Lists are always subject to great debate. What does it for you, may not do it for me. It’s all about taste. Or sensibilities. With a list like this one the age of viewing also carries subjective clout. And I can’t imagine a list more subjective, more prone to personal criteria than this one: Top 50 scariest movies of all time. I started at the end (the scariest): The Thing (1982) , and I’m not even sure if I’ve seen it. But I did see the original (The Thing from Another World), from 1951 – both from a story by John W. Campbell Jr. The original would sure be in my top 5 – but of course I was probably ten or so when I first saw it. At a remote military outpost in the Arctic, something is unearthed in a block of ice and brought back to base camp, a blanket thrown over it. Drip, drip. “The thing” begins to melt. Or should I say that the ice that entombs the thing begins to melt. I literally can see that army blanket and the black and white camera pan to the melting ice beneath the table. It was very suspenseful. James Arness played “The Thing”, by the way. There are in fact, plenty of remakes on the list. Remakes and franchises are a recurring theme in the genre. Probably 80% or more of the movies on the list have a II and III (or more) version. Give the people what they want. Again and again.
Japanese horror is well represented (for good reason): Ju-on (2000), Ôdishon (1999), Janghwa, Hongryeon (A Tale of Two Sisters) (2003). Great flick. Thankfully, the originals are represented, not the English remakes.
Alien (1979) comes in at #5. Definite agreement on this one (top five material). In the 11 spot, The Shining (1980), which I’d have in the top 5 as well.
Here’s two that are “scared out” (over-exposed) – which is not to say they aren’t fine movies: The Exorcist (1973) at #14, and Jaws at #15.
I’m partial to originals. Here’s three on the list that I just might have the original, rather than the newer remake noted. I might waver on Invasion.
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), with Donald Sutherland. The 1956 version with Kevin McCarthy. In a now almost obligatory nod, McCarthy appeared in the remake
- The Fly (1986). The 1956 version with Vincent Price.
- At #45, The Blob (1988). There’s the 1958 version with Steve McQueen.
For me, the most egregious placement is for Rosemary’s Baby (1968). It’s a toss-up on these (1-2): between Rosemary and The Shining. Those are some scary movies. And on these lists, there’s always at least one: “Where is…”. For me, that would be The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). A chilling, memorable ending.