And the scariest movies ever made are...
And the scariest movies ever made are...
Ching Alano (The Philippine Star) - October 31, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A luminescent full moon hanging in the pitch-black sky. A howling wind blowing amid rustling leaves in a forgotten garden on a cold, dreary night. The sound of heavy footsteps shuffling down a dark hallway in the middle of the night. Muffled moans and groans from behind a wall.

These are just some creepy scenarios that may well set the mood for a perfect fright night. Yes, folks, it’s Halloween and time again to watch a scary movie — or two or three or more!

All of us have fears (too many to mention here), no matter how old or how brave we are. Believe it or not, some people actually enjoy being a little scared. That’s why they just love watching scary movies!

Different kinds of scary movies scare different kinds of people (and we have different thresholds of scariness). But is there a movie that can be called the scariest of them all?

That’s what (your “mobile, TV, Internet experts”) sought to find out through its Science of Scare project. Through a heart rate monitor, the study tracked the heart rates of 50 participants of different ages watching over 100 hours of scary movies. So, the faster the heartbeat, the scarier the movie.

The choices were limited to 50 highest-rated horror movies, according to IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes and Reddit (sorry, our own horror thrillers/chillers didn’t make it to the list), which were later trimmed down to what the study scientifically believed to be “the scariest 35 movies ever made.”

The creator of the study, Daniel Clifford, said that it was designed to help people find “the most scientifically scary films ever made” to save them the time and trouble of having to search through tons of titles across Amazon, Netflix and Shudder.

So, which is the scariest movie of them all? And the Scariest Movie award goes to Sinister, a 2012 horror thriller starring Ethan Hawke who plays a crime writer caught in a web of grisly family murders.

Note that before watching the movie, the average resting heart rate of participants was 65 bpm (beats per minute), but this jumped to 86 bpm while watching Sinister.

The story goes that crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan) stumbles on a snuff film showing the mysterious deaths of a family. Seeking to solve this mystery, he moves his family into the victims’ home. He discovers a box in the attic containing a projector and several Super 8mm footage, each harmlessly labeled home movies.

To Ellison’s horror, the footage depicts the murder of different families in various ways (too gruesome to mention) and the presence of a supernatural, a strange figure called Mr. Boogie, standing next to his victims. After each murder, a child from each family goes missing (that’s why there was Sinister 2, which flopped horribly at the box office because, according to a review, it was more cheesy than creepy). Soon, Ellison learns that living in this house could spell death for his family.

The low-budget (only $3M) Sinister grossed a whopping $87.7M, sending producers literally laughing all the way to the bank. Quite a happy ending for such a gory movie!

The horror list goes on.

In second place, just a scream away from Sinister, is Insidious, a 2010 American-Canadian supernatural horror flick that revolves around a couple whose son goes into a coma and becomes a medium for assorted astral entities. One scene in the movie saw the participants’ heart rate shooting up to 133 bpm.

Completing the magic — or tragic — 35 (according to their place of horror, er, honor) are: The Conjuring (I started watching this in my nephew’s condo in Canada but got too disturbed to finish it), Hereditary, Paranormal Activity, It Follows, The Conjuring 2, The Babadook, The Descent, The Visit, The Ring, A Quiet Place, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 28 Days Later, The Exorcist, Hush, IT, Scream, The Grudge, The Witch, The Blair Witch Project, Alien, The Thing, Poltergeist (I couldn’t even look at the TV screen after that), Annabelle, Friday the 13th, The Orphanage, Dark Skies, Wolf Creek, The Omen, The Shining, Get Out, Audition.

Looks like classics like The Exorcist, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre didn’t scare the study participants as much as the modern horror thrillers did.

I remember watching The Exorcist, the 1973 supernatural horror film by William Peter Blatty based on his novel. I was clutching a rosary the whole time and thought I should have brought a bottle of holy water, too, to sprinkle inside the movie house. It was reported that the controversial (surely for the faint of heart) movie caused some viewers to faint or vomit. Worse, it even induced heart attacks inside the cinemas.

As for the infamous Freddy Krueger who sowed terror on Elm Street, the study participants thought that this child killer with his razor-sharp gloves simply couldn’t cut it anymore.

Coming on the heels of The Exorcist, which was a roaring success, was The Omen, said to be “the most cursed movie.” First, the plane for the aerial filming crashed after takeoff, killing everyone on board. Then the animal trainer, who was brought in for the zoo scene, was killed by a tiger. And then, too, John Richardson, the special events genius who executed the gruesome decapitation scene, got into a horrible car accident. He survived but woefully, his assistant Liz Moore was decapitated. The accident happened in an area where a sign indicated the distance to the nearby town: Ommen, 66.6 km. The movie was initially released on June 6, 1976.

Have a spooktacular Halloween, everyone!

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