Look away now if you don't like horror! And be advised everything mentioned is all pretty adult and the films may be rated R or 18.
Take it away, Carla!
Ah, October! The month of fires, snuggly jumpers and, best of all, Halloween. As a writer of all things scary, I love a bit of All Hallow’s Eve. What’s better than settling down in front of a scary movie on a dark, stormy night, the crack of thunder punctuating each scene while the lightning flashes outside?
And maybe during one lightning strike, you look up to see a figure in the doorway, only for the briefest of moments, before the power goes out and the only sound remaining is from the rain against the window … and the approaching footsteps.
I’ll leave you with that image, while I run through my Top Ten Scary Moments of All Time.
We all float down here, Georgie.
IT by Stephen King
It all starts off so innocently. Georgie makes a paper boat, seals it with wax and puts on his best sou’wester so he can sail it in the rain. Unfortunately the boat falls into a storm drain (boo), but luckily a friendly clown by the name of Pennywise is there to save the day (yay).
He invites Georgie down into his storm-drain circus thing, as all good sewer clowns should, and this is where we all learn the most important lesson of our lives – never trust a gutter clown, or it’ll pull your arm out of its socket and leave you to bleed to death all over your nice yellow sou’wester. Mum’ll be soooo mad.
It’s a twin thing.
The Shining, a film by Stanley Kubrick
Oh, Danny. What did you expect, riding that red trike of yours around the deserted corridors of the world’s creepiest hotel?
Well, to be fair, it probably wasn’t the twins who invited him to play with them FOREVER, while showing terrifying flashbacks of their bloody, mutilated bodies.
One star on Trip Advisor; worst hotel ever.
A nightmare on Babysitter Street.
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3
I blame this one on two of my neighbours. At the age of eight, I was enticed into my friend’s house to watch the movie her older brother had rented: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3. The scene that was the bloody icing on the cake made from my tears? The puppet scene, where Freddie Kreuger turns his victim into a marionette using the poor boy’s veins and arteries as strings, before walking him to the edge of a building and letting him fall to his death.
Apologies to the babysitter who had to spend the night sitting in my bedroom in the semi-darkness, but you can blame Simon and Laura from number 84 for that one.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
This is one where I’ve both read the book and seen the movie. For thrills and chills, the book always wins out for me and this was no exception. From Buffalo Bill’s penchant for ‘special’ leather to Hannibal Lector’s ability to pair his meals with the perfect wine (I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti), this book had it all.
The day I thought I was too old for scary movies and discovered I was wrong.
The Blair Witch Project
I was eighteen. I was sure that nothing would scare me ever again, not like A Nightmare on Elm Street did, so I went into the cinema laughing and joking with my friends. I emerged 90 minutes later with half moons dug into my palm from where I’d clenched my fists hard enough to split the skin with my fingernails, and a vow to make the world suffer as I had that night. Despite living in Central London at the time (and not some remote forest in Maryland), I refused to walk home alone for at least a month afterwards.
I’m not even going to choose a moment from that movie, because I could barely breathe throughout the whole damn thing.
Kill me now.
You know what? If you’ve seen this film and didn’t scream like a baby when the well-girl crawled out of the TV, then I have nothing to say to you.
Because how can you write about the masters of horror without mentioning Poe?
The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe
I first heard this story when it was read to me by my GCSE Drama teacher. At the time I wasn’t sure what disturbed me more – the razor sharp crescent swinging its way ever closer to the bound protagonist’s heart, or the super-tight Levi 501s my teacher was wearing while he read. That night, unable to sleep for the thoughts of the terrible pit mentioned in the story, I had my answer.
Though I still have nightmares about those 501s to this day.
The re-birth of teen-slasher horror films.
The great thing about this movie is that it’s all about the clichés, while simultaneously keeping us guessing. Killing Drew Barrymore in the opening sequence? Genius. The twists and turns that make everyone a suspect? Genius. Ghost Face? Genius. Breaking every horror film rule? You don’t see where I’m going with this? OK, fine. It was genius.
I’m not even going to joke about this one.
Books of Blood Volume 2 by Clive Barker
Aged twelve, clutching the ten pound W H Smith voucher I received for my birthday, I found myself in the horror section, unable to take my eyes away from the nightmare-inducing cover of this book. The contents were even worse. So scarred am I from this collection of short stories, I could barely bring myself to look up the horrific scene that made me want to scoop out my own eyes with a spoon. But I did. And it was awesome.
10/10, would read again.
Hey, whatcha doin’ with that chainsaw, Mister?
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Sexy teens? Check.
Picking up random hitch-hikers? Check.
Creepy farmhouse filled with the desiccated remains of the psycho killer’s parents? Check.
This film was filled with many pioneering moments still used in horror films today and is, in my mind, a masterpiece. And let’s not forget the amazing scene where the apparently motiveless killer (always WAY scarier in my book) serves dinner dressed in women’s clothing.
Oh Leatherface, you so crazy!