It’s almost Halloween; it’s scary movie season. Recently I was asked to name the scariest movie that I’d ever seen. The answer was a no-brainer. It was the first movie I ever saw, at age five, and it still haunts me: The Wizard Of Oz.
Now, some of you may think that, on the scare-o-meter, TWOO is not in a league with, say, Saw 3 or Psycho, or that one about the hairy strangler with bad teeth. But I beg to differ. I mean, first, there’s the traumatizing dognapping scene, followed by that house-spinning tornado, which, if you lived in the Midwest as I did, triggered pants-wetting fears of natural disaster, like earthquake movies do in L.A..
Then, as you know, upon her arrival in the merry old land, Dorothy is threatened by horrors too numerous to list here, but, suffice it to say, lions and tigers and bears are the least of her problems. (High on my personal list of scariest beings—just above Glenn Beck—are those damn flying monkeys.) There’s no place like home? Ya think?
So if you’re looking for a good cinematic scare, forget The Chainsaw Massacre or Suspiria or Meet President Palin. For a real fright night, take a re-look at TWOO my friends. It took weeks for my nails to grow back after that one.
P.S. Leave a comment: What’s the scariest movie YOU’VE ever seen?
As i am older now, it is hard to really be scared by movies. What i mean by scared is that haunting feeling you get after the movie as your at home or in an empty parking lot. The movies that really left a print are “It”, “Candyman” and “the omen”
Oh, yeah, “The Omen”…TERRIFYING!
Definitely a movie my friend and I saw at the drive-in theater with my aunt when I was about 10. It was called Trog. I remember it was about some type of pre-historic caveman come back to life or something. Nothing in comparison to today’s scary movies, but it scared the pants off of us, nonetheless!
I just watched Suspiria today for the first time! Not a hair raiser in today’s standards, but it would have definitely caused me nightmares in 1977.
Thanks Peg…Happy Halloween to you too!
Hello Ms. Harper
I just finished watching Phantom Of The Paradise for the hundred millionth time and never get enough of watching it. Brilliant performance by Phoenix by the way. On the topic of scary movies of all time, my personally choice would have to be Jaws (1975) as that movie terrified me of ever going in any water at a beach as a child for years growing up in the seventies. That film was one of the rare few ever made that could instill fear into either young or old alike when the movie first came out. I remember as a kid in the seventies, people talking about not going swimming at the beaches or lakes. There’s many others over the years that are great horror movies, but Jaws (1975) for myself still stands at the top of the list along with The Exorcist (1973) as the scariest most realistic movies of all time.
All The Best and continued success with your future endeavours.
Thanks MIke..yeah, now that you mention it, Linda Blair’s head spin was downright traumatizing, as i recall…yikes!
Depends on which type odf scare we’re talking : there are ‘ Gross ‘ film ( Dawn of the Dead is the perfect gross scary movie ), then you have ‘ suspens ‘ movies wich litterally take you to the edge of your seat ( any Giallo here ) , then unsettling,disturbing ones ( the Saw series comes to mind ) , then, etc.,etc…
Mmn “Crossroads” with Britney Spears. Oh did we mean horror films?
Haha…that sounds pretty frightening to me…!
Scariest film? “Deliverance”(“He shore has got a purty mouth!”) by a n(arrow) margin over Frankenheimer’s “Seconds”…which I still don’t like to watch.
But, for horror—“The Exorcist” (1973) had the entire nation in a panic attack at the time…However, I never got over–or wanted to–Nic Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” (1973), which is a masterpiece, and really disturbed me at the time. As a child? Hammer’s “The Mummy” (1959) seen with my cousins at a north Texas drive-in on a sweltering summer night. When that Egyptian ghoul walked right through the prison wall to get at the terrified victim, little Donny almost passed out from fright.
I’d forgotten about “Don’t Look Now”….good call, I’m gonna revisit that one…
Dead of Night did it for me. Not the old British movie, the 1970’s Dan Curtis TV Movie. It started of nice with Ed Begley and a Haunted Car, was goofy with Patrick MacNee on vampires, but ended with a mother haunted by a demon in the shape of her dead son. The final moments of the flick still haunt me 30+ years later.
My mom loved horror films and we would watch the classics with Karloff Lugosi and Chaney. But she took me to Earth vs the Flying Saucers and the second film was a B move called The Werewolf. At six years old this was just very scary to me not like Chaney’s The Wolf Man but darker and more vicious. But for true fear as an adult turn off the lights light a candle and read or watch Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. I dare anyone to read that on Halloween night alone.
Yes, ever since I heard about Little Red Riding Hood, anything involving a wolf rates high on the scare-o-meter….
We’ve been watching old-school scary movies. Everything scared me as a kid, and “Wizard of Oz” was certainly one of them. Now I’d probably have to say “The Shining” and “The Ring”.
Oh yeah, Jack Nicholson at his most terrifying…!
Didn’t Margaret Hamilton later do Maxwell House coffee commercials? I think Gabe Kaplan used to impersonate her, “try instant Maxwell House and that goes for your little dog too.”
Really? They hired Miss Gulch to sell coffee? Go figure…
I’ve seen so many and for so long it’s hard for me to be scared by films. But a documentary in the 80’s called The Atomic Cafe I thought was pretty frightening.
Yes Don’t Look Now was pretty terrific. Roeg’s dream like style worked wonderfully with du Maurier’s mysterious story. It took me aback at the conclusion .
I am totally going to revisit that movie…
Hi Ms. Harper,
Another few more horror movies to add to your scary halloween movie list.
The Evil Dead (Part One) 1982
Halloween (Part One) 1978
Child’s Play (Part One) 1988
Trilogy Of Terror (1975) Final segment with Karen Black and the zuni fetish warrior doll that comes to life after his necklace falls off. Great chase screens with the zuni fetish warrior doll running around in her apartment.
Nightmare On Elm Street series
Friday the Thirteenth (Part Four) The Final Chapter (1984)
Hellraiser (Parts One and Two)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (1973) Remember that one Jessica?
Happy Halloween To You & All The Best!
Wow. You are a connoiseur!
One of Margaret Hamilton’s Folger’s commercials:
One morning in 1979 I was standing in line at the cashier of a coffee shop on the East Side of Manhattan, with a little old lady in front of me; when she finished paying and turned around I was face to face with Margaret Hamilton! I almost screamed.
Now THAT would have freaked me out!
They’ve become a bit of a joke due to sequelitis, but I remember being there for opening night of the first “Friday the 13th”. When rotted, 15 years in Camp Crystal Lake Jason comes leaping out of the water and pulls the last remaining camp counselor out of the rowboat and into the water…well, let’s just say we didn’t see THAT coming. My best friend and I went back the next night with a new set of friends, and I was watching them rather than the screen at that moment. They didn’t see it coming, either.
Honorable mention goes to “Jaws”, the last hour of which I watched through an envelope-sized window in the back exit door of the old Hy-Way Theatre in Fair Lawn, NJ.
Although, there are many great ones already mention by others (The Exorcist, Trilogy Of Terror with Karen Black, oh yeah I remember the look she gave when she sat back on her haunches and started sticking that knife in the hardwood floors, waiting for mother), the original “The Haunting” scared me as an 8 year old (they may have remade it but it still pales in comparison on a more sophisticated level)and Dan Curtis’ “Burnt Offerings” was another that was a real heart stopper. The father’s fixation on the hearse driver from funeral attended in his youth was quite unsettling, and Oliver Reed was played it to the tee.
Agree: The Haunting was terrifying!
Another great halloween movie to add to your stack of dvd halloween movies is “The Birds” 1963 directed by Alfred Hitchcock. A must watch in the dark horror/thriller movie.
I will say when I was younger “The Wizard of Oz” did scare the living day lights out of me… Flying Monkeys= CREEPY!!!!!
As of now though, there are only two films that really give me the hebe jebies! One is Stephen King’s “Rose Red” for the fact that the house is what’s causing everything to happen! It made me too afraid to leave my room at night, which caused a lot of problems when you really need to go to the bathroom.
The second is “28 Days Later” because up till then zombies were slow and dumb. These zombies scared the living day lights out of me. I still keep having dreams of waking up and being completely alone in the world because everyone has died over night.
I know this isn’t a movie but I think it deserves to be noted… I’m a huge Buffy The Vampire Slayer fan and there was only one episode that really made me afraid to move, and that was “Hush”. The villains in it are something that words can’t explain, but every time I see them I freeze up and can’t move. It doesn’t help that I now go to college and that episode takes place in college.
I used to say that I hated Horror movies, but most of the ones people told me to watch, I didn’t actually find that scary. I love The Evil Dead, because it’s just campy and amazing. I’ve watched that and a few others this month. I usually watch Halloween Spirited movies that aren’t necessarily horror movies though.
Yes, DO check out “Don’t Look Now” again. I’d love to hear what you think about it…For me it’s right at the top of the list. A deeply poignant scenario predicated on the accidental death of a beloved child; second sight; eerie & unnerving Venetian settings; warring forms of belief & faith: ESP (female) v. organized religion v. rational skepticism (male), etc. And one of the greatest erotic scenes from the ‘anything goes’ 70’s–only equalled by a certain Miss Cake, frankly (no flattery intended!)–and a tragic-but-measured ending. If Donald Sutherland & Julie Christie ever did better work, I’ve not seen it.
Ever since I saw the flying monkeys, I’ve avoided scary movies like the plague. The FUNNIEST DAMN “horror” movie you will ever see: “SEAN OF THE DEAD”. Every time I watch it I laugh til I cry. Check it out. You’ll thank me.
I’m on it…renting “Sean Of The Dead.” (You had me at “Sean.”)
John Carpenter’s Halloween. Sadly, it doesn’t work as well with younger audiences today, simply because it has been so sequelized, ripped off, parodied and “reimagined” (how I hate that word) over the years.
Also, how could anyone EVER forget Suspiria? You may not have nightmares after seeing it, but your dreams will be comprised of vivid primary colors and random howling (by the way, nice work, Ms.H!)
Happy Halloween Jessica!
I’d have to agree with you concerning the fright quotient of THE WIZARD OF OZ – Margaret Hamilton and her flying monkeys were scary as hell during my first childhood viewing. There’s a character called the “Child Catcher” in the sunny family musical CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG who is equally frightening in how he is portrayed. As a child TV movies like THE LEGEND OF LIZZIE BORDEN (1975) and HELTER SKELTER (1976) provoked significant chills, and I still hold vivid memories of seeing JAWS during the summer of 1975 (at age 8). Try convincing an 8 year old it was impossible for great white sharks to be in the local lake after that! Other movies that I found scary then and scary still: THE INNOCENTS (1961), LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971), THE EXORCIST (1973), BLACK CHRISTMAS (1975), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1975), and RITUALS (1977). Much more than that, too…who doesn’t enjoy a good scary movie?
The flying monkeys never bothered me – but the witch hiding in the bushes just before Dorothy meets the Tin Man scared the bejeebes out of me. So did Auntie Em turning into the witch in the crystal ball (I’ll give you Auntie Em. my pretty!). Besides that my top two favorites were The original The Haunting and The Changeling with George C Scott. The scene where they play the seance tap back (Joooo-seeeeph) terrified me as did the possessed, cobweb covered wheelchair and the wet red rubber ball.
I almost forgot – the other thing that sent me screaming as a kid was Madame Medusa from Disney’s original The Rescuers. She was so mean! The scene where she dangled Penny down the well to get the jewel as the tide came in was horrifying – as was the scene where you saw her remover her glued on false eyelashes. Shudder!
Scariest movie I ever saw was The Exorcist, plain and simple it blew my mind.
Gotta say that the flying monkeys from Oz really did a number on me also.
We’re on the same page: Linda Blair’s spinning head and flying monkeys…
I love horror movies … most of them don’t really scare me much AFTER the movie is over, but I did have to sleep with the light on for several days after watching POLTERGEIST.
Especially the scene where all the dead bodies came popping up in the swimming pool when the lady was trying to claw her way out of mud filled hole. YIKES!! I don’t even think I could have FILMED that scene.
Elaine — PS: Loved you in SUSPIRIA
My all time favorite scary/fun movie: ” Alone In The Dark” 1982 (not the 2005 video game tie-in flick). Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence and Martin Landau. Don’t read the description just watch it. The new “I Spit On Your Grave” is brutal and very good. At ten years old “Jaws” terrified me all night. There was water in the sink and toliet, the shark could be anywhere! I could not go into the bathroom until the sun came up.
My sister is terrified of TWOO, too! So scared of it, even now when she is (well into) her 50’s, she still will not watch it!
One year, as a joke, I bought The Wicked Witch christmas tree ornament from our Hallmark store. It wasn’t cheap, but was hideous and sorta scary…She absolutely hated it! Ended up tossing it in the garbage! (Hey!!!)
My scariest movie moment was watching the Exorcist when alone at home at night when I was 15. After the movie was over, the house made settling sounds, and scared me half to death!
Texas chainsaw Massacre was the only movie I actually walked out of before seeing the entire film. Took me two more tries before I could see it in it’s entirety! The moment I remember most was a scene at the table, and the lamp was made from bones and someone’s face!
Halloween has always been a major holiday for my family, Dad enjoying it the most. We did a haunted house, complete with sound effects, graveyard, etc. Dad loved to scare all the kids, and fondly remembered the year he scared his own daughter so much that I wouldn’t go home! Dad passed away three years ago, and I live in the mountains away from trick or treaters now, so my husband and I end up renting scary movies and eat goodies and laugh ourselves silly!
Scariest movie? Wow, an old fella like me has so many to look back on. What they call horror now I sit and laugh at. There was a movie about the Titanic in the mid-sixties that left a pretty profound impression on me, but another one about the same time takes the cake. It was about a wounded soldier wandering around behind enemy lines; I assume in World War Two. His hands were badly burned and the scene that haunts me is one wherein he is staring at an apple tree; waiting for a fruit to fall so he can eat something. I felt the helplessness that the movie was portraying and that was more scary than anything.
Wow, what was the name of that movie?
Beyond the Door(1974) with Richard Johnson and Juliet Mills. On the surface its a cheap Italian made rip off of The Exorcist but dig deep and its actually one of the greatest films of all time. Its a horror film to be sure but also a beautiful love story. And according to every spiritualist, including me, a Satanist, it is way more accurate in all things supernatural than that noisy, clunky, dogmatic, carnival ride that was the William Friedkin fim.
Sounds great…I will check it out…
Still catching up, dear jessica…
Hands down, the scariest movie I ever saw was Hitchcock’s ” Strangers On A Train.”
I’ve seen it exactly twice and can’t bring myself to ever watch it again.
No spoiler here but the final scene will keep you off a certain amusement park ride forever. Frightening movie. Am surprised no one mentioned Hitchcock. He has not lost his power.
Well, it’s been awhile since Halloween, but I have to second Don’t Look Now and also mention Roman Polanski’s movie Repulsion. Both of those movies really scared me and gave me nightmares for some time afterward!
Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (1973), Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre (1989) and Elem Kilmov’s Come and See (1985). Probably not on many “Scariest films” lists, but by far the most shocking I’ve ever see. I will be watching all three and holding someone tight this Halloween.