Frightened

Every time I think I’ve sussed out the general infrastructure of the scary movie blog world, I stumble upon another interesting writer who has put their unique spin on things. Why is it that horror movies are so much fun to write about? Are there this many blogs dedicated to romantic comedies? I somehow doubt it.

Anyway, there are several memes going around on these blogs, and I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring for one of them. The Horror Digest kicked it all off July 1st with their Top Ten Willy Inducing Moments, then invited the rest of the Internets to chime in.

As Horror Digest author Andre Dumas stated in her original post: “PLEASE NOTE these are willy inducing MOMENTS and not necessarily movies.” With that in mind, here is my personal list of movie scenes that scared the crap out of me. I left off childhood traumas, with the exception of a few scenes that still creep me out today (The Shining). Instead, I chose to focus on scenes that have frightened me fairly recently. I also did not include scenes that were simply gross or disturbing. Anyone can depict sadism or violence onscreen, but it takes something special to make a jaded viewer like myself jump or look away from the screen in sheer fright.

Most importantly, these scenes have all stuck in my subconscious, and come back to haunt me long after I was done watching the films in question.

I guess I’ll list them in chronological order. Most of these have appeared on other lists at this point, but hopefully I will have something unique to say about some of them.

A note about spoilers: I’ve tried not to include any. I also chose pictures that didn’t necessarily depict the scary scenes mentioned. If you want to look up the scenes yourself, there are plenty of pics and videos out there. But I suggest watching the entire films instead. At night. In the dark…

My Top Ten Willy Inducing Moments

1. Black Sabbath (1963): Creepy Ass Old Dead Woman

Cecy and I watched this one not too long ago. Since it’s an older film, we weren’t expecting to be genuinely scared. Thus, we were woefully unprepared for the final sequence, which we now realize is one of the scariest moments in the history of film. I’m pretty sure we both screamed every time they showed this woman’s face.

2. Don’t Look Now (1973): …At Donald Sutherland’s Ass

Actually, I was surprised to find that the gratuitous nudity of Donald Sutherland was not the scariest thing about this film. It was the final scene, which I won’t spoil in case you haven’t seen it. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or scream while watching it. Later, I found myself in a dark, empty warehouse after rehearsing with my band at the time. As I rounded a particularly foreboding corner, I suddenly remembered the ending of this film. It was not a good time.

3. Black Christmas (1974): Don’t Answer the Phone

The psycho phone caller has been done to death, but never as effectively as in this film. Trying to piece together some kind of back story from the garbled sounds coming through the phone is baffling and horrifying. I don’t know what Billy and Agnes did to the baby, nor do I ever want to find out…

The Burnt Offerings house: Available for weddings!

4. Burnt Offerings (1976): Karen Black + Dan Curtis = Aaaaaarrrgh!!!

Shortly after traumatizing legions of television viewers with Trilogy of Terror in 1975, director Dan Curtis re-teamed with star Karen Black for yet another adaptation of literary horror. Once again, they exploited the fact that Black looks scary as hell in makeup for the film’s terrifying finale. As if the reveal of her character’s transformation wasn’t shocking enough, this is followed immediately by some of the most WTF brutal violence I’ve seen in a non-slasher variety horror film.

5. Salem’s Lot (1979): The Scariest/Ugliest Vampire Ever

I absolutely love the novel this TV movie was based on. The film, not so much. But you can’t deny that it has some of the most frightening scenes of any horror movie. This is mainly down to the performance of Reggie Nalder as vampire Kurt Barlow. Taking a step back from the sexy vampire mold, director Tobe Hooper presents us with the creepiest looking bloodsucker since Nosferatu. His first appearance in the jail almost makes me pee my pants every time I see it.

6. The Brood (1979): Evil Teletubbies in the Cupboard

I really want to laugh at these killer kids every time I see them, because they look like demonic Teletubbies. But I can’t laugh, because they are fucking terrifying. The fact that they are a psychic extension of their crazy, territorial mother makes them even more dangerous and horrible. Their penchant for using blunt objects to bludgeon their victims to death doesn’t help either.

7. The Shining (1980): Those Goddamn Little Girls

This has already made several lists, but it deserves to be on mine too, dammit! The first time Danny has one of his fits, while brushing his teeth, is a horrifying moment. Up to that point, nothing scary has happened in the film (besides the opening credit scene, which is terrifying mainly for Wendy Carlos‘s brilliant score). A few relatively uneventful domestic scenes follow the credits. Then, without warning, we are treated to a horrible flashback/premonition of murder, involving the two creepiest little English girls anyone has ever had the misfortune of seeing and hearing. By the time they reappear in the hotel, much later in the film, we know we’re screwed.

8. Gates of Hell/City of the Living Dead (1980): Don’t Open the Window

I went into this Lucio Fulci film expecting to be grossed out, not to be scared. But while it looks like a zombie film, it’s more of a ghost story – albeit one loaded with splatter scenes. The ghost of the boy’s sister looks terrifying, and is absolutely the last thing I ever want to see hovering outside my window.

9. The Woman in Black (1989): Another Ghost Bitch

I guess there is a pattern here. I’m basically afraid of the ghosts of dead women. I swear there are no dark secrets in my past to explain this phenomenon! Anyway, each appearance of the woman in this made for TV movie is frightening. But the one that destroys me is when she appears at the foot of the bed, then slowly creeps toward the camera…

10. Darkness (2002): Don’t Turn Out the Lights

This was not a great film structurally, but it’s the scariest film I’ve seen that was made in the past decade. The simple concept that there is something in the dark, waiting to attack the moment the lights go out, is chilling stuff. I found the ending of the film to be incredibly bleak and depressing, but it was the thought of those evil witches waiting in the shadows that stuck with me for quite awhile after I saw this.

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9 Responses to “Frightened”

  1. Hi Ryan, thanks for taking part, these are some really faaantastic moments! I’m glad we can agree that that creepy old lady’s face in Black Sabbath is the scariest thing EVER. Thanks for sharing!

    • roarvis Says:

      You’re most welcome.

      In honesty, I used a pic of her looking away from the camera partly because it still creeps me out to look at that face!

  2. Um, yeah – actually I recently watched that Black Sabbath scene as a result of Andre’s review and it scared the crap out of me. It really should have been on my list too. Maybe the next one…

    Your list is great! I thought about that scene from the Woman in Black too! That is just so freaky!

    • roarvis Says:

      Woman in Black is really one of the most frightening things I’ve seen. Strange that I never heard of it until recently.

  3. Shawn Francis Says:

    Salem’s Lot, the Hooper version, was a big deal in Grade School when it came out. I believe I was ten years old, and this one always reminds me of the girl I had a crush on back then. And, back then, I was still squeamish about horror flicks. I recall my parents putting me and my brother to bad each night it was on, and even though I never saw a second of it, our bedroom was right next door to the living room, and I heard every moment of it. The music is eerie beyond belief, and despite the drastic change in Kurt Barlow’s portrayal, the mini-series version is a killer.

    I like the remake, but it’s not scary. It’s good, creepy in parts, but the signature scenes from the original don’t have the impact Hooper’s verison did.

    • roarvis Says:

      I remember seeing a clip of the jail scene when I was little. But I waited until after I’d read the book to watch the whole thing. It was a huge disappointment. I watched it again recently and still didn’t like it, but the scary parts are STILL scary as hell!

      The scariest part of the book, in my opinion, was the school bus scene. This was not in the film, unfortunately.

  4. Shawn Francis Says:

    The school bus scene, I believe, did make the remake version, but I don’t think it was anything to write home about. I don’t even recall it from the book, but, then, again, I read that book a long, long time ago. Actually, I didn’t get around to reading it until the early 90s. The character changes they made in the remake were totally unnecessary, not to mention the plot changes, giving it that soup kitchen prologue, and that DAWN OF THE DEAD-ish ending with all the vampires wandering around town . . . should have stayed closer to the book. They still should have left Susan Norton’s death scene alone, in regards to it occuring in the middle of the tale, rather than putting it at the end, like they did in BOTH versions.

    I DO recall her death scene, in the book, being particularly grueling on Mears. I remember him running screaming from the house, in grief and horror, after they staked her.

  5. This is a great list. The Woman in Black is INCREDIBLE! Love it, it freaks me out so!

    I liked Salem’s Lot quite a bit. I agree, the scary bits are oy vey!

    I won’t even go into the Brood, cuz I’ll get scared!

    • roarvis Says:

      Thanks! I had the opportunity to watch The Brood the other days with some friends, and realized I didn’t want to watch it because it freaks me out. I’ve seen it a few times, I guess it gets scarier the more I watch it.

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