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7 Scary Movies that I’ve seen a million times that still kinda scare the beejeesus outta me cause I’m a pansy, but I need to explain myself.

I loved scary movies. On payday Fridays my mother would take us to Blockbuster and we would rent 2-3 movies. One was obviously whatever big blockbuster movie was released on VHS that weekend, another was whatever Barney sing-a-long was available for my little sister, and I would usually wander down the horror aisle, looking for the scariest, most gruesome movie to rent. When I brought my selection to my mother she would always say, "Toya, why do you rent these movies? They're horrible!". I usually would keep my opinion to myself, but my inner voice would always yell, "How do you know they're bad if you never watch them?!" 
After sitting through what seemed to be a 5 hour long Michael Bay flick, and a 4 hour long Barney opera, it was finally my turn. By that time, my mother would put my sister and herself to bed and I would have the entire TV to myself. I'd fix myself a grilled cheese sandwich, grab some BBQ chips and settle in to be scared silly. It was always the suspense that got me. The quiet moments just before the "GOTCHA" jump that made my tummy flutter. I could be watching the most campiest movie with the worst dialogue and acting, and I would still jump when the killer came out the bushes. I always enjoyed being scared silly. 
I can't remember how or why I stopped watching horror movies as regularly as I used to. The finger usually points to life as the culprit of stealing joy lol. Life happens, and the pleasures of childhood seem so frivolous and naïve, but in the nature of the season I thought I'd revisit some of my favorite scary movies to see if I get the flutter in my tummy that I used to get, and guys. Lemme tell you. I got scared! I'm still a pansy. So here's my list of scary movies that I've seen a million times that still kinda scare the beejeesus outta me, but lemme explain.

Get Out - 2017

I have to be honest here. When the trailer for this movie dropped, I wasn’t initially interested. I myself had just been released from an interracial marriage that screamed GET OUT. Our friends and his family were all white, he convinced me to move to a town where there were maybe 20 Black residents (I’m not kidding, I lived in a town called Pocatello Idaho, where...if you were to glance at the demographics…Black Americans made up 0.86% of the population). The running gag throughout the entire town (I’m only HALF kidding here) was that if there were more than 2 black people in an establishment there was to be a duel. The town was dripping in racism, and I lived in it. I digress. I decided that after all the hubbub, and twitter Op-eds, and the “OH-MY-GOD-YOU-HAVEN’T-SEEN-GET OUT-YET??’s” I would give it a chance. I did find it weird that a black man, married to a white woman would write such a piece, but I feel that maybe he was writing from the sunken place himself, so, sure…write what you know bro. So, one Friday evening all by myself, stoned, eating a family rib platter for 4, I sat my ass down in front of the tube and put in the DVD I rented from Redbox (lol, Redbox…lol DVD’s) and watched what quickly became one of my favorite scary movies of all time. The way Daniel Kaluuya portrayed the confusion black people feel around white people who could potentially become your white family was my favorite. I’ve noticed firsthand, no matter what, white baby boomers and Gen X’rs will always say something problematic. I felt very close to the movie because a lot of what he experienced, I experienced myself with white people in Idaho. The look they give you the first time they meet you…YOU! A black person! Dating/engaged to/married to their white friend. They glanced up and down your body as if eyeing a luxury car. And you feel exposed. You feel like a hop skip and a jump away from the slave auctions they used to hold. They speak of you as if you’re not there…” Wow, you found yourself an exotic looking one huh Kel?” (An exact sentence from the first time meeting one of my ex-husband’s white friends in Idaho)

Cabin in the Woods - 2011

This movie is often looked down upon because it pokes fun of itself for being a scary movie. In a world where most movies are regurgitations of regurgitations, it’s good to watch a movie that literally pokes fun at the stereotypes and adds a little twinge of originality. Leave it to cult writer/director/filmmaker Joss Whedon, who brought us millennials classics such as, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the 1992 classic movie and the TV spin-off 1997-2003) Agents of SHIELD (2013-2020) and many more classic sleeper hits.   I have to admit though, I originally watched this movie because my future husband Jesse Williams stars in it, but after a while, I got a bit scared. This really takes you on a ride that was intended to be the basic “College kids go for a weekend trip of drugs, booze, and sex and wind up dead by a slasher killer” but ends with a funny twist.

The Ring – 2002

Foreign horror movies are always scarier than American ones. I feel like that is a given. Of course, America has to go and whitewash a perfectly fine Japanese horror movie and repackage it with palatable white people….and I ate it up like the white girl I was in 2002. The movie “The Ring” was pitched to me like this “Remember the chain letters you got as a little girl? The ones in the mail that came from your one friend you met a bible camp in the summer, and you promised to write each other every week because you were best friends forever and ever, but never actually wrote each other, because the first day of school happened and you had a new best friend? WELL, the ring is like that, but with a VHS tape.” Yes! I remember Becky. I loved Becky until she threatened my life. Little fucking BECKY wrote me saying that AND I QUOTE “if you didn’t hand write 5 identical letters to the one she sent me and send it out to 5 different people within 1 week, I were going to die. And my mom will die, and my dad, and everyone I fricken know. Ugh. In this day in age, this sounds like a threat, and I would go to the police to turn little Becky in. However, the first time I got one of those I nearly shat my pants when my mom told me she wouldn’t give me 5 stamps. I digress…again.  I watched this movie in the theatre with a close friend…to say that I squeezed his had to the point of cramps is an understatement. I have never been that scared in a movie theatre ever. The way that child moved. It will be forever engrained.

A Nightmare on Elm Street - 1984

Wes Craven was an unstoppable force. The man single handedly changed the face of horror movies with cult classics like “Last House on the Left (1972)” “The Hills Have Eyes (1977)” and one of my favorite comedies… “Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)”. Oh what? You didn’t know he directed Vampire in Brooklyn? Neither did I until I was researching him. Wes brought to life the very first movie monster that haunted my dreams (pun totally intended). I watched Nightmare on Elm Street for the first time at my grandmother’s house on VHS when I was probably 6. My older sister Brandi coaxed me into watching it stating, “It’s not even scary, my friend Raja said she didn’t even scream once.” I now know that Brandi was too scared to watch this slasher flick herself, and even though her pansy little sister Toya was no help in the grand scheme of protecting ourselves if Freddy were to say; pop out of the TV screen and kill us both, but having another body there was better than being alone, I guess. I’ve never experienced paralyzing fear until I watched this movie. I peed my pants. Freddy looked real. Freddy looked even MORE real when I closed my eyes. I wouldn’t sleep alone for days and after I cried my way into my grandmother’s bed and explained to her why I wouldn’t sleep alone. She promptly spanked Brandi. Sorry sis.  

The Witches – 1990

This “technically” falls under fantasy but tell that to a 7-year-old Toya who refused to sleep for 15 hours after seeing that movie. Upon arrival back home after the theatre I promptly turned on all the lights in our home and told my mom that if she wanted to sleep, do so with the lights on. That weekend my very exhausted mother sent me to stay with my grandmother, and 9 months later my sister was born, so I literally blame myself for my sister’s birth…I digress AGAIN! Later in life I grew to love and then align myself with the witches. Seriously. One October day in my 20’s I remember settling down to watch a scary movie with my ex-husband. I took off my heels, took off my wig, and stretched out on the sofa and watched a childhood favorite. 45 minutes into the movie, and I watched in horror as the Witches convened in the privacy of their hotel and took off their shoes and pulled off their wigs in the very same movements as I did moments before. I was a witch. I have arrived. I watched this movie in September of this year, and still got a little scared when those women took off their faces. I…I just. *shudders*

Scream - 1996

In 1996 there was a lull in horror movies. Every movie that was coming out was mostly a sequel, a very bad sequel to mediocre movies in the first place. A few horror movies released in 1996 were “Amityville DOLLHOUSE” (?) “Children of the Corn IV” and like… “From Dusk till Dawn” (a fine movie, just not…scary to me.) So, color me stupid when at 14 I settled into a very packed theatre, big ol bucket of popcorn in my lap, all by myself because my mom took my sister to see “Jingle all the Way” for the 3rd time. Now. I’ve seen teenagers get killed and sliced all my life. I rented bad campy horror movies weekly. Nothing was going to scare me. However, Scream changed the trajectory of how I viewed horror films. This movie was edgy, thrilling, and current. No longer did you have the virgin like waif, bounding up the stairs in a tear-filled fury. Nor did you have the super sexualized large breasted “bimbo” who gets killed like, 4 minutes after having sex. No, now you have Sydney, a virgin yes, but she goes against a classic horror movie rule “You can’t have sex if you want to make it out alive” cause she totally rocks Billy’s world in the movie. But she was not sexualized either. She was literally your everyday teenage girl, and THAT was scary to me. She had trauma, she had wits, she had a mean right hook, and she used everything in her path to fuck that Ghostface killer UP. Speaking of Ghostface, imagine my surprise when it was not one, but TWO killers unmasked at the end. (Sorry not sorry for spoiling the ending, it’s been 21 years since this movie’s debut) That had me rewatching the movie trying to figure out, which Ghostface was Billy, and which was Stu, and the funny thing is, you could tell the difference in the tone of the voice box. Stu was witty and funny, and Billy was tragic and solemn. This movie spawned a whole new classic franchise of horror movies that isn’t stopping anytime soon, with the 5th instalment being released soon, I’m certain to be scared silly once again.

The Blair Witch Project - 1999

This movie was released on my 17th birthday. Now keep in mind. This was 1999, the only way we got information was by TV or radio, or word of mouth. No social media, no real internet, and what I mean by that, is that in the 90’s the internet was used for like, 3 things. Research for a paper, talking in chat rooms, and sending chain letters. I mean, Myspace wasn’t even launched until like 4 years later. I heard through the grapevine that The Blair Witch Project was the final footage of 3 film students who set out to research and document their findings on a local legend in their area. They went missing and their bodies were never found. I am somewhat of a true crime lover. I love the idea of being an armchair detective, perhaps homing in on a clue that police haven’t found yet and solving a decades long murder. So, I OBVIOUSLY wanted to see this movie. I was not prepared for this sort of “reality movie”. I was on the edge of my seat in the beginning of the film, trying to search for clues throughout the bumpy footage…slowly but surely I leaned back into my seat as I realized that I’m watching the footage of dead people. All of the sudden, this wasn’t fun anymore. These kids were like 5 years older than me. It wasn’t until the stars of the movie came out on September 9th, 1999, at the MTV music awards did I even believe they were alive. Fun fact, in 2001 I participated in a Blair Witch Parody Film that went absolutely nowhere. If you find the footage, send me a copy.

Honorable mention – Tales from the Hood 1995

This apparently is classified as a “Horror Comedy” – I did not laugh NOT ONE BIT. At 13 I was glued to my seat watching 4 separate vignettes that depicted police brutality, domestic abuse, racism, and drugs. All things that hit very close to the black community in the mid-90’s. Sure, there were some jokes that went over my head, but mostly I sat for 98 minuets gasping in horror at the reality on screen. Still relevant today, even though campy and dated, Tales from the Hood is a different sort of horror movie, but still scary as all get out.  

1 comment

  • You nailed it! Scary movies have definitely become largely predictable regurgitations, but these are most certainly classics! Thanks for the reminder of these cinematic masterpieces and for the delightful insights into your childhood! =)

    Tim W

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