I love horror movies. I wouldn’t call myself a horror aficionado because those are the kind of people that loved “Suspiria” and thought it was ground breaking while I thought it was one of the worst movies I had ever seen. No, I am not an official horror film critic, I just happen to know what I want to see in a horror movie…something scary. Sometimes, what happens to scare me doesn’t even occur in a “horror” movie. I have been freaked out just as much by Freddy Kruger as I have been by certain Disney movies. Honestly, has anyone seen “Fantasia” and not felt uneasy at least once during it?
Anyway, I thought I would share a few scenes that have left an indelible mark on my fragile psyche. They are not from movies that are considered “the best” of the horror genre. Actually, a couple of these movies aren’t in the horror genre at all. They made the list because when I think about “scenes in movies I will never be able to forget”, these were the ones that popped up and caused me to lose sleep. Maybe this will get you thinking about some scenes that have impacted you and that you can share with the rest of us. By the way, there will be some spoilers.
Movie: The Ring
Creepy Scene: Samara crawls through the television
I have had a strange fear of televisions with black or static-y screens ever since I saw an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” when I was very young. I haven’t been able to find a clip of it but I believe there was an episode in which there was a ghost in the television of someone’s hotel room. The reenactment had the ghost depicted as a mouth and then a face on the television. For some reason it has screwed up television screens for me and I’m not even sure it was a real episode. So, imagine my absolute horror when watching “The Ring” and the little girl from the well decides to climb out of the television for the first time. I thought I was going to run out of the theatre. I think the only reason I didn’t was because my friends were in the row behind me (as I was sitting in the handicapped seat closest to the exit) and they would have ripped me to shreds. Easily one of the freakiest scenes I have ever had the misfortune of recording with my brain. If I could only get someone else to watch it then I might be off the hook.
Movie: Hellraiser II: Hellbound
Creepy Scene: Mattress Sequence
Obviously, I didn’t see this movie in 1988. My 3 year old mind would not have been able to comprehend the vast morbid darkness that is the mind of Clive Barker. I probably couldn’t comprehend it now either. All of the “Hellraiser” movies are a bit sinister as they deal with the gruesome concept of the pleasure of torturous pain. The main villain, Pinhead, is one of the most sadistic characters of all time. So, I knew what I was getting into when I watched this movie when I was about 13 years old. Or at least I thought I did. In this movie, there is a scene in which Dr. Channard has figured out how to call forth demons from hell via a blood soaked mattress. He realizes he will need to make a sacrifice in order to do this so he takes one of the unfortunate residents of his psychiatric hospital and uses them to bring forward these skinless apparitions. The rest of the scene (and I am getting shaky just recounting this, seriously) shows this psychiatric patient helplessly grope around for help while we, the audience, and the doctor watch as these demons claw at him and sink their fingers into the back of his skull. I think what affects me most about this scene is that the patient is screaming out for help and trying to crawl away and the doctor just watches as these demons devour him and doesn’t even bat an eye. I remember leaving the room during this scene and I haven’t watched the rest of it since.
Movie: Hard Candy
Creepy Scene: Castration Sequence
This movie manages to build a level of suspense and dread using essentially only two characters. The cat and mouse game played by the two leads is nothing short of breath taking. Ellen Page plays Hayley, a seemingly young and seemingly naïve girl who is brought home by a thirty year old photographer, Jeff, played by Patrick Wilson. Jeff hopes to convince Hayley to agree to a “photo shoot” but soon the tables turn and we are left wondering who the predator is and who is the prey? As you can tell by the title of this entry, Hayley eventually gets the upper hand on Jeff and has him strapped to a table as she sets bags of ice on his groin. She tells him how she plans on castrating him for his indiscretions against other young girls. From start to finish, this scene had me not even sitting on the edge of my seat but literally standing up in my room. I was so tense I couldn’t even bend my knees. I had no idea that so much suspense could be built with just two people.
Movie: Event Horizon
Creepy Scene: Video Play Back
I am still not sure how I got talked into seeing this movie. My brother and I saw this in the theatre. I was only twelve and not really a fan of science fiction. I probably became less of a fan once I saw this movie. For those that haven’t seen it, it is about a group of astronauts that are searching for another ship that had stopped responding to communication. They find that the ship had gone through a black hole of some sort and that the crew was gone upon the ship’s return. As the rescuing astronauts are searching the ship they come across a video diary of the previous crew. Something truly horrific happened to the previous crew as the play back shows pure chaos on board. The strobe effect lighting illuminates quick shots of blood and carnage while screams pierce through the imagery. Before the tape ends, the captain of the former crew is shown holding an eyeball that he just tore from his own skull in his palm to the video camera and speaks but the sound is distorted. The new crew cannot figure out what the man is saying but they eventually decipher that he is probably saying “Liberate me ex inferious” which, roughly translated (very roughly as I may be completely wrong here) means “save me from hell.” This alone made me want to grab my box of Milk Duds and get the eff out of there. Where did this ship go and why did the crew murder each other? Eventually they decipher more and they realize they had made a mistake in the translation. The man on the tape actually said “Liberate tu tome ex inferious” which meant “save yourself from hell.” So it was a message to the rescuers that they knew would be coming. Chill bumps are on my arms just thinking about it.
Movie: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
Creepy Scene: The Judge’s True Form
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” is by no means a horror movie. But it definitely does deal with some dark subjects, especially for a movie that has a cast mainly consisting of famous cartoon characters. There is murder, intrigue, romance, double crossing, and revenge. Basically, Marvin Acme (yes, of ACME cartoon gadgetry fame) is murdered and all signs point to Roger Rabbit who insists he is being framed. So, he begs Eddie Valiant (whose brother was killed by a cartoon) to help figure out who set him up. Meanwhile, The Judge, who happens to also have deep seated hatred for cartoons, is hell bent on using “the dip” to execute Roger Rabbit and then eventually all animated characters. We find out in the climatic showdown that The Judge himself is a cartoon and that it was him that murdered Eddie’s brother. I should preface the rest of this explanation for why this is scary to me with the statement that I have a peculiar fear of eyes; big eyes, all-white eyes, all-black eyes. Really, any kind of unnaturally sized or colored eye can give me the willies. When The Judge reveals that he is a cartoon, his eyes become HUGE and animated while his voice gets really high. I bet I wouldn’t be able to sit through it now. Especially because I don’t have my Roger Rabbit doll.
Movie: Nightmare on Elm Street
Creepy Scene: Pulled into Bed
The very concept of this movie should be enough to make anyone squirm; a hideously deformed man with finger knives that attacks you…in your dreams. When I was little, my mother allowed me to watch these scary movies because we have a common love of the horror genre. She used to read “The Amityville Horror” when I was in the womb. Unfortunately, these movies gave me absolutely terrible nightmares because I didn’t understand that it was all just a movie. I thought Freddy Kruger was real. My fear of Freddy reached its first peak when he pulled Johnny Depp’s character into his bed only to be turned into a geyser of blood. I thought that every time I lay in bed that I was done for and the same went for my mom and brother. It only got worse when my mom got a waterbed and then Freddy murdered someone in their waterbed in one of the sequels. But it all started with Johnny Depp’s on-screen demise in first installment of the series. It makes me want to sleep on the floor for the rest of my life although I also have cats that seemingly have knives for fingers as well. I guess there is no safe place to sleep for me.
Movie: The Witches
Creepy Scene: Transformation Sequence
To be honest, I have no idea what this movie is about. I was babysitting my cousins one night and after they were in bed I was flicking through the channels on the television. I stumbled across a scene taking place in what looked like some old hotel’s conference room. The room was filled with crotchety old women wearing typical old lady clothes; drab and baggy clothing, over accessorized with pearls and shawls, and ornate hats. The leader of these women was Angelica Houston (Morticia Adams in the first two Addams Family movies). I recognized her, so I stopped to see what the movie was about. All of a sudden these women began to change. The camera moved in and out as these potentially sweet old women were becoming gnarled. Their faces and bodies contorted into monstrous shapes. They made horrible noises as their bodies shifted from elderly and frail to grotesque and petrifying. I quickly spun around to make sure the children hadn’t snuck downstairs and doomed themselves to a life of indescribable vexing over whether or not every old woman they saw would become a bloodcurdling ogre. What was even worse was that this movie was on the Disney Channel. It’s a friggin’ Disney Movie!?!
Movie: The Village
Creepy Scene: Noah’s Revenge
Say what you will about M. Night Shyamalan but I generally enjoy his movies. To me, his movies are like Stephen King books. I like the concept but there is usually one thing about it that sticks out and makes the movie tough to defend, the ending. That said, I will like the experience of his films. Yes, even “The Happening.” I liked that movie a lot. Despite any glaring problem I may have with any of his films, there is also a scene in each film that reminds me as to why I like Shyamalan as a horror/suspense director. Of these scenes, one of them made me queasy and sick just for having seen bared witness to it. To give a quick summary of the main characters; Joaquin Phoenix plays Lucius, the village’s straight arrow/good guy. He is in love with Ivy, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. She is the village’s blind girl/kind soul and is also in love with him. Adrian Brody plays Noah, the village’s developmentally challenged person who gets a lot of attention from Ivy. Once Noah finds out Lucius will be marrying Ivy he greets him at his house. As Lucius is explaining their feelings for each other to an obviously upset Noah, he turns around and Noah is burying a knife into his belly. This part was creepy enough, the “ick” factor jumps up when Lucius falls to the floor and Noah kneels next to him and, as he is writhing in pain, stabs him again in the guts as if it were too late to turn back so he might as well keep going. That scene made me feel like I was watching an actual murder.
Movie: House on Haunted Hill
Creepy Scene: Saturation Chamber
My friend Dan and I went and saw this remake in the theatre. It was very creepy, had a great cast (excluding Ali Larter, because she is terrible at almost everything), and was funny when it needed to be. While there were plenty of things in this movie that could earn a spot on this list; Dr. Vannacutt’s stilted movements, the darkness leaking from the walls, and of course Geoffrey Rush’s mustache. Most memorably though was the “saturation chamber.” In the asylum where the movie takes place, there is a chamber designed with the idea “what will drive a sane man mad, will drive a mad man sane.” So, once one of the characters is locked inside, he is treated to sounds and imagery designed to either fix him or break him. One of the characters is locked inside and the resulting sequence hit all of the creepy points; twins, blood, black and white footage, suffocation, drowning, and a severed head all to the tune of creepy carnival music. It’s like a nightmare on a stick.
Movie: The Exorcist
Creepy Scene: Anytime the demon face shows up
If you have stuck with me this far, then you know how damaging this face is. If you get the “version with never before seen footage” of “The Exorcist, you will be treated several times to the demon face. What makes this thing scary is that it comes without warning. There is no music leading up to it. It just flashes on the screen at a few points during the movie. It’s just a face painted white with sharp teeth and huge eyes against a black background. When this movie was first in theatres, one man tried to sue the production studio because he said the face was subliminally added into the movie and it caused him to blackout and break his nose on the seat in front of him. It made me want to brown out my pants because it scared the crap out of me.