10 Favorite Scary Movies From Tabulous

October 26, 2015

By Tab Byrum

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Mary Philbin, Lon Chaney, 1925

I love scary movies, I always have. When I was a kid I wanted to watch them so bad, but they always gave me nightmares, I would end up screaming out in the middle of the night for mom or dad and then convince them to spend the rest of the night in my bed or me in theirs. Eventually, all that passed and I’ve never looked back, if there’s a new scary flick at the movies I’m there. When I say scary movies I don’t mean slasher movies, but good old fashioned supernatural ghost stories or movies with a dark element tormenting the living or trying to get help. My love for these movies goes right along with my love for horror and gothic fiction, Stephen King, Anne Rice, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft are some of my favorite writers. I thought since this is Halloween week I would share ten of my favorite scary movies, as you’ll see several of them are older so they are in black and white, but that always adds another scary element for me, here’s my list for your viewing pleasure, Enjoy!!!



We’ll start with an oldie but a goodie, Frankenstein. Frankenstein was released in 1931 and was shocking to many people, there’s actually a warning at the beginning of the film that the subject matter may be too much and too scary for some people to handle. This film, of course, is based on author Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and tells the story of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he creates when delving into what he considers science. This movie has been remade several times, but the original version directed by James Whale remains my favorite. Frankenstein was the movie that gave rise to Universal Studios collection of great monster films through the 30’s, 40’s and into the 50’s. If you haven’t seen it in a while check it out. 


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The Bride of Frankenstein


You can’t have Frankenstein and not bring up his bride. Frankenstein was such a box office success that Universal Studios wanted a sequel and tried to find true love for their original monster. The Bride was released in 1935 and introduced a few new characters such as the ultra-creepy Dr. Pretorius as well as new sets and a whole new feel than the first movie had. I love The Bride of Frankenstein, from the beginning when we meet Mary Shelley in a mansion in Switzerland and she begins to spin her tale of finding love for her original creation. Of course, you want to watch until the end to see Elsa Lancaster as the Bride with her amazing hair and fabulous hiss. 


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The Uninvited


The Uninvited is a great movie focusing on a house and the spirits within the walls of the house. The Uninvited  was released in 1944 and stars Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey as a brother and sister that buy a beautiful home in England on the coast of Cornwall. The house was the scene of a tragic death several years earlier and throughout the movie a ghost is seen and it’s unclear as to whether the ghost is evil or trying to help the troubled young lady whose mother died in the house. The Uninvited is a great ghost story/haunted house story and gave us a beautiful soundtrack and the wonderfully haunting song, Stella by Starlight. 


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The Haunting


Based on a story by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting tells the story of Hill House and the evil that lives within its walls. The story follows a group gathered by a college professor to study the paranormal, the group travel to the house and are to spend a weekend in the house and see if they see or feel anything. All the members of the research team have had paranormal experiences previously in their lives. The Haunting truly lives up to its title with ghostly images seen and felt throughout. The performances in this movie by Julie Harris and Claire Bloom are wonderful, as well as the cinematography that truly captures the look and feel of a creepy mansion far from anything and haunted by the perverse creep that built it.  


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The Innocents


The 1960’s gave us lots of great scary movies like The Haunting as well as the next two. The Innocents is based on the Turn of the Screw by Henry James, it’s a British gothic horror movie and stars Deborah Kerr as the governess brought on board to watch over a brother and sister in a remote mansion located in the English countryside. The Innocents is a wonderful ghost story, shot in black and white, which only adds to the creepy feel of the film. Kerr is trying to literally save the lives and souls of her two young charges from the former governess and groundskeeper, who are no longer alive but have a strong hold on the two children. With Truman Capote as one of the screenwriters on this film you know there are lots of twists and turns. A disturbing good time. 


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Rosemary’s Baby


Rosemary’s Baby is based on the book by Ira Levin and was written and directed by Roman Polanski. The story tells the story of Rosemary Woodhouse and her actor husband, Guy, and what happens to them after moving into their dream apartment in a gorgeous old New York City apartment building. This movie is a great story about trusting your instincts and when you hear the old neighbors chanting through the walls you might want to be even more suspicious. The famous Dakota apartment building is the real life building where parts of the movie were shot, this is also where many celebrities have lived over the years, including being the real life scene of John Lennon’s murder. Rosemary’s Baby is an awesome look at the world of swinging 60’s NYC, from decor to fashion.


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The Exorcist


As we move into the 1970’s we have one of the scariest movies of all time, The Exorcist. The Exorcist struck a nerve with many people because it brought religion into the whole scary movie genre, we had dealt with the devil before in Rosemary’s Baby, but now we had priest’s fighting the devil and his minions literally for the life and soul of a little girl. Amazing performances are given by Linda Blair as the possessed Regan MacNeil and Ellen Burstyn as her actress mother fighting for her daughter’s life. The movie follows the scary things Burstyn’s character faces as her daughter becomes sicker as every day passes, finally with nowhere else to turn she seeks the help of a priest and it’s determined an exorcism is needed. The exorcism scenes are some of the scariest ever filmed and it’s easy to see why The Exorcist is one of the most profitable horror movies ever made. 


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Halloween is the only “slasher” film on my list but for me it’s one of the scariest, simply because it could happen. The film deals with the mental illness of a child who murders his sister and is sent away only to come back several years later to finish what he started. There are parts of the story that are a little outlandish, like the tombstone in the bed, nobody noticed the guy dragging a tombstone through town. The story gave rise to the career of Jamie Lee-Curtis and created the title of scream queen, oh and don’t forget that Beverly Hills Housewife Kyle Richards is the little girl that Lee-Curtis’ character is trying to protect. For a good scare and non-stop action check out the original Halloween from 1978. (Rob Zombie’s 2007 version isn’t bad either).


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Salem’s Lot


Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot was one of my favorite books he wrote, I read the novel on our Senior trip in 1985 as we were traveling along the East Coast on a bus, needless, to say I creeped myself out a few times reading the book on a dark bus while everyone else was sleeping. This is a made for TV movie that is awesome, it tells the story of what happens when vampires invade a sleepy little New England town and a troubled novelist tries to save his hometown with the help of a major young horror fan. The vampires in this film are the best and there is so much horror accomplished just from waiting for something to happen, from the young boy scratching on the windows to be let in, to sitting and waiting on the dead woman to rise in the funeral home. The original 1978 version starring David Soul and Lance Kerwin is my favorite. 


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The Orphanage


The Orphanage is a product of the beautiful scary mind of Guillermo Del Toro, it tells the story of Laura and what happens to her family when they buy the orphanage where Laura grew up and attempt to convert it to a beautiful home for sick children. Apparently Laura forgot a few things from her childhood. This movie is scary and very troubling and I have to say I wasn’t expecting the ending, Del Toro manages to pull off a beautiful and haunting film. 


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