Halloween Special: Films That Scared Me
Right, it’s that time of year. Kids will come at the door, asking for candy, and we, well, we will as often as not, turn of the lights and pretend we’re not home.
Because we ate all the candy ourselves…
But this post is about candy, or the commercialization of an old tradition few even know how came about. This is, as usual, about movies, and this time, it’s not a review, but rather a confession: even though I often enjoy horror movies, some films actually did scare me.
So here are some of the few films that actually scared me when I first watched them. I will not include films that relied on cheap jump scares, as being startled by a loud noise is not the same as being scared. No, these movies wriggled into my mind and even dreams, and some even inspired nightmares. And it might not be the films you’d expect.
Click on the titles for the links to each film on IMDB.
“Killer Klowns From Outer Space”
Released: 1988 Genre: Science Fiction Horror Comedy Fear: Clowns, aliens, UFOs
I was about 13 when my father rented this for me on VHS. I remember it clearly. I have always loved science fiction, and even back then, I also loved really bad and obscure science fiction. So, when asked to rent (yes, in the olden days, VHS cassettes were rented in special video stores.. imagine that) a science fiction movie, I guess he must have picked the first thing he saw with “outer space” in the title.
Killer Klowns From Outer Space is science fiction horror comedy about an alien invasion of a small American town. Of course, that we’ve seen many times before, especially in the 80s. But these aliens were different. Huge, bestial clowns, arriving in a circus tent shaped UFO, attacks the hapless inhabitants of the town with all manners of horrible, circus-themed weaponry, like cotton candy webs, popcorn guns and killer cream pies.
It gave me nightmares for years.
And they’re making a sequel…
Released: 1988 Genre: Science Fiction Horror Fear: Slime, tentacles, claustophobia
The Blob is a remake of the old classic 1958 horror movie by the same name, and is actually a very decent, with some great writers behind it, including Frank Darabont.
The story, as with several other films on this list, begins with something arriving from space. A homeless man finds it, and soon he arrives at the hospital with a glob of slime attached to his hand. This soon disolves the rest of him, adding his size to its own. The blob then begins to float around the town, catching and disolving anyone it comes across, while constantly growing larger.
The Blob has some really effective scares and brutal special effects. It really got to me as a teenager, and has inspired several of my nightmares.
Samuel L. Jackson is involved in remaking The Blob, if the rumors are true.
“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Released: 1977 Genre: Science Fiction Drama Fear: Alien abduction, UFOs
Now why would this be on here? Steven Spielbergs 1977 film about UFOs and communication with benign visitors from outer space is a classic. As an adult, I see it this way now, but as a kid, this film was true nightmare fuel for me. And it is all because of my older brother.
I think I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was summer, and we spent our days at the summer house south of Oslo. One night, my brother found a huge book in red leather binding called “Encountering the Unknown” or something similar like that. From this, he read about UFOs and how the aliens would snatch you from your bed at night.
So, as a kid, to me Close Encounters of the Third Kind was pure horror.
“The Woman in Black”
Released: 2012 Genre: Gothic horror Fear: Creeping dread, horrific presence
I really enjoy this film, as it is very much inspired by those old Hammer Horror films from the 60s and 70s, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Also, it is very nice to see Daniel Radcliffe really acting his heart out in something different than Harry Potter.
The story follows a young solicitor as he travels to a village where he must spend nights working in an old, abandoned mansion. It is a classic ghost tale, but it works so well.
I hardly ever get scared by a movie as an adult, but when it happens, I love it. Few horror movies draw me in as effectively as The Woman in Black. Highly recommended.
Released: 1998 Genre: Action horror Fear: The deep, tentacles, monsters
Deep Rising is a 1998 action horror film directed by Stephen Sommers. It follows a group of mercenaries on their way to raid a valuables from a newly built cruise liner. Of course, monsters from the deep appear, and when the mercs arrive, most of the passengers and crew have already been eaten.
What follows is an action packed and often downright silly chase through the ship. Taking inspiration from Aliens, the mercs are chased around by giant tentacles of dubious CGI quality.
But some of the scares, especially with the creatures (even though the effects are showing their age these days), are very effective, and really got to me when I watched this back in the day.
“The War of the Worlds”
Released: 1953 Genre: Science fiction Fear: Aliens, UFOs, that periscope thing!
I’m throwing this in here for fun. I love HG Wells’ War of the Worlds novel, and I’ve eagerly watched just about every adaptation that came out over the years. Most of these are.. really bad. Some are very good. Having read the novel several times, I love the Steven Spielberg one, even though I know many have different opinions on it.
So, what about the 1953 version? I remember as a young boy, my parents had rented it on VHS. I might have been 7 years old. I tried to watch it. The aliens arrived in that cylinder, and out came the periscope.
I ran away to hide behind the sofa.