Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes

#s-A




Greatest and Scariest Film Scenes
Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description
Screenshots

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

#20

Stanley Kubrick's landmark, science fiction classic has become the best science-fiction film of all time about exploration of the unknown - it was also an unconventional horror film about how highly-evolved technology would take over human functioning. A computer named HAL-9000 (with the reassuring, courteous disembodied voice provided by Douglas Rain) was the most malevolent character of the entire science-fiction film. The even-toned, talkative, alert, "thinking" and "feeling" super-computer was portrayed as an unblinking, cold and clinical glowing, watchful red television eye. It was activated (in the film) in the year 1992 in Urbana, Illinois.

During the Jupiter mission segment, the electronic systems of the spaceship were completely controlled and monitored by the "sixth member of the Discovery crew" - the super-computer named HAL-9000. HAL maintained the electronic systems of the spaceship. The humans, bored by the tedium of their routines in deep space, were at the mercy of the complex machine.

Only HAL knew the real mission of the trip - both astronauts Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea) and Frank Poole (Gary Lockwood) were unaware of the purpose of their Jupiter mission, just like those who had been told the "cover story" about the epidemic on the Moon. The programmed computer had been designed to withhold vital information from the astronauts until the spacecraft was almost to Jupiter.

In one of the film's most memorable and eeriest sequences, Dave and Frank attempted to talk out of ear-shot of HAL, under the pretense of checking a faulty transmitter in C pod. They retreated to one of the sound-proofed, sealed pods (where they knew the computer could not hear them) and discussed HAL's judgment, thereby 'alienating' the technological member of their crew. They faced each other, one of the first times in the film, to conspiratorially discuss their feelings about HAL's recent apparent malfunction - they believed that he had become unreliable and irrational. Through their entire conversation, they warily kept glancing back at HAL through the pod's window:

Poole: Well, what do you think?
Bowman: I'm not sure. What do you think?
Poole: I've got a bad feeling about him.
Bowman: You do?
Poole: Yeah, definitely. Don't you?
Bowman: I don't know. I think so. You know, of course though, he's right about the 9000 series having a perfect operational record. They do.
Poole: Unfortunately, that sounds a little like famous last words.
Bowman: Yeah, still it was his idea to carry out the failure-mode analysis, wasn't it?
Poole: Hmm.
Bowman: ...which should certainly indicate his integrity and self-confidence. If he were wrong, it would be the surest way of proving it.
Poole: It would be if he knew he was wrong.
Bowman: Hmm.
Poole: But Dave, I can't put my finger on it, but I sense something strange about him.
Bowman: Still, I can't think of a good reason not to put back the number one unit and carry on with the failure-mode analysis.
Poole: No, no, I agree about that.
Bowman: Well, let's get on with it.
Poole: OK. Good luck, Dave.

The computer demonstrated that it could lip-read when it spied upon the two astronauts plotting against it. The two astronauts did not realize that HAL was not out of visual eye-shot. In the silence, HAL could perniciously read their quickly-moving lips with his red eye through the pod's viewport. That fact was marvelously communicated in the film by rapid cross-editing between their moving lips/mouths and the ominous red eye.

Astronaut Frank Poole died when his oxygen supply lines were coldly snapped by the HAL 9000. In the eerie silence of the blackness of outer space, a suffocating Frank struggled with flailing arms to reattach his severed air hose, and was left to die and helplessly float off into space. Then, HAL tried to kill fellow astronaut Dave by not opening the pod bay doors. Bowman made frantic attempts to re-enter the spaceship ("Open the pod bay doors, HAL"), but HAL countered ("I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen...Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye"), and methodically began to murder other hibernating crew members.

HAL ultimately failed to outwit Dave - who retaliated and decided to 'lobotomize' the malfunctioning super-intelligent computer by removing its rectangular computer modules, one-by-one. Super-computer HAL's slow death ended with the singing of Daisy, as astronaut Bowman shut the computer down:

Just what do you think you're doing, Dave? Dave, I really think I'm entitled to an answer to that question. I know everything hasn't been quite right with me...but I can assure you now...very confidently...that it's going to be all right again. I feel much better now. I really do. Look, Dave...I can see you're really upset about this...I honestly think you should sit down calmly...take a stress pill and think things over...Dave...stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave.......Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a...fraid.



The Ever-Watchful
HAL Red Eye


"Open the pod bay doors, HAL"





HAL's Lobotomy

28 Days Later (2002, UK)

#100

In the opening scene of director Danny Boyle's effective, low-budget sci-fi horror film (one of the best zombie films of all time, enhanced by being shot on gritty digital video), bicycle courier Jim (Cillian Murphy) woke from a coma in St. Thomas' Hospital.

In the previous 28 days, the entire population of London had been infected by a rapidly-spreading, uncontrollable, instantaneous virus named Rage. [The scare factor of this speculative film was intensified because the real-life scenario was entirely possible.]

He wandered out to find empty streets and the post-apocalyptic city completely deserted, with haunting views of a virus-ravaged landscape.

There were numerous attack or pursuit scenes by violent, fast-moving zombies (unlike earlier, lumbering types) on four struggling survivors: by an infected, half-dead soldier zombie in the house, in a seemingly-abandoned church by an infected zombie priest (when a cross didn't repel the living dead), and in a tunnel after getting a flat tire.



Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) (aka Communion or Holy Terror)

#89

This slasher crime thriller had the tagline: "If You Survive This Night... Nothing Will Scare You Again," and combined elements from Don't Look Now (1973), The Exorcist (1973), and popular Italian Giallo films of its era. The main characters were a divorced mother Catherine Spages (Linda Miller) and her two daughters: favored 9-year-old Karen (Brooke Shields in her debut film at age 12) and neglected 12-year-old Alice (19 year old Paula Sheppard) - withdrawn, disturbed and rebellious. Both attended St. Michael's Parish Girls' School in Paterson, New Jersey, in the early 1960s - and were part of the dysfunctional Catholic family.

The scene considered the scariest was early in the film. The dislikeable Alice had stolen Karen's brand-new porcelain doll and lured her into an abandoned warehouse building with it. As a terrible prank, she jumped out and scared Karen, tormenting her with a translucent grinning mask and then threateningly locking her in a room.

The plot thickened during the First Holy Communion ceremony of Karen conducted by Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich), when she was strangled by a figure dressed with a St. Michael's yellow raincoat and Alice's scary mask. Everyone was unaware that Karen, in a marching line backstage, was strangled, and had her body stuffed in a box and burned.

The troublesome and resentful Alice was suspected of the crime - similar to the Cain and Abel Biblical story. The real killer was revealed to be Father Tom's psychopathic, quirky Italian immigrant housekeeper named Mrs. Tredoni (Mildred Clinton). She had become a twisted, maniacal lunatic-wacko after losing her own child on the day of her First Communion, and she regarded Karen's mother Catherine as an unclean whore (who had premarital sex) that needed punishment.






Alien (1979)

#2

The film's promotional tagline: "In outer space, no one can hear you scream" foreshadowed the coming terror in this slasher film set in outer space, from director Ridley Scott.

In an early scene, crew member Kane (John Hurt) was suddenly attacked by the 'face-hugging' alien as he explored an alien ship. In a claustrophobic scene, the others attempted to cut or extricate the face-hugger from Kane's face.

In the film's most memorable scene - a horrifying, bloody, gory sequence - the hissing, razor-toothed, viscera-smeared baby alien was revealed (or born) when it burst unexpectedly from Kane's open chest.

The Shocking and Gory Chest-Bursting

Afterwards, the crew made a tense search for the alien - the ship's cat Jones created a "jump"-scare moment as it hissed at the crew.

Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) met his demise, while searching again for Jones (the cat), when he encountered the gaping jaws of the full-grown Alien.

In another startling death moment, the Alien reached out to embrace Dallas (Tom Skerritt) in the ventilation shaft, followed by a high-pitched radio squeal.

During the film's final climactic scene on the shuttle craft, the sole remaining character - a heroic female named Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) - ready for hibernation and stripped down to mini-bikini panties and T-shirt - realized the Alien was still onboard.

She carefully donned a spacesuit and fought the creature to the death by expelling it out of the airlock.





Aliens (1986)

#35

In this sequel's scary opening scene, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) experienced a horrifying nightmarish dream. After returning in the year 2179 as the Nostromo's sole survivor (after being in deep hyper-sleep for 57 years), she imagined that an alien emerged or was birthed from her stomach.

In a later scene, a group of gung-ho Marines touched down on planetoid LV-426. They found the cocooned-corpses of the colonists (with one still alive as a bloody chestburster emerged from her chest) in the large alien egg chamber, located in the nuclear-powered processing station of the seemingly-abandoned facility.

Two face-huggers attacked both sole orphaned survivor Newt (Carrie Henn) and Ripley. And then, Newt was captured by an alien as Ripley and Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) futilely tried to save her by opening metal flooring above her with a blowtorch.

In another scary scene, Ripley and Newt had their first look at the egg-laying hissing Alien Queen mother/monster.

The film climaxed with Ripley's final confrontation with the alien Queen stowaway after it first impaled android Bishop (Lance Henriksen) and tore him in two.

She wore a walking, exo-skeletal cargo-loading shield as she fought against the beast - and then held onto the rung of an outer hatch ladder as the beast grabbed her ankle.

She was ultimately able to expel the Alien into space from the airlocked hatch after a fierce struggle in the exciting conclusion.







Alien 3 (1992)

In the successful film series' second sequel (director David Fincher's debut feature film), the colonial spaceship USS Sulaco launched a space-pod before crashing. In the pod, four individuals were in cryonic hypersleep suspension: Lt. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), and three others (from the previous film, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks, 12 year-old Newt, and synthetic humanoid Bishop 341-B). The ejected pod crash-landed on the bleak and windy planet of Fiorina or "Fury" 161, a Weyland-Yutani outer-veil mineral ore refinery.

At the crash site, a stowaway alien facehugger was shown approaching (and impregnating?) a Rottweiler dog named Spike. Soon after, the alien erupted from Spike's convulsing body ("a new beginning").

The facility's chief medical officer Dr. Jonathan Clemens (Charles Dance), for whom Lt. Ellen Ripley had an affection, was killed by the Alien in the infirmary.

Then, in the film's scariest scene, Ripley experienced an unnerving, close encounter with the Alien - it inspected her and hissed with its second maw in her ear, but left her unharmed.


Altered States (1980)

Director Ken Russell's visually stunning sci-fi/horror film hybrid (with a script by Paddy Chayefsky, pseudonymed Sidney Aaron) told of the bizarre effects of sensory deprivation in isolation tanks.

In the film's iconic transformation scene, abnormal psychology college professor Dr. Edward Jessup (William Hurt in his film debut), an experimenter in altered states using psychedelic drugs and a sensory deprivation tank (in the basement of the medical school), regressed the evolutionary scale into a Neanderthal ape man.

The obsessed scientist experienced both physical and psychological hallucinogenic changes, speculated to be biologically devolutionary. During his mind-changing altered states, his anguished body pulsed in and out of a hairy primitive ape shape, and he experienced other visions of a goat-headed crucifixion, a snake coiling around his neck, etc.



American History X (1998)

Director Tony Kaye's controversial drama told the story of two brothers living in Venice Beach, California, and the results of racial hatred, intolerance and violence. One of the two was vengeful, violent ex-con and white-supremacist Nazi-skinhead Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton).

In the intense film's most infamous brutal and painful-to-watch scene, the menacing, tattooed Derek assaulted two black gang members whom he caught breaking into the truck his dead father had left him. He shot and killed one man, and then wounded a second one. Acting righteously yet viciously, he forced the wounded black car thief Lawrence (Antonio David Lyons) to bite down on the sidewalk curb.

He then stomped on the man's head to snap his neck in half - a bone-crunching act to teach him a "real lesson." After killing him, he spit on his body.



American Psycho (2000)

#22

Director Mary Harron's perversely witty, ultra-violent drama, an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' 1991 novel American Psycho, presented a social satire of the morally-shallow Reagan era with its portrait of the violent psyche of a misogynistic male -- New York (Manhattan) stock executive Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale). He assaulted both friends and random victims alike in his expensive apartment, although it was possible that the many murders were only hallucinations in his psychotic head.

In the film's most shocking scene, a grisly apartment murder, the wealthy, obsessed, delusional, loathsome, 27 year-old narrator/yuppie and serial killer danced, sang, and commented upon the upbeat but bland pop music of Huey Lewis and the News' "Hip To Be Square" or Phil Collins' "Sussudio" - as foreplay to violence. As Huey Lewis' 'Hip to Be Square' played in the background - the tune was critiqued by the greedy, vainly self-absorbed, and narcissistic Bateman, while he donned a clear rain-slicker and backed into the living room (with an 80s moon-walk stride) - with a shiny new axe at his side. [Note: His victim should have been tipped off to something unusual that was about to happen. The furniture and floor were covered with sheets and newspaper in anticipation of the bloody event.]:

"The whole album has a clear, crisp sound, and a new sheen of consummate professionalism that really gives the songs a big boost. He's been compared to Elvis Costello, but I think Huey has a far much more bitter, cynical sense of humor...In '87, Huey released this, Fore, their most accomplished album. I think their undisputed masterpiece is "Hip to be Square," a song so catchy, most people probably don't listen to the lyrics. But they should, because it's not just about the pleasures of conformity, and the importance of trends, it's also a personal statement about the band itself."

Bateman attacked from behind with his new axe after calling for his victim to turn around - associate Paul Allen (Jared Leto), a slightly drunk Wall Street yuppie: "Hey, Paul!" He punctuated the gory hacking with anger: "Try getting a reservation at Dorsia now, you f--kin' stupid bastard!" as blood splattered over his face from the impact of the strikes (off-screen) from the axe.

The Killing of Hookers

In another scene, Bateman conducted a video-taped menage a trois with two hookers - and then nude and bloodied after stabbing one of the two prostitutes under a bed sheet during intercourse, chased after the second fleeing negligee-clad hooker Christie (Cara Seymour) with a chainsaw through his apparently empty NYC apartment hallway and dropped it down on her from a stairwell - she died when it hit her in the back.


Victim Paul Allen




The Killing of Paul Allen

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

#42

This classic horror film from writer/director John Landis contained a visceral, shape-shifting transformation scene (that won an Academy Award for Best Makeup for Rick Baker) - the first to win in the newly-established Oscar category.

It told how backpacking, vacationing American college student/tourist in the Yorkshires David Kessler (David Naughton) eventually turned into a werewolf/lycanthrope (after being infected by a bite).

It was spectacular to watch as his nude body, face, and limbs painfully crunched and his skin bubbled as it grew hairy fur and elongated, and his demonic jaws/snout developed savage fangs.

The Werewolf Transformation Scene

In one of the film's earlier scenes, a large werewolf made a vicious attack on both American college students, Jack Goodman (Griffin Dunne) and David, while in the English countryside moors at night (during a full moon), resulting in Jack's death.

Later in one of David's hospital dream sequences, zombie gunmen with monstrous Nazi faces and machine guns attacked David's family, killed them, and burned his house.

The werewolf attack scenes were made more effective by being shot from the POV of the predator.



Apocalypse Now (1979)

Director Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War epic ended with an hallucinatory and apocalyptic conclusion, in the dark, shadowy confrontation between Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) and an incoherently-mumbling and deranged Kurtz (weighing hundreds of pounds with head shaven).

Willard's head rose up out of the steamy primordial depths of filthy jungle water as he began (and ended) his quest, to seek out his prey for the slaughter - the imposing, bullish Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Lightning strobe effects and the frenzied rhythmic sounds of the Doors' The End accompanied the stalking and slaying of Kurtz with a machete.

Before his preordained death, Kurtz spoke words about the 'horrors' he had experienced: "I've seen the horrors, horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me - you have a right to do that - but you have no right to judge me."

Kurtz turned and permitted his own sacrifice when he saw Willard approaching. It was a ritualistic slaughter, brilliantly cross-cut with the brutal sacrificial killing of a carabao/water buffalo by the natives as a sacrifice to their gods. As he died on the ground, Kurtz muttered a few final, dying words, accepting the evil present in the human soul: "The horror. The horror."





Army of Darkness (1993) (aka Evil Dead 3)

#18

This comedic horror film was a continuation of the previous film, and the last installment of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. It began with a short flashback about hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) who was being held captive in 1300 AD. He remarked: "It wasn't always like this. I had a real life once. A job." He worked as a clerk at an S-Mart store (with the slogan, "Shop smart. Shop S-Mart"). He and his girlfriend Linda (now played by Bridget Fonda) had driven to the remote small cabin in the mountains. He described the backstory:

It seems an archaeologist had come to this remote place to translate and study his latest find, Necronomicon Ex-Mortis - 'The Book of the Dead'. Bound in human flesh and inked in blood, this ancient Sumerian text contained bizarre burial rites, funerary incantations, and demon resurrection passages. It was never meant for the world of the living. The book awoke something dark in the woods. It took Linda. And then it came for me. It got into my hand and it went bad, so I lopped it off at the wrist. But that didn't stop it. It came back. Big time.

Ash was compelled to chain-saw off his own possessed hand in the living room, and was then propelled in a whirling timewarp (with his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88) back to medieval times of 1300 AD England. There, he was brought forward to a demon-infested death pit of Deadites, and thrown in. The first Deadite suddenly sprung from the water and repeatedly punched him in the face. Ash impaled him on a spiked iron gate, and then as the creature attacked again, Ash retrieved his confiscated chain-saw weapon (it was thrown down to him in the pit where it latched onto his arm). With it, he was able to lop off the Deadite's head.

The First Deadite Pit Attack

As the spiked walls from either side moved closer, a second threatening Deadite emerged from a wall next to Ash. With one swing of his chain-saw, Ash sliced off the demon's grasping right hand and it flew into the air. He lashed his belt to a rising chain and was able to eventually pull himself up to the rim of the pit. There, he challenged Lord Arthur and anyone else: "Who's next, huh?"

He held up his intimidating, miraculous weapon - a sawed-off shot gun ("boomstick"), and after demonstrating its powers, he rattled off its features and told his awed audience: "You see this? This is my boomstick! It's a 12-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart's top of the line..." After blasting the second Deadite who had climbed up to the rim of the pit, he holstered his weapon on his back and added: "Now, let's talk about how I get back home."

Later, he was confronted by another possessed, old hag Pit Bitch Deadite (Billy Bryan) that screamed as she levitated: "You shall die! You shall never obtain the Necronomicon, we shall feast upon your souls." Then, she fell to the ground and played dead as a trick, and attacked several guards. Ash challenged and taunted the witchy bitch as she menacingly held a pot over her head: "Yo, she-bitch, let's go!"

He cocked his 12-gauge shotgun, kicked her and shot her a few times, and then ultimately vanquished her by cleverly shooting and blasting the monstrous creature over his shoulder.



The Second Deadite Pit Attack

"This is my Boomstick!"

Blasting the 2nd Deadite




The Pit Bitch Attack

L'Arrivée D'Un Train À La Ciotat (1895, Fr.) (The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station)

In this early short film (actualite) by the Lumiere Brothers (Auguste and Louis), the first documentary film-makers, a steam train locomotive was depicted pulling into Marseilles' Ciotat Station.

With a remarkable depth of field, the film was so real to early unsophisticated audiences that some experienced panic and dashed for cover.

It was one of the first films shown at their first public screenings, noted as "the birth of cinema," on December 28, 1895, in the Salon Indien of the Grand Cafe in Paris.

Audition (1999, Jp.)

#11

The final twenty minutes of this Japanese horror film, directed by Takashi Miike and based upon a Ryu Murakami novel, were the most excruciating. Earlier however, there were ominous signs of danger - seemingly-demure and dutifully-humble 21 year-old 'auditioned' bride-to-be ex-ballerina Asami Yamazaki (Eihi Shiina) had a suddenly-lurching big burlap sack in the center of her apartment's living room. She had also left a vengeful trail of retaliation against a childhood sex abuser - a wheel-chair bound man with artificial feet who was also decapitated (in a bluish tinged scene).

During a flashback, the contents of the sack were revealed to be a man who was missing both feet, his tongue, one ear and three fingers on his right hand. He crawled out of the sack and begged for food from Asami, who obliged by vomiting into a silver dog dish and placing it on the floor in front of him. The man stuck his face into the bowl of vomit and hungrily ate it.

She also exacted sadistic, torture and dismemberment revenge on middle-aged widower Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi), after he had victimized her in a mock-audition to be his wife. In her view, he had exploited her in order to have sex with her.

She first drugged him in order to paralyze him. Then, as she filled a syringe, she explained: "You are paralyzed. You can't move, but your nerves are alive. That way, your skin becomes very sensitive to pain." She stuck the hypodermic needle into his outstretched tongue and injected him, causing him to quiver on the floor of her living room. Then, she placed his body on a large rectangular piece of burlap cloth.

As she proceeded to cut away his upper-body clothing, she continued: "You call a lot of girls to the audition, reject them, then ring them up later to have sex with them. You are all the same." Armed with a stack of acupuncture needles, she slowly poked his entire lower abdomen with them (telling him: "Deeper - does it hurt?"). [The actual Japanese word for 'deeper,' repeated five times, sounded like a Japanese bird: "Kiri-kiri-kiri-kiri-kiri."] She added: "All words are lies. Pain doesn't lie. See? When you're in pain, you see your own shape clearly. Deeper. This is the most sensitive spot in the stomach. You see, here as well. Here, too. See? Deeper." To top it off, she inserted more needles into his eyelids - seen in close-up from his point-of-view. "You see, these bits under the eyes are very sensitive too. Only pain and suffering will make you realize who you are. Only when you're in extreme pain do you understand your own mind."

In addition, she threatened to make his 17 year-old son Shigehiko suffer, and then accused him of hypocrisy: "See, you love him too. You said you'd love only me. Lies. I truly have nobody else but you've got others. I don't want to be one of them. Even if I give you my entire self, you'll never give me yours. You're all the same. Every single one of you."

She then used a long piece of piano wire to sadistically and gleefully wire-saw off or amputate his left foot (and then his right foot), while reminding him: "You can't go anywhere without your feet. This wire cuts through bones so easily." Giggling, she ignored his pleas to stop, and tossed away the amputated foot when done.

When she heard his son coming home while she was sawing off the second foot, the film abruptly became Aoyama's psychotic nightmarish dream. He woke up with Asami in his bed after they had made love for the first time, following the audition.

Sadistic Torture and Dismemberment







Greatest Scariest Movie Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title, illustrated)
Intro | #s-A | B | C-1 | C-2 | D-1 | D-2 | E | F | G | H
I-J | K-L | M | N-O | P | Q-R | S-1 | S-2 | S-3 | T | U-Z

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