What's your favorite scary movie? We've been asking a bunch of people this question—so far we've heard from Ted Leo, Eugene Mirman, the folks at Nitehawk Cinemas, Chris Eigeman, Julie Klausner and more. Below, Andrew from fun., John from Deer Tick, and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats tell us about their favorite scary movies... consider this the Texas Chainsaw Massacre edition.
ANDREW DOST (fun.): My favorite horror movie of all time is Madman. It might not be the best film, it's a little unintentionally funny, but it is incredibly watchable. I've seen it probably 15 times, and it's still entertaining. There are grisly murders, a nonsensical hot tub scene that feels like it's 5 minutes long, and even a song about the villain.
JOHN MCCAULEY (Deer Tick): The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, hands down. When I was about 10 or 11 my parents were building a new house. The walls weren't up yet, it was very much a work in progress, and my dad let me and a couple friends kind of camp out in there one night. It was cold and the fireplace was done. We lit a fire and brought a TV and a VCR into the house to watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre. My dad did me the favor of renting it for me without my mother knowing. He took me to the video store every weekend and I always begged him to rent it. Sometime after midnight we put the video in and watched it unsupervised. I'd seen Child's Play, the Halloween movies, a bunch of horror movies, but this time it felt like I was watching a snuff film. I was horrified. I believe its Leatherface's first kill in the movie, where he hits the guy in the head with a hammer and drags him through that metal door, that scene still gives me the chills.
JOHN DARNIELLE (The Mountain Goats): Most of what I watch is horror—I can get into other movies but I usually feel a little ripped off if there's no ghosts, or demons walking the earth, or shape-shifting people who you totally thought were normal only then you hear some completely fucked up violin effect crescendoing and suddenly something happens to their eyes but then they're normal again and it's even worse, everybody should run away from these people, nobody can run away because they're trapped in the script, people are going to actually die here, this is going to be awesome and gnarly, I hope they don't make a sequel because I hate sequels but I know they will, whatever man the first one was best.
Instinctively I want to write about Ti West here, because there hasn't been a horror director as great as him in many many years, but I've only seen The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers [trailer below] once each, and you asked for my favorite. My favorite scary movie of all time is also my favorite movie of all time, and it's called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The impact of this movie on how I think about storytelling was huge: tempo as driving force, mood over explication, detail as self-sufficient narrative engine. Other movies that have much higher ambitions don't achieve the crazy elegiac build of TTCM; those final moments of its incredible final scene, Sally in the back of the pickup screaming "Go! Go!" and laughing the most beautiful crazed laugh of survival while Leatherface spins and dances with the saw high in the air framed by the sun setting on Texas, the sound of the saw achieving its own weird ambient language—this is what I want from horror: senselessness that creates its own vocabulary, images that can only be understood in their context. I know this is all really academic sounding and isn't likely to persuade anybody to see this movie, so let me also point out that the film's climactic dinner scene is completely harsh and brutal and also one of the most affecting family portraits ever committed to film.
A few notes: Dost's band fun. will be playing as part of the Freedom To Love benefit at the Beacon Theater on October 30th. McCauley will be playing Carnegie Hall on October 27th with his principal band Deer Tick, as well as with friends from side projects as part of WFUV's Live at Zankel Hall concert series. And Darnielle is currently touring in support of the new Mountain Goats album.