Halloween Month, Week 1: My Five Scariest Movies Ever

Along with my fellow bloggers over at Write in the Shadows, I’m taking one day a week this month to talk about scary things that have influenced my life. This week: movies.

I don’t watch a lot of movies anymore, so these are old classics. These days, I’m more frightened by things like national security, my mortgage payment, and hordes of rabid ultra-conservatives, so when I take out precious time to watch a movie, it’s more likely to be a disaster flick because I’m just a disaster-movie junkie. Ironic, you might say, since I ended up living one in Hurricane Katrina five years ago. Let’s just say they’re more fun onscreen.

So, here we go…

No. 5: HALLOWEEN. The original one directed by John Carpenter, with Jamie Lee Curtis as the hapless babysitter, Donald Pleasance as the vaguely sinister, hapless psychiatrist, and our first look at Michael Myers. I was living alone in an apartment in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, about five miles from the state mental hospital. I still remember coming home from the theater after midnight and fumbling with my door lock while looking over my shoulder for any big zombie-like guy wearing a hockey mask.

No. 4: THE EXORCIST. Now, I think it’s hokey and has ridiculous special effects, but when it came out it was the scariest thing ever. I didn’t SEE it for a long time because my parents wouldn’t let me, but the idea was enough. As tweens my BFF Nancy and I had dabbled with the ouija board and the idea we might have accidentally summoned a pea soup-spewing demon that could possess us and make our heads spin…Holy crap! I haven’t touched a ouija board since.

No. 3: HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE. For years, I remembered this movie only by the creepy theme song and the image of a man’s severed head rolling down the staircase of a grand Southern mansion. Especially the tumbling head. I’m not sure how old I was when I first saw it, but not old enough–I saw it again a few months ago and was surprised that it had a plot and everything. But tumbling head=still creepy.

No. 2: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. Yeah, there’s a pattern developing here because, face it, Bette Davis could play one scary broad. And when she serves poor Blanche a rat on her dinner tray? OMG.


No. 1: THE BIRDS. Another one I saw way too young (why did my parents let me watch this stuff?). I even became fearful of my brother’s parakeet Sammy. And now I will admit an awful, awful thing. Sammy escaped his cage one day and was fluttering around the living room. I saw him. I saw the open window. I saw Sammy fly out the open window. I didn’t try to stop him. Yes, I virtually committed parakeet homicide. But the image of poor, traumatized Tippi Hedren being ushered to the car by Rod Taylor through a sea of evil pigeons is one I’ll never get over.

What’s your favorite scary movie, or scene from a movie that always stuck with you?

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

7 thoughts on “Halloween Month, Week 1: My Five Scariest Movies Ever

  1. My brain is way too open to suggestion, and I used to lie awake at night in terror that the house would catch fire so I certainly never needed any scary movies to help me become more of an insomniac.

    I’ve watched hardly any scary films (from your list, I’ve only seen The Birds), but the first one I watched was Child’s Play and I immediately got rid of my dolls.

    Didn’t see another scary film till I was 18, and I was with friends so I had to pretend it hadn’t affected me, even though I had the shakes afterward.

    Thanks, Suz. As a result of reading this post, I won’t sleep this month.

  2. Man, the Exorcist scared the crap out of me when I was younger–and honestly it still creeps me out today even with the silly special effects. Maybe it’s because I was raised Catholic, lol. And Halloween is one of my favorite scary movies of all time.

    Hmm, some others…Poltergeist completely freaked me out as a kid (especially since we had a huge oak tree in our front yard) and Stephen King’s It totally scared me. (I still have a fear of clowns to this day.)

  3. Ack: We’re talking about scary books next week, and IT is near the top of my list, Roni. The movie didn’t scare me but the book sure did!

    LOL–Sorry for the nightmares, Kat. And I used to collect dolls. Whenever a certain friend would visit and have to sleep in the “doll room,” I’d go in the room the next day and all the dolls would have sheets and towels over their heads because she said they were watching her. She even renamed one of them “Chuckie.”

  4. I’ve seen 3 of your 5. Your number 1 pick is pretty creepy. I lived in Waco, TX for a year and they get these black grackle birds. They congregate in large masses. So large that when they are in the trees, the trees look like they’re pulsing. Grosses me out and I think of The Birds every time.

    Nowadays, I find most scary movies are just silly and I don’t even waste my time.

    I recently saw 2012. Have you seen it? What did you think?

  5. I don’t care much for scary movies, but I love to scare myself with books. Dean Koontz and Steven King are just starters!

  6. I’ve seen “2012” twice, Angie! I loved it–I’m such a sucker for disaster movies. The special effects were mind-boggling–what did you think?

    Welcome, Cinette! I’ll be tackling my scariest books next week, and you can be sure Stephen King will be at the top of the list!