So I was chatting with friends the other day about the most frightening scenes in the moves. Fun conversation. So I thought I’d share a list of what I think are the all-time scariest scenes. Agree? Disagree? There’s lots of great horror films out there but I only included 10. Your favourites?
The opening segment with the camera going through the water with the great John Williams music ending with that poor swimmer being dragged under and eaten. Still raises the hair, not only on the back of my neck, but my entire body!
2) The Haunting (1963)
First night in the magnificently creepy house. Nothing seen. Some ghostly force pounding on the walls and the doors with the two women terrified on the bed. Such great use of sound and camera angles. Classic.
3) The Exorcist
The camera gliding up the stairs to the closed door knowing that there’s something horrifying on the other side. Then the door opens, and the doctors see Regan flying around on the bed. Then she assaults them. Also, the opening in Iraq could have made it into this spot as well as Karras’ dream with the flash of the ghoul. Terrifying.
4) Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The metal door in the grim house is flung open, Leatherface pummels a hapless teenager with the hammer, drags them into the room and slams the door. So intense.
5) The Descent
Sure you can look at the monsters and the carnage that ensues, but for me the first half of the film is the most terrifying when the women descend into the caves and especially the part where they must go underwater not knowing what’s on the other side. No thanks.
6) It Follows
Could have picked any number of scenes but the one that boiled my potatoes takes place in the house with the big freaky guy on the other side of the door. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.
7) Rec (original)
The ending when the reporter finally makes it to the top floor only to find what lives up there. Done in night-vision and close-ups. Jiminy!
8) The Ring (original)
Of course, it’s when she climbs out of the TV. Took my breath away. Still haven’t got it back.
9) Mulholland Drive
Dude re-telling his nightmare in the diner and then they go out back…
10) Exorcist III
The nurse in the hallway. One long uninterrupted shot, building tension and then…brilliant.
There’s plenty of others – the lawnmower scene in Sinister or the ball bouncing down the steps in The Changeling – pops into my mind – but these ones have always haunted me.