The Frightful History of the Best Jumpscares

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The jumpscare; one of the most polarizing yet widely used tropes in the horror genre since Mark Robson’s clever editing work in Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 chiller Cat People. Some will tell you that jumpscares are cheap tactics to manipulate the audience into finding something more scary than it really is, while others insist that if they don’t jump out of their seats at least once then a film quite simply isn’t scary at all. The truth is that jumpscares are neither good nor bad, like an overly aggressive dog the blame can be placed fully on their handler. Here I have personally handpicked and compiled a list of jumpscares from throughout the ages of film, to hopefully weed out the wheat from the chaff in the world of heart-stopping horror moments.

Heavy dramatic music is better for horrific reveals and dramatic moments than to make the audience jump, though some cases have proved it can be effective.

Smile (2022)


Smile is a nightmarish slow-burn horror film comparable to the likes of It Follows (2014) and They Look Like People (2015), with plenty of creepy images and a pervasive sense of building dread throughout its entire runtime. Therapist Dr. Rose Cotter begins experiencing a terrifying phenomenon following a patient’s apparent suicide, and must figure out what smiling, shapeshifting thing is stalking her before it is too late. Unfortunately, just about every frame that could be considered chilling in Smile was shown proudly in its trailer, making the film itself feel like an extended rehash and forcing it to rely on a few jumpscares to keep the wider audience interested. One of these jolts is a scene in which Rose’s sister approaches Rose’s car, knocking on the window. As she does, her head swings violently into view to reveal a hideous smile on her face. The whole thing happens so quickly and the grotesque appearance of the long, swinging neck and demented grin make this a hugely effective scare, even if it was also sadly shown in the trailer.

Insidious (2010)

Insidious (2010) horror movie poster featuring a scary child in front of a house

This one got me good back in 2010, and I still remember jumping clean out of my seat at a couple of points. Of course I was more impressional back then and I’m not sure it would have the same effect nowadays, though I would consider Insidious to be a chillingly atmospheric and intensely creepy horror film nonetheless. Many would probably consider the best jumpscare here to be the appearance of the red-faced demon behind Patrick Wilson’s character, though there was another scene that sticks with me far more. Somewhere in the madness of the first real night of haunting, Renai (played by Rose Byrne) runs into her baby’s room to see a figure standing over the cot. Because this happens in the midst of so much panic, and because Rose Byrne’s reaction through one unbroken camera shot is so convincing, I would place this as one of the more spine-chilling jumpscares James Wan has to offer.

The Visit (2015)

The visit jumpscare horror movie poster featuring some rules and a house


Despite being one of M. Night Shyamalan’s later works, The Visit actually utilises its found-footage presentation well for the most part, offering a group of charismatic and interesting characters and plenty of passable chills, not to mention an ending that calls back to the director’s earlier, more widely regarded films. While I enjoyed a lot of The Visit, we are here to talk about the jumpscares of the matter, which sadly I liked a lot less. One stand-out scene is when the kids are crawling under their grandparent’s house and end up hiding from their snarling ‘grandmother’ as it crawls around looking for them. This may have been a creepy scene if not for the incessant and inhuman screeching and snarling coming from her. These sounds have no bearing on the story and are seemingly there to give the audience a little jolt, like an editing afterthought when it was realised the scene simply wasn’t that scary.

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary Horror Movie Poster featuring a mother and child in a spooky scene


Ari Aster’s breakout directorial debut Hereditary is a uniquely nasty look at classic haunting tropes, one that shocked audiences with its blend of supernatural chills and pitch-black family drama. The scare I’m choosing to focus on from this particular nightmare is a good case for the argument that quiet jumpscares can work better. Things are already tense as Charlie (Millie Shapiro) struggles through her closing airways and when she tries for air, a small thud is all that’s needed to let us know that the worst has happened. You might not have initially jumped at this one, hell, you might not have even caught it the first time around, but once the realization sets in of what happens when Charlie sticks her head out of the car window, we are left in the same state of silent shock her unfortunate brother Peter (Alex Wolff) is in. Phenomenal acting and truly disturbing subject matter mean that this flick is not for the weak of heart.

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring Horror Movie Poster featuring s spooky house and a noose hanging from a tree


Like any decent ghostly chiller from James Wan, The Conjuring is chock full of dread, atmosphere and a bucketload of jumpscares. As with his other works such as Insidious, Wan likes to turn up the shocks and then keep them coming until the audience is completely worn out from gritting their teeth. Once the tension ramps up we can expect horrors jumping from every shadow, meaning it can be quite hard to pin down a particular jumpscare amongst the madness. That being said, the reveal of the evil entity, Bathsheba, hiding atop the wardrobe has to be one of the better timed and executed scares of James Wan’s career. Her hideous, yet not over-the-top, appearance flashing so suddenly gives such a threatening air that our fight-or-flight sense begins to tingle at the very sight of her. Couple that with the knowledge that she sacrificed her own child just to get one over on God and you have one truly unsettling antagonist.

Signs (2002)

Signs sci-fi horror movie poster featuring a crop circle


I’ve already picked on one of Shyamalan’s later works so why not go back and have a look at one of his more worthy creations? Signs stars Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix and could to this day be the scariest sci-fi horror extraterrestrial invasion film in history. This is chiefly due to the thick sense of foreboding that builds over the film’s first couple of acts, before panic ensues and the family hope their preparations weren’t in vain. The scares work here because Shyamalan keeps things quiet for the most part. One standout moment is when Merrill Hess (Phoenix) is watching shaky news footage of an alleged ‘sighting’ at a child’s birthday party. The shot of a backyard alley is held just long enough to put viewers on edge before an alien walks brazenly out and swaggers across to the other side. At this point in the film we don’t know what to expect from these creatures, so when a vaguely sinister humanoid walks out the effect is a confusing and hair-raising jolt. Every little glimpse of a leg or hand of the creatures thus far has been leading to an almost casual reveal, and Phoenix’s reaction illustrates the significance of the event perfectly.

Sinister (2012)

sinister horror movie poster featuring a scary young girl walking by a blood stained wall


Sinister is a moody and atmospheric horror directed by Scott Derrickson and starring Ethan Hawke, which utilises a home-movie effect through some of its sequences that can be considered some of the creepiest scenes in modern horror. When author Ellsion Oswalt (Hawke) finds a stack of super 8 footage depicting the gruesome murders of several families, he must decipher the connections between them before the malicious entity residing in the footage finds him. I won’t spoil too much, though I’ll say that one of these tapes has one of the more unexpected and gut-dropping jumpscares I’ve personally come across. While Sinister’s third act doesn’t quite live up to the dread built in the first two, it’s still a worthy modern horror flick in many regards and should be watched at least once.

Lights Out (short) (2013)


For this pick I’m giving a shout out to one of the most harrowing short films that ever graced the internet. It was later adapted into a great feature film of the same name, though I still consider the rawness and simplicity of the original Lights Out short to be far superior for a quick scare. Clocking at around three minutes, Lights Out features no dialogue and very minimal sound effects with no excessive increases in volume. When our lead turns out the light and sees the sinister figure at the end of the hall, we see it as she does, with no obnoxious instrumentation or erratic camera editing. As she starts to curiously turn the light on and off , the figure only appearing in the dark, we scream internally to just leave the thing on and get out of the place. The 2016 feature film definitely took things further in every possible way, and happens to be a very competently horrifying film in the process, though something about the short will always reign supreme. Watch the Light Our Horror short below.

Barbarian (2022)

Barbarian horror movie poster featuring a woman looking through a scary doorway


Barbarian is an absolute enigma of a film and is best enjoyed with absolutely no prior knowledge going into it. Let’s just say that the first act in no way hints at the insane length the story goes to, and the first actual reveal of where things are going is downright horrifying. Featuring little to no sound, this particular scene uses a quick and horrifying visual followed by some brutal violence that are both heart-stopping in their abruptness and such a curveball in terms of story that viewers feel completely and suitably helpless.

The Ring (2002)

The Ring Horror Movie poster showing a glowing supernatural ring


Gore Verbinski’s 2002 remake of the Japanese chiller Ringu, The Ring, was one of the first horror films I remember seeing, and I still remember the nightmares, the fear of TV static, and the absolute hatred of little girls with long black hair. There’s plenty to be scared of in what I would consider one of the best horror remakes around, though one scene disturbed my young mind beyond belief. Following an account of a young girl’s horrifying death, we are greeted to a quick shot of the victim crouched in a cupboard, her face twisted and warped beyond recognition. The image is so jarring and unexpected that the audience is put in a state of alert apprehension, and although I am biased I would consider it one of the best scares on this list.

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Must Watch Killer Christmas Horror Movies

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By the time November rolls around some of us just plain aren’t ready to let the Halloween spirit die. Either that or we’re so obsessed with horror that it inevitably bleeds into every seasonal holiday we take part in. Either way, the best remedy is undoubtedly the abundance of killer Christmas horror movies available today; from the horrifyingly effective to the downright laughable, and sometimes both. Killer Santa Clauses have been stalking the silver screen since the late 70s, and filmmakers are coming up with fresh new ideas on seasonal scares to this day. With the holiday fast approaching, I have compiled a list of what I consider the most notable holly-jolly slashers, and while not all can be considered cinematic masterpieces, all can definitely be considered a bloody good time for gore-hounds wanting to celebrate the festive season with a splatter.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Silent Night Deadly Night Holiday Horror Movie with Santa Holding an axe in a chimney


This Charles E. Sellier directed slasher wasn’t the first time a maniacal killer donned a Santa suit, though it’s definitely one of the first that showed the true brutality the budding sub-genre had to offer. Silent Night, Deadly Night follows Billy, a troubled young man suffering from post-traumatic stress after being sole witness to the murder of his parents at the hands of a man dressed as Saint Nick himself. This, coupled with his subsequent abusive upbringing in a Catholic orphanage, picks away at his psyche until finally, in adulthood, he snaps and begins mirroring the man who brought about his parents demise. Billy dons a santa claus outfit and begins a spree of brutal murders in his hometown.

Silent Night, Deadly Night was met with its fair share of controversy over its depiction of a sadistic Saint Nick, being pulled from theatres a mere week after its release. Of course, as plenty of banned films do, it quickly achieved cult status and managed to spawn four sequels, with a reboot in the works for release this year.

Billy’s breakdown is, while dated in many regards, still a potent one. The eventual explosion of violence he undergoes is chock full of the mean-spirited dispatching of innocents that we have come to expect from slashers. Although, the personal dramas Billy deals with throughout the films runtime are just as endearing, and we are met with just as much human tragedy as we are mindless violence in this rough-but-ready Christmas horror movie relic.

To All A Goodnight (1980)

To All a Good Night Horror movie Poster with a demon over a house on the holidays


Interestingly enough, this slice of festive nastiness was directed by none other than actor David A. Hess, known for his own roles depicting gruff and often murderous villains. Some would argue that David may have been better in front of the camera for this low-budget slasher, and it’s easy to see why. To All a Goodnight flew under just about everyone’s radar at the time, despite coming out before the likes of Silent Night, Deadly Night and around the same time as the likes of “You Better Watch Out”. Even so, this is a particularly vicious and atmospheric Christmas horror slasher that should be on every genre fan’s watchlist at least once.

Like many slashers of its era, This one opens with a flashback to a prank going terribly wrong before moving to the present, where a group of wealthy students of a Finishing School for Girls plan to sneak their boyfriends in for a late night party. Their plans are ruined, however, when someone dressed in a Santa costume begins stalking the halls, dispatching them one-by-one.

There are some interesting kills on show here, and a suitably rough and unhinged electronic score permeating the festive filleting of surprisingly halfway decent actors. Each character manages to bring something distinct to the table, making this an under appreciated and worthy Santa slasher.

Sint (2010)

Sint Christmas Horror Movie Poster


Sint, also known as Saint in Europe and Saint Nick in the US, is a Dutch black-comedy about the legend of Sinterklaas, the character upon which our lovable modern Santa Claus is based. Sint distorts myth and reality, portraying Sinterklaas as a homicidal ghost who murders huge amounts of people when Christmas coincides with a full moon. The film was directed by Dick Maas, who gained critical acclaim with such horrors as De Lift (1983) and Amsterdamned (1988), and is seen widely as a return to form after a long absence.

Sint is a surreal and polarizing affair on the whole, some feeling the potential its concept set wean’t fully realized. That being said, the bizarre and action-packed spectacle we are left with is, while tamer than most yuletide horrors, more than entertaining and darkly funny enough to satiate the Christmas horror movie genre fans years down the line.

Rare Exports (2010)


For our next look into crimbo carnage we head to Finland for the modern fantasy/action horror Rare Exports, directed by Jalmari Helander. The story centres around Pietari, a young boy living in the mountains of Northern Finland. He and his friend Juuso uncover plans of a secret mountain drilling project that they believe has uncovered a tomb. The tomb of Santa Claus himself. Of course this is a Christmas horror movie, so the Saint Nick that is uncovered and expectedly rises from his grave is not as jolly as one might hope. All hope may rest in an old wildman who becomes ensnared in one of Pietari’s father’s wolf traps, who may know more than he is letting on about the recent children’s disappearances and reindeer’s slaughter.

The story begins slowly, ramping up the suspense before the deliciously savage killing begins. Each character is given room to breathe and establish themselves, adding real weight to the carnage that follows. The end result is something beyond a simple b-movie slasher; a unique, unsettling and often hilarious Santa Claus origin story that reminds us that all fairy tales are truly dark if you dig deep enough.

Christmas Evil (1980)

Christmas Evil Horror Movie Poster 1980 with Santa holding an axe


Christmas Evil is a bit of a wildcard. This mean-spirited proto-slasher being more an exploitation film than anything would usually mean buckets of blood and some risque content that wider audiences would have difficulty with. This is by all means a nasty and uncompromising film, though it seems more concerned with mood and atmosphere than with shocking its audiences with gore and nudity.

Brandon Maggart plays a toymaker who has loves Christmas since he was a young boy. He is scarred when he realises Santa isn’t real and vows then to keep the Christmas spirit a reality, becoming obsessed with children’s behaviour and the quality of his own creations. He eventually snaps when people meet his efforts with a cold cynicism, causing him to begin a killing spree dressed as his lifelong hero, jolly Saint Nick.

Maggart plays Harry with an intensity that brings to mind broken characters such as Travis Bickle and even Michael Rooker’s ‘Henry’. This coupled with Christmas Evil being the first film to feature Santa as a killer elevated it above plenty of the Christmas horror movies of its era.

Tales From The Crypt (1972)

Tales from the Crypt 1972 horror movie featuring a skull


When a group of tourists become lost in a labyrinth of ancient catacombs, they come across the Crypt Keeper (played by Ralph Richardson) who tells each of them their fate in the form of five short films. Not only does Tales From The Crypt feature one of the scariest killer Santas in cinema history, but it manages to be a cut above other anthology horror films by a wide margin in terms of quality and overall scares. The tales include a murderous spouse, a man who becomes the target of nosy and suspicious neighbors, and an adulterer who may meet a fitting end if the keeper’s predictions are accurate.

This was arguably the first film to feature a homicidal Santa Claus, though not as its main crux.

A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

Christmas Horror Story with Santa fighting Krampus


The idea of a killer Santa is turned gleefully on its head in this fun action/horror from directors Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan. The small Town of Bailey Downs is suddenly set upon by a maelstrom of Christmas chaos, including insidious spirits, zombified elves and none other than the anti-Santa himself, Krampus.

A Christmas Horror Story has something for everyone; the uninitiated will enjoy the simplicity and accessibility of the story while more hardcore fans will recognise references such as Bailey Downs from the film’s opening.

All in all this manages to be one of the stronger horror anthologies out there, especially since it is dedicated fully to modernising an old tale with a brutal new twist. Don’t miss it.

Black Christmas (1974)

black christmas movie poster 1974

And finally we come to one of the most influential and to-this-day unsettling of all the Christmas horror movies. Black Christmas set the stage for slashers in the late 70s and early 80s, creating many of the conventions we know and love them for today.

As winter settles in, a shout of sorority sisters begin receiving aggressive and sexual phone calls from an anonymous psycho. One thing we can tell from the squealing voice is that its owner is very disturbed and very dangerous. Margot Kidder does a great job as the unhinged and inebriated ‘Barb’, who gleefully eggs on the caller until he becomes threatening. When the girls hear of a local girls murder, and one of their own goes missing too, they begin to suspect the calls may have been more threatening than they appeared, and none of them have any idea just how close the danger is.

And as an audience we feel every bit of that danger. Because Black Christmas is from a time before established slasher tropes, there are no fixed rules for who will live and who will die. Not even a ‘final girl’ is guaranteed amongst the colourful group, making this nasty yuletide spree a worthy entry in any horror fan’s rotation. There’s a reason so many tried to emulate what Black Christmas did, and the templates it set in stone are still revered to this day.

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Best Family Horror Movies

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That most wonderful month of October is once again fast approaching, when stores begin to stock their most malicious outfits and decorations and movie channels run red with the blood of the living, and the dead. Most of us would gladly hunker down with some of the most gruesome and bloody slasher flicks the world of film has to offer, but what if the kids are still up? We can’t very well expect them to fall asleep after the sheer volume of sugar that Halloween provides, so the best course of action is to take a trip back to the family friendly horror movies you loved at their age. With this in mind, I’ll dive into some of the best family-friendly horror movies around, from old favorites to modern classics which capture exactly what kids want from the spookiest season of the year, without being too scary for younger audiences.

Goosebumps

goosebumps family friendly horror movie poster featuring teens, monsters and a magic book

More than just a film, Goosebumps has been one of the forerunners of children’s horror since 1992 with the groundbreaking Goosebumps children’s book series, and the hair raising tv series of the same name beginning in 1995. In addition were two more recent Goosebumps films and some noteworthy comic and video game adaptations. I indulged in plenty of the Goosebumps literature at a young age, particularly the ‘choose your adventure’ titles as something about making the wrong choice resulting in someone dying horribly was all the scarier. That being said, I remember being frightened witless at just as many moments in the television series. Slappy’s original design from Night of The Living Dummy still lives bored into my mind as one of my earliest jumpscares, and his sinister smile still chills me to this day. That episode also featured another sentient doll which held her owner hostage and threatened to kill her entire family (yes, this show was aimed at 7 year olds). I blame Goosebumps as a franchise almost entirely for my love for, and discerning taste in, all things horror.

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

A show known only to me as ‘Canadian Goosebumps’ at one point in time, the equally creepy Are You Afraid of The Dark aired from 1991 to 1996, with one revival show airing from 1999-2000 and another beginning in 2021. The most recent revival has been met with a great reception, though the early-90s original was not without its charms. All adaptations centre around a group of kids who called themselves ‘The Midnight Society’, who meet up ritualistically in spooky places in the dead of night to tell scary stories. Each episode, these stories are shown to the viewer as blood-curdling short films, which often bleed over into that character’s reality in some way.

Frankenweenie

Tim Burton is a name that will likely pop up a number of times in this article, as he is one of the few who truly understands the balance between dark scares and childlike wonder. To be told that Frankenweenie is Burton’s best film in a long time should be encouragement enough to watch it, and that is exactly what the general consensus is. In this alternate timeline, a young Victor Frankenstein is a scientist and outsider at school with one true friend; his dog Sparky. When Sparky is tragically killed, Victor takes the advice of his science teacher and reanimates his companion. When Victor’s classmates steal his work and attempt to use it on their own pets however, things go horribly awry. Burton pays homage to plenty of classic horror movies and returns to his roots with blazing success with Frankenweenie, a flick not to be missed by horror fans young and old.

Monster House

Monster house kids horror movie animated poster featuring three kids and a scary house

It took me a criminal amount of time to finally watch the brilliant animated family horror Monster House, though better late than never. This clever little tale centers around two friends who discover that their creepy neighbor’s even creepier house is far more monstrous than it looks. When the house itself begins eating people on the run-up to Halloween, the boys must try to convince an adult of what is going on before the ultimate smorgasbord of trick-or-treaters file up to its ravenous door! Featuring an all-star cast of voices, and some bone-chilling animation including the evil house’s twisted transformations, Monster House is a modern classic which blends family-friendly humour with a tangible and at-times terrifying threat.

Coraline

Coraline was adapted from the 2002 Neil Gaiman book of the same name, and is an utterly skin-crawling experience, albeit one packed with heart and nostalgia. 11 year old Coraline finds an alternate, and rather ideal, version of her own home within its walls, though before long she realizes that the place holds a dark and insidious secret. While remaining appropriate for children, Coraline features some truly chilling concepts and hair-raising stop-motion animation that is kept raw to utilize the unsettling effect stop-motion can have. Neil Gaiman always manages to capture the hearts and minds of his audience, especially given his penchant for horror, so one can only be thankful that Henry Selick had the directorial prowess to take it to the big screen.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

You’ve seen the merchandise, you’ve heard at least one of the songs, though if you haven’t actually sat down to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas yet you’re missing out in a big way. This 1993 Burton classic paved the way for many animated films that followed its staggering popularity. The story focuses on Jack Skelington, King of Halloween Town as he one day stumbles upon the neighboring Christmas Town. When he becomes obsessed with Christmas culture he attempts to bring it back to his own people, to great confusion and uproar. Jack’s is a unique tale with a solid moral compass, one layered with catchy songs and lovable voice acting throughout.

Beetlejuice

Beetlejuice movie poster featuring a groom and bride and Beetlejuice on a house

This one might be a little bit of a cheat, as there are plenty of parents who wouldn’t want their young children watching Michael Keaton sauntering around making crude gestures and more innuendos than Austin Powers. But that is part of what makes this dark, wacky live-action headtrip such a quintessential Tim Burton classic. Sure, it’s not fully aimed at kids but there’s enough slapstick comedy and colorful integration of unnerving stop-motion (I’m looking at those sandworms) to entertain people of all ages. While it’s not exactly a musical, the placement of a couple of Harry Belafonte songs are particularly hilarious, and the overtly stylized look of the film combined with some brilliantly off-kilter performances are enough to warrant this film a cult classic. Keaton is a force to be reckoned with as the reverse-exorcist Beetlejuice, who promises to rid your home of the living should you simply say his name three times. No one would be that stupid though, right?

James and The Giant Peach

Things are getting personal now as we visit another early Tim Burton nightmare. One of my earliest memories of being terrified is of the hellish mechanical shark with its rotating layers of steel teeth, or the horror of the black rhino in the storm clouds. James and The Giant Peach is adapted from a Roald Dahl book and given a suitably dark and unsettling stop-motion style, blended cleverly with live-action as James crosses into a dreamlike reality of giant fruit and huge talking insects. On a voyage across the ocean and skies to New York, James and his band of oversized creatures must battle peril upon horrendous peril, while ultimately finding himself in the comfort of his friends. This adaptation catures the comic brilliance and surreal grimness of Dahl’s work perfectly, and makes for solid family viewing any time of the year.

Gremlins

Gremlins family friendly horror movie poster featuring a box with a gremlin monster in it

Fun fact: Gremlins was almost an R-rated gorefest of a movie before some studio head decided it was worth converting into the fun and exciting festive horror-comedy we know and love. The story centers around struggling inventor Randall Peltzer who is looking for a Christmas present for his son, Billy. When he wanders into an old bazaar in Chinatown, he encounters an old man who presents him with a cute, furry creature called a Mogwai. The man imparts upon Randall the few vital rules one must follow when owning a Mogwai, though Billy himself has a little trouble keeping to them. While it remains a cult-classic among many adults, Gremlins has enough laughs and cuteness from Gizmo the Mogwai to entertain children of all ages, even though those under 10 might find certain scenes of fantasy violence disturbing.

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The Ghost Bride Of Haynesville Woods – Maine US

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore


Maine is no stranger to grisly horror stories and urban legends. From tombstones displaying spectral images to a gruesome, lighthouse-based tale of murder, those searching for a bone-chilling kick will certainly find what they’re looking for in this New England state. There is one area of Maine, however, that sticks out as the most haunted and disturbed in the whole state. An unassuming stretch of Route 2a known as the Haynesville Woods is a route that most Mainers would recommend you avoid, and for very good reason – The Ghost Bride of Haynesville Woods.

“It’s a stretch of road up north in Maine
That’s never ever ever seen a smile
If they’d buried all them truckers lost in them woods
There’d be a tombstone every mile”

From A Tombstone Every Mile by Dick Curless

The History of Haynesville’s Treacherous Roads

Haynesville, Maine was first reached by settlers in 1828, and by 1832 a road was completed between that and a military post in Houlton to allow for easy transportation of supplies. Before I-95 was built, this part of the road was also heavily used by trucks bringing Maine’s potato harvest out of the state. The road exists today in infamy, as one of the most haunted roads in Maine. Even Dick Curless’ aforementioned song describes the great numbers of truckers who have died along that stretch, hence the name ‘A Tombstone Every Mile’. This is no surprise given the treacherous nature of the road, buried deep in the woods with low lighting and as much as 90 degree turns to keep the most seasoned of truck drivers on their toes.

Haynesville Woods Urban Legends

There are several legends regarding the Haynesville Woods road, most notable of which being a story of a particularly distraught young woman. So the story goes, the woman has been seen stranded by the roadside, running and waving manically to the passing cars. When drivers stop to ask if she is okay, she will explain that she and her husband were in a horrific car wreck on the day of their wedding and desperately need help. When drivers offer a ride, the woman is said to accept, and those who do have reported to have felt a bitter chill in the air as she entered their vehicle. She directs them to the end of the road, whereupon she disappears completely, leaving nothing but a wintery bite to the air around the passenger seat.

Enthusiasts have deciphered that this story concerns the case of a newlywed couple who crashed in Haynesville woods on their wedding night. The groom tragically died instantly while the bride, perhaps even more tragically, managed to walk to the end of the road before succumbing to the biting winter cold, and ultimately freezing to death.

Another story is told involving young girls in need of help on the roadside, similar to the spectral bride. Much like the bride, the girls, sometimes seen singularly and sometimes as a pair, disappear from helpful passerby’s cars once they reach the end of the road. In 1967 two young girls were reported to have been struck and killed by a tractor trailer, though whether this tragedy was enough to spark a new urban legend or whether those girls still haunt the road to this day is another matter altogether.

If you like highway ghost stories, you should also check out the Bandage Man of Cannon Beach.

Resources and further reading:

https://949whom.com/route-2a-in-maine-haunted/
https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/maine/most-haunted-street-me/
https://umaine.edu/undiscoveredmaine/aroostook-county-maine/southern-aroostook/haynesville/
https://detour-roadtrips.com/home/five-of-americas-most-haunted-highways

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The Undying Legend of George A. Romero

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It doesn’t take a horror buff to know the name George A. Romero, whose uniquely nasty brand of undead carnage has horrified theaters and households worldwide since the late 1960s. His Living Dead series is one of the chief contributors to the look, sound and overall behavior of zombies in modern culture, and Romero is often described as “iconic” within the horror genre and “Father of the Zombie Film” for his essential and influential work within the Zombie sub-genre.

Starting out in 1960, just after graduating from college, Romero began by shooting short films and television commercials before getting together with some friends in the later 60s and forming what they called Image Ten Productions, the company that would produce his first cult classic, Night of The Living Dead (1968). Since then Romero’s work has been revered and detested in just about equal measure, and here I will explore some of the more notable entries in his filmography and why they were so divisive from societal commentary to pushing the limits of horror.

George Romero passed away July of 2017. RIP to one of the greats; George Romero February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.

George A. Romero

Night of The Living Dead (1968)

The original. The progenitor. The timeless classic which pioneered the entire zombie genre. Romero’s first major motion picture shocked audiences with its mix of graphic violence, creeping horror and sharp social commentary back in the late 60s, when all people had seen of zombies were the more focused and often voodoo-based flicks of the 30s and 40s, beginning with Victor Halperin’s 1932 opus, White Zombie. Night of The Living Dead tells the tale of a group of Pennsylvanians hiding out from the undead apocalypse in a farmhouse basement. Grim news reports detail the carnage in the surrounding areas as the group fend off the walking dead from their makeshift fortress. Being filmed in black and white certainly adds a lot to the grotesque atmosphere and hides a lot of the budgetary and technological constraints of the time, proving Romero’s first entry to be just as effectively gruesome today as it ever was.

Turns out there was a miss in the copyright of the original Night of The Living Dead so it can be readily streamed for free on many services as it is now in the Public Domain.

Stream Night of The Living Dead -1968 – free on Youtube

The Crazies (1973)

Crazies Romero Zombie Horror Movie Poster

The few films Romero released just after the critical success that was ‘Living Dead were sadly not so well received, one of these being The Crazies. The Crazies centers around a small town affected by an airborne bioweapon which causes people to become homicidal psychopaths. We follow a nurse (Lane Carroll) and her husband (W.G. McMillan) as they try to flee their infected town. When the US army turns up to control the outbreak, the chaos ramps up even more in what is, if not Romero’s best work, still a potent low-budget shocker with plenty to satisfy even discerning horror fans. Like many of Romero’s classics,The Crazies was a big enough hit to warrant a remake in 2010, with a fresh and terrifying look at the source material that some deem to be better than the original.

The Amusement Park (1975)

Romero’s The Amusement Park movie poster featuring a man who has a carousel in his head

While not exactly horror, and not exactly a feature film, Romero’s The Amusement Park is as sharp on social commentary as it is chilling. Believed lost until 2017 when a print was found and given a 4k restoration by IndieCollect, the film was originally commissioned as an educational piece on elder abuse but mothballed after completion.

Lincoln Maazel plays Martin, an elderly man on a visit to, you guessed it, an amusement park. What follows is a ride as unsettling as it may be upsetting for some, and though the metaphors on the way elderly people are treated by society are heavy handed, Maazel’s disoriented performance amongst the screaming crowds and roaring rollercoasters is as frightening as ever. The Amusement Park is Romero at the height of his vicious cynicism, a deeply unnerving psychological head trip peppered with absurdist jabs at an uncaring society. If Romero was alive to see its eventual release I’m sure he’d have more than one interesting story to tell, though to have it released at all is a blessing for any horror fan.

Dawn of The Dead (1978)

1978 Dawn of the Dead Horror Movie Poster

Ten years after his original zombie horror show Romero returned with Dawn of The Dead. While it features no characters or settings from its predecessor, this was the second film in Romero’s Living Dead series and focused on the wider effects the zombie outbreak has on society. Boasting a much larger scale and a clearly bigger budget, Dawn focuses on two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend as they seek shelter from the rotting hordes in an abandoned shopping mall. It is often regarded as one of the best zombie movies ever made for its uncompromising and shocking gore, sharply misanthropic social commentary and no-holds-barred zombie action.

Shot at the Monroeville Mall and in Pittsburgh; the special make-up effects were created by Tom Savini, also a Pittsburgh native. To this date the mall still holds an annual Zombie Fest.

Creepshow (1982)

Creepshow (1982) Movie Poster

Creepshow saw Romero leaning more into his campy tendencies with a hilarious horror/comedy anthology film based on the E.C. horror comics of the 50s. Written by, and starring none other than Stephen King himself, Creepshow is a colorful, wacky homage to pulpy low-brow horror that pays true tribute to its inspirational works. An all-star cast including Tom Savini, Leslie Nielsen and Hal Holbrook play out five brief but volatile short horror films with such stories as a rural man dealing with an extraterrestrial visitor, a man using unorthodox means of revenging his cheating wife and a terrifying monster breaking free of its holding cell and causing a path of destruction.

Day of The Dead (1985)

day of the Dead 1985 Romero Zombie horror film

Romero’s Living Dead series is back with another scathingly cynical view on society decorated with buckets of blood and gore. Day of The Dead is the third in the series and, while not considered to be as incendiary in its message and haunting in its execution as previous entries, it still has a few gruesome tricks up its sleeve. Its story sees the zombies coming together and evolving as the survivors of the outbreak hunker down in an old missile silo underground. Focus is given more to the dangers of people rather than the undead this time around, with survivors devolving into cavemen below the surface while the zombie hordes begin to thrive in their new kingdom. Day of the Dead deals with the conflicting ethos of science vs military in a ravaged Earth, demonstrating as clearly as ever that humans don’t need to be nukes into oblivion when their own idiocy can get them into a similar state.

Land of The Dead (2005)

Land Of The Dead Horror Movie Poster featuring zombies and a city

Fast forward 20 long years and Romero proved once again that his zombies simply don’t stay dead. Land of The Dead developed Romero’s concepts of human hierarchy further by splitting the surviving factions of humans into upper-class, who live out the apocalypse from the comfort of their high-rise tower block, and lower-class, who must sweat it out in the makeshift slums below. While some of the originality of the original trilogy is lost in the sometimes-on-the-nose social commentary this time around, there is plenty of flesh-eating fun to satiate the hungriest zombie fan. Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) enforces brutal class distinctions between his feudal society while a secret rebellion is in the works to overthrow him. Couple these elements with a horde of evolving zombies that are learning to adapt, and the chaos of Land of the Dead is really something to behold.

Diary of The Dead (2007)

Diary of The Dead (2007) movie poster featuring someone recording zombies in a burning city

Now here is a curveball that none saw coming. With Romero’s fifth installment in his Living Dead series he decided to change format completely and shoot the whole affair in a found-footage/documentary style. While independently produced, the film did see a theatrical release by The Weinstein Company. This entry takes place at the beginning of the outbreak, telling the tale of a group of students and their professor attempting to make a horror film in the forest. Before long the living dead hone in on the class and begin to pick them off one by one. Romero’s political edge is as prevalent as ever, with a good amount of his jabs being taken at the media and their implication in disastrous events, in this case the zombie apocalypse. There’s not a whole lot more to say about Diary of the Dead as, as entertaining and effective as it can be, the whole field starts to feel a bit trodden by this point.

Survival of The Dead (2009)

Survival of The Dead (2009) horror movie poster featuring a zombie reaching for you

A zombie virus has plagued the Earth, and one group of soldiers traverses the more rural areas to scavenge for supplies after abandoning their post. The soldiers hear of a safe haven on Plum Island, however when they get there they find a fierce battle between warring families, The O’Flynns and The Muldoons. The O’Flynns want to exterminate all zombies for good while the Muldoons want to live peacefully among their living-dead friends and family. A plot like this leaves plenty of room for Romero’s signature scathing wit, though even the most die-hard fans will admit at this point that their hero is starting to run out of ideas. Sub-par directing, questionable acting and a script that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be makes Survival of the Dead barely a footnote in the legacy that once took theaters by storm.

George Romero’s Other Works

Aside from his extensive work with Zombies he also contributed to horror with the following films and TV show.

 Martin (1978)
 Knightriders (1981) 
Monkey Shines (1988) 
The Dark Half (1993)
Bruiser (2000)

created and executive-produced the television series Tales from the Darkside, from 1983 to 1988.

I didn’t play practical jokes at home. I had a strict upbringing, which is part of my rebellion. I was raised Catholic and went to parochial school, which is why priests and nuns appear in my movies a lot, and I don’t have very much nice to say about them.

George A Romero

If you are inspired by George A. Romero like we are you can now study horror at the George Romero foundation.

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