100 scariest movie moments
October 31, 2002 8:41 AM   Subscribe

100 scariest movie moments Retrocrush is listing their top 100 scariest movie moments, and so far, the quality is pretty high -- well-chosen scenes, and interesting writeups. And one exploding head. You've been warned. Happy Halloween!
posted by GaelFC (80 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A few suggestions from me (uh, spoilers I guess, although these are pretty classic and not-new movies):

--The scene in "Aliens" when Ripley is watching the Space Marines via their head-mounted cameras and the sound indicates they're surrounded by aliens, and then, one by one, their cameras go to static

--The scene in "Blair Witch" where Heather unwraps the strange parcel and discovers Josh's bloody teeth

--The scene in "Evil Dead" where it becomes apparent that to stop the spell, they're going to have to go down into the cellar where the monster is locked. . . I better stop or I won't be sleeping tonight.
posted by GaelFC at 8:45 AM on October 31, 2002

'Lets Scare Jessica to death'-
the scene where the characters take some Items from the attic, sell them in town, then find them back in the attic when they return to the house.
posted by clavdivs at 8:51 AM on October 31, 2002

"The Misfits" old B/W based on Miller's Turn of the Screw. Creeeeeeepy!
posted by archimago at 8:55 AM on October 31, 2002

I can stand the sight of worms
and even microscopic germs
but technicolor pachyderms
is really too much for me....

Pink Elephants On Parade ... glad that made the list. As a kid it could somehow scare the heck out of me... even as I got to be a teenager it retained a spooky, haunting quality. There was one other dream sequence in a Disney Movie that sometimes got me too... can't remember what it was.

Poltergeist, however, was easily the movie that freaked me out the most, and I doubt I'd watch it again.
posted by namespan at 8:56 AM on October 31, 2002

The scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Leatherface hits the fallen Kirk with a sledgehammer, drags him through the doorway and then slams the steel door shut.
posted by xiffix at 8:58 AM on October 31, 2002

I hope they have the blood testing scene from John Carpenter's The Thign in there... When I saw it the entire audience leaped off their feet.
posted by PenDevil at 8:59 AM on October 31, 2002

I hope they have the blood testing scene from John Carpenter's The Thing in there... When I saw it the entire audience leaped off their feet.
posted by PenDevil at 9:00 AM on October 31, 2002

what's that scene from on the linked page, with the Fuzzy and the guy on the bed? I can't place it...
posted by Ty Webb at 9:18 AM on October 31, 2002

That's from The Shining, Ty. I watched it last night, and gave myself a nasty case of the creeps.
posted by sarcasticah at 9:30 AM on October 31, 2002

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

posted by TimeFactor at 9:33 AM on October 31, 2002

I haven't seen it in years, but when I was a tot, my parents made the disastrous mistake of letting me watch Magic, with Anthony Hopkins and a horrible little dummy. They were richly rewarded with weeks and weeks of late-night shrieking.
posted by Skot at 9:34 AM on October 31, 2002

The scariest moment in the shining for me was when the little kid was hot-rodding through the hallways and comes upon those two freaky twins. Man oh man, talk about weird.
posted by Hildago at 9:37 AM on October 31, 2002

Re the typed pages of "all work...," I was fascinated by this: "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." "
posted by GaelFC at 9:39 AM on October 31, 2002

1963 The Haunting — The scene where the main character huddles in bed, holding tightly onto the hand of the lady in the bed next to her, terrified because something is running up and down the long hall of the mansion clanging loudly on all the bedroom doors.
posted by bunktone at 9:40 AM on October 31, 2002

"The Conversation" — when Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is searching the hotel room where his client has presumably murdered his wife. The room is completely clean, but finally... Eeeeek!

(These aren't links — just mouse over them to read the spoilers in the titles or the status bar.)

"Audition" (or "Odishon") — The whole torture and mutliation scene at the end is creepy as hell, but not really scary. Earlier, though, when Asami's waiting for the phone call, and... yikes!

And, I have to say, though "The Ring" was a pretty stupid movie, it had one or two really scary bits!

And, yeah, the twins in The Shining. And when this happens — if you'd read the book, you really weren't expecting that!
posted by nicwolff at 9:49 AM on October 31, 2002

An obscure one - the film version of The Woman in Black, where the hero wakes up to find the aforesaid woman's face inches from his own, screaming.
posted by Summer at 9:59 AM on October 31, 2002

It's a pretty weak film overall, but the ultra-creepy "future dream" bit at the end of Carpenter's The Prince of Darkness is very wiggins-worthy.

And big ups to the Shining's twins. So eerie....
posted by Polo Mr. Polo at 10:04 AM on October 31, 2002

Anybody ever see "When a stranger calls" with Carol Kane? Not a great movie but the opening 20 minutes are scary as hell.

"Have you checked the children?"

posted by dig_duggler at 10:07 AM on October 31, 2002

Everything scares me but the best one ever has to be the final scene in "Carrie". It got me good the very first time, but never again have I been able to watch that ending without closing my eyes and my ears. The music alone makes me panic. God I love that movie.
posted by oh posey at 10:07 AM on October 31, 2002

-- The scene in "Ringu", with the tape, if you've seen it you know the scene.

-- The first fifteen minutes or so of "Suspiria"

-- The guy examining the pod in 1979's "Alien"

-- The eye scene from "Un Chien Andalou"

-- The "sloth" scene from "Se7en"

Oh and "audition" was creepy as hell too, clever way to hide the spoilers nicwolff.
posted by bobo123 at 10:09 AM on October 31, 2002

runner up would be the "Twins" appearance in 'The Shining'.
posted by clavdivs at 10:19 AM on October 31, 2002

the final moments of the original night of the living dead when you realize that our hero ben is not going to make it out alive. this one last civilized man, our only hope, is now zombified. this movie scared the crap out of me more because of what was written between the lines than anything else.
posted by t r a c y at 10:22 AM on October 31, 2002

All I know is that the clown from Poltergiest had better be in the top 10 somewhere. That scene scarred a generation of kids who no longer feel safe with any clowns in their rooms (not to mention big trees outside their windows)
posted by IndigoSkye at 10:28 AM on October 31, 2002

I'd have to go with the final scene of Don't Look Now. Totally perfect. (Spoiler link)

Bergman's The Hour of the Wolf has some great scary moments.

And actually, the scene in Dead Man when Lance Henriksen steps on the bald guy's head. That creeps me out big time.

Of course, the Exorcist "face of death". Yeek!
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:29 AM on October 31, 2002

Marilyn Manson Scoring Chainsaw Remake - MTV reports Marilyn Manson is set to score the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The new film, produced by Armageddon director Michael Bay, began filming in August and stars Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under), Jonathan Tucker (The Virgin Suicides) and Jessica Biel. It's set for release Oct. 31, 2003."


This is easily the most terrifying item in this thread.
posted by Skot at 10:30 AM on October 31, 2002

Pet Cemetary where they show the sister Zelda

Poltergeist when the tree eats the kid

Any movie with evil clowns

The Ring where the girl in the well crawls through the tv

Excorcist...that whole movie!

Those popped in my head as I was reading the list
posted by Degaz at 10:33 AM on October 31, 2002

It's not technically a horror flick, but after that last bathrub scene in Fatal Attraction, my friends and I had to look underneath the car before we got inside. It felt like Glenn Close was lurking EVERYWHERE.
posted by GaelFC at 10:35 AM on October 31, 2002

Ok, it's not a movie, but that recent episode of ER where Dr. Romano very suddenly gets his arm whacked off... I don't think I've ever felt such a physical reaction to something on TV.
posted by skryche at 10:43 AM on October 31, 2002

Namespan, the other kid cartoon that scared you might be one of the Winnie the Pooh cartoons where it rains and floods while Pooh is napping. The Heffalumps and Woozles are pretty freaked out, and the soundtrack is scary too. Beware! Beware!
posted by mblandi at 10:45 AM on October 31, 2002

The clown in Poltergeist scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid. I also had to sleep with my blinds shut for a long time afterward because I was afraid the tree outside my window would get me.

Kafkaesque- Yes! About time someone mentioned Don't Look Now. Aside from having the best sex-on-film scene ever, the ending gave me the willies.

I'd like to add the whole third episode from the Twilight Zone movie, about the kid who could make his wishes come true. The sister with no mouth, and especially the family portrait with the faceless people, scared me for years.
posted by mkultra at 10:48 AM on October 31, 2002

posted by aaronshaf at 11:01 AM on October 31, 2002

Scariest movie moment?
Has to be Stallone trying to sing country-western music in "Rhinestone."
posted by moses at 11:03 AM on October 31, 2002

Alien: The scene in which Dallas is crawling through the ventilation shafts and Lambert is screaming at him to get the hell out of there. He points the flashlight behind him and the alien is right there. Even though I know it's coming it still scares the hell outta me.

The War of the Worlds (1953): Dr. Forrester and Sylvia are in the old farmhouse and the alien slowly puts its hand on her shoulder. Her reaction to is perfect. I have to sit with my back to the wall when I watch that one.
posted by DakotaPaul at 11:07 AM on October 31, 2002

-- The eye scene from "Un Chien Andalou"

- Bobo123

AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!! Damnit, that will be in my head all day now. Just the thought of that makes my teeth hurt.
posted by bradth27 at 11:10 AM on October 31, 2002

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Donald Sutherland points.

I'm just sayin'.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:21 AM on October 31, 2002

Yay, Summer! I thought I was the only one who'd seen The Woman in Black. That scene kept me up at night, especially because you see him wake up and then look around, like we've all done, and then she's RIGHT THERE! Made me scared to look around my room for monsters, like I...um... usually do.

- the scene in The Exorcist III with the long shot down the hospital hallway and the statue chasing the nurse. Just about the scariest movie scene of all time for me, partly because it's framed within the movie so well, you know something's going to happen, you know the statue has gone, and you're expecting an in-your-face shot, so the long shot catches you off guard (and the fact that it's so fast you don't really have time to register it).
- "the" scene in both Ringu and The Ring, but I find the "walking away from the well" bit creepier than the "crawling out" bit, mainly because of the jerky, undead way the girl moves.
- The Shining has many, all the ones with the little girls, especially the Big Wheel one (awesome use of sound there) and the dart playing, something's behind me, turning around, BOOGA! one. Also the lady in the bathroom.
- when the baby changes to the dead, decaying baby in The Omen III: The Final Conflict.
- the baby-creatures walking into the bedroom in The Brood.
posted by biscotti at 11:28 AM on October 31, 2002

One word: Jaws. Saw that at seven (good call, Mom and Dad), had weeks of screaming nightmares, didn't go in a pool for six months or the ocean for years.

To this day I still will not be the farthest out from the beach.

What do they call the fear of sharks? I gots it bad, bone-deep.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:31 AM on October 31, 2002

Although I'm not a horror movie freak, the "Black Hair" episode from Kwaidan does a terrific job with the minimalist sound effects--spooky silence alternating with really spooky rustling noises.

I've found that my undergraduates definitely jump when they first see Ivan Albright's eponymous painting for The Picture of Dorian Gray. Great use of technicolor in an otherwise b/w film; here's a decent on-line image of the painting, which is now at the Art Institute of Chicago.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:36 AM on October 31, 2002

Max Schreck creeping around as Nosferatu.

Oh, the humanity...
posted by Ljubljana at 11:37 AM on October 31, 2002

I never saw The Shining as a kid (although I read parts of the book) and watched it only as an adult after years of struggling with writer's block. The "All work and no play" is #1 for me.

Three other movies scared the snot out of me as a kid, but I remember them only dimly. I think they're all black and white. One featured a woman tied to a post while hundreds of tiny dolls with very sharp teeth and snapping jaws teetered toward her. Then there was one where a killer who bashed people's head in with a hammer (I think it was called, rationally enough, Hammerhead, although imdb doesn't seem to think so) and spent seemingly five minutes happily chatting with a girl in a field of daisies near the end of the movie until she bashed in his head with a hammer. The kicker was (I have found out since) The Nanny. I saw all of these films on late-night television long after I was supposed to be asleep and couldn't wake my parents up for comfort because I knew I'd get in trouble for having watched them in the first place. It is a mark of how much they freaked me out as a child that I have never, ever felt compelled to see them again as an adult to find out how really ha-ha! silly they supposedly are.
posted by redshoes3 at 11:40 AM on October 31, 2002

Some more David Lynch moments:
In Lost Highway where that freaky guy at the party tells Bill Pullman that he's at his house right now and Bill Pullman calls his house and they guy (who is standing right in front of him) answers the phone. Totally low-tech creepy.

(and from TV) The episode of Twin Peaks where Leland throws Maddie through the mirror. One of the few times TV has kept me awake at night.

Did Signs scare the shit out of anyone else? One of the few films I've watched as an adult that has caused me to not sleep at night (I think because the images were so similar to my own freaked self-scaring as a tot).

And yes Audition creeped the willies out of me - when that phone rings - HOLY SCHNIKIES! And the ending was just unbearable (the stuff she feeds her 'dog' in the dog bowl?)
posted by ao4047 at 12:03 PM on October 31, 2002

That clown scene in Poltergeist did me in. When he sees the clown missing and looks first under one side of the bed - no clown, then looks under the other side of the bed - still no clown, and then it grabs him from behind. Aaahhh! From that point on, I had to always have my bed in a corner with one side against a wall. Wasn't until my twenties that I could handle pulling the bed away from the wall.

I'm with you ao4047 - Signs scared the hell out of me. It was everything that I'm afraid of - aliens, the dark, the cellar, things jumping out at you, etc... You know what I'm keeping on my bedside table, right?

And PenDevil - that blood testing scene from the Thing still freaks me out.

If anyone's read The Shining - what scared me more than anything were the animal topiaries. Good thing they left that out of the movie...
posted by MsVader at 12:10 PM on October 31, 2002

The final scene in Burnt Offerings where we finally see the old lady and ... and ... the man freaks and jumps out of the third-floor window and crashes head-first through the windshield of a car where his wife and son are waiting (we see him crash through from their point of view).

Another scene, earlier in Burnt Offerings, where the zombielike chauffeur grins at the kid as the kid is getting out of the car. Gawd, that movie scared the hell out of me. I was probably 12 years old.

The scariest, most chilling movie scene ever is in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. Henry and his buddy (I think his name is Otis; the character was based on the real-life Ottis Toole) videotape themselves torturing and killing a family in a home invasion. That's horrifying enough, but later we see Otis popping the tape into the VCR late at night so he can relax and go to sleep. There's a hint that he masturbates to the video. That scene will turn your blood cold, because you realize that people such as Henry and Otis really do exist.

Earlier in the movie, Henry describes to a girl how he stabbed his own mother to death. "I was told you shot her," she says. Henry stares at her blankly; you can tell he's trying to remember details of the murders he's committed. Did he stab his mother or shoot her? "Yeah," he says slowly. "Yeah. I shot her."
posted by Holden at 12:11 PM on October 31, 2002

Daaaaaaym, you people have excellent taste in scary movies. Props to go those who mentioned When A Stranger Calls, the end of Prince of Darkness, and "the" scene in The Ring. Wihtout a doubt, the only movie that can still scare me as much today as it ever did is The Shining.. but I saw the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers when I was far too young, and the last minute of the movie, when you realize there is no hope, probably scarred me forever.

On Preview: Oh! The Lost Highway "I'm in your house RIGHT NOW" scene -- good call ao4047!
posted by jess at 12:16 PM on October 31, 2002

Candyman kept me up all night. Just sayin'.

This thread sucks by the way, as I'm right now sitting alone in a basement with »Clicks & Cuts 3« blasting out from the speakers. And it's 9.17 pm over here. And I want my mommy.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 12:17 PM on October 31, 2002

One featured a woman tied to a post while hundreds of tiny dolls with very sharp teeth and snapping jaws teetered toward her.

That'd be Barbarella (or at least there's a scene exactly like that in Barbarella).
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:28 PM on October 31, 2002

What a great Halloween thread. Scenes from two movies that haven't been mentioned:

-The seance and the ball bouncing down the the steps in The Changeling(1980). Scariest haunted house movie I've ever seen. Watch George C. Scott freak out over and over again...

-The freaky-deaky dancing sequence in Carnival of Souls(1962).
posted by footballrabi at 12:29 PM on October 31, 2002

Definitely the final scene in Carrie. I had a slumber party for my sixteenth birthday, and we rented that movie. We were watching that movie pretty late at night and kind of snickered through most of it, but when Carrie's hand comes out of the grave, we all screamed in unison. (That of course woke the dog up and she started barking. heh.)
posted by SisterHavana at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2002

If the whole of "Austin Powers in Goldmember" isn't in the top 100, it will be a crime.

It's scary that movie was called a comedy.
posted by clearspring at 12:52 PM on October 31, 2002

The spider walk in the Exorcist. I think it was omitted in the original theatrical release but can be seen on the latest DVD. It's the scene where Regan walks down the stares on her back - very freaky.
posted by disgruntled at 1:07 PM on October 31, 2002

Speaking of bouncing balls, there's the ball bouncing out of the darkness as Roy Scheider's character watches in Marathon Man -- it was no big deal, and it was merely atmospherics, not guts 'n' gore, but it conveyed dread better than anything else I've seen mentioned so far.

Another really atmospheric film was Tod Browning's Freaks, which frankly left me unaffected but was so upsetting in its day that it was banned outright in the UK and some parts of the US and Browning was ostracized for it.

My all-out winner, though, has got to be the dream sequence in Episode 2 of the first season of Twin Peaks.
posted by alumshubby at 1:11 PM on October 31, 2002

Two moments come to mind:
1) The climactic scene in The Exorcist caused me to get up and leave the theatre the first time I saw it (I was 17 at the time).

2) The moment the credits begin to flash on the screen in Angel Heart, and you realize that no more twists are coming, and you understand what the constance appearance of the elevator actually means.

Because of my upbringing and schooling (both religious), these films managed to push some buttons I didn't know I had.

Also, several X-Files episodes have bled into my dreams in various unpleasant ways.
posted by deadcowdan at 1:11 PM on October 31, 2002

God bless (or curse) John Carpenter. The final scene in Halloween, where Donald Pleasance steps over and looks out the window to look for the bullet-ridden corpse of Michael Myers, only to find the yard empty, had me sleepless for weeks.

There's also the scene towards the ending of the original Friday the 13th, where the last survivor is hiding from Jason's psychotic mother behind a door. The girl waits silently while through a window in the door we watch psychomom search the room on the other side, then appears to leave, turning out the lights.

There's a pause as the girl relaxes, thinking she's safe. And then the doorknob begins to turn.

The Ring: hell yeah. That shambling-from-the-well scene is burned into my psyche. Ditto the crabwalk-down-the-stairs scene from the Exorcist. Uncanny valley indeed.
posted by scottandrew at 1:13 PM on October 31, 2002

Ah, footballrabi, you beat me to it- I was just about to mention The Changeling. The seance, yeah, and that kid in the bathtub!
posted by mkultra at 1:15 PM on October 31, 2002

Twin Peaks, the image I think Maddy sees of Bob crawling over the couch, straight towards her with that sick, psychotic grin on his face.

Communion, when Christopher Walken is sitting alone in the middle of room and the grey alien's face slowly peeks around the corner of the doorway facing him. YEESH.

X-Files, when Mulder and Scully wheel out the still-alive, mutilated mother of the inbreds from under the bed.
posted by picea at 1:32 PM on October 31, 2002

The ending of Shivers got to me. The combination of the inevitability of the situation, its seductive qualities, and the overall feeling of annihilation.

The guy in the dog costume in The Shinning is simply disturbing.

Reservoir Dogs ear scene.

No-skin guy from Hellraiser.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's dinner scene where the grandfather keeps trying with the hammer has that disturbing/humorous angle that sticks with you.

When the werewolf comes through the wall in Silver Bullet.

The dream in American Werewolf in London where his family is killed is one of those "WTF?" moments.
posted by john at 1:59 PM on October 31, 2002

Already mentioned, but that little sound she makes in Audition when she...y'know, with the pins, at the end. My friend and I still freak each other out with it. Kiri kiri kiri . . .

Jason's hand coming up out of the bathwater in the first Friday the 13th, then going back down when her mom wakes her up. (But it's still down there!)

The best horror moments are when things are suggested, but not shown. No better source of terror than your own imagination. (And then the bits you do show are all the worse.) The Blair Witch Project did this beautifully, and so does M. Night Shyamalan. Those moments in The Sixth Sense when the kid is locked behind that little door or under the blanket fort . . .

Actually, the sequence that had me the most white-knuckled of all was first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Talk about horror.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:01 PM on October 31, 2002

Scary/gross combination: In "Sixth Sense," when the dead teen beckons to the little kid "C'mon, I know where my dad keeps his gun!" and then he turns around and you see....the back of his head...
posted by GaelFC at 2:05 PM on October 31, 2002

Boys From Brazil: when the boy's eyes start to turn brown.

Then, when they're deciding what to do with the list of boys.

Alien: during the chestburster scene, he's writhing on the table in increadible seizures and pain, and then all of a sudden there's this spurt of blood from his chest and everything stops -- that moment of horror, when everyone freezes as they realize what's going on -- that single instant scares me more than any other scene in any movie.
posted by Ptrin at 2:10 PM on October 31, 2002

X-Files, when Mulder and Scully wheel out the still-alive, mutilated mother of the inbreds from under the bed.
Ughhh...that one always gets me too, picea. Also the one (fairly early in the series, I think) about the radioactive human-lamprey mutant. The premise is one of the most absurd episodes ever, but there's a scene where someone is in the shower and begins to cough up blood more and more violently, and you see a miniature version of the creature slip down the drain...

What's that movie where several people go to a house/former mental hospital for a party, only to be locked in with the promise that the last person to leave gets X amount of money? (I may be combining two movies here.) There's a terrifying apparition of a doctor with scissors that keeps flashing by in the background.

The movie scene that creeped me out most recently, though, was from Requiem for a Dream. You're already on edge from the mother's hallucinations, and then the son is talking to her and that noise starts... It sounds like it's coming from every direction, the jerky camera angles disorient you, and then you realize it's the mother grinding her teeth. My roommate's nighttime tooth-grinding scared me shitless for weeks after that.
posted by hippugeek at 2:22 PM on October 31, 2002


It's the remake of "The House on Haunted Hill." The original is only worth seeing for Vincent Price's performance. The remake wasn't that bad until they tried to let CG evil end the movie.
posted by john at 2:36 PM on October 31, 2002

The Exorcist definitely...saw it for the first time about a year ago and didn't sleep soundly for weeks.

Carnival of Souls, most definitely. The original The Ring(I haven't seen the remake yet). And how 'bout that Battle Royale? Or Doctor Lam?

Of course there's always Terror At The Opera. And Dead Ringers...the surgery scene (shudder).
posted by echolalia67 at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2002

I've seen it a dozen times, but the ending scene in Carrie freaks me out every time.

Not to mention the scene in When a Stranger Calls and the guy is in the bed beside her...
posted by insulglass at 2:39 PM on October 31, 2002

Namespan, the other kid cartoon that scared you might be one of the Winnie the Pooh cartoons where it rains and floods while Pooh is napping. The Heffalumps and Woozles are pretty freaked out, and the soundtrack is scary too. Beware! Beware!

mblandi, that's it... thanks. I'd thought that Winnie the Pooh had the Pink Elephants, but I guess that's Dumbo.

Heffalumps and Woozles... *shiver*.

And the scariest part about poltergeist... growing up, for some reason, I would consistently have nightmares about trees attacking me... seeing that come to life outside my head was pretty bad. Especially in the context of a movie about things that could read your mind and unleash its horrors...
posted by namespan at 3:31 PM on October 31, 2002

Thanks, john.
The remake wasn't that bad until they tried to let CG evil end the movie.

Agreed. I was biting my fingernails, imagining what horrible form this evil would take, until the last scene, when I sat up and said, "WTF? It's a cloud?!" Sort of like "The Amityville Horror"--I just couldn't get that excited about purple fog living in a well in the basement. When in doubt, future filmmakers, leave it to our imaginations.

I always sorta liked the Heffalumps...
posted by hippugeek at 3:44 PM on October 31, 2002

Mr Shaky Head in Jacob's Ladder.
posted by ceiriog at 4:30 PM on October 31, 2002

Okay, one of the scariest ... but in a kinda cool way ... things I've ever seen is from a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode entitled "Conspiracy" (and it, too, featured an exploding head).

Basically, insect-like bugs that enter your body and control your brain are taking over the top brass at Starfleet on Earth ... Captain Picard and crew are just barely able to cut down these aliens in the nick of time, but before they do so, a signal is transmitted from Earth to a distant part of the galaxy. When musing over what the signal is, Data states his belief that it's a homing signal.

Cut to a fadeaway scene of the Enterprise moving through the inky black ... EMPTY ... reaches of outer space. No music, just an eerie low-tech radio signal noise. Then the credits.

Scared the do-wah-diddy out of me. Too bad the series never continued the premise and promise of that episode.
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:16 PM on October 31, 2002

That one pregnant instant in Alien's chestburster scene - right before any gore is expressed, and there's just an anomalous lump of malign potential on poor Kane's chest.

The moment in The Exorcist when Regan appears at the astronaut's cocktail party, looks square at him, says "You're going to die up there," and pees herself. Only genuinely frightening scene in the whole film.

Ditto Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, w/r/t its verisimilitude.
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:32 PM on October 31, 2002

...And nobody's gonna mention Jacob's Ladder?
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:35 PM on October 31, 2002

People keep mentioning the Alien chestburster scene. According to the trivia about the movie on IMDB, Veronica Cartwright wasn't entirely acting.

Some other trivia bits there suggest the movie could've been even more frightening and horrifying than it was.
posted by alumshubby at 7:03 PM on October 31, 2002

Ditto for Jacob's Ladder.

Did anyone see the movie Return to Oz as a kid? When the psychiatrist puts that crazy, electrode-wielding machine next to Dorothy's bed to keep her from dreaming of Oz -- and as she's falling asleep it blinks and moves towards her -- that was honestly the most scared I've ever been by a movie.
posted by josh at 7:11 PM on October 31, 2002

Yup, josh. See john_son and my comments over in MeTa. I hadn't thought about that movie in years, but now horrible bits of it keep floating up from my subconcious.
posted by hippugeek at 8:04 PM on October 31, 2002

wolfdaddy, that episode freaked me out as well... when they start eating the worms or whatever, that did it for me.

an equally freaked-out episode of Star Trek TNG was when they were trapped with some other ship (U.S.S. Miranda I think?) where the whole crew killed each other for mysterious reasons. They find out that the ship can't move anymore, and no one on the ship can enter an R.E.M. state of sleep, save Troi. except she keeps having nightmares of fllying in some abyss with a voice saying, "voices... in the dark... one moon..."

man that's creepy.
posted by lotsofno at 8:07 PM on October 31, 2002

Well, if you're going to talk freaky Star Trek episodes, I still think about that Next Generation one where they split into millions of universes and the Riker from one universe is on the view screen begging our crew not to send him back: "The Borg are everywhere!"
posted by GaelFC at 8:54 PM on October 31, 2002

The scene in 'The Dark Half' where the bad guy (Steel?) gets eaten by swallows (as in birds...).
posted by CrazyFool at 9:28 PM on October 31, 2002

I had to move the tv out of the bedroom thanks to Signs. Everytime I would look at it, I imagine a foreign reflection.
posted by witchycal at 9:40 PM on October 31, 2002

The Fly is a bit of a streach. The thought is enought to keep the blood pumping. Props to the crew for making a classic.
posted by lightweight at 11:27 PM on October 31, 2002

The scene in Eraserhead where the protagonist and his girlfriend are having dinner with her parents, and they're eating whole Cornish hens, and he sticks his fork in the hen and the legs move and his girlfriend's mother moans orgasmically. Gawd, that freaked me out!
posted by Holden at 7:01 AM on November 1, 2002

Holden: Don't even bring up that movie. I've been scared by films before, but this one nuked my soul. I felt numbness and a sense of despair for about five days after watching it. It was soooo ridiculous at the beginning, just random seeming.... but by the end... arg, I can't even explain. I didn't include it in my list because (a) I usually try putting it out of my mind and (b) even talking about it is going to encourage some people to see it. Make sure you've got a hold of some good antidepressants and friends and a good natural high or two before you watch. And if I were you, I just wouldn't watch the film. It will mess with your head.
posted by namespan at 2:21 PM on November 1, 2002

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