Most "scary" movies today are also slasher films. Or feature aliens from outer space. The kids told me about a boy on their bus who refused to shower for an entire year after watching "Killer Clowns from Outer Space," a classic scary cult film if there ever was one! The alien clowns were pretty outlandish and over the top. The shower scene was really creepy, though... but so is not showering for a year!
Hitchcock was a master at creepy suspense, and a master at taking ordinary situations and looking at them in a slightly skewed way, so that even the mundane can begin to freak us out.
Take "The Birds" for instance. We see large migratory flocks of birds all the time. In late summer and early fall they do start to gather just like in the movie. When they reach critical mass, they really do fly as a black cloud, and swoop as a single unit. Okay, I've never seen them execute a coordinated attack on humans, but it's not that far a stretch to imagine. We just needed Hitchcock to push the envelope.
That's what I think makes movies scary. Taking something common, and just tweaking it a bit. Starting with the ordinary and adding that extra element of fear, an element that lies just below the surface anyway.
In seventh grade, I saw the original movie "The Fog," with Adrienne Barbeau. I say original because I hear it's been remade in recent years. But I'm not going to rent it or try to compare the two. I'm never going to watch the original again, either. Or go into a lighthouse alone at night, for goodness sakes.
At the Jersey Shore when I was growing up, we never really had the "fog" phenomenon... and then I moved to Cape Cod. Here along Nantucket Sound, we have lots of the creeping, rolling, billowing fog that you can watch as it rolls down the street...
What's your favorite scary movie? Leave a comment and share what films make you scream.