Here I would like to list my top 15 scariest movie moments. Now while all of these movies are downright frightening as a whole, I wanted to list those certain scenes that stuck with me through the years. Please allow me to present these terrifying moments that still manage to give me a little jolt of something special and tend to bring out that handy nightlight again.
Most Americans might know this film as The Ring, but what they may not know is that it is a remake of the far superior Japanese flick Ringu. While they both have their fair share of chills and jumps, I still to this day believe that Ringu is the much creepier and disturbing of the two. The Japanese just know how to do horror better for the most part. At least when it comes to evil spirits, ghosts, and ghouls in my humble opinion.
The ending scene really hit me when I first saw it many years ago. Here we have our main male protagonist Ryuji at home thinking all is well in good. Wrong. The evil little ghost Sadako isn't done with her murderous ways yet. In a well shot and tense scene, Sadajo comes through the screen of the television to the horror of poor Ryuji. Something about the look, the way she moves, and her freaky weird eyes gets to you. This is a scene that will have you making sure your TV is unplugged before going to sleep.
14. The Serpent and The Rainbow
I watched this movie quite a bit as a youngster and was quite terrified by it. A zombie movie that by modern standards doesn't actually have any zombies in it. But this movie is based on the real life account of a man by the name of Clairvius Narcisse who claims to have been turned into a zombie with a potent and 'near' deadly brew and then promptly buried alive. What's more frightening then something that could actually happen to you?
Now most of us have a natural fear of being buried alive and for good reason. Claustrophobia anyone? Hell, in the olden days, your loved ones would actually bury you with pole and bell attached to the inside of your coffin so if you were per chance still alive, you could ring the bell letting them know to dig you up. And then promptly cut your head off and drive a stake through your heart because they probably thought you were a vampire. Ok, maybe not. In one such suffocating scene that plays on the aforementioned fear, our main hero Dennis played by Bill Pullman gets a little taste of the zombie drug he's been searching for. Not as fun as you might think. He begs and pleads with whoever may listen not to bury him because he's not dead. Alas, to no avail, because that's just what happens. I want to be shot out into space like good old Spock was after seeing this scene. Trailer below
13. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
I remember first seeing this film around the age of 12 at my house literally all alone in the middle of the night. Didn't much want to go to sleep after that. The film plays on two interesting and scary premises. One, losing your humanity. Our emotions are one of the strongest parts of what makes us human. When an alien invader threatens to replace you and take it all of that away, it's a chilling and very bleak prospect to say the least. Two, sleep. We all need to sleep to survive (tweakers may disagree), unfortunately that's when the pods assimilate you. Nevertheless, you're left with little choice. You must sleep at some point, but yet you know once you do, it could be your last dream.
This could be a recurring theme. The end scene. I mean this is when most scare jumps and twists are thrown at you of course. They are common fare nowadays, but further back in cinema horror history, it seemed as if they were few and far between. Most of the time the bad guy dies and the good guy gets the girl. And a lot of the time when films did throw in a twist ending, it was either poorly executed or the movie might have benefited from the standard formula in my opinion. This ending however doesn't disappoint. The closing minutes show our escaped hero Matthew outside watching some poor kids being led to the pods. The female supporting character Nancy is waiting outside for him. She ironically had told Matthew earlier in the flick how to evade the pod people by showing no emotion whatsoever. Unfortunately, Nancy was looking for solace and help from Matthew. That was her first and last mistake. Once he sees her emotions, he points her out and lets out a piercing loud scream to alert the others of her presence. Bleak and cold. Bad guys win, humanity is screwed, and I'm left sleepless in the Valley. Sheesh.
Oh Takashi Miike.......how you frighten us so. In my opinion this is one of Miike's best and most disturbing films. The imagery he uses disturbs you as usual and the pacing leaves you feeling quite uneasy the deeper into the movie you go. This eerie tale tells of a down trodden man named AoyamaAsamiAsami is pretty much bat shit crazy with an acute pension for torture. Sounds like all of my ex gf's. I kid, I kid.
There are actually two scenes that tie for the most disturbing of the movie and they actually quite close together. The first being is when we finally get to see what's in that creepy bag Asami has in her apartment. The grotesque contents happen to be her missing boss. Albeit sans many various body parts. Our lovely leading leading vomits into a bowl and feeds it to him. He dutifully chomps it down. Typically anything with vomit and eating in the same sentence gets me a bit queasy and I'm sure most other people as well.
The second and final scene is when Asami finally loses it and reveals her true inner crazy. After sneaking into Aoyama's house and finding a picture of his dead wife, she decides to drug him and start with some torture. Jealous much? She proceeds to slowly and painfully stick needles all over his body including the eyeballs. Ouch. Once Asami tires of that game, she turns to removing body parts. Her favorite weapon of choice is the wire saw. She just seems too damn gleeful while slowing sawing off his foot. The sound effects are truly bone chilling. Pun intended. Miike is so wonderful at crafting slow and painful torture scenes. See Imprint. These horrifying sequences will make you think twice about that blind date.
11. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
"Don't mess with Texas" is a slogan that really takes it to the extreme in this film my friends. Inspired by very real serial killer Ed Gein, Tobe Hooper brings us his gritty, unrelenting, and disturbing vision of horror that definitely stands the test of time. Go on now, watch it! Although the film is not actually very bloody by today's standards, at the time it was considered extremely violent and gory. And that's even with the cuts Hooper made hoping for a PG rating to no avail. The movie introduced audiences to lovable 'ol Leatherface and spawned many sequels, remakes, and prequels for years to come. Oh boy.
The scene that gave me nightmares was the first time we actually ever see Leatherface in action. The typical group of teenagers stops at female lead Sally's old family home to take a look around. Unfortunately for them they don't know that the house is now inhabited by cannibalistic nutcases. Too bad, so sad. One of the kids named Kirk decides to have a looksie inside and see if anyone would be kind enough to spare some gas. He hears a kind of squealing noise coming from inside a room down the hall. As he goes to investigate he trips a little, and before he knows it Leatherface is looming over him with a huge mallet in hand to crush Kirk's skull in two. Kirk writhes on the ground before Leatherface pulls him into his lair and slams the steel door behind him. Bamm! It will leave speechless and wondering with anxiety what the hell is going on behind closed doors. Sometimes less is more, and in this case that statement couldn't be more right. I must say that this horror masterpiece may leave you wanting a shower afterwards. If so, the film did its job.
10. Pet Sematary
Helmed terrifically by director Mary Lambert, Pet Semetary is one of my favorite King adaptations to the big screen. Everything just works for me here. From the beautiful, yet eerie filming location in Maine. To the neighbor we all wish we had. I'm looking at you Jud Crandell. And the funny and disgusting looking ghost Pascow. I watched this one again recently and it definitely still holds up in the scares department.
While the movie is full of disturbing images and frightening moments such as evil little Gage Creed running around with scalpel in hand. I still have to stick with twisted 'ol Zelda on this one folks. The scene when Rachel is telling Louis the tale of her grotesque older sister Zelda dying always stuck with me. There are a couple of other times when Zelda shows up again to make you crap yourself, and those are no less terrifying. Huge kudos to the makeup department and Andrew Hubastek's acting to making any scene with Zelda in it scary as hell.
Oh John Carpenter, why aren't you making gems like this anymore? Halloween has become the father (the godfather being Psycho naturally) of slasher movies and the formula is a tried and true staple 33 years later. Halloween was made on a shoe string budget and became a huge success for a few reasons. Jamie Lee Curtis's believable acting and screaming chops. Donald Pleasance. Throw in unique camera shots, dark lighting, a catchy score, and we have a winner here folks. Oh yeah, did I mention it's scary as shit? Need I say more?
End scene again people. I know, but hey, trust me. After Laurie finishes messing our boy Michael up with her scary movie heroine powers, she thinks the boogie man is dead and she can finally rest. After sending the kids away for help she slumps down in the doorway exhausted. That's when it happens. Mr. Meyers sits up ready for more action and the creepy music starts. dunt. dunt dunt. dunt. dunt dunt. Unearthly perfection. Now this is the quintessential moment when the black lady stands up in the theater screaming at the screen, "Run bitch, run!". We've all done it before and that's why this scene works so well. The fear we feel for the character and ourselves is palpable. As Jamie Kennedy so eloquently put it in 'Scream' (another great film from Johnny boy), "Never assume the bad guy is dead".
08. Creepshow 2-The Raft Segment
Ok, so Creepshow part duex isn't half the movie the first one is for a variety of reasons, but it does have some gems in there. One such gem as The Raft segment based off of a short story by Stephen King. Yeah, he'll be on this list a lot. What can I say? He knows horror my friends. After saying all of that, this film still holds a special nostalgic place in my heart, and a terrifying as well one thanks to The Raft segment. Water and horror just gets to me everytime. Well, if it's done right that is.
It's hard to pick one scene that really stood out on The Raft Segment because I thought it was great as a whole. But if I had to choose, which I do, then again I would have to say the ending. As the two surviving members of the original foursome, Laverne and Randy are left to deal with the carnivorous blob lurking in the water hungry for more blood. For some reason Randy decides it's a good time to start feeling up a passed out Rachel. Maybe he wanted one last hurrah before his certain demise, but come on man. Either way Laverene shouldn't have laid on the raft after seeing what happened to Deke. Too little too late because the blob like creature gets to her face and hair through the cracks. She is promptly eaten while Randy decides his last chance is to make a swim for it. He actually does make it to shore and decides he should taunt the the creature. Blobby is having none of it and goes tidal wave to get his last meal. That last little twist there always made me chuckle. I think the reason why this scared me is because of my fear of blob like creatures that devour you slowly and painfully. As well as anything that has to do with water, and things in the water that can kill you. Stay out of the water folks.
07. Friday the 13th
Ahhh one of my favorite movie franchise of all time, Friday the 13th. Crazed killer in a mask, tits and ass, and of course, murderous mayhem. What more could you want in a campy horror flick? Although Jason Voorhees is the star of this franchise, it was of course his mother who did all the killing in this first film. Betsy Palmer can play crazy. Oh yes, she can. I would vote this first installment somewhere in the middle of the franchise for me. It had some inventive kills thank to my man Savini and a wonderful premise, but the mediocre acting and lack of budget dull the blade so to speak. Nevertheless, it will always have a special place in my heart and the hearts of horror fans worldwide thanks to Alice, Mrs. Voorhess, and one scary as hell ending.
The moment in this motion picture that still haunts me and can give me a jump is of course, you guessed it, the ending. After lopping the head off of Mrs. Voorhess, Alice decides its a good time to push off a canoe into the lake and pass out. Yeah, because being out in the middle of a lake in a canoe, in pitch black darkness, after you've just been terrorized for the night isn't scary at all right? Well not to our bad ass Alice. She awakes to a beautiful morning and still lake with the police waiting at the shore. There's beautiful music and all is well, except it's not. Our boy Jason finally decides to make his presence know by leaping out of the water like Aquaman to pull poor Alice to her demise. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! That was me screaming like a little girl and jumping up and down when I first saw that scene as a kid. But wait, it was all a dream. Gotcha! She wakes up in her hospital bed and knows Jason is still out there. If the sequel count is anything to go by, then yes, he definitely is still out there. The edning was added after Savini suggested it because of another successful chair jumper scene that will be mentioned here on this list shortly.
06. The Shining
Now we come to Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece, The Shining. Or as Groundskeeper Willie calls it, The Shinning. I saw this film at a very young age and it always left me feeling a bit uneasy. The huge visuals, surreal imagery, and ominous score always lent it's talents to scaring the piss out of me. But that's the point right? I know that Stephen King himself famously hated this adaptation, but I still think it's a classic and should be a staple of any horror fans collection.
This scene is not only hugely disturbing to me, it's incredibly disgusting. After little Danny boy takes a visit to Room 237, he shows back up beaten and disturbed to his mother’s horror. She asks Jack to go take a look-see and see if they are actually alone in the hotel. Although, she harbors doubts and thinks Jack may be behind this event. So Jack goes on his merry way only to find a beautiful and very naked woman in the room. Of course Jack gets a bit randy and decides to slip her the 'ol tongue. Sure, why not? As he's laying a smooch on her, Jack notices to his utter horror and disgust that the fine lady has turned into a decomposed old hag. Uggghhh. Jack recoils slowly in terror as the grotesque old woman stalks him right out of the room with a smile on her face and arms outstretched for some more lip smacking. Jack locks the door and runs as fast his legs can carry him. Would you do any less? I think not! Of course, that is just what I would do and this moment still creeps me out in the extreme.
Well here we are back in the water.....where we don't belong dammit! And we certainly pay for it in a slew of bloody nightmares thanks to Jaws. This classic Spielberg flick about a giant, and I do meant giant great white shark that takes a little (or huge) bite out of unsuspecting summer beach goers in the lovely town of Amity. Part of what makes this film work so well are the brilliant performances by Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, the creepy Jaws theme music, as well as the fact that you don't get to see the not so realistic shark all that much do to malfunctions. Less is sometimes more and in this case it makes the film that much scarier. Though however corny looking I still prefer animatronics to CGI most of the time, but that's another story.
The scariest moment in Jaws for me is when Hooper and Brody are investigating the half-submerged and seemingly abandoned boat of local fisherman Ben Gardner in the dead of night. I repeat, dead of night! Good idea when there is a giant man eating shark running around.......hmmm. Well Hooper decides to take a look around the hull and see what's going on. He ends up finding a hole in the bottom of the boat and a giant sharks tooth to as well. While Hooper is inspecting the tooth, the disembodied head of poor fisherman Gardner pops out to scare the living hell out of Hooper as well as probably everyone else that has ever watched the scene. Oddly this scene was actually added post-production because Spielberg wanted one extra scare. Greedy bastard! It ended up being filmed in the film editors pool and I would say the scene definitely paid off in the end. By paid off, I mean giving me nightmares for years.
04. Tales From The Crypt-...And All Through The House Segment
Next we have the wonderful horror movie anthology Tales From The Crypt from 1972. Based on the original Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror comics (as was the later HBO series, which I also love) from the 50's and 60's, this film brings us five bloody segments of terror filled fun. While all of the segments are quite scary I must say, the one that really always got to me was ....And All Through The House.
In this Christmas horror themed segment we have a couple enjoying a nice Christmas eve at home by the fire. The wife Joanne for some reason picks this particular time to literally axe her husband from the marriage picture. While trying to dispose of her husbands body she hears a news bulletin on the radio about a crazed escaped mental patient roaming nearby dressed up like jolly ol' Saint Nick. She thinks little of it until unfortunately for her he shows up literally with bells on. Not to mention with murder and mayhem on his deranged mind. What follows is a scary and suspenseful game of cat and mouse. It's hard to pick one particular moment in the segment to say is the scariest because the whole segment is, I'll just say the end.....again. Sorry. After thinking she finally got rid of the maniacal Santa and prepping her husbands body for police discovery, she decides it's time to call the authorities. But sadly for her it's little too late. She notices her daughters bedroom door open and hears those bells ringing in the house. Her daughter then comes through the door with Santa in tow. Damn brat let the killer in! The nerve. Well our evil Santa decides that she's been naughty and dishes out the punishment. Death. This scared me as a kid and still does today.
Oh Angus Scrimm, aka The Tall Man. How I love thee. Well your performance in this film anyway. Phantasm was a low budget horror film directed and written by the talented Don Coscarelli and released in 1979. This movie manages to frighten the viewer in so many ways. The Tall Man, inventive kills by an evil flying orb, a lot of the film takes place in a mausoleum, and one hell of a creepy score. All of that adds up to nightmares galore for humanity.
The scene that comes to mind in Phantasm as the most mind bendinly terrifying is one which happens when our lovable little hero Mike is sleeping soundly in his bed. Although not for long. As Mike opens his eyes he sees The Tall Man standing over him with arms spread and tombstones (presumably of his victims) in the background. Then little zombie arms thrust up through the ground on either side of Mike, grasping and tearing at him to try and drag him down to hell. Not the first thing you want to happen to you after you wake up in the morning. Although this could be the norm in that town when The Tall Man decided to move into town. Might be time to sell the house and get out of dodge me thinks.
02. Black Sabbath-The Drop of Water Segment
Well my love for horror movie anthologies surfaces again. Here we have the epic flick Black Sabbath (the wonderful band names themselves after this film) directed by the prolific horror director Mario Bava. Almost my first pick for the top spot mind you. The film consists of three segments. The Telephone, The Wurdalak, and The Drop of Water. In my opinion being weakest to strongest, although all are great. I actually hadn't seen this movie until a couple of years ago and it turned out to be a revelation in horror goodness.
The scariest part of the film is the segment entitled The Drop of Water. The story is about a pretty young nurse who prepares the recently deceased for burial in their homes. I guess this was regular practice in Victorian London. She is called to one such house to prepare some freakishly looking old lady for burial who wont close her eyes. Not off to a good start. The nurse decides it's a good idea to take the dead old hags ring as extra payment. Once she returns home strange events start to happen. Of course. The scariest moment in this segment comes next. After being harassed by a buzzing fly, dripping water, and a crazy light show in her house, the nurse opens the door to her room only to see the dead old woman lying in her bed. She gasps in terror and the malevolent creature sits up. This part scared the daylights out of me, but in such a great way. It always stuck with me and I'm sure it will for you too! Just watch and don't forget to leave the lights on..........
01. 'Salem's Lot
Now we come to our number one spot and most terrifying scene for me. I give you 'Salem's Lot. Who has inspired so many frightening movies to be made based off of their novels but the master of horror Stephen King himself. Hell I already have a couple other of his films on this list already. The 'Salem's Lot TV miniseries debuted in 1979 and was directed by the masterful Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame (another film on this list). While there are some differences from the book, the story remains relatively the same and just as scary. And while some might say this film is not as great as some of the other films I listed as a whole, but I believe this scene trumps them all in the end.
Now comes scene that gave me bad dreams forever and helped countless therapists to send their children to college thanks to traumatized patients. After (Nosferatu inspired) head vampire Kurt Barlow arrives in Salem's Lot, people of course start to disappear one after the other. One of the first such vanishings comes from little Ralphie Glick. He is given over to Barlow as an offering from his familiar Straker. Awww, what a nice gift. Ralphie of course would like to keep the family together and comes back one night for his older brother Danny. While Danny is sleeping in bed (of course) and appearing to have a bad dream, mists start to appear outside of his window. A good sign to run? Then his pale, scary eyed, and newly fanged little brother Ralphie shows up floating outside. He has this faint little smile on his face while he scratches at the window for his brother to let him in. His brother does let him in and Ralphie floats in towards Danny and all the while smiling. Yikes, uggh, and ahhh! Scary stuff my friends. This is part of what horror movies are missing these days. While I love the gore, the parts in movies that scare me the most usually lack gore and blood and rely on our deepest fears. Take note future writers and directors. I want to see more of this!
Thanks guys and gals for checking out my list and send me your favorite scary movie moments. I hope to be back soon with some more reviews for ya'll.