Sometimes the genius of both actor and director infuse to create a vortex of fear that spins you repeatedly until the centrifugal force sends you flying off into the depths of the cold, lifeless abyss. Fuckin' shit's scary. The greatest horror movies are reduced to their greatest moments of pant-shitting perturbation, often invoked by an actor's interpretation of a director's vision.
When you recall your favorite horror films, the first thing you're likely to do is quote the line or recreate the scene that made you believe the Boogeyman might exist or that you truly felt Willem Dafoe's hot breath on the back of your neck when you were washing your hair in the shower. Here are the 10 spookiest.
10. The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Okay, so maybe in the day of realistic holograms, genetically-modified monster crops, and outlandish special effects like Kevin Costner's name being include in the post-film credits, a movie from the 60's isn't generally going to generate an abundance of screams in a generation that's visually overstimulated by first-person shooters and online publications of last-person math and science scores. This scene, however, contains a certain allegorical aspect that we can all relate to. Not to mention, Rick Perry still apparently believes the devil's a driving force in our political discourse; Vincent Price has an old-school, rotary-sharpened pencil thin mustache; and there's enough white people dancing to challenge the most cast-iron stomach.
9. The Stepford Wives (1975)
The most terrifying component of The Stepford Wives is the mandatory empathy with the female condition. The Stepford Wives is a thought experiment in the mind of every guy ever, but the seemingly peerless Ann Romney, dish-drying fuckbots with no proclivity to whine about leaving the seat up when they've never considered reciprocating the gesture, are diluted by the realization that we'd never get laid if we admitted this utopian model may work with actual women. In addition, how would we as men feel if we were brainwashed into typical male gender roles: working 9-5, resenting spouse for our own shortcomings, and living vicariously through our non-complying children? Well, normal (minus the forced smile), but this scene would be a lot more terrifying if re-enacted by Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro (I was just tryin' to make you coffee, you bein' a wiseguy wit' me?).
8. The Exorcist III (1990)
Whoa, I know what you're saying: "There was an Exorcist III?" Yes, and it sucked above averaged-sized penises. But this list isn't about movie quality, rather scene quality. I could have included the headspin, or the stairwell crabwalk from the first film, or even the phallic crucifixation with Linda Blair's little ladyparts, but you've undoubtedly all seen those sequences a million times. If you haven't, that probably means you're a fundamentalist Christian and under that circumstance I sincerely apologize for implying there was a crucifix masturbation scene in the first Exorcist because I know how crazy you get when there's documentation that Jesus may have gotten laid.
7. It (1990)
It is, what it is. It is der Ding an sich, "the thing in itself." I cannot evince the trepidation produced by It. It is a culmination of our childhood fears, the power given to our irrational phobias by their anthropomorphization, and the 1990's hard-on Hollywood had for adapting anything Stephen King thought up. Juxtaposed with the current plight of a pre-teen boy, this scene leaves you wondering if a killer clown rising from the drains would really even be the scariest thing that could happen in a locker room shower. This scene is what you get by dividing Jerry Sandusky from John Wayne Gacy with a remainder of two Polish-Catholics that liked fucking little boys.
6. Lost Highway (1997)
Okay, so maybe Robert Blake was tried for killing his wife, but he was acquitted in criminal court and it's worth mentioning Bill Pullman was in Dear Wendy so maybe Bob doesn't look so bad by comparison. I think it's all time we stop forcing Blake to turn the other cheek (to ask another stuntman to kill his wife). This scene explores the interaction of the quanta that govern our universe and the possibilities of how they shape us on a macro level. It begs to ask the question, "Do entangled particles communicate via the hidden variable of Robert Blake firing 60-year-old handguns?"
5. Kindergarten Cop (1990)
So you're thinking by including a non-horror film I gave you a Raw Deal. Here's The Rundown, on The 6th Day, God created man and in his clairvoyance punished him for his future insolence by also creating children. That many kids in one movie? Twins? That's horrifying. I for one advocate for a review of the Total Recall of lead paint. It's just another way big government is trying to stifle job creators…and prevent kids from acquiring brain damage. Hercules in New York.
4. Frankenstein (1931)
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was an unprecedented perusal into the self-fulfilling prophecy. It explored how the monsters we fear are those which we ourselves create with the trance of our biases and the lengths we take to reconcile our perfect little worlds with the cognitive dissonance produced by encountering something we don't fully understand. In one of the greatest scenes of any early horror movie, this scene fully captures the evil that can be done with the best of intentions. Oh, that and cats make horrible bodyguards. At least the little girl's white, so rest assured, she'll be on Nancy Grace.
3. The Sixth Sense (1999)
So maybe it's unoriginal and cliché for me to include one of the most famous scenes in horror movie history, but The Sixth Sense, although crudely lifted from an episode of Are You Afraid of The Dark (admittedly so), incited fear in some of the most indomitable portions of the population. The Sixth Sense was ripe with symbolism, most blatantly how Bruce Willis's character was a metaphor for Haley Joel Osment's career. Perhaps the most astonishing fact is that in real life, a boy didn't attest to seeing dead people. He then proceeded to explain he saw Jesus, too, which makes it sound way less crazy and he ended up becoming a millionaire by his father outlining his story in the book Heaven Is For Real, which definitely was not written with monetary compensation in mind.
2. Arachnaphobia (1990)
Most spiders have 8 eyes. What they need with all those eyes? All the better to see you with my pretty. Spiders have 8 legs. What they doin' with all those legs? These legs were made for walking, and that's just what they'll do, one of these days these legs are gonna walk all over an interview of Michael J. Fox on the movie Arachnaphobia prophesying of his untimely demise later in life. Have you seen a spider? They're hideous! All I can truly hope for is that some of these Xenomorphs were harmed in the filming of this movie.
1. Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
There's literally nothing in this world more terrifying than little girls. The Ring, Silent Hill, Let The Right One In (Let Me In in the U.S.), My Little Pony. Halloween IV presents a deux ex machina ending in which the problem of there not being anybody to murderface everyone anymore is solved by the manifestation of psychopathy in the least imposing character of the movie. The moral of the story is trust no one, suspect everyone, and if your young brother with antisocial tendencies tells you he wants to go trick-or-treating, fucking take him. This whole thing could have been avoided, especially Halloween III: Season of the Witch.