Charlie & Debbie

Tis the season for wanting to be scared.  I’m not a big horror movie guy, but once the month of October enters its second week, this changes.  No one likes to be scared for real.  Fear is an emotion that everyone wants to avoid.  However, being scared when you KNOW “it’s just a movie?”  I think everyone deep down likes a good fright.  That leads to the next question:  what scary horror movies just get it done?

That’s where The Science of Scare comes in.  They decided to get all technical in determining. what movies are the scariest?  Here’s what they did.  Imagine sitting down to watch a movie with a heart rate monitor attached to you.  That’s what 250 test subjects volunteered to do.  The science geeks then measured what scary movies impacted the subject’s heart rates most.  This was done on two fronts.  First, there was the overall beats per minute (BPM).  The greater the spikes in heart rate, the more scares the movie has that gets the blood pumping.

Wait, next up on the measuring stick was the heart rate variance (HRV).  This is the time between each heartbeat.  Apparently, this data was used to figure how stressed out the test subjects got while watching a film. making it “a good indicator of slow burn fear and dread.”

Almost done.  These two are then combined by The Science of Scare to compute a “Scare Score.”  The highest possible score is 100.  Look don’t get me wrong here.  I dig the science behind all this, but I don’t need heart monitors to tell me what the scariest movies are.  I use my “Eyeball Test.”  Also, I think there’s a big difference between watching a scary movie at home by yourself or with a few people and the communal experience of a theater.

Anyway, I’m gonna give you what The Science of Scare says are the scariest movies, and then I’m gonna tell you what REALLY the scariest movies are.  So, let’s go.

  • 3. Skinamarink

    “In this house…in this house…in this house…come upstairs.”  That’s the way this really ominous trailer begins.  “Skinamarink” is a Canadian horror film that follows the travails of two children who wake up during the night to discover that they cannot find their father, and that the windows, doors, and other objects in their house are disappearing.  According to the Science of Scare Project, its “Scare Score” is 91.  The average movie heart rate was 84 bpm.  Its biggest spike was 113 bpm.  And its heart rate variance drop was a whopping 22%.  No question this is a scary movie that gets your heart going.

     

  • 2. Host

    “Host” comes in second on the Science of Scare Project’s list of scariest movies.  As if we needed another scary reminder of the Covid-19 pandemic, that’s the setting for “Host.”  During lockdown six friends gather on Zoom calls.  During one such call, a medium gets involved.  Seance time.  Scary stuff.  According to the Science of Scare Project, its “Scare Score” is 95.  The average movie heart rate was 88 bpm.  Its biggest spike was 130 bpm.  And its heart rate variance drop was 18%.  No question “Host” is a scary movie that gets your heart going.

     

  • 1. Sinister

    Taking the top spot in the Science of Scare Project’s list of scariest movies is “Sinister.”  Made in 2012, “Sinister” stars Ethan Hawke as a true crime writer who moves his family into a home where a family was murdered (he doesn’t tell them, btw).  Later he discovers a box of snuff films.  Turns out this house was murder central, and all was caught on 8mm film.   According to the Science of Scare Project, its “Scare Score” is 96.  The average movie heart rate was 86 bpm.  Its biggest spike was 131 bpm.  And its heart rate variance drop was 21%. Not gonna lie.  This trailer for “Sinister” scares the crap out of me, so I’ve got no doubt its place on this list is earned.

  • 3. The Blair Witch Project

    Okay, Science of Scare Project.  You’ve had your three, now here are mine.  In 1999, “The Blair Witch Project” was a game changer.  It was shot in such a way that even though you knew it wasn’t real, it could be real, right?  It was the first of a trend of “found footage” movies that depicted the fate of three students who disappeared in the woods of Maryland while trying to uncover the mystery of “The Blair Witch.”  I’m telling you, in a crowded movie theater, the slow build on the terror was palpable.  And the movie’s final scene?  One of the biggest jump scares of my life.  You want to get your heart racing, your blood pumping this Halloween, watch “The Blair Witch Project.”  Only, don’t do it alone.

  • 2. Event Horizon

    Coming in at number 2 for me is a movie that I came across by accident late one night.  I’ve recommended it hundreds of times.  Each one of those was met with a quizzical, “What?”  “Event Horizon” is a horror movie that takes place in deep space with a lost ship that, well, I can’t go any further without spoiling all the fun.  Just trust me on this.  If you don’t audibly scream and/or jump out of your seat when watching “Event Horizon,” you’re not human.  This is a blood pumper and a half.

     

  • 1. Halloween

    At this point, the John Carpenter classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis is almost 50 years old.  As “The Blair Witch Project” kicked off a series of “found footage” movies, “Halloween” was the original “Boogeyman” movie.  By now, you’ve probably seen it 100 times.  You’re not scared anymore, because you know what’s coming.  However, watch it with someone who hasn’t seen it.  You’ll remember quickly why there can be no movie above this.  The relentless evil stalker that is “Michael Myers,” the terror portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis, and the music.  That music.  Iconic.  There’s never been a heart racing, blood pumper in the horror movie genre like the original “Halloween.”

     

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