t learn until later that he can’t escape what is in his head.
Norma Bates haunts her son’s psyche and has made him a prisoner in his own skin. And like the good doting son he desired to be, he makes excuses for and protects the woman he still believes to be alive. It’s no surprise this film spawned 4 sequels, a remake, an upcoming show, and a new movie about it’s filming. Simply put, it’s a classic. - B. Kronner
#18 – It
You usually won’t find a lot of Made for TV movies on ‘Best of’ lists. That perhaps makes the inclusion of It that much more impressive. Originally aired in two parts during November of 1990, this movie haunted my childhood. The first half taking place in 1960 as a rag tag group of kids must overcome their fear to stop the monstrous Pennywise, a clown who is murdering children, including Bill’s little brother Georgie. If that wasn’t scary enough, 30 years later kids start to disappear again, and the group returns home to face the creature they assumed dead so long ago. Being forced to face this thing again, and knowing that what happened to you as a child wasn’t just an active imagination, but evil in its purest form, is quite a feat.
What really sells the movie though is Pennywise the Dancing Clown(Tim Curry). As he openly taunts the group, both as children and adults, and his manipulation of Henry Bowers to carry out his bidding prove how far he will go to carry out his evil deeds. I just don’t know that I could’ve returned to Derry. I might’ve been in line with Stan. For me, this is the only movie that still gives me chills every time I see it. - B. Kronner
#17 – Suspiria
Easily considered one of Italian director Dario Argento’s greatest films (alongside 1975′s Deep Red), Suspiria is a must watch for any fan of horror/mystery movies. It follows the story of an American dancer studying at a prestigious school in Germany, who learns that the school is actually run by a coven of witches, not to mention populated by scheming dancers and odd looking handymen. Suspiria is a genuine treat for the senses, as the visuals of the film are pretty breathtaking. The score heavily influences all aspects of the movie, and continually amps up the creepiness. An intensely violent film, it’s fairly evident early on in the movie that the squeamish will not enjoy this as much as fans of gore will.
The scares aren’t entirely focused on the jump in your seats type of thrill, although there are a few scenes like that. I find the unsettling feeling that there is something big going on behind the scenes that we, as the viewer, are only beginning to understand. The colors and visuals of the film illicit an emotional response that is eerie and highly effective, putting you in a mood for fright while making you question your very sanity. As the various members of the school are horrifically killed off, the odds of you turning off the movie increase exponentially, which makes it a great horror flick in my book. - S. Fraser
#16 – [REC]
Earlier I praised Dawn of the Dead for bringing something new to the zombie phenomenon. [REC] does the same,despite my reluctance to call it a zombie movie. When reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman follow a team of firefighters on a routine call, they find themselves in the middle of an outbreak in an apartment building. Before they even fully realize what’s happening, the government steps in and quarantine’s the place, trapping everyone inside with the infected. Filmed in the increasingly common method of shaky-cam and presented in the found footage style, this Spanish horror is anything but common. Some might even call it uncommon.
The scares are real, and come out of nowhere. You may think you can predict the movie, but by the end you’re left sitting with your mouth open wide, and your fingers dug into the closest squishy object you can find. [REC] was followed by a couple of sequels and even a shot-for-shot American remake called Quarantine. Don’t watch that one. While ‘shot-for-shot’, it doesn’t match [REC]‘s horrifically intense end scene, which is below. That is your one and only Spoiler Alert. - S. Fraser
#15 – The Descent
Are you claustrophobic? If you are, you won’t be comfortable watching this. Wikipedia describes the film as such: The Descent is a 2005 British horror film written and directed by Neil Marshall. The film follows six women who, having entered an unmapped cave system, become trapped, and are hunted by subterranean flesh-eating humanoids. And while that is technically correct, it certainly doesn’t do the movie justice. In face, it makes it sound like a bad SyFy movie. Truth is though, while there are “subterranean flesh-eating humanoids”, they aren’t the scary part. What sets this apart from most monster movies is that the monsters here, while creepy, are the secondary problem.
The scariest part is the claustrophobic feeling and the fact that our protagonists can’t find their way out. It’s bad enough to be on the run for your life, but to also be lost and trapped in the dark? No thanks. The Descent was well received, currently sporting an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, but when it hit the states the ending was changed. Below is the original ending, with the American one cutting out at the 3:22 mark. (Obviously spoilers in video) - B. Kronner
#14 – The Evil Dead
Bruce Campbell became a cult icon as a result of the character he first played here; Ashley Williams. Not as zany and over the top as he would become in the sequels, Ash here is simply a man trapped in a marathon nightmare who is forced to watch evil claim his friends one by one. The presence of the Necronomicon and the inherent evil which seems to reside in the cabin and its surrounding woods make Ash’s struggle to survive seem a near impossible task. From a violently graphic tree-rape to blood soaked pencil stabbing, there is no shortage of copious amounts of gore and a ton of accidental humor.
Once we get going here, the horror never stops. Ash very quickly learns to regret his decision to read Latin out of a book bound in flesh. You’d think that would go without saying. This whole catalyst was spoofed pretty well by another movie on our list; Cabin in the Woods, which just goes to show how influential this remains. The Evil Dead spawned two sequels and a soon to be released remake, as well as a seriously awesome musical that covered the audience in blood and gore. - B. Kronner
#13 – Martyrs
Martyrs, a 2008 French film written and directed by Pascal Laugier, is a little hard to describe. It’s also a little hard to get through. Easily one of the most original, terrifying, intellectually stimulating and absolutely nauseating horror movies of the last 30 years, Martyrs tells a unique story. As a child, Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) escapes from an abandoned factory where she had been tortured and abused. Growing up alongside her friend Anna (Morjana Alaoui), Lucie is constantly plagued by a terrifying creature that preys on her guilt and fear, demanding blood at every turn. Lucie eventually finds who she believes tortured her and proceeds to murder them all in an intensely violent scene that sets the tone for the movie.
The horror of the creature is certainly at the forefront for a good portion of the film, but it’s the constant questioning that really causes the terror. As you constantly try to figure out what is reality or psychosis, the truth is slowly revealed and proves more shocking than anything witnessed up to that point. The effects and gore are grounded in reality and heighten the uneasy mood of the film. And uneasy is playing it light. If you can even finish this brilliant look at what a terrifying film can be, then you can call yourself a fan of horror. The following scene is honestly the least disturbing scene in the whole film. - S. Fraser
#12 – Rosemary’s Baby
Somewhat similar to The Omen, had it taken place about 5 years earlier during the pregnancy. Rosemary’s Baby is about the spawn of Satan, simply enough. Mia Farrow plays a young expecting mother who is having terrible dreams about satanic things and becomes convinced something is afoot with her meddlesome neighbors. Before the movie ends we learn her fears are not unfounded as her building is filled with Devil Worshipers who have made a deal with Rosemary’s husband. As it turns out, the baby is in fact the son of the Devil and Rosemary must make a choice as to whether or not she will care for the child.
This wasn’t a case of gore, or even flat out horror, but instead wanted to scare you with psychological terror. Which it was really good at it. The audience spends half the movie trying to figure out if Rosemary is crazy or paranoid, all the while suspecting she is right, but it’s the not really knowing that fuels the audience. One of Roman Polanski’s best films to date, it’s no shock that it’s so high on the list. - B. Kronner
#11 – Silence of the Lambs
One of the most intense psychological thrillers ever, which brought us one of the most iconic serial killers in horror movie history. The main story focuses on FBI trainee Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) trying to help find a serial killer known only as Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) who kills and skins his victims. Starling is tasked with getting assistance from a special prisoner with a unique insight on the case. Hannibal Lector (immortalized by Anthony Hopkins) is a brilliant psychiatrist who happens to have a unique craving for human flesh, set apart from other stereotypical movie killers. Lector is an educated man who is keenly aware of his crimes and his own mental stability, but continues to do it because he enjoys it.
The real terror in the movie has little to do with the murders or Buffalo Bill, although Levine absolutely crushes the role. What is disturbing is how effortlessly Lector manages to get inside your head, and the relationship he builds with Agent Starling is a frightening look at how good Lector really is. - S. Fraser
And that does it for today’s look at Geek’s 30 Scariest Movies Ever! They just seem to be getting better and better, don’t they? That just means you can’t afford to miss tomorrows final look and see which movie makes it to the top spot!