Editor's Note: This list was actually published for Halloween 2011, but because it remains relevant a year later (fear has still kept me from seeing any of these) we're re-running it in honor of this year's Halloween. And in the hopes enough of you will peer pressure me into at least seeing some of these before Halloween 2013.
It’s that Halloween time of year again which means everyone starts thinking about scary movies. That of course means the internet gets littered with definitive lists of what the scariest movies of all time are. Which in turn means you can expect to see a lot of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist near the top. Which reminds me of how I still haven’t seen it. Why? Because maybe I’m just a little bit too scared to.
See, one of the downfalls to being an avid movie buff is even if you haven’t seen a movie, you learn its reputation with time. That’s especially the case with difficult or violent ones. Controversial movies require conversation, which means its most challenging parts get openly discussed. That means there are no end of movies that I know are supposed to be excellent, but where I also know most of the violent, disturbing, graphic things that happen in them. Throw in the power of the imagination, and it becomes that much more challenging to want to take them on.
In the spirit of my cowardice then I thought I`d do something different for a Halloween list. So, in alphabetical order, here are the Top 10 movies I am too afraid to watch.
Note: There are SERIOUS SPOILERS ALERT all over the place here, since in order to talk about why I am apprehensive about watching these movies, I need to talk about why.
Up until Lars Van Trier became the King of Not Knowing When to Shut Up, the most controversial thing he had ever done was Antichrist. Feelings about the movie are contentious at best, which means like any good movie aficionado I want to see it and weigh in. I’ve been meaning to do that for two years now. As much I want to catch up, and as much as I look forward to the bizarre awesomeness of a fox proclaiming “Chaos Reigns” I just balk every time at the thought of having to witness the extreme and gruesome sexual mutilations I know I’ll see in Antichrist.
It didn’t hit me until now that all I know about Audition is that it features (and ends with) one of the most disturbing torture scenes ever put on film. In fact, that movie has become so identified with that scene, that I don’t even know if people think it’s actually any good. There’s no doubt I’m curious to find out how the movie’s plot plays out to get to a point where a woman dismembers a man with a wire saw. But the apprehensive anticipation of knowing with each passing minute I am closer to witnessing that, makes wanting to sit through all of Audition a daunting task.
Deep down I know I have probably seen scarier and more violent movies than The Exorcist. Still, I think this is a clear case of the movie’s formidable reputation having built it up to the point where it seems incredibly intimidating to take it on. There’s also the fact that something about possessed women snarling in the voices of demons/Satan that creeps the crap out of me. To say nothing of voices talking about what someone’s mother is up to in hell. Oh, also I am extremely vomit-phobic, which sort of makes The Exorcist the epitome of my worst nightmare.
The Human Centipede
Speaking of vomit-phobic, just thinking about the concept at the center of this movie makes me instantly nauseous, so I can’t imagine how I would react if I actually saw it. Actualy, it would probably be pretty similar to what happens in The Exorcist (the vomit part, not the posession part). This is the only movie on this list that I will actually never bother to see.
Strangely enough, it’s not just the supposed abundance of feces in Hunger that makes me squeamish. It’s largely the thought of seeing a rail thin Michael Fassbender. Something about seeing people reduced to skin and bones (like Christian Bale in The Machinist or actually in real life) really unsettles me. There are just too many heartbreaking and awful situations that lead to people being emaciated that seeing it in a movie evokes all of them for me.
Despite what this list may make you believe, there are not a lot of things I really struggle with seeing in a movie. But my top one is rape. So, given that Irreversible doesn’t just start with a rape scene, but one that lasts around ten minutes, it makes it hard to sit down and watch it knowing what I am going to get the moment the movies starts.
The Last House on the Left
By all accounts The Last House on the Left sounds like it’s an unrelenting succession of people being degraded, tortured, raped and murdered. I can easily watch horror movies where one victim after another is violently dispatched, but the things done in Wes Craven’s seem entirely too plausible and therefore that much more disturbing to watch for five minutes, let alone strung together to make an entire 84 minute experience.
I’ve seen High Tension. I’ve seen Inside. You think I would be at least somewhat well equipped for this entry in the French Horror New Wave. I’ve been assured I’m not. After being told someone gets flayed alive in Martyrs (one of many extreme acts of violence in the movie) I’m probably inclined to agree.
Basically the rape card is at play here again. But the fact that I have heard the victim also seems to have sympathy for her rapist is something I have a hard time imagining being comfortable with.
It's probably pretty easy to guess why I'd be afraid to watch a movie about the "vagina dentate" myth – something that violently affects my genders’ most sensitive area in situations that leave it at its most exposed (well, if you’re not a nudist). If you have ever observed a bunch of men watch a guy get hit in his nether regions you’ll see them visibly react as if they had been nailed there too. Men just somehow instantly picture what it would feel like if it happened to them. Now, that’s uncomfortable enough when watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” football-to-groin scenarios. It would be more so seeing what goes down in Teeth.
Aside from the inevitable "MAN UP!" comments, how do you guys feel? Do you share my apprehension about seeing any of the above movies? Is there nothing that frightens you? Or are there movies you too are afraid to take on and watch because of what you have heard about them?