Instant Video Spotlight: Movies That Are Scary, But Not Gory

Remember the good old days, when horror films and thrillers left something to the imagination? Here are some of them that’ll be just the ticket for folks seeking a good Halloween scare without having their stomachs turned in the bargain.

First, one of the all-time greats: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (rated R, 4.75/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy) – From Amazon:

Alfred Hitchcock’s landmark masterpiece of the macabre stars Anthony Perkins as the troubled Norman Bates, whose old dark house and adjoining motel are not the place to spend a quiet evening. No one knows that better than Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), the ill-fated traveler whose journey ends in the notorious shower scene. First a private detective, then Marion’s sister (Vera Miles) searches for her, the horror and the suspense mount to a terrifying climax where the mysterious killer is finally revealed.

Fallen (rated R, 4/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent and $4.99 to buy, and currently FREE to view for Amazon Prime members) – Denzel Washington stars as a cop on the trail of a body-hopping serial killer. From Amazon:

Following the execution of a demonic serial killer, a homicide detective finds himself on the trail of another serial killer whose methods are strikingly similar to the executed killer.

Jacob’s Ladder (rated R, 4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $6.99 to buy) – From Rotten Tomatoes:

A tortured man finds himself caught in a middle-ground between hallucination and reality in this supernatural thriller, scripted by Bruce Joel Rubin of Ghost (1990) and My Life (1993). Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) is a soldier stationed in Vietnam who undergoes a traumatic experience on the battlefield – the nature of which is initially unclear. The film then moves into his post-Vietnam experience in 1970s New York, where he feels consistently traumatized, but can never quite remember exactly what happened to him in Southeast Asia or to free himself from his anxieties over the recent tragic death of his young son (Macaulay Culkin)…Soon, Jacob’s tenuous hold on reality starts to slip as horrifying events befall him; he is nearly run over by a subway train, pursued by faceless demons in cars, and spots reptilian tails and horns protruding from the bodies of those he encounters. Jacob also suffers severe panic attacks related to the chaos that may be reality, or may exist only in his mind…  ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Stir of Echoes (rated R, 4/5 stars, currently priced at $1.99 to rent and $6.99 to buy) –  From Rotten Tomatoes:

In this supernatural thriller, Tom Witzky (Kevin Bacon) is a fairly typical working-class guy living in Chicago with his wife Maggie (Kathryn Erbe) and his son Jake (Zachary David Cope). One night at a party, Tom gets into a lively discussion with his sister-in-law, Lisa (Illeana Douglas), who believes in psychic communication and the power of hypnosis. He challenges Lisa to hypnotize him, and she plants in him a post-hypnotic suggestion to be more open-minded. But the results aren’t quite what Lisa or Tom expected; Tom now senses an air of terrible dread throughout his house and is convinced that evil lurks just around the corner. He also sees the spirit of a girl from the neighborhood who disappeared months ago — and Jake sees the spirit as well.

The Woman In Black (rated PG-13, 3.5/5 stars, currently priced at $3.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy) – From Amazon:

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a widowed lawyer, is sent to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric. But upon his arrival, it soon becomes clear that the house belonging to his client is haunted by the ghost of a woman out to seek vengeance.

The Haunting (not rated but consider it a PG-13, 4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent and $4.99 to buy, and currently FREE for Amazon Prime members to view) – From Amazon:

In an old New England house believed to be haunted, an ESP researcher enlists the help of two mediums in the hopes they can learnmore the house’s evil reputation.

Amazon reviewer Paulo Leite says:

The story has, by now, been imitated endlessly. Four people on a haunted house just to study it. But this is just the premise.
The great Robert Wise sets up the most perfect, most classic haunted-house film ever made. The screenplay is built on the principle that you don’t have to see it (the gore, the blood, etc.) to feel the fear. So, this is one of those great films where the tension is constructed upon the things you hear… the things you know are there.

In the pre-CGI era, you really had to create something out of what you had. So, Mr. Wise had a great script (years ahead of its time), great characters, great actors, a great cameraman, and settings that are a wow!

This is what makes this film so much better than any other (not to mention its remake – who clearly goes for the predictable cheap-trick CGI effects).

The Shining (rated R, 4.75/5 stars, currently priced at $2.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy) – Another horror classic, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. From IMDB:

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.




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