Happy Happy Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Happy Happy Halloween, Silver Shamrock!
Yes folks, our favourite day of the year is upon us! It’s the day where we can turn into that 10 year old kid again, get dressed up and hound the neighbours for sweets and chocolate. It’s also the perfect time to watch a good horror film and with so many to choose from, as well as cinemas hosting one-off screenings, it can be difficult to pick what to watch.
Do not fear, for TEAM HCF are here! We’ve put our heads together to inform you, dear reader, of 10 of our favourite scares from our much-loved horror flicks. So cast your eyes below for some downright terrifying, heart-exploding, eye-popping and just plain eerie horror movie scenes.
WARNING – SPOILERS AHOY!
THE EXORCIST 3 – The Hospital Corridor
Dr Lenera – To be completely honest, I don’t rate The Exorcist 3 as highly as some. Though certainly a solid and intelligent chiller, I don’t think it’s quite the neglected classic it has a reputation of being, and I actually believe the much maligned The Exorcist 2:The Heretic is more worthy of reappraisal. Of course The Exorcist 3 suffered from studio dictated reshoots, in particular a more special- effects orientated ending, so we’ll never see the film as originally intended by director William Peter Blatty. However, I certainly agree with those people who say the film contains one of the most frightening scenes they have ever seen. I remember first watching the film about 15 years ago and thinking “well, this is quite good, but nothing special” [fans of the film don’t shoot me, it’s just my opinion], until The Scene happened, a sequence of such unbearable suspense climaxed by a shock so strong that I had to turn the turn the DVD off for about half an hour. Even now, it still gets me. I watched the scene twice just before this write-up, and I still flinched both times.
It’s around half way through the movie, and we cut to as shot of a hospital corridor taken from one end so we can see all the way down it. In the distance on the right hand side, we see the nurse on duty behind a desk. The security guard talks to her for a bit and then walks off. We hear a clicking noise, and the nurse goes to investigate. She walks towards where we are viewing proceedings from and finally, after what has seemed like an eternity, we cut from the corridor to a closer shot of her trying to open the door. She seems to be repelled by some force, but then slowly pushes the door open as she realises the door is not shut. She looks around the room and realises the noise was made by ice in a glass before BAM!!! A man’s head appears and turns out to be that of the patient in the room. Phew! Only a fake ‘jump’, but a bloody good one.
The nurse leaves and we cut back to the corridor. She walks back to the desk again and talks again to the guard who then sits down right at the very end of the corridor. We now know that the previous ‘scare’ was simply the starter. We know that something really nasty is going to happen. The tension is horrible in the best possible way, you don’t want the ‘something’ to happen but you also want whatever happens to occur and be over quickly, just so we can leave this damn corridor. Nurse hears another noise and goes into another room to investigate, except that this time the camera doesn’t follow her, it remains in the same place. Then suddenly, as she leaves and locks the door, BAM!!! A white, robed figure wielding a dagger comes out the room behind her, accompanied by a discordant musical sound. The shot lasts for about a second before being followed by a closer shot of a headless white statue. And that’s it, we don’t witness a bloody murder, or a spectacular special effect, and, to be honest, that’s all we need, what we have seen is more than enough.
The sequence is perfectly staged and paced by Blatty, who shows himself to be an absolute master at this sort of thing. I think it’s a great shame that he only directed two films [this and the bonkers The Ninth Configuration], because on the evidence here, he could conceivably make the scariest film in the world. The scene, which Alfred Hitchcock would have trouble improving, should be studied as a master class in how to frighten, and, it you canstand it, it really is worth seeing multiple times to notice all the subtle little details, such as the way the lighting in the room from which the figure emerges changes and the door seems to disappear.
Brilliant. Now I’m done with talking about this, because if I think about it anymore, I’ll have nightmares.
JOHN CARPENTER’S THE THING (1982) – Defibrillation
Juan – It would only have been about 5 years ago when I first saw John Carpenter’s The Thing, and while I was kicking myself afterwards for not having seen it sooner, I was also glad that my first viewing was on the now extinct HD-DVD. In High Definition, The Thing looks and sounds utterly amazing, and really goes to show how well the film has aged, and in particular, the practical effects, which puts some modern day pictures to shame. And they don’t stand out any better than in my chosen scary scene.
Norris is being resuscitated by the teams doctor. While using the defibrillators Norris’s chest opens up to reveal massive sharp teeth and relieves the good doctor of his forearms. Norris if you haven’t gathered has been consumed by ‘The Thing’, and after tearing off the doctors arms, starts to seperate at the head, while Kurt Russel’s MacReady, torches what he can of the doctor and Norris, Norris’s head turns into something that can only be described as a horrific spider head. The whole scene is fantastically gruesome, and comes as a complete shock upon first viewing, really catching you unaware. I know most people would argue that the blood test scene is probably the more tense and scarier of the film, we know what’s coming, whereas this comes totally out of the blue. And it looks absolutely amazing!
JAWS – Underwater Investigation
Ross – Not many films scared me as a kid. I got into horror at such an early age that by the time I got to the age of eight I was immune to many scenes that others may have been terrified at. If I had to pick the two that have stayed with me all my life then my first choice would have to come from this tiny little film called JAWS! Not heard of it? Well let me explain! You see there is this bastard of a shark who has decided to pay the small town of Amity Island a visit and munch on a few teens. First up was poor Chrissie Watkins who must have realised while being dragged through the sea that her decision to go late night skinny dipping was a massive bad one.
The Shark continues to torment the poor town until three men with balls of steel (and load of yellow barrels) but really needed a bigger boat!, decide to fight back and what follows is one of Cinema’s greatest ever masterpieces, always copied, never bettered.
Now there are many scenes from Jaws you could marvel at. For me, Quint’s celebrated monologue about the Indianapolis disaster is the best moment in the entire film, but for balls out shit scary and it was a close run thing because the score by John Williams still makes me wary to even jump in the shower, it was this scene that makes my Top two list of best scares.
When Brody and Hooper stumble upon the empty boat of Fisherman Ben Gardner and Hooper, minus the cage, decides to go underwater to investigate. What follows is one of my childhood memories of actually screaming out in sheer fright and to this day is one of my cherished moments….
Enjoy HCF Readers……
Salem’s Lot – Ralphie Glick
Bat – Providing you’ve not seen the cut version, Salem’s Lot is a well crafted vampire film made for TV by Tobe Hooper in 1979. Adapted from a story by Stephen King, the film tells the tale of a novelist and a young horror fan who witness vampires invading the small New England town of Jerusalem’s Lot, or Salem’s Lot for short.
After being safely tucked in bed for the night, the last thing Danny Glick banked on seeing was his missing brother Ralphie floating outside the bedroom window, scratching at the glass. Coupled with the eerie music, this scene scared the living daylights out of most as kids.
An American Werewolf in London: The first werewolf attack!
Matt – John Landis’ classic, and in my opinion best, werewolf horror is filled with so many frightening scenes that I tend to feel exhausted after seeing it. See, there are few things in horror which genuinely terrify me, but werewolves always do it for me, so you can understand my choosing of this film as one of the scariest scene’s in horror. While we have the genius ‘dream within a dream’ scene, the startling transformation scene, the London tube attack, the other dream involving David (David Kessler) waking up in the woods on a bed, piercing yellow eyes and sharp teeth, the scene which does it for me is the very first werewolf attack, barely ten minutes in.
After a visit to the now famous pub, The Slaughtered Lamb, American tourists David and Jack are told to “beware the moon” and head across the Moors in the dark. There is something following them, circling them in the mist and dark, and growling. The tone mixes edge of your seat scares with very natural responses from the two tourists as they attempt to ignore the frightening noises, and make out all is well. Jack starts singing, and the pair walk faster in the hope this unseen beast will simply go away. Landis creates incredible atmosphere, and will have you on the edge of your seat. David slips, the viewer spills their cup of tea or beer all over them in panic, and we then join in with David and Jack as we all laugh at the fact nothing bad has actually happened, and David simply slipped.
Suddenly, as we relax, Landis hits us with it! Out of nowhere the werewolf attack Jack, ripping him to pieces and that tea or beer you just cleaned up is all over you again. But wait, in something that was relatively new to horror back then, not only does Landis wallop you with a scare after a sense of safety, but as we approach Jack’s ripped dead body and calm down and catch our breath, Landis, the bastard, hits us again when we least expect it! A terrific scare scene, we basically get three scares in the space of a minute and each one delivers and will have you rattled, shaken and possibly needing to leave the room for five minutes to gather your senses.
David S. Smith – Taken out of context the reveal may not seem too scary. But with the claustrophobic tension director Neal Marshall builds up in the first half, it is terrifying. After his all girl cast crawl through cave-ins, dangle above ravines and break bones, this bit where they realize the rock formations aren’t as dangerous as what lives within them is truly gripping.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – We’re all Dooooomed!!
David Gillespie – There have been countless movies that have scared the living ‘bee-jeezuz’ out of me but there is still only one scene that I refuse to watch due to the effect that it had on me when I watched it as a child. Having viewed and loved the thrilling Don Siegel 1956 sci-fi classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers there was no way I was going to miss the 1978 remake that was premiering late one Saturday night on channel ITV. I sat down to watch it with my brother and parents and was immersed in the bleak but fast moving, Philip Kaufman chiller.
The story takes place in the city of San Francisco where health worker, Matthew Bennell (Donald Sutherland) notices that many of his friends are complaining that their loved ones seem changed or devoid of emotion. Soon those same friends seem changed themselves. When Bennell and married couple, Jack (Jeff Goldlum) and Nancy (Veronica Cartwright) find a half formed, alien replacement in their beauty spa, they realise that not only are there lives in danger but the entire human race is in jeopardy.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a tense and foreboding storyline that preys on our fears of loneliness and isolation. The screeching pod creatures really get under your skin and the sequences where they take over their human hosts are extremely frightening. However the biggest shock is left until the final shot.
Having set fire to a warehouse harvesting the alien pods, Bennell is walking through the city and bumps into the human version of Nancy who has remarkably avoided the clutches of the growing alien masses. She runs to him for comfort. Bennell responds by pointing his finger towards her and unleasing an unholy scream to alert the rest of his kind. I remember the cold blanket of fear that spread over me when I saw this scene and it still sends a shiver down my spine. I don’t think any film has ever had the same effect on me since.
That, and after we all said ‘it looks like Gollum’ upon seeing a creature in the distance earlier, this rather invasive moment works wonders in legitimizing the threat.
CUBE – Opening Scene
Bat – After having missed this sci-fi thriller first time round when it was released in 1997, I managed to watch the 15th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition which was released a few weeks ago and it’s definitely a movie that will go down a treat with horror fans. The most shocking scene of the film is the first five minutes, especially has I had a little to no idea what the film would be about.
A guy named Alderson wakes up in a cubed room and opens a hatch to escape. After doing so, he climbs into an adjacent room to find it’s identical…well, almost. These first few minutes of Vencenzo Natali’s sci-fi thriller made me sit straight up and mouth the words “Holy f@ck”. Yes, it’s that good and jaw dropping, so long as you don’t expect it.
Mulholland Drive: The man behind Winkies
Matt – So, how could I not include a scene from one of David Lynch’s finest films? Mulholland Drive is a head scratching tour de force of strangeness that, even when you know the story, still baffles. The narrative does make sense once you have figured out the puzzle, but there are still a good number of scenes which need further investigation, and the ‘man behind Winkies’ scene is one of them. Not only is it incredibly terrifying, but incredibly clever once you have figured out exactly what it means.
Firstly the scares, and the reason it so deserves to be in this list. To get the full effect of the scene, it really needs to be seen in its entirety, but sadly all I could find was the scene broken up into two parts, so that will simply have to do. Dan (Patrick Fischler) is explaining to Herb (Michael Cooke) about a dream he keeps having about a diner named Winkies, the same diner they are sat in. A bad man is lurking out the back of the building, and Dan has seen Herb in his dreams standing in the diner. After explaining his dream and not knowing what it means, Dan takes Herb outside to confront his fears and look for the man who lurks out the back.
The camera changes from static in the diner to a handheld approach so we become Dan’s eyes as he approaches the back of the diner. Lynch expertly films this scene, with faint daylight colours and lack of sound as we approach a wall. All we can here is traffic in the distance, but we know something is waiting around that corner, but when will we see it: will it show its face, or will we peer round the corner to see whatever monster is there. Lynch cleverly teases us with a back and forth with the wall and the two men, and when the ‘man’ does appear, it takes us by surprise and delivers one of the finest shocks in cinema of the last twenty years. Lynch then changes the sound so it is muffled, like underwater, to add the impact of the shock knocking us out almost. A truly horrific, but brilliant scene that continues to work after multiple viewings.
SPOILERS AHEAD: Now, I actually found a big revelation about this particular scene while watching Mark Cousin’s ‘The Story of Film’, and he says that this scene (part of Diane/Betty’s dream) is actually showing Diane/Betty facing her inner demons. We see her make the deal with the hitman in Winkies, and as she agrees it, she looks up to see Dan at the counter paying. With the rest of the film being a dream after she has made this deal, the scene with the man behind Winkies was Diane/Betty’s subconscious dealing with her guilt. The man behind Winkies was her guilt, her inner demons if you like, but she was not strong enough to face those fears by herself. Instead, she dreams of the man she saw in Winkies at the counter, Dan, facing those demons and thus allowing her to overcome without actually facing it herself. Clever eh?
Ross – Every reader of HCF and the rest of the guys behind this website knows what my favourite horror film is. Yes, its the guy who wears the William Shatner mask and decided one night on Halloween to do a bit of trick or treating and never stopped.
Halloween…… there is sooooooooooo much praise I can pour onto the John Carpenter masterpiece. Even writing this now makes me want to stop and go and watch the film again and lets be honest on this day of all…….it would be the perfect time! From the wonderful horror score, to the slow build up and with the best Myers of all (sorry the rest, but Nick Castle is thee Michael)…. Halloween 1978 is the perfect horror film of all time.
So how could I choose what scene to end up on my list? It could have been the opening scene where we first see Myers picking up the knife and going into the bedroom of Judith Myers, or the moment where he escapes from the Mental Asylum to the despair of Dr Loomis. Maybe the the scene where little Tommy stares out of the window and sees the “shape” standing there…..
Damn all this talk is getting me excited.
Nah! It could only be one and that is of course the climatic showdown between Laurie and Myers in which finally our heroine babysitter has nailed this mad masked pyscho and slumps to the floor in relief that its all over. But unknown to her but to us. That music score starts to beat, the shape starts to stir and if you were in the cinema way back in 1978, you were screaming and frightened at what you were seeing. “LOOK BEHIND LAURIE….LOOK BEHIND YOU!”…like Randy himself shouted while watching the film in the middle of Scream…..but poor Laurie could not hear, all she had was hope and luck……..
“Was it the Boogyman?!”………..
Yes it was, and that single moment created a huge wave of Slash boom that would fill the genre for many years to come……