16 Very Frightening, Super-Scary Non-Horror Films
16. Bambi— Disney is considered “family friendly” but has any studio ever killed off more parents? All their movies thrive off a child’s elemental fear of losing Mom and Dad, and the death of (spoiler alert!) Bambi’s mother may be the most egregious offender. Why this movie isn’t rated R is a mystery to me.
15. Top Gun—The way this movie embodied the zeitgeist of Reagan-era military worship actually does take my breath away. Just as scary? The glints off Tom Cruise’s supernaturally smug smile.
14. Mamma Mia—Yes, Pierce Brosnan’s singing voice sent some Broadway fans screaming, but it’s Meryl Streep’s supposedly ‘relaxed’ performance here and those horrific denim overalls that get this on the list.
13. Food Inc.— Not only for the terrifying night-vision footage of the cramped chicken quarters, but also for the way this movie introduced us to Monsanto’s ongoing, gangster-ish abuse of global legal system.
12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory—Where to begin? Spooky to see such a listless screenplay from one of the industry’s writing gurus as it murders the concept of ‘back story.’ However, it’s Johnny Depp’s obstinate embrace of creepy makeup that is the stuff of nightmares.
11. Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2—Why watch a movie about Satan when you can see for yourself what selling your soul to the devil truly looks like?
10. Left Behind—Yes it’s been observed often enough, but still, what in Hades happened to Oscar winner Nicholas Cage’s career? How much debt did that man get into?
9. Showtime—See above, except substitute Robert DeNiro and Eddie Murphy.
8. Requiem for a Dream—Cinema as drug ‘rehab’ and honestly, who needed to see Ellen Burstyn going through convulsions?
7. Eyes Wide Shut— Was Stanley Kubrick scared of the possibility that sex might be a joyful, bonding, genuinely erotic experience? This movie might make you think so.
6. Contagion—Turn on the 24 hour news channels to see why. Soderbergh’s elegant structure ended the film with a scene that can give you the sweats and the chills.
5. FLOW (For the Love of Water)—Produced by Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, Flow makes a compelling case that while we wonder how long our drought will last, this century’s new barons are have already stolen our right to water.
4. The oeuvre of Lars Von Triers— Depression, Abuse, Global Catastrophe, Anhedonia—if you’re looking for dread, Lars is your man. See also: Von Trier press conferences.
3. Safe—Todd Hayne’s film about environmental sickness features one of Julianne Moore’s most empathetic performances (and that’s saying a lot for this generous-spirited actress. Nothing in Eli Roth’s twisted imagination is worse than realizing than the real no-escape scenario is a chemically-infested world.
2. Exactly. “2.” This number should send shivers through any producer’s blood. Sex and the City 2 (how far those sophisticates have fallen!), Big Momma’s House 2, The Karate Kid 2, The Sting II…
1. No End in Sight/Losing Iraq—Both these documentaries make compelling cases that every single horrifically short-sighted decision or terrible lack of planning or heinous act of greed resulted in a tragic nightmare from which we still can’t awaken.