Sometimes the scariest movies are also the worst tearjerkers.
The goal of this series is to show that being “manly” and being disconnected with your emotions do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While the approach to these articles is one of comedy and satire, the emotional core of these movies is very valid. Manly movies make guys cry, for example:
F@*king Creepy Movies
Enjoying a good horror movie is a tough experience to explain. You like being terrified, yet your body language suggests you want to run away. You like being repulsed, yet you hide your eyes and utter “eww” at every turn. How can the urge to feel safe coexist with the delight in seeing others in peril? It’s the vicarious thrill, in my opinion. Modern life has eliminated many of the threats that our minds evolved to deal with. Sometimes a jolt of adrenaline after a good scare just feels good, like stretching after sitting for a while. The more removed you are from seeing death on a daily basis, the more fascination you’ll derive from seeing it on film (also probably why many hospital workers chose not to watch particularly gory films).
With Halloween over and the thrill of spooky movies still in our veins, I want to review some of the most creepy-ass movies that still serve an emotional purpose other than fear. First, a primer: a scary movie is horror and sexy times, but the characters are cannon-fodder. “Horny teenager” is hardly a character that’s going to make anyone’s career, nor will it truly connect with the audience. A creepy movie is horror because you can relate to the characters. In doing so, their untimely fate is all the more unsettling. The more human the characters, the closer you are to the situation and the deeper the horror can sink under your skin.
1. Pan’s Labyrinth
First off, anything that Guillermo Del Toro touches immediately has a certain creep factor. His mastery of creatures and relatable characters is a wonder to look at, like a drunk Jim Henson. The stepdad of the protagonist in this film is a war criminal, torturing captives, abusing his pregnant wife, and generally being a jerk. The real world is so horrible for the protagonist that she retreats into her fantasy world of dark fairies and creatures.
OR DOES SHE?
There’s ambiguity on whether the fantasy is real or not, and there’s never a definitive answer. It’s preferable that it be real, mostly due to (spoiler alert) her dad shooting her dead at the end. If the fantasy is real, her soul returns to the underworld kingdom where she’s a princess. If it’s not real, she just died after having a hard life, which is really quite depressing.
(DO NOT get me started on that pale man with the eyes in his hands.)
2. The Silence of the Lambs
This film is so creepy its title is almost less recognizable than its characters. Hannibal Lecter, the refined cannibal, eats up this role with fava beans. See? You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Between the guy trying to wear starved women’s skin as a suit to Hannibal playing mind games with Jodie Foster, this is a movie you watch with the lights on if you want to sleep at night.
With so many iconic scenes (looking at you, police chief from Monk), it’s easy to forget the meaning of the movie’s title. Jodie Foster was scarred as a child by hearing lambs being slaughtered, and her motivation to prevent the murder at hand is in hopes of ending her association of those lambs and her father’s violent death. The fact that Anthony “Odin” Hopkins was able to exact so much leverage over Jodie to force her to reveal that about herself is unsettling, and the performance he gave only amplifies the creep-factor. We never really feel bad about the people who get killed in this film, but little Jodie waking up to murdered livestock in a strange place that can never be home to her…that’s pretty sad.
3. Let Me In/Let the Right One In
One’s the American remake (naturally, because we ran out of ideas years ago) but both are fantastic. What appears to be a little girl moving into a new neighborhood with her dad turns out to be a very old vampire (turned at a young age) with her human companion. The movie’s protagonist is a little boy who’s bullied, and in his solitude he develops a friendship with this odd little girl. She ends up flat out murder-death-killing his bullies in a very gory scene, but that’s not the creepy/sad part.
The older human companion still loves her, and gives his life as one last gesture to her. The boy, as much as a boy his age can, develops a love for her that mirrors the old man’s. The insinuation is that the old man was once in the little boy’s position and they’ve been together for his whole life. From that, we can predict the little boy’s fate; to befriend and protect this vampire until he’s too old to continue, and then she eats him. Brutal.
A Stephen King film with a good ending? Well, it was a short story that the film fleshed out, so there’s that. I really liked this film for how it toyed with the audience and really made you feel bad for the admittedly unlikable protagonist. John “my sister is Joan” Cusack debunks supposedly haunted attractions out of some sort of bitterness after the loss of his daughter. Samuel L. “Mother-F@&king” Jackson tries to warn John that this particular hotel room is not fake, but nothing’s stopping this jerk!
What follows is one of the creepiest stretches of hauntings I’ve ever seen. The hotel room progressively changes itself, erasing escape routes, becoming damaged and fixing itself, and generally doing everything possible to psychologically break John. As if that’s not bad enough (spoiler alert) there’s a lengthy period where John gets out of the room, only to find after several weeks of being free that he is still in the room and it was f-ing with him, holodeck-style!
Finally, a visit from his dead daughter really pushes things over the edge. First of all, she isn’t scary, she’s just there. He says she’s dead and isn’t real, and she purely doesn’t understand why he won’t hug her. And I need to go to the other room for a moment. ICE! I need ice…
This is a horror film from 1932. Nineteen-effing-thirty-two and it still freaks people out. There’s an original version that was so shocking that it was never released and no longer exists. This is like the “First Evil” from Buffy: it’s where all horror films come from.
A “normal” lady dates a sideshow midget (term used back then in the film) due to his wealthy inheritance. All the while, she conspires with the strongman (cause it’s the circus, natch) to kill him and take his money. Long story short, the carnies find out and castrate the strong man (what?!) and deform the lady to turn her into one of them. This was almost a century before Kevin Smith’s cinematic abortion Tusk, mind you. They melt her hands and permanently tar and feather her, calling her the human duck. And she has to live like that as a circus freak.
The saddest and most creepy ending to a film is not death, but life as a deformed monster. Just ask Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.
Like what you see? Secure enough in your masculinity for more? Check out more Guy Cry Cinema or watch Dan on No Right Answer, the weekly debate show that knows what’s really important: Pointlessly arguing about geek culture.