Scariest Movie Ever: Leatherface Fights Captain Howdy For the Championship

By  · Published on October 24th, 2012

It was a tough few days for movies about creatures from other worlds slashing their way through flimsy human flesh. Both Alien and The Thing lost handedly in the semi-final. That means we have the two movies you’ve chosen to fight to the death in the Championship Arena (which is currently being built in a part of the Australian outback that’s not being ravaged by a mutant pig).

After a week of match-ups, you’ve chosen The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Exorcist to vie for the title of Scariest Movie Ever. Not a bad pair, friends.

It will be fascinating to see what goes through the minds of voters when choosing between these drastically different films. One is an aggressive, raw death-fest which is far less gory than people remember it being; the other is a more carefully constructed examination of a single powerful entity that involves vomit but not a lot of death. One hunts you down; the other invades your body and home. One has Leatherface; the other has Captain Howdy.

So how do you even choose? What will go into your consideration?


Semi-Final Results (2 Movies Left)

Clicking on that makes it bigger.

So here’s what the bracket looks like now:

Graphics from Jenn Lindeman (

Clicking on that makes it bigger too.


No need to ramble on here, but there are two really interesting questions that come up because of the finalists. One, how much death does a horror movie have to feature in order to be considered truly terrifying?

The Exorcist features a very restrained brand of death. There’s one violent end (a film director, how fitting), and there’s a fatal heartache as well as the final glass-breaking act of heroism, but the deaths aren’t exactly given their own spotlight or even lingered upon. It’s still the kind of horror movie that made audiences stumble out into lobbies bewildered, one that got under our skin and paid years’ worth of rent in advance. It’s a classic for a reason – not because it shows a steady stream of the red stuff, but because it messes with your mind while digging into the specific psychological torture of one poor man.

On the other hand, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre captured a deeper feeling during its release as well, tapping into a cultural fascination that included a setting that seemed post-nuclear and a main theme which saw young women tortured at the hands of a mental caveman wielding a gas-powered phallic symbol (the men are offed relatively quickly). It was firmly embedded in the exploitation culture but rose above it to become an icon, all the while featuring several brutal murders and perhaps the most disturbing dinner sequence put to film (sorry, Festen).

So which is scarier?

The second question is obvious: would The Exorcist have worked better as a sitcom?

Final Prediction

Gut instinct? The Texas Chain Saw Massacre wins it all.

Go Vote Now For Your Favorite

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Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.