Does anyone find scary movies "scary", vs. startling or gross?

I’ve always had a hard time understanding what people mean by scary in terms of a scary movie. Startling, yes. (something pops out unexpectedly as long as it isn’t a cat, because that just makes me annoyed, seeing as how cats pretty much never pop out of nowhere screaming for no reason except in movies, so what the hell? ) Gross and disturbing, yes. (insert gory film here) But scary? Scary how? You become afraid of ghosts? You are a nervous wreck thinking about a serial killer?

What? Huh? I don’t get it…

The end of your post pretty much nails it for me.

A successful scary movie leaves me looking over my shoulder and turning on lights even after the movie is over. It’s that feeling of dread, that weight in the air like something could happen any moment on or off the screen. That’s a scary movie for me.

That’s what made the original A Nightmare on Elm Street so effective: the dream aspect. Everyone dreams. So you watch the movie, then go to bed thinking “What if? What if…” Damn effective.

(Not so) amusing anecdote: That was my first horror film, thanks to my sister, at the tender age of six. My father told me I experienced a solid week of waking, screaming nightmares afterwards. They were apparently traumatizing enough that I’ve never recalled any of it. My sister payed dearly though with a grounding and restricted VCR use.

This, exactly. When I watched Psycho for the first time (late at night, by myself, in a dark basement), I finished up and went to my car to drop the netflix envelope off. And found myself involuntarily looking over my shoulder as I walked down the walk, checking in the back seat of the car before I got in… That is a scary movie.

There’s plenty of subgenres in the scary movie shelf. You get movies about axe-wielding serial killers, zombies attacking malls or weird unsettling VHS tapes that somehow kill the viewer after a set period of time.

Of course, you will find some movies scarier than others. A bunch of guys are trapped in a room and have to hack each other to bits to survive some contrived traps because some sort of weird ventriloquist puppet told them so? Yawn. A woman is walking down a corridor and suddenly the lights behind her start turning off one by one by themselves? Nightmare fuel.

A while back I got the bug to start watching truly scary movies. I have yet to find a single one since I began my quest.

Jump scares don’t count, for my purposes. They’re cheap startles, and IMO cheating (although see below). Gore doesn’t do it for me - that’s just gross, or possibly creative. Dramatic tension can be effective, and can certainly be a part of a good movie experience, but it doesn’t scare me.

There were a couple of movies that scared me as a kid, but almost nothing I’ve found seems to be able to do it as an adult. As a little kid, It Came From Outer Space really got to me - it was the basic implications of a life-threatening, contagious disease (that turned you into slime!) that did it for me then. Close Encounters had a few scary scenes, to my young brain. But very little since then has really done it for me.

As an adult, just about the only movie I can recall that I found scary, where at least I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising and the juices of my imagination started flowing, was Marble Hornets (the first season). What worked there? It was that we were dealing with a new, and kinda psychologically plausible, monster with little lore behind it. The frightening bits were mostly centered around that vague feeling you sometimes get, when you’re all alone, that you’re somehow being watched - and in Marble Hornets, you can sometimes catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of the guy that’s watching you! The format - “found” footage, chopped up into brief youtube segments definitely contributed to the verisimilitude. And being able to watch it on the computer, alone, at night, made it more intimate.

I would love to find another piece of work that gave me that same set of feelings, but I fear I never shall.

As a last note, I was truly tweaked when reading this Korean horror comic online. Again, the intimacy of being alone at night and looking at it on my computer screen contributed to the experience. Also, it being foreign and the language incomprehensible to me added to the sense of alienation and oddness.

But what really did it for me was the unexpected moment where the comic FUCKING COMES TO LIFE!!! That bit served as probably the only non-cheap jump scare I will ever experience.

Marble Hornets style found footage horror? I’d reccomend… let’s see-- V/H/S and particularly it’s sequel… then there’s the two Grave Encounters films… oh, a Japanese documentary style horror movie, Noroi: The Curse.

I skipped V/H/S due to some of the reviews (which are admittedly pretty sketchy for horror films, going both ways), but I will give it a shot since you suggest it. I will do the same for the other movies mentioned. Thanks for the assist!

I can’t remember the last time I saw a “I was afraid to go into a dark room afterward” style scary movie. Stuff with jump scares or “Ew, ohmigod his arm got torn off” sure but nothing that felt like a psychological impact.

I have to say, when people complain that they can’t find anything that scares them, it comes off to me as a possible sneak-brag - “I’m so cool and sophisticated, those silly horror movies can’t even raise my pulse.” But at the same time, I can see a lot of what’s marketed as horror not being terribly scary, and of course actual fear in reaction to art is going to be very subjective. For instance, I found The Descent actually had my heart pounding, but perhaps that’s because I’m a bit claustrophobic.

There are also other emotions that indicate a movie is effective, without actually scaring you: disturbing, repulsive (I just watched From Beyond and was not one iota scared, but I acknowledge it tried to push the disgust meter pretty successfully for its time), creepy (reading “The Dead Smile” gave me a deliciously creepy sensation, without making me scared, per se) and so on.

Funny, I was going to mention Marble Hornets as one of the things that actually makes me want to jump back in bed and pull the covers over my head when I’m up at 3 a.m. by myself!

Hahahaha! Even as I was thoroughly prepared for it, it got me - I physically jumped! Twice!

ETA: He Dies at the End is very good at building tension, if not actually scaring you. It scares me. Maybe because my chair faces away from the door to the study.

If you’re going to limit “scary movies” to teen slasher stuff parodied in the movie series of the same name, I can’t think of any I’ve found “scary.” Mostly, I’m not interested; also, the genre reached full flower well after my teens and thus I missed out of a good part of the experience.

Are there parts in movies that scare the complete shit out of me, white-knuckled and holding my breath until my color changes and wanting to jump up and leave? You bet. The russian roulette scenes in The Deer Hunter paralyzed me. There’s a scene near the end of The Chumscrubber that looks like the movie is about to go completely off its slightly goofy horror rails into utter darkness; I was on the verge of turning the movie off when the tension suddenly resolved in a completely unexpected way. There are others.

But most “scary movies” just kind of leave me cold, if I even bother to watch them.

The second one, really. I’d like to see a movie that impacted me so much that it left a lasting (temporary) effect. It’s more a statement about modern “horror” and what has become more of a torture porn genre than delving into any primal terrors.

A scary movie is one where you’re scared before the startling or disturbing thing happens.

Scary movies have some things in common with funny movies. Not everyone finds the same things scary, just as not everyone finds the same things funny. Some people scare much more easily than others, just as some people laugh much more easily than others. Both depend on mood and atmosphere (the conditions, interior and exterior, under which you’re watching the movie). And both depend to some extent on surprise and novelty, which are harder to achieve the older and more jaded you get.

No, and that’s why I can watch them. If I’m left looking over my shoulder or feeling creeped out, that is not a pleasant experience. I should be able to easily set aside any such feelings after the movie. That’s the point, in my opinion–to experience those emotions in a safe place.

Most movies, it’s the second part that applies - most “horror” isn’t really aimed at what I fear in the first place. For those that are truly going for the scary, dreadful, etc, it’s partly that I’m jaded and partly I’m just too distanced from what’s on screen, or too many little things take me too far out of the movie - it’s a rare movie indeed that truly draws me in (especially since over 99% of the movies I see are at home).

The written word, creepypastas, etc, often do a better job of giving me a good scare, although it’s rare to find really good stuff online. That famous caving one, where the guy goes deeper and deeper, and it gets tighter and tighter to the point where he’s crawling sideways and isn’t sure if his shoulders will be too wide for him to get back out again? I couldn’t even finish that one.

I should have waited until tonight, but that was pretty good. Great tension build up, and a little bit truly scary.

The scream(s) were too silly, IMO. It would have been ten times scarier if they omitted the scream(s) at the end and finished it in total silence. Or maybe a subdued gasp. Also, the “creature” was too fake - leaving an extra dark man-shaped shadow in place as “He” moves back, or something, would have been lots creepier.

I watched *Noroi *the other night. It was fairly entertaining, but not particularly scary for me. I was definitely interested in most of it, but more for the “foreign culture” aspects than any of the horror content.

Last night I watched V/H/S. I thought it was pretty well done, for what appeared to be a pretty low-budget affair. A lot of it was just “meh” on the scary scale, although some of it was entertaining nevertheless. However, there were definitely a good three or more scenes that had the hairs on my arms tingling and me checking over my shoulder, just in case. :eek: Very exciting.