Features

Tell us the horrors that terrified you the most, we (& some guests) tell ours

Update: the poll is now CLOSED and we’ll bring you the top 100 soon

We want to count down the Top 100 Horrors That Scare You Shitless and we need your help.

What we are looking for is the kind of film that crawls into your head, makes you get up to check the doors and windows are locked, causes you to break out in a cold sweat, and keeps you creeped out all night and into the next day.

Read on below for some of the horrors that scared your fellow citizens shitless (figuratively, we hope).


CANDYMAN

James Partridge, Terror-Fi Film Festival

Candyman was first horror film to genuinely unsettle me. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it, but it still manages to creep me out! Tony Todd’s voice makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and Virginia Madsen’s performance sets the benchmark for female-lead horror. One of my favourite things about the film is that it doesn’t rely on jump scares or gore. That scene when Helen meets Candyman is terrifying, even though it’s essentially just two characters talking. Budding horror filmmakers could learn a lot from this film.

Read more on Candyman | Learn more about Wellington’s Terror-Fi Film Festival


GERALD’S GAME

Alex Casey, The Spinoff

Here’s a tip: if you’re going to watch Gerald’s Game, maybe don’t do it when you are pinging on pain medication after just having two of your wisdom teeth cut out of your jaw. I was high as a kite and, just like poor Jessie, was hallucinating while trapped in a bed surrounded by gore (dry socket is no joke). That wolf. That scary potato man. The sickeningly long handcuff escape scene. Sometimes I will go weeks without thinking about that bit, then my heart will wobble and my skin will crawl and I have to compulsively moisturise my hands in case it ever happens to me. I don’t even know if the movie itself was any good, but sober in the light of day I am far too scared to ever go back.

Read more on Gerald’s Game


CANDYMAN

Jason Lei Howden, Director of Deathgasm

I haven’t seen Candyman since its early 90s VHS release. Something in my subconscious always makes me pause when I think of revisiting it. That’s because it was the first, and one of the only, horror films that genuinely scared the utter hell out of me. The mythos, the atmosphere, the depressing urban ghetto setting, the amazing performances (Tony Todd is perfect as the horrific, darkly romantic and morally ambiguous “monster”), and satisfyingly bleak ending all combine to form one of the most terrifying modern horror films.

Read more on Candyman


THE OMEN

Sarah Voon, Flicks writer

The horror that first properly got to me has to be The Omen. A creeping sense of discomfort grows almost unbearable as this taut horror tightropes its way to its evil conclusion. The successful combination of deluded Catholic fervor, unsettling fatal “accidents” and a disturbingly blank-eyed apocryphal child born into a wealthy unsuspecting family, as part of the penultimate sinister master plan, is every mother’s worst nightmare. Darkly enhanced by a nerve-shredding, religious themed, Latin-chanting, violin squealing soundtrack, I still feel guilty about thoroughly checking my children’s scalps when they were newborns…

Read more on The Omen


IN A GLASS CAGE / ANGST

Ant Timpson, Incredibly Strange

Here’s a double feature of “dark dramas” –  that’ll wake you and shake you. Great horror films have a sensory impact on your eyes and ears. Truly disturbing ones have that visceral ability to control your heart rate, give you palpitations and cold sweats for hours after. So seek out these two films, watch them alone and at night. You’ll hate me later.

Read more on In a Glass Cage | Read more on Angst


The Grudge

Katie Parker, Flicks writer

The most scared I’ve ever been by a movie was when I was 14 and I saw The Grudge. There is nothing particularly original, compelling, or even that good about The Grudge but something about it–the spooky throaty noise, that chick crawling down the stairs, THAT BIT WHERE SHE GOES INTO THE ATTIC AND TURNS SLOWLY ROUND TO SEE THE CREEPY CHILD STARING AT HER–scared the bejesus out of me. The aftermath: that night I slept in my mum’s bed. For weeks I needed the radio on at all times for ambient, non-scary noise. For months I obsessively defogged the glass in the shower while bathing so I wouldn’t mistake random shapes obscured by steam for undead children. 14 years later they’re remaking the bloody thing and I can only hope to be traumatised all over again!

Read more on The Grudge


IT

Daniel Rutledge, Flicks writer

IT (1990) left a huge mental scar when I was about 10, and my brother put it on while my parents were out. Seeing Pennywise take Georgie in that opening scene made my jaw drop open and my blood run cold. But when Bill later went into his dead little brother’s room and evil made the book flip open to Georgie’s photo and drip blood, well, my heart bloody near stopped. I didn’t scream but I stopped breathing, my brother noticed, and he wisely kicked me out of the room.

Read more on IT


The Vanishing

Bill Gosden, NZ International Film Festival

[Spoilers follow] Gene Bervoets wakes up at the end of George Sluizer’s original The Vanishing (1988). In other hands this might be a Twilight Zone zinger, but Sluizer’s enterprise has the stealth,  precision and will-to-control of a Nazi experiment on humanity.

Read more on The Vanishing 


You’re Next

David Farrier, Journalist

I don’t know what happened to me as a child, but I am terrified of people in masks. To be brutally honest, at 35 I am still scared of Slipknot. But for me, the worst kind of mask is an animal mask. So while I can deal with Hannibal Lecter and Jason and that Saw idiot, I cannot deal with a human with any hint of an animal head.  Add to this the idea of people living in your house secretly—or in the basement or walls or something—and my god, I’m terrified. You’re Next plays on a lot of these fears, as people in animals masks emerge and wreak havoc on a family in an isolated house. It’s truly awful shit and I wish I’d never seen it, while at the same time of course—I bloody loved it.

Read more on You’re Next


Ringu

Josh Thomson, Actor

I watched it on DVD all by myself during the day. Even though it was all about watching a haunted VHS tape—I was terrified. I found myself saying out loud “it’s ok, you have a DVD… you have a DVD”. By the end, I didn’t even want to take it out of the machine.

Read more on Ringu


Martyrs

Steve Newall, Flicks Editor

Perhaps because its reputation preceded it, this took me multiple attempts to get through the opening scenes—repeatedly stopping the film late at night and literally checking windows and doors were locked. After a few failed attempts, I made it through the whole thing, and this mix of jump scares, home invasion horror, abuse and transcendental sadism has stayed with me ever since. Controversial, and sometimes lumped in with New French Extremity and torture porn movements, Martyrs is tough going, but in the service of narrative purpose, not seemingly out to revel in its disturbing moments as is the case with some of its early 2000s counterparts.

Read more on Martyrs


Mulholland Dr.

Liam Maguren, Flicks Assistant Editor

I’m not really into David Lynch or surreal cinema, but his 2001 Hollywood horror grew eight legs and crawled into my head. A nightmare made visible, the film’s demented dream logic continually distorts a seemingly straightforward story about stardom. It warmed me up to thinking any freakish thing could happen around the corner, and when a scene literally slow-walked the camera towards a particular corner, the trembling tension of not knowing what would come out had my mind begging “Don’t take me there, don’t take me there, don’t take me there.”

Read more on Mulholland Dr.


Ringu

Aaron Yap, Flicks writer

Halloween night, some 20 years ago. I loaded an unmarked VHS into a VCR hooked up to a small TV. 90 minutes later, what I watched redefined the word “scary” for me. Although some might consider its cursed video premise dated in this streaming era, Hideo Nakata’s highly prescient Ringu is probably still my benchmark for the Perfect Scary Horror Movie. The lingering sense of dread, indelibly creepy images, and shuddering force of its shock ending left me fearing for my life weeks after viewing.

Read more on Ringu


Lake Mungo

Matt Glasby, Flicks writer

Joel Anderson’s unassuming 2008 Aussie horror has been passed back and forth by UK horror critics like a banned VHS. It’s a (fake) documentary about a grieving family haunted by regrets (and more). But what makes it so powerful is that the “hauntings” are so subtle, and the grief so palpable, that anything seems possible. The results are creepy as hell.

Read more on Lake Mungo


Martin

Adam Fresco, Flicks writer

I love horror. Body horror? No problem. Grotesque, exploding bits, devils, the supernatural and rubber monsters? All good. But if there’s one thing that scares me it’s anything, well, real. Injections? Yeuch. The worst. That’s why the most uncomfortable time I’ve ever had at the movies was a screening of zombie-maestro George A. Romero’s 1978 flick Martin in which a young guy believes himself to be a vampire… Dark, brooding and blood-soaked family drama, it’s all too disturbingly realistic. Superb, scary, brilliant, bold, unsettling, unique, tense and terrifying–just the thought of Martin makes my spine shudder and my butt clench!

Read more on Martin


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