Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jillian's Halloween Treat

I've had a love/hate relationship with scary movies for a very long time. It started when we were kids, and around Halloween my dad would take us to St. Laurent's Video Store to rent our traditional favourite - Disney's Halloween Treat. It was a series of snippets of Disney villains in action, a few short films of Donald Duck and Co. running into ghosts, and then the feature presentation of The Legend of Sleepy Hallow. It was a cartoon, but I never could watch the whole way through. About the time that hawkish Ichabod Crane started his venture into the woods, I would shut off the VCR, leap off the couch, and literally fly up the stairs to safety.

The trend has remained the same. To this day, I watch scary movies through the cracks between my fingers with hands over my eyes, wishing I'd never gotten into this mess, and lying in bed afterwards thinking every shadow in my room is a ghoul, monster or ghost.

In the spirit of Halloween, I'm going to count down my top ten favourite scary movies. You may start going through the list and wonder where most of the classics are, such as The Exorcist, Halloween, or Psycho. I either haven't seen them, or I saw them so long ago that I can't remember them. Most of my picks probably wouldn't earn many stars from the critics, but they are stand-outs in my mind nonetheless! So here we go...

10. Idle Hands - This may be the silliest choice on the list, so that's why I put it way back at #10. With Devon Sawa starring as the lazy stoner Anton whose hand is suddenly occupied by the Devil himself, this movie may have held more laughs than scares, but it did bring to life the saying: "Idle hands are the Devil's plaything". Scariest Scene: At the very beginning, as Anton's parents are going to bed, when his mom turns off the light and lies back on her pillow to find the words I'm under the bed glowing on the ceiling.

9. Signs - M. Night Shylaman's alien invasion story had Mel Gibson playing the role of a former minister, raising his children with the help of his brother following his wife's tragic death. Suddenly, there are crop circles appearing in their corn fields, and before long, strange creatures from outer space are moving in on the family. The movie played with the fear of being trapped, isolated in your own home with no one to help you but yourself, trying to protect yourself against an unknown evil. Plus, it is one of the big reasons why corn fields creep me out. Scariest Scene: Joaquin Phoenix's character is sitting in the closet watching the news coverage of the invasion, and they show a home video taken at a Brazilian child's birthday party. The kids are all screaming and pointing, and suddenly the alien walks across the screen. Just try not to jump. I dare you.

8. Pet Sematary - From horror master Stephen King comes the story of a young family who move in near a burial ground for the neighbourhood kids' pets killed on the highway. However, an elderly neighbour lets them in on a secret - beyond the Pet Sematary is a place where things, once buried, can return to life - except they're not quite normal. It's a deep question, one I've often pondered. If you lost someone you loved, and you knew there was a way to bring them back, would you do it even if you knew they might not return the same? Even if you knew there was a chance they could return in the form of evil itself? Scariest Scene: When baby Gage returns from the dead and is hiding in neighbour Judd's bedroom. Judd follows the sounds of Gage's sweet giggles into the room, and when he sits down on the edge of the bed, the baby's hand reaches out and slits the backs of Judd's ankles with a scalpel.

7. I Know What You Did Last Summer - With an all-star teen cast including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ryan Phillipe, the movie told the story of a group of friends who accidentally kill a man and after disposing of the body, they make a pact to never speak of it again. That is, until the next summer when they start receiving messages that someone knows what they did. And that someone won't rest until they have paid for their crime. Scariest Scene: When Jennifer Love Hewitt is running from the killer and locks herself inside a cooler full of ice. As she slides around amongst the ice cubes, she discovers the bodies of all of her dead friends and lets out a blood-curdling scream with each discovery.

6. Carrie - Another classic from Stephen King, this film from the '70's stars Sissy Spacek as the introverted oddball Carrie, who is slowly realizing she has telekinetic abilities. Carrie's classmates plan a vicious prank on her at the prom, and when she's crowned Queen, they douse her in pig's blood, causing her horrifying powers to come full force as she destroys the entire school and burns it to the ground with all the students still inside. Scariest Scene: Obviously, the whole climatic burning-of-the-school scene was pretty traumatic, but for me the scariest scene was right at the end, when one of Carrie's only friends is visiting her gravesite. Suddenly Carrie's hand reaches up out of the ground and grabs hold of the mourner, pulling her down. Holy heebie-jeebies.

5. An American Haunting - The most recent scary flick I've seen, it recounts the tale of the only case in American history where a spirit was blamed for the death of a man. Based on the Bell Witch legend, a family from the late 1800's is bombarded by a spirit in their home, believed to have been sent to torment them by a neighbouring witch who had a dispute with John Bell over land. It's one of the most powerful ghost stories I've ever heard of, and knowing there were hundreds of eye-witnesses who actually documented the poltergeist's shenanigans makes it all the more creepy. Scariest Scene: When young Betsy Bell awakens to see her quilt being inexplicably pulled off her by an unseen being, then an impression of the edge of the bed indicates that the ghost has sat down beside her. The ghost then grabs her by the hair, yanking it and then dragging her by her hair across the room before suspending her in mid-air and slapping her face repeatedly.

4. Frailty - A low-budget film starring Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey that tells the story of a single father raising his two boys in a quiet suburban setting. One night, the father is visited by an angel of God, and he believes the angel told him to carry out God's will by killing all the people who have sinned. When he starts bringing his boys along for the gruesome chores, it becomes increasingly disturbing. Ending with an unexpected twist that will leave your mouth hanging open, it definitely reaches it's viewers on a psychological level and leaves you with a great many questions to think about. Scariest Scene: When Bill Paxton's character drags his two boys into the dungeon he has created to carry out his disgusting deeds, and then attempts to force the eldest boy to kill a man with an axe. When he chickens out, he grabs the axe from him and murders the man with the two boys watching in horror only a few feet away.

3. Halloween:H20 - This movie takes place 20 years after the original, but if you've never seen the first Halloween, you don't have to - the opening credits fill us in with the entire back-story. Laurie Strode faked her own death to escape her terrifying past of battling her murderous younger brother, Michael Myers, now an inmate at an institution for the mentally insane. Starting out fresh, she is now the headmistress of a private school where she has managed to keep the secret of her deadly brother from her son, John (played by Josh Hartnett - major bonus!) But now it's Halloween, and Michael has escaped, and guess where he heads first?? Scariest Scene: John and his girlfriend, played by Michelle Williams, are running from the knife-wielding Michael, and he suddenly lunges out of the bushes and grabs John's girlfriend by her pretty blonde hair.

2. Scream - It took the slasher genre to new levels and introduced a whole generation to horror. A town is hit with a string of murders, and the white-masked cuprit seems determined to claim it's next victim in a teenage girl named Sydney. The movie was a smash success that spawned two more installments to Sydney's story, but none of them matched the whodunnit suspense of the original. Plus, it inspired me to write the jingle "Was it Stewey? Was it Dewey? Oh, I just don't know who-ey killed the whole cast of crew-ey of Screaaaaaaam! AH!" right on the spot while watching it for the first time. Genious, I tell you. Simply genious. Scariest Scene: When Sydney is in the school bathroom, and she gets the feeling the killer is in there with her. And then in the mirror she sees a pair of black boots slowly step down off the toilet seat to be seen below one of the stall doors.

1. The Sixth Sense - Bruce Willis stars as Malcolm Crowe in M. Night Shylaman's break-out sleeper hit, playing a psychiatrist who is trying to help a troubled young boy. Finally, Malcolm is able to get Cole to let him in on his secret: The kid sees dead people. They're everywhere. Oh yeah, now that's what you call chilling! The movie had one of the most dramatic, unexpected twist endings in cinematic history. I remember leaving the theatre thinking, "Dude, I gotta see that again." It's already gone down in history as one of the greatest ghost stories ever. Scariest Scene: Cole awakens at night and senses that he's not alone. He jumps into the tent he has constructed as his safe haven in his room, only to find the ghost of a little girl waiting there for him. Everyone in the theatre screamed. I still scream when I watch it.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Final Destination, Urban Legend, Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, The Hills Have Eyes, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Blair Witch Project, Stir of Echoes

So on All Hallow's Eve, if you get the urge to scare yourself silly, just watch one of these flicks, and I guarantee you'll have trouble sleeping that night.

Trick-or-Treat!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Jill - nice countdown of Halloween Movies - while i was reading them, i thought of one but now i can't even remember what it is. Oh well, maybe i'll remember it later on. Oh see, i remember already - Joyride - i dont know I thought that was kinda scary, always jumping. I was going to stay home today with Ricky, he is full of the cold but came in - i'll stay home tomorrow...lol. Are you babysitting Caden Saturday night? Lastnight we had a visit with Ryan Woermke - Steph was at work so he stopped by and visited. Tonight we have to drive Butch to the bus station in Ottawa - which means that we're going to miss Survivor probably. Shit! I think it actually plays at 9 - i think i see it somewhere. We'll see.
Have a good day,
Stacy

Jill said...

Yes, Joyride was a pretty good one, and it had Paul Walker in it, so that's an added bonus! And yes, I am babysitting Caden Saturday night. I think mom's coming with me. I'll have to tape Survivor & Grey's late tonight as it's a church movie night...yipee. So on top of it all, I have to miss the hockey game, and that really stinks. Oh well, not much I can do about it!
Hope you're having a good day!

Priscilla said...

Here goes my comment for the second time, I went to publish it but then it said page cannot be displayed, I guess your comment was coming on, and now mine has disappeared! Anyways, you mentioned Psycho. They were talking about scary movies on the radio yesterday, and Psycho is considered a thriller, not a scary movie, so it didn't have a place in your scary movie top ten anyway. If you ever watch it sometime, notice that the woman is wearing a white bra at the beginning before she takes off with the money, then when she undresses at the hotel she is wearing a black one. It's supposed to symbolize her turning from a good person into bad or something. It's not something that I would have ever noticed, until that was mentioned on tv one time. That's one of my favourite movies, and it's probably the only sort of scary movie that I can watch. Except the part where he turns the chair around and it's Norman Bates' mother, and then they close up on the face. I have to turn away for that part.

Anonymous said...

THE SHINING

Stacy said...

I had the same problem Priscilla, i submitted my comment twice and it gave me an option of Blogger, Other or Anonymous but wouldnt let me put my name in, so that is why i was under Anonymous. Oh well - you'll just have to tape your shows tonight Jill. What movie is it tonight? I remember you telling Sara and I but i forget. Is it still at your place?

Jill said...

I saw the re-make of Psycho a few years ago, and apparently it's nowhere near as good as the original, but I've only seen bits & pieces of the original. Maybe over the weekend it will be on the dish somewhere, 'cause I really wouuld like to watch it!
As for The Shining - I liked the book way better than the movie. Again, another one I should watch again, as I've kind of forgotten most of it. I do remember the parts with the little boy riding around the halls of the hotel and holding my breath, because everytime he turned a corner you never knew what might be waiting for him!

Jill said...

That comment above should have said riding around on his big wheel. And tonight's church movie night is featuring "A Walk to Remember". I hope all the old gals bring their hankies. Stacy, if you weren't going to take Butch to the bus station tonight, I'd tell you to get your butt up to my place to watch it with me. I'm making Luke watch it too. If I'm going down, everyone should have to go with me! LOL

Anonymous said...

I am not watching!!!!

LUKE

Jill said...

Oh yes you are!!!!

Priscilla said...

The re-make of Psycho isn't as good, and it doesn't have the white bra/black bra thing.

Stacy said...

Come on Luke - A Walk to Remember is a really good movie - I cry everytime i watch it, so i hope the ladies are prepared. I would love to come and watch it, however, we are coming to bring Butch. Maybe next time, definetly let me know and depends if i'll like the movie...haha
Have fun Luke!!!

Anonymous said...

hi
So I guess no one is going to gavs for the halloween party by the sounds of all the comments I've been catching up on.I'm not really a regular blogger lately! Loved teh re-cap on all the scary movies, I actually wanted to watch some this week-end.
Jill- can I bring you back your movie tomorrow night? If you're not there I'll leave it in your house or garage.
I know probably none of you watch thsi show but I really have taken an interest in it- The Biggest Loser. Those ppl really inspire me, cause they are big big, and love eating. AND they work soo hard to lose all this weight. I love it.
Oh- and Oprah was really good Monday too- it was about Moms Around the World. I watched it at naptime at Tara's and it was pretty good. I just loved this Eskimo lady! She was so chubby and cute. (and yes, we are allowed to call them Eskimos she said!!.)
have a good day
Sara

Jill said...

Hey Sara!
I'll probably be around for awhile tomorrow night, until I head to the Lion's Hall for the In Safe Hands show, but if I'm not home, just leave it in the garage, or inside the back door.
I hope you've been having a good week and that your weekend is as relaxing as you've been hoping for!
I've been wondering how it's been going with your 16+ girl now that she knows the computers are off-limits!
Anyways, I'm sure I'll be talking to you sometime this weekend.

Stacy said...

Hey Sara - nice to hear from ya. I watched Biggest Loser past seasons but i havent really watched it this one cuz it was different. Ricky and I would watch it Wednesday nights and it is a really good show. Actually the guy that won last season, Matt, he ended up hooking up with this girl that went right to the end, Suzi - they both lost amounts of weight and looked amazing, and they just got married. Anyways talk to ya's later - I'm not in work tomorrow so I'll only be blogging Monday!

Anonymous said...

The Shining
28 Days Later
The Night of the Hunter
Saw
It (this movie still freaks me out)
The Innocents
The Blair Witch Project
Seven
The Exorcist
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (not the shitty remake)
Psycho (again, not the shitty remake)
Cape Fear (not the shitty remake, again)
The Silence of the Lambs

Jill said...

Of course, last night, when there were a million other things I had to do, The Exorcist was on TV. I hope it's on again this weekend. The only time I watched it was with all my friends in the basement when we were like 14 after we'd been out sliding, and we fast-forwarded to the parts where she's screaming and her head's spinning. And we laughed a lot. Lots of others on your list that I'd like to check out, Kathleen - 28 Days Later, It, the original Psycho and the original Cape Fear. Another scary movie I've seen in the past few years that I liked was the re-make of the Amityville Horror. I have no idea how it compares to the original, but I liked it. And Hide & Seed was pretty scary too.

Anonymous said...

the original Amityville Horror is ok, the original Psycho isn't that scary but its very creepy. Cape Fear will blow you away. Robert Mitchum in that movie (and Night of the Hunter for that matter) is the scariest, creepiest thing I've ever seen in a movie. I get chills just thinking about him.