Reel Talk: The top ten scary films I refuse to watch, on account of being a massive wuss.
I want to let you in on a little secret SPOILER ALERT!!! I hate Scary films. Who in their right minds would willingly sit for two hours and allow themselves to be frightened out of their skin? How is that enjoyable? Then you have to go home and think about how what you just watched can manifest in your bedroom and begin to stab/eat/curse/flay you in your bed. This is not my idea of a good time. I have seen a handful of ‘horror films’, which in the main I enjoyed, but I would very rarely do so willingly, and even if I did appreciate some of them (such as The Others) you have no chance of making me watch them again.
So when the powers that be over at Geek Towers demanded a top ten horror list on their desk by midnight, I was pretty stumped, as I haven’t seen many. They just aint my bag. So, because I’m a good looking maverick in the mould of Han Solo, I decided to document the films I refuse to watch. The ones that terrify me just by thinking about.
10) Halloween (1978)
Let’s start from the top, with the aptly titled Halloween. John Carpenter directed arguably the original Slasher film, with the spooky Michael Myers (of Shrek and Austin Powers fame) relentlessly pursuing girl-next-door Jamie Lee Curtis. The reason I refuse to watch Halloween basically boils down to three major things:
- It is very Popular. Therefore it must be scary.
- Music. Creepy and synonymous with horror. Therefore it must be scary.
- An unrelenting, featureless, silent, unstoppable stabbing-machine, who is also in your house (most probably behind you now, or behind the shower curtain). Therefore it must be scary.
Halloween must be scary. It’s easy to relate to, as Jamie Lee Curtis is an everywoman who lives on a normal suburban street. It’s the perfect scenario that springs to mind when you are home alone and hear a noise from upstairs. The fact that her tormentor is so silent and featureless just ramps up the chills.
9) The Descent (2005)
I have yet to decide whether psychological creepy uneasy horror or straight up jumpy tension BOO horror is worse. The former we will discuss in due course, but for jumpy tense horror (the new dictionary definition of this genre), The Descent rates pretty highly on all of the things I don’t want to encounter in the real or the celluloid world. We have a remote and unfamiliar location away from civilisation. We have darkness. We have an unknown terror systematically hunting us down one by one. From people I know who have seen it, The Descent is incredibly tense and pant-shittingly frightening, so I’ll take their word for it.
8) The Orphanage (2007)
Creepy Spanish Children and a big spooky house. No thanks.
7) Nosferatu, Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)
The fucking weirdest looking movie monster, hands down. Have you seen how that guy moves? Spooky shit right there. Plus it’s a silent film with a creepy, grainy quality. A lot of it has been aped and parodied since, but remains memorably scary and unnerving still, after all these years. An iconic horror film.
6) Martyrs (2008)
French extreme cinema, a genre I intend to avoid like the plague. Gore doesn’t really bother me, and not to say I’m a fan of torture, I can stomach it if it is necessary. But apparently, Martyrs takes the abusive horror to another level entirely, alongside the usual shocking shocks. I think the point is to see if you can stick it out until the end, thus making you complicit in the act (or something). The plot involves a sketchy secret religious society, and plenty of scenes involving extreme violence.
5) Eraserhead (1977)
Mad David Lynch’s first full feature film is an unnerving and surreal body horror, according to Wikipedia. It’s full of horrible scenes and characters (Lady in the Radiator anyone?) who will burn into your retinas forever. The plot was inspired by David Lynch’s fear of fatherhood, and the psychological effect that it was having on him. The moody music score was also heralded as groundbreaking and haunting. Eraserhead is one of those cult word of mouth films that your weird mate has seen, and insists on putting it on at three in the morning while at your house, after everyone else has gone home. He even brings his own copy with him, for just an occasion. Freak.
4) Paranormal Activity (2007)
The low budget horror, filmed in a found footage format, has spawned numerous sequels and knock offs, but the original remains a film I don’t think I will ever see. Designed to make you jump, which it probably does to great effect, the plot is just too close to the bone for my liking. How could you ever not think ghosts were going to rape you whenever you heard a bump in the night after watching it? The idea is genius, I have to admit. A couple place cameras around their home to document what seems to be disturbing them. Malevolent spirits are discovered. Shocks ensue. The fact that you would be powerless against supernatural forces makes Paranormal Activity even scarier. At least you are able to shoot a burglar.
3) Ju On: The Grudge (2002)
The Grudge is the first on the list from arguably the masters of modern horror, Japan. Plenty of spooky kids and horrific scenarios intertwine with twisted and terrifying plots. The spooky little ghost kid with the cat voice is not a chap I want to see at the top of my stairs any time soon.
2) Ringu (1998)
Once again, another Japanese film, and arguably the most successful Asian horror film to cross over to western audiences. Once again, we also have supernatural curses and horrible terrifying kid spirits haunting the protagonist. The curse is ingeniously passed through videotape, and plays expertly on our fear of technology. We feel safe as the creepy ghost girl moves towards the TV screen, but then we all know what happens next. This is another example of ordinary life being altered for me irreversibly. No longer can I allow a telly to sit on standby, flickering static out into the world. I turn that shit off to stop ghost kids. not many other horror films have affected me in such a profoundly terrifying way.
1) The Shining (1980)
This is my ultimate number one. The one I will forever refuse to watch. Basically, the story goes that as a youngster (around 8 to 10 possibly) my mum thought it would be a good idea to have the family watch The Shining (her favourite film). Rather than have social services take me out of her care, I was allowed to watch up to the bloody lift scene, where I turned white and made her switch it off (it was a different, more bohemian time). I can’t bring myself to watch it even now, and is probably the original root of my fear of horror films. I have forever resented my mother because of it, and blame all of my other hang ups and neuroses on her also. I’m literally sweating as I write this.
So there it is, my top ten horror films I refuse to watch, on account of being a massive wuss. Is there any I’ve missed? Is my fear irrational? Should I just ‘man up’, as the kids say? Do you think any less of me? I understand why some people feel the desire to be scared, and I love Halloween, but come on, what’s wrong with watching a comedy film instead?