It's the eternal dorm-room debate, the stuff of boozy smack-talking sessions and stony, less-than-coherent arguments: what's the scariest movie of all-time? It's a (sober) discussion we've been having at MTV News as Halloween sneaks up on us and a question we've been throwing out to folks in the film biz who truly know their fright-fest stuff.
When I had a chance to talk with Sam Raimi – he of the many righteous "Evil Dead" pictures – I had to get his thoughts on the matter. The first thing he told me was that the horror genre scares the crap out of him. "It's hard to sit through them," he confessed. "I really enjoy it when I'm in the middle of it, it's just hard to approach the theater." The second thing he said is that he loves them dearly. The third and fourth and fifth and sixth? Those scary movies he cherishes the most – and one he can't wait to see.
When we chatted a few weeks ago, this low-budget hit had not yet received a wide-release, and Raimi was super-bummed. "I'm dying to see it," he said. "What a hype job! It's probably great. But it's not playing anywhere around me. It's making me crazy."
I suggested he'd likely have no problem picking up the phone and asking director Oren Peli to send over a screener. It's one of the perks of being a horror hero.
"Really?" he said, genuinely, endearingly surprised. "I don't know. I don't know if they would. But it sounds really exciting and I can't wait."
So what is his fav horror flick ever? This query sent Raimi into deep, silent contemplation. Finally he exhaled and declared his allegiance to "The Haunting," the 1963 Robert Wise original, not Liam Neeson's 1999 remake. "That just was terrifying and great," Raimi said. "I love his use of camera, how he never shows this ghost that's haunting Hill House, how he just suggests it through angle and sound effects and suggestive shadows and visuals. It really allows the audience to paint their own picture of the creature that lurks there. And it's so much more terrifying because of it."
The Films of Roman Polanski
Raimi kept it old school with his final two picks, both from this Oscar-winning director. "I love 'Rosemary's Baby' – great acting and great performances by all the cast," he said of the film that saw Mia Farrow impregnated with the child of Satan.
"'The Tenant' was another freak-out for me," he continued, raving about the movie in which Polanski starred. "I love his acting in it. You never really know if it's happening in his mind or something is really cursed about that room he's living in."