The New Yorker‘s Ben Greenman has listed his five scariest movies of all time — Jonathan Demme‘s Silence of the Lambs, Charles Laughton‘s The Night of the Hunter, Wes Craven’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Robert Wise‘s The Body Snatcher and David Lynch‘s Mulholland Drive.
These are all gripping portraits of inferno worlds, but big-time scary is always about triggering repressed fears with what you don’t show — with what you set loose in people’s souls by implying the presence of demons.
There was a time when I thought that Wise’s The Haunting (’63), which shows nothing, was perhaps the scariest of all time. I’m not sure now. When I was a kid I used to think that nothing was as scary as that eerie “aaah-haaah” choir sound when those people were getting sucked down into that sandtrap hole in William Cameron MenziesInvaders From Mars.