With Halloween right around the corner, it’s the season for booze-emboldened trips to the basement to watch scary movies with your girlfriend in the dark. These ten picks will have her clinging to you for dear life, (assuming you haven’t wet yourself out of pure terror). Some of the films have come out within the past few years and have already churned out a few sequels, while others are lesser known but equally as effective. Just try to keep it together if your phone rings, the television mysteriously shuts off, or something happens to go bump in the night.
1. The Exorcist (1973)
Everything about this movie is absolutely terrifying. Everything. The music, the possessed girl, Ellen Burstyn’s reactions. Throw in extra little gems like random shots of creepy clown faces, crucifix masturbation, and a disturbing scene involving urination and you’ve got a perfect maelstrom of pure terror. A must-see.
2. Psycho (1960)
This movie’s shower scene, accompanied by the iconic music cue, is classic Alfred Hitchcock: suspenseful, unexpected, and horror-inducing.
3. Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Probably some of the best performances ever given in a horror film can be seen in this movie. Anthony Hopkins plays a cannibalizing serial killer named Hannibal Lecter who is equal parts creepy, intelligent, and charming. Jodie Foster stars as Clarice, a burgeoning FBI agent who speaks intimately with Lecter to glean information on how to catch another killer on the loose. Every scene between the two of them makes you wonder what would happen if they weren’t separated by an insurmountable sheet of fiberglass.
4. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
“Whatever you do. Don’t. Fall. Asleep.” Or Freddie Krueger, whose face is covered in burns and whose fingers have knives attached to them, will kill you in your dreams. Johnny Depp makes his first big break in this horror flick which will literally make you afraid to fall asleep after you’re done watching it.
5. The Descent (2005)
This movie is about being stuck underground in the dark with creatures that you can’t see, but they can see you. I think that speaks for itself.
6. Friday the 13th (1980)
Forget about the awful sequels – the original Friday the 13th made me forever fear summer camp. In the mood for vengeance for his mother’s death, Jason wields everything from crossbows to axes to enact his revenge. I was never a camp counselor, but this movie will definitely encourage you to be extra-vigilant if you’re considering it as a summertime gig.
7. 28 Days Later (2002)
Stylish and haunting, Danny Boyle paints a post-apocalyptic London riddled with zombies…that move fast. Cillian Murphy stars as Jim, a man who wakes up from a coma in a hospital, only to find the city empty, run-down, and overrun with the predatory undead. Jim ends up seeking refuge with Selena and Mark, and together they fight to survive and find an escape.
8. The Omen (1976)
Ever wonder what it’s like to parent the childhood embodiment of the Antichrist? Let The Omen fill you in. In this scary original, Gregory Peck stars as an American ambassador that adopts a child named Damien, one of the creepiest kids to ever grace the silver screen. Watch the movie and find out what the nanny meant when she said, “Look at me Damien! It’s all for you!”
9. Paranormal Activity (2007)
Shot entirely with a single shot hand-held camera, (in the style of Blair Witch Project,) this movie had people jumping in theaters with the swinging of a door or the sound of a tiny growl. Both starring actors play believably “real” people and the female lead gives a disturbingly chilling performance near the end.
10. Evil Dead II (1987)
The second in a three-movie series starring Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead II approaches spookiness with an element of humor. Campbell plays Ashley, a man who gets holed up in a cabin with a group of strangers and has to defend himself from an onslaught of demonic spirits, (and even his own hand at one point). Campbell’s performance defines what it means to toe the line between campy and truly terrifying.