Last week we talked about the first scary movie we remembered watching. This week we are talking about the scariest movie we watched. Where were you and who were you with? Do you still watch scary movies or do you avoid them at all costs?
Barb: The Haunting of Hill House–hands down. Wikipedia tells me the movie was actually called The Haunting and was made in 1963. I saw it much later, in a theater, when I was in college. Amazing performances by both Julie Harris and Claire Bloom. I don’t remember who I as with, but I do remember screaming out loud. I don’t like the horror genre per se, but I do like that rush of adrenaline that comes with a great reveal or twist. I just watched the third and fourth seasons of the TV show Luther, which is a procedural, but the crimes are shot as they occur, like great horror movies, and they actually did get me to scream.
Liz: I have to go with the original Halloween. Michael Myers completely freaked me out – still does, to this day. But the first one was the best.
Edith: I avoid scary movies entirely these days. But I’ll go with The Shining. I saw it with a friend in the summer of 1980. Nicholson’s eyes. The maze. The weird twins. RED RUM. RED RUM… Still gives me shivers. I’m sure the new date I was with left the theater with big bruises on his arm from me clenching it so hard. And of course I screamed.
Julie: Watched is a relative term, isn’t it? I saw Halloween through eyes that were squeezed shut for the most part, with fingers in my ears part long stretches. I went with college friends–the same friends who took me to a drive in that summer to see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I remember that movie being a sea of pink–I put my sweater over my head. But the scariest? Poltergeist. Same college friends. Played on every fear we had as kids, and then some. Those folks are still my friends, but no more scary movies for me.
Sherry: Since I scare easily, it’s kind of hard to choose. But I’ll go with The Exorcist (I have to agree with Edith about The Shining though!). I saw it in college we had to drive 90 miles to go see it because our small college town wouldn’t play it. We went with a group of guys and the one driving our car home kept shutting off the headlights and turning his head. Even worse our dorm was old with radiators that banged and groaned all night. I slept with the lights on for at least a week.
Readers: What is the scariest movie you watched? Who were you with? Do you watch them anymore?
I don’t watch scary movies anymore, but the scariest one for me was The Exorcist, which I watched at a friend’s house. My mom was watching her two young boys at the time and I watched it over there. Still scared.
The second would have to be Carrie with Sissy Spacek. I can’t remember who I saw it with or where, but that’s probably because I’m suffering with PTSD from it.
I agree about the Exorcist!
The Shining was very scary but didn’t come close to the one that never showed the actual gruesome parts. See. It was so frightening I don’t remember the title… Psycho! The original black and white. Woah.
I don’t think I ever saw Psycho, Reine. Probably a wise choice on my part!
Quite possibly, Edith!
Psycho was scary — I saw it more than once when I was young. I don’t think I could watch it anymore.
Sherry, I won’t either. I think when I was younger there was a kind of competition going on over who saw certain movies the largest number of times.
Oooh, yes, good one Reine!
Under the supervision of my misguided older sister, I saw the Tingler and Psycho at a very young age. I have avoided scary movies ever since. Both movies scared me to my core. I’m still trying to recover. As an adult I learned that Psycho was loosely based on an actual crime that occurred in Wisconsin. Nightmares all over again.
I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of The Tingler. And I had no idea Psycho was based on a true incident! Yikes!
The Tingler! It didn’t scare me much, but I saw it a dozen times in reruns on WPIX. Now I must go scare up a copy…
GREAT List of really scary films. For me it was the original OMEN.
I don’t know that movie, Vinnie, but the title alone sounds scary!
Wow, I had to think about that one. Movies don’t usually scare me, but one truly startled me (and everyone else in the room): Wait Until Dark (1967). The end of senior year at Wellesley College, and everybody was just hanging around waiting for graduation. The dorm leaders decided to show a movie, so everyone was sitting on the commons room floor in the dark watching a movie screen (yeah, it was that long ago). Audrey Hepburn plays a blind woman, being menaced by Alan Arkin. There’s one scene when she’s in her apartment with no lights on and he suddenly jumps out of nowhere to attack her–and the whole room screamed in unison. Nobody saw that coming.
That was a terrifying movie — perhaps because it seemed like it could really happen! I didn’t remember that Alan Arkin was in it!
I’ve seen the play and lived it. The movie is on my DVR but I haven’t watched it yet.
Make that I loved the play. Stupid typos on my phone.
I saw Wait Until Dark during a weekend visit to my aunt’s in Boston – one of my favorite movies. You’re right it’s not exactly scary, but the tension I felt throughout the movie was incredible.
Jaws. Definitely. I was with a date at the theater, and when the dead guy fell out of the bottom of the boat I screamed in terror. When we left the theater I half expected to see a giant shark coming at me out of the air in the parking lot. Which I know does not make any sense, but that was the effect it had on me.
It was scary! I went with a group of friends and when that body popped up, I screamed and dug my fingernails into the leg of the guy on either side of me. Fortunately no one was seriously injured!
I saw Straw Dogs when I was in seventh grade with school friends. The theater at the beach town we were at allowed anyone in, regardless of age. It wasn’t a paranormal film, but an edge of your seat, violent thriller starring Dustin Hoffman. In the beginning of the movie, you see a giant bear trap hanging over the fireplace of the house Dustin’s character and his new wife are renting. You just knew that someone was going to get their head in the trap at some point in the movie. I think the reason that this is the scariest movie I’ve seen is because it was about evil people trying to kill someone simply because he was an outsider. It felt real, unlike horror films. It could also be that it was the first time I saw violence and fear like that in a movie. It bothered me for days.
Oh, that does sound frightening! I’ve never seen it!
I saw that movie in the theater. Terrifying.
Night of the Living Dead
I haven’t seen it, Alan. Not planning to either!
I walked out of a dorm-room Halloween party showing The Exorcist after fifteen minutes. Bunch of my friends. First, last, and only time I have ever tried to watch a horror flick (TV advertisements on AMC and trailers don’t count). Not my thing. Murder, psychological suspense? Sure. But not horror.
You were smart to walk out! I cover my eyes when there are scary previews on!
I can still hear the screams the night a bunch of friends and I watched Psycho at a birthday party sleepover (great choice for a birthday, huh? I think the birthday girl’s brother picked it out for us.) But the Omen and the Shining….ugh. I couldn’t stop thinking of those movies for weeks.
I wish I could un-see all three!
The Shining for sure and a more recent film, The Conjuring which was based on a true story about a haunting and possession in Rhode Island. That was terrifying. My boyfriend does not like “spook movies”, as he calls them and I tricked him into thinking that it was a historical film (it did take place in the 1970’s, in my defense!). It was very creepy and there was one part were we both screamed bloody murder and the cat leaped out of his bed and fled to the basement. My poor old basset hound just opened her eyes and looked at us like we were insane!
Also- Seven and The Silence of the Lambs scared the absolute crap out of me- I saw both of them in the theater.
I haven’t seen any of them, Jacki! I’m too chicken!
The Conjuring was totally frightening!!! Insane movie.
The first movie that scared the heck out of me was The Legend of Boggy Creek (a scary Bigfoot movie), which I was too young to go see but I begged and begged my dad to take me to because I was obsessed with Bigfoot. It is one of only a handful of times I remember my dad doing something just with me (there were a lot of kids in my family, and my dad was an old-fashioned guy–I don’t blame him for that). But the scaredest I’ve ever been was seeing The Omen. It was playing on campus and none of my friends would go see it with me, so I went alone. And had to walk back across the quad by myself, at night, to get to my dorm. My heart is pattering now just thinking about it.
How cool that your dad took you! I can’t imagine walking home alone after seeing The Omen!
The Haunting! I watched it with my sister back in the 60s. Scared both of us silly. I’ve watched it since then and swore to never watch it again – the sense of dread was so intense. I love how truly scary it was and no blood/gore was involved.
I love a good building sense of dread, but this one sounds like too much for me!
It’s funny to see people mentioning Jaws and Psycho to me. I found both very boring when I watched them. Maybe because I’d seen certain scenes from them already?
I think the movie that freaked me out the most was Scream 2, but that was more about the surroundings. The first scene in that movie involves two people being killed in a movie theater. I watched it at the cheap theater in town, and there were members of the audience getting up and moving around the entire time. At least we will blame that.
Oh, that would freak me out!
I love horror!!! They don’t scare me at all. I especially love the psychological ones. If I had to name a movie it would be Silence of the Lambs.
I’ve seen bits and pieces of Silence of the Lambs but never had the courage to watch the whole thing!
Hands down Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” I saw it 25 years ago and it still scares the crap out of me.
I haven’t seen it or read the book. But I just read the cover copy — yikes!
Some cool choices, guys. The Ring may be the scariest movie I’ve ever watched.
I love classic horror flicks starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, which I consider more campy that scary. A fave is The Corpse Vanishes, which I plan to watch again around Halloween!
Campy, I can take (I think)! I never saw The Ring but heard it’s scary!
“Fallen,” directed by Gregory Hoblit. With Denzel Washington, Donald Sutherland, John Goodman, James Gandolfini, and Embeth Davidtz! Will scare the bejeebers out of of you. And, it was written by a friend of mine, but that’s NOT why I say it’s so scary. It just is!
Wow. What a cast!
It’s true, Barbara, and they are all great! Oh, I forgot to mention the baddest bad guy of all time: Elias Koteas!
I’ve never been a scary movie fan. Although when I was younger I did watch some Hitchcock movies, I did not see The Exorcist (just reading the book scared me to death). The scariest movie I’ve watched is Dressed to Kill with Angie Dickinson and Michael Caine. I was with a group of friends and I was outvoted on the movie choice.
I think I saw Dressed to Kill. One time a friend I went to see a Meryl Streep movie (I think she was a music teacher). We some how wandered into the wrong theater and saw The Bone Collector — scared me to no end.
I love horror movies, although some of them scare me to death. I think the scariest movie I ever saw wasn’t really meant to be a horror movie, but it really scared me — “Night Of the Hunter” with Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters. Mitchum played a con man masquerading as a preacher, who was trying to find money his prison cellmate had hidden. He married the cellmate’s widow and murdered her when she wouldn’t(couldn’t) tell him where it’s hidden. He goes chasing across the countryside after her 2 children, who are being protected by Sunday school teacher Gish. He was just so demented yet presented as so charming at times. Scared the bejeezus out of me. I saw it at a little art-house movie theatre across the street from campus when I was in college. Wanted to sleep with the lights on for weeks afterward, much to my roommate’s annoyance. I’ve never been able to watch it again.
What a great cast and a scary premise!
Without a doubt, “The Shining.” I watched it at my sister’s house many years ago, and was too scared to go home so I stayed the night there. And I slept in her bed with her (good thing it was a double bed).
Thank heavens for sisters! I always clung to mine during the scary parts of Wizard of Oz. I wish she’d been there when I watched The Shining!
Actually the first scary movie and the scariest movie are the same: “Wait Until Dark.” I saw it in 10th grade with a bunch of friends. Audrey Hepburn played a blind woman and Alan Arkin was after her, looking for drugs her husband had accidentally brought home. Scared the hell outta me! Nothing – not Psycho, not The Exorcist, nothing ever scared me as much as that did! Loved it! Now – have you discussed the scariest book yet?
Oh, scary books — I quit reading them about a third of the way through Pet Cemetery!
Horror is my favorite movie genre. It’s hard to find good horror movies that aren’t super gory though. I think House on Haunted Hill is the first movie that really scared me.
I think that’s the problem with a lot of horror films now — super gory!
I have not seen most of the movies mentioned here because the coming attractions were enough to convince me to stay away. Any scary movies I’ve seen were movies that I didn’t expect to be as scary as they were!
The first scary movie I ever saw was The Wizard of Oz. There was a special showing of it one Saturday. I was in kindergarten, and some cousins and I went together. I spent most of the movie with my head buried in the shoulder of my thirteen year old cousin! Sixty-one years later I still have nightmares about that movie! Over the years whenever it was on TV, I had to leave the room for certain scenes, and I don’t think I saw the entire movie from start to finish until I was 26!
Invasion of the Body Snatchers was my scariest. Most of you probably weren’t even born yet as it came out in 1956! I had nightmares after that movie that my parents had their bodies taken and I was still normal. Gives me chills now just thinking about it!
Primal Fear scared me because unlike Freddy and Jason who come back from the dead with their machetes and chainsaws and whatever, psychopathic altar boys are a real thing!
And the remake of the Stepford Wives scared me, but it was more because my husband kept saying, “Wow, this movie is great! Can you imagine if women did that for real?” To which I replied, “On purpose?”
“Night of the Hunter” with Robert Mitcham – just thinking about it give me the creeps! The scary thing about it was that it could be true!
I’m going to have to watch it!
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