Halloween is less than a week away and that means it’s time for candy, costumes and scary movies. While most fright flicks share one of a few common threads — masked killers, murderous monsters — not each and every scary movie comes in that same wrapping. In fact, some of the scariest moments at the movies are courtesy of genres where you’d least expect to find them. Are you easily frightened? Then be sure to add the following to your “Do Not Watch” list!
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
It’s hard to imagine anything involving Ashton Kutcher as scary, but The Butterfly Effect is seriously creepy. Kutcher, as a collegiate with a troubled past, finds a way to change the worst events of his life only to realize he’s initiated The Butterfly Effect and caused things to get worse and worse. Replete with freaky flashbacks, life just keeps become more like a nightmare. It’s hard to shake this one off. Seriously!
Anyone with even the smallest penchant for paranoia should never, ever watch Pi. The harrowing tale of paranoid mathematical genius Max (Sean Gullette) is enough to make any neurotic think that someone really is after them. For Max, stumbling upon a 216-digit number in his work as a mathematician leads to pursuit by Biblical zealots, increasingly painful headaches, and trippy hallucinations until he finally takes a drill to his own temple.
Seven‘s killer (Kevin Spacey), is no Michael Myers. He’s just a regular old crazy person. But that just makes him all the more frightening! Seven creates an atmosphere of dread from the outset, and the fear is amplified each time the killer adds another murder based to his resume. Spacey’s handiwork is as gruesome as any horror villain: He ties a victim to his bed for a year, another is forced to tear off his own flesh. Not your average thriller, this.
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Silence of the Lamb doesn’t traffic in typical slasher movie tropes. But it does introduce a singularly terrifying killer: Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant serial killer and cannibalistic shrink. What Lecter lacks in muscles or hook-hands, he more than makes up for in savagery and charisma. Few scenes are more terrifying than Lecter’s blood-soaked escape, when he’s revealed in all his homicidal glory.
Is it horror? Is it action? Either way, Jaws is really, really scary. Sharks have long inspired both fascination and phobia in mankind, so the idea of a nearly unkillable, oversized, man-eating shark scares people half to death. Plus, Jaws has the competition beats when it comes to scary ambiance: Just what did people use for ominous scene-setting music before the flick’s trademark bassline came to be?
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
No supernatural killers here: Just a group of nihilistic, evil hooligans and a serious mind-trip. It’s tough to say what’s most disturbing about this flick. On the one hand, Alex (Malcom McDowell) and his gang raping and beating their way through London is far from pleasant. On the other, there’s the treatment Alex undergoes, in which he’s forced to watch a succession of brutal images with his eyes pinned open.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
An otherwise delightful and happy (if weird) movie, Willy Wonka ranks here due to one scene that’s the height of psychedelic creepiness. That would the the boat scene of course, which has been scaring unsuspecting children since the early ’70s. Gene Wilder’s creepy narration as his contestants go on a psychedelic boat ride, can leave even the most devoted Wonka fan with little doubt as to whether there’s a bit of evil in his considerable genius.
What can best be described as “the donkey scene” in this classic movie is early Disney at its best and worst. Why anyone would think watching Pinnochio and a friend turn into enslaved, terrified donkeys would be anything but horrifying is beyond the realm of comprehension. Sure, this punishment comes after a night of boozing and smoking, so there’s a moral here for the kids, but it’s also totally traumatizing.