Every year we seem to see the same list of "scariest movies" dusted off and put forth for Halloween-season viewing. Sure, "The Shining," "Poltergeist," "Psycho," "Saw" and other classic fright-filled films are both superb and superbly scary (and if you haven't seen them, make sure you do!). But we at the Yahoo! Movies team wanted to reveal some other truly great fear-inducing films that deserve more attention.
Brace yourself. Here's our list:
The Descent (2006): The vast majority of horror films feature a group of friends fighting for survival as a serial killer/humanoid/possessed animal/other villainous being hunts them down. We get that in "The Descent," the Appalachian-set spelunking-gone-wrong Scottish import that debuted in 2005. But there are numerous factors that set this must-see movie apart from its peers: the unconventional (and wise) decision to utilize an all-female cast, its realistic/frightening look at morality, and writer/director Neil Marshall's ability to make viewers feel like they're suffocating along with the doomed sextet in that dark, disturbingly claustrophobic cave. And, if you're looking for a true scare this Halloween season, see the international version of the film, which was edited for its North American release because the ending was deemed too bleak for us wimps.
--Matt Whitfield (@lifeonthemist)
[Related: Yahoo! Movies Horror Hub]
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003): Skip Hollywood's 2008 horror remake "The Uninvited" and go straight to the source. Writer/director Jee-woon Kim's 2003 psychological horror-mystery "A Tale of Two Sisters" (Janghwa, Hongryeon) is a creepy modern take on a popular centuries-old Korean folk tale. When the titular sisters arrive at the new house their widowed father shares with his new wife, strange supernatural occurrences and violent visions begin to haunt this broken family. Throw in a couple of creepy kids, a wicked stepmother, ghostly moments and some emotionally unnerving less-is-more atmosphere, and you've got a tasty recipe for one deliciously scary flick.
-- Phillip Yu (@heyphil)
Possession (1981) — Bizarro Polish auteur Andrzej Zulawski made a movie about his divorce and wound up making a masterpiece of what-the-hell-was-that cinema. The movie stars Sam Neill, looking like a member of Kraftwerk, as Mark who returns home from an extended work trip hoping to piece together his fractured marriage with Anna (Isabelle Adjani) only to learn that she is having an affair with not only an unctuous German named Heinreich but also with a giant, tentacled squid-like creature. And then the movie gets weird. Part body horror, part "Repulsion"-style descent into madness and part metaphysical rumination, "Possession" features plenty of blood, sex, and hands down the greatest hysterical freak-out scenes ever committed to film. It also has all the apocalyptic emotions of a soul-searing breakup.
--Jonathan Crow (@jonccrow)
Pan's Labyrinth (2006): In Guillermo Del Toro's shocking Spanish-language fairy tale set in Fascist Spain, a horrible pasty-faced figure with eyes in his palms haunts the fantasies of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a sensitive girl who comes to believe she is a legendary princess on a quest to restore an underground kingdom. During daylight hours, Ofelia witnesses her sadistic Fascist stepfather torturing guerillas. Which is more horrifying: the scary monster of her imagination, or the violent reality of her stepfather's zealous enjoyment of his employment? The R-rated "Alice in Wonderland" may be about a young girl, but it's definitely not for children.
--Thelma Adams (@thelmadams)
[Related: Highest Grossing Horror Franchises]
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) — When Shakespeare wrote "by the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes," he wasn't just feeding lines to Witch #2 in "Macbeth," he was also contributing the perfect name for Disney's early eighties freak show about two young, small town kids who visit the wrong carnival. You wouldn't think Disney would want to ruin carnivals for impressionable youngsters, what with the carnival-like setting of their theme parks and all, but that's exactly what this film did for me when I was young. Creepy clowns, spooky kids, carousels spinning the wrong way, Pam Grier's witchy ways, Jason Robards foreboding glumness, Johnathan Pryce's devilish Mr. Dark, and Ray Bradbury's tensely ratcheted screenplay (based on his own novel), all come together to produce a petrifying piece of cinema. Thirty years later, this film may be a lot scarier in my mind than it is on screen, but as far as entries into the genre go, this one's perfect for meddling kids who need to be scared straight.
--Adam Pockross (@adpoc)
Suicide Club (2001): Known in Japan as "Suicide Circle," this flick will make you sit up in your chair right at its opening scene — when dozens of jovial Japanese school girls line up at the edge of a subway train track in synchronized fashion, clasping hands, then counting to three before committing mass suicide by hurling themselves in front of an oncoming train. A stomach-churning sequence ensues as blood sprays everywhere and body parts get crunched. Similar youth suicides follow, perplexing local law enforcement. While the Japanese horror film has a cult following and has earned critical praise, it was also met with controversy. Worth noting: It came out one year after kids-killing-kids Japanese film "Battle Royale" — a Quentin Tarantino favorite that shares an eerily similar plotline to worldwide cinema megahit "The Hunger Games" (and both are based on books).
--Meriah Doty (@meriahonfiah)
Pulse AKA Kairo (2001) — Kiyoshi Kurosawa might be the smartest director to come out of the late-90s Japanese horror boom and "Pulse" is his most terrifying work. A group of college students discover that their friends and classmates are all sealing up their room with red duct tape and then committing suicide. More unsettling, the corpses have a tendency to dissolve into sickly black stains. These strange occurrences have something to with a creepy website that prompts the viewer, "Would you like to meet ghosts?" Note: you don't want to meet ghosts. The scene where one of the tousled-haired leads comes face to face with a spirit conjures the exact queasy feeling of dread as your worst nightmare.
--Jonathan Crow (@jonccrow)
Let the Right One In (2008): A young girl, oddly barefoot in the snow, befriends a lonely, bullied boy outside their suburban Stockholm apartment building. In Tomas Alfredson's original, Eli seduces 12-year-old Oskar with friendship and female companionship. Meanwhile the audience is privy to her vicious feeding habits and peculiar relationship with her "father." The tragic horror romance -- not to be confused with the cutesy "The Little Vampire" -- raises eerie questions of love and bloodlust long after the end credits. For a subtitle-free alternative, choose the less potent but still powerful Chloe Grace Moretz-Kodi Smit-MgGee remake "Let Me In."
--Thelma Adams (@thelmadams)
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