Movies like “Jaws,” “The Birds” and “The Hills Have Eyes’ prove you don’t need to be in the dark to be horrified
“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)Sally (Marilyn Burns), her three friends and father Franklin are attacked by the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) when their car runs out of gas and have nowhere to go. Sally is put in a race against the dwindling sunlight as she does everything she can to escape.
“Jaws” (1975)During the opening scene, we are introduced to Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie), who decides to take a dip in the ocean after leaving a beach party. The John Williams score starts to swell when Chrissie suddenly feels something pulling at her from underneath. The terrorizing shark, even though it was shown only briefly during the actual movie, left audiences fearful of ever going back into the ocean. ““When you go out into the water, there’s this idea you’re incredibly vulnerable,” a clinical psychologist told the New York Post in 2015. “Literally anything can kind of happen. We’re built to kind of fear that, we’re built to fear the unknown.”
“Tremors” (1990) Valentine (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) try to save a small town from carnivorous “megaworms” in this early ’90s creature feature, much of it taking place under the arid heat of the Nevada sun.
“Predator” (1987)Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a special forces rescue team on a mission to save U.S. officials captured by the Soviets. The story plays out much like a cold-war action film, except for the fact that their foes aren’t only the Soviets, but also an alien species armed with advanced hunting weapons and the power of invisibility.
“Anaconda” (1997) Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube and Owen Wilson. Sounds like a great group to go on an exotic trip with, except when they’re documentary film crew traversing the dangerous Amazon in “Anaconda.” The crew is taken hostage by a hunter (Jon Voight), who forces them to help him capture a monstrous snake.
“The Ring” (2002) A newspaper reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) investigates why people are dying seven days after watching a cursed videotape in this remake of a Japanese horror film of the same name. Similar to other horror films that followed “The Ring,” the film emphasizes the green and blue colors in the frame, adding to its eeriness whether day or night.
“Lake Placid” (1999) A crew investigates the disappearance of a scuba diver off the coast of Maine to find that dwelling below is a gigantic saltwater crocodile. The movie stars Brendan Gleeson as Sheriff Hank Keough. The actor also appears in other entries on this list, including “28 Days Later” and “The Village.”
“Ju-On: The Grudge” (2002) A Japanese social worker is taking care of an ill mother when she realizes the house she’s working in is cursed from a murder that took place in that very home. The vengeful supernatural force takes the shape of a young woman and boy with pale blue skin.
“28 Days Later” (2003) Cillian Murphy wakes up from a coma just to discover that London has been decimated by a virus, leading those who are infected to turn into rabid zombies. A friendly tip: Just like when trying the “Hot Ones” challenge, don’t let any of it get in your eyes.
“Dawn of the Dead” (1978, 2004) A zombie uprising leads a group of human survivors to camp out in a shopping mall. Why are the zombies drawn to the mall? The movie explains to us that it’s where the humans were used to being when they were alive.
“The Village” (2004)Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix and Sigourney Weaver star as members of a small countryside community that fear a predator outside of their village is set to attack them.
“The Hills Have Eyes” (1977, 2006)A family’s trip from Ohio to Los Angeles goes awry when their truck explodes in the Nevada desert. They soon realize they’re surrounded by a clan of cannibals lurking in the hills. “The Hills Have Eyes” director Wes Craven shot the film in the New Mexico desert. The 2006 remake was shot in Morocco.
“A Quiet Place” (2018)Lee (John Krasinski), Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their two kids are forced to live a life of silence when blind aliens with armored skin invade Earth, attacking anything that makes the slightest noise.
“Midsommar” (2019) In Ari Aster’s new horror flick, four American tourists go on a trip to a remote commune in Sweden to immerse themselves in a festival during the summer solstice. Shortly after they arrive, a paranoid Mark (Will Poulter once again providing comic relief) begins tripping on drugs he got from someone at the commune, noticing that the sun is still out at 9 p.m. He quickly learns he shouldn’t be panicking — yet — because the festival takes place during a “midnight sun,” a period of time when it’s light out almost exclusively. Without spoiling the plot, the substances and the teachings of the villagers blur the group’s idea of what is really happening in front of them, and thus blurring our perception as well.
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