Movie Talk

The Most Terrifying Films We’ve Ever Experienced

Movie Talk

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This week the remake of Sam Raimi's classic horror flick "Evil Dead" hits theaters everywhere. You might have seen the poster, which reads, "The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience." That's a pretty bold statement. While the movie is really freakin' scary -- not to mention exceedingly bloody -- it's not the most terrifying one we've ever seen. Below you'll find flicks that truly horrified, unsettled, and unnerved the editors at Yahoo! Movies.

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"The Vanishing" (1988)

I was going to write about the movie that truly scared me, "Inside Job" (2010), a film about the clowns who destroyed the global economy back in '08 and are poised to do it once again. But then someone pointed out that it was actually a documentary and for that reason couldn't be on the list. OK, fine. So instead, I'm going to talk about George Sluizer's "The Vanishing." (The Dutch original, not the strangely leaden U.S. remake.) This movie isn't bloody and features little in the way of supernatural activity, but holy crap, will this flick freak you out. At the beginning of the movie, a woman on a romantic holiday with her boyfriend vanishes at a crowded gas station. Three years later, the boyfriend, who is understandably distraught, tracks down the guy who may or may not be responsible for his girlfriend's disappearance. Sluizer is brilliant at throwing the film into unexpected directions while expertly ratcheting up the tension until it's almost unbearable. And when that final twist hits, it's like a donkey kick to the gut, leaving you shaken, uneasy, and really, really unnerved. -- Jonathan Crow (@jonccrow)

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"Candyman" (1992)
Usually a haunted house story takes place in an old mansion, cut off from the world and filled with creepy Victorian artifacts. "Candyman" completely throws that out the window, placing the action of this supernatural slasher flick in a setting just as intimidating and imposing as its villain. Based on a story by Clive Barker, it's about a grad student (Virginia Madsen) researching an urban legend about a hook-handed entity who appears when you say his name in the mirror five times. Her search takes her to the infamous Cabrini-Green housing project on the North side of Chicago, which is shot by director Bernard Rose with a real sense of foreboding and dread. Add in a menacing but surprisingly sympathetic turn by Tony Todd as the titular killer, a whole lot of bees, and one of the great final scares, and "Candyman" truly delivers terror for a surprisingly effective horror movie. -- Matt McDaniel (@themattmcd)

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"My Bloody Valentine" (1981)
In addition to hairless cats, seafood buffets, and John Boehner, my biggest fears are serial killers, gas masks, and the threat of being trapped underground. Yet, for reasons I can't explain, I still chose to screen 1981's "My Bloody Valentine" -- which features a gas mask-sporting serial killer murdering teens in a mine shaft -- during a sleepover for my 13th birthday party. Needless to say, I didn't get any rest that night (nor did any of my guests), thanks to recurring visions of impaled bodies, the unnerving sound of distorted breathing ringing in my ears, and an overall feeling of claustrophobia (perhaps the suffocation factor had something to do with my sleeping bag, hmmm…). To this day, the Canadian slasher still scares the hell out of me (the 2009 remake, not so much), but I'm actually considering screening it once again, this time for my 33rd birthday party in a few weeks. Twenty years may have passed, but Harry Warden and his trusty pickax is still guaranteed to give me nightmares. -- Matt Whitfield (@lifeontheMlist)

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"The Serpent and the Rainbow" (1988)
I set the bar high with my first scary movie ever at the junior high school auditorium one Halloween: "The Pit and the Pendulum." Way before the iron maiden appeared in the final scene, I remember running up the aisle and out into the Southern California sunshine in pure terror. Not until I saw Wes Craven's "The Serpent and the Rainbow" did I watch another movie where I couldn't stay still in my seat -- but, because I was by then allegedly an adult, I forced myself to sit through it to the end. In the supernatural thriller (directed by Wes Craven of "Scream" fame), Bill Pullman's anthropologist Dennis Alan travels from America to Haiti to investigate the chemistry of voodoo to isolate the secret ingredient for its pain-killing potential. What the rational scientist gets is a master class in black magic, and I discovered a movie could follow me home in the same way that the Haitian magic followed Bill's man of science right back to his New England dining table, where his sophisticated guest starts eating a wineglass. Don't get me started on the scene where Alan is buried alive! -- Thelma Adams (@thelmadams)

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"Deliverance" (1972)
For my money, the scariest films are the ones that portray events that could actually happen. "Jaws" (1975) successfully removed any hopes I ever had of enjoying an ocean swim. "Silence of the Lambs" (1991) quashed all possibilities of my working for the FBI. And thanks to John Boorman's best-picture-nominated "Deliverance" (1972), I officially swore off camping -- which is kind of a shame, 'cause I really used to like camping. Based on Jim Dickey's novel, "Deliverance" truthfully depicts the journey of four men -- Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty), and Drew ( Ronnie Cox) -- who test their friendship and manhood on the rapids of a soon-to-be-dammed river in the outback woods of Georgia. Along the way, they encounter far more terrifying dangers than raging white water, making for one of the most memorable and disturbing scenes in cinematic history. Sadly, after braving this film, I'll never be able to look at a hillbilly the same way, and even a lovely little ditty like "Dueling Banjos" has forever lost its pluck. -- Adam Pockross (@adpoc)

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"The Blair Witch Project" (1999)
Full disclosure. I am a wimp when it comes to scary movies. I watched "Friday the 13th" at a sleepover when I was far too young, and I'm fairly certain that scarred me for life. I've seen very few horror flicks since, and when I do, I'm the one in the theater with my hand over my eyes, peeking out only occasionally. In the summer of 1999, some friends talked me into seeing "The Blair Witch Project." It was a blockbuster and everyone was raving about it, so curiosity and peer pressure got the best of me. The movie shows "found footage" of student filmmakers who disappeared while making a documentary about the fabled Blair Witch. At the climax of the film, after one character disappears and another makes a tearful on-camera confession, a deafening alarm sounded in the theater that made an already frightened audience jump out of our chairs. No one knew what to think. Was this part of the 'realistic' horror film? If so, well done. We were now all thoroughly terrified. But when the ushers came in and had the audience evacuate, we knew it was not part of the show. It was, in fact, a bomb scare. After an hour of waiting, filled with rumors and meltdowns (mostly just me), the crowd was reassured that it was a false alarm and we could safely return to the theater. Reluctantly, I went back to my seat, with nerves frazzled, to see the bone-chilling end of the film. Needless to say, I don't think I've seen a horror film in the theater since "Blair Witch." -- Giana Mucci (@RatedGiana)

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"Saw" (2004)
When Cary Elwes, most famous as the swashbuckling hero in "The Princess Bride," first appeared onscreen, I laughed off my friend's claim that this was "like, supposed to be the scariest movie." I kept watching, expecting to be tickled by fake gore and tired horror pranks. Flash forward about 30 minutes in -- when one of the Jigsaw Killer's sick games is recalled through the memory of his only known survivor, Amanda, played by Shawnee Smith (who has appeared in every "Saw" sequel since). Even in spite of the knowledge that she survived, I kept turning my head away as flashback scenes showed Amanda's head in a reverse bear trap. The only way she can make it through alive is by getting the key to unlock the trap. The trick is, it's buried in the body of a living human lying before her. She is forced to kill a petrified man as she digs through his guts to save herself. She lives. Then something absurd happens -- something that out of context would be considered a lame joke but that within the confines of the movie is bone chilling -- Jigsaw, aka Billy the Puppet, appears before Amanda in that horrid mask riding that daffy tiny tricycle. And it's the freakiest thing ever. Then a novice director in his mid-20s when he made the film, James Wan put his name on the map as a supreme horror technologist. Six "Saw"s later, including "Saw 3D," and a few other notable horror films, Wan is helming "The Conjuring," due in theaters July 13. Don't let the nice appearances of Vera Farmiga or Ron Livingston fool you -- it's supposed to be terrifying. -- Meriah Doty (@meriahonfiah)

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"Contagion" (2011)
The germs! They're everywhere! When I left a New York City screening of this underrated 2011 Steven Soderbergh flick, I was terrified. When I stepped onto the subway train to head back to the office, I genuinely feared for my life. The movie follows a deadly illness that gets transferred from person to person in the most simple of ways -- an unwashed hand here, an elevator button pushed there, and voilà! Days later, you're knocking on death's door. Thankfully, I was able to get a seat that day, but I still think of Gwyneth Paltrow's and Kate Winslet's pitiful dying faces every time I place my hand on a pole to keep my footing. Gross. -- Breanne L. Heldman (@BreanneNYC)

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"28 Days Later…" (2002)
Director Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later" puts a terrifying, realistic spin on the zombie flick, imagining a nightmare scenario in which average people must fight to survive when England is ravaged by a "rage virus" that transforms humans into violent, mindless monsters. The movie has plenty of frights and disturbing imagery to go around -- the sight of rage virus-infected blood-red eyes has haunted my dreams -- but here's what truly scares me about "28 Days Later" and other similar postapocalyptic movie narratives: I have absolutely no useful survival skills. The best entries in this genre compel viewers to imagine what they'd do in a similar situation. If I'm honest, I'm screwed. I'm not particularly crafty. I'm a pacifist. I can't hunt, nor can I find my way without the assistance of a GPS device. When the zombie uprising erupts, people lose their minds, and all societal infrastructure fails us, the best I'll be able to do is clutch a baseball bat, cower in a closet, and pray. I don't even know what to do when the wireless modem goes down -- how will I survive the undead and the end of civilization? -- Philip Yu (@heyphil)

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