23) The Woman in Black. Not just the book. Not only the movie. All of it. Every version. It is the STORY. So frightening. I read this book in my early twenties and thought at first that it was written back in the early 1900's. It has the classic feel of an M.R. James story. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was written in 1983! Susan Hill has crafted such a legitimate tale of dread and terror that I've yet to find something I enjoy more. Simply put, it is my favorite ghost story.
24) Marble Hornets: A prime example of what the internet can do to you. Experience it.
Marble Hornets is a found footage-type of internet series that you can find easily on YouTube. In it, a narrator tells the story of his friend Alex, who while filming his first film project (aptly titled Marble Hornets), seems to become more and more paranoid. He is convinced someone (later known as Slender Man) is following him and that he is in danger. The film idea seems to fly out the window and Alex starts filming himself almost exclusively to try and get footage of the enigmatic Slender Man. All I will say is that this simple online series scared the utter bejesus out of me. Don't watch it before you settle in for the night's sleep. Consider yourself warned.
A FRUIT CELLAR!! Hello, Norman Bates! Welcome home Mother! Obviously I hadn't seen Psycho yet at that age but can totally understand now why it scared the shit out of me. The fruit cellar smelled like dirt and had a single bare bulb dangling on a string. The basement also had a primitive bathroom - just a toilet sitting in a wooden stall with a door on it. Good god almighty it had me wigging out every time I had to go down there. And going down the steps was a fright because there was no back on the steps - anyone could grab your feet from under the steps! But worst of all, it had a huge clawfoot table that had dragons (well, they looked like dragons) carved into them. It was a dusty red color and I could swear the eyes of those dragons were staring at me.
Eeep! I can't even talk about it anymore.
26) M.R. James - "Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad": A brilliant and scholarly Englishman, Montague Rhodes James wrote an unbelievable collection of ghost stories that are truly some of the scariest tales you will ever read. My most favorite is the above mentioned story, and follows his usual strategy of an ordinary man put in an extraordinary and supernatural circumstance. I could write about James and his chilling works for ages. So I'll stop here and hope that this prompts others to discover him and his fabulously spooky tales.
28) Black & White horror: Carnival of Souls. Night of the Living Dead. Black Sunday. Freaks. Psycho.
Some of my favorite horror films ever are not even in color. There is something that makes me pause when I am channel-surfing and land on an older movie like that. Probably my first horror film in black and white was Night of the Living Dead. Being from the Pittsburgh area meant there was no escaping that film, and I remember well watching it on Chiller Theater late Saturday nights with our host, Chilly Billy Cardille. Ah, those were the days. But even now, black and white is one of my favorite ways to experience horror. Look how awesome those black and white scenes are from Blair Witch...
These two films scared me enough as a kid to realize I enjoyed the tense feeling.
31) The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew: As a pre-teen, I read every Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew book that was written. Did you know they first appeared in 1927? They were a mystery series written by many different writers but under the pseudonyms of Franklin Dixon and Carolyn Keene. Those books sharpened my crime-busting skills and kept my nose in a book for most of my childhood. With titles like The Secret of the Old Clock and The Mystery of Cabin Island, you knew you were in for a spooky adventure. Until I graduated to Stephen King and Agatha Christie, the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mysteries kept this girl's time occupied for countless hours.
33) The Bible: Yes. "The" Book. I was raised in the house of a Methodist preacher and was taught all those bible stories as a youngster. I always gravitated towards the scarier elements, like when Jonah was swallowed by the whale and lived to tell the tale. Think that one got me prepared for Jaws. Then there was Lazarus - raised from the dead! A probably precursor to my love for vampires? Or maybe Night of the Living Dead? And oh my! Jesus being crucified? What is up with these Romans!? And don't even get me started on the book of Revelations.
So picture me as a fourteen year-old, getting my first taste of serious gore - and it had to be eye trauma.
35) Ozzy Osbourne. I should add Black Sabbath in general here. When I was thirteen, I went through a stage where I listened to Ozzy and Black Sabbath continuously. I'm sure it had something to do with me being a minister's granddaughter and trying to get out from under that stigma, but I just wanted to go dark. Listening to the lyrics of some of those songs
here on the blog and elsewhere. The very first night I sat down to experience Twin Peaks, I remember I couldn't wait to see episode two. It was a truly quirky yet atmospheric television show. The deep, dark woods of the Pacific Northwest took center stage and proved the perfect backdrop for an underlying evil that permeated every pore of the infamous logging town. All it took for me was a single stoplight, blowing in the wind as Angelo Badalamenti's haunting score set the scene...I was hooked. If only it had been on HBO - I believe it would have had several seasons. I still miss it.
37) Disney films - So many villains, so little time. My favorite was Maleficent, the evil antagonist from Sleeping Beauty. Not only is she the most bad-ass of the villains, she can turn into a goddamned bitchin' dragon. Now tell me - how cool is that? As a sensitive youngster, I was fairly terrified of her - and still am to this day. Cruella de Vil ain't got nothin' on Maleficent. Nor does the old hag from Snow White or the horrible step-mother and step-sisters from Cinderella. Maleficent even goes as far as to say that she will unleash "all the powers of Hell" to stop Sleeping Beauty's true love (a prince, natch) from finding her. You know, that's some pretty heavy stuff for a Disney film. I mean, telling kids about Hell at that age? So many of the Disney films have extremely dark premises. Kids love 'em, parents love that their kids love 'em, and so scores of children experience evil - unintentionally, but it's there nonetheless.
38) The Blair Witch Project: One of the most successful independent films of all time, Blair Witch is such an exceptionally simple premise, but packed a punch and terrified millions of people 'round the world. Three twenty-somethings head into the woods, prompted by a local legend of a child-killer who murdered seven children and claimed that a witch that lives in the woods forced him to do it. The trio head off to look for the witch and get lost in the woods. The last five minutes of this movie caused me not to sleep for probably three weeks. Once you've seen it, the thrill is gone and it's not the same the second time around. But that first viewing - it's burned on my brain for all eternity. I can still close my eyes and see that last scene. I will never forget this movie.
39) Grimms' Fairy Tales: 1812. The stories collected by the Grimm brothers were some of my first bedtime stories. Yep, my family was warped. Can you imagine telling your child the story of an evil witch who lived in the forest and lured children to her cottage so she could EAT them? Cannibalism? Really? Or how about Rapunzel, where a teenager was locked away in a tower so no
40) J-Horror: The captivating sub-genre of J-Horror is just that. Japanese horror films. Most of them have been remade into Americanized versions, and some have been done well (i.e. The Ring, The Grudge), but the original versions are almost always superior. Ringu is a chilling example of J-Horror done well. If you're not affected by seeing this movie, you're either lying or full of shit. Dark Water, Kwaidan, Ju-On, and Premonition are all really effective as well. They are creepy, unnerving, and if you've only seen the American remakes of these films, you are missing out.
41) The X-Files: The truth is out there: I wholeheartedly miss The X-Files. I was a die-hard from episode one. I recall it not being very popular when it started out, seemed like a show that no one was watching. But I was. More a fan of the stand-alone episodes (like Home, Squeeze, and Irresistible) than the conspiracy episodes. But the mythology of The X-Files is what drove the show to multiple awards and a huge fan following for nine seasons and two films. It left a huge imprint on me and I've never found another show that meant as much to me. Still waiting....
My niece Alaina already loves cornfields, as you can see!
43) True Blood: I already prattled on about my love of vampires. But as a die-hard horror fan, True Blood is like my catnip. I'd already read Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series of books about the goings on in Bon Temps, but to have Sookie, Bill, Eric, and (thank you Alan Ball) Alcide brought to life has just about made my life. Season 5 has just concluded and I am more anxious than ever to find out what is going to happen to all the vamps, werewolves, shifters - heck, even the fae - next season. The show is campy good fun, and no one - I mean NO ONE - can make a vampire death as much fun as True Blood does. Splat! doesn't even cover it. Just awesome stuff. Long live True Blood.
I have loved it since the first time I saw it, and watch it at least two or three times annually. It is just the true definition of horror, and it scares me to death. What a great feeling!
*Thanks for reading part two. At this point I'm glad I only turned 44. I don't think I could have done it if I were 60.