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    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeNov 8th 2006 edited
    Let me preface this by pointing out that I like being scared. I love horror films. I love reading creepy books. I took a course in college devoted to the ghost story. I played Silent Hill with the lights off at midnight every night until I beat it, just to increase the creep-factor.

    There are, of course, limits. I'm not a fan a wandering through dark alleys in the bad part of town in the middle of the night on devil's night, for example.

    Anyway, I just noticed that filmspotting.com has a list of the Chicago Film Critics Association's 100 Scariest Movies of All-Time in descending order of their fear factors.

    Let me be the first to say "What the fuck?!"
    Okay. Given that the list has been up for quite a while, I'm probably not the first to say that.
    Moving on.

    I recognize that any list of this sort is, necessarily, going to be largely subjective. What one person considers scary may be laughable to another. It's like saying food is "spicy." I have a high tolerance for spicy foods, and there's usually a large disconnect between what I consider spicy and what my friends consider spicy.

    But, seriously- Psycho is the scariest movie all time?!

    What the fuck?!

    Don't get me wrong, I love me some Psycho. It's a great movie. Al was a genius, and I love what he did here, but there's no way in hell you'll convince me that Norman Bates' little adventure scared you more than Alien or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I would love to know exactly how they determined what constitutes "fear factor." It's clearly not that the movie itself was actually scary. If it were, Psycho would definitely not beat out Exorcist, Alien, TCM, or Blair Witch Project. And Night of the Living Dead?
    What the fuck?!

    Night of the Living Dead is probably the greatest zombie movie of all time.
    But... it's not scary.
    I'm sorry to be the one to bring that up, but it's the truth. It just isn't scary. There are certainly moments that are tense- but it doesn't create fear- it creates tension. Tension can manafest as fear- but just because you're creating tension doesn't mean that you're creating fear.

    Honestly, a bunch of these movies just aren't scary- just taking a quick glance through, movies that I don't think are scary:

    Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (original), Nosferatu, Seven, Re-Animator, Sixth Sense, Evil Dead, Shaun of the Dead (ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Shaun of the Dead is the sixty-second scariest movie of all time?! What. The. Fuck?!), Requiem for a Dream, and Night of the Hunter.

    I mean. Seriously. Shaun of the Dead.
    Shaun of the Dead- the movie where they kill a zombie in rythym to a juke-box song? Where they practice moaning like zombies so they can blend in? Where they try to kill a zombie by throwing records at it?
    Christ- the only way to make it less scary would have been to include Larry, Moe and Curly in there- and even that might have upped the scare factor, since they'd have the addition threat of having Moe poke them in the eyes or smack them in the back of the head while yelling "Dummy!"

    No way, no how. I don't know what the hell this list is actually measuring, but it's sure as fuck not "fear factor." Any movie watcher who tries to tell me that Sixth Sense was scarier than, hell... I don't know... Friday the 13th is a liar.
    And that's not to mention movies that didn't even make the list. "White Noise" wasn't great, but it was a far sight scarier than Scream 2.

    • CommentTimeNov 8th 2006
    Ditto, and I've often found that a lot of horror classics (including books) are simply not scary.

    Psycho is a great movie, and there are a lot of tense moments, but not scary moments. The tension comes because you care about the characters, not because you are fearing your own life (which is what a really good horror movie will do). The real litmus test for me is walking up the stairs at night in the dark. If you watch a horror movie and you're able to walk up the stairs without hurrying up a little bit (or looking furtively behind yourself as you ascend), then the movie wasn't that scary. If, on the other hand, you find yourself turning on the light and still running up the stairs, then you'll be scaring yourself to sleep.

    Ultimately, as you mention, it's a subjective thing. Jaws does nothing for me in terms of genuine fear (suspense and tension are great in that film, and I love it, but still). Actually, I think I was a little scared of that stuff when I was little, but these days, not as much phases me.

    Something I think would be interesting is movies that are scary, but not all that great. Event Horizon has some incredibly creepy sequences, but overall, it's a pretty crappy movie. There's a lot of movies like that, too.

    Do you listen to Filmspotting? I love that podcast:P