18 June 2024

People are bemused when we tell them we still actually get scared by horror films. They assume because we've seen so many, we're somehow immune to it all. Forget that nonsense. The fun lies in feeling like you're on a rollercoaster as you watch a horror film, and then waking up in the middle of the night and feeling frightened as you lay in the dark!

We hope you enjoy our completely subjective list for some of horror's scariest scenes. In trying to put together ten moments, it was nigh impossible to not get carried away, so we listed a few runner ups as well.

Our selections include scenes from some of our absolute favorite films. However, it's not easy to pick one moment in some films we truly enjoy. For example, we find the psychological horror in Rosemary's Baby very scary, but can't seem to pick a specific scene that stands out. The ENTIRE film is terrifying in our opinion. The same goes for Friday the 13th and Tourist Trap among others. Here are our picks...

A beautiful young woman named Christie (Lesleh Donaldson) is practicing her iceskating on a frozen pond on a chilly winter morning. Suddenly, she's being chased by a killer wearing a hag-mask swinging a scythe! Made more scary by the fact that it takes place in broad daylight. This is a sequence one doesn't forget easily.

Alice, Sweet Alice
A killer is hiding in the stairwell of an apartment building. She's wearing a translucent mask as she waits for Annie (Jane Lowry), her victim, who she stabs in the leg and foot. Annie drags herself into the street, where she lays screaming in the rain. Great set-up. The mask is truly scary, and the tenement location is terrific. Additionally horrific because we're led to believe the attacker is the woman's young niece.

Dressed To Kill
Kate Miller (Angie Dickinson) has just had a one night stand with a stranger. As she's writing a note to him, she discovers that the man has contracted a veneral disease. Leaving in a panic, she realizes she's left her wedding ring in his apartment and stays in the elevator to go back up to retrieve it. When the elevator doors open, a razor-wielding transvestite steps in and slashes her to death. This movie was sort of our PSYCHO in more ways than one. It made one of us afraid to take elevators for awhile...

The shower scene. How can you watch it and not think about it the next time you undress and go into the shower? This sequence has probably had the most psychological effect on more people than any scene in horror history. Is there a more vulnerable time for someone to get murdered than that?

Black Christmas
Jess (Olivia Hussey) is the last survivor in the sorority house. She goes upstairs and finds her two friends Barb and Phil dead, and catches a glimpse of the killer's eye behind the door. Just one scary moment in a frightening film. We literally just get a quick look at a maniacal eye before Jess runs down the stairs with the killer yelling and in quick pursuit.

The Brood
We can't decide which scene in it is the scariest, so we'll mention two of them: a) Juliana is watching her granddaughter. Suddenly she hears a commotion in the kitchen. She enters it and is attacked by a mutant dwarf with a meat tenderizer. b) Ruth Mayer, a schoolteacher, is preparing her classroom first thing in the morning. She's unaware that two dwarfs have quietly entered the class having blended in with the other students. They suddenly pounce on her with wooden hammer, smashing her face in front of a distraught group of very young children. Try not to think about these scenes at night when you're laying in bed!

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Pam (Terri McMinn) enters a house and slips into a room covered with animal feathers, bones, and other assorted body parts. After taking in the horrific scene and throwing up, she tries to run out of the house. "Leatherface" pulls open a huge metal sliding door and drags her in. Very creepy...and the way the killer yanks that door open and shut is startling.

When a Stanger Calls
Jill Johnson (Carol Kane) has been receiving menacing calls while babysitting, including death threats. The police finally trace the calls to a phone inside the very house she's been in all along. We can't think of a scarier premise than someone thinking they're safely inside a huge house and finding out otherwise. We can only imagine what it would be like to babysit after watching this film and thinking of the phrase "Have you checked the children?"

Carrie White has just returned from her ill-fated prom in which she's killed everyone in a devastating act of retribution. The house is filled with burning candles. She sits in the tub and washes the blood off, unaware that her mother is hiding behind her bedroom door. When Mrs. White reveals herself, she pretends to be sympathetic before stabbing her own daughter in the back. Amazing scene...the candles all over the house, the music, and that FRIGHTENING Jesus Christ figure with the glowing eyes!

Don't Look Now
John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) has been chasing a little girl in a rain slicker all over the darkened streets of Venice. (He believes she's the ghost of his dead daughter.) He finally corners her, as he hear her muffled cries. The girl has her back turned to him. When she turns around however, we see that it's actually a deadly dwarf with a huge butcher knife. A nightmarish sequence that's unexpectedly shocking and hard to forget. We get goosebumps just thinking about it. There must be something about dwarfs and/or little people in rainslickers that gets to us... see numbers nine and five above!

And the runners up?...

Deep Red
Helga (Macha Meril) the psychic hears her doorbell and goes to answer it. Suddenly, she gets a premonition and backs away. The stranger on the other side then kicks the door in and hacks her with a meat cleaver. We've always found this scene scary because it was one of our most enduring fears having lived in a huge urban city for some time.

Terror Train
Jamie Lee Curtis' character Alana is chased through a train car by a killer wearing a mask and wielding an axe. She locks herself in a caged office while the killer taunts her by knocking the lights out and rattling the cage. The isolation of the train car, the sounds of the train moving along, and a killer wearing a creepy mask...'nuff said.

The Exorcist
Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) hears screaming coming from her daughter's bedroom. When she enters the room, she sees objects flying everywhere. Literally. Worse yet, she sees her daughter Regan masturbating with a crucifix and screaming expletives. When she tries to intervene, Regan shoves her head between her legs before smacking her in the face. AND THEN, the little girl's head turns around 180 degrees before she spouts more expletives. The shock value of this scene has never been equaled before or after in a motion picture. It's as simple as that.

For our last runner-up, we've chosen from this 1962 thriller, in which a demented Oliver Reed plays organ to a frocked Catholic altar boy wearing a grotestque mask. This warped, dysfunctional scene is intended to be private. Little do the pair know they are being watched from a dusty window above them. That is, until the eyes behind the garish mask slowly turn and track upwards...
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