As everyone gears up for Halloween, countless people are streaming their favorite horror and slasher films to fully get into the mood of the season. While flicks like A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Ring, and The Exorcist might be tons of fun for some, they are totally and utterly off limits for me. Sure, I can appreciate a good movie just like the next person, but the second things start to go down, and someone starts running up the stairs to get away from a lunatic with a hatchet, I’m done. I cover my eyes (and sometimes my ears) and ask whoever has the misfortune of sitting next to me to let me know when it’s safe to look again. I’m a total wimp — and I know it.
But what are those of us who have, ahem, weaker sensibilities supposed to do? It’s no fun to sit out the creepy movies altogether. I still like a good thrill, but I just don’t want to see anyone get disemboweled. Is that so much to ask?
Here is a list of movies for us wimps. They are fun, they ring in at about a 4-5 on the creep-factor scale, and they will make you jump a few times over the course of the 100 minutes that you’re watching. They offer just enough fun without a week of sleepless nights. Have we missed any great ones? Let us know in the comments!
Yes, we all know this movie. And it might not seem like a scary movie (OK, that’s because technically it’s not a “scary” movie). But try watching this one again as if you haven’t seen it 300 times and memorized it. It actually has some pretty creepy moments: the reading ghost in the beginning that sends the librarian screaming through the stacks, the moment when Zuul breaks through the armchair and traps Sigourney Weaver, or the entire time that Gozer is on screen. Yes, this has countless funny moments, but that doesn’t mean it can’t give you a tiny thrill here and there.
5. Rear Window
L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, played by the incomparable Jimmy Stewart, is home-bound, stuck in his wheelchair with a broken leg. He passes his time by watching the comings and goings of his neighbors through his rear window. One day, he is certain that he witnesses the aftermath of a murder. As he gets more involved with the suspected murderer, we increasingly feel his vulnerability. We feel trapped as he can’t get around easily or escape from his wheelchair. While there aren’t any gory moments, the psychological impact of this film is definitely palpable.
Some people don’t mind bugs, others are terrified of them. Even if you are slightly squeamish when it comes to creepy-crawly things, you can count on this movie to raise your heart rate a little this Halloween season. There are a few moments that actually make you jump (it’s funny how good music and a bit of suspense can go a long way), and the rest of the time you’re clenching your hands in the hopes that the characters escape the poisonous little vampires. It also helps that Arachnophobia is chock-full of fantastic actors.
3. The Birds
It should come as no surprise that there are two Hitchcock films on this list. The master thriller storyteller is at it again, this time with different types of birds acting abnormally. How terrifying can that be, really? Quite, since Hitchcock is involved. One by one, the characters have bizarre encounters with various birds — from chickens to seagulls to crows. It culminates with the heroine of the film being stalked and violently attacked by an ominous flock. After watching this, it is nearly impossible to walk outside and not be suspicious of the seemingly innocent robin sitting on your lawn.
2. The Sixth Sense
I’m terrible when it comes to guessing the ends of movies, so yes, I didn’t see this one coming at all when I saw it in the theaters. Aside from the serious creepy knot that you get in your gut when you realize the twist at the end (in the unlikely event that one of our readers has not seen it, I won’t spoil it here), there are countless jumpy moments to keep you on the edge of your seat. So many dead people popping up out of nowhere.
“Misery’s alive! Misery’s alive!” That moment when Kathy Bates giddily twirls around while James Caan sits helplessly in his wheelchair is just cinematic perfection. We have a couple of down-right scary moments (hobbling, anyone?) that put this film in the #1 position, but we can thank Stephen King for all the psychological thrills that carry us from the beginning to the end.