Want to see something really scary?

This post is more than 2 years old.

It's almost Halloween and this year I'm trying my best to enjoy it as much as possible. Halloween seems to be slowly fading away as everything seems to be pushing towards Christmas insanely early. Sure Halloween is more a kids thing, and maybe I shouldn't care as much now that I'm an old guy, but I really feel like getting into the mood this year. I visited a haunted house earlier in the week. Our house is decorated (my wife found some awesome and unique decorations this year) and I can't wait to go out trick or treating with my young ones.

Forgive the rambling. I brought all this up because I wanted to talk about movies. Scary movies. Growing up I was a big horror fan, but in the last ten years or so I've found myself really turned off by gore. I don't know why exactly. When I watched Hostel, I found myself disgusted and had to turn away multiple times. Maybe it has something to do with my kids. Most horror films involve young kids and I can't seem to watch a modern horror film without thinking that those could be my kids up there. Or maybe I'm just a wuss!

While I don't care for horror films, I'm really getting into the more subtle, suspenseful films. I can remember watching The Adominable Snowman when I was a young kid. (Staring Peter Cushing, the future Grand Moff Tarkin.) What fascinated me about this film was that while it was obviously a monster film, they never showed you the monster! You got glimpses here and there, but in general there wasn't ever a "money shot".

A few years later I saw Alien. Easily one of the best sci fi films ever made, the monster spends more time in the shadows and comes off far scarier for it. I remember the first time I saw a complete shot of the alien in some magazine and I wished I had not seen it. My imagination had made it far larger and scarier in my mind.

Some other examples:

  • Blair Witch Project: Ok, so this is a love it or hate it type movie, and it got way too much marketing, but this film scared the living crap of me.
  • The Village: Really the beginning of Night's descent into crap-hood, and featuring what my wife calls the Giant Killer Badger - the early scenes by the woods were very well done. When one of the kids goes to the edge of the woods, and turns his back, I can literally feel my legs tensing in some subconscious attempt to get him to get the heck away.
  • El Orfanto (The Orphanage) - A well done ghost story with a grand total of one shot of gore, this one was simply incredible. My wife really enjoyed it as well.
  • Communion - Supposedly a true story of alien contact, any film with Christopher Walken is worth watching in my opinion. It's been years since I've seen this, but I remember being royally creeped out multiple times. One scene in particular has the main character simply sitting down in a room - and across the way an alien sticks his head out - slowly.

So that's all I can think of right now. Any other recommendations? Think high creep/low blood.

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by James Allen posted on 10/26/2008 at 10:03 PM

Right, well we've got the following films lined up for Friday:

Young Frankenstein.

Ok the last one is a comedy but one of the greats I'm told. Got them all in HD so it's going to be great to see them in the best quality possible. I haven't seen 1408 either, which doesn't get the greatest reviews but from the trailer it has the psychological scare factor.. The trailer got my GF screaming so that's always a good thing.. lol.

Your post got me thinking though of other films that are scary but not mega-gory - which I personally hate. Never been a fan of horror but did enjoy the 1979 remake of 'The Body Snatchers'.. That last shot is *very* chilling.

The ring (US remake) was another one which hit the scare factor but without huge amounts of gore.. Not sure I'd want to watch again but it certainly was an experience watching it.

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/26/2008 at 10:22 PM

Good call on Poltergeist. I'm looking forward to watching that with my oldest. (Actually I'm looking forward to a lot of 'cool' films, but as most are R, it is going to be a while.)

Comment 3 by Bliss posted on 10/26/2008 at 10:40 PM

Movie that scared me most: <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/t...">Event Horizon</a>

Not sure why exactly...

Comment 4 by Bliss posted on 10/26/2008 at 10:41 PM

Um. Right. "Event Horizon"


Comment 5 by James Allen posted on 10/26/2008 at 10:42 PM

Aha, yeah I saw that Poltergeist had been re-rated in the US to a PG. It's still a 15 in the UK and I must admit I'm quite surprised it's been lowered in rating. If I recall it's got some pretty intense scenes.. Then again it's Spielberg so it can't be that bad. I remember being pleasantly surprised when I first saw it as I was really anti any kind of horror film back then.. Looking forward to revisiting it in HD.

I was considering The Shining for Friday as well but I'm not sure.. It looks like an incredible disturbing film. I'm trying to keep it scary but not too scary if you know what I mean.. :) Ending on Young Frankenstein should do the trick though..lol

Comment 6 by James Allen posted on 10/26/2008 at 10:44 PM


I was just thinking of Event Horizon.. Ah man I'm totally with you on that one.. That really disturbed me.. I'll never watch it again.. I was attracted by the Sci-fi elements but it really is a classic gory horror film which is essentially about the devil.. Horrible.

Comment 7 by Ryan Stewart posted on 10/27/2008 at 12:02 AM

+1 on Event Horizon. That movie scared the bejebus out of me because it was completely messed up.

It's kind of high on the blood factor if I remember correctly, but it was definitely disturbing.


Comment 8 by Scott P posted on 10/27/2008 at 12:24 AM

Fire in the sky scared the crap out of me.


Comment 9 by ike posted on 10/27/2008 at 12:39 AM

Event Horizon was pretty creepy... I'm not sure if I would put it in that suspense category tho... I remember it being pretty gory/nasty as well... I was going to give an example but I guess I won't include any spoilers.

The Ring may also qualify, since there's not much actual gore in it. There's obviously some... but honestly, I thought the Ring was retarded from start to finish. Of course YMMV since I felt the same way about Blair Witch.

The Shining imo was a decent concept, but unfortunately for me ended up being really slow and dull because they were trying to portray "cabin fever" (prior to when the visions start). Same sort of deal as Silent Running (although it's not a horror flick). But there are some other King titles you might like. I'm sure you've probably already seen Cujo and Christine a long time ago. If you haven't seen the made-for-TV movie Rose Red, that was pretty good and not terribly gory (obviously). Although it is a bit longer - I think it's like 3 hours.

Comment 10 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2008 at 12:44 AM

I didn't know they made a tv version of Rose Red. It was a so-so book. In my opinion it was during King's "suck" period.

As long as King is being mentioned, the new version of The Mist was exceptional.

Comment 11 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2008 at 12:50 AM

I had a brain fart. Rose Red wasn't ever a King book. I was thinking of... Rose Madder.

Comment 12 by ike posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:02 AM

I was much more impressed with Rose Red than I was with the Stand honestly. At least with the TV adaptations... I didn't read either of the books. I thought the Stand had its moments, but particularly toward the end the execution seemed to fall apart. And the antichrist portrayal throughout the film felt flat and unconvincing to me.

Comment 13 by ike posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:06 AM

Just over 4 hours appaently http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... -- interestingly they had someone else write a book but only after the film was produced. :P

Comment 14 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:36 AM

Ike, you really, really, need to pick up The Stand. It's long, but one of the best 'End of World' stories I've seen. It is easily one of my favorite King novels.

Comment 15 by shakti posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:36 AM

"The Ring", scary as. and low on the blood and gore count as well(only the first one though, the second one wasn't good). another one i liked was "The Others", not ur average horror flick, but the suspense and the ending are just unmatched i reckon.

Comment 16 by Jeffry Houser posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:45 AM

I think the sort of thing that creeps me out is realism. A supernatural ghost zombie that haunts your dreams is humorously entertaining. Someone that walks into your house and shoots your wife is disturbingly possible.

The first half of Jeepers Creepers is perhaps the intense build up in the history of horror movies. http://www.imdb.com/title/t... . It stars the Mac guy from the I'm a Mac commercials.

I saw Descent last night. It creeped me out good. http://www.imdb.com/title/t...

Don't forget the original Halloween (and its sequel).

I also remember greatly enjoying Them when I was younger. I consider it classic horror. http://www.imdb.com/title/t...

Comment 17 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:52 AM

Would you believe I haven't seen Halloween? I've seen bits - but never the whole thing. Ditto for The Thing. I need to add both to my wishlist sometime.

Comment 18 by ike posted on 10/27/2008 at 1:56 AM

I have no idea why, but mention of the movie Halloween reminds me of Creep Show. The one I remember most vividly is the one with the "the Blob"-esque story about the living oil-slick on the lake.

Comment 19 by Jeffry Houser posted on 10/27/2008 at 3:32 AM

Definitely put Halloween 1 & 2 on your list. You'll appreciate some of the intricacies more if you see them relatively back to back. Many say it defined the slasher genre; although Black Christmas uses the same formula just not nearly as succesfully.

I've seen both The Thing from Another World, and John Carpenter's remake "The Thing". Neither were particularly memorable for me.

Comment 20 by Chris Amaro posted on 10/27/2008 at 3:51 AM


Event Horizon was one of those movies that kept you wondering the whole time what actually happened to the victims. There was more gore than I'd like to have seen in it but the fact that you just quite couldn't figure out how "bad" it actually got was what kept it going for me...

I remember it being on a channel like tmc or something one sunday afternoon recently and when the scene came across with the two women viewing footage of the last recording, I paused it and ran it in slow slow slow mo (thanks dvr) just to get a frame-by-frame of the actual gore. Pretty boring stuff actually. Couple of guys holding their abdomens, one pulling something out of his mouth (I presume his tongue?), another woman scratching her eyes out (but not really, she's just bloody and holding her face), another woman with something coming out of her gut (kinda like scene in alien?). all of them were naked but there was no "nudity" if you know what I mean.

Anyway, point being, when I did this the thrill was over. Much like Ray mentioned earlier about it killing it.

But still a great movie. Ironically, the movie "The Sphere" http://www.imdb.com/title/t... which came out relatively close to "Event Horizon" promised the same type of movie but achieved nothing near it.


Comment 21 by ike posted on 10/27/2008 at 3:58 AM

Sphere was an awesome book. The movie was pretty close to the book imo, although there were some things in the book that either didn't make it to the screen or wouldn't have been very exciting to watch.

Comment 22 by Mark Fuqua posted on 10/27/2008 at 5:07 AM

+1 on The Stand (book version)...really really good book.

Comment 23 by Jeff Self posted on 10/27/2008 at 5:39 AM

I just realized the other day that Halloween (the movie) is 30 years old now! I am hoping to find one of my favorite movies on TV this week, The Birds. That movie scares the crap out of me.

Started preparing for Halloween this week by watching 5 episodes of The Simpsons Halloween specials.

Comment 24 by Gary Funk posted on 10/27/2008 at 5:47 AM

I love suspense though I don't like gore. There are so many movies I can't watch since spending a year in Nam one month. Some things can ruin you for life.

Comment 25 by Aegis posted on 10/27/2008 at 5:48 AM

Wow.. all these movies, and not one mention of the US presidential race... =)

I find it hard to see the abominable snowman as nasty now.. not after reading this webcomic: http://www.abominable.cc/

event horizon was definitely a shocker though - made the mistake of hitting the pub with some friends beforehand a bit too hard, then sat in the front row... omg that spinning-into-the-space-station camera shot..

Comment 26 by Chris Martinez posted on 10/27/2008 at 5:54 AM

A few of my favorite freak-me out movies:

1. The Ring - freaked me out so much I had nightmares...I was in my 30's. Something about that creepy girl just stuck with me.
2. Halloween - more of my wife's favorite, but I watch it with her every year.
3. The Exorcist - I grew up capital-C Catholic, so anything having to do with the devil ALWAYS freaks me out. Check out the re-release with the new scenes. Though, I wouldn't watch it with the kids.

Good lucky & Happy Halloween!!!!

Comment 27 by duncan posted on 10/27/2008 at 6:32 AM

I find The Exorcist III very creepy

Comment 28 by Josh Orvis posted on 10/27/2008 at 7:15 AM

I've always been a huge fan of the old-school scary movies... I have a hard time trying to think of anything that has given me the chills as much as when Norman Bates' mother turned around in the basement during the end of Psycho. I saw someone else mention The Birds - another great masterpiece by Hitchcock. Makes you think twice about going outside :-)

And of course, I would be remiss to leave out the original Night of the Living Dead. Frankly, I swoon for zombies.

I think the whole Hannibal series (The Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal) were all pretty strong suspense movies with limited amounts of gore. Anthony Hopkins plays the role of Hannibal to a T.

Another really good suspense movie is Phone Booth. It's really only good the first time you see it, but I found it amazing that they were able to keep me interested through the whole movie when all but a few minutes literally takes place inside a phone booth.

And last but not least, this doesn't exactly fall into the "low gore" category, but the first Saw movie blew me away. (all the others were crap though) There is absolutely no way that you can expect the ending when you see it for the first time.

Comment 29 by Jeffry Houser posted on 10/27/2008 at 5:06 PM


I loved the ring too. I kept me on the edge of my seat. Also I'd recommend all four original RingU movies. They have a slightly different feel than the US version.


I happen to think the whole Saw series is pretty good. Very intricate plot; with lots of plot interlaced between episodes. Although, I wouldn't put any of them on a "no-gore" list.

Comment 30 by CV posted on 10/27/2008 at 6:12 PM

How about Salem's Lot, The Omen & The Exorcist?
The chick floating at the window scratching the glass in Salem's Lot still freaks me out.

Comment 31 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2008 at 6:15 PM

@CV - I haven't seem Salem's Lot, but what you describe sounds creepy. I seem a theme here - I was freaked out by the alien "peeping" in Communion, I was freaked out by the alien on the roof in Signs. I guess being watched is a scary thing by itself. :)

Comment 32 by Al Everett posted on 10/27/2008 at 7:16 PM

"The Changeling" starring George C. Scott was one of the scariest things I've ever seen. Not a bit of gore, but not something I should have watched in my basement.

Comment 33 by CV posted on 10/27/2008 at 7:35 PM


BTW, Salem's Lot is a Stephen King novella. Surprised you haven't seen it. It was a made for TV movie in the early 80's?

Comment 34 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2008 at 7:38 PM

Oh I knew it was SK. It is one of the few books of his I have missed. The other one I can think of is Cujo. I didn't read Talisman till late too - and dang that was a creepy book. Speaking of creep - for those who read Talisman - the scene where the train is moving, slowly, and there is a creature watching them - that freaked me out too.

Comment 35 by David Betz posted on 10/27/2008 at 8:18 PM

I recommend the Haunting, both the novel (by Shirley Jackson) and the movie (the 1963 version with Julie Harris, not the 1999 remake, which kinda sucked). The movie is black and white, has no gore and no actual ghosts or monsters, and its still one of the creepiest movies I've ever seen.

Comment 36 by ike posted on 10/27/2008 at 8:26 PM

I never saw the Birds all the way through -- just bits and pieces... It didn't really keep my attention... but I remember seeing a stand-up comedian doing a short bit on the Birds saying they attacked because the kids wouldn't stop singing. :P Sorta similar to Richard Jenni's brilliant Jaws routine.


@Ray -- maybe you need to find a good movie about a peeping tom. :P

Comment 37 by Steph posted on 10/27/2008 at 9:20 PM

My favorite scary movie is Dark Water, the Japanese version. The US version was not so good.

The Ring was also one of my favs.

I don't like gore, never did, but nothing beats a good suspense film.

Comment 38 by Dave DuPlantis posted on 10/27/2008 at 11:53 PM

If you're looking for creep and no gore, you could do worse than classic Twilight Zone episodes. There are a number of them that would go perfectly with Halloween ...

Comment 39 by Tom Lommel posted on 11/2/2008 at 3:02 AM

If you haven't seen The Village, I'm about to spoil it.


The genius of M. Night with The Sixth Sense is that he takes this creepy but straightforward horror concept ("I see dead people") and twists it at the very end in a way that re-contextualizes the entire movie to make the premise MORE creepy and horrific.

When it's over, you want to watch the whole thing again.

The failing of M. Night with The Village is that he takes this creepy but straightforward horror concept ("A frightening monster is stalking the village") and twists it at the very end in a way that recontextualizes the entire movie to make the premise more mundane and stupid.

When it's over, you're disappointed and angry.

Comment 40 by ike posted on 11/2/2008 at 3:21 AM

I was honestly never bothered by the premise of the Village... even enjoyed the ending... although personally I did enjoy Unbreakable more.

Signs not so much. Signs had some cool dialogue, but the more I've seen it, the more seams it has. Now when I see signs it feels very "budget". Although I will say I don't think that's entirely Shyamalan's fault... I'm still trying to figure out how Hollywood came up with this idea that once any given culture develops interstellar travel, they automatically stop wearing clothing. Like... hey, we can travel to other stars! And we don't need pockets anymore! Woohoo! Nudist time! Seems like a non sequitur. :P

Comment 41 by John posted on 11/2/2008 at 5:56 PM

> twists it at the very end in a way that re-contextualizes the entire movie

I believe this device is known as "cessation of ignorance" and I love it. M Night's production company, Blinding Edge, is named for this, I think.

Comment 42 by Raymond Camden posted on 11/2/2008 at 6:40 PM

A twist can either add to - or invalidate a good story. For example, if a dramatic movie ends with everything being a dream, then that means the entire story was nothing. That to me ruins a story. Now if you consider the twist in the 6th Sense - which I won't detail in case folks have seen it - that to me really adds to the story. Ditto for Unbelievable. The twist for The Village was just silly.

Comment 43 by Bliss posted on 11/2/2008 at 6:52 PM

Right. Cessation of ignorance can be done well or not, just like all other plot devices.