Scary Movie Bracket (Sweet 16)
The Exorcist vs. Halloween
These two 1970s phenomenons remain two of the most famous horror movies of all time, with music that has become synonymous with Halloween. “The Exorcist” was the top-grossing film of 1973 and won two Oscars (Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound), while “Halloween” launched a Michael Myers franchise that is still going today with “Halloween Ends” (2022). Which deserves to advance?
It’s time for a battle between Stanley Kubrick’s scariest movie and Steven Spielberg’s scariest movie. “The Shining” featured a labyrinthian Overlook Hotel and iconic Jack Nicholson performance (“Here’s Johnny!”), while “Jaws” delivered one of the most horrific two-note theme songs ever alongside famous lines (“You’re gonna need a bigger boat”).
Young viewers may not find “jump scares” in these black-and-white classics, but they are undisputed icons of the genre. “Psycho” features one of the most genius twists in movie history thanks to ultimate “mama’s boy” Norman Bates, while “Nosferatu” remains the definitive Dracula flick on its 100th anniversary. Vote for your favorite!
Rosemary’s Baby v. Alien
If true evil ever hung over a movie, it’s probably “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968), not only for its masterfully creepy filmmaking but its off-screen doom (set in the Dakota Building where John Lennon was later shot and predicting a doomed pregnancy for the infamous filmmaker’s wife in the Manson murders). On the other side, “Alien” is the ultimate example of “science friction” — Ridley Scott didn’t tell his cast about the chest-burster scene to elicit real screams. Which should advance?
The Silence of the Lambs vs. Misery
Good luck choosing between these two instant classics from the early ’90s. Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar as the horrific Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” while Kathy Bates won an Oscar as the terrifying Annie Wilkes in “Misery.” Both were based on best-selling novels (respectively by Thomas Harris and Stephen King) and directed by filmmakers known for their comedy (Jonathan Demme and Rob Reiner). Which deserves to advance?
To this day, “Se7en” features one of the most shocking final scenes in movie history with Brad Pitt’s realization (“What’s in the box?”), while “Scream” features one of the most shocking opening scenes with Drew Barrymore’s demise (“Do you like scary movies?”). The former helped launch David Fincher’s career, while the latter was a crowning achievement for the veteran Wes Craven. Which should advance?
The Sixth Sense vs. The Conjuring
Ghost stories don’t get any better than M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense,” with an all-timer twist ending as the “coup de grâce” to a therapist’s redemption story and arguably the best mother-son bonding scene on screen. As we entered the 21st century, James Wan’s “The Conjuring” became a new instant classic of terror, as the creepy doll Annabelle was just one of many frights for paranormal investigators. Which ghost story deserves to advance?
Get Out vs. Hereditary
Jordan Peele and Ari Aster have become must-see filmmakers. Thanks to their shocking debuts in “Get Out” and “Hereditary,” respectively each new horror film of theirs is appointment viewing. The former won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for its double-meaning dialogue and symbolic layers, while the latter featured some of the most terrifying images ever put on screen, with characters bursting into flames and crawling on ceilings. Vote for your favorite!
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