100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
According to RetroCrush.
#100 THE WICKERMAN (1973)
GUESS WHO THE VIRGIN SACRIFICE IS?
A strange pagan cult is visited by Sgt. Howie from Scotland Yard, who is investigating the disappearance of a young girl. He's a strict Christian and is shocked by their open sexuality, nude dancing, and bizarre rituals. It turns out they perform a virgin sacrifice by burning one inside of a giant wicker man, but little does Howie know who that sacrifice is! A very chilling ending that you should have seen coming a mile away, but you're so caught up in the spooky atmosphere that it's still quite a surprise. The burning Wicker Man is a great image that lives on in Nevada's annual Burning Man festival as well.
#99 RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985)
The Tar Man Wants to Eat Your Brains!
While George Romero's "Living Dead" series was based on pure horror, Return of The Living Dead had a decidedly more fun tone throughout. But it wasn't without it's share of horrifying moments. In this scene, a zombie, nicknamed The Tar Man as he's spent years inside of a sealed barrel, is waiting in the basement as he screams for tasty brains. As you can see from the pictures above, the poor sap's head becomes a Hometown Buffet o' Brains for the ghoul. The zombie himself is a remarkable makeup achievement, as a very tall super skinny mime was hired to play the creature. The result is a zombie that moves in such an unearthly fashion, your skin can't help but crawl.
#98 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)
JEM AND SCOUT WALK HOME IN THE WOODS
This scene is something even David Lynch would be hard pressed to dream up. Jem and Scout Finch are walking home in the woods on a spooky night. Scout is wearing her ham costume from the school play she just finished being in. The wind is blowing and leaves are rustling around as they hear footsteps. Something or someone is following them! Soon they are chased. Scout is knocked down, stuck in her pork product outfit, and can't see that her brother is getting attacked!
In these days of child abductions, it's creepy enough to have two kids just walking in the woods by themselves, but the surreal dreamy quality of this scene makes it even scarier. And the character that they feared most of all, Boo Radley (played by a young Robert Duvall) makes an unexpected appearance that adds even more tension.
#97 FRANKENSTEIN (1933)
THE MONSTER DROWNS A LITTLE GIRL
Long before Lenny was accidentally killing puppies in "Of Mice And Men", Frankenstein's Monster had difficulty with beautiful fragile things. In this scene from the 1931 classic, The Monster plays with the innocent Maria, holding flowers and throwing them into the water together. It's a touching, tranquil, and sweet scene, until he runs out of flowers, and he tosses her into the lake where she drowns. Boris Karloff himself fought to get the scene cut from the film, as he felt it was too disturbing, and it was missing from all prints and TV broadcasts after 1937, and was not restored until 48 years later in a special videotape!
#96 BLUE VELVET (1982)
FRANK COMES HOME
David Lynch has made many creepy flix, but the scene in Blue Velvet where Frank Booth (played by Dennis Hopper) comes home while Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) is hiding in his closet sticks out. I'll let retroCRUSH fan Jack Frink take it from here...
"Even though the film is not a "horror" film exactly, I'd have to say one of the scariest moments ever is the scene in Blue Velvet where Dennis Hopper's psychotic kidnapper/drug dealer Frank Booth is introduced. He walks into Isabella Rossellini's apartment, sits down with a glass of brandy, and then, while Kyle Maclachlan watches, begins to brutalize and molest Rossellini's character in one of the most shocking and disturbing scenes in film history. It's not that it is "jump out at you" scary, it is much more effective because its a perverse, backwards, repulsive act being portrayed by a sick, monstrous character."
#95 THE HITCHER (1986)
FINGER IN THE FRENCH FRIES
C.Thomas Howell plays a poor sap who while delivering a car on a cross-country trip, picks up a hitchhicker played by Rutger Hauer. Turns out, he's a serial killer who ends up framing him for his murders. During a quiet break at a truck stop, Howell is enjoying some french fries with his burger, until he sees tha one of them is a human finger! EEEEEEEEK!
#94 JAWS (1975)
QUINT TELLS A SHARK STORY
After a many drinks and stories comparing old wounds and scars, Quint tells about his experience on the USS Indianapolis, a horrible shipwreck in which sailors were systematically eaten by sharks while they awaited rescue. Apparently there was a lot of disagreement as to how the scene should be written, so a frustrated Robert Shaw wrote the damn thing himself and it worked out wonderfully. With the night air, the creaking of the boat, and Quint's haunted delivery, it remains one of the most scary portions of a screenplay ever written.
"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, Chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian Delailie, we'd just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in twelve minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half hour. Tiger. Thirteen footer. You know how you know that in the water, Chief? You can tell by lookin' from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn't know, was that our bomb mission was so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin', so we formed ourselves into tight groups. It was sorta like you see in the calendars, you know the squares in the old calendars like the Battle o' Waterloo and the idea was the shark come to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and sometimes that shark he go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark looks right at ya. Right into your eyes. And the thing about a shark is he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, he doesn't even seem to be livin'... 'til he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all your poundin' and your hollerin' those sharks come in and... they rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I do know how many men, they averaged six an hour. Thursday mornin', Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boson's mate. I thought he was asleep, Reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water, he was like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist. Noon the fifth day a Lockheed Ventura swung in low and he spotted us, a young pilot, lot younger than Mr. Hooper here, anyway he spotted us and a few hours later a big ol' fat PBY come down and start to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened? Waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went into the water. Three hundred and sixteen men come out, the sharks took the rest, June the twenty-ninth, nineteen-forty five. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."
What makes the scene even scarier is that it's based on a true story. According to THIS (http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq30-5.htm) account, the sailor only saw one man actually attacked by a shark, but conceded that the bodies of 56 men who had apparently been bitten by something when all was said and done, and some believe the sharks may have feasted on those that were already dead.
#93 CREEPSHOW (1982)
WHAT'S IN THE CRATE?
Creepshow is a great collection of short spooky stories told in a Tales From The Crypt style. Though many of the Stephen King written/George Romero directed segments are great, one of the more terrifying is "The Crate". In a grisly take on pandora's box, a mysterious crate is found in the basement lab of a college from an old expedition. One by one various characters are exposed to the contents of the crate both accidentally and intentionally. The payoff of what's inside does not disappoint.
#92 CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER (1962)
VINCENT PRICE TRIPS OUT ON OPIUM
This seldom seen and long out of print film features Vincent Price investigating the goings on deep in the underworld of opium in the catcombs of San Francisco's Chinatown. After smoking some he has a tripout that is full of nightmarish imagery. Skulls float toward the screen, with smoke billowing out of the eyeballs, strange laughing men, and a collection of lizards and spiders abound. If they just showed this on TV to impressionable kids, it would have ended the war on drugs immediately. It gets weirder after that. I saw this on TNT a long while back, so it's likely going to be on TV again someday, so watch out for it.
#91 THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1982)
PLUTO BITES OFF A BIRD'S HEAD
Though more famous for Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, and Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes in an overlooked crazy classic that's chock full of scares. A mutated group of cannibals terrorizes a family that's stranded in the desert. Michael Berryman, who made his film debut in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, is extra creepy as Pluto. The movie's full of great moments, but the one everyone talks about the next day is when Pluto bites the head of a bird off. This was before Ozzy was as notorious for it, so it was pretty shocking for the time.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#90 DUMBO (1941)
PINK ELEPHANT HALLUCINATION
An unlikely scary movie candidate, many folks still can't shake the trip out fear from the famous alcohol induced "Pink Elephants on Parade" tripout sequence from Dumbo. Not to be confused with the "Honey Overdose Heffalumps and Woozles" flashback from Winnie The Pooh, decades later. Here's a thumbnail gallery of some of the major scenes, winding up with the final morning sunrise clearing the head of the poor hungover elephant.
#89 THEM! (1954)
TRAUMATIZED LITTLE GIRL SCREAMS "THEM!"
In the opening minutes of THEM!, police find a traumatized girl wandering as if she's in a trance. Further up the road they see a smashed up automobile, blood everywhere, but no bodies to be found. Back at the station, they try to get her out of her state of shock by holding an acid under her nose. She immediately snaps out of it, screaming "THEM! THEM!!!! THEMM!!!!" at the top of her lungs! Just what the hell is she talking about? Giant ants of course. The rest of THEM! is a hoot, as it was really the first major "big bug" movie Hollywood released. The studio has so little faith in it, that they cut the budget at the last minute, forcing it to be filmed in black and white instead of color. As the army fights ants with flame throwers in their underground hive, it's eerily reminiscent of later films like Aliens.
#88 HEAVY METAL (1982)
BOMBER FULL OF ZOMBIES
A World War 2 Bomber is riddled with gunfire with all but one of the crew dead. After the Loc-Nar Orb passes by the wrecked plane, the dead pilots become reanimated and chase the survivor into the cockpit! With nowhere else to turn, he ejects to safety and parachutes on to a South Pacific island. Little does he know that the island is full of similar wreckage and is teeming with bloodthirsty zombies ready to feast on his warm flesh!
#87 THE SHINING (1980)
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES JACK A DULL BOY
An infinite number of crazy things are already going on at the Overlook Hotel as Jack Torrance and his family are staying as caretakers for the winter. Jack wants to catch up on his writing, and has been spending days holed up typing away the great American masterpiece. His stressed out wife, Wendy, stumbles on a box full of his work, and she looks through in horror as every single page has the phrase, "All Work and No Play Makes Jack and Dull Boy" thousands and thousands of times. The real life compulsiveness of director Stanley Kubrick was even creepier, as he had each page typed manually, and did not permit xerox copies to be used.
#86 NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)
SHELLY WINTERS SWIMS WITH THE FISHES
Years ago, when I asked my Grandfather Robert A. Berry I, what the scariest movie he ever saw was, without hesitation he mentioned Night of The Hunter. He specifically mentioned the scene where Shelly Winters' character is discovered underwater, eerily floating with her throat slashed, while tied to a Model T Ford at the bottom of a lake. The movie is full of great chills, but this one stands out as one of the best.
#85 ALTERED STATES (1980)
TRIP OUT TRANSFORMATION SCENE
The overall movie of Altered States is a bit silly, but the transformation scene where he regresses the evolutionary scale was a special effects feat of makeup wizardry that hadn't been seen before on the big screen. With weird rippling flesh while he slammed his body back and forth against walls. If you get a chance to rent it, give it a look. A neat bit of trivia, the 1980 film was the first film to use a full body costume since The Creature from The Black Lagoon.
#84 SCANNERS (1981)
SWEET CHRISTMAS! AN EXPLODING HEAD!
#83 THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK (1973)
SASQUATCH SHAKES THE OUTHOUSE
In the 70s, Bigfoot was all the rage. With oversized footprints popping up in the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot became a huge part of American pop culture. A bionic version of the creature appeared on The Six Million Dollar Man, and he even partnered with Wild-Boy for a Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday morning show. The Legend of Boggy Creek, using a grainy 16mm transferred to 35mm early Blair Witch Project documentary approach, to tell the tale of a Sasquatch like creature terrorizing a backwoods community. The creature is largely unseen (which is good 'cause its basically just a dude in a gorilla suit), but there's a particularly terrifying moment that sticks out as one of the best.
Some poor dude is sitting on a toilet, in the middle of the night, when the Boggy Creek Beast sticks his arm through the window, litereally scaring the **** out of the guy. Its bad enough to imagine snakes, sharks, or alligators biting your ass while you're taking a dump, but when you've got the Bigfoot possibility through the window as well, it's almost enough to make you ask the doctor for a colostomy bag.
retroCRUSH PRO TIP: I've seen this DVD in the bargain bins of Wal-Mart for only $5.88!
#82 THE BIRDS (1963)
POLLY WANTS AN EYEBALL
Only Alfred Hitchcock could make a movie about blood-crazed seagulls a terrifying motion picture! Some of the scenes where swarms of birds swoop down on screaming people are laughable, but the shocking gore presented when the grisly remains of a dead farmer are discovered late in the film. This was nearly 20 years before Dawn of The Dead, and for a mainstream film of the early 60s to show such a horrifying scene was unheard of, especially in full color. I still cringe when seagulls fly overhead when I'm at the beach. I always thought it'd be cool to make a sequel where the local townsfolk get revenge by throwing out large amounts of bread with Alka-Seltzer tablets hidden inside.
#81 TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (1973)
SLOW MOTION ZOMBIES ON HORSEBACK
Tombs of the Blind Dead is a neat twist on the zombie film genre. Instead of mindless shambling corpses roaming the countryside, you have blind Templar Knights who can track you down by listening to your heart beating. Not only are The Blind Dead pretty scary looking to start with (imagine a band of Grim Reapers out for blood), but the scenes where they ride on horseback, in slow motion with their crusty robes fluttering behind them are the stuff of nightmares.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#80 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
CREEPY DOG WITH HUMAN HEAD!
The 1978 remake of the original 50s classic is undeservedly overlooked by many fans of horror. The tale, which taps in to the "who can you trust" paranoia famous in many films from The Thing to Alien, as an alien spore creates duplicate versions of people that will slowly take over the world. But this version throws a new twist not dreamed of in the original, by having an incredibly disturbing dog with a human head running about. This was done decades later in Tim Burton's comedy "Mars Attacks!" with a hilarious effect, but its just so creepy and bizarre in this film, it's nearly impossible to shake the goosebumps off. Thank God they removed the scene when he realizes he can lick places in his body that were previously impossible to reach!
#79 THE CRYING GAME (1992)
THE SCARY SECRET
The less said about this moment, the better. If you've seen The Crying Game, you know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you haven't, then you're in for a rare treat to experience one of the most shocking and scary surprises to ever get caught on film.
#78 THE EXORCIST III (1990)
OLD LADY CRAWLS ON THE CEILING LIKE A SPIDER
The Exorcist III is an impressively scary film that had to fight through the stink of Exorcist II: The Heretic to get any kind of decent critical acclaim. Original Exorcist author wrote and directed this film with amazing results. As George C. Scott makes his way through an asylum in the middle of the film, a possessed old lady scurries across the ceiling like a spider, unseen by anyone. The bizarre agility the frail woman demonstrates as the skitters about is eerie, and comes out of nowhere as a complete scary surprise.
#77 EVENT HORIZON (1997)
DON'T LOOK AT THE LADY WITH NO EYES
Event Horizon is a nice underrated horror flick about a seemingly haunted space ship that returns from a black hole. The two black holes in this woman's eye sockets provide one of the more disturbing scares in the flick. There's just something about someone with their eyes missing that is guaranteed to make most people squirm, as the numerous emails for this scene's inclusion in the list attest.
#76 THE SHINING (1980)
RED RUM! RED RUM! RED RUM!
The Shining is just chock full of terrifying moments, making it one of the all time scariest from title to closing credits. As the evil history of the Overlook Hotel affect the young Danny Torrance, he reaches a breaking point while chanting "RED RUM" in his mother's room while he holds a knife, and scrawls the phrase on the door. When the mom (played masterfully by Shelly Duvall) wakes up, she is already freaked out, but when he glances at the mirror and sees the reverse image, you can almost hear her brain hemorrhage.
#75 THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999)
GHOSTS IN THE CAMCORDER VIEWFINDER
Although plagued by the ultra-hip nonsense prevalent in most recent horror efforts, this film features some of the most terrifying creepy effects committed to celluloid in years. A particularly unnerving scene features a gal with a video camera. While perusing the haunted basement of an old asylum, the amateur shutterbug finds something disturbing in her viewfinder - the long dead ghosts from a past night of horror! I promise you, you'll never look through your camcorder while strolling through an abandoned crazy house the same way again.
#74 SILENT SCREAM (1980)
GIRL GETS DRAGGED INTO WHOLE IN WALL
I remember, as a kid, seeing the TV ads for Silent Scream and being absolutely terrified by the part when the girl gets dragged kicking and screaming into a hole in the wall. Well, as I may be the only person who actually owns a copy of this long out of print movie, I can tell you on good authority that the scene is STILL unnerving. Imagine being in your basement, quietly doing your laundry, when some unseen psychopath busts through the wall, grabs you, than pulls you into an unknown whole of horror (no, not Anna Nicole Smith's crotch). Although the film is pretty hit and miss, the scene definitely provided nightmare materials for many unfortunate kids that saw the scary commercial back in 1980.
#73 GATES OF HELL (1980)
WOMAN LITERALLY PUKES HER GUTS OUT
Not only is this scene scary, but it's certainly one of the most revolting bits to ever appear in the film. Lucio Fulci, a master of Italian gore-horror, made this film (known under many other titles, and is currently being sold as CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD on DVD), in 1980 and set the benchmark for gut puking scenes for years to come. Not only does the poor gal slowly vomit up her own intestines, but her eyes are crying blood all the while. I remember reading an article about this in Fangoria back in the day, and they mentioned the poor actress had to swallow a large amount of sheep intestines to make this scene work. Ah, the things one does in the name of art!
#72 POLTERGEIST II (1986)
CRAIG T NELSON SWALLOWS A TEQUILA WORM
Poltergeist II, for the most part, was a worthless piece of crap. Were it not for the hideous art design of Alien creator HR Giger, it would have been completely unwatchable. There's a scene where the father, played by Craig T. Nelson, decides to guzzle what's left of a tequila bottle. There's a worm at the bottom, and he swallows that, too. Unfortunately, the house poltergeist decides to possess the worm, and Nelson ends up vomiting a worm that is about as big as his own arm. The hellish squirmy thing flops around the floor, grows a head and small nubs where the arms and legs should be (see above picture) and flops out of the room with a disturbingly freakish movement. If one was ever hesitant about swallowing the worm before, one look at this scene would cure you instantly of such curiosity once and for all.
#71 AKIRA (1988)
TEDDY BEAR TRIP OUT
Japanese animation is full of the most imaginative mind-bending imagery ever put to film. Though the work of Miyazaki's "Spirited Away" and other films have received tremendous critical acclaim in the USA, Katsuhiro Otomo's AKIRA is a cult classic that is one of my favorite action movies ever made, animated or not. A boy named Tetsuo is the subject of experiments designed to create super powered psychics. While fighting off the side effects of the process, Tetsuo freaks out in his room as the stuffed animals in his bed come to life. The music is a creepy chorus of midgets chanting some weird song from a tin can, while the animals walk around, start growing, and drip milky pus from their bodies. If you even suspected your teddy bear was going to kill you in your sleep before, this scene settled it once and for all.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#70 THE EVIL DEAD (1981)
NO MEANS NO, EVEN IF YOU'RE A TREE!
My good ol' buddy Matt at X-Entertainment wrote a great review of THE EVIL DEAD that describes the tree rape scene better than I ever could! You can read the entire review here, but here's how he sees it!
This girl was the classic horror idiot. Assume you're in a log cabin, out in the woods in the middle of nowhere. You're already under the impression that death awaits. It's black outside. You hear a noise. What do you do? Go jump in bed with Ash and his girlfriend? Hide under the covers? Kill yourself? All three would be much, much better decisions than going outside. ****ing fool.
So yes, she goes outside. Not only does she go outside - she walks so far away from the house that nobody could hear her no matter how loud she screamed. To top this brilliant move, she starts making requests for whatever is out there to show itself. Cheryl , what were you gonna do if it did? 'A ha! I knew you were some devil spawn from Hell! GO ME!' C'mon! Sometimes it's more important to be alive than it is to be right. For Christ's sake, they just listened to the god damned audio book version of the ****ing Necronomicon! You don't listen to that and then go out for a stroll in the obviously haunted woods.
What happens next is classic. She starts getting attacked by branches. Evil branches, for those guessing. These aren't like those trees from the Inhumanoids...they've got sour intentions. But their intentions aren't to simply cut up poor Cheryl...they wanna make her baby.
AHH! Now that's pretty (expletive deleted) disturbing. Cheryl gets pleasured by the evil branches in cinema's first and I presume only case of rough sex between a girl and a tree. It's pretty eerie. I'm sure this was the film's way of making sure we got the tit-shot we've come to expect from horror flicks of the time, but if there ever was a scene that was an attention grabber - this was it. Nobody's going to get up for popcorn while a girl's getting raped by a tree. Not even with those subliminal popcorn messages they flick on and off.
Surprisingly, Cheryl escapes to the house, almost safe. Of course, now she's completely lost her mind, but that's pretty much a given progression of things after one has unsolicited sex with plant-life.
#69 ZOMBIE (1980)
IT'S ALL FUN AND GAMES
UNTIL SOMEONE GETS THEIR EYE PUT OUT
Wow, several of our Top 100 Scary Scenes have to do with eye trauma. There's just something so horrifying about injuring your eyeballs that makes it for a good easy scare. The horror comics in the 50s knew this and used the images frequently on covers of books like Tales From The Crypt to the extent that when the Comics Code Authority was created to make the funny books safer for kids, a clause was put in specifically prohibiting damage to eyes.
Lucio Fulci's Zombie has a particularly horrendous version of this act. A woman is hiding behind a door as an undead dude is trying to get at her. After he busts through the door, he grabs her by the hair and slowly drags her eyeball into a shard of wood sticking out.
Some felt this was a bizarre tribute to Sandy Duncan. But those people are mostly insane.
#68 FREAKS (1932)
ONE OF US! ONE OF US!
When Tod Browning directed Dracula in 1931, he was on top of the world, tremendously successful, and had a blank check to make whatever film he wanted. So he chose Freaks! Browning actually spent much of his youth working in a circus freakshow, as a contortionist then as a barker. So it was a natural to make a film that focused on his own wacky origins. Casting real circus freaks in the film, Browning's finished product was a horrific masterpiece. Unfortunately, the fickle audiences and critics of the time were completely repulsed by the film, who's subject matter was a bit too extreme for the average moviegoer. The film was a huge bomb. The studio even re-released it with a new title, Nature's Mistakes, in order to give it one more shot, but it didnt' work. From the unheard of success of Dracula, to the disaster of Freaks within 1 year, Browning was unable to direct any film of note for years that followed.
Anyway, the closing sequence of Freaks is incredibly creepy. A sexy and evil trapeze artist marries the midget Hans to get control of the carnival. At a party she gets drunk, humilates her new husband by openly flirting with the strongman. Another midget grabs a giant glass of champagne and proposes a toast, professing, "We accept her, ONE OF US!". The rest of the freaks begin chanting "ONE OF US!" and then make gobbling sounds. In the final scene, you see that they've enacted twisted revenge by performing a bizarre disfigurement that turns into half woman/half turkey.
#67 PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)
SATAN IN THE SHADOWS
With John Carpenter's more well known scare classics like Halloween and The Thing getting most of the notoriety, 1987's Prince of Darkness is often overlooked. Parts of the film are certainly mediocre, but there's a mind bending sequence where you see what may be Satan himself through some grainy static laced film footage that just does the spook job proper. With white noise drowning out the sound, a figure slowly emerges from a shadowy doorway in super grainy black and white footage, some sort of voice is heard, but it's barely audible. The whole scene looks exactly what it would look like if someone accidentally caught The Devil on a camcorder.
#66 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
THE HITCHHIKER LIKES HEAD-CHEESE
Horror movies teach a lot of common sense safety tips. Like if 5 miles before you get to a small town and a weird guy holding an eyeball tells you "there's nothing but evil ahead...GO BACK!", it's likely a good idea to listen to him. And as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre demonstrated, DON'T PICK UP HITCHHIKERS! Especially if they look like psycho Nam vets with splotches on their face. Unfortunately, the young fools in TCM pick up "The Hithchicker" in their van, played wonderfully by Edwin Neal (pictured above). He seems just a little creepy at first, then asks the passengers if they like head cheese! He proceeds to talk about his hilarious job at the slaughterhouse, until he sets a small fire in the van and is promptly kicked out. The entire sequence is crazy as (expletive deleted), and sets the tone perfectly for the madness that is soon to follow.
#65 MARATHON MAN (1976)
A ROOT CANAL WITH NO NOVACAINE!
To many folks, going to the dentist's office is about the scariest thing imaginable. From the sound that hook thing makes when it's scraping against your teeth, to the high pitched pencil sharpener sounding buzz of the drill, it's a real-life horror factory. That's what makes this moment in Marathon Man so excruciatingly scary. Laurence Oliveer plays an ex Nazi who needs some information from Dustin Hoffman's character regarding diamonds in a safety deposit box.
According to the IMDB, the scene was actually shortened after test audiences were incredibly sickened by torture.
It's a good thing that the filmmaker's plans to make Olivier's character a Nazi Urologist were scrapped!
#64 POLTERGEIST (1982)
WHO STACKED THOSE CHAIRS?
In a film full of fantastically creepy special effects, one of Poltergeist's most unnerving moments comes from one of the more simpler scenes in the movie. Jo Beth Williams' character is in her kitchen when she feels a cold chill. She looks behind and sees that the chairs are all stacked on the table, instead of the floor where she last saw them. Who wouldn't scream their head off if that happened? Its a great early scene to introduce the notion that something's not quite right. To top it all off, the chairs were from IKEA, so it was even scarier!
#63 THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
Forget The Wicked Witch, the real scary part of The Wizard of Oz were those creepy ass Flying Monkeys! Nearly every kid who saw these things for the first time was terrified. Monkeys are already the children of Satan (See The King James Bible, CHEETAH 3:16), but when they have wings, they are DOUBLE EVIL. Here's an interview we did 3 years ago for our Top 100 Monsters feature.
Little is known about these evil creatures from THE WIZARD OF OZ, but let me tell you one thing. They're scarier than Hell! I was lucky enough to interview NIKKO, the head Flying Monkey from the 1939 classic film and ask why they are so damn freaky.
RETROCRUSH: How exactly did the first Flying Monkey come to be?
NIKKO: Either a monkey screwed a chicken, or a chicken screwed a monkey, we haven't quite figured it out yet.
RETROCRUSH: Well why did you hang out with THE WICKED WITCH, what did she ever do for you?
NIKKO: Are you kidding? She's hot. She had a crazy thing for monkeys with wings and we were more than willing to oblige. We worked for her in exchange for hot free witch lovin'.
RETROCRUSH: Yikes, that's disgusting.
NIKKO: Hey, who are you to judge? You're the one with the website full of dead celebrities.
RETROCRUSH: Uhh...okay. So what do you think about being #94 on the Top 100 Monsters list?
NIKKO: Oh wow...big (expletive deleted) honor. I'm a notch above MOTHRA and I'm more popular than some monsters on cereal from THE (expletive deleted) SEVENTIES.
RETROCRUSH: Well, it's not like you've had much work since that first movie.
NIKKO: Well that witch died so there's no much else for us to do, is there? What about us? I was offered a part in that HBO series OZ, but it involved a brutal shower rape scene that I wasn't really willing to do.
RETROCRUSH: Well thanks for your interview, and congratulations for making the list!
NIKKO: Whatever, I got to go find me a flying banana. Later.
#62 WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979)
"WE'VE TRACED THE CALLS...
THEY'RE COMING FROM INSIDE YOUR HOUSE!"
Long before SCREAM turned sadistic crank-calling the recipe for box office gold, Carol Kane played a babysitter in 1979's When a Stranger Calls who was tormented over the phone. What she thinks is a joke, turns scary as the caller asks about the kids and mentions other details that reveal he knows a lot more about her than a stranger should. After numerous calls to the police, they call her back with the classic warning, "We've traced the calls...they're coming from inside your house!" As ludicrous as that sounds, it makes for an incredibly suspenseful ending. Of course with today's technology, the caller ID would show that right away and the movie would have only been 5 minutes long.
They actually did a made for TV sequel to this called When A Stranger Calls Back in 1993. Thankfully, plans for future installments "When A Stranger Instant Messages You", "When A Stranger Calls Using 1-800-CALL-ATT", and "When Stranger Telemarkets You Even Though You're On The Do Not Call List" were scrapped.
#61 THE SHINING (1980)
FURRY FUN FREAKOUT
The Shining makes another dramatic entry on our 100 Scariest Scenes list with this mindbending incident. While Wendy runs down the hall, already terrified from the crazy **** she's already seen and experienced, she looks down the hall at an open hotel room door. You see a fat dude in a crazy bear costume apparently going down on a nicely dressed man who's lying down on the bed. The camera zooms in with the shot below giving the viewer one of the biggest "What the hell?" spooky moments that's ever appeared on film. What's even scarier is that in real life, there's a legion of folks who like to dress up as fuzzy beasts and (expletive deleted) each other called Furries. Hopefully Senator John McCain's "Anti-Furry Act" will be voted into law next year, so those demonspawn can be removed from the earth once and for all.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#60 PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985)
LARGE MARGE SENT ME
One wouldn't think you'd find anything too terrifying in a movie like Pee Wee's Big Adventure, but it contains one of the best cheap out of nowhere scares because you don't figure it'd be there. Pee Wee is hitchhiking at night, and accepts a ride from a grizzled old trucker lady, who tells him the following spooky tale:
"On this very night, ten years ago, along this very stretch of road in a dense fog just like this. I saw the worst accident I ever seen. There was this sound, like a garbage truck dropped off the Empire State Building...And when they pulled the driver's body from the twisted, burning wreck. It looked like this..."
#59 JAWS (1975)
WE'RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT
This is such an awesome scary scene. Roy Scheider's character is busy throwing blobs of bloody chum into the water to attract the shark, while he's jabbering away. Suddenly, the huge great white pops up to eat some of it while he's in mid-throw simultaneously scaring the crap out of Schieder and the audience. As he walks to the captain in shock, he utters the classic line, "We're gonna need a bigger boat." Talk about stating the obvious.
#58 PSYCHO (1960)
TIME TO MEET NORMAN'S MOTHER
Throughout Psycho, you can hear Norman Bates arguing with his mother. The poor henpecked Norman is belittled consistently by her when he visits her in the house behind Bates Motel. Lila Crane is worried about the disappearance of her sister, who was last seen at Bates Motel. When a local tells her that Bates' mother died years ago, she's amazed since she heard him speaking with her just the day before. As her boyfriend distracts Norman, she enters the home, looking throughout the rooms trying to find some clue as to what the hell is going on. In the basement, she finds Mrs. Bates sitting alone with her back turned. Slowly the chair spins around revealing Mrs. Bates in a pretty horrible state.
Of course, Lila screams her head off and the lightbulb swinging back and forth overhead makes the shadows even scarier. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Norman makes his appearance, in drag, ready for some hot hot slashing action!
Slasher pictures were pretty unusual for the time, but slashers that dressed up like their dead mother were just plain mindbending. I can only imagine how screwed up and shocked the audiences from 1960 were that saw this for the first time!
#57 THE EXORCIST (1973)
# 56 PSYCHO (1960)
Perhaps one of the scariest scenes in The Exorcist was a small scene that most people can't even recall seeing. While Father Karras is walking up the stairs from a subway, and has a vision of his mother, there's a single frame spliced in with this scary face. You can barely notice it when you're watching the film, but you get a strange chill when you do.
Alfred Hitchcock employed a similar technique with Psycho, 13 years before. While the camera fades away from the institutionalized Norman Bates at the end of the film, you can see a skull superimposed onto his face for a couple frames of film.
#55 THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
Betrayed one too many times by his brother Fredo, Michael Corleone realizes that its time to do away with him once and for all. Fredo knows his days are numbered, and begs to speak with Michael, before Al Neri carries out the hit. The scene that follows is extremely unnerving and powerful, as you can see how empty and evil Michael has become. Michael embraces his brother one last time, but the look in his eyes, is one of pure emptiness, as if he's said goodbye to his soul, once and for all.
CUT TO: Inside the house MICHAEL walks toward FREDO who's sitting in a chair, smoking.
CUT TO: MICHAEL looking at FREDO.
CUT TO: FREDO looking up at MICHAEL.
CUT TO: The brothers looking at each other.
CUT TO: MICHAEL moving close to FREDO.
CUT TO: MICHAEL putting his hand around FREDO's head.
CUT TO: MICHAEL and FREDO embracing.
CUT TO: MICHAEL looking down.
CUT TO: FREDO tightening his grip.
CUT TO: MICHAEL looks up at AL NERI.
CUT TO: AL NERI understands and looks at the ground.
CUT TO: TOM walks towards the Boat house.
CUT TO: TOM looking out at FREDO and ANTHONY.
CUT TO: FREDO explaining to ANTHONY how to fish.
CUT TO: TOM walking into the boat house.
Coppola almost does Shakespeare better than Shakespeare in this sequence. Just goes to show you that you don't need bloody hallways and an army of undead zombies to make a scary scene (not that I have any problem with that, mind you).
#54 THE CHANGELING (1980)
WHEELCHAIR AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS
Something so simple as a wheelchair on top of a staircase provides for a genuinely chilling moment in the 1980 film, The Changeling. The rickety old wheelchair chases a woman down the stairs, and shows up repeatedly in surprisingly scary moments. You'll certainly never look at a wheelchair the same way again. I get shivers when I look at the symbols on handicapped parking spaces because of this.
#53 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974)
WELCOME TO THE BONEROOM
Marilyn Burns may be the best cinematic screamer in horror film history. The poor gal had to scream so much in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, its a wonder she didn't turn mute. While TCM gives her plenty of chances to wail like a banshee as Leatherface chases her, and the infamous dinner scene, the way she reacts while looking at her surroundings in the "boneroom" is amazing. The filthy random bits of human remains are a mind-bending look at the pure hell that awaits her. The way the scene is shot is fantastic, as she's thrust into the room, and slowly realizes the carnage that decorates the place at the same time the viewer does. Many will tell you that this movie was based on a true story, this moment is the only part even close to the story of Ed Gein, who took gruesome souvenirs from the local graveyard and made horrific decorations with them.
#52 THE RING (2002)
LOOK WHAT I FOUND IN MY CLOSET
Early in the film, during a wake, Naomi Watts' character is speaking to the mother of her deceased niece while they're in the kitchen. The domestic tranquility puts you at ease, as she comforts her in her time of grief. The mother then describes what it was like to find her daughter in the closet. The viewer is then shown a brief flashback sequence with one of the most disturbing looking corpse photos I've ever seen. Her blank eyes, and huge gaping mouth (that looks as if the bottom jaw was removed, leaving the skin to hang there like a deflated balloon), is nightmare material of the highest caliber.
#51 JAWS (1975)
SKINNY-DIPPIN' SHARK FOOD
What a great way to start out this classic! After a night of beach front drinking, a pretty gal flirts with a way too drunk dude and runs off into the water as she strips off her clothes. He's so blitzed he can't follow her out there, and just passes out in the sand. While she plays around in the gentle night ocean, something grabs her foot. Soon she's pulled under water, then chomped to bits, as bloody goo froths to the surface. The shark is barely seen, but it sets the tone for the rest of the film wonderfully. This scene may have scared more swimmers than any other moment in film history. Taking a cue from some of the great films of the early 50s, sometimes it's what you don't see, that's the scariest.
This screams from actress Susan Backlinie are extra realistic, since she broke her ribs on the harness that yanked her about in the water (which was pulled around violently on ropes held by the crew).
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#50 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
WEREWOLF ATTACK IN THE MOORS
Walking through the dark is always a scary experience when you're in a strange place, but when you also happen to be walking through the a foggy moors while a werewolf rips your friend apart in front of your eyes, its even worse! It's a masterfully crafted scene. You can hear the wolf howling in the distance and it gets closer and closer until its too late!
The entire film is a great blend of black comedy and horror, while Rick Baker's werewolf effects are still amazing even by today's standards. Also, don't miss out on the hilarious scenes set in "The Slaughtered Lamb" pub before this fateful event.
#49 TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975)
ATTACK OF THE ZUNI FETISH DOLL
In 1975, an ABC Movie of The Week called TRILOGY OF TERROR aired featuring 3 different short horror themed stories. All of them starred Karen Black. Though the first two were as entertaining as you'd expect a made for TV spooky story to be, the third story ranks up there as one of the scariest TV broadcasts ever made.
Long long before CHUCKY or PUPPETMASTER was the ZUNI FETISH DOLL, and it's appearance in that 3rd segment was mindbending. Black's character buys the doll to give to her boyfriend. Unfortunately, a tag is around the neck of the creepy looking toy warning of the doom the owner faces if it the tag ever falls off.
Of course, it would be a pretty lame segment if the tag remained intact, so after it falls off, the freaky little dude comes to life and chases Black around her apartment with his tiny little knife like a gremlin. He stabs at her feet, and whizzes around while he growls and gnashes his teeth like a Tasmanian Devil. Though she manages to trap the dude in a suitcase, he cuts his way out before she finally tricks him into jumping inside the oven.
Think it's over there? NO (expletive deleted) WAY! As she cooks him alive, his spirit comes out and possesses her, making her a psycho freak ready for anyone who's stupid enough to open the door of her apartment.
Though the animation and camera tricks that brought the ZUNI FETISH DOLL to life are a bit silly by today's standards, it certainly did its share to scare kids of the day back then. What sane kid could look at their action figures in the dark and not wonder if they'd befall a similar fate?
Dan Curtis, who directed the first movie, made a sequel a few years back TRILOGY OF TERROR II, and of course, brought back the ZUNI FETISH DOLL for another round of ankle-stabbing action.
THE SIMPSONS even parodied the doll in a special Halloween episode where a Krusty Doll goes bad.
#48 THE EXORCIST (1973)
PEA SOUP PUKE-A-BRATION!
Though there's been many classic repulsive vomit scenes in film history, from Seth Brundle puking on a donut before he eats it in The Fly, to the infamous tale of a pie eating contest gone bad in Stand By Me, but none has the sheer unexpected repulsiveness of Linda Blair projectile vomiting a geyser of pea-soup in The Exorcist. If you ever get a chance to rent the DVD, check out the great "Making Of" features that show how they pulled off this amazing effect with a pump that could shoot massive amounts of actual pea soup (that's really what they used).
#47 ERASERHEAD (1977)
THE SCARIEST LOOKING BABY EVER
Eraserhead is just one big twisted nightmare. The creepy sense of dread that permeates this black and white world of shadows is David Lynch's masterpiece. Though not a horror film, per se, the bad dreams that float about within this 1977 debut work from the Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet director is full of shivers. The centerpiece of which revolves around a baby that Jack Nance's character has to watch in his apartment. Of course you have to use the term "baby" loosely, as it resembles some sort of aborted love-child of ET and a pig. Some folks say the baby was crafted from the fetus of a calf, but to this day, Lynch refuses to talk about how it was made.
Not only is it hard to look at it, but its rather difficult to listen to as well, since the baby cries an unearthly wail at all hours of the night, keeping the protagonist from sleeping. At one point, the baby is sick and looks to be rotting and covered with maggots!
With the exception of "Baby's Day Out", this may be the scariest movie about a baby of all time. Perhaps with the success of Freddy vs. Jason, some creative Hollywood types will release ERASERHEAD vs. IT'S ALIVE BABY!
#46 SALEM'S LOT (1979)
VAMPIRE BOY FLOATS OUTSIDE WINDOW
Salem's Lot was originally going to be a theatrically released production, but when the remakes of Dracula and Nosferatu were going to come out that same year, the decision was made to make it a TV film. The geniuses at the network put together a commercial that included this horribly scary scene of an undead boy floating outside of the window. I was 10 years old at the time, and from only seeing a 1 second clip of this in the commercial, it scared the (expletive deleted) out of me. I wasn't able to sleep at all that night and some of the next, for fear this evil kid was going to come in through my window! I saw it years later and was still scared. The way he smiles and scratches his fingernails on the glass is a moment of pure terror.
#45 POLTERGEIST (1982)
IF KEEP PICKING, IT'S NEVER GONNA HEAL!
Things have already started to go crazy in Poltergeist, so some paranormal experts are brought in to the Freeling home with fancy equipment to see what they can find. One of the researches gets the munchies and grabs a chicken drumstick from the fridge to munch on. He places it down after he sees a steak crawling across the counter, and is horrified to see his chicken is now covered with maggots! He runs to the bathroom to puke and his face looks decayed in the mirror, so he does what any sane person would do... CLAW THE FLESH OFF HIS FACE! Good thing it was just a horrible vision, because not even Botox would undo the damage he caused.
#44 REPULSION (1965)
DELUSIONS OF MADNESS
Roman Polanski's Repulsion is a great slow brooding look into madness and hallucination. Catherine Deneuve plays a mute woman who is freaking out inside of an apartment with visions and fantasies of rape and murder. With no dialogue to speak of in these scenes, you're completely sucked into the atmosphere of terror she's experiencing. There's a ton of creepy events, which you, along with the main character, often wonder if they're really happening, or not, but one of the best is when she's looking into a shiny reflection, then suddenly sees someone standing behind her.
#43 FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)
JASON POPS OUT OF THE WATER
Ah, the one that started it all. Here we get to learn how the unstoppable killing machine named Jason Voorhees got his start. Many people don't know that Jason didn't get his hockey mask until the 3rd installment of the long series, and that it was his vengeful mother that did all the killing in the first film. Of course, just when everything is all calm and seemingly resolved at the end of Episode One, the hideous rotten and decomposed body of Jason pops out of the water, scaring the hell out of everyone.
#42 SEVEN (1996)
In Seven, a serial killer is creating morbidly artistic murders based on the famous Seven Deadly Sins. When the crime scene for the SLOTH themed killing is uncovered, it's horrific beyond belief. A corpse is found strapped to a bed with a huge amount of photographs detailing his day to day suffering and eventual decay. The sick (expletive deleted) who killed him was keeping him barely alive with an IV tube while he documented his lingering death. Or did he? Taken completely off guard, you can't help but scream when the victim pops up and moans! Holy (expletive deleted), he's still alive! At least for now... Just to think someone had to endure this sort of torture if beyond belief, but to get the heart stopping surprise makes this scene extra scary.
#41 RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)
STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU
Though Quentin Tarantino's debut film is hardly a scary film, per se, the infamous ear-cutting scene ranks up there with some of the all time classics. While a cop is kept tied and bound to a chair with duct tape, Vic Vega (played wonderfully by Michael Madsen), decides to cut his ear off. The scene unfolds as Vega dances to the Steeler's Wheel tune, "Stuck in The Middle", which adds a bit of levity, until the dude's ear is finally sliced off in a tremendously hard to watch bit of agony.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#40 KING KONG (1933)
KING KONG SHAKES HIS BIG LOG
As the first great American giant monster movie, King Kong had a ton of great scares for audiences that had never seen anything like it. Though by today's standards, the animation of Kong often has more charm than chills, it still holds up as a pretty scary treat. A favorite scene of many is when the rescue party is running across a giant log, and Kong, on the other side, begins rocking and shaking it violently making most of them fall to their death into the valley below.
#39 THE THING (1982)
THE HEAD GROWS LEGS AND RUNS AWAY!
You know, when you're performing an autopsy, you just don't expect the head to sprout crazy spider legs, then run down the hallway. In John Carpenter's remake of The Thing, nothing is ever what it seems, using elements from Invasion of The Body Snatchers with incredible special effects, the movie is full of amazing scares, but the crazy crawly spider-head is one of the best.
#38 28 DAYS LATER (2002)
WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYBODY?
The opening moments of 28 Days Later are scary in quite the poetic way. Though movies where angry hordes of crazy zombies crawling the streets are a way of life in the horror genre, the eerie calm start of this film works achieves chills with an opposite approach. After emerging from a coma, Jim finds himself in an empty hospital that's a shambles. He ventures outside, and nobody's there. In fact, all of London looks as if everybody disappeared. Some newspapers lying about suggest an evacuation to avoid some horrible menace took place, but it's unclear to Jim exactly what the hell happened. He seeks refuge in a church, and sees a mass of dead bodies. Only something is moving...
#37 THE CELL (2000)
A HORSE IS A HORSE, OF COURSE OF COURSE
Not since the rarely seen 1964 gore classic, "Mr. Ed Gets Cut Up To (expletive deleted) By A Machete", has a horse diced apart scared movie audiences as this scene did in The Cell. J-Lo is able to put on a special suit that lets her visit the dreams and nightmares of patients she's helping out, and finds that she gets more than she bargained for. In this horrific scene, she arrives in a room with a beautiful brown horse standing peacefully. Out of nowhere, giant glass barriers emerge and cut the stud into about 20 neat pieces, each of which stays suspended in mid-air in all of it's bloody equine glory.
#36 SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
A NICE CHIANTI...WITH FAVA BEANS
Anthony Hopkins has made a great career out of being the creepy Hannibal Lecter, but it's his debut in Silence of The Lambs that makes the scariest impression. While Jody Foster's character, Clarice Starling, interviews the madman, who's kept in a cell behind a thick glass wall, he begins to taunt her, uttering the classic line, "A census taker once tried to test me, I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." He then makes a chilling sucking sound with his mouth that always inspired a nice jump from the movie audience. Perhaps the only scarier scene he's been in, was the revolting sex footage he filmed with the ravishing Nicole Kidman in The Human Stain. Who the hell wants to see that?
#35 POLTERGEIST (1982)
POOL PARTY OF THE UNDEAD
Near the climax of Poltergeist, Jo Beth Williams (who just left her house after being thrown about her ceiling wearing just her shirt and underwear), falls into the giant rain filled whole that will soon be the family swimming pool, in their backyard. At first she's screaming because the chlorine levels are too low, but soon dead bodies start popping up like an undead whack-a-mole game, twisting her mind apart.
#34 THE RING (2002)
DON'T TOUCH THAT DIAL!
Though Poltergeist started the whole deadly television thing 20 years earlier, The Ring took it up a notch by featuring a videotape that would bring death to anyone that viewed it 7 days later. At the heart of the mystery is a strange girl named Samara who was drowned in a well many years before. Near the film's end, she fulfills the videotaped promise in a heart-stopping fashion. I've heard many folks call this the scariest scene they've ever seen in a movie. Though it certainly ranks up there, I didn't feel it deserved the Top 10 status that many folks were clamoring for. But its a nice spooky clip that deserves notice, nonetheless.
#33 INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984)
BUGS! BUGS! EVERYWHERE!
Raiders of the Lost Ark had some great moments where Indy was trapped in a room full of snakes, so Spielberg was hard pressed to come up with something in the second installment to raise the bar. He accomplished the goal brilliantly by casting every bug that ever lived in a horrible series of scenes where Indy and Short Round (who was already scary to listen to with his annoying shrill voice), and then the equally excruciating Kate Capshaw are trapped in a room full of insects galore! Spiders, scorpions, roaches, even scabies were there to crawl on every inch of these poor actors!
#32 THE EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)
TIME FOR A LITTLE GRAB-ASH
Let it be said that Bruce Campbell is one of the greatest physical comedians since Dick Van Dyke and Buster Keaton. His gory slapstick work in The Evil Dead films are a thing of beauty, and help sell the insane action incredibly well. Evil Dead 2 is full of great moments, like when his hand is possessed and starts breaking plates over his face, or when he chases that hand (which he cut off with a chainsaw) around the house with a shotgun. In a tremendously cool "Gotcha!" moment, his character Ash is looking in the mirror when the reflection reaches out and grabs him by the neck!
#31 THE EXORCIST (1973)
REGAN PERFORMS UNSPEAKABLE ACTS WITH A CROSS
As an all time horror classic, The Exorcist is chock full of extremely scary scenes. This one also has the distinction of being one of the more shockingly offensive moments ever captured on film, as well. After repeatedly thrusting a silver crucifix between her legs shouting, "Let Jesus (expletive deleted) YOU!", she grabs her mother's face and rubs it in her bloody crotch! Had she only (expletive deleted) on a picture of The Pope, it would have been the most blasphemous scene in movie history.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#30 ALIEN (1979)
HEY...WHAT'S INSIDE THAT EGG?
Early in Ridley Scott's Alien, the crew of the Nostromo stumbles on a bizarre nest of eggs. A particularly curious member gets a closer look after one of the crazy looking things opens up. Like a fleshy jack in the box, a creature called a "face-hugger" jumps up and lives up to his namesake. And as you can see, he doesn't come off too easily. And when he does...things manage to get worse.
#29 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)
THE PHANTOM'S FACE REVEALED!
Lon Chaney is certainly one of the great actors of the early film era, and a godfather of monster movies, but it's his work as one of the greatest makeup magicians of all time that is is greatest legacy. The shocking scene where he removes his mask in Phantom of The Opera is a scene of horrific beauty. Chaney not only did his own makeup, but he devised many clever face changing effects like pulling his nostrils back with hair-pins. To audiences not yet used to something called a monster movie, Phantom of the Opera was a chilling masterpiece.
Chaney's reappearance later in the film at a ball dressed as The Masque of the Red Death is pretty damn spooky as well.
LON CHANEY TRIVIA!
Chaney was the original choice for Tod Browning's Dracula, and only after his death was the part given to Bela Lugosi instead!
Lon Chaney mentored the young Boris Karloff extensively, helping him to get his start in movies.
Chaney's parents were both deaf mutes, which may have helped him learn skills to be such an expressive actor in silent movies.
#28 THE SHINING (1980)
Jack Nicholson pulls off the greatest ad lib of all time, when he hacks through a bathroom door with an axe and screams, "Herrrrreee's Johnny!" According to the IMDB, set designers originally had a prop door that would be easier to hack through, but Nicholson became so good at swinging the axe, that the fake one would shatter to bits after a couple of hits, so a real one was finally used instead.
Nicholson's ability to get into the character and add things on his own have helped make Jack Torrance one of the all time great movie psychos. The scene where he's screwing around and throwing a tennis ball over and over again instead of writing is a great example of this, as the script merely said, "Jack's not working". Nicholson improvised the whole thing.
Of course, when you've got Shelly Duvall screaming in your ear, it's pretty easy to get the inspiration to be murderous.
#27 TWILIGHT ZONE THE MOVIE (1983)
WANNA SEE SOMETHING REALLY SCARY?
Twilight Zone The Movie had a built in notoriety to it before it was released, as a helicopter crash killed its star Vic Morrow and 2 children on the set. Perhaps with the audience focusing so much attention focused on that segment, they were taken completely off guard during an opening segment with Dan Akroyd and Albert Brooks yukking it up in a their car while driving in the night. As they reminisce about their favorite Twilight Zone episodes of yesteryear, Akroyd asks Brooks, "You wanna see something REALLY scary?" Of course, Brooks agrees, and as they pull over to the side of the road, Akroyd shows him. Needless to see the surprise definitely lives up to the hype.
#26 DRACULA (1931)
RENFIELD IS DISCOVERED ON A SHIP OF DEATH
Renfield is one of the all time great hanger-ons. Made in to a vampire slave by Dracula while visiting him on real estate business, the poor schmuck is enslaved by the count and forced to eat bugs to live. Though I personally find much of Lugosi's performance as Dracula laughable, there's a tremendously eerie scene when a ship carrying Renfield and the count arrives in England. Authorities find that every single member of the crew has been killed, and they stumble on the sole survivor, Renfield, who is at his creepy and maniacal best.
An interesting bit of Dracula trivia for you. This film was the first truly licensed version of Bram Stoker's classic novel. In fact, Nosferatu, which was made 9 years prior, was the subject of an intense legal battle from Stoker's widow which resulted in a judgment that required all existing copies of the film to be destroyed (luckily, they failed). Universal didn't have enough cash to do a very good adaptation of the book, however, so they opted to base the film on the stage version of the tale, instead.
#25 HALLOWEEN (1978)
MICHAEL MYERS DRESSES UP LIKE A GHOST
I never found Michael Myers to be all that scary. His emotionless unstoppable killing machine persona wears a bit thin rather quickly. But you have to acknowledge the fine work John Carpenter did for launching the modern slasher genre in 1978 with the classic, Halloween. There's plenty of "is he really dead yet?" moments that fuel a bunch of the movie's scares, but I particularly enjoy when Michael puts on the old fashioned ghost sheet while wearing glasses, before he chokes a poor lass to death with a phone cord. I think it would have been cool if he kept his look for the remainder of the film, as well.
#24 SUSPIRIA (1977)
THE MOST ARTISTIC ON SCREEN DEATH OF ALL
Suspiria is one of the most atmospheric horror films of them all. Made by genius Italian director Dario Argento, the film starts off as a ballet dancer from New York arrives in Italy on a stormy night. She's driven to the dance studio by a creepy cab driver, and is mysteriously turned away by the proprietor via the intercom on the porch. Suddenly, we shift gears to a completely different who runs to a friend's place, in a panic. We don't get the whole story, but apparently she needs to leave first thing in the morning because of some unspeakably disturbing events she's been through.
She seeks refuge in the bathroom and keeps sensing something is outside the window. She's about 3 stories up, so even as the viewer, you think she's pretty safe. Out of nowhere a set of creepy eyes appear in the night air. A hand grabs her through the glass and begins smothering her face against the pane while her friend struggles in vain to get in the room to help.
She's then dragged to the top of a stained glass window, and stabbed repeatedly, at one point with her heart fully exposed, you have to see th blade plunge directly in. A noose is wrapped 'round her neck, then she's kicked through the window, falling down, killing both her and her friend who watches it all unfold underneath.
Argento's use of color and artistic eye makes this one of the more beautifully composed death scenes ever filmed.
#23 A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
FREDDY KRUEGER'S LONG ARMS
The Nightmare on Elm Street series is actually full of high comedy. The creative death scenes and gruesome effects galore, coupled with Robert Englund's witty delivery make for an amusing as well as thrilling horror franchise. But there's a scene in the first film where Freddy Krueger is walking in the night with freakishly long outstretched arms that is one of my favorites.
Cajun wrestling phenom Lash LeRoux wrote to us, "Without a doubt, one of the scariest movie moments for me, was in 'Nightmare on Elm Street,' when Freddy chases his first victim. For some reason, I remember his arms being a lot longer than they should have been, and the way they swung back and forth while he was running made the experience that much scarier. It was like his arms could reach forward and grab you at any moment he wanted them to!"
#22 THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988)
BURIED ALIVE WITH A TARANTULA
The Serpent and the Rainbow is a nice change of pace from your typical zombie movies, as it discards the comet or secret army gas type source of creating the living dead, and explores the true origins of the zombie mythology within Haiti. Based on a true story from a book of the same name (and highly fictionalized in the actual movie), it's full of some creepy funky voodoo action. In real life, a researcher found that a poison made from a local blowfish could be used by a Voodoo Priest to bring someone to a near death state. The funeral would be held and the subject subsequently buried. The Priest would then bring the subject back to life, still drugged and zonked out of his mind, and the poor victim's families would soon be hit up for cash by the Priest so he could finally put the man's "undead" soul to rest.
Wes Craven adapted the book to film, and it starts with tremendous promise, but devolves into your standard cookie cutter kill the unstoppable bad guy flick at the end. Regardless, the movie has one of my personal favorite scary scenes.
Bil Pullman plays a scientist named Dennis Alan who gets in over his head. Alan eventually becomes victim and is paralyzed, and while he's laying down in a coffin, about to be buried alive, a tarantula is dropped on his face while his eyes are wide open. He can't move as the creature crawls and then stays there. Soon the coffin lid is shut leaving Alan to suffer with the hairy companion on his face, unable to get it off, or escape.
#21 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
While the ending of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers had a horribly dismal ending in which the main character is left all alone, knowing that the entire earth has been taken over by pod people, the ending of the equally chilling 1978 remake goes out with a nice twist on the first version. If you've seen it before, you know exactly what I mean, and if you haven't, it'd be criminal to tell you. I was able to pick up the DVD for a paltry $7.99 at the mall, so I'm sure you can find it on the cheap as well.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#20 FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
PRIVATE PYLE'S HAD ENOUGH
This scary moment comes courtesy of Stanley Kubrick at the end of Full Metal Jacket's second act. Vincent D'Onofrio plays the overweight, can't seem to get it right loser nicknamed Private Pyle who is humiliated beyond comprehension by Sgt. Hartman played by the inimitable R. Lee Ermey. The last straw breaks when Private Joker (played by Matthew Modine) stumbles on Pyle sitting in the bathroom in the dead of night, holding a rifle, and smiling as if he's possessed by the devil. Sgt. Hartman hears the commotion and enters, and uses his expert negotiating tactics by belittling Pyle more than ever before screaming, "What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?!! Didn't Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?!!!"
Pyle answers by shooting Hartman in the chest. After pointing the gun at Private Joker, he slumps back down and shoots himself in the head.
#19 WILLIE WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1971)
BOATRIDE TO HELL!
A while ago, Saturday Night Live did a sketch parodying the 20th Anniversary release DVD of Willie Wonka. While showing a bogus outtake from the famous boat scene, the actor portraying Wonka breaks character and exclaims, "This is supposed to be a kid's movie, RIGHT?"
As Wonka brings the kids and their parents on a boat ride, he begins shouting insane poetry while nightmarish imagery is projected on the walls. While just moments before the characters were delighted with giant lollipops and rivers made of chocolate, they now see such wholesome goodness as chickens getting their heads cut off, and enough psychotic LSD induced visions to bring Jerry Garcia back to life. Many versions of the film were edited to remove the chicken head cutting scene, while when FOX Family Channel aired the film, the entire boat sequence was removed.
Needless to say, it still holds up. When my kids were watching this for the first time with me last year, my 3 year old son thought it got too scary at this part and left the room.
It'll be interesting if the rumors of Tim Burton remaking this flick are true. Lord knows how twisted, he'll make it.
And let me just take a minute to praise the work of Gene Wilder. Such a great understated comic genius, and from interviews I've seen, he seems like a genuinely kind and great man.
#18 NOSFERATU (1922)
SHADOWS OF THE VAMPIRE
9 years before Universal Studios released Dracula, FW Murnau made an unauthorized version of Bram Stoker's classic novel called Nosferatu. The character's name was changed to Count Orlock, but it stole enough of the original tale to invoke the wrath of Stoker's widow. After a successful lawsuit, the judge ordered all copies of the film destroyed. Luckily a few prints survived for the world to enjoy.
The silent film is grainy and spooky as hell! The use of shadows, typical of many German films of the time, creates a sense of dread not possible with a more crisp color film. There's actually quite a few cool scenes in this film, but my favorite is when the guy is cringing above and you see the eerie long fingernails of Orlock creeping up the wall, revealing the shadow of his bald head and pointy ears, ready to strike.
#17 MISERY (1990)
THE HOBBLING SCENE
Though some would argue her nude hot-tub scene in About Schmidt is scarier, nobody can deny that the infamous "Hobbling Scene" in Misery is certainly one of the most painful scenes ever captured on film. When I first saw this, the entire audience screamed, "AAAAGHHHHHHHHHHHH!" in unison at the climax of this scene. Here's how it plays out. Annie Wilkes is pissed because her favorite author Paul Sheldon (played by James Caan), who is recovering from a car accident, tried to escape her "hospitable" care. How could this dirty bird do such a thing to his NUMBER ONE FAN?
She places a large board between his ankles, that are already strapped to the bed.
Takes a large swing just like Jason Giambi (only she actually connects)...
Smacks his ankle so hard it knocks it 90 degrees to the left.
Needless to say, it kind of hurts! There's actually a dinner theater version of Misery playing right here in Sacramento (my proud hometown) on a riverboat. I can think of no better event to watch while I'm eating a steak dinner, than watching a man get his ankle blown apart by a sledgehammer! If you get a chance, catch the Saturday Night Live episode in which Roseanne Barr and Dana Carvey do an excellent Misery parody (she's the Church Lady's Number One Fan).
#16 THE THING (1982)
BLOOD RUNS COLD
John Carpenter's remake of The Thing is a great take on the "who can you trust" angle, as the monster can take many forms, including hiding inside the bodies of the poor jerks stuck in the artic science. After learning of a test that can be performed on blood to see if the "Thing Virus" is present, the likely subjects are tied up and their blood put into separate Petri dishes for checking. Slowly the test is performed on each dish full of blood, until the last one, which comes up positive. But instead of turning a special color like a pregnancy test, the results are far more shocking. The fluid erupts upward like a bloody jack in the box, scaring the hell out of anyone watching.
I hear a lot of horror fans badmouth remaking classic horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and their ilk with a sort of "How Dare They?" attitude, but Carpenter's Thing shows that with the right amount of skill and creativity, it can work incredibly well.
#15 INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)
YOU'RE NEXT! YOU'RE NEXT!!!!!
The ending of the 1956 classic Invasion of The Body Snatchers is one of the most dismal of any horror film. There's no happy conclusion or triumph over the evil menace that's taking over the world, just despair. As Kevin McCarthy's character, Dr. Miles J. Bannell, tries to get help, as everyone he knows has been replaced with pod people, he runs to the street and warns passerbys in their vehicles, only to find that they're all pod people, too. "They're already here! You're NEXT! YOU'RE NEXT!!!" he screams, finally looking at the camera before the film finally ends.
#14 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
WHAT THE HELL IS SHAKING THE TENT?
While many folks point to end of The Blair Witch Project as one of the scariest scenes in film, it always makes me laugh. The abrupt ending where the guy is just standing there against the wall, looks like he's going pee. No, the real scariest scene takes place much earlier in the movie, when the campers are sitting in their tent, lost, alone and afraid. They think something's out there following them, and they have absolutely no idea what it is. Suddenly, out of nowhere, something outside starts violently shaking their tent. After the three of them scream their heads off and crap their pants, they just run out blind from fear into the darkness. The scene works on so many levels. Whether its something supernatural that caused the disturbance, or just some guy that was following them around to shake the tent, it's scary as hell no matter how you slice it.
#13 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
"THEY'RE COMING TO GET YOU, BARBARA!"
The opening sequence of the original Night of the Living Dead is a thing of beauty. Barbara and her brother Johnny are making their annual 3 hour drive to visit their father's grave. While Barbara is suitably somber for the occasion, Johnny is just bored and thinks the whole thing is a horrible waste of time. In the background, you see a guy walking around slowly, if not aimlessly, just thinking he's a caretaker or another mourner. As Johnny teases his sister, the figure gets closer and attacks Barbara. Though zombies have existed sporadically in films previously, this is the zombie that lays the groundwork for every modern zombie ever made.
The scene starts so playfully, almost like something out of a sitcom, but once Johnny is killed and the lightning flashes, illuminating the zombie's face, all bets are off. I can barely walk in a graveyard without thinking of this moment. Certainly Night of The Living Dead did for cemeteries, what Jaws did for water, and Psycho did for showers.
#12 THE EXORCIST (1973)
LINDA BLAIR'S HEAD SPINS!
For some crazy reason, my parents thought this was an OK movie for me to watch when I was only 9 years old. I was literally unable to sleep for 2 nights after seeing this film, for fear that the devil would possess me if I didn't stay awake. Though the film is stocked with scares from top to bottom, this is the one that does it for most. It's just so freakish to see someone's head spin around in such an physically impossible fashion like this, how could you not freak out.
#11 DELIVERANCE (1972)
NED BEATTY SQUEALS LIKE A PIG
Poor Ned Beatty. Despite having a respectable acting career that spans 30 years, it's his "Squeal Like a Pig" rape scene in his debut film Deliverance that he'll be most remembered for. Aside from being eaten by a great white shark, the thing men fear the most is hillbilly rape. The seen is just insane, as poor ol' chubby Ned is squealing while getting poked from behind. Tarantino paid a clear homage to it in Pulp Fiction when Ving Rhames got a bit of hillbilly lovin in the basement of a gun shop, as well.
What's weird is that Beatty continued to be featured in rape scenes throughout the rest of his career. He was raped by Richard Pryor in Silver Streak, Gene Hackman in Superman, Christopher Reeve in Superman II, and both Gene Hackman AND Christopher Reeve in Superman III.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
Ironically, this version made Frank look even more like a monster because you never knew what he did to cause her death. The cut version actually prevented viewers from seeing the Frank's "human side"
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
#10 THE SHINING (1980)
WHAT'S INSIDE ROOM #237?
"There ain't nothing in Room 237, but you ain't got no business going in there anyway, so stay out! You understand, stay out!"
We hear that warning from Scatman Crothers to young Danny Torrance early in The Shining, and it's not until later that we understand why.
Jack goes inside and sees a gorgeous beauty naked in the bathtub. She comes out and embraces him, and Jack really digs it.
Until he looks at the reflection in the mirror and notices that the woman is now a reanimated rotting old lady!
He breaks away as she chases him out of the room, and subsequently keeps him from ever getting an erection again.
#9 THE EXORCIST III (1990)
The Exorcist III had the unfortunate advantage of being made after the horrible Exorcist II: The Heretic. Written and directed by Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, it's got some incredibly chilling moments. I had heard a lot about the "nurse scene" from friends but had never seen it until recently. A testament to how scary it is lies in the fact that I was fast forwarding the DVD to find it, fully expected to see something scary, and was still scared (expletive deleted) once I found it.
It's a great setup. A nurse makes her nighttime rounds at the asylum. After a false "GOTCHA!" scare when a man pops up from his bed to talk with her, you see a long lingering shot down the hallway in which she fiddles around with stuff at her desk, interacts with a security guard, then walks back to the hall. She enters a patient's room to the left, and after about 4 seconds, comes out again, looking no worse for the wear. Only immediately behind her is some crazy dude wearing a strange white robe, carrying large shears. Right before he cuts her head off, the shot cuts to an image of a headless statue. It's a beatifully scary moment that doesn't fail to make your heart skip a beat.
#8 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
NOT ENOUGH BULLETS IN THE WORLD
As the characters in Night of The Living Dead are stuck inside a barricaded house, Ben, played by the late great Duane Jones tries to keep his head while a zombie's arms reach between the boards covering up a window. He fires 2 shots into its chest, with no effect, so he empties the barrel right into the freak's head, finally stopping it. The camera shot goes outside and you see a horde of zombies appear from behind the trees. A naked lady, crazy looking old guys, and a woman who eats bugs off a tree are shown. At this moment, the situation turns hopeless. There's not enough bullets to take care of all of them.
It also sets up the zombie mythology for nearly every other undead film from that point forward. The feeling of hopelessness as the dead outnumber the living. Ultimately the odds are so stacked against the humans left in the world, that they can do little more than hide, and wait for the inevitable.
#7 JAWS (1975)
SEVERED HEAD FALLS OUT OF THE BOAT
Hooper, played by Richard Dreyfuss, is scuba diving, checking out the wreckage of a recently sunk boat. He finds a giant tooth from the notorious great white shark. There's a giant hole in the boat, showcasing the amazing damage the creature was able to inflict. As the audience marvels at the eeriness of it all...
...the head of the victim floats out, scaring the crap out of Hooper, and everyone watching the movie. This was one of the first good cheap body popping out scares that was copied by Friday The 13th and countless other horror films for years to come.
#6 UN CHIEN ANDALOU (1929)
EYEBALL SLICED WITH A STRAIGHT RAZOR
Nothing makes sense in this collaborative effort from Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel. Un Chien Andalou (which in French means, "Totally Sick Movie About A Chick Who Gets Her Eyeball Sliced Open"), was conceived as a surrealist art project to essentially feature a montage of crazy stuff to shock the hell out of anyone that dared to watch it. It's said that Bunuel brought a bag of rocks to the film's premiere to throw at the audience in case they were too disgusted with it.
The movie features numerous scenes that would make David Lynch envious. A dead calf on top of a piano, ants crawling out of a hole in the hand, and creepy groping are par for the course. But its the opening shot of the film that establishes itself as possibly the earliest (and still most shocking) incident of gore ever captured on film.
A gruesome shot of a straight razor cutting a woman's eye open is interspersed with a narrow dark cloud floating across a full moon. A cow's eye was used in the scene, which was a pioneering example of a gruesome gore effect. Unless you've gone to film school, this is likely a film you've not had the "pleasure" of seeing, but Amazon has it on VHS if you'd like to buy a copy.
#5 POLTERGEIST (1982)
TOY CLOWN ATTACKS BOY UNDER BED
Clowns are scary enough, but when your toy clown strangles you and pulls you under the bed, it's enough to make you want to kill Ronald McDonald out of pure self preservation! This is a wonderfully scary moment near the end of Poltergeist. The lovely daughter of the family has been returned from "The Other Side", and the house apparently cleansed of all evil. Its bedtime, and little Robbie looks at his chair where his clown was sitting, only to see it missing. He looks about the room and with great hesitation, peeks under his bed. But nothing's there! When he gets up the clown is behind him with an evil grin and starts choking the poor kid. Parents, let this be a lesson to NEVER buy a clown doll for your kid (or build a house on top of a cemetery, for that matter).
#4 ALIEN (1979)
Poor Kane (played by John Hurt) really has a rough time of it in Ridley Scott's Alien. First, a creature jumps out of a space egg and attaches itself to his face so well that nobody can figure out how to remove it, then after a couple days, it just disappears. As he eats with the rest of the crew, everything seems all fine and dandy again, until his chest starts heaving as if he just ate a bag of White Castle hamburgers, and an aptly named Chestburster alien pops right out of his tummy. The horrific and gory scene shocked audiences in 1979, and is being re-released in a special director's cut version later this October as well.
#3 THE SHINING (1980)
DANNY RIDES HIS BIG WHEEL DOWN THE HALL
Of all the scenes on my list, this is my personal favorite. Danny is busy passing the time by riding his Big Wheel through the hallways of The Overlook hotel that his family is caretaking for the winter. The sound work is incredibly eerie, as the noise of the wheels alternate as quiet then noisy as he passes over the carpeted, then hard wood floor sections of the floor.
As he reaches the end of the hallway, he's confronted by two girls wearing pretty blue dresses.
The boy's "Shining" powers kick in, and he sees a brutal murder scene in the hallway, that's far beyond his comprehension.
The fact this scene works so well is a testament to the genius of the late Stanley Kubrick. Danny Lloyd, who played Danny, was protected by Kubrick throughout production of The Shining so that he wouldn't be exposed to the horrific images in the film, through clever editing. I recall reading somewhere that he got Danny to give such a fearful reaction for this scene by telling him he was going to spend the night at Michael Jackson's house.
#2 CARRIE (1976)
CARRIE'S HAND POPS OUT OF THE GRAVE
Many films have a great "GOTCHA!" surprise ending, but one of the earliest, and still the best is the end of Carrie. I'll let my good friend Sid Herberger, manager of California's coolest movie theater, The Crest (in Sacramento), take it from here.
"I saw the film for the first time with my mom. We were watching late night TV together and, as the director had intended, had been lulled into thinking that all of the really scary parts of the movie were over and that all was happiness and light. And then, that bloody hand shoots out of the ground and I tell you both my mother and I were out of our chairs and in the air it startled us so much.
Years later, during a Horror Festival at the Crest, CARRIE was on the bill along with a bunch of other films. During the final scene, my staff and I would sneak into the theatre to watch the audience jump in horror. Still a great movie and an awesome scene!"
#1 PSYCHO (1960)
THE SHOWER SCENE
Janet Leigh is taking the shower, relaxing, oblivious to the world when a shadow appears outside the curtain. That mind-bending shrieking violin music starts up and the knife goes in her naked back again, and again, and again. She falls down dead, ripping the shower curtain with her, while her blood swirls down the drain.
By today's jaded standards, the famous shower stabbing scene in Psycho isn't the most lurid thing ever captured on film, but the setup, execution, and sheer surprise value of it all was incredible. Just imagine things 40 years ago, in 1960, a slasher movie was virtually unheard of. Most killing scenes happened off camera, or with knives that seemed to kill with little or no blood. Not to mention that Leigh was the lead actress of the film, and to see her get killed halfway through the film was a tremendous surprise.
How many people have wondered if someone was outside the shower waiting to get them, after they saw this? And hats off to Bernard Hermann, who's eerie score ranks as one of the scariest to be in any movie. His career, which spanned decades, began with creating music for Orson Welles famous "War of the Worlds" broadcast, and continued with "Citizen Kane", "Cape Fear", "Vertigo", and even "Taxi Driver."
I'd like to close with this swell email I got from TV Producer David Kesterson, who's brought us great magic expose specials from "The Masked Magician".
The Movie "Psycho". Year: 1960, Place: Barbers Point, Hawaii. Naval base.
I was 4 years old, my sister was 7 years old, and my brother was 11.
My beloved mother was in the naval hospital having an operation to restore her hearing, after being stone deaf for 8 years. It was visiting hours when we got there, the nurse at the front desk informed my father that children were not allowed in the rooms. My brother pipes up "Dad it's OK. I will take Sue and Dave to the movie, on the base, it's Walt Disney's 'Snow White'. Well my crying stopped right away, it would be my first movie ! So off we went with my Dad's blessing and money for snacks, too.
I was excited beyond words, as we settled down in our seats I gazed all around me, up at the beautiful ceiling and just over all the "MAGIC" that would be my first movie experience. The room was a buzz with people talking (strange there were no other children in the theatre). All of a sudden the lights dimmed and the room fell silent, chills ran down my body as the screen lit up and the movie started. Please keep in mind I am 4 years old and can't read believing I was seeing Walt Disney. Well it wasn't. It was "Psycho"!
Long story short, 2 weeks later my father took us to the Hospital on the way he said he was so proud how we have been behaving, he was going to let us go back to the movie, this week it was Walt Disney's "Pinocchio."
I Flipped out ,Screaming and crying and begging him not to make me go. My dad looked up at my brother and asked him "What was going on". my brother fessed up and my dad explained what really was going on. Then he took me, and I saw a real Walt Disney movie, Not the one a woman gets hacked to death in.
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
Re: 100 Scariest Movie Scenes of All-Time
Looks like "The Shining" might have gotten the most props on this list. Couldn't agree more...Kubrick was the master.
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