The Other Columbus: I can read your (horror movie) mind

Complete our columnist’s three-minute survey and you could be one of 10 to receive a personalized film recommendation

Scott Woods
"Do you dare say his name five times?" That's how the "Candyman" is accidentally summoned by a graduate student researching urban legends. The film was released in 1992 by TriStar Pictures starring Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd (above).

I recently watched and enjoyed “Nightmare Alley,” and in the spirit of telepathy and con artists that feign psychic ability, I have a confession to make: I know a magic trick. 

The Pledge

It’s not actual magic (so someone please allay the fears of my God-fearing mother). It’s just a deductive process that, under the right conditions, appears supernatural. The trick: I can predict the perfect horror movie for a person. 

The Turn

Sure, you could get a recommendation from any blowhard at a house party, or from that itchy co-worker always camped out by the copy machine. But those situations are like most basic reviews: They’re not telling you what you would like. They’re telling you what they like. And may God save you if you disagree with their assessment.

I don’t do that. I don’t judge. I’ve seen so many horror movies in my life that it wouldn’t be humane to hold the average person to my regimen. On average, I watch one horror movie or show per day, every day. I don’t even sleep every day, but I do that. So, giving people horror movie recommendations isn’t a contest with me; it’s a public service. Ninety percent of horror movies are bad films. As a genre, it is safe for any random consumer to assume that any given horror movie is bad, simply because so many are. And yet, once in a while, a film rises to the bar of good cinema and nirvana is attained. A good horror film is a boon because of its rarity. “The Dead Zone,” “Alien,” “Se7en”… all splendid horror movies, all excellent films.

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To clarify: I’m not saying I can guess what someone has or hasn’t seen. But whatever film I determine will be one of two things: It will either be a film they’ve never heard of that upon viewing, they will like; or it will be a film they’ve already seen that they like. In other words, I’ve forecast their good fortune, or I’ve successfully picked the card they’ve drawn from the deck. That’s the difference between me and the party blowhard. I care and I’m right.

For me to get the trick right, I have to pull together a lot of data from the subject. To ensure the highest possible chance of accuracy, I’ve devised a simple survey. I ask the subject where they come down on 100 horror movies (no series or TV shows), assigning each film a score: 

5 - Loved this film

4 - Liked this film

3 - Just okay 

2 - Didn’t like this film 

1 - Hated this film

0 - Didn’t see this film/Don’t recall

Given this range of scores, I then toss them into my beautiful mind and, in short order, come back with the perfect recommendation, or having proven one’s palate true. Of course, the trick only works on the honor system. You could fill out the survey and I make my guess and you say it’s wrong, but we would both know that’s a lie.

So, to get to The Prestige part...

Ten randomly selected, non-jerk readers may submit a list of scores to this article to receive three personalized recommendations from me. I will post them publicly next week. Simple, no? You give Columbus Alive your 100 scores, and you may be one of the lucky 10 that gets three magical movies. Note: The recommended films will not be taken from the list of 100 movies below. The world of horror is vast.

You may post your list of 100 scores in one of the following ways:

a) As a reply/replies to the Columbus Alive Twitter post for this article.

b) As a reply/replies to the Columbus Alive Facebook post for this article.

c) As an email to editors Andy Downing (adowning@columbusalive.com) or Joel Oliphint (joliphint@columbusalive.com).

Please note that none of the options includes me, my email, my blogs, my websites, my messenger, my phone, or any of my social media platforms. You have to use Columbus Alive channels. Incomplete surveys will not be considered. It only takes about three minutes to do. 

See you next week, and abracadabra!

1. 28 Days Later

2. Alien

3. Aliens

4. An American Werewolf in London

5. Angel Heart

6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

7. Cabin Fever (2002)

8. Candyman (1992) 

9. Candyman (2021)

10. Carrie (1976)

11. Child’s Play (1988)

12. Children of the Corn (1984)

13. Creepshow (1982)

14. Cube

15. Cujo

16. Dead Alive

17. Dead Girl

18. Demon Seed

19. Event Horizon

20. Evil Dead II

21. Final Destination (2000)

22. Freaks (1932)

23. Friday the 13th (1980)

24. Friday the 13th (2009) 

25. From Beyond

26. From Dusk ‘til Dawn

27. Ghost Story (1981)

28. A Ghost Story (2017)

29. Halloween (1978)

30. Hellraiser

31. High Tension

32. Hostel

33. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

34. In the Mouth of Madness

35. Interview with a Vampire

36. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

37. It (2017)

38. It’s Alive (2008)

39. Jacob’s Ladder

40. Jaws

41. Jeepers Creepers

42. Let the Right One In

43. Martyrs

44. Misery

45. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

46. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

47. Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

48. Orphan

49. Paranormal Activity (2007)

50. Pet Sematary (1989)

51. Pet Sematary (2019)

52. Phantasm

53. Phantoms

54. Poltergeist (1982)

55. Prince of Darkness

56. Psycho (1960)

57. Pumpkinhead

58. Re-Animator

59. Rosemary’s Baby

60. Salem’s Lot (1979)

61. Saw

62. Scream (1996)

63. Scream (2022)

64. Se7en

65. Shaun of the Dead

66. The Amityville Horror (1979)

67. The Birds

68. The Blair Witch Project

69. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

70. The Burrowers

71. The Cabin in the Woods

72. The Changeling (1980)

73. The Dead Zone

74. The Descent

75. The Exorcist (1973)

76. The Fly (1986)

77. The Grudge (2004)

78. The Host (2006)

79. The House of the Devil

80. The Human Centipede

81. The Lost Boys

82. The Mist

83. The Mummy (1932)

84. The Omen (1976)

85. The Others

86. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

87. The Ring (2002)

88. The Serpent and the Rainbow

89. The Shining

90. The Silence of the Lambs

91. The Sixth Sense

92. The Stepford Wives (1975)

93. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

94. The Thing (1982)

95. The Thing (2011)

96. They Live

97. Tremors

98. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

99. Us

100. Zombieland