I saw "It" over the weekend. I liked it very much. It's one of the best film adaptations of a Stephen King novel that I've seen. But that list includes "Children of the Corn," "The Mangler," "Graveyard Shift" and "Maximum Overdrive" so...
I wouldn't say "It" was scary. It was more of a prolonged level of intensity that ratcheted up every so often. Admittedly, a lot of that comes from the fact that I've read the book, so I knew a lot of what would happen.
No doubt, Bill Skarsgard made a better Pennywise than Tim Curry in the 1990 miniseries, but that was on TV, so there were limitations on what could be shown. No such problem in the R-rated film.
But coming out of "It," I realized that I haven't seen a movie in decades that truly scared me, really made my heart pound. "The Exorcist," the original "The Omen," the original "The Haunting," "Poltergeist," all of those tore me out of frame.
The last 15 minutes of "Arachnophobia" had my knees drawn up in the movie theater seat, but that's because there were just so Darn. Many. Spiders. As a whole, the film was a comedy. The original "Fright Night" was the same way
I'm sure there were films that gave me goose bumps, but they don't stick out in my head.
Films that some consider truly scary left me cold. Director Stanley Kubrick (one of my favorite directors in general) ruined "The Shining" by casting Jack Nicholson and downplaying the supernatural. Nicholson is playing Nicholson, so he's crazy from the get-go instead of someone who slowly goes nuts. And despite some striking images — blood pouring from the elevator — the movie downplays the supernatural for the I'm-chasing-you-with-an-axe that seems to take up the last half of the movie.
I was pumped by the idea of Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula," which is one of the scariest books I've ever read. Production values were outstanding, but — and this is the crux of the matter — Dracula does not cry. Coppola made it a love story and, in the book, Dracula is an intelligent yet soulless animal with no conscience at all. He's capable of anything with no regret. That's the horror.
"Blair Witch" is often mentioned as a frightfest, but whining, boo-hooing idiots with their snotty noses crammed right up to the camera don't frighten me. They're just annoying.
So I'm asking you. What are some truly scary films that I should check out? Not jump scares or gross outs, but ones that make you want to hide your eyes.
C'mon y'all. Help me out.
Contact Shawn Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.