Friday, October 31, 2014

#FiveStarFrights Recap


That's all, folks. 31 straight days of honoring the best scary movies in the history of cinema has finally come to an end. I hope you enjoyed the daily updates, the top five lists and the fan favorites, as well as all the "Best of the Web" scary movie related web videos.

#FiveStarFrights was a huge success and I will definitely be doing a similar countdown next year. Here's one final recap of the top 31 Five Star Frights, with both my rankings and the chronological order in which they appeared.

Thanks for reading everyone!



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#FiveStarFrights Top Five Fan Favorite Frights

Here's the final "Five Star Frights Top Five" list, made up of the five films that received the most pageviews during the month of October. Thanks for reading everyone!


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HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM FIVE STAR FLICKS! #FiveStarFrights

My wife is a pumpkin carving whiz, and this year she created a FIVE STAR FLICKS Jack-O-Lantern!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

#FiveStarFrights 1. Psycho (1960)



CAUTION: SPOILERS!

The Synopsis:
A gorgeous secretary (Janet Leigh) steals a large sum of money from work, goes on the run, and checks into the worst Motel EVER. There she meets an Innkeeper (Anthony Perkins) who, to put it nicely, is rather complex (Oedipus). The rooms are nice, but the showers leave a lot to be desired.

The Star:
Anthony Perkins is pitch perfect as Norman Bates, and Janet Leigh is great in the film, but Alfred Hitchcock's game changing direction is the star here. Decades before Wes Craven killed off Drew Barrymore in the early moments of Scream, Hitchcock sold us on a story about Janet Leigh, but then killed her off barely 45 minutes into the film. Audiences had never seen anything like it, and all bets were off in movies afterwards. The film marks no less then the birth of Modern Cinema.

One other fun fact: Janet Leigh is the mother of Halloween's Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Scare:
 


The Shot:


Sneak Peak:
 


_____________________________________________

Looking for a similar scare? Try...

The Birds (1963)



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BEST OF THE WEB: How Hitchcock Got People To See "Psycho"



Found on the OSCARS YouTube channel.

NOW PLAYING: "Nightcrawler" Official Trailer

#FiveStarFrights Fan Favorite Frights: @Jonathan_Nation Selects "Gargoyles" (1972)


All month long as part of my #FiveStarFrights features I've been asking people what their favorite scary movie is, and I received some great responses, many of which I posted on here as "Fan Favorite Frights". Thanks to everyone who replied and joined in the conversation!

This final "Fan Favorite Frights" choice comes from my pal and SyFy channel regular Jonathan Nation. His credits include such Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy flicks as 2012 Doomsday, War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave, Death RacersMega Piranha, Airplane vs Volcano and the legendary Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, appearing alongside 80's icon Deborah Gibson (pictured above). He also appeared in the FunnyOrDie.com comedy short Eddie George Really Loves Soda, featuring Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George.

Here's Jonathan's choice...


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Thanks again to everyone who shared their favorite scary movies so far! If you haven't already, let me know YOUR favorite scary movies using hashtag #FiveStarFrights

#FiveStarFrights Top Five FREAKuent Franchises


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#FiveStarFrights 2. Halloween (1978)


CAUTION: SPOILERS!

The Synopsis:
On Halloween night in 1963 we see six-year-old Michael Myers with a blank, cold, expressionless face, and the blackest of eyes (the devil's eyes?) kill his fornicating older sister. He gets locked up in a mental institute where he is looked after by Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence). Fifteen years later Michael escapes and once again on Halloween we follow him slowly, methodically walk across town looking for his virginal sister Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), taking out a truck driver, some dogs and a few horny teenagers along the way.

The Star:
Michael Myers is a legendary bad guy, Jamie Lee Curtis went on to become a star, and Debra Hill would become a top producer in Hollywood, but John Carpenter is the real star here. Much like Stevie Wonder or Prince writing all of the songs and playing all of the instruments on their records, John Carpenter co-wrote the script, wrote the trademark eerie score, helped produce the film, and directed Halloween. He did all that with a budget of only around $325,000. The film went on to gross over $47 million dollars! The film's success would pave the way for other "teen slasher films" like the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises.

The Scare:
We see Michael lying on the ground motionless after Dr. Loomis unloaded his pistol on him, blowing him out of a room upstairs and off the balcony above. The camera cuts back to Dr. Loomis and Laurie. The camera cuts back once again to the ground below, to reveal that Michael has vanished into the night. We cut back to Dr. Loomis, looking down at the ground below, dumbfounded. As the screen flashes different rooms inside the house, eventually settling on an image of the outside of the house, Carpenter's ominous score gets louder and louder, as does the menacing sound of Michael breathing through his mask, from somewhere just off screen. He is still alive, and he is out there.

The Shot:



Sneak Peak:


_____________________________________________

Looking for a similar scare? Try...

Friday the 13th (1980)




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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#FiveStarFrights Top Five Spooky Soundtracks


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#FiveStarFrights 3. The Exorcist (1973)


CAUTION: SPOILERS!

The Synopsis:
A young girl's mom believes her daughter may be possessed by the devil, and it is up to a pair of priests (along with the power of Christ) to compel the devil to leave her alone. Add pea soup, some head swiveling and a wildly inappropriate use of the crucifix, and you're in for one super scary supernatural thriller.

The Star:
With a film as magnificently crafted as this it's hard to choose just one, but I'm going with Linda Blair. Yes, actress Mercedes McCambridge provided much of the demonic voice work, along with some other sound effects added for good measure, but it was Blair's facial expressions and body movements that sold the realistic transformation from innocent little girl to full blown demon.

The Scare:
I did allude to the fact that a little girl's head spins around and she vomits pea soup, right? Well, yeah, there's a scene where a little girl's head literally spins around and she vomits pea soup. It's pretty freaky.

The Shot:



Sneak Peak:


_____________________________________________

Looking for a similar scare? Try...

Rosemary's Baby (1968)




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#FiveStarFrights Fan Favorite Frights: @AllieMarie097 Selects "The Omen" (1976)


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#FiveStarFlicksPredicts The World Series - Game Seven


Tonight is the deciding game seven of the World Series, with the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants all tied up three games apiece. In case you have missed my "Five Star Flicks Predicts The World Series" posts so far, here's quick recap.

I thought it might be fun to combine two of my favorite things (Baseball and Movies) and attempt to predict the winner of each game of the World Series, based on each cities cinematic background.

So far I predicted the Royals would win both games one and two based on the matchups of "Local Legends" (Kansas City's Walt Disney edging out San Francisco's Clint Eastwood) and "Best Sports Flicks" (Kansas City's Kansas City Bomber beating San Francisco's The Fan). I had San Francisco winning the next three games based on the matchups of the two city's "Best Pictures" (San Francisco based Vertigo winning against Kansas City's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), the "Best Directors" (San Francisco's Francis Ford Coppola beating Kansas City's Robert Altman), and the "Best Actors" (San Francisco's Tom Hanks beating Kansas City's Dennis Hopper). Yesterday I picked Kansas City to win game six based on "Best Actresses" (Kansas City's Joan Crawford and San Francisco's Natalie Wood). So far I'm 4-2 predicting the outcome of the games, and now there's only one game left. GAME SEVEN.

PLAY BALL!


Today's matchup...

Game Seven: Famous Fans
Paul Rudd vs. Robin Williams

Paul Rudd was born in Passaic, New Jersey to British parents in 1969, but spent the majority of his childhood in the area surrounding Kansas City, Missouri. He was interested in theater early on, and enrolled in the University of Kansas to study Drama. He later studied in Los Angeles and Oxford, England. Upon returning to the United States he landed a recurring role opposite Ashley Judd on the 1990's sitcom Sisters, and the short-lived Wild Oats. The first starring movie role he filmed was for the sixth installment of the Halloween horror franchise, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, released in the Fall of 1995.

That summer though, his big break (and teen idol status) came with the release of the oh-so-90's Clueless, opposite Alicia Silverstone. It took quite a while before he could shake the "that guy from Clueless" moniker though, appearing in smaller roles over the next decade in films like Romeo + Juliet, The Cider House Rules and the cult comedy Wet Hot American Summer. His first real success after Clueless came when he landed a recurring role on the smash TV sitcom Friends, playing Phoebe's (Lisa Kudrow) boyfriend and eventual husband.

The show's hugely successful finale was in the spring of 2004, and a few months later in the summer of 2004 he would begin a hugely successful relationship with producer/writer/director Judd Apatow, starring as Brian Fontana of the Channel Four News Team in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, along with Will Ferrell, David Koechner and Steve Carell. Apatow would make Rudd a regular fixture in his films for the next decade, including roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Walk HardForgetting Sarah Marshall, and This is 40. Other non-Apatow hits he was a part of include Night at the Museum, Role Models, I Love You, Man, Dinner for Schmucks, Our Idiot Brother and Wanderlust.

While he has yet to receive an Oscar nomination for any of his work, he has been nominated for six MTV Movie Awards, including Best Musical Performance (Anchorman), Best Kiss (I Love You, Man), Best Fight and WTF Moment (Anchorman 2), and two nominations for Best On-Screen Team (Anchorman and The 40 Year Old Virgin). It's safe to say, if there is a male version of "America's Sweetheart", it's probably Rudd.


Robin Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1951, but lived in San Francisco, California from the age of 16 onward. He saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968 and decided then and there he wanted to be a performer. He attended Julliard in New York and upon returning home to San Francisco he began performing stand up in local comedy clubs across town. He is to this day considered one of the greatest live comedians to ever hit the stage. Looking to expand his chances at landing roles in TV and film though, he headed to Los Angeles.

In the late 1970's he would become a fixture on television, appearing on The Richard Pryor Show, Laugh-In, Eight is Enough, and Happy Days. His breakthrough came with the Emmy-nominated Happy Days spin-off Mork & Mindy, which would run for four seasons. He was nominated for two Golden Globes for his bizarre and hilarious work on the show, winning the award in 1979. Hollywood began to take notice of his remarkable talent, and he was cast in 1980's Popeye, directed by the legendary Robert Altman.

He would continue to appear on TV and in movies with little success (other than The World According To Garp) throughout the early to mid 1980's, until he blew critics and audiences away with his Oscar nominated turn as Adrian Cronauer in 1987's Good Morning, Vietnam. The film showed that he could handle drama just as well as comedy, which he would reinforce with a string of incredible performances in Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society (for which he received his second Oscar nod), Awakenings opposite Robert De Niro and The Fisher King (a third Oscar nomination in a five year span) with Jeff Bridges.

His remarkable versatility as a performer continued to show in such varied 1990's flicks as Hook, Ferngully, Toys, Jumanji, The Birdcage, What Dreams May Come and Patch Adams. The nineties also gave us perhaps his three most iconic roles, as the Genie in 1992's Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993, and his Oscar winning turn as Sean Maguire in the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck penned Good Will Hunting. His star would fade slightly as the 21st century dawned, but he still gave a handful of memorable appearances in films like Robots, Happy Feet, Night at the Museum, and Lee Daniels' The Butler since 2000. Sadly, in August we lost this lovable, kind, remarkable genius.



The Results:


Sorry Paul, and Kansas City, but to quote Billy Crystal: "Robin Williams... What a concept." 

I predict San Francisco will win Game Seven.

I hope everyone enjoyed reading these "#FiveStarFlicksPredicts The World Series" posts as much as I enjoyed writing them. No matter how it ends up, both the Royals and Giants have given us a great season, and a great World Series.


Back in August I did a tribute to Robin Williams by taking a few of his famous quotes and mashing them up into something new. You can find it HERE. Thanks for reading everyone.

What do you think?

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#FiveStarFrights Top Five Scary Oscar Winners


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Let me know YOUR favorite scary movies using hashtag #FiveStarFrights

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

BEST OF THE WEB: Silence of The Lambs - 8 Bit Cinema



Found on the CineFix YouTube channel.

#FiveStarFrights 4. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


CAUTION: SPOILERS!

The Synopsis:
Young F.B.I. cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is asked to convince a locked up serial killer/Doctor (Anthony Hopkins) with a curious appetite and a knack for never blinking to help her catch another homicidal maniac (Ted Levine) that's on the loose and who may have kidnapped a Senator's daughter. In the end, the Doctor has an old friend for dinner.

The Star:
The Silence of the Lambs became only the third film in history to win Oscars in each of the "Big Five" categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay) so Director Jonathan Demme, Screenwriter Ted Tally, and Lead Actress Jodie Foster could all be in the running here. Let's be honest though, this film is all about the bad guys! "Buffalo Bill" (Ted Levine) and Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter are two of the most memorable movie monsters ever put on screen. Even their names are creepy!

The Scare:
"Buffalo Bill" makes a run for it, retreating somewhere into the seemingly endless hallways and rooms of his house. Starling pursues, finding the Senator's daughter in a deep pit along the way. She eventually ends up in a room with no windows and a dead body rotting in a bathtub. Then... the lights go out!

The Shot:



Sneak Peak:


_____________________________________________

Looking for a similar scare? Try...

Manhunter (1986)




What do you think?

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Let me know YOUR favorite scary movies using hashtag #FiveStarFrights

#FiveStarFlicksPredicts The World Series - Game Six


Tonight is game six of the World Series, with the Kansas City Royals facing elimination at home as the San Francisco Giants lead the series 3-2 after San Francisco's 5-0 shutout victory Sunday night. In case you missed my "Five Star Flicks Predicts The World Series" posts so far, here's quick recap.

I thought it might be fun to combine two of my favorite things (Baseball and Movies) and attempt to predict the winner of each game of the World Series, based on each cities cinematic background.

So far I predicted the Royals would win both games one and two based on the matchups of "Local Legends" (Kansas City's Walt Disney edging out San Francisco's Clint Eastwood) and "Best Sports Flicks" (Kansas City's Kansas City Bomber beating San Francisco's The Fan). I had San Francisco winning the next three games based on the matchups of the two city's "Best Pictures" (San Francisco based Vertigo winning against Kansas City's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), the "Best Directors" (San Francisco's Francis Ford Coppola beating Kansas City's Robert Altman), and the "Best Actors" (San Francisco's Tom Hanks beating Kansas City's Dennis Hopper).

Here's a look at the remaining schedule:

Game Six (Today): Best Actresses
Joan Crawford vs. Natalie Wood

Game Seven (Tomorrow, if necessary): Famous Fans
Paul Rudd vs. Robin Williams

PLAY BALL!


Today's matchup...

Game Six: Best Actresses
Joan Crawford vs. Natalie Wood

Joan Crawford had a rough childhood, and like many famous actors, came from a broken home. Born in San Antonio, Texas in 1906, her birth father abandoned the family before she was born. Her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri when she was around 10 years old and she spent the remainder of her childhood there, being bullied by the local children because of her continually broken home (she had three step-fathers by the time she was a teenager). She famously replied to every piece of fan-mail she would receive later in life, all except any letters she received from her childhood bullies.
She was a three-time Academy Award nominee, winning the Oscar her first time around for perhaps her most iconic role, starring as the film's namesake in Mildred Pierce. Her other nominations came for her work in Possessed and Sudden Fear. In total her career lasted over 40 years, beginning in 1925 and lasting all the way until the early 1970's. Other highlights from her incredible career include the 1932 Best Picture winner Grand Hotel, 1939's The Women, 1954's Johnny Guitar, and the 1962 thriller What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?, starring opposite Bette Davis.


Natalie Wood was born in San Francisco, California in 1938 and by the time she was four years old she already had her first acting gig in a bit part in a film shot in Northern California. Her family moved to Los Angeles in order to be closer to Hollywood. Her first big success came in 1947's Miracle on 34th Street and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which brought her many roles over the next few years. In 1955, the now teenage Wood starred opposite James Dean and Dennis Hopper in the classic teen drama Rebel Without A Cause, which would bring her first of three Oscar nominations. The following year she would star opposite John Wayne in the John Ford Epic Western The Searchers.

In 1957 she married actor Robert Wagner, though the two divorced (late to be remarried) in 1962. In the meantime she starred in not one but two classic 1961 films, West Side Story (Best Picture Winner) and Splendor in the Grass (for which she received an Oscar nomination). Her third and final Oscar nomination came for 1966's This Property Is Condemned. Her incredible run of hits in the 1960's also included the groundbreaking Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. In 1972 she remarried Wagner and she would continue to act occasionally in the 1970's and early 1980's up until her tragic and still unsolved death in the waters off Catalina Island in 1981.




The Results:



Both of these ladies had careers that lasted for decades, and both starred in a large number of classic films, so I'm going to defer to the American Film Institute on this one. Back in 1999, in their second annual "100 Years... 100 Movies" list, the AFI named the "50 Greatest American Screen Legends". Both Joan Crawford and Natalie Wood were among the 500 nominees, but it was Crawford that made the published list of the Top 25 Women, being named the #10 Screen Legend. So after three straight predictions in favor of the Giants, this won goes to the Royals.

I predict Kansas City will win Game Six.

Come back Tomorrow to see who I predict when I choose the top "Famous Fan" of each team, between Kansas City's Paul Rudd and San Francisco's Robin Williams.


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Monday, October 27, 2014

#FiveStarFrights 5. Frankenstein (1931)



CAUTION: SPOILERS!

The Synopsis:
Dr. Frankenstein has a bit of a God complex and is convinced he can bring back people from the dead, even if they have to be stitched together piece by piece. Add some lightning to the giant hulking corpse and BAM!

The Star:
Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster. Not only was he scary as hell, but he also brought a tenderness to the role that fleshed out the beast into a sympathetic character and something more then just a creature to be feared.

The Scare:
A storm rages outside the laboratory. The lifeless creature is raised up through the opening in the roof above. Lightning strikes, again and again and again. The creature is lowered back into the room. Slowly, the creatures hand moves and the arm raises up! IT'S ALIVE! IT'S ALIVE!

The Shot:



Sneak Peak:



_____________________________________________

Looking for a similar scare? Try...

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)




 
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#FiveStarFrights Top Five Universal Monster Movies


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2014 Gotham Independent Film Award Nominations


The 2014 Gotham Independent Film Award nominations are:

Best Feature
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Love Is Strange
Under the Skin

Best Documentary
Actress
CITIZENFOUR
Life Itself
Manakamana
Point and Shoot

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Ana Lily Amirpour for A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
James Ward Byrkit for Coherence
Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler
Eliza Hittman for It Felt Like Love
Justin Simien for Dear White People

Best Actor*
Bill Hader in The Skeleton Twins
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Miles Teller in Whiplash

* The 2014 Best Actor nominating panel also voted to award a special Gotham Jury Award jointly to Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum for their ensemble performance in Foxcatcher.

Best Actress
Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the Lights
Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin
Mia Wasikowska in Tracks

Breakthrough Actor
Riz Ahmed in Nightcrawler
Macon Blair in Blue Ruin
Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood
Joey King in Wish I Was Here
Jenny Slate in Obvious Child
Tessa Thompson in Dear White People


What do you think?


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BEST OF THE WEB: Filmmaker IQ's The History of Horror


Found on the FILMMAKER IQ YouTube channel.

10/26/14 STATE OF THE RACE: BEST PICTURE #FiveStarFlicksPredicts


Here's the updated Best Picture board as I see it right now.

(Stars stand for likelihood of a nomination, NOT my rating of the film.)



Boyhood remains the only film that seems to have complete, 100% unwavering support, so it stays on top overall. After that, Birdman and The Imitation Game seem to be the most prominent choices out in the predict-o-sphere. Trailers and images from Angelina Jolie's Unbroken are starting to trickle in, and with it's Chariots of Fire meets The Bridge on the River Kwai feel, it looks likely to hit all the right Oscar notes.

The Interstellar reviews are coming in, and they are sort of a mixed bag (it's "longish"), but it also feels like Christopher Nolan is due, so I still have it as a safe bet. The Theory of Everything is another one that might be wavering a bit, though Eddie Redmayne still seems like a lock to square off against Birdman's Michael Keaton for Best Actor. Gone Girl, Foxcatcher and The Grand Budapest Hotel round out my top 9, which is the number of films I predict will be nominated this year (continuing that weird trend). I think Gone Girl's box office (easily cruised past $100 million domestically) makes it the safest of these others. If there's one film that could sneak in though and knock out one of those nine films it's Whiplash. Might be too divisive, we'll see. I'm hoping to catch it this week and I'll let you know my thought on it once I do.

Regardless, here's your weekly reminder:

When it comes to movie awards season, don't forget...



#FiveStarFlicksPredicts

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

#FiveStarFrights 6. Jaws (1975)


CAUTION: SPOILERS!

The Synopsis:
A small town police chief (Roy Scheider) attempts to convince the local Mayor (Murray Hamilton) that a giant shark is on the loose and it intends on eating everyone in sight over the Fourth of July weekend. The mayor, like most politicians, decides to ignore the evidence right in front of him resulting in a whole bunch of people getting eaten by the giant shark over the Fourth of July weekend. With the help of a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and a crotchety old fisherman (Robert Shaw) the police chief realizes they are probably going to need a bigger boat but eventually he gets the son of a bitch shark to smile and he blows it to smithereens by shooting an oxygen tank that is conveniently sticking out of the shark's mouth. The shark was dead but the blockbuster era had just begun.

The Star:
John Williams' two note musical score. It is well known that the mechanical shark that was supposed to be the star of the film didn't really work very well or often, so for most of the movie the shark is actually just some effective camera angles and Williams score lurking in the shadowy depths, out of sight but well within earshot.

The Scare:
"You heard him, slow ahead!"

*Flings chum into the water*

"Slow ahead. I can go slow ahead! Come on down and chum some of this shit!"

*MASSIVE SHARK JUMPS OUT OF THE WATER*

The Shot:


Sneak Peak:

_____________________________________________

Looking for a similar scare? Try...

Jurassic Park (1993)


 
What do you think?

Leave your comments below and follow me on Twitter
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Let me know YOUR favorite scary movies using hashtag #FiveStarFrights