All Hallow’s Eve is nearly upon us, and to get in the mood for the scares and thrills of the spookiest night of the year we’ve been thinking about the most horrifying, most gruesome, and most down-right scary moments we’ve seen on television over the last yew years. Now, we don’t scare easily, but we came up with quite a few – so to narrow it down we’re focusing on the masters of cinema quality viewing in your living room: HBO.
The ultimate in Halloween HBO has to be the Twilight for grown-ups True Blood; the vampire show hailed by the Guardian as ten times better than anything on TV. But the gore, scares, thrills and horror have been specialities at HBO from its early days. From the gory battlefields of war epics Band of Brothers and The Pacific, the frank focus on death in Six Feet Under and Autopsy, to the most violent moments in The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and the graphic Game of Thrones – HBO has had us alarmed, disgusted, horrified and shocked – but always entertained. Here are some of our favourite HBO moments for Halloween:
Band of Brothers – The Assault On Foy
This richly detailed and historically accurate account of Major Richard Winters and Easy Company in World War II was praised for portraying its battles without the gloss and exaggeration of action films. In this bloody scene from episode seven we are witness to the horror of the assault on Foy, where confusion and a breakdown of leadership cause avoidable casualties.
Rome – Pullo In The Arena
Lavishly recreated Rome is the setting for HBO’s bloody period drama of the same name. War and betrayal are on the menu as Pullo finds out towards the end of season one. Here he is in the gladiatorial arena asking for a quick quiet death. One gladiator makes the mistake of insulting Pullo’s legion and the scene quickly transforms into one of the goriest bloody affairs we’ve seen on television. Pullo works his way through several assailants – limbs are severed, a head pops off, and a giant gets given a second spine made of sharp metal. Ouch.
The Sopranos – Every Single Whack
HBO’s long-running and hugely successful series following a deeply criminal Italian-American ‘family’ takes all of your favourite mafia movies and plays them out over 86 glorious episodes. Of course that leaves a lot of time for business, and a lot of business to ‘be taken care of’. Let’s just say the fishes were never short of company. Here’s a (spoiler heavy!) look at every single whack.
Tales From The Crypt – The Intro Is Scary Enough
1989 saw the introduction of HBO’s take on the horror and mystery serials of the 1950s. This anthology ran to 93 episodes, two films and a spin off series Perversions of Science. The content was pretty much allowed to be as graphic and horrifying as HBO desired – being a subscription channel meant HBO could escape the censorship rules imposed on free to view television in the US. Subsequently, the show developed a reputation for scaring children senseless if they were brave enough to stay up and watch. Many changing the channel as soon as this opening sequence started to play! The combination of the classic haunted mansion, Danny Elfman’s spooky theme, and the ‘Crypt Keeper’ – seriously, wait ‘til you see him – set this show up as the most scary viewing around.
Game of Thrones – The White Walkers
Based on the wildly popular A Song of Fire and Ice by R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones is essential viewing for fans of medieval fantasy. Mythology plays an important part in what we’re afraid of, and it’s no different in Winterfell. Stories of deadly creatures, the White Walkers, that roam the icy forests north of the giant Wall pervade the psyche of the Night’s Watch – charged to protect Winterfell from the savage north. The first episode is quick to show us that there is more to the White Walkers than mere myth.
Autopsy – It’s All True
Perhaps the most terrifying HBO program to make our list, Autopsy is horrifying because every case featured really happened. Running for twelve episodes since 1994, the documentary presented by forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden showcases a number of real notable deaths and looks at how they came to be explained. Proving that real life is stranger (and more terrifying!) than fiction, here’s a segment about a severed hand.
Sex And The City – The Horror, The Horror, The Horror
Okay, so there are a lot of people who might be shocked to see the antics of Carrie Bradshaw and company on this list – but many people are just as shocked by the program itself. The tales of woe in wealthy Manhattan frighten us – Is this what relationships are like? Are these women’s lives really so fulfilled that these are the things that worry them? In this scene Samantha is courted by an older gentleman (or is it the other way around?) and we witness her joy in receiving expensive gifts. The look on the maid’s face says it all. Scary.
True Blood – Scary Can Be Sexy
The ultimate in Halloween viewing, HBO’s popular adaptation of The Southern Vampire Mysteries is a grown-up romp of blood and sex, where hot guys and hot girls face life in Bon Temps – Some human, some supernatural, but all addictive viewing. This clip from episode nine of the first season sees vampirebait Sookie Stackhouse put in peril by a fanged foe. Vampire Bill comes to the rescue in a brutal and bloody fashion leaving Sookie soaked after a blood shower. Sexy gore doesn’t get any better than this.
True Blood seasons 1-3 box set is available now on Blu-ray and DVD
Game of Thrones comes to Blu-ray and DVD early 2012
Sex And The City, Rome, Band of Brothers and The Sopranos are all available now.