(Originally posted at Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat.)
The scariest movie I ever saw was a bootleg copy of The Blair Witch Project. At the time I was working for Troma, of Toxic Avenger & Sgt. Kabukiman fame. They met the Blair Witch guys at Cannes and the BWs were big Troma fans, so they gave them a few copies of the movie. I watched it with my friend and fellow horror nut Davey Oil, knowing only that it was supposed to be very scary, and that it was a mockumentary kind of deal.
I have literally never been so scared in all my life. Dave and I just sat there after it was over for about an hour (we finished it at 2 in the morning or something) because we were too frightened to leave the room. My bathroom has one of those fan deals, so you can't hear what's going on outside, so when I had to go afterwards I made Dave stand at the door and talk to me so I knew he was still out there. When I drove him home we were afraid of the back of the car.
That's how scary that goddamn movie was before a) the constant hype spoiled people's expectations and b) they added in the bit about the Witch-inspired killer making one kid stand in the corner while the other was killed. Believe me, without that little condescending post-production addition, the movie's final image was maybe the most frightening thing I've ever seen. When a couple weeks later we showed the movie to a bunch of friends at an upstate cabin, at least one of them was so upset by it she got mad at the filmmakers for making "emotional pornography." I don't think I'll ever buy the DVD of the movie because I think I saw it in the way God intended.
Perhaps all this explains why I reacted so strongly (nightmares and all) to The Ring--I know the power of a scary bootlegged VHS tape.
Sean T. Collins can scream "Jooooosh!" with the best of 'em. He's also a pro writer and editor, and blogs at Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat, where this post originally appeared.