|Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description|
In the opening of this classic 'boogeyman' film (one of the most profitable independent films ever), a 4 minute sequence, young 6 year-old Michael Myers (Will Sandin as boy) murdered his teenaged sister Judith (Sandy Johnson) (shot from his point of view) with a long butcher knife -- and then was unmasked on the front lawn wearing a clown-costume.
In the wood-framed Myers house, he had voyeuristically watched from an outside porch window as Judith and her boyfriend Tommy (David Kyle) retreated to her upstairs bedroom to have sex. After the boyfriend left, the camera followed the mysterious figure to the back entrance and into the kitchen, where he took a large, menacing butcher knife from a drawer, proceeded through the house and then up the stairs. With a clown's Halloween mask (with a large, red, phallic-like nose) on his face, he entered his near-naked sister's bedroom to commit a hideous crime. Although she tried to defend herself, he furiously stabbed her to death in a brutal murder, and her bloodied body tumbled to the floor. The killer then descended the stairs and went out the front door. There, he was unmasked - revealed in a shocking revelation as six-year-old Michael Myers - the teenage girl's blank-faced, younger brother.
Later in the film, decent teenaged student Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) sighted the unkillable maniacal Michael Myers (Tony Moran as adult), for an instant before he vanished. He had escaped from a sanitarium after attacking a nurse and returned to his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois, to stalk its residents. She also spotted Myers near a clothesline. Laurie's baby-sitting charge Tommy Doyle (Brian Andrews) saw "the boogey man" staring at his house from across the street.
Stalked teenager Lynda (P. J. Soles), one of Laurie's girlfriends, amusingly thought a sheet-shrouded ghost figure was her boyfriend Bob (John Michael Graham) -- and not the madman -- who subsequently strangled her with a phone cord. Moments earlier, Bob met his fate in the kitchen where he was getting beer - when he opened the closet door, the masked Michael appeared (and stared at Bob quizzically for a moment as he tilted his head), held him high against the wall, and impaled him there with a large, shiny butcher knife.
During an extended sequence, Michael Myers seemed to have cornered teenaged babysitter Laurie - her retaliation had failed to stop him. He sat straight up (in the background) after being stabbed in the eye with a coat hanger. He had appeared as a shadow next to her and tried to stab her.
In the final segment, shrink Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) made the horrifying discovery that the killer had vanished from the ground below - and hadn't succumbed after being stabbed three times, shot six times by Loomis and falling from a two-story balcony. Loomis' final line of dialogue was priceless:
The Murder of Judith
Young Michael Myers
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
In director Curtis Hanson's unnerving dramatic thriller, Rebecca De Mornay portrayed an evil, deranged and vengeful nanny named Peyton Flanders - intent on seeking revenge against her dead obstetrician husband's patient Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra). It was a version of Fatal Attraction (1987) or Joseph Ruben's The Stepfather (1987) - against a young, busy mother.
Peyton was the widow of gynecologist Dr. Mott (John de Lancie) who killed himself after Claire brought charges of sexual harrassment. Newspaper headlines read: "Accused Gynecologist Found Dead in Home. Apparent Victim of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound." Claire was encouraged to file a lawsuit by her husband Michael (Matt McCoy). As a result of the stress, Peyton bloodily miscarried from the shock of her husband's death and was forced to have a hysterectomy. Later, Peyton falsely claimed that her husband had been murdered ("They never caught who did it. But I firmly believe, what goes around comes around").
The issue in question was shown in an unnerving doctor's office scene. Pregnant Seattle housewife Claire Bartel was placed in stirrups by her new gynecologist, Dr. Victor Mott. He engaged in small talk ("The weather's been beautiful these days, hasn't it?...I love taking walks after the rainstorm") as he unprofessionally squeezed her breasts and lasciviously (and secretly) removed his latex glove on his right hand to insert a finger into her for a violating vaginal probe.
Six months later, a disguised Peyton Flanders was hired as a nanny for the busy family. She schemed and threatened to wean the new baby Joey from the Bartel family. She took advantage of the fact that Claire was preoccupied with her greenhouse, a symbol for the womb.
In an offensive scene, she approached the infant with a pillow but then breast-fed the infant. [She had been using a breast pump to keep her milk up since her miscarriage.] Later, Peyton attempted to take over Claire's life with her yuppie husband, their five year old daughter Emma (Madeline Zima), and the newborn baby Joey:
The unbalanced Peyton set up various scenarios to incriminate or kill others:
In the conclusion after Peyton knocked Michael out with a shovel and broke his legs, Claire was in a face-off in the house against Peyton. Peyton further incensed Claire (who was faking an asthma attack) when she admitted secretly breastfeeding Joey: "When your husband makes love to you, it's MY face he sees. When your baby's hungry, it's MY breast that feeds him." Together with Solomon's help, the two pushed Peyton out of the attic window, and she rolled down the steep roof and was lethally impaled on the house's white picket fence spikes below.
The Death of Peyton
Director Ridley Scott's was the third film in the series of adapted screenplays from Thomas Harris' best-selling books. The film was set 10 years after the events of the previous film The Silence of the Lambs (1991), although the novel's time frame was seven years later.
In a dinner meal scene, FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) found Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) preparing a gourmet meal for a drugged and wheelchair-seated dinner guest. Duplicitous Justice Department official Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta) had arrived for the Fourth of July weekend at his home, where he was surprised to find the downstairs dining room table set for an elegant dinner. He was abruptly confronted by Lecter and drugged.
In the dining room, Clarice (suffering from doses of morphine) found Lecter preparing a gourmet meal for a drugged and seated dinner guest - Krendler, wearing a backwards baseball cap bearing his initials. She was stunned when Lecter removed Krendler's cap, exposing a circular scar around the top of his head.
Dr. Lecter then neatly sliced and removed the entire top of his skull to expose his brain's cerebral cortex. As he cut out part of the brain tissue in the pre-frontal lobe and sauteed it in a pan by the table, Lecter assured Clarice:
Krendler noted: "That smells great" and then ate a piece of his own brain when offered ("It is good"). Lecter taunted Clarice about whether she would sacrifice his freedom for her own return as a hero to her FBI job: "Those people you despise almost as much as they despise you."
With blood running down his face, an almost comatose Krendler was wheeled into the kitchen as the meal ended.
The Haunting (1963)
This classic and effective ghostly old mansion film from director/producer Robert Wise specialized in low-key suggestive horror, similar to Val Lewton's horror masterpieces and The Innocents (1961, UK). It was based upon Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House." [A remake was also made, director Jan de Bont's The Haunting (1999), starring Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luke Wilson.] Later, Burnt Offerings (1976) was a similar film.
[In the film's prologue, it was explained (in voice-over) how New Englander Hugh Crain had originally built the Hill House mansion for his young wife, the first Mrs. Crain (Pamela Buckley). Just seconds before she arrived at the house, however, she was killed when the horses bolted for no apparent reason and her carriage crashed against a big tree. There continued to be a history of death within the house for generations to come.]
In the story, anthropologist and psychic investigator Dr. John Markway (Richard Johnson) was leading a research team investigating New England's infamous 90 year old Hill House ("It was an evil house from the beginning, a house that was born bad") with a history of violent 'accidents.' Over a weekend, his scientific experimental study was designed to stir up or "stimulate" any occult forces that resided there, and to discover the presence of the supernatural. The strange caretakers of the house, the Dudleys (Valentine Dyall and Rosalie Crutchley), were a couple who lived in town and would never spend the night at Hill House.
The "carefully selected assistants" who were invited to stay overnight at Hill House as part of his study of the paranormal were:
[Grace Markway (Lois Maxwell), Markway's disbelieving and hard-headed wife, joined the group later.] Strange events and spooky nocturnal noises ensued (loud poundings, high-pitched laughter, bangings, opening and closing doors, cold spots and drafts, a 'breathing' doorway, sounds of glass breaking, etc.) during the film's frightening scenes of terror. Nell almost fell off the veranda early in the film and was saved by Dr. Markway, and she wrongly interpreted his attentiveness as romantic.
During one especially eerie scene, the film's most memorable set-piece, Eleanor mistakenly believed she was holding the hand of roommate Theodora in the adjacent bed for comfort from mysterious and strange sounds surrounding their dark room (unintelligible mumblings of a man, and a little girl sobbing). She asked Theodora to stop squeezing her hand, and then realized their beds were separated and that Theo wasn't anywhere near her. She exclaimed: "God, oh God! Whose hand was I holding?" It became clear that the unseen and invisible presence had squeezed her hand and wanted to claim Eleanor - that the 'haunting' horror had selected her and that she had finally found a "home." At times, however, she did suspect her own state of mind ("Maybe I am insane").
In the climactic scary ending, after Grace inexplicably disappeared while sleeping in the much-feared, most-haunted room - the dreaded nursery, Eleanor ascended the rickety spiral staircase in the library. Dr. Markway followed her up to its top platform to rescue her. When they both reached the platform at the top of the nearly-collapsed structure, Eleanor saw Grace's face peering down at her from a trap-door in the ceiling, and she fainted. Dr. Markway feared for Eleanor's safety and ordered her to leave Hill House immediately, although Eleanor was resistant.
Feeling that the house wanted to possess her, was speaking to her, and that she belonged to it, Eleanor sped away in a car in the driveway toward the gate. Taking an erratic course as the car became possessed, she saw Grace racing across her path. Struggling with the steering wheel, Eleanor crashed her car into an old tree, and instantly died in exactly the same spot that the first Mrs. Crain did. Dr. Markway declared that Hill House was definitely haunted. Eleanor's soul was claimed and now condemned (or invited) to join the other ghostly forces roaming the dark corridors of Hill House. Her voice-over ended the film, similar to the film's prologue: "Hill House has stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Within, walls continue upright, bricks meet, floors are firm, and doors are sensibly shut. Silence lies steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House. And we who walk here...walk alone."
Director Clive Barker's grisly sado-masochistic supernatural horror film (his directorial debut feature) was based upon his own novella "The Hellbound Heart."
The film opened with a scary prologue - Frank Cotton (Sean Chapman) purchased a magical French antique puzzle box (the Lamont Configuration) from a Moroccan vendor. Soon after, in the attic of his London home while surrounded by candles in the shape of a square, the sexually-perverted and depraved Frank attempted to solve the secret mystery of the box, hoping it would open him up to new carnal pleasures.
When it did open with sparks of blue, it took him to a new dark and hellish alternate dimension inhabited by mutant humanoids, where he was impaled by hooks and chains in his flesh and face. His bloody remains were spread across the floor. After the box was restored to its original configuration, Frank's remnants (including his reassembled face) were taken and hidden away in the Cenobite realm.
The story then told about another Cotton couple:
The two moved into the same old abandoned house in London. Larry had a nubile teenaged daughter named Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) who despised her stepmother and moved into her own apartment. Before long, Larry's blood was spilled in the attic when he cut his hand on a nail, summoning the bloody rebirth of Frank. The blood allowed Frank's hideous resurrection. He escaped to the attic (from the Cenobites' realm) and partially restored his body.
Julia discovered the gooey remains of a re-animated, half-alive, half-composed 'skinless' Frank the Monster (Oliver Smith) thirsting for new blood to regenerate himself. Unfaithful to Larry, Julia agreed to help Frank harvest blood to fully reconstitute his entire body. Fresh victims were lured to the house by the seductive Julia. In a grisly scene, she assaulted her first amorous guest with a hammer. Eventually, Frank's suspicious teenaged niece Kirsty discovered what was happening and stopped one of the murders in progress. She grabbed the puzzle box from Frank and escaped, but required hospitalization when she became unconscious.
In a memorable scene, she also twisted the box to solve the puzzle and summoned other-worldly Cenobite spirits. She was pursued down a long corridor by a two-headed creature back into her hospital room. The grotesque character of the Lead Cenobite (or Pinhead) (Doug Bradley) appeared - a demonic agent of evil and the leader of the horrible S&M creatures who worshipped pain. Pinhead told her:
As she pleaded: "It was a mistake," she was told threateningly:
However, knowing that Frank had escaped, Pinhead agreed to free Kirsty in exchange for leading them to Frank. When she returned to the house, she discovered that Frank had killed her father Larry, and was wearing his fleshly skin to impersonate him.
When the resurrected and regenerated Frank discovered that Kirsty had set him up and led the Cenobites to him, he exclaimed: "You set me up, you bitch!" He vengefully approached Kirsty to stab her, but then his hand was literally snared by a hook attached to a chain. Then, his entire body was literally stretched out and impaled, in a crucifixion pose, by a network of dozens of hooks and chains ripping into his flesh by the grim-faced Cenobites.
Masochistically savoring the pain, Frank knew he was facing death and eternal damnation in an alternate universe. He looked lustfully at Kirsty one last time (licking his lips), said (infamously): "Jesus wept," giggled to himself, and then was pulled apart and torn to shreds.
The Cenobites also tried to claim Kirsty and take her back to their realm, but the resourceful teen cleverly manipulated the box with black magic and held off the monstrous creatures.
Kirsty (Ashley Laurence)
Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) (released in 1990)
The realistic, detached, low-budget cinema-verite documentary style filming of this disturbing story enhanced each brutal, sudden, gory and violent killing by serial killer Henry (Michael Rooker), based upon the account of real-life convicted serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. There were many sickening, brutally-violent killings (over a dozen) in this highly-controversial, low-budget and notorious 82 minute film.
Interspersed in the film's action were still shots of Henry's trail of carnage in Illinois - they were the death poses of many of the murder victims (killed off-screen), sometimes with accompanying sounds of their screams or death struggle:
The most upsetting and disturbing murder was the videotaped killing of a helpless family of three (a couple and their son) (Lisa Temple, Brian Graham, and Sean Ores) in their suburban home, videotaped for repeated viewings by both Henry and roommate-prison buddy partner-in-crime Otis (Tom Towles).
Eventually Otis was killed when Henry found him strangling and raping his own sister Becky (Tracy Arnold) - Henry's 'girlfriend.' Henry murdered Otis (Becky had just stabbed him in the eye with the sharp end of a hairbrush) and cut off his head in the bathtub. Otis' body parts were dumped in the river and then he fled with her.
On the move with Becky, the two spent the night in a motel. The very next morning, Henry left the motel by himself (had he killed Becky in the room and dismembered her body?) and deposited Becky's heavy blood-stained suitcase in a roadside ditch (was Becky inside?).
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Writer/director Wes Craven's horror film was a cult classic in the genre - similar in theme to his own previous film The Last House on the Left (1972) and the subsequent The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Its tagline summarized its overall content of a family forced to kill to survive: "A nice American family. They didn't want to kill. But they didn't want to die."
It told about a road trip by an American family that ended up horribly wrong when they came across terror in the desert. Although originally rated X, it was slightly edited for an R-rating release. Craven made a sequel called The Hills Have Eyes, Part II (1985), and another sequel was made by his writer/producer son Jonathan, titled The Hills Have Eyes III (1995). The original film was remade by director Alexandre Aja almost 30 years later as The Hills Have Eyes (2006).
The unsuspecting Carter family, headed by a husband/wife celebrating their Silver Anniversary, was traveling in a station wagon (pulling a mobile home trailer) across the American Southwest on their way to California. The family characters consisted of:
In Nevada, they detoured - into Nellis Air Force Base's ' nuclear testing site (gunnery range) - to visit a silver mine that had been inherited. Fred's Oasis gas station owner Fred (John Steadman) predictably warned: "Don't take your family back in there. The silver's been gone 40 years now. Besides, there's nothin' back in there but animals...You folks stay on the main road now, you hear? Stay on the main road!"
When their trailer's axle broke and they were considered trespassers off the main road, the wayward group found themselves attacked by another family - an inbred group of mutant, cannibalistic marauders living in the hills.
The cave-dwelling family was composed of:
[Old-timer gas station owner Fred presented the sordid history of the clan in the midst of the film. He claimed how his wife had given birth to a monstrous, 20 lb. hairy baby born in 1929. He discovered 10 years later that 'devil child' Jupiter had burned his house down and killed his wife, so he abandoned the near-dead boy in the desert after bashing its head with a tire-iron. Henceforth, the clan was spawned: "Long enough for him to steal a whore that nobody'd miss. Long enough to raise a passel of wild kids. Long enough for a devil kid to grow up to be a devil man." After relating the story to Big Bob, Fred was attacked by Jupiter with a tire iron - probably the same one - and slaughtered.]
The horror of rape and death for the family began when Big Bob and son-in-law Doug set out on foot for help in different directions, and Beauty was gutted and disemboweled. When Big Bob returned and collapsed suffering from a bad heart, he was ambushed in the dark by Papa Jupiter, and a rat was stuffed in his mouth to quiet him. As a diversion, he was crucified on a Joshua Tree and set ablaze (Ethel hysterically exclaimed about the charred body: "That's not my Bob!"). Meanwhile, Pluto and Mars entered the camper - Pluto raped Brenda first as snaggle-toothed Mars paused to rip off the head of a caged parakeet and drink its blood. After Mars also assaulted Brenda, the two planned to abduct "fat and juicy" baby Katy for food.
Returning to the camper, Lynne wrestled Mars to protect her baby, as Ethel was shot in the stomach. During the struggle, Lynne was also shot - she then stabbed Mars in the right thigh with a sharp pair of scissors, but was killed by a second shot. In the dark, Beast pushed Mercury off a cliff to his death.
After Ethel died, the next day she was strapped to a lawn chair away from the trailer and used by traumatized Brenda and Bobby as bait for Papa Jup who was returning to murder them. Doug attempted to head into the hills to rescue his kidnapped baby, and was aided by Ruby who ran off with the child. Beast chewed up Pluto's left achilles heel - and later the dog's jaws grabbed his throat and killed him.
Using their own wits, the two teens caught Papa Jup's legs with a cable and dragged his body, set an explosive trap at the trailer for him, and then killed him (with Brenda using a handaxe and Bobby using a gun firing their last two remaining bullets). Up in the hills, Doug - in a frenzy - repeatedly stabbed Mars in the gut after Ruby had held a biting rattlesnake to his neck. The final scene ended in a blood-red freeze-frame of Doug above Mars after killing him.
Rape of Brenda
Crucifixion/Burning of Big Bob
End Freeze-Frame of Doug
After Killing Mars
The Hitcher (1986)
In this brutally violent and scary horror-thriller film, while driving from Chicago to San Diego to transport a rental car, Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) picked up a strange, violently terrorizing, psychopathic, handsome 'hitcher' named John Ryder (Rutger Hauer). As he opened the car door, he stated: "My mother told me to never do this" - the film was possibly a nightmarish vision of what could happen in the scenario of picking up a dangerous hitch-hiker.
After a few stalking and murderous encounters with the relentless Ryder along the way, Jim entered the Longhorn Restaurant, a roadside diner/gas station before it was officially open, where the young, friendly blonde waitress Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh) served him a meal of fries and a cheeseburger. When he was astonished to find a severed finger in the fries - it was a tip-off that Ryder was in the vicinity. It caused him to gag and puke! In a tense cat-and-mouse game, Ryder continually framed Jim for the crime spree murders he had committed of various victims, including police officers. (In one scene, Ryder delivered a sadistic line while holding a knife to a victim's face: "Do you wanna know what happens to an eyeball when it gets punctured?'')
Nash became a victim of serial killer Ryder when she was tied hand and foot by chains between the front end of a trailer-truck and a detached semi-trailer. During the horrific scene, she screamed out: "Please don't!" In the cab of the truck with his foot on the clutch, Ryder challenged everyone to shoot him (an officer had cautioned: "If we shoot him, his foot is gonna come off that clutch and that truck is gonna roll"). Jim tensely entered the cab, where Ryder suggested: "The gun is loaded. Go for it! Go ahead, pick it up." Ryder revved the engine and threatened to accelerate. As instructed, Jim picked up the gun and pointed it at Ryder, but couldn't squeeze the trigger (fearing that "she'll die"). Ryder was disgusted: "You useless waste," let up the clutch, and accelerated anyway.
With a horrible tearing and stretching sound, Nash was pulled in two (the gore remained off-screen) when Ryder's foot came off the clutch and the truck accelerated. The last view was of her bound hands.
In this grisly, unpleasant and bloody horror story (dubbed "torture-porn") by director Eli Roth that was mostly viewed by hardcore males, three backpackers ventured to a remote Slovakian city for good times, hedonistic sex and drugs.
Almost immediately, they found sex (filmed with gratuitous nudity) in a hostel and spa with two Eastern European beauties - giggly brunette Natalya (Barbara Nedeljakova) and blonde Svetlana (Jana Kaderabkova) -- the ultimate male fantasy. The two amoral femme fatales would later entrap them. After the two Americans feared that Oli had met a grisly demise, they discovered that they also had been drugged - and lured to become victims of wealthy, sadistic patrons who wished to torture unsuspecting tourists with their "darkest, sickest fantasies."
A fiendish plot (named Elite Hunting) was uncovered in an abandoned, run-down factory warehouse where a sadistic Dutch businessman (Jan Vlasak) and another American client (Rick Hoffman) had paid large sums of money for the exciting opportunity to torture, dismember and/or kill foreigners who had been lured into the 'hostel' trap.
Gruesome, dark and sick tortures included (some off-screen):
In one of the film's many awful sequences, Paxton was mercifully forced to snip off the dangling eyeball of another badly mutilated victim, a Japanese girl named Kana (Jennifer Lim). Later, after they both escaped, she jumped in front of a train to commit suicide, after realizing how disfigured her face was in a reflection.
In the film's satisfying ending, Paxton sought murderous revenge in a train station's restroom stall upon the sadistic Dutch businessman who had killed Josh. He used a small knife to sever two fingers, then dunked the man's head into the toilet after slitting the man's throat.
House of Wax (1953) - in 3-D
Andre de Toth's horror film from Warner Bros. had the extra added attraction of being filmed in 3-D - and it was highly successful. It was a more expensive remake of their earlier Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), with Vincent Price establishing himself forever after as the quintessential horror villain.
In turn-of-the-century New York, wax museum curator and sculptor Prof. Henry Jarrod (Vincent Price) was distressed when his business partner Matthew Burke (Roy Roberts) threatened to burn his masterworks creations - for the $25,000 insurance money. Jarrod was thought to have perished in the flames - he was seen dodging the fiery debris amidst melting figures in the film's exciting opening sequence. Soon after, a shadowy black-cloaked figure roamed at night, at the same time as Burke's murder and the theft of bodies from the morgue, with the help of deaf-mute henchman/sculptor Igor (Charles Bronson, credited as Charles Buchinsky), and assistant Leon (Young).
Suddenly - and miraculously, a new wheelchair-bound (although he could walk) 'reincarnated' Henry Jarrod (with ruined hands) reappeared and opened a new wax emporium. The film's poster tagline gave away the plot: "The half-man half-monster who stalked a panic swept city for the beauties he craved for his chamber of horrors!" The improved museum featured a "Chamber of Horrors" theme and the recreation of violent crimes, created by a scarred, mad and psychotic Jarrod. The film's plot twist was that Jarrod's extremely life-like wax exhibits were the bodies of his own murdered victims, who had been dipped in a large vat of wax.
In the film's climactic highpoint, art student Sue Allen (Phyllis Kirk) suspected that one of the figures (Joan of Arc) resembled recently-murdered close friend/roommate Cathy Gray (Carolyn Jones) - and Burke's girlfriend. When she beat against Jarrod's face, his wax visage broke off and fell away. She scarily revealed his grotesque features beneath. She was saved from a predictable fate (she resembled Marie Antoinette) when police broke into the museum and surrounded Jarrod. His own fate came when he fell into his own vat of bubbling wax.
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
House on Haunted Hill (1958)
The original horror film with this title was director/producer William Castle's campy and gimmicky House on Haunted Hill (1958) - forty years earlier than its glossy and elaborate remake (see below).
Filled with B-movie shocks and plot twists, the setup was the hosting of a mysterious party by eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) for 5 guests and for his fourth wife Annabelle Loren (Carol Ohmart). Any one who survived the 12-hour night in the locked house (after midnight) would receive $10,000. Loren had rented the house from drunken wastrel Watson Pritchard (Elisha Cook Jr.), one of the guests and the mansion's owner, who believed that there had been seven inexplicable, brutal murders in the reputedly-haunted house - including beheadings and amputations. In fact, the house did seem spooked, with a falling chandelier, bleeding ceilings, moving walls and secret passageways, a severed head in a suitcase, and 'ghosts.'
The suicide (by hanging) of Annabelle in the stairwell was faked. She was actually allied with invited guest, psychiatrist Dr. David Trent (Alan Marshal) - the two lovers were both scheming to kill Loren for his fortune.
The vengeful Loren had other plans - he faked that he was shot dead in the wine cellar by one of the guests who was driven to hysteria, young Nora Manning (Carolyn Craig). Trent went to the cellar to dump Frederick's body into an acid vat hidden beneath a large trap-door in the floor. During a 'lights-out' struggle between the two, it sounded like Loren's body was dumped into the vat. [However, it was later revealed that Frederick revived - the gun that shot him had blanks in it - and pushed Trent's body into the vat of acid.]
Shortly later, Annabelle arrived to search for Trent. From a side room, Loren scared the wits out of her with an "Emergo" skeleton (she believed it was her vengeful husband Loren's skeleton) that emerged dancing from the vat. The conniving wife was pursued and taunted by the skeleton, using Loren's voice: "At last, you've got it all. Everything I have, even my life. But you're not going to live to enjoy it. Come with me, murderess. Come with me." She screamed as the skeleton touched her shoulder, backed up in fright, and tumbled into the vat behind her. Loren emerged from the shadows, manipulating the puppet-like skeleton on wires and strings.
He offered silky-voiced eulogies for the two deceased:
Loren admitted to his guests that the two had died trying to kill him: "I'm ready for justice to decide whether I'm innocent or guilty." In the final line of dialogue, haunted house owner Watson Pritchard warned that the ghosts of the doomed house were now unleashed: "They'll be more, many more. They're coming for me now (looking straight-forward into the camera) - and then they'll come for you!"
House on Haunted Hill (1999)
The elaborate horror remake of the 1958 Castle movie (see above) by William Malone, was also followed by a sequel, Return to House on Haunted Hill (2007) in unrated and R-rated versions, featuring an unrelated search for the Baphomet idol - the cause/source of evil.
The film opened in a hellish sanatorium - the Vannacutt Psychiatric Institute for the Criminally Insane in Los Angeles. Shown in flashback on October 11, 1931, an evil mass-murdering doctor, Dr. Richard Benjamin Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs), was surgically cutting into an operating room patient without anesthesia - a scene that would be replayed later. In one of the gory shots, a group of rebellious disturbed patients stabbed one of the orderly-office clerks through the neck with three freshly-sharpened pencils. Vannacutt was interrupted by the riot, orchestrated by the asylum's mental patients - creating a "Hospital of Horror" and "Sanitarium of Slaughter" when everyone died in the resulting inferno (charred remains were shown) within the locked facility. It was now the "House on Haunted Hill."
Years later, Halloween birthday-party guests for Evelyn Stockard Price's (Famke Janssen) celebration were invited (and challenged) to spend the night in the haunted hill house for $1 million. The offer was made by demented amusement park entrepreneur and inventor - sadistic, smirking and eccentric millionaire husband Stephen Price (Geoffrey Rush, replacing Vincent Price in the original film). He was married to his hated, vain and quarreling femme fatale wife, who in the first sequence, was bathing in her sudsy tub. She watched jerky, TV newsreel footage (on the program "Terrifying But True!!") showing the asylum's lethal past as a torture institution for the criminally insane. The program's narrator (Peter Graves) intoned:
The names of the five party guests, strangers to each other yet all invited to Evelyn's birthday at the sealed-up haunted house (for "Terror, Humiliation, Perhaps Murder"), were switched twice. Price had shredded Evelyn's list and substituted his own guest list - although his list, in his absence, was also mysteriously deleted from his laptop (by evil spirits of the house?). The final guest list included:
Lots of nightmarish images popped up in the film. During a sequence for a search to find the security system controls to unlock the house gates, a group of guests went down a series of frightening corridors. Sara and others found display cases of mummified remains of experimented-upon patients. In its creepiest moment, she reached her arms into a large round vat of gooey blood to rescue a possessed Eddie who had jumped in. Then she found him suddenly approaching her from behind, and asking: "What the hell are you doing?" as a mysterious force tried to drag her in.
Meanwhile, Stephen came across his employee Carl Schechter (Max Perlich) at security controls and monitors who had been paid to scare the guests with various traps. After unexpected happenings, he was discovered with his entire face missing - only a big bloody hole was visible.
Shortly afterwards, when Stephen became threatening to everyone, he was protectively sealed in a gigantic, revolving kinescope (a sensory overload isolation chamber), called a "saturation chamber." He donned a pair of goggles as he began to hallucinate. He experienced unsettling, weird psychotic images of a vest-wearing, maniacally-laughing man bouncing a red ball. A nude woman hanging from straps appeared to be tortured, and a man had his face in a vice-like mask. Price's visions were accompanied by his experience of drowning in a sealed vault of water with a nude underwater female spewing blood from her mouth before her head turned into a grotesque shape. His head became the red bouncing ball in the hands of his deadly wife.
[One of the film's major twists was that the invitees, selected by the house's vengeful spirits, specifically included five descendants-relatives of members of Vannacutt's original 1931 staff who hadn't perished in the early 1930s fire - everyone "responsible" for the fiery conflagration:
The film ended with the realization that the angry, "pissed" house itself was an evil entity, represented by a spidery, undulating, shape-shifting black "Darkness." It was released when Stephen and Evelyn were scuffling with each other in a monumental final struggle in the basement. Stephen threw Evelyn through a decaying door where they both were confronted by the "Darkness." It quickly assimilated, corroded and consumed Evelyn, and then attacked the surviving members in the house, as Price screamed: "The house is alive." Soon after, Price also met his demise.
Only two eventually escaped, Sara Wolfe and Eddie Baker. The threatening "Darkness" released Eddie when he claimed: "I had nothing to do with this! I was adopted!" The two survivors found an envelope labeled: "For those who survive the night" - enclosed were five cashier's checks for $1 million each, made out to "CASH," and signed by Stephen Price.
The Howling (1981)
The Howling (1981) was director Joe Dante's retooling of the werewolf horror films of the classic era. In tribute, several of the characters were named after famous werewolf horror film movie directors: George Waggner (The Wolf Man (1941)), (Roy) William Neill (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)), Terence Fisher (The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)), and Freddie Francis (Legend of the Werewolf (1975)).
In one of its opening startling scenes set in an adult video store's seedy porno viewing room, Los Angeles TV news-anchor Karen White (Dee Wallace-Stone) was part of a police trap to catch serial killer Eddie Quist (Robert Picardo). She was forced to watch a video of a young woman/hooker (Sarina C. Grant) being raped by Eddie Quist - with lycanthropic overtones. When police arrived to save her, Eddie was shot and apparently killed.
Suffering from shock, nightmares, sexual dysfunction and amnesia, she was prescribed recovery time with her husband Bill Neill (Christopher Stone) at a secluded Big Sur country "Colony" retreat locale, where unbeknownst to her, bizarre, ravenous, sex-crazed werewolves were located. [She was unaware that her prescribing New Age therapist/doctor at the time was Dr. George Waggner (Patrick Macnee), a werewolf.] Bill was seduced by Eddie's sultry nymphomaniac sister Marsha (Elisabeth Brooks), acting like a "bitch in heat." By a campfire, they were transformed through shapeshifting into howling werewolves during sex.
Karen's friend Terry Fisher (Belinda Balaski) was searching for information in Marsha's cabin at the retreat center. Suddenly, she was attacked by a giant werewolf, and escaped by cutting off the monstrous creature's claw with a hand axe - she watched in horror as the wolf hand became human. Also, during the so-called "File Cabinet" scene in the retreat's office, as she later was rifling through file folders, suddenly a giant hairy claw reached calmly in to help her. She was attacked by the anthropomorphic, 7 foot tall werewolf (a regenerated Eddie Quist) and slapped backwards. Her screams (with the phone dangling) were heard by her boyfriend Chris Halloran (Dennis Dugan). She was murdered when held up by the beast and her neck snapped when bitten. Her bloodied body was left on the floor.
During a memorable werewolf transformation scene with ground-breaking special effects, Karen White watched helplessly as Eddie in real-time turned into a werewolf in front of her. He taunted her:
The changes were accompanied by crackling noises, while the snout and jaw structures elongated and changed, cheeks, forehead and neck undulated and bubbled (air bladders under facial latex skin), talon-like nails/claws extended from fingers, teeth grew into feral fangs, and hairy fur and pointy devilish ears grew out. (All were pneumatic transformations without CGI effects.) She threw acid into the face of the beast and evaded the monstrous creature.
The film ended with Karen escaping with Chris after he had shot Eddie with silver bullets - and after locking the wolf creatures in a barn and setting it on fire. They were surrounded by a pack of werewolves in a hijacked police vehicle, and Karen was bitten in the neck by her own werewolf husband. She pulled a shotgun's trigger on her husband (who reverted back to his human flesh when dead), and then told Chris: "We have to warn people, Chris. We have to make them believe."
To convince viewers of the threat, shown on-camera in a pre-arranged, televised appearance, Karen began with the statement: "A secret society exists, and is living among all of us. They are neither people nor animals, but something in-between." Then came her own werewolf transformation scene. One of the viewers, a young girl soon exclaimed: "The newslady's turned into a werewolf!" The episode left viewers to wonder whether it was real or just spectacular special effects ("The things they do with special effects these days").
Karen was shot and killed in the studio by Chris with a silver bullet during the news broadcast. In the final scene set in a bar where patrons were watching the show, at the end of the bar, Marsha (who had escaped alive from the Colony) ordered a rare hamburger.
Karen's Deadly Bite in the Neck
The Hurt Locker (2009)
In this Best Picture winner, there was a tense series of war scenes/set-pieces (filmed by Best Director-winning Kathryn Bigelow) which told about an elite group of three bomb-squad specialists or EOD bomb defusers (Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Squad) in Bravo Company. They were cognizant of a 39-day countdown until their home-leave deployment-rotation.
The film opened with the death of team leader SSG Matt Thompson (Guy Pearce) in a bulky Kevlar suit after a failed defusement of a dangerous IED (improvised explosive devices) bomb with a robotic device. The action took place in the rubble and garbage-strewn streets of Bagdad in 2004 Iraq when they were threatened with sniper fire and the bomb was set off by a cellphone from a marketplace butcher shop.
Thompson's replacement ("a redneck piece of trailer trash") was newcomer and risk-taker Army Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). In one scary and harrowing scene after another, James displayed bravado, recklessness and fearlessness:
(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