Now I am old and jaded, so it didn't do much for me (not to mention an abundance of CGI which, however well it's done, always tends to push me out of a movie as opposed to draw me in), but it freaked my son out. A lot. He's since woken up from nightmares, and when awake hasn't stopped talking about it - ("...what if world got wiped out by virus?" "...what if a virus turned us into flesh-hungry zombie-like creatures?"). What if. What if. Gak.
I will admit I'm feeling a little guilty for subjecting him to it (even though he was the one who said: "Let's watch something scary!")
"I Am Legend", like most contemporary horror films, isn't 'original'. The story is adapted from a 1954 sci-fi novel by Richard Matheson, which has been filmed twice before, as "The Last Man on Earth" (1964), and "The Omega Man" (1971) starring Charlton Heston.
And I do remember "The Omega Man". Oh yes. It freaked me out when I first saw it...probably around the same age as my son is now. And like him, I didn't even see it in a theatre but on late-night television, and it still freaked. Of course, checking it out now, it seems pretty cheesy...but way back when...Omega Man...."shiver".
Sticking with when I was younger, the two movies constantly referenced as well-made pictures that also managed to scare the crap out of the audience were "The Exorcist" and "Psycho".
No argument here...but when I eventually saw them, I'd either heard too much already or my expectations were too high, and I felt let down. I wasn't 'fugged up'.
"Jaws", on the other hand, freaked me out quite a bit, but most wouldn't really categorize it as a horror movie. The first "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" all had their moments, but they were just good candy-coated popcorn...tasty in the moment, but generating very little of the residual 'wake up screaming covered in sweat later that night' factor.
No, the two that really did it for me it were John Carpenter's "The Thing" (1982)...
...and "Alien" (1979).
I suppose one could debate whether they are 'horror movies' in the classic sense as well, but I would say so. At their core they're 'trapped in the house with a monster' movies...relentlessly suspensful and tension-filled...and they accomplished horror's highest grade - they scared the bejesus out of me.
More on contemporary horror later this week, but now that you've read this far --- scariest horror films ever?