10-Tourist Trap (1979) – I saw this one when I was only 9 years old. My sister & her friends were going & I begged to tag along. I was SO excited to be hanging with the BIG GIRLS, but that ended once this flick started. “Tourist Trap” is about some unlucky tourists who get turned into mannequins in a museum. It was truly ridiculous and not even that scary by today’s standards but it was more than my little mind could handle. I ran out of the theater and BEGGED my sister to take me home. She & her friends had to take turns sitting in the lobby with me until we left. I still don’t know how that stupid movie ended!
9- The Mothman Prophecies (2002) – I found this on cable one night when I was lying in bed, suffering from a bout of insomnia. Watching it was a big mistake because I don’t think I slept for a straight week afterwards. “Mothman” is based on supposed true events that occurred in West Virginia in the 1960’s when a strange winged beast was sighted by multiple people. I guess I’m a sucker for anything that is BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS because now, in the bright light of day, this movie seems stupid but it was almost unbearable that night in my dark room.
8- Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – I remember watching this one with my sister when I was a senior in high school. We were huddled up on the sofa, hands in the popcorn bowl and midway through the video when some friends showed up & wanted to take me out. My sister, who was in her mid-20’s at the time so NOT a little girl, screamed at me for even THINKING about leaving her alone to watch the rest of the movie. I went out anyway, mainly because I was too freaked out to sit through the rest of it.
7- The Omen (1976) – “The Omen” makes ridiculous things like a dog giving birth to a child seem plausible, thanks in part to a dead serious Gregory Peck. Not all scary movies hold up well over time, and “The Omen” might not hit the mark with youngsters. I tried to watch this one with my teenaged niece who laughed at it and at me when I held a pillow over my eyes. That sweet little cherubic-faced boy will always scare the bejeezus out of me though, especially if his creepy theme song is playing. Plus, my niece made me watch a Vin Diesel movie, so what does she know?
6- The Ring (2002) – This one starts off like a regular teenage-grab-n-stab flick, with young girls at home alone and telling scary stories. It rapidly turns into some much worse and deeply disturbing. It’s next to impossible to make a scary movie today because audiences have essentially seen it all, thanks to the internet. A modern day scary movie has to be scary on a level that’s completely unexpected and “The Ring” manages that in spades.
5- The Shining (1980) – Jack Nicholson gets all the credit for making this movie as scary as it is, and he is epically creepy. It’s all about the twins for me, though. Every time those 2 little girls show up, I want to crawl under my seat. I’ve always found the end of “The Shining” to be a little anticlimactic (Really? Freezing to death in the maze? LAME.), but every moment inside that hotel is terrifying! Kudos to Kubrick, who found a way to make even a Big Wheel scary!
4- Jurassic Park (1993) – I saw this movie when I was in college. I had skipped a class & had nothing to do, so I saw it alone. I have never walked out of a movie in my life (except that awful “Tourist Trap film,” of course) but I honestly almost walked out during the T-Rex scene. I’m so glad I didn’t and to this day, it’s one of my all-time FAVORITE movie moments. Poor goat.
3- Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – You won’t find “Psycho” on this list, which might be surprising. It’s probably because I watched it for the first time during a scary-movie-marathon with some girlfriends years ago. I watched “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” during that same marathon and it short-circuited me to the point where I can’t even REMEMBER any other movie we watched that day besides “Psycho.” The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was so horrible, and so shocking I have never been able to watch it again. NEVER. No way. Don’t even ask!
2- Jaws (1975) – I’m not sure whose brilliant idea it was, but I saw “Jaws” in the theater when it first came out in 1975. I was just about to celebrate my 5th birthday so YEAH, I was way too young to be watching it. I guess my Mom couldn’t find a babysitter. “Jaws” messed me up so badly, I didn’t want to get near ANY body of water afterwards. That includes my own BATH TUB, which I guess was my way of getting back at my Mom. If I’m on a beach trip, I STILL won’t get in the water after 4pm and FORGET wearing a red bathing suit. You’re just ASKING for it then.
1-Poltergeist (1982) – When Poltergeist was released, we were told it was based on actual events, which had a huge impact on me as a kid. Of course, those events just ended up being random paranormal incidents that had no connection to the movie. No child was ever sucked into a TV or eaten whole by a tree, but this wasn’t clear to me as a child. As a result, “Poltergeist” was the single most shocking & horrifying thing I had ever even CONSIDERED, much less SEEN on film. Even though I’m all grown up now, the sound of Caroline’s voice coming through that TV sends chills down my spine. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to watch this with me, and then be scarred for life just like their Mama.