Gore not always strongest method of inciting fear

Another Halloween has come and gone, but some timeless horror classics are still around for us to be shocked, appalled and amazed by.So even if it is November, dig through the discount bin at a local blockbuster for these thrilling gems.

“I’m Chucky, wanna play?”

“The power of Christ compels you!”

“Priority One. Insure return of organism for analysis. All other considerations secondary. Crew expendable.”

For some reason hearing these lines when I watch “Child’s Play,” “The Exorcist” and “Alien” still gives me the willies, no matter how many times I have seen them.

Fear is something difficult to pinpoint in the human psyche. The classics by Alfred Hitchcock will forever be glorified as some type of golden horror era, but the 15 years from the mid-1970s through the late 1980s put out some of the most chilling movies I have ever seen.

Something amidst gut-splattering violence makes the hair along my spine prickle. It is a fear of something in your house, underneath the bed. It is the constant fright that something may already be inside you, taking away everything you have. It may just be scaring yourself.

In 1973, “The Exorcist” blended fact and fiction into a story that makes for one of the most recognizable, albeit graphic, moments in cinema history.

The little girl, Regan MacNeil, played by Linda Blair, became a horror movie icon. Briefly, after her possession by the devil she made the famous backward descent down the staircase.

A 6-year-old girl crab-walking down a flight of stairs is not necessarily a frightening sight, but the abrupt vomiting of blood and overall concept can strike fear into any God-fearing Christian’s heart.

The screenplay author, who also wrote the original book, based the story off documented exorcisms in the areas surrounding Washington, D.C.

Fright springs forth when these events are depicted as reality. The possibility of something beyond medical explanation gives this story a suspense factor and some shock value. Exorcisms exist, giving a new element to a tale of horror that can happen to anyone.

From bodily possession to personal possessions, “Child’s Play” is another one of the classic horror movies from the 1980s. Honestly, if any of my toys came to life I would be screaming for my mother and pouring tears from my eyes. I don’t care if my “Good Guys” doll was just there as a companion. A knife-wielding toy is just plain frightening. And that high-pitched voice accompanying it was just another feather in creator Don Mancini’s cap.

The crown jewel of horror and suspense comes from 1979 with Ridley Scott’s “Alien.”

When I bought the full director’s cut of the movie last summer, I was still amazed at the way minimal special effects could incite hair-raising chills in a viewer. I have seen the movie dozens of times both with and without the director’s commentary, and it never ceases to amaze me how a creature dripping with slime can be that eerie.

The movie takes a classic B-movie tactic and just changes the venue from Earth to outer-space: seven people trapped in a house, one goes crazy and there is a killer on the loose.

These simple elements of a classic slasher film put the bleak environment of outer space in a virtually uncharted area, making for a new element of fear: the unexpected.

Not to mention the audio for the movie exemplifies every brutal scene as an omniscient heartbeat murmurs in the background when the creature approaches. The first such slaying occurs during the famed “chestburster” scene when the crew is dining in the mess hall. Silence at the dinner table is followed by another one of the more recognizable moments in on-screen horror. A spider-like creature erupts from a man’s chest cavity and escapes in the confined ship, leaving the crew helpless with a murderous alien running free.

Reality, fantasy and an old story in a new way are all methods of inducing fright on the silver screen.

Associate editor Marcus Murphree is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Beaumont.