The films that scared us silly mostly did so in childhood, and here we get all misty-eyed and nostalgic about giving ourselves sleepless nights as whippersnappers. But this lot are still good fun in adulthood, especially at Halloween…
Dr. Giggles (1992)
I watched this delicious slice of B-movie trash round a friend’s house when I was wee lad, and it gave me a lifelong fear of doctors. I haven’t been to see a doctor in two decades, for fear that they are Dr. Giggles. There is every chance that I am terminally ill. The film’s about a deranged doctor who embarks on a killing spree across his hometown in rural America, wise–cracking along the way. “At least your reflexes are good,” he chuckles, after bludgeoning a victim with a tiny hammer. In retrospect, in the cold light of adulthood, Dr. Giggles is absolute dogshit. But kids are stupid, aren’t they?
– Jordan Bassett, Staff Writer
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Good horrors always do more with less. My older cousin showed me The Blair Witch Project when I was eight years old and all I really remember about it is that I was fucking terrified. I haven’t watched it since and the only things that really stay with me are the shaky handheld footage, bloody handprints on the walls of a woodland cabin, and a mixture of running and heavy breathing in the woods. I’m not even sure you actually see any monsters in it, but it still scared the shit out of me.
– Larry Bartleet, Staff Writer
Dead Of Night (1945)
Who’d have thought an Ealing Studios film from 1945 could still be scary in the late 1980s? Certainly not me when I naively watched this anthology horror, lulled into a false sense of security by its sheer oldness. It revolves around a gathering at which one man is convinced he’s met the others in a dream. As they recount their own tales of the supernatural, we build to the horrible story of ventriloquist dummy Hugo Fitch, who seems to have a mind of his own – Chuckie’s granddad, basically. From that point on, the helter-skelter ending is like speeding through a ghost train. Could a film so old still be scary? Good God, yes. Every time I looked out of my childhood bedroom window, there was the hearse driver, cheerfully saying “room for one more in the back”. All mirrors were haunted. Toys were too much like Hugo for comfort. Dead Of Night killed my childhood.
– Dan Stubbs, Commissioning Editor
John Carpenter’s original Halloween. Sure, it has spawned a never-ending franchise with many ludicrous plot holes and, sure, the original Michael Myers mask was a mask of Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk that had been ironed and spray painted white, but the original film was terrifying and brilliant and you cannot help but recoil in fear when Michael starts that menacingly slow paced walk towards his next victim.
– Jo Weakley, Digital Producer
Later in life, I’ve found that horror films make me cry. I was well into slasher films as a teen and this was not a thing that happened. But then during university, at my friend Dave’s house, I watched the Japanese version of Ring and it was so fucking terrifying I weeped. Scary kids are just dead scary, aren’t they? But then an episode of Poirot did once give me nightmares for a week so not as terrifying as portly Belgian detectives, apparently.
– Charlotte Gunn, Digital Editor