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Just in time for Halloween: The 10 scariest movies about horrible humans doing evil and vile things

Paul Peterson

Paul Peterson

Well, Halloween is upon us and what better time for a repeat of a classic column? Ok that’s taking liberties, but it is a column from the yesteryear’s file. I went through it and tried to decide if there were any new movies that needed to be included and the short answer is not really. Insidious was creepy and hard to watch but not Top 10 quality.
The Strangers was good and had that kind of sociopathic malevolence that gets you half way there. It might bump The Ring on another day. All in all though not that much. Here are the 10 scariest movies from my back pages.

#1 The scariest movie of all time is without a doubt The Exorcist (1973). I was in Toronto, saw it at a matinee and caught a bus home. We were supposed to stay for a few days and I was feeling like a big time player until I saw little Linda Blair do a head spin and I was done for. The special effects make seem dated by today’s standards but at the time it was pure freak show and touched a nerve in a lot of people.

#2 Black Christmas (1974) Starring a very young Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey, this low budget Canadian flick had a psycho killing off young women in a boarding house in very creative ways and in a low tech era calling from inside the house was a new wrinkle on an old concept. I haven’t seen it lately and it probably hasn’t aged well, but it got it done at the time.

#3 Silence of the Lambs and Manhunter – it’s a pick ’em. Hannibal Lecter is a creepy sophisticated gentleman in Silence and a scary, disturbing serial killer in Manhunter. Manhunter is much more disturbing on a psychological level, while Silence has a seductive narrative that blurs the fact that there’s a whack job making a skin suit out of his victims. Just bad and nasty all over.

#5 The Birds (1963) – Alfred Hitchcock is the master of horror. End of discussion. It’s so simple and so terrifying and if ever there was a compelling argument for less is more this is it. Nothing like turning the forces of nature loose.

#6 Psycho (1960) – Same director, same outcome. Ruined Anthony Perkins’ career in a manner of speaking. No one could accept in any role other than a murderous psychopath, which made him the early Bruce Dern I suppose. Forget the remake, there’s only one original.

#7 When A Stranger Calls (1979) – Single-handedly set babysitting back a couple of decades. Simple story, simple special effects, excellent outcome. The call came from inside thehouse…still works.

#8 Village of the Damned (1960) – Those creepy kids with their creepy glow-in-the-dark eyes making people do things they shouldn’t – it still creeps me out. Low budget, low tech and brilliant. I may have been young and easily turned into a pantywaist but even today it has a nasty memory for me.

#9 The Ring (2002) – This was good, ironically fueled by my equipment failures several of the nights I played it, but I mostly included it in this list because I wanted something from the last decade. They could have done without the crawling cadaver coming out of the TV but despite its flaws, that chick was creepy. Great Halloween costume that year too.

#10 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – The original again. Based on a true story, it was shocking to see the level of depravity we can stoop to as humans. Nothing supernatural, just horrible human beings doing evil, vile things. Pure creepy.

Of course there’s a whole pile of honourable mentions: Jaws, The Shining, anything with a clown in it, Halloween, and I hear The Grudge is very good. Have a safe and scary Halloween, and send me your list if you like.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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