The following is written by guest blogger McLong, as part of a new guest writer series in which we will be featuring various writers:
As children, we overloaded on candy. Now we overload on horror movies. All of them: the good, the bad, the gory.
I’m a poster child of desensitized America, unscathed by what an average movie goer would deem horrific. It takes a lot to freak me out, afraid to have the lights off and go to the bathroom by myself. In the moment of viewing, the demonic possessions take my breath away, but, five minutes later, I’ve forgotten it and moved onto the next plot point.
But some horror resonates. These are the movies that haunt me during the day, whether sitting in a cubicle or on a walk or at the grocery store. The ones where, watching the credits ascend, you’re unsure how you’ll ever live a normal life again.
These five films are each horrific in a different way, but these are for those of you with a high tolerance, looking for a soul-rattling watch,
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Sure, getting pregnant with the devil’s baby is scary. But what’s really terrifying in this film is the complete lack of control that Mia Farrow’s Rosemary has over her life. She’s drugged by her neighbors and raped by her husband, who justifies it with “but you’re ovulating, baby.” As if that doesn’t happen ever month? He then dictates every step of the pregnancy, including insisting on the devil-worshiping doctor of his choice. It’s the misogyny in Polanski’s masterpiece that haunts you longer than the idea of mothering the spawn of Satan.
The Ring (2002)
A contemporary horror movie that confines itself to a PG-13 rating is a rare and intriguing film, as they can’t rely on heavy violence or gore to rattle their audience. But the really great ones work within the limits of PG-13 and still burn images into your head, like The Ring‘s infamous murder tape and its random clips: a finger going through a nail, a horse’s eye, centipedes, maggots, an upside down chair, and that chill-inducing static (that irritates anyone who has ever had a television) at the end.
The story might be erratic, but the images within the film are positively frightful. Ambiguity can hurt a story but, in this case, the viewers are haunted by the questions they have, mulling over a sick family who killed each other, their pets, and ultimately themselves.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
This movie tells the story of aliens waging a quiet biological warfare, unlike the aggressive invasions we’ve become accustomed to. What begins as a woman picking a pretty flower for her boyfriend results in an intense shift of human life. The main characters find themselves in a strange world where those closest to them seem slightly off. The horror comes from the intense paranoia of not being able to trust your loved ones and the sadness of losing them forever to a new creepy alien society. It becomes a chase reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, making the viewer ask: is it worth it to stay awake? or should I let go and fall asleep to join everyone else?
And then there is the ending. The final scene is ingrained in my mind and just won’t go away. That face, that shock, that scream…
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
I know: I praised The Ring for its subtlety and ability to work within a PG-13 movie, and then I put an R-rated gore fest remake on this list?
But does it get more brutal than this re-imagining of the horror classic? What is it about hillbillies acting like they have nothing to lose? Is anything scarier than a murderer with no fear of consequence? Unlike the original, this version opens with a disturbing suicide that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. We’ve seen suicides on screen many times before, but this one and its level of violence and intensity is unparalleled. And as this film goes on, it becomes hard to have any optimism for the traumatized potential survivors, our hope dwindling as each character is picked off in a seriously gruesome fashion.
Mention this movie to anyone who has seen it and watch the blood drain from their faces. And I’m not even sure if it’s technically a horror film.
Eraserhead is declared a ‘surrealist body horror’ film, whatever that means. Basically it’s trippy and messed up and you have no idea what is going on but you want it to stop. The actual plot is the story of Henry Spencer, the women he is involved with, and the bizarre child that results from their relationship. The film has the ability to be disturbing on a level which has never been explored in film before. I only recommend this movie to people seeking a sadistic challenge and a new scream to infect their nightmares.
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This is so good!