In this film, a small family of 5 tries to deal with a strange, malicious, and seemingly powerful supernatural force that has taken an interest in them, especially in their youngest daughter. The film has been praised a lot since it was released and is considered to be one of the most iconic horror films ever made –earning itself a spot on this list. Is it scary? In way, yes –the way that the family is put into dangerous and perilous situations is certainly some of the biggest highlights of the film. But don’t worry about feeling scared for yourself from watching this film.
The Exorcist (1973)
The story of the Exorcist is pretty simple: a priest is being called to perform an exorcism on a woman possessed by a demon. What makes this movie particularly special is the subject matter itself: a priest is literally fighting a demon. Typical Christian Sunday school will teach people to treat demons as an abstract; like the temptation to do something wrong which is basically an internal struggle of conscience. But this film literally puts a demon in the spotlight by saying it is a real thing and that priests are trained by the church to fight them when they take over people’s bodies. It also helps that the special effects and the acting in this film are top notch, leading to some intense scenes that has influence filmmaking for years to come. Did we mention that it was inspired by a real life exorcism? Yeah, that’s creepy.
Carrie is not exactly a “scary” movie since the protagonist herself is both an underdog heroine and the main source of paranormal disturbances. In this film, Carrie is young girl who is raised by her psychotic yet religiously fanatic single mother. It also does not help that she is bullied at school (her bullies are on a completely new level of mean). It is implied that her mother was raped by a demon –this unholy union has given Carrie telekinetic abilities which quickly grows out of control due to her (unexpectedly) fragile psyche.
While it is now more popularly known as the source of the famous exploding head internet meme, Scanners, as a film, was still pretty famous in its own right. This movie is more science fiction than it is occult or paranormal. The premise is that there are people with psychic powers and they are called scanners. Not surprisingly, the government wants to create a division that would use scanners as agents or weapons. On the other side of the conflict are scanner supremacists who want to use their power to reign over the world.
The Wicker Man (1973)
This is the kind of film that reinforces the notion that secluded societies are a lot like cults –which is actually kind of true. The Wicker Man is about a policeman, who is also devout Christian, investigating the case of a missing girl on a small remote island village. As he digs deeper and deeper into the case, he learns more and more disturbing things about the people in the village and their potential involvement in her disappearance.
The Shining (1980)
The Shining is a Stanely Kubrick film, so expect it to be splendid, surreal, and just utterly nuts. The film follows the tale of a small family moving into a hotel. The father, Jack, has taken up the work of a caretaker of the hotel during the winter as it gets snowed in and isolated –his intention being that he wants to write a book in the downtime and caretaking an empty hotel will give him the time. However, it appears that the hotel hides many secrets, and adding in Jack’s unstable mental state and his son’s psychic sensitivities makes for a very volatile mix that quickly erupts onscreen.
The Woman in Black 1989
When Arthur Kidd, a young solicitor, visits a small sleepy town on business, he finds himself inexplicably caught in the mystery of the strange estate that he is in charge of. As it turns out, there have been strange sightings of a woman in black around the area –which the solicitor himself becomes witness to; as if the situation was not dreadful enough, there have also been cases of children dying in the area. Since this is a horror film, it makes perfect sense that all these things are tied up together, making for an incredibly dark and sad mystery for the film.
Suspiria is about a young American girl transferring into an exclusive dance academy in Germany. Upon her arrival, strange things happen immediately –starting with the death of a student of the school. This, combined with the strange behavior of the school’s staff and guardians, as well as her own investigation of the dead student, leads her to discover the dark secret behind the origin of the campus.
The Changeling (1980)
This film about a ghost of young boy seeking justice may be a little too dark and grim for some. When a man who has recently lost his family in an accident moves into an old mansion, he encounters the vengeful ghost of a boy who was sickly in life, killed by his parents, and replaced with a normal healthy child that assumed his name and identity. The man finds himself compelled to investigate the death of the boy, leading to many of the film’s darkest moments.
Don't Look Now (1973)
Ironically, Don’t Look Now is more well known not for the horror aspects of the film, but for its then-controversial sex scene between the two main protagonists. That said, this film may not be a good thing to add to your family horror-movie marathon. Anyway, this movie is about an adult couple, John and Laura, trying to cope with the loss of their daughter (they do still have a son). On a vacation to Venice, they meet sisters Heather and Wendy. As it turns out, Heather is psychic and her ability to reach out to the other side has piqued Laura’s interest. At the same time, John has been seeing mysterious visions of a small female figure in red lurking about.