Like Fantasy, Adventure, Drama and other film genres, the Horror field has produced a number of hits over the years, from the now-ancient Nosferatu first detailing vampires in film to the Saw series, a much more recent phenomenon. We're not going to talk about any of those other genres here though – this is a blog devoted to fear and the things which cause it, including good horror films. If you're looking for a good scare or planning a movie night in the near future, this list will provide a number of good movie choices, as well as a bit of information about each.
I already mentioned Nosferatu, so you really should have expected me to devote a spot on this list to that classic vampire movie. With the taut skin, long, claw-like fingers, the rat teeth and other inhuman features, the antagonist looks far different from the sparkly vampires of today – Nosferatu actually looks like some imaginary horror, more bat than man. It was a movie full of defining moments and the first film ever to relate to us humans the vampire’s aversion to holy water, blessed ash, the rising sun and more. Its status as a silent film may make some viewers shy away for more contemporary entertainment.
If I didn't mention the Scream series, I'd be failing the lot of you. It’s hard to nail down any single entry in the Scream series for this list, but I’d probably have to go with the first one. Not only are these movies frightening in their own right, and especially so if you like slasher flicks, they're also kind of funny since they cover clichés and common plot devices from other horror movies, as if they're making jokes. The fun and games stop when people start getting stabbed of course, and thankfully you don't need to wait too long for the tension to build up and the knife to come out.
Before I get started with this, I want to stress a few things. First, I’m not psychologist. All I know about how the mind works is what I know from paying attention to myself and the people around me.
Second, while I plan to outline how fear works as far as I understand it, I’m also willing to admit fear does not work the same for different people. You know that fight or flight response? Some people react to fear by fleeing, while others will rush towards the thing causing them to be afraid, looking to conquer it. Here’s how fear works, in my opinion.
It’s something I say often, but fear is a perfectly natural response to certain circumstances; people, places and things. Many cultures despise the cowardly, yet if you look to see who survives dangerous situations, violent people and frightening locations, it’s usually the one who doesn’t get off the boat.
Probably the best part about urban legends and why they are so scary is the fact they are usually rooted in reality. Now, I don’t believe the tales of the giant moth man from West Virginia back in the mid 1960s because that’s just too outlandish to believe – a giant man with wings and the head of a moth? Yeah, right. But there are other urban legends which are far more frightening because you just don’t know; they could be real. Here are some of the scariest urban legends I’ve found while searching the Internet, but the list is by no means exhaustive.
The Mothman isn’t the only cryptid to be featured in an urban legend either. Far more frightening, and with many more eye witness accounts, is the Beast of Bray Road, first seen in or near Elkhorn, Wisconsin back in the mid 1930s. What makes this beast so much scarier is the fact it, or something looking just like it, has been reported all over southern Wisconsin, as well as northern Illinois and even parts of Canada. If the thing does exist, it sure can get around. It is reported to be a massive, hirsute biped, possibly a wolf or bear or other mammal. This is not something to meet while walking down an abandoned country road.