What scares Martin Scorsese … and me

Posted by · 3:18 pm · October 30th, 2009

Deborah Kerr in The InnocentsTomorrow, of course, is Hallowe’en — an institution more treasured in the US than it is on my side of the ocean, where it’s principally another excuse to get drunk. (But hey, this year I’ll be getting drunk while wearing a silly hat. Progress!)

One aspect of the holiday that travels well, at least, is the celebration of horror cinema: Pinewood Studios, for example, is hosting a drive-in double-feature of “The Omen” and “The Shining” on the world’s largest cinema screen.

Meanwhile, horror DVD marathons will take place in living rooms around the world, so Martin Scorsese (whose own upcoming film looks to have its share of jolts) has helpfully provided his own playlist of the 11 scariest horror films of all time for The Daily Beast:

1. “The Haunting” (Robert Wise, 1963)
2. “Isle of the Dead” (Val Lewton, 1945)
3. “The Uninvited” (1944)
4. “The Entity” (Sidney J. Furie, 1981)
5. “Dead of Night” (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1945)
6. “The Changeling” (Peter Medak, 1980)
7. “The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
8. “The Exorcist” (William Friedkin, 1973)
9. “Night of the Demon” (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)
10. “The Innocents” (Jack Clayton, 1961)
11. “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

I don’t mind admitting that there are titles here I haven’t seen, while not everything on this list quite does it for me. This is the beauty of the genre: a horror film’s effectiveness is dependent more in intangible visceral criteria than aesthetic ones. I’ve seen some monumental junk that has nonetheless rattled me far more than more finely crafted entries in the horror canon.

You may remember we offered our own collective list of the 20 greatest horror films last year. (It allows for a catholic definition of “horror,” but I think that should be the case.) My personal contribution to the list ran as follows:

1. “Repulsion” (Roman Polanski, 1965)
2. “The Innocents” (Jack Clayton, 1961)
3. “The Last Wave” (Peter Weir, 1977)
4. “Blue Velvet” (David Lynch, 1986)
5. “Rosemary’s Baby” (Roman Polanski, 1968)
6. “The Vanishing” (George Sluizer, 1988)
7. “Peeping Tom” (Michael Powell, 1960)
8. “The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
9. “Psycho” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
10. “Wolf Creek” (Greg Mclean, 2005)

That means Scorsese and I overlap on three films — not bad for this most idiosyncratic of genres. What about you?

→ 8 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

8 responses so far

  • 1 10-30-2009 at 3:38 pm

    Morgan said...

    The last segment of “Trilogy of Terror.” Yeah, I know it was TV, but… damn, that Zuni doll is still scary as hell.


  • 2 10-30-2009 at 3:39 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Interesting and unique list from Scorsese, though The Haunting is more funny than scary these days.

    I’m very impressed to see Peeping Tom on your lineup (probably one of the most underrated horror films ever) but Wolf Creek? Please explain that to me. Nick Davis and Nat Rogers also rate it highly and I strain to think of a drearier, more dishonest thriller than that one.

  • 3 10-30-2009 at 4:34 pm

    Matthew said...

    In unrelated news, has anyone seen the new trailer for “The Road”? Not as action oriented, but my goodness it’s still a terrible trailer.

  • 4 10-30-2009 at 4:47 pm

    Michael said...

    Wow, Martin Scorcese has really good taste in horror. I need to catch up on Dead of Night, The Uninvited, and Isle of Dead, but all the others are pretty much my favorites as well.

    And Guy, your list is awesome too! I need to see The Last Wave and The Vanishing, but everything else is top notch and I like it a lot! :-) Have fun getting drunk tomorrow night and be safe! I always follow up my night of drinking on halloween with a nice trip to Waffle House or Denny’s at 3am – usually in a graphic bloody costume just to get a rise out of all the other customers. Last year I was Patrick Bateman post-Paul Allen murder, this year I think I am going with a simple Jason Vorhees costume, but it will still be fun.

  • 5 10-30-2009 at 5:25 pm

    Georgie said...

    I thought Wolf Creek was horrible, not remotely scary at all (and I thought I was easily scared), and the camera work took me out of the movie.

  • 6 10-30-2009 at 6:06 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Robert: I could go into an academic breakdown of Wolf Creek’s brilliant craft and wicked narrative reversals, but the truth is that it scared the living shit out of me. Sometimes things are that simple … and personal.

    I didn’t realize I was in such good company, though!

  • 7 10-30-2009 at 9:07 pm

    Jake said...

    Peeping Tom is eerily creepy. The death scene where he stabs that woman with the end of his tripod was totally used in Halloween: Resurrection (which I just saw bits of on TV the other day). Halloween’s version of it, by the way, was horrible.

  • 8 10-31-2009 at 7:33 am

    Kokushi said...

    Good list but i HATE and LOATH that movie Repulsion, i didnt care about anyone, the story, i wasnt scary or disturbing but i love Rosemary’s Baby, it was better than i was expecting.