Sarah Ferrari & Heather Falconer:
Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock, 1960
SF: My favourite scary film has to be Hitchcock’s Psycho. Apart from the obvious reason that it’s a cinematic classic, it has a special place in my heart, as I’ll always remember the day I went to see it in the cinema on a horrendous hangover. Despite barely being able to keep my eyes open and nearly being sick in the cinema, it was great to finally see this classic horror film on the big screen.
HF: My favourite type of scary movies are suspense thrillers, and Psycho is the ultimate suspense thriller. Everything from the cinematography to the music is so brilliantly produced.
Jaws – Steven Spielberg, 1975
Forget getting back into the water; I wasn’t putting a toe into a swimming pool. Getting the image of the poster in your head—that 70 foot beast looming up from the great beneath— when you’re doing lengths in a hotel indoor pool (leaving you to panic and launch into a manic doggy paddle til you reach the steps, jumping out and taking great heaving breaths), can be incredibly inconvenient. Especially when there are other people in the pool. Hell, even thinking about it here, whilst sat on the safety of a sofa, has me throwing the occasional glance over my shoulder. Don’t talk logistics at me, son.
Sure, there have been films since—some would even say scarier films— that left an equally lasting impression in the following days (ahem *months*) after viewing; my Catholic upbringing was never going to let me get through The Omen unscathed, after all. And as a self-confessed horror nut, I know my way around a good scream fest. But Jaws is the one that unfailingly gets me when I’m least expecting it. Even splashing around in the middle of the summer in my parents’ back garden with friends. All it takes is to turn around when treading water in the deep end to see everyone else has gotten out to have me once again thrashing a speedy exit to the shallow end and anyone snaking up underwater to grab an ankle is subject to a swift kick in the face.
So for now, I’m keeping both feet on dry land. And off the floor (just in case the floor opens up and drops me into a shark tank).
Oh, my psyche laid bare, is it? How did that happen…
White Chicks – Keenen Ivory Wayans, 2004
Black dudes dressed as white girls. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable premise. However the makeup is horrific. Their faces look like a concoction of uncooked omelettes, or the love child of the mask from Scream with a dinosaur from The Land Before Time. For reasons of makeup, this is a scary film that you’ll need to medicate yourself with Mac afterwards.
30 Days Of Night – David Slade, 2007
Melissa George is so fucking cool. I don’t even know why, but she’s like a hipster version of Billie Piper. Buck teeth and beach hair, always looking distressed and puzzled as to why Buffy didn’t want her in her gang. Thankfully she takes on her own pack of vampires in this film, and it’s like, totally arty. The landscape is industrial, the vampires speak in a foreign tongue as if they’ve recently found Sigur Ros, and Josh Hartnett is in it.
Rosemary’s Baby – Roman Polanski, 1968
From an era when ‘doing a Polanski’ meant making a great film, comes a cautionary tale about the dangers of trusting anybody, ever. Mia Farrow’s gestating waif gives birth to not only the son of Satan, but also an adorable haircut: the super-short ‘Pixie’ do. John Cassavetes, on the other hand, takes a break from making movies with Columbo to look dashingly handsome and act like a twat.
Bonus Features: Filmed in the Dakota, the creepiest building in New York – John Lennon was later killed outside the front door. Polanski was also staying here when his wife and unborn child were murdered by the Manson Family.
Also features serial ‘old-lady’ portrayal expert, Ruth Gordon, of Harold and Maude fame.
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? – Robert Aldrich, 1962
The story of two faded movie star sisters holed up in their crumbling Hollywood mansion is a camp classic. Starring real-life faded movie stars and deadly rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, this macabre tale was perfectly suited to their individual talents: as the crippled, saintly, long-suffering Blanche, Crawford got to play the noble victim once again, while Davis as the unhinged, vindictive, maniacal Jane was the ultimate villain in a career with a long history of indelible villainous creations. So there’s no blood and guts to speak of, but seeing Bette Davis’ sagging bosom in a too-tight dress for two hours is horror enough – not to mention the shocking moment a character is bludgeoned to death with a hammer and, of course, that iconic rodent-themed dinner.
Rawhead Rex – George Pavlou, 1986
When it comes to horror films, Rawhead Rex is top of the heap. The dung heap that is. Billed with taglines like: ‘He’s Pure Evil. Pure Power. Pure Terror.’ and ‘Someone has awakened him… He lives again to feed again.’ you know you’re in for a real treat.
Loosely based on a short story by Clive Barker, the film was directed in 1986 by George Pavlou and has gained a cult following amongst piss-takers the world over ever since.
The demonic tale follows the story of an Irish farmer who awakens an ancient beast who then wreaks havoc on the small town. Rawhead is a mean mofo who basically eats murders and terrorises every man, woman or child he encounters on his frenzied rampage.
One of the main shortcomings is that this ‘terrifying beast’ is basically a tall man who’s put on a particularly shit mask from Dollarama/Poundland (delete according to Britishness) and some tattered clothes. It’s hard to believe that Rawhead even has the co-ordination to run after people when he appears to be staring intently at his own nose the entire time.
The badly-behaved beast chases women around their kitchens spilling flour and condiments all over the place, laughing at their screams as they clutch to the walls and pray. He interrupts young couples who are trying to get it on in the woods and breaks through the windows of people’s caravans at night with wreckless abandon. He also pisses on priests in graveyards to baptize them. (The highlight of the movie.) The police pay catch up with the elusive beast throughout, but they’re no match for his cunning charms.
Here’s a link to the entire movie on YouTube. Get the popcorn out and relieve classic lines such as: ‘Get up the stairs, fuckface! I can’t keep God waiting’ again and again. One thing’s for sure, Ireland will never be the same again.
Illustration: Zoë Bryant