The Halloween season is here and in the run up to the big day I decided to
examine what is considered “scary” in the world of horror movies.

Going with Rotten Tomatoes list of the 31 scariest movies, I decided to
compare each film with another horror film from the same year to determine which one I found scarier.

Two more classics duke it out in today’s showdown and both are iconic psychological thrillers. So let’s see if Night of the Hunter is scarier than Diabolique.

Night of the Hunter

The Rev. Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) is a religious fanatic and serial killer who targets women who use their sexuality to attract men. Serving time in prison for car theft, he meets condemned murderer Ben Harper (Peter Graves), who confesses to hiding $10,000 in stolen loot. Released from jail, Powell is obsessed with finding the money, and he tracks down Harper’s widow, Willa (Shelley Winters), and her two children, John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce).

Robert Mitchum stated that Night of the Hunter director Charles Laughton was his favorite director and his role in this film is his favorite of his work.

Pros

A great looking film that plays to the darkness of its surroundings.

Amazing performance from Robert Mitchum.

Some interesting and unexpected twists in the story.

The third act is extremely well done.

Cons

Shelley Winters is a little too over the top in her performance.

The stupidity of adults is annoying.

The film can be a little preachy (no pun intended).

Diabolique

In this classic of French suspense, the cruel and abusive headmaster of a boarding school, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), becomes the target of a murder plot hatched by an unlikely duo — his meek wife (Vera Clouzot) and the mistress he brazenly flaunts (Simone Signoret). The women, brought together by their mutual hatred for the man, pull off the crime but become increasingly unhinged by a series of odd occurrences after Delassalle’s corpse mysteriously disappears.

The film was originally supposed to be in production for eight weeks, but it went for sixteen causing a rift between actress Vera Clouzot and her husband/ Diabolique director Henri-Georges Clouzet.

Pros

Beautifully shot with great atmosphere for the characters.

Great acting from the cast. Everyone is working at the top of their craft.

An interesting and engaging premise.

The final reveal is well done and full of suspense.

Cons

The slow pace of the film takes away from its overall tension.

The character motivations are given away too easily.

There is nothing particularly scary in the film.

The ending is predictable.

Both thrillers are considered classics, but only one manages to sustain its tension and terror throughout and that film is…..

Night of the Hunter

Do you agree? Which one of these thrillers is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

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