Scary stories

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By Jennifer Carcamo, 17, High Tech High—Los Angeles

With lots of scenes of blood-squirting limbs, Saw is one of the scariest and goriest films I’ve ever seen. But despite all the bloodshed, this movie also made me think, unlike typical scary movies.

The movie revolves around two strangers—a doctor and a photographer—who wake up to find themselves locked in a dark room. When the lights come on we see that they’re chained up on opposite sides of a filthy bathroom. Between them lies a man’s dead body. Soon they’re given instructions from a tape recorder to kill the other person so they’ll be freed. Their only other option: to try to escape by cutting their feet off using a hacksaw, which won’t cut through the chains.

As they try to figure out who did this, a connection between them is revealed through flashbacks, which raised questions. I liked that I had to piece the events together. In the end I would have never guessed the reason behind the Jigsaw Killer’s game.
Trying to figure things out gets so hard that one character considers sawing off his leg. I kept thinking, “No way, he’s not really going to do it!” I was practically covering my eyes wanting and not wanting to see if he ultimately would do it.

The movie doesn’t only use gore to scare you. When the lights were off in the film I couldn’t help but wonder what was happening—especially with the noises in the background.
The ingenuity of the Jigsaw Killer makes him the 21st century version of Freddy Kruger from 1980s Nightmare on Elm Street. Are you ready for this new killer?

The Shining

By Sasha Jones, 18, Crossroads School (Santa Monica)

After I first watched The Shining, I yawned my way back to my room and crawled into bed. Twenty restless minutes later I was asking my sister if I could sleep in her room. Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel had burned its haunting examination of madness as horror into my mind.

The film takes place at the Overlook Hotel, an isolated resort in Colorado. The main character, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), his wife (Shelley Duvall), and their young son (Danny Lloyd) volunteer as caretakers for the winter, when the hotel is empty. Upon moving in, Jack, a writer with an explosive temper, learns that the previous caretaker murdered his family. His wife, Wendy, starts panicking after Jack tells her about a dream in which he chopped her and Danny to pieces with an ax, and when she discovers hundreds of her husband’s typed pages filled with  “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” As the winter deepens, the film culminates in a display of terrifying madness involving an ax and a chase through a giant hedge maze. I even found myself looking over my shoulder every couple of minutes.

The Shining has its share of ghosts, blood and spine-tingling chases, and yet it has so much more. The careful documentation of Jack’s descent into madness makes his insanity uncomfortably close. Kubrick’s groundbreaking use of the Steadicam (a stabilized camera that allows for very fluid shots) creates an even creepier atmosphere as he follows characters through the long, empty corridors of the Overlook. The film provokes a fear of how easily our sanity can disappear, and what we could be capable of if it did.

See No Evil

By Sam Landsberg, 14, Hamilton HS

My mom recommended See No Evil as a good horror movie. Turns out, she was right. See No Evil, which was released in 1971, had me on the edge of my seat for most of the movie.

See No Evil is about a recently blinded young woman, Sarah (Mia Farrow), who goes to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin in the English countryside. While out riding horses with her boyfriend, her family is murdered by a man in cowboy boots. Being blind, it takes Sarah a while to figure out that her cousin, aunt and uncle have been killed and that the killer is still around. The plot is full of twists and turns and you can never tell what’s going to happen next.

The best element of See No Evil is the suspense. What’s so amazing about it is that the filmmakers managed to create an air of incredible suspense as Sarah simply walks around the house. As the viewer, you see subtle clues all over the house, which Sarah can’t see, that the killer has been there. Then she finds her dead relatives and realizes what has happened. By dropping these small hints and never showing the killer’s face, the movie stays petrifying to the end.

See No Evil was made almost 40 years ago. Often times, movies (especially horror) can get dated pretty fast. However, even though See No Evil is not at all like today’s thrasher thrillers, it is just as terrifying and fun to watch.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

By Katie Havard, 17, Beverly Hills HS

Scary movies are more than stories. They’re experiences. You sit there, clutching your popcorn in terror, waiting for something to pounce. Your heart beats faster and then—BAM! There’s the stabbing, the slashing, the meat-cleaver and blood everywhere.

The essence of a scary movie, right? Even if you screamed when the monster pounced, once you see the monster, you’re not afraid anymore. As Alfred Hitchcock said, “There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

But movies like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? frighten and disturb beyond slash-and-gore. This movie moves you to feel pity, revulsion, claustrophobia, and pure panic.

Made in 1962, “Baby Jane” stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, legendary starlets of the 1940’s, in all their fading glory. In the movie, they play sisters, former child star “Baby” Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) and Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford), who was a famous movie star until a suspicious car accident paralyzed her below the waist. Jane hates Blanche because Blanche made it as a “Hollywood” actress, while Jane is stuck taking care of the wheelchair-bound Blance. Jane can’t abandon her sister, and Blanche is trapped with a sadistic caretaker who hates her guts. It’s a suffocating power struggle that actually hurts to watch. Great twist ending, too.

In real life Crawford and Davis absolutely despised each other. In a scene where Jane is supposed to kick Blanche, Bette Davis actually kicked Joan Crawford (in the head) and she had to get stitches. How’s that for method acting? This movie made me afraid of my grandma.