Only five movies have ever truly scared me during and after watching them (and while Anthony Hopkin's "The Rite" wasn't one of them, it still was a highly entertaining horror flic, primarily for all the wonderful Silence of the Lambs moments it stirred up---Chianti and fava beans anyone?).
And I'm not talking about the jump scare, the screamer scare or the gore scare... I mean the CORE scare--the one that sends shivers up your spine throughout; the one that keeps your arms glued on the rest, to your date, to your lap and so darn tight you lose circulation; the one that even when it's over and you're laughing about your experience watching it (and in the daylight, no less), it still makes you go cold.
Yes, these are the factors of fear that get my heart pumping...these are the tenements of terror that send my adrenaline rushing...these are the high-mark horror hits that make my eyes widen with excitement. And it's a crying shame we just don't get them anymore in theatres.
As inferred from above, I recently saw "The Rite". While it didn't, in my opinion, scare me to the level I wanted and hoped for, it was still a thematically freaky and suspenseful film (Mr. Hannibal the Cannibal himself gets all the credit, though, as the devilishly deceptive Father Lucas). But it got me thinking... when was the last time I was indeed scared stiff from/at a movie?
It wasn't the latest re-incarnations of Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street--those were more root-out-loud-for-all-the-throwback-references type horror movies. It wasn't any of the Saw films--I'd categorize those as plain bloody entertainment (both for Brits and American horror hounds). "And it certainly wasn't Jack the Ripper," to quote a brilliant line from one of my fav five aforementioned films of fearful fandom (yes, I'm dragging out the names of all those films just like a horror movie's plot).
I'd have to say the last time I was genuinely spooked from head to toe at the theatre was "Drag Me to Hell," preceded by "The Ring." These films represent 2/5 of my list, with the other three being classics I saw on TV as a youngster.*
*Note: some of these films no longer scare me the way they did, but I love watching them nevertheless, especially with people who've never watched them before :-D
Rounding things out: JAWS, The Exorcist and The Omen, in no particular order (with Stephen King's "It" an honorable mention). I still remember the first time I watched all of these movies and being frozen to the couch as a result. I even had a few nachtmares that got them banned by the 'rents until the teen years. But, that's what I get for watching horror movies at age Nein!
However, I'll end my horror-scope, if you will, by saying none of the aforementioned flics could have ever achieved their superscare status without one key element: a chilling score. Yes, listening to a horror movie brings equal "music to my ears" as watching it (and I mean that literally and figuratively). What would Jaws have been without "dum dum, dum dum dum dum"? What would The Omen have been without "Ave Satani"? You name me a favorite horror film of yours, and I guarantee the music is morbidly moody, if not memorably macabre. If you don't agree, try playing that said movie on mute.
Then again, how do you watch a horror movie "The Rite" way?