Video Rewind: Some of the Scariest Scenes Ever Shot
To This Day I'll Walk Out of a Room When These Scenes are Near
Soon it'll be the season for ghosts, ghouls, goblins and it's also the time of year when everyone is looking for a little scare. Maybe that's why everyone likes to refer to October as "shocktober."
While there's a ton of horror movies on your local video store shelves (and in your own home for that matter) I tried to think of movies which really had me shivering. Since most rely on shock/gore value, the following movies have at least one scene which has always stuck out in my mind. Just the name alone conjures up that particular scene and still sends a chill down my spine.
It's hard to say these are the top 10 picks but the scenes I've found most frightening are at the end of this column.
Released in 1973, The Exorcist really (to me) isn't the scariest movie around, but what I've always found to be scary was the TV spot. Why?
Well, it has something to do with what's behind Regan's (Linda Blair) bedroom door. The camera slowly going toward the door and who can forget Tubular Bells playing in the background? Every time the spot came on I would get scared. Eventually I saw the movie when it was edited for television, but really saw it in its entirety in 1981 at a movie bar night.
On the subject of TV spots, way before The Exorcist, it always freaked me out when the local ABC affiliate would do promo's for Night of the Living Dead as their Saturday night movie. Just seeing the cemetery zombie (Bill Heinzman) would make me shudder with fear. In 1998 the film was retooled for its 30th anniversary and additional scenes were shot. Having seen both versions I can honestly say that the anniversary issue is far better than the original since it adds more to the storyline.
Back in the early to mid '70s, there were a lot of movie of the weeks (MOW) and if you're fortunate to have seen any of them you know just how bad they are now. But, Karen Black starred in one of those little MOWS in everyone's subconscious with a movie called Trilogy of Terror).
This little horror flick had three stories which starred Black, but the most chilling was the final segment in which she played opposite a little possessed doll. Since we had a bedtime my sister and I never really saw the whole movie until it showed up one night while we were on summer vacation and after the final credits we looked at one another to see who would turn off the lights before going to bed. I can't remember who the unfortunate one was between us, but I do remember we both raced to our bedrooms.
People to this day still talk about that Zuni doll.
While I'm on the subject of Black, the Oscar nominated actress shared the screen with legend Bette Davis for a fun filled family vacation in Burnt Offerings. But the real terror here is when Davis receives a "visit" from The Chauffeur (Anthony James). The clunking up the stairs and Davis' horrified look really made this a classic scene which is still haunting today. And if his grin doesn't send a shiver down your spine, well, I guess there's no hope for you.
At the time Jaws came out I had an aquarium next to my bed. Eventually I ended up getting rid of it due to the fact that every time I closed my eyes, I kept seeing the "head" of Ben Gardner (Craig Kingsbury). It was decided by my mother to remove the aquarium since I ended up sleeping on the couch for six months.
Up until (maybe) the summer of 1982 I really wasn't a horror movie fan. It would all change and one classic from 1983 is Curtains which brings together some actresses to a remote house where they're all vying for a role.
In typical fashion they start to disappear and one of the most disturbing aspects of the film is the killer going after the victim (Lesleh Donaldson) while she ice skates on a frozen pond. What makes this scene disturbing is the killer skates across the pond (with a sickle) to kill poor Christie and it's filmed in broad daylight with the killer coming at her in slow motion. The hag hair flying in the wind only adds to the suspense as does every muscle of the killer's body while skating.
Even though director Brian De Palma was well established by 1980's Dressed to Kill the scary part about this film is Nancy Allen's shower scene. Now I know it's not the Psycho shower scene but this is probably one of the scariest scenes ever filmed. It's more psychological since (if you think about it) you're more vulnerable in a shower/bathtub situation and there's only one door leading into the bathroom.
While that tactic alone is enough to give you goose bumps I've always hated watching the original Halloween based on one scene alone. That scene is when Michael (Tony Moran) morphs from the closet behind Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis). It's probably the most scariest moment in cinematic history. The mix between darkness and lighting coming up on Michael always makes me want to skip the scene. And there's something creepy about someone watching you when you don't know you're being watched.
Although I think the above scene is probably the scariest scene ever shot, I do find myself trying to be out of the room when Brad Savage has his encounter with Geoffrey Lewis in the original mini series Salem's Lot. Just as Lewis is throwing dirt onto Savage's coffin the clawing of trying to get out and the silence makes this the ultimate scary moment. But when Lewis opens the young vampire's coffin, his skin green and eyes bright yellow, terror immediately hits you when you least expect it. Later, when Savage is floating outside Mark Petrie's (Lance Kerwin) bedroom window in the fog, it's a creepy situation. If you've never seen this version it truly is a frightful treat.
It really doesn't matter what your horror taste is since these are a few suggestions to get you started.
Afterall, everyone's equal when it comes to things that go bump in the night.