Like comedy, horror is fierce subjective. What one person finds effective another person will find silly. Some of the stuff on this list is stuff the more precious horror fan will turn their nose up at. But its not about the quality of the film. It's just about the scariness, When I was younger I was a big fan of gory horror, the more red stuff the better. But in the last decade or so I've found myself preferring the more psychological stuff, the stuff that gets under your skin and turns up in your dreams.
Some of the films that have terrified me over the years and still do.
Night Of The Living Dead
The first of George A. Romero's zombie films. A film I'd read about for years before I saw it and thankfully all I knew about it didn't diminish it's impact. It opens with a scene of a brother and sister visiting their mother's grave in a remote countryside graveyard. It's daytime.
As they talk an old man sways around in the background and slowly gets closer and closer and closer and then...... It sounds silly but there's just something so creepy and unsettling about it. It's the day time. Day time isn't meant to be scary. Unsettling.
The Horror Of Dracula
The first of the Hammer horror Dracula productions and still the best. A sumptuous looking film, dark, intense, erotic, and downright terrifying in places. I was way too young when I saw this the first time. Back when Hammer films were regularly shown on tv, and I had a habit of sneaking downstairs to watch them.
There's one scene in it that frightened the life out of me. And I don't even think it was supposed to. It was just Dracula standing on a stairs looking down at a victim. There was just something about it that has stayed with me forever. I can't actually explain it. Masterful film-making.
Blood On Satan's Claw
A film I discovered on BBC2 very night one night after a tiring night shift. A 17th century English village is affected by the supernatural when a skull with one eye left in it is dug up in a field.
The whole film has an oddly unsettling eerie feel to it but one scene of a chap cutting off his own hand in bed because he thought it belonged to a demon freaked me out. Sitting in a dark room, tired after work and watching that......janey. And it's mild compared to what came later in the film but that bit has always scared me.
My most recent. Not a particularly scary or even special film in itself but how i saw it is what got to me. I'd heard it was a return to the haunted house type of horror which was badly needed after years of crappy nasty torture porn films like Saw and Hostel. I decided to go see it in the local omniplex.
The place was quiet and i was delighted cos there was less chance of some gowl ruining the film for me. But it was a little too quiet and i ended up in the cavernous screen 2 all by myself. I was terrified all through the film. Terrified. Kept expecting some demonic hellbeast to tap me on the shoulder. A potent experience.
The Exorcist 3
The original is imo one of the most powerful effectively horror films ever made but its the 2nd sequel that gave me one of my favourite all time jump scares. I won't describe it. Just watch it. Be patient.
Dario Argento's masterpiece in an assault on the senses. The colours. The sounds. The brutality. The slightly off centre shots and odd camera angles that create a sense of unease even when nothing is happening. The first murder scene is the one that stays with everyone who sees it.
The garishly vicious in your face ( literally in one bit ) violence, the sound design, the cinematography, it just all combines to utterly disorientate you and frighten the life out of you. One of the very first dvds I bought and my first real introduction to the world of euro-horror. A baptism of fire!
The Devil Rides Out
A masterful adaption of the famous Dennis Wheatley story. First saw this on tv aged about 12 or so. The entire film has a seriously creepy tone but one scene absolutely freaked me out and still pops up in my dreams 25 years later. It's a film about a group of people chasing down a satanist trying to conjure the devil.
Our heroes led by Christopher Lee are subjected to a night of demonic attacks from scary glowy eye dudes, giant tarantulas and then the angel of death. I was honesty not worth tuppence during all this. Petrified but unable to look away
I vividly remember the first time I saw this. It was a saturday night and my parents were gone to bed. This was on ITV and i'd heard in school it was deadly. If you've seen it you'll remember how effective it is. It was a made for TV film so its pretty tame but made it for that with bucket loads of atmosfear ( yes I typed that, yes I'm a twat ).
Everyone remembers the floaty vampire kids and the freaky rodent like head vampire but the scene that got me was a recently turned vampire sitting in a potential victims house just calmly talking, his eyes and fangs lightly glinting in the dark. Jesus I'm getting goosebumps just thinking of it.
Arachnophobia. I'm terrified of spiders so it was pretty idiotic to go and see this. Spoiler here for anyone who hasn't seen it but at the end of the film a family face a home invasion by 1000's of spiders. The father ends up in the basement facing off against the daddy spider.
I was petrified. In a cold sweat, pinned to the chair. Somehow I managed to peel myself off the chair and bate it out of the cinema. And it took me 3 years to see the rest of the film. 3 years. Ridiculous.
Ok, your turn, what's the most scared you've ever been when watching a film?