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This Week: Special Halloween Edition

Fear Demon (Actual Size)
Billie Doux: Happy Halloween! What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?

I'm a science fiction fan and I avoid horror movies. For me, the scariest movie experience I've ever had was watching Aliens in the theater right after it came out. It was quite literally an edge-of-my-seat experience, so heart-pounding and visceral that I felt nauseous when I left the theater. I have found other movies scary, but they never quite hit that level.

Let me add a little more Halloween-related content. I've recently started watching What We Do in the Shadows on Hulu. It's a half-hour sitcom about four vampires sharing a house in Staten Island. It may not be for everyone, but it consistently makes me laugh. I tried the movie it was based on and didn't warm to it, for what it's worth, but I'm very happy that a fifth season of WWDitS is coming in 2023.

Sunbunny: I don't watch horror either. The scariest thing I've ever seen... maybe E.T. I was... little. And scared. I remember running out of the room (it was on TV or VHS) and my parents trying to coax me back but that's it. The only horror movie I've ever seen is The Cabin in the Woods for Wh*don reasons (I know...). It is kind of brilliant, though. I was an adult when I saw that but I slept with the lights on that night. A lot of my friends really love horror but I'm just not one of those people. I like Halloween time for The Great Pumpkin and stuff. You won't find me at Halloween Horror Nights, I don't care how amazing the food is.

Shari: My craving for horror movies ended decades ago, so I have to go with the classics. For me it's a toss up between The Shining and the first Halloween. They both scared the crap out of me. Although, the most disturbing movie I ever saw was Jacob's Ladder. Like you, Billie, I was nauseous for hours afterwards.

I'm with you, Sunbunny. The Nightmare Before Christmas is more my speed this time of year. LOL.

Victoria Grossack: I'm like the others: I don't really enjoy being frightened. Supernatural and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer tested my tolerance for monsters and gore. Life has too many awful things in it to seek it out when I'm going for escapism.

The scariest fictional experience for me was reading Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot when I was in high school. I had to sleep with the light on for a month.

Mikey Heinrich: I was super into horror for a long time. Kind of lost the taste for it at the moment for complicated personal reasons. The movie that scared me the most is also unfortunately a movie that I absolutely can't endorse anyone watching.

The movie in question is Jeepers Creepers, which really scared me when I first saw it. Then the second one came out and that one was just OK. Then I learned about the director's backstory and the fact that a studio hired him after all that was public knowledge and that is just beyond reprehensible. Also, apparently F.F. Coppola's behavior as regards the situation was absolutely disgusting.

Don't google it. You're happier not knowing.

Switching to happier gears, the book that scared me most in my life was Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, which I read when I was twelve and it had a much more problematic title. I also slept with the lights on for a month or so after.

Billie Doux: The book that scared me the most is The Shining by Stephen King. He was at the top of his game.

Mikey Heinrich: For some reason 'Salem's Lot was the King book that got me the most. Not sure why.

Adam Jones: I love horror, but most of it's terrible. The thing is, that's okay. Horror, as a genre, is really about having fun and exploring ideas. What if everyone who had sex at this summer camp was murdered by a dead man... and what if it wasn't him at all? The first Friday the 13th has a brilliant notion that has never been equalled. It almost elevates beyond the genre. Almost.

But most horror is just for fun. Can I remain calm during the jump scene? Will my date grab my arm? While I'm at it, I should ask myself, "What if the janitor we killed came back to get revenge? And what if he had acrylic nails?"

Knowing about filmmaking means that it's hard for a movie to scare me. During creepy scenes I mostly just see lighting and camera tricks. But... check out my review of Eraserhead. My wife and I wanted to bolt from the theater when the... thing showed up.

Shari: I'm not sure I agree with you, Adam. I've worked on several horror movies and while they don't scare me, it's pretty easy to get my heart rate up with minimal tension. Apparently, knowing why it works doesn't stop it from working on me.

Adam Jones: I'm also overly stoic. People can't tell me from a statue sometimes. Takes a lot for me. But that means horror stories give me a special thinking place.

Joseph Santini: Horror and my appreciation of it has evolved over the years as has my favorite horror movie. Do any of you remember Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Scared me to death as a kid. It was the moment when his eyes changed that got me. The video was about 13 minutes and MJ was as always a consummate performer.

As a preteen I mostly had to watch what my parents watched and the one movie they had around that made a lasting impression on me was The Seventh Sign. My mom couldn’t resist Demi Moore, and I found the portents of the apocalypse a wrench to watch, especially the birds.

As an adult the first of the Cube films gave me some gore and some suspense, with a thrill of intellectualism; that hit my adult horror spot just the right way. Note I also think this movie is fairly gory.

Am I allowed to give three answers?

Adam Jones: Oh, man. Cube is brilliant.

Billie Doux: I can't believe I'm adding sitcom content to our Halloween scary discussion post, but I just tried Ghosts for the first time (it's in its second season), and I absolutely love it. Like What We Do in the Shadows, it's a supernatural sitcom. A young couple (Rose McIver and Utkarsh Ambudkar) inherit a three-hundred-year-old mansion in the boonies that is populated by ghosts from different eras. As with everything, it's the writing. I watched the first ten minutes and knew that I was going to love it.

Sunbunny: The British series it’s based on is better, IMO. Catch it on HBO Max.

Mikey Heinrich: Speaking of that sort of thing, is Being Human (either the British or American remake) worth going back and checking out? I completely missed it at the time.

Billie Doux: I was kinda into Being Human (the British original version) but the later seasons lost me. The American remake also lost me, but earlier. Everyone's mileage varies, though.

Adam Jones: I just watched Spirit Halloween: The Movie. Yes, the goofy store with cheap costumes, the one that moved into the old nail salon, that company made a movie. I've just given it probably the best review it will get. Partly because after the terrible week I've just had (don't ask) a warm, familiar sort of movie is a good way to unwind.

Samantha Quinn: I was deeply into horror at one point, watching most of the big franchises like Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser. Halloween always left me kind of cold and so did Friday the 13th, although Jason X is something that should be experienced (think campy sci-fi slasher film). One that stuck with me was Event Horizon, although in retrospect I like Pandorum way more than that movie.

As I was reading through everyone else's comments, I have seen everything on your lists and it is really fun to think about my own reactions. The Cube series was so innovative for what it was and each entry had a valid reason to exist (IMO). Jacob's Ladder is one of those movies I just will not watch again for obvious reasons. I think the really bleak ones are way harder to rewatch. There is something satisfying about the final girl formula that speaks to my fandom needs.

I think the best version of that formula is shown in the movie You're Next, which flips the genre on its head and delivers one of the most satisfying horror experiences I've ever seen. It is your classic home invasion, but with a great lead who doesn't make the standard horror movie idiot choices. I strongly recommend it if you can stand heavy violence and gore.

This year we have two new entries (that I have seen) that actually met and exceeded my expectations, Prey and Hellraiser (2022). I reviewed Prey so I won't go too deep in that one, but if Amber Midthunder doesn't get elevated to an action goddess, I'll be deeply disappointed.

Hellraiser had a lot on its shoulders as essentially a reboot of a very long running but ultimately spotty franchise; it needed to be good enough to revitalize and restore faith in the property. Personally, I think it did it with a new version of Pinhead played by Jamie Clayton (Sense8) and a truly faithful take on the Cenobites and a new take on the Puzzle box made it feel right. Add good acting and decent writing, and we have the first 'good' entry since Hellraiser II (I liked Hellraiser III but it was not very good in retrospect).

Horror isn't for everyone, and for years I lost my taste for it. But I am so happy that the genre is still alive and new properties are starting to inject quality over buckets of blood into their films.

Billie Doux: Happy Halloween, everyone!


  1. I remember being so freaked about Silence of the Lambs that I made it scarier in my mind than it ever could have been. I finally made myself watch it so that it would no longer bother me. It worked.

  2. I've never been a huge horror person. I tend to like psychological horror, or when stories in a different genre sneak in horror elements, but standard horror stuff like Halloween or Nightmare On Elm Street just don't do it for me. The film that probably left me the most disturbed was probably the final act of Parasite, either that or Home from the X-Files.

    That being said, on the comedy-horror end of the spectrum, I'd highly recommend checking out the British comedy Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. It's a very clever and meta parody of cheesy 80s horror shows with a fantastic cast (particularly Matt Berry from WWDITS fame's first big role) and a fun spooky vibe that makes for a great Halloween watch with friends.

  3. Gary Marenghi's Darkplace is absolutely brilliant!

  4. Descent is very scary especially if you are claustrophobic.

  5. CelStudios: Yes! Thank you! X-Files Home! I was thinking so hard about movies I forgot about that one. When they looked under the bed(!) and found "Mom" I lost it. Jump scared and repulsed at the same time.

    For me the scariest has to be "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Kind of the opposite of home invasion as the monster is the one at home and the dumb college kids are on his territory. The original "Night Of The Living Dead" is a close second. I wouldn't watch either anymore except as film study. The milder horror of "Prey" and "Nope" are more to my taste now.

    A good book about horror is Carol J. Clover's "Men, Women, And Chainsaws". She's the one who came up with the "final girl" trope. Just don't read it at the local coffee shop unless you like being surrounded by empty tables.

  6. I'm not sure that they're the scariest films I've seen, but some of my favorite films that fall more or less into the horror category are (in chronological order) Rosemary's Baby, Alien, Angel Heart, Dead Ringers and Pan's Labyrinth.

  7. I've never really cared for slasher movies. What scares me most are psychological thrillers and movies with supernatural elements like spirits and possession. (I blame my Catholic upbringing. I have still never watched The Exorcist.) I have to go back to the 1973 movie The Legend of Hell House for one that scares me/creeps me out, which I re-watched last Halloween. I also watched the 1963 version of The Haunting recently and found it very disturbing. I guess I can add The Shining to this list. I remember watching two different movies when I was young that really disturbed and scared me - 1972's The Other and 1973's Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. The fact that I don't have any newer movies listed shows that I haven't sought these kinds of movies out for a long time.

  8. Horror is a difficult genre for me. I absolutely hate jumpscare because they work way too well on me. Or more specifically, I hate waiting for jumpscares - if they get come unexpected, I can actually sort of enjoy them and laugh about it - so I simply can't enjoy movies that are filled with them, I would simply be on edge for 90 minutes.

    That said, I do usually enjoy horror that doesn't rely on jumpscares too much, both the kind of films that are mostly fun, like the Scream or Final Destination franchises, or the kind that uses more psychological horror that f*cks with your head (what's the policy on swearing at Douxreviews, btw?) a la Shining. David Lynch is also really good at screwing with my head. I'm not I can ever watch Mulholland Drive again (or if I even want to), even though I think it's brilliant, and right now, I'm watching Twin Peaks for the first time and that one actually gives me nightmares from time to time. Still, I kinda dig it in a weird, masochistic way.

    If we are talking books, I'm a big Stephen King fan and agree with you guys about Salem's Lot, that was awesomely effective at creeping me out.

    1. Chris, you asked: "What's the policy on swearing at Douxreviews, btw?" We keep it to a minimum. But we've reviewed a lot of uncensored shows and it would have been impossible for me to review Dexter without quoting Deb-isms like "Holy frankenfuck! Snakes!"

  9. I love Halloween and all of the spookiness that comes along with it. Horror is my favorite genre of all time and actually what I watch when I'm feeling particularly stressed or anxious in order to relax. Coincidentally, Shudder is definitely my favorite streaming service.

    The scariest movie I've ever seen is probably Last Shift. It's the only movie that I had to turn off midway through and wait for my roommate to come back before continuing to watch it. It's also one of my favorite movies for this reason. It's fabulous and terrifying and stars Juliana Harkavy, who fans of this site might recognize as Alisha on The Walking Dead and Dinah Drake on Arrow. She is absolutely fabulous.

    Other recent horror movies that are more "fun" and that relish in the chaos (as opposed to Last Shift which is definitely more mean spirited) that I loved are Ready or Not and Mayhem. The first has a very similar vibe to You're Next to me, and Mayhem is, well, it's exactly what it name says. They actually both star Samara Weaving who is not Margot Robbie despite the incredibly strong resemblance.

    On the TV side of things, Slasher is my favorite horror series. It's an anthology series that follows a group of people as a masked serial killer picks them off one by one for some reason or another. Seasons 2 (Guilty Party) and 3 (Solstice) are my favorite. As a warning, though, it is incredibly violent and gory with some heavy content warnings as well.

    On a slightly lighter note, I also love Harper's Island. It's still gory, but not as bad considering that it aired on one of the main networks. But it's a self contained miniseries that is well done and has very, very strong Agatha Christie vibes. Also stars Katie Cassidy as one of the main leads.

  10. Am I too late for the Halloween discussion?

    I think I've written about this somewhere else on this site, but I'm not into horror movies or TV. As a kid, I wasn't allowed to watch horror movies (the franchise slasher movies, like Halloween or the Friday the 13th movies), mostly because my mother hated the idea of me watching movies about kids misbehaving (aka, having sex and disobeying their parents).

    I was, for some reason, allowed to watch older horror movies: Hitchcock movies, The Shining, Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist.

    The first slasher movie I watched was Scream, which deconstructs the genre, which somehow feels appropriate for how my brain works, anyway.

    The Birds gave me a lifelong fear of birds. It's a reasonable fear, too: I've been hit in the head by a bird (bird-bombed!) three different times. That sort of thing just doesn't happen to other people.

    The scariest scene I've ever watched is Bob from Twin Peaks crawling over the couch in Laura Palmer's house. It terrifies me just to think about it.

    I do read some horror, mostly Stephen King. But I don't tend to picture what I read, so I'm never as creeped out by horror in books.

    If people like humorous horror, Grady Hendrix's books are good. He wrote a "Trapped in horror IKEA" books, a "parody of 1980s slasher films/exorcisms" book, and a "book club moms in the South fight vampires" book, among other things.


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