My mom is pretty much the coolest person in the world and has been taking me to see horror movies since I needed to be smuggled in like a contraband snack. My older sister, however, refused to see scary movies with us, no matter how many times I helpfully pointed out that by staying home alone she was only making herself an easy target for real axe murderers.
Now that my mom and I live in different cities, I'm forced to do most of my horror-movie-going solo, because neither my sister nor my friends will go see them with me. It's not that I'm not a great cinema buddy (you want to get nachos AND chocolate-covered cookie dough? Gross, but nobody's judging you), it's just that the high-functioning people I'm friends with don't seem to want to see cannibalistic cave monster eat somebody's trachea after brunch.
Thus, I am making it my mission to make the world get into John Carpenter as much as it is the rest of the Carpenters. (Whom we all love. Don't lie.) So if you or somebody you love is suffering from the delusion that you don't like, nay, love horror, allow me to introduce you to your new favorite scary movie, based on what you think you don't like about them.
COMPLAINT: I don't like blood.
SOLUTION: "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane."
I'm sorry you do not appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into a really good spurting artery. This movie is campy and great and basically a big bitchy act-off between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. It is also creepy and gore-free.
SEE ALSO: "Jaws" (hardly ANY blood, unless you count chum) "The Frighteners" (Michael J. Fox! Peter Jackson! GOOFINESS), "Psycho" (oh, it's syrup, you pans).
COMPLAINT: I don't like to be scared.
SOLUTION: "An American Werewolf in London." This is part romance, and part comedy, but it's 100 percent awesome. It's not really a scary movie at all, although there are some pretty amazing special effects. It's from John Landis, director of "Animal House" and "Three Amigos," but it's probably got one of the most heartbreaking, perfect endings you'll ever see. Come for David Naughton's Jewish backpacker beefcake, stay for the PATHOS.
SEE ALSO: "The Devil's Backbone" (lovely, minimal gore), "Drag Me to Hell" (So gross! So good), "Army of Darkness" (This is canon. Watch it), "American Psycho" (funny, Christian Bale topless).
COMPLAINT: I am Dutch (or just prefer foreign movies).
SOLUTION:"Spoorloos." It's really more of a suspense/thriller but it'll still wig you out. The ending to this movie has haunted me pretty much every day since I've seen it.
SEE ALSO: "Let the Right One In" (Swedish, SO VERY GOOD), "Onibaba" (Japanese, weird and creepy), "I Saw the Devil" (South Korean -- MESSED UP), "Cemetery Man" (Italy, Rupert Everet, unforgettable).
COMPLAINT: I think they tend to represent women poorly.
SOLUTION: "Pan's Labyrinth."
This complaint sort of bothers me, because some of the most memorable movie heroines ever are non-victims in horror movies (more if you include genre-straddlers like "Silence of the Lambs"). Anyhow, "Pan's Labyrinth!" Pretty much everything Guillermo del Toro does is great (see "Cronos" for deep cuts), but this is my favorite for special effects and Bechdel-test friendly scares.
SEE ALSO: "The Thing" (No women whatsoever!), "Alien," Aliens," "Alien 3," "Alien: Resurrection" (Ellen Ripley is maybe the strongest female character to ever be in a movie ever, full stop).
COMPLAINT: I'm not easily scared.
SOLUTION: "Exorcist III." Serial killers love this movie. Seriously. William Peter Blatty wrote the original "Exorcist" novel and was not an experienced director (this was basically his debut) which makes the movie all the scarier. You know all those musical cues you get when something scary is about to happen so you sort of mentally prepare? Not here. This movie will mess you up so hard!
SEE ALSO: "The Exorcist" (O.G. scary), "The Strangers" (not the scariest until a month later when you are alone in a house), "Julia's Eyes" (YIPES), "The Loved One" (ick).
COMPLAINT: I don't think there are enough French lesbians.
SOLUTION: "High Tension."
SEE ALSO: That's all I got.
COMPLAINT: I like to watch movies when I'm stoned.
SOLUTION: "Monster Squad."
Ha, okay, this one is kind of ridiculous, but it's pretty good for a laugh (it's about a couple of preadolescent boys who have to fight Dracula and the Wolfman and the Mummy, and it's one of those "How did this movie get made for children" films of the 80s where virginity is brought up a lot more than it might be in current kid's films). I mean, Dracula blows up a treehouse, just to be a dick!
SEE ALSO: "They Live" (Ludicrous 1980s timepiece that you can choose to infuse with social implications if you are way baked), "Q" (New York! Gets attacked! By a dragon!), "Tremors" (Kevin Bacon!).
(Am I missing any good proseletyzers, horror fans? Lemme know what I left out.)