The 31 Scariest Movies Countdown Continues

The picks from 24 to 18 include a must-see Japanese film and American horror

Welcome to Week 2 of my picks for the scariest movies of all time.

Last week we started things off with some foreign, some classic, and some Stephen King fright flicks. (Check out my picks for 31-25 here.) This week has a must-see Japanese film and several American horrors from the ‘80s until today.

Again, as there are only 31 slots, many (many!) films did not make the cut. So let me know what you agree with, and, more importantly, what you don’t.

24. Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)
As commenter Kim S. discovered, the American version, 2004’s The Grudge, was a pretty creeptastic time. “When I was pregnant (fairly far along) with [my son]…I was bored one day and went to the movies by myself. Decided The Grudge was a good choice. I was the only person in the theater. I spent the entire movie with my head buried under my jacket with my eyes peeking out, continually looking around waiting for ‘her’ to spring up at me. It was horrific.”

But this pretty gore-less, J-horror original, with its ensemble cast of characters, builds greater suspense and terror by weaving together multiple story lines. Plus, that blacked-eyed, black-mouth boy is just freaky.

23. Event Horizon (1997)
The crew of the Lewis & Clark journey to find a missing space ship, the Event Horizon. What they find is a ghost ship that’s been ravaged by insanity. By which, I mean dismemberment, cannibalism, mutilation … oh my! This is one gory, sci-fi fright. And has this gem of a line, “Where we’re going, we won’t need eyes to see.”

22. Amityville Horror (1988)
Philly Mag food editor Kirsten Henri: “I saw the Amityville Horror in fifth grade at a sleepover. I barely even remember the movie, but to this day, I am still terrified of houses with windows that looked like eyes. And bees. Oh God, the bees!”

21. Candyman (1992)
Okay. Stand in front of a mirror and say the following: Candy Man. Candy Man. Candy Man.
Couldn’t do it, could you?

20. Paranormal Activity (2009)
One of the greatest movie-going experiences I have ever had. The audience shrieked. They screamed. Their groans grew in volume as the movie progressed. I loved it. Well … I loved what I actually saw (the majority was through my fingers). If you haven’t seen it yet, do it! You will be scared — and not just by all of the Pier 1, bachelor pad furniture.

19. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
All I really need to say about this movie, to prove its scary mettle, is: ”It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” But once you add in a pit, some fava beans, a serial killer or two, and night vision goggles, you have this brilliant psycho-thriller.

18. 28 Days Later (2002)
Jim (Cilian Murphy) wakes up in a hospital to find it, and an apocalyptic London, completely deserted. He walks through the streets calling “Hello?” again and again without response. When he enters a church he again calls out “hello?” This time he gets a response. A single, slack-jawed face looks in his direction.

This is the first glimpse of the fast-moving, twitchy zombites that inhabit Danny Boyle’s film. While definitely not a new premise, nor an all-together successful second half, you cannot help but be frightened by these horrible creatures.

Stay tuned for next week as we countdown from 17 to 11. Until then, here are some suggestions of movies not on the list:

[SIGNUP]From Jason E.: Boogie Nights. I have never been more terrified or stressed out at any other movie. The coke scene with Amber Waves — the drug deal gone bad. I watched half the movie from the back of the theater, so I could duck out when things got too intense. Oh yeah, Roller Girl kicking the shit out of that guy was frightening too. I was on edge for days hoping I wouldn’t have to resort to a life in the porn industry.

Michael I.: Children of the Corn. I grew up surrounded by cornfields and let me tell you something — children are always in the corn! And it’s horrible when you drive past … they stand perfectly still and stare … That movie is the sole reason I moved to the city — 250 miles away!

Lauren McCutcheon (Philly Mag’s Lifestyle Editor): I’ve closed my eyes and hid behind my elbows for more movies than I can count, from Halloween on. But the only movie I’ve walked out of, because it scared me to the core, because I am a fatalist who believes one day earth will resemble a decimated, non-biblical form of the apocalypse: Children of Men. Made me feel like I was getting repeatedly punched in the stomach, and even the dashing Clive Owen couldn’t keep me in my theater seat.