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.

Some of the rules I set for this competition were that I didn’t want to include sequels or remakes on the list, but number 23 on Rotten Tomatoes list is a sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien. Unfortunately, 1986 was a year filled with sequels and remakes including The Fly, Poltergeist II, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Friday the 13th Part VI. So I decided to go with an original from that year that has a sci-fi bent, Critters.

Aliens

After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.

James Cameron takes over directing duties for this sequel that is filled with action, but also includes some great scares throughout.

Pros

Great cinematography. The dark corners and corridors are sufficiently creepy but add in the alien changes that hide the creatures in plain site and you have areas where the walls themselves cannot be trusted.

Ripley’s fear is palpable and you feel her terror as a viewer.

There are great jump scares throughout. Especially the moments when the Aliens attack the Marines.

The scene in the medical bay is terrifying with Ripley and Newt locked in trying to escape from the face huggers with no way to get help.

The scene with the motion sensors going off as the Aliens move in closer is scary as hell and seeing how they get so close is a perfect reveal.

The Alien Queen is truly terrifying in size.

Cons

The abruptness of the action takes away a lot of the suspense that the first film generated.

The ending was a little far-fetched considering everything that led up to it.

Critters

When strange fuzzy creatures from outer space arrive on a farm, the Brown family — Jay (Billy Green Bush), Helen (Dee Wallace-Stone), their daughter, April (Nadine Van Der Velde), and their son, Brad (Scott Grimes) — must fend off the malevolent little aliens. Two bounty hunters with superhuman abilities follow the aggressive beasts from beyond, but the warriors aren’t terribly effective, leaving the Brown family to battle the fur balls and rescue April from their clutches all by themselves.

Another sci-fi horror feature with action elements, Critters leans into the gory elements while also injecting humor into the story.

Pros

A self contained location. Small town terror is always great and having the Critters going after the townspeople is fun to watch.

The kills are fun and the Critters are sufficiently menacing.

The ending had some great tension.

Cons

The story was a little too light to be scary.

The actors really lean into the accents hard to the point of it being comical when they speak.

The Critters never seem that hard to kill.

The bounty hunters are so inept that they are almost useless.

Both films dive into the themes of monsters from outer space and the horror those monster inflict, but only one does so with skill, style and scares. The winner of this showdown is…..

Aliens

Let me know what you think of these films in the comments below and the next showdown will take us back in time to the early days of cinema scares.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.