Not only was that the scariest movie I’d seen to that point, but it also completely fooled me with its surprise ending.
Lynn and I went to see it with her sister-in-law Nikki, who was unfortunately seated beside a strange man who fell asleep, snoring with his head on her shoulder (although he may have been a ghost the entire time).
Nikki claimed she figured out the surprise ending about halfway through. Maybe she’s a real-life ghost whisperer, but I was completely fooled all the way.
I left the theater thinking there will never be another horror movie made that tops the experience I had seeing “The Sixth Sense.” So far I’ve been right.
“The Sixth Sense” gets snubbed
That’s why I was little bit surprised and disappointed that “The Sixth Sense” was absent from a list of “The 20 scariest horror movies of all time” in an article on the front of the Living section in Sunday’s Times News.
That wasn’t a locally written article. Like most newspapers in the world, the Times News subscribes to wire services that provide various syndicated articles and columns.
The author had some great films on his list. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), “The Blair Witch Project,” “The Exorcist,” “The Omen,” “Jaws” and “Rosemary’s Baby” to name a few.
But the author’s No. 1 horror movie of all time is “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson. A good movie. Those twin girls and the naked woman in the bathtub definitely freaked me out.
Not the No. 1 horror movie of all time. Not even in my Top 10. It makes you wonder if the author’s decision may have been influence by the fact that there’s a new “Shining” sequel coming out next week called “Doctor Sleep.”
I’m a bit of a movie connoisseur from way back. Got a B+ in my film appreciation class in college. That’s why I’m not ashamed to share with you some of my all time favorites for Halloween.
As I’ve already said, my No. 1 all-time horror movie is “The Sixth Sense,” and 20 years later I’m sticking to that. As for my other all-time favorites, I like to break them up into subgenres.
It’s not fair to compare “Silence of the Lambs” with “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” They’re both wonderful Halloween movies on my all-time best lists, but not really in the same league.
So here are my all-time best horror movies categorized into their proper subgenres.
There have been some really good ones over the years, and some really, really bad ones. My favorites include the original “Night of the Living Dead,” “Return of the Living Dead,” “Return of the Living Dead II,” “Dawn of the Dead” (2004), “Shaun of the Dead,” “Land of the Dead” and “Zombieland.” Easily the best in this category is:
“Dawn of the Dead” (1978), the second in George Romero’s zombie series and by far the best. Saw this for the first time when I was 9 years old at the drive-in with my parents. Mom was screaming, “Don’t look, don’t look.” I looked, and I’ve probably seen it 50 times since then. It has a compelling story with good acting, and when this movie came out 40 years ago, it was rated X solely for violence and gore. Zero nudity and bad language. You can watch it for free on YouTube. I recommend the “director’s cut” over the original theatrical version.
Gotta love a good ghost story. Especially when the ghost is angry or vengeful, or just a jerk. “The Shining” was good, but two movies that gave me temporary post traumatic stress syndrome included “The Grudge” (that little boy and his mom), and “The Ring” (the little girl crawling out of the TV). Another obscure movie called “Oculus” (2013) featuring a haunted mirror came out of nowhere to really scare the crap out of me. And let’s not forget the “Annabelle/Conjuring” series. It’s a tough call, but I think my favorite ghost story aside from “The Sixth Sense” is:
“The Woman in Black” (2012) with Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe stuck in an old abandoned English mansion with a mean ghost woman who has an unhealthy appetite for children. There ain’t no way I’m spending the night in that house without a magic wand. What’s he thinking? So scary at times it’s hard to watch.
Technically this could be broken up into a sub-subgenre of silly horror movies such as the aforementioned “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in “Scared Stiff,” “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and Roger Corman’s 1963 classic “The Raven” with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre and a young Jack Nicholson. And then there are modern horror comedies such as “Shaun of the Dead,” “Zombieland,” “Beetlejuice,” “Sleepy Hollow,” “Ghostbusters” and “An American Werewolf In London.” My favorite, however, is:
“Drag Me To Hell” (2009) from Sam Raimi, who brought us “The Evil Dead” movies. This movie teaches us we should never cross a gypsy. And as with “The Sixth Sense,” “Drag Me to Hell” completely fooled me with the ending. It’s got a lot of hilarious moments, but also a lot of really scary moments. Some are frankly a little gross and hard to watch. A true masterpiece and one of the few movies I can watch over and still enjoy like it’s the first time.
As a kid I was obsessed with the original Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Mummy and Invisible Man movies of the 1930s and ’40s. Most of them don’t stand up to the test of time today, but one classic that transcends generations is Spenser Tracy in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1941) with an awesome supporting cast including Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp and Barton MacLane. My favorite classic is a little newer:
House on Haunted Hill (1959) with Vincent Price scared the fudge out of me the first time I saw it. When that crazy old woman pops out of the closet — definitely one of the best movie horror moments of all time.
This is where I place movies like “Silence of the Lambs,” “The Cabin in the Woods,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Tremors,” “The Thing” (1982), “30 Days of Night” and “Alligator” (1980). For my money the best action/detective horror is:
Seven (1995) with Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey. I’m always screaming at the need, ‘Don’t open the box Brad! Don’t open the box! Brad never listens.”
Jeff Bobo covers Hawkins County for the Times News. Email him at [email protected]