|Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description|
M (1931, Ger.)
Director Fritz Lang's highly influential film - his first sound film, was an expressionistic psychological thriller about a child molester and murderer named Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), who terrorized the German city of Berlin.
As he stalked and approached his target, a little girl, he compulsively whistled his motif - Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from the Peer Gynt Suite.
Beckert was later marked by underworld members with the letter M on his back, until caught and tried in a kangaroo court, and then by a conventional court.
This was the first film to introduce the serial killer character named Hannibal - serving as a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991). It was based on Thomas Harris' 1981 best-selling novel Red Dragon, and from the screenplay by director Michael Mann. The film's original title might have been misinterpreted as a kung-fu movie, so it was renamed with the bland title of Manhunter. This psychological thriller was later re-made as Red Dragon (2002) by director Brett Ratner, starring Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (now spelled Lecter) and Edward Norton as Will Graham.
The film's scariest high-point was the torture and death of obnoxious, sleazy National Tattler tabloid journalist Freddie Lounds (Stephen Lang), who was conducting his own investigation of the Red Dragon murders conducted by a new serial killer named Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), known as the Tooth Fairy because he left bite-marks on his victims.
Lounds was ambushed by the The Tooth Fairy serial killer in an underground parking garage. He was chloroformed and kidnapped. During a shocking torture scene, Lounds was blindfolded and strapped in a wheelchair, and taunted: "According to you, I'm a sexual pervert. 'An animal,' you said." Dollarhyde was incensed that Lounds' tabloid had printed a false and derogatory profile of him as the Tooth Fairy.
The tall, crazed "Tooth Fairy" enemy with a cleft-palate and scraggly white hair wore a ladies' sheer stocking mask over his head and eyes, and forced Lounds to watch a slideshow beginning with a painting of William Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Rays of the Sun, with further pictures of his transformed female victims (Mrs. Leeds, Mrs. Jacobi), and imminent future victim Freddie Lounds. The killer told the helpless Lounds:
Lounds was forced to record a note in which he admitted his writings about the Red Dragon killer were lies, and that FBI profiler agent Will Graham (William Petersen) had coerced him to write the untruths (part of the note: "He will be more merciful to me than to you. You will lie awake in fear of what the Red Dragon will do"). The "Tooth Fairy" then announced that Lounds' promise to tell the truth would be sealed: "We'll seal your promise with a kiss."
The screaming Lounds had his lips bitten off (off-screen) and then was set ablaze in the wheelchair. He was rolled down a steep underground parking garage ramp towards the camera - his death occurred later (offscreen) in a hospital.
The Torture and Death of Freddie Lounds
This was a classic 80s slasher film and controversial, disturbing horror film from director William Lustig, with incredibly gory special effects by bloody make-up guru Tom Savini. The director admitted the film was a compilation of various serial killers in the news at the time, i.e., David Berkowitz and John Wayne Gacy. It was a notorious precursor to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), and was reminiscent of an urban version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The film was remade as Maniac (2012) with Elijah Wood.
The gritty splatter movie opened with a nighttime scene of an unidentified male using coin-operated binoculars at a beach to spy on a couple (James Brewster and Linda Lee Walter) on the dunes under a blanket. When the guy went to get wood, the stalker came up to the female and slit her throat. When the boyfriend returned, he was garrotted from behind with a wire.
The stalker had been introduced - he was a self-loathing, self-torturing psychopath named Frank Zito (Joe Spinell, the film's co-producer and co-scripter), who often rambled and spoke to himself with an inner monologue, similar to Norman Bates' character in Psycho (1960). The demented and lonely Zito lived in a tiny NY apartment, adorned with a framed picture surrounded by candles of his prostitute mother Carmen. Later, it was revealed that the mama's boy had been abused by her - she locked him in a closet while she entertained tricks.
Zito stalked the streets of NYC to find pretty victims to kill and scalp. Then, he would take their clothes and trophy scalps home to dress up his growing mannequin collection. He collected a creepy set of decorated mannequins in his one-room NY apartment. They wore the scalped hair of his female victims (he nailed the bloodys tufts of hair onto their heads). He also slept with his 'females' - handcuffed.
The deranged, sweaty, pudgy Zito was responsible for many stalkings and deaths strung together in this violent film - committed in a gruesome fashion. Zito's next victim was a hooker (Rita Montone), who was strangled after Frank began to have sex with her in a hotel bedroom. Frank then scalped the woman with a razor.
The most infamous and graphically-violent scene was dubbed the "Disco Boy" sequence. One night, a couple making out in the backseat of a car in a parking lot near one end of the Verrazano Bridge were brutally executed. After spying on the couple, Zito jumped on the car's hood and fired into the windshield at the driver (Tom Savini) - the male's head was exploded with a direct shot from a 12-gauge double-barrelled shotgun. Blood splattered over the hysterical female Disco Girl (Hyla Marrow) - and she was also targeted, shot point-blank in the head.
Then, he started dating young British fashion photographer Anna D'Abroni (Caroline Munro) who took his picture in the park. Suspense was created during their seemingly-normal relationship - would he murder her too?
There were other misogynistic killing scenes, including:
In the film's ultimate sequence, a baffling and over-the-top scene, Zito woke up in a sweat. He was nightmarishly attacked by his own anthropomorphic bloodied mannequins, who seemed to come alive and surround his bed. They grabbed his implements of death (shotgun, bayonet, knives, etc.), and first dismembered him (cutting off one arm), plunged a bayonet into his abdomen, and then decapitated him by ripping off his head. The next morning, police officers found Frank's corpse on his bed - he had apparently committed suicide after suffering from a nightmare about his mannequins murdering him. After the officers left after a few brief moments (without saying a word or touching anything, strangely), there was a lengthy shot of Frank on his bed -- and then a zoom shot into his eye when it opened! Was he not really dead?
Opening Scene: Throat Slitting and Garroting at the Beach
"Maniac" on the Loose
Affixing Trophy Scalps on Mannequins
The Subway Scene - Attack on Nurse (Kelly Piper)
Rita's Bathtub Scene Prior to Her Murder
Marathon Man (1976) was a scary nightmare thriller - best known for the suspenseful pursuit scenes and truly repellent scenes of dental torture.
In two excruciating and grim scenes (the infamous torture scene was split into two segments), sadistic ex-Nazi death camp dentist Szell (Laurence Olivier) tortured tied-up, idealistic doctoral student Babe Levy (Dustin Hoffman) in a window-less room using probing and buzzing dental instruments on a tray.
In a chair, Babe was constrained while wearing a bathrope and striped PJ bottoms. After methodically washing his hands, Szell repeatedly and calmly asked the baffling question: "Is it safe?"
After causing intense pain with one of his ominous instruments by digging around inside Babe's mouth, Szell applied a dab of a medicinal liquid on his little finger to the affected tooth:
During a second session of torture, Szell plugged in his loud-sounding, whirring drill (the horror was accentuated by POV shots). He threatened:
Note: His question asked whether or not it was safe for him to go and pick up a hidden stash of diamonds stolen from Jewish concentration camp victims.
Babe screamed as the pain increased and then passed out. Szell spoke to his thugs: "He knew nothing. If he'd known, he would have told. Get rid of him."
Men Behind the Sun (1988, HK) (aka Hei Tai Yang 731)
This provocative and sickening documentary-style film (denounced by some as an exploitation film) from director T.F. Mou displayed some of the Japanese atrocities and perverse medical experiments committed toward guinea-pig human victims (Manchurian civilians).
They were held in Unit 731 (a biological warfare R & D unit) during WWII (and the Sino-Japanese War). It was claimed that Emperor Hirohito secretly ordered the inhuman lab experiments.
It was also criticized for its use of actual autopsy footage depicting a drugged young boy whose organs were extracted from his body while he remained alive, and for another scene in which a live cat was thrown into a room and ripped apart by a swarm of hungry rats.
In a decompression or hyperbaric chamber sequence, intense pressure caused one man's intestines to shoot out of his anus.
Kathy Bates won the Best Actress Oscar for her sledge-hammer-swinging/psychopathic fan role in director Rob Reiner's blackish thriller Misery (1990) - another Stephen King adaptation (by William Goldman). Rescuer/nurse Annie Wilkes strangely idolized car accident victim and romance author-writer Paul Sheldon (James Caan) -- ("I'm your number one fan").
Sheldon had penned a series of books about a lovelorn 19th century character named Misery Chastain. Wilkes nursed Sheldon back to health in her place in Colorado. She was sane until she maddeningly learned that the writer had killed off the heroine character.
In an earlier tense scene, Paul frantically returned to his bed before Annie returned. Eventually, the obsessed Wilkes made a deranged, frightening decision to 'fix' things so that he would never try to run away.
In the very painful 'hobbling' scene, she explained how she could assure that her favorite captive author-writer Paul Sheldon would never leave her:
During a near-rescue scene, the Sheriff (Richard Farnsworth) was killed by a shotgun blast at the last moment.
However, in the concluding basement scene, Annie was planning on a double suicide-murder: ("You and I were meant to be together for ever. But now our time in this world must end. But don't worry, Paul. I've prepared for what must be done. I put two bullets in my gun, one for you and one for me. Oh, darling, it'll be so beautiful"), but Paul was able to trick Annie into getting a cigarette and second glass for champagne to celebrate completing the manuscript; he found an opportunity to bash her over the head with his typewriter, and although she shot him in the left shoulder, he was eventually able to stuff some of the manuscript into her mouth during a one-on-one fight, and then after tripping her, she fell and suffered a lethal blow to the head when she struck his typewriter.
In the haunting ending in a restaurant, a waitress told Paul: "I just wanna tell you I'm your number one fan" - causing Paul continued visions of a now-dead Annie still stalking him.
The Mothman Prophecies (2002)
Director Mark Pellington's X-Files-like horror film starred Richard Gere and Laura Linney. It was an eerie psychological thriller based on a legendary 'true' creature - with black wings, mothlike features and red eyes. The creature was based on true-life events in Point Pleasant, West Virginia that occurred in the mid to late 1960s.
John Klein (Richard Gere), a newspaper reporter researching the "Mothman" legend, had a series of chilling, mind-reading phone conversations in his motel room, with the inhuman, supernatural "Indrid Cold" (voice of Mark Pellington, the director) who could read his mind:
The most amazing mind-reading revelations were John's next conversation about a paperback book that he had, and the fate of his wife:
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Best Director-nominated David Lynch's surreal, enigmatic, complex, puzzle-box, mind-bending, and unconventional film was about Hollywood, obsession and unrequited love, a contract hit, dashed dreams and suicide. It portrayed the twisting, and shifting identities of its two female protagonists, two femme fatales, each with two personas:
In the modern film noir, both were caught in a nightmarish, Los Angeles web of corruption and death after opening the mysterious Pandora's Box with a blue key.
There were two startling, creepy appearances of a deformed, homeless-looking, dirty monstrous dumpster-dwelling crone/vagrant (Bonnie Aarons). Just before his first appearance behind Winkie's diner on Sunset Blvd., Dan (Patrick Fischler) hesitantly, in a long monologue (located at the 10-15 minute mark of the film), told his well-dressed friend Herb (Michael Cooke) inside the restaurant about a dream that they had both been in:
He ended by saying that the dream gave him a "god-awful feeling" that he needed to get rid of.
Afterwards, the two left Winkie's and walked around the side of the restaurant, and descended some steps - proceeding stealthily and cautiously. From behind a graffiti-decorated concrete dumpster wall, the filthy and repulsive vagrant briefly appeared to them in a quick flash.
It scared Dan into a heart attack, and he fell backwards into Herb's arms.
Metaphorically, Dan's story was actually the shocking and terrorizing fear of many individuals, and specifically the plot of the film -- an aspiring Hollywood starlet named Diane, who had come with high hopes to make something of herself in the "city of dreams," failed, was on the verge of homelessness, and had sunk to levels of impoverishment and degradation before literally dying.
Later, the black-faced horrible figure also appeared in Diane's vision holding a blue box, right before and after Diane committed suicide.
Dan (Patrick Fischler)
Herb (Michael Cooke)
The Mummy (1932)
In director Karl Freund's classic horror film from the early 1930s, there was:
The Mummy lived under an alias as gentlemanly but sinister-looking Egyptian Ardeth Bay.
In another scary scene:
The scariest scene of director Stephen Sommers' big-budget remake came after a battle scene with Imhotep's resurrected mummy priests. It was the final demise of:
After gathering treasure for himself, Beni became trapped and entombed in a large underground vault, and quickly surrounded by a vast swarm of screeching, crawling, flesh-eating scarabs.
The beetles devoured him as the screen turned black when his torch extinguished.
(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