FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 3, 2013

SHOCKtober: 290-281

Today's chunk o' the list o' the movies y'all find scariest is pretty interesting in that it highlights how a film doesn't have to be "horror" to terrify. I'm including the commentary from the reader who listed these movies for context, as chances are the titles won't be familiar to many. Enjoy...if you dare!

I mean, why wouldn't you dare? It's just a blog post, geez. Oh, and each of these movies received one vote.

290. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial -- 1982, Steven Spielberg
289. The Spiral Staircase -- 1945, Robert Siodmak
288. Lovely Molly -- 2011, Eduardo Sanchez
287. Jurassic Park -- 1993, Steven Spielberg
286. Humongous -- 1982, Paul Lynch

Now then, here's the intro I got to this reader's list of films, and the notes for each.
When I was a pre-teen, my family would go to a Bible conference every year in Iowa. Over the weekend, the adults would have some of their own sessions at the fairgrounds, and the kids would all be bused back to the chapel for youth activities, the main one being watching a Christian movie, usually by Mark IV Pictures (some trailers). These were bad-behavior-results-in-death-or-dismemberment movies, with a gospel presentation in there somewhere.
These movies scarred me for life. Well, for much of it, anyway. Now I'm a horror buff, and owe it to these well-intentioned but horribly misguided event planners (and filmmakers). I'm not positive which traumatic scenes belong to which movie, but I'll do my best.
285. Home Safe -- 1981, Donald W. Thompson

A kid dies by running through a sliding glass door, for no real reason. A black panther escapes from the zoo, prowls the neighborhood, and corners a kid in a barn. Someone rescues him with a pitchfork. Somewhere in there the kid blows up an abandoned car with a cherry bomb in the gas tank to scare away the panther.

284. Happiness Is... -- 1975, Russell S. Doughten, Jr.

An uncle yells at and boxes the ears of a child (scenes where adults yelled upset me). Same child is trapped on a tin roof by bullies, and a loose power line is dragging over the roof, sparking and threatening to electrocute the child and the uncle who is trying to rescue her with a ladder. Several times during the movie, they sing the song, "Happiness is the Lord". To this day, I can't sing that song.

283. Sammy -- 1988, Russell S. Doughten, Jr.

A family is winding through the Rockies in a station wagon. The mother tells the son to stop sticking his head out the window or it'll get lopped off. Soon after, a truck rounds a bend in the wrong lane, and the station wagon plunges through the guard rail to the bottom of the cliff. We see a shot of the open car door, and the family dog's paw sticking out. It pulls its paw inside, and when it comes back out, it's covered with blood. Sammy is an orphan who goes to live with a couple that fights often. He gets locked in a car trunk, and the car gets sent to the junk yard, and put in a car crusher. The crusher works in three steps: hood, body, trunk. The couple comes to the yard just as they are crushing the car, and Sammy's cries can't be heard over the hydraulics. They yell for the operator to shut off the machine so they can call for Sammy, and as it goes quiet, they hear Sammy calling from the last uncrushed section.

282. The Shepherd -- 1984, Donald W. Thompson

Fighter jets zoom around and crash. Two men are canoeing, and cross under a rope and sign warning of white water. Their canoe capsizes, and they cling for life on two rocks in the rapids. The father of one of the men arrives on the scene with a rope, and sees he may only have time to rescue one. He throws the rope to the man who is not his son, and by the time he gets him ashore, the other rock is empty. The father explains he rescued the man first because he wasn't saved, and he knew his son was, and was safe in heaven now. I actually watched this movie again many years later, and the "rapids" they used for the scene was a wide brook, barely a foot deep.

281. The Cross and the Switchblade -- 1970, Don Murray

I actually saw this at a friend's house. It's based on a true story, about drugs and gang life in the 70s. My dad made me come watch it, but after someone got stabbed to death with a switchblade, I was allowed to leave.

Good stuff, amirite? Can't lie, I'm glad my parents opted to take me to drive-ins featuring slasher flicks rather than Bible conferences featuring movies like those.

Anyway, I was surprised to see E.T. get a vote...then I remembered that my introduction to the film came courtesy of a magazine picture featuring Elliott in his Halloween makeup. When I finally saw the movie, I loved it (duh) but was also extremely disappointed that it was not a horror film, as the picture had led me to believe.


vampy said...

My impression of Bible horror (yes, my Mom watches Bible horror) is that it's a lot like Satanic horror except made by believers. Like that "In Satan's Closet" Film.

That was based on a true story, I could just tell from watching it.

michael said...

I've met a lot of people that were scared by E.T. One person's defense was, "He looked like a disgusting worm!". All I could think was, "I cried when he died and you were disgusted by him?"

michael said...

Hey, and this is weird, Dee Wallace is in The Shepherd.

Wings1295 said...

I wasn't scared by E.T., but I remember, on the drive home from the theater, something ran across the road and the lady driving our car freaked out and we had to pull over. We were all scared, of course I was just a wee lad, but even the two adults in the car were scared. LOL Never did find out what it was that crossed the road, either. :)

Jason Adams said...

I tricked my best friend into riding the ET ride at Universal Studios when we went to Florida on Spring Break back in college, even though I knew she was TERRIFIED of ET, and when you get to the end and he says your name at you she almost climbed out of the vehicle we were strapped into even though it was hanging in mid-air. It was awesome. I'd never thought of ET as creepy when I was a kid but after seeing him through her eyes... he really is a squat little tumor.

Verdant Earl said...

Not only have I seen The Cross and the Switchblade, but we had the paperback in our home when I was a kid. I read everything, so I'm sure I read it too. Wow.

It was this very cool cover:

Pokemon Postmon said...

Must track these films down! I'm sure that you had public safety ads in the US, but here in the UK we had some rather disturbing ones. Two that feature a lot in nightmares are 'The Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water' voiced by Donald Pleasence
And 'Apaches' which features many children dying from misadventures on a farm.
However, there's a short one about littering beaches that still haunts me to this day. I still feel uncomfortable walking barefoot on the beach!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one creeped out by ET. I'm not anymore but he definitely gave me the wiggins when I was little.

Will said...

Oh, man, as every kid who went to evangelical middle schools can attest, some of the craziest stuff is in Biblical end times horror movies. There's a series from the '70s called A Thief in The Night that features people getting their heads chopped off by guillotines and getting attacked by giant killer wasps. It's some messed up stuff. It's Tod Browning with Bible verses.

matango said...

I highly recommend "If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do," the 1970s Christploitation slasher featuring some . . . uh . . . acting. It's on youtube.

Chris Otto said...

No respect whatsoever for an alien species that would eat Reese's Pieces that have been sitting in the dirt of the forest floor for god knows how long.