Rebecca Ascher-Walsh recommends five of the most terrifying thrillers ever made

By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
January 27, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

If ”Blair Witch 2” didn’t frighten you, try these videos

Talk about the perks of the job: A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to write about ”The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” which meant — Sen. Joseph Lieberman be damned — I was able to indulge in my yearly frightfest without a shred of guilt.

The wonderful thing about bloody horror movies like ”Massacre” is that unlike comedies and dramas, gore never gets dated; what scared us good 20 years ago will still scare us good today. So, in honor of Halloween’s passing, and in anticipation of ”Wes Craven’s Dracula 2000” (hitting theaters this Christmas), here are five films guaranteed to make you wince. Get to your video store, put on your jammies, and prepare to scream.

? ”Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” (1986) At the risk of inciting purists, I have to admit that I think the sequel is even more terrifying than the 1974 original. (Certainly the production values are better). Check out the ingenious use of a wire hanger as a head scratcher — DISGUSTING.

? ”Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) Think there’s nothing scarier than the idea of not being able to go to sleep at the end of a long day? Director Wes Craven’s introduction of screechy nailed Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), the dude with the penchant for ripping narcoleptic teenagers to shreds, is bloody horrifying.

? ”Candyman” (1992) You’ll never look in a mirror quite the same way after watching this doozy, which is a ”Blair Witch” like urban legend (but actually scary, unlike that romp in the woods). Set in the Cabrini Green housing projects in Chicago, ”Candyman” has a poor, unsuspecting grad student (Virginia Madsen) investigating what she is sure is just a silly rumor about a one armed murderer. Boy oh boy, does he show her.

? ”Hellraiser” (1987) Let us praise Pinhead (Doug Bradley), one of the spookiest protagonists to come from director Clive Barker’s brilliantly twisted mind. Again, you have the required innocents — this time, a couple moving into a house — who are rather rudely surprised to find a monster living upstairs. If you have an attic, ”Hellraiser” will keep you out of it for quite a while.

? ”Rebecca” (1940) OK, this Hitchcock classic doesn’t exactly belong on this list in terms of bloodshed (there’s not a drop spilled), but in terms of terror — eesh, this is a goody. You’ll be dreaming of Manderley for days after watching this mystery, in which the character of Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) gives even Freddy Krueger a run for his money in the evil department.