What makes for a good Halloween scare? For me, it’s the more subtle, deliciously creepy stuff that is most thrilling.
I’m not much for over-the-top gore or slasher films. Buckets of blood spraying everywhere as a masked guy who can’t be killed eviscerates a bunch of horny teenagers may be startling, but ultimately is boring. I’d rather watch a Hitchcock movie than any of the Friday the 13th series. Old-fashioned horror films, where character development occurs and back stories are told, are better than the recent movies that devote all of their creative energies toward figuring out new ways to behead, impale, or disembowel the indestructible killer or his hapless victims.
Good scary movies are always suspenseful, but don’t need to be gory. The best ones have a weird, interesting character — and sometimes more than one. Usually they involve a twist or two, and a false start or other surprise. Consider Silence of the Lambs. It’s really not a very bloody movie, but I’d wager that most people felt a deep, horrible, mounting anxiety and terror as FBI agent Clarice Starling closed in on the profoundly disturbed Buffalo Bill in that ancient, darkened basement. In my view, that scenario — and Clarice’s spine-tingling interactions with Dr. Hannibal Lecter — are scarier than Jason anyday.