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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The scariest moments on film


    Halloween isn’t Halloween without scary movies. But let’s be honest: Most of them are a pretty sorry lot. The Daily Wildcat arts desk is proud to bring you its personal lists of the scariest movies ever.

    1. “”The Lord of the Rings”” (1978): While the story itself is nothing to cause alarm (though Gollum is pretty freaky), the combination of cheesy, exaggerated animation and shrieking, sepia-toned, superimposed actors to stand in for the armies of orc and man allowed this late ’70s trip to sufficiently addle my pubescent brain.

    2. “”The Shining”” (1980): Being trapped in a musty old manor with Jack Nicholson is a horror in itself, but add in some of the most iconic freaky imagery in film history (the ghoulish twins, the blood-flood elevator, the random guy in the bear suit doling out sexual favors to poltergeists) and this movie becomes an unforgettable haunter.

    3. “”The Others”” (2001): It goes without saying that British children are the stuff of nightmares, but British children who play with ghosts are just a horror and a half, and the clever twist ending only amplifies the creep factor.

    4. “”The Ring”” (2002): Speaking of freaky imagery, this film’s death-inducing videotape is one of the creepiest minutes of insufferable student-film impressionism imaginable. The movie itself is forgettable, but that tape will stick with you through the night.

    5. “”The Mothman Prophecies”” (2002): The brilliance of this film is in the fact that nothing scary actually happens; director Mark Pellington plays off of audience fears and superstitions as tension rises towards a catastrophic conclusion that may or may not be the work of something paranormal. As with any urban legend, the film only offers further questions, not answers.

    — Brandon Specktor

    1. “”Halloween”” (1978): OK, so this film is not scary in the slightest, at least by today’s generation’s standards. However, this is by far my favorite horror film. It combines all the elements of an undying stalker, chill-inducing screams and classic ’70s slasher film tactics.

    2. “”Audition”” (1999): The Japanese have horror films down pat. “”Audition,”” about an innocent woman who unknowingly dismembers parts of people’s bodies, is no exception.

    3. “”Hostel”” (2005): It’s only possible to see this film one time. Not because of the scare factor, but just because I can’t stand people’s eyeballs being burned out of their sockets.

    4. “”The Ring”” (2002): Scary at 21 years old? Not so much. But when I was 14, I chose to shut my eyes throughout the entirety of the video that kills you, just in case.

    5. “”House of Wax”” (1953): No, not the one with Paris Hilton. This “”House of Wax”” was on television when I was five years old. The only scene I ever saw was the wax figures’ faces melting off. After that, I had nightmares for about a year.

    Alex Gendreau

    1. “”A Nightmare on Elm Street”” (1984): This, along with the next movie series, shaped many of my waking interests when I was a kid. What’s not scary about running into a neighborhood child murderer in, of all places, your dreams? When the movie began to blur the waking and dreaming worlds, I was hooked.

    2. “”Night of the Living Dead”” (1968): It’s surprising how powerful the original movie still is. The horror comes not from the zombies themselves, but from the off-kilter camera angles, the slow buildup to the climactic siege and the social bonds that crumble so easily during a crisis. (Watch the entire movie here:

    3. “”Scream”” (1996) and “”Scream 2″” (1997): These two films revitalized interest in the teen slasher genre with their witty dialogue, shocking plot twists and a self-awareness that was smart without being smart-alecky — perfect for my junior high self. Unfortunately, the films spawned a new generation of movie spoofs that had neither the sharp intelligence nor the black humor.

    4. “”The Birds”” (1963): Alfred Hitchcock was a master of finding terror in the unknown. Adapting the 1952 novella by Daphne du Maurier, Hitchcock showed us that being confronted by unknowable forces of nature could be scarier than any monster, on or off the screen.

    5. “”Hard Candy”” (2005): Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson play a psychological game where you can’t tell who the cat is and who the mouse is. Like Hitchcock, the movie hints at such subjects as pedophilia, castration and child murders — it’s like watching an unedited Grimm brothers’ fairy tale. You probably shouldn’t see this after watching “”Juno.””

    — Steven Kwan

    1. “”Hostel”” (2005): The scene where the guy gets up after his ankles were sliced did it for me. I like scary movies and this one actually made me scream out loud.

    2. “”The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”” (2003): The fact that this is based on a true story made it more scary. I left the movie theater straight-up paranoid that he was going to get me!

    3. “”Saw”” (2004): Check, please.

    4. “”Poltergeist”” (1982): I remember seeing clips of it when I was little and thinking that if I see that little blond-haired girl for real, I’m out.

    5. “”Exorcist: The Beginning”” (2004): So scary I didn’t even see it. Just the previews were enough to make me refrain from ever going to see this mess. 

    — Ada Dieke

    1. “”Friday the 13th”” (1980): This awesome ’80s flick is so well-plotted and skillfully acted, you might never notice that there is no real reason it occurs on Friday the 13th. Set at a summer camp that is haunted by, uh, a lake, this cheesy, campy romp features a stellar soundtrack, a horrific laundry room and a nice view of young Kevin Bacon. Take special note of the decapitation scene at the end — if I may say, it’s better in rewind. And slow motion. Repeatedly.

    2. “”Sleeping Beauty”” (1959): I know a years-long nap doesn’t sound scary, but take another look at that witch. She has horns. There are dragons, spindles, terrible female stereotypes and after poor Aurora goes through all of that, her supposed handsome prince looks like a more vapid version of Ken, of Barbie and Ken. Tough break, girl.

    3. “”Ultraviolet”” (2006): I don’t actually remember much of the plot of this one. Just take it from me that it’s a really, really freaky movie to watch at the drive-in with your friend along with only one other car. A pick-up. With really, really tinted windows.

    4. “”The Others”” (2001): This is probably scarier when you are 12 years old, but I remain a-feared of Nicole Kidman after this movie. It may be because of her admirably creepy performance, or because of her creepily immobile face (see every scene in “”Australia””). That big scary house and those creepy children and all those pictures of dead people? No. Thank. You.

    5. “”Psycho”” (1960): I don’t mean to be pretentious, but this is a really great “”film.”” The lighting, the set, the writing, the cinematography — and oh, yeah, the dead mother! Bloody brilliant. Plus, playing the soundtrack while your roommate’s in the shower could be a really good prank. October fools!

    — Anna Swenson

    1. “”Repulsion”” (1965): Catherine Deneuve plays a fragile girl who slowly goes to pieces in a London apartment one weekend. At once utterly convincing and cinematically brilliant, “”Repulsion”” reminds us that there are ghosts lurking in our minds that can outdo any CGI demons.

    2. “”Diabolique”” (1955): You know those terrible thrillers that come out every summer and invariably turn out to be dull, trashy cliché-fests? Well, if they were somehow raised to the level of genius, you’d have this still-terrifying classic, in which a boarding school headmaster’s wife and mistress conspire to murder him, only to find themselves wondering if he’s really dead.

    3. “”The Haunting”” (1963): This classic got a lot of retrospective buzz when the 1999 remake came out, and it deserved it. With fine acting from the likes of Claire Bloom and Julie Harris and its brilliant, suggestive use of sound, Robert Wise’s film could draw a chill out of the most hard-bitten skeptic.

    4. “”Cat People”” (1942): The eerily beautiful Simone Simon is uncannily cat-like as a mysterious woman who begins to believe she’s the descendant of a race of, you guessed it, “”cat people.”” The 1982 remake is also worth seeing, though more for Nastassja Kinski than any of the scares.

    5. “”The Shining”” (1980): Jack Nicholson gives his most crazed performance as a frustrated writer whose murderous tendencies are brought out by the evil spirits that might — or might not — be lurking in an isolated hotel. Like most of Stanley Kubrick’s films, this is as much a nightmare comedy as it is anything else, but the glacial pace and sinister atmosphere get to you in the end.

    — Justyn Dillingham

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