Top 6: The Horror of the Unseen

Posted in Top 6 at 5:00 am by Sam

Our special Halloween Top 6 list for Episode 5 is about horror movies where what’s scary isn’t what you see on the screen but rather the suggestion of what you don’t see. Of course, horror movies can be scary in different ways, but we have a particular appreciation for scary movies that appeal to the imagination and our natural fears of the unknown, because this tends to provoke stronger reactions than anything a movie can explicitly show us.

So what are your favorite “unseen horror” movies?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. The Shining (1980)
  2. Don’t Look Now (1973)
  3. Alien (1979)
  4. Jaws (1975)
  5. Psycho (1960)
  6. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  1. Cat People (1942)
  2. The Shining (1980)
  3. The Changeling (1980)
  4. Jaws (1975)
  5. The Others (2001)
  6. The Eye (2002)


  1. Randy (21) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 10:44 am

    I think one of the best examples of unseen scary is the first Friday the 13th. We don’t really see the killer until the end, and its not the killer everyone thinks it is.

  2. siochembio (82) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 11:33 am

    Pleased to see Cat People on the list. As you mentioned, it isn’t really scary in the modern sense of a scary movie, but I was very impressed how much was made out of so little. You mentioned the swimming pool scene, which is great, and I also liked the scene where you see the wet footprints turn into pawprints.

    I’d make the argument that the first Halloween movie is terrifically effective because you see relatively little. You see snatches of Myers, but most of the suspense is through the voyeurism of the film - seeing the babysitters through his eyes. There’s very little blood in the film, and you don’t actually see Myers head on until the end. I actually didn’t see Halloween until February of this year, and I watched it in a house, all alone, with all the lights turned off. I was very unnerved by the end of the movie, and I had to go around very quickly to turn ALL the lights on and draw all the shades (while grabbing a stuffed animal for comfort).

  3. Dave (130) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    I think Shyamalan’s Signs could have been mentioned in this list. You don’t really see the aliens until the end (and one scene where you do see one alien before the end I thought was amazingly effective) but there’s still a palpable sense of terror throughout the “attack” sequences.

    I really want to see The Eye now, though. That sounds like an awesome movie.

  4. mindless_drivel (29) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    *shivers* I hate scary movies. Whenever somebody forces me to watch them, I turn into a whimpering little girl. Sometimes just the trailers are enough to freak me out. Even scary parts in non-scary movies give me the creeps. I remember watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when I was 10 or 11 and the part at the end *minor spoiler* where the guy turns into a skeleton after he drinks from the cup *end minor spoiler* gave me nightmares for the next week or so. What can I say? I just have an overactive imagination.

  5. Dave (130) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 5:49 pm

    I also liked Stephen’s characterization of Alien as a “haunted house movie”. I recall seeing some critic or other on TV mention that Alien isn’t really a Sci-Fi movie, it’s a haunted house movie. He went on to say that it’s perhaps the first haunted house movie to truly solve the main problem all haunted house movies have, namely, “why the heck don’t they just LEAVE THE HOUSE?”.

  6. Darien (88) said,

    November 1, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    Both Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 dealt with the “why don’t they leave the house” question. In the first one, it’s because if you leave the house you get raped to death by tree demons. I mean, OBVIOUSLY. In the second one, it’s because the claymation bridge that leads to the house folded up or something and I guess the house is on a little island all by itself.

    See? Perfectly logical answers!

  7. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 1:50 pm

    The last 15 minutes of Wait Until Dark scared the crud outta me specifically because of this issue. “Where is the guy? WHERE IS HE?”

    As a side note, this is the second week in a row you’ve included Jaws in a Top 6 list. I predict “Top 6 Fish Movies” is coming up soon.

  8. Grishny (156) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 3:10 pm

    My Top Six Fish Movies (MTSFM):

    1. Finding Nemo
    2. Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie
    3. Big Fish
    4. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    5. Jaws
    6. Splash!

    Had to think hard to come up with those. I guess I haven’t seen very many fish movies.

  9. siochembio (82) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    Pinocchio! That’s a good fish movie!

  10. Sam (405) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 3:35 pm

    1. Ocean’s 11
    2. Antwone Fisher
    3. Seabiscuit
    4. The Fisher King
    5. Swimming With Sharks
    6. Swordfish

  11. ThePhan (128) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    I’ve never seen Old Man and the Sea, but that would be a fish movie as well.

  12. GAThrawn (3) said,

    November 3, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    LOL Sam, that top 6 fish movie list was genius ;)

  13. Darien (88) said,

    November 4, 2006 at 5:48 am

    I was going to list six Abe Vigoda movies, but it turns out he’s been in about a hundred films and I got intimidated and chickened out. So I’ll leave you with the legacy of my joke instead, and this much less great list:

    1) Piranha
    2) Piranha Part Two: The Spawning
    3) Killer Fish (a.k.a. “Deadly Treasure of the Piranha”)
    4) Piranha, Piranha!
    5) Jaws: The Revenge
    6) Le Piranha Andalou

  14. quints_orca (1) said,

    July 6, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    If I can suggest a “Horror of the unseen” movie it would be Session 9. Now I know it has David Caruso in it, but dont hold that againest this movie. Watch this movie in the dark if possible. BTW I love the podcast, I know you both have lives but I would love if you two could do more than one a week.

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