There are countless pages on countless websites across the Internet that claim to have the list of the top 100 scary movies of all time. Sure many of these lists vary, sometimes drastically, but there always seem to be a few movies that grace each list out there. Why do these few movies seem to stand out spiritual awakening movies Although there are many different aspects that can add or subtract to a horror films merit, generally a movie needs to meet these three guidelines; believability, staying power and genuine scares.
Scary movies, more often then not, have plot lines that contain elements that are completely outlandish and almost impossible to imagine as something that could happen to you in your life. When a movie can take one of these situations and make you believe that it could possibly happen in real life, its hit the mark. When a story is believable it has the ability to pull the audience into the story and makes us forget that what we are watching isn’t actually happening and makes us feel emotions that we normally wouldn’t for ideas or experiences we know are factual. An example of this would be Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast of his take on H.G. Wells’
The War of the Worlds. The first 40 minutes of the hour long broad cast was presented in mock new reports that informed listeners of a supposed meteorite crash in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. As the updates continue and become more frequent it becomes quite clear that Earth is being invaded by hostile Martians! If you were to ask most people at the beginning of that day if they thought we were due for a Martian invasion you’d probably be laughed at, but by the time Welles’ radio broadcast was finished, most listeners were running for the hills. Welles was able to take a situation that most thought could never happen and made them not only think it was possible, but was actually happening.
Staying power is important in a film if it expects to be relevant years after its release. The horror films to come out of the 1970’s help prove this point. The 70’s were notorious for pumping out countless grindhouse and shock films that were easily forgettable and exhausting to watch. Of course there are many films spawned from this formula that are great fun to watch even now a day, but this is mostly due to their kitschy story lines, laughable acting and unconvincing special effect. Although this was the trend in the horror genre, the 70’s also gave us many of our most loved scary movies such as The Exorcist, Jaws and the walking dead opus.
Dawn of the Dead. 1978’s Dawn of the Dead gave it’s audience not only a good old zombie killing time, but it also had undertones that reflected upon North Americas overwhelming need to consume no matter what the situation, even if we’ve died and come back as mindless zombies. The setting of the shopping mall showed that even in death we all seem to be slaves to consumption. This message not only rings true over 30 years later, but becomes more relevant in our times. The staying power of this movie even hosted a remake in 2004 which spoke truths with little change to the story or plot.
A scary movie can have a believable story line and loads of staying power, but what would that all be worth without genuinely scary and shocking moments? The main reason most of us are interested in or watch scary movies is because we have a want or need to be thrilled and made to feel uncomfortable or frightened.
So many movies are categorized as horror because there was 100 gallons of fake blood used during the production, but they might completely miss the mark on scares. Although shots of gruesome murders and terrifying monsters can scare us to a certain point, the psychological elements and questions that remain are what stick with us and keep us scared days after we watch the film. Films like The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby rely on our emotions to the situations we are experiencing as well and atmospheric sound and music as opposed to blood and gore. Shocking imagery, gore and startling moments all are part of a well crafted horror movies but with out the elements that makes that scare remain in your mind the effect will wear off once the movie is done.