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Tag Archive: Bette Davis


That night I moved from the upstairs bedroom to the one beside mom and dad.  I had nightmares until I was in bootcamp.

So if you wanted to find out what the scariest movies were, how would you proceed?  Unless you’re a diehard horror movie fan, you can’t really come close to seeing them all.  And how do you get past general movie reviews to the actual movie watchers?  Isn’t that the best place to get to the truth?  Would you just come out and tell someone what really scares you?

About a month ago a question was posed to a group of general interest fanboys and fangirls on the Internet:  What movie traumatized you as a kid?  More than 12,500 people responded.  So what scares did they get while they were kids that stayed with them to this day?  The answers provided a great list of movie recommendations for Halloween, including more than 50 identified below with some of the responders’ reactions.  The results were cross-generational, with comments from people who were kids in the 1950s through well into the 1990s.  Some are movies watched in the theater, some at drive-ins, others from the living room on late night TV.  Sprinkled into the responses are movies that probably would scare only kids (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Alice in Wonderland) but most responses were films Rated R or otherwise targeted at adults.  You’d think the list would include nearly everything we listed on this month’s schedule of movies appearing on TV (here at borg.com).  That wasn’t always the case.  And many might make you think nobody has ever paid attention to that Rated R advisory and that many parents took kids to movies way before they should have.  The actor who tops the list?  The versatile Bette Davis, who appeared in numerous horror films and two at the top of this list (I watched my best friend in junior high hide behind his hands watching the film The Watcher in the Woods starring Davis, so consider that one of my recommendations).  It should be no surprise many of the scares come from stories written by Stephen King.

So… to quote Dan Aykroyd talking to Albert Brooks at the beginning of the movie The Twilight Zone:

Do you want to see something really scary?

So what movies topped the list–the films that created actually nightmares for so many?  Several hundred people identified these three as the most traumatizing:  What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (“scared the shit out of me and we had to go home”), The Exorcist (“I don’t think my sister or I slept for a month”), and The Wizard of Oz (“the witch and the flying monkeys!”).  The next tier went to some movies you may not even remember or would think of:  The Hand (“I still don’t let my arm dangle or leg the edge of the bed at night”), The Day After (“to this day the visuals haunt me”), and Rosemary’s Baby (“my mother’s worst parenting decision was allowing me to watch it”).  Close behind were Trilogy of Terror (“that doll bothered me for years”), Arachnophobia (“I hate spiders as much as clowns”), Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte (“Mom told me not to look when Charlotte chops a guy’s head off with a hatchet, but it was too late”), and Child’s Play (lots of instances of older kids traumatizing their younger siblings after watching).

Dozens were frightened by Ridley Scott’s original Alien, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (“I turn away when I know the dead guy scene is coming”), the original The Thing and John Carpenter’s The Thing (but no mention of the latest remake), Stephen King’s original It with Tim Curry (“I will never understand why my parents allowed me to watch that”), and a Universal monster classic: The Creature from the Black Lagoon.  Who knew this would make the list: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (“Christopher Lloyd… Scariest children’s movie villain ever”), and many more mentions included A Nightmare on Elm Street (“Thinking someone could kill me in my dreams and never physically be there ruined my ability to sleep soundly”), Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal (“Skeksis are creepy to this day”) and Labyrinth (“when the fireys sing their song and do their dance for Sarah”), Stephen King’s The Shining (“I am sure my scream carried for miles,” “stood out in the lobby most of the movie”) and Pet Sematary (“still can’t watch it”), Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (“couldn’t take a shower without locking the bathroom door for years”), Sleeping Beauty (“my parents had to take me out of Sleeping Beauty I was so scared”), A Clockwork Orange (“will always haunt me”), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (“I’m still not ok with it… I won’t watch it”), The Amityville Horror (“at least a month before I’d sleep without lights on”), Jaws (“I still won’t go in the water”), and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (“had to get behind the couch,” “could never have gaps in curtains or blinds for the next 20 years”).

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The first instinct of diehard fans of any classic book, song, TV show, film, or anything else, is to flinch at the notion of a remake or reboot of a beloved original.  For years we here at borg.com have included The Watcher in the Woods as a favorite recommendation of a ghost story.  It’s a Disney film unlike any other Disney film–the rare instance of a movie being stronger than its source material (the novel by Florence Engel Randall), a Gothic ghost story (or is it?) that may be the creepiest and scariest story the studio released, certainly the spookiest of the 1980s.  So a remake that is being released this year for the Lifetime channel being previewed at San Diego Comic-Con this year is going to hit our radar.

As a kid, the film bridged being surprising enough to get you to jump out of your seat without being an adult horror movie. As an adult, I have recommended The Watcher in the Woods to friends for children’s Halloween parties, and it’s proven still to be a hit for kids into their pre-teens.  Melissa Joan Hart, known best for her Sabrina, the Teenage Witch series, is directing the remake, and as with the original, she enlisted one of the best to ground the film, Anjelica Huston, who takes on the role made famous by Bette Davis.

The result?  Hart has at a minimum completely nailed the trailer.  In an interview below she discusses concepts kept and concepts updated.  But when you get to the trailer, any concerns for the remake pretty much vanish, like the key image of the trapped, blindfolded girl in the film.  And the creepy woods as a singular character.  In the original, “Bond girl” actress Lynn-Holly Johnson (For Your Eyes Only, Ice Castles) and Kyle Richards played the sisters with Richards at the height of her child-actor career between Halloween and Little House on the Prairie.  In Hart’s new movie, these roles are played by young actors Tallulah Evans and Dixie Egerickx.

Even if you don’t agree Hart gets this one exactly right, you’re going to watch it because it’s on cable, and why not?  Check out this nicely spooky trailer from Comic-Con:

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