|Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description|
Near Dark (1987)
This revisionist vampire-western-horror film hybrid (one of the best horror films of all-time) was directed by Kathryn Bigelow - her debut film. Its tagline was:
Now a major cult film, it told about a nomadic, tightly-knit band of vampires in the American Southwest. Wise-cracking, vicious desperado-like, outlaw vampire Severen (Bill Paxton) (dressed like rock singer Jim Morrison) was a sociopathic, undead vampire. He was part of a vampire clan-family, led by Jesse Hooker (Lance Henriksen), that traveled the countryside in a blacked-out Winnebago van.
Its famous setpiece was a long and drawn-out, blood-lusting roadhouse bar massacre that Severen instigated with hick customers. When the clan entered the redneck bar late one night, Severen called out:
He sat down at the bar, and taunted both a customer (Robert Winley) and the bartender (Thomas Wagner). And as a bar waitress (Jan King) served drinks to the family, she was terrorized by Jesse:
Her throat was promptly slit by Diamondback (Jenette Goldstein). Severen then insulted one of the long-haired hillbilly patrons:
He broke the redneck's neck, then complained: "I hate 'em when they ain't been shaved," before biting into the man's hairy throat. Afterwards, his famous quote, as he licked his bloody fingers, was: "It's finger-lickin' good!"
Severen threatened the bartender who was struggling to reload his shotgun: "Are you havin' a little trouble with your hog-leg there?"
After striding down the length of the bar and crushing beverage glasses, he slit the bartender's throat with two swings of his boot's spurs.
Severen (Bill Paxton)
Jesse Terrorizing Bar Waitress
Long-Haired Patron's Neck Broken
Bar-Tender Struggling to Load Shotgun Before Being Shot
In this horror film-within-a-film, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was again assailing various Dream World victims in a series of tense scenes.
Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) ushered in a series of films, mostly inferior to this classic first film. Most of the shocking murders in the long-running series were committed by red/green striped sweater and brown fedora-wearing dream demon Fred Krueger (Robert Englund). Teenagers in the small town all dreamt of being pursued by a slasher-figure, with a burned face and metal clawed glove-hand. Usually, the murders (all set-pieces) by the sadistic child-murderer took place in a dreamworld setting:
There were a number of frightening scare moments in this second sequel in the popular series:
Director Charles Laughton's sole film was a thriller featuring a corrupt Preacher character who terrorized a lonely widow and her two children in order to acquire a hidden forture, in a series of attempts.
This influential, low-budget, black and white zombie classic, an unexpected sleeper hit, was one of the first independent films to gain worldwide popularity. George Romero's redefining flick combined German expressionism with a semi-documentary style to produce a new level of gore.
The major characters were under siege in a house, as they were assaulted by flesh-eating zombies. With some social commentary, sci-fi elements, and basic thriller components, this Vietnam-era film also featured a bleak, twist ending. According to news reports, a failed NASA experiment had caused dead bodies on Earth to come back to life.
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984, UK)
A dystopian UK film from director Michael Radford - a grim adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel about Thought Police in the state of Oceania.
In an excruciating torture and brain-washing sequence administered systematically by O'Brien (Richard Burton), rebellious middle-class drone Winston Smith (John Hurt) from the Ministry of Truth (where his job was to rewrite history) was punished by the totalitarian government.
He was apprehended for having a romantic liaison with free-spirited and sensual young female Julia (Suzanna Hamilton). Both were forced to be rehabilitated, and to repudiate their sexual relationship. He faced the notorious rat-cage torture in Room 101:
In the bleak ending, Winston played chess with himself in the Chestnut Tree Cafe (as he admitted his crimes on a television screen): "Under the spreading chestnut tree / I sold you / You sold me."
He turned to the image of Big Brother and quietly told it: "I love you."
Winston Apprehended With Julia
No Country for Old Men (2007)
The dark Best Picture-winning crime drama, and western thriller from the Coen Brothers was based upon Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel about a bad drug-deal gone wrong in early 1980s West Texas.
It told of the relentless efforts of a brutal sociopathic hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who had escaped policy custody and jail, to recover a satchel with $2 million dollars from the aftermath of the failed drug deal. The money was retrieved by Vietnam veteran and Texas resident Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin).
The film opened with the strangulation murder of a young deputy (Zach Hopkins) in an office by the handcuffed amoral, thrill-killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), using his handcuffs as a garrote from behind. After the killing, he reacted with a grinning, satisfied exhalation, and then walked away from the bloody, scuffed-up linoleum floor from the flailing boots of the struggling man, to escape custody.
In another early scene, Chigurh confronted an elderly gas station proprietor (Gene Jones) with an unexpected coin toss - for his life. Chigurh kept demanding: "Call it" - he then explained:
The man luckily called the correct toss option - 'heads' - and was spared execution.
Throughout the film, the enigmatic Chigurh (one of the scariest villains ever created) killed other victims with a compressed-air cattlegun as he pursued the satchel with the money, held by Moss. When he was able to confront Moss by phone, Chigurh promised that his young and innocent wife Carla Jean wouldn't be hurt if Moss gave up the money, but he defiantly refused:
Moss' theft of the funds led to an exciting chase and cat-and-mouse pursuit game. He waited in his border town hotel room for the arrival of Chigurh to collect the money - Moss had the funds in a satchel (not knowing it had signaled his exact location with a hidden radio transponder to hired killer Chigurh). In the tense scene, Moss discovered the transponder and knew Chigurh would arrive momentarily for a showdown there. He sat readied with his shotgun after turning out the light and peering under the door. The two engaged in a vicious and bloody struggle that ended on the street and left Moss severely wounded (with a gunshot wound on his right side), and Chigurh shot in the leg.
The film ended with the brutal and senseless deaths of Llewelyn Moss (by Mexicans) and his innocent wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) by psycho-killer Anton Chigurh. The evil and remorseless killer confronted Carla Jean in her bedroom - preceded by a mournful dialogue between the two. She spoke first: "I knew this wasn't done with. I ain't got the money. What little I had is long gone and there's bills a-plenty to pay yet. I buried my mother today. Ain't paid for that neither....I need to sit down. You got no cause to hurt me."
Anton explained how he had earlier pledged to Llewelyn that he would kill her if he didn't bring him the $2 million in stolen drug money: "No, but I gave my word...to your husband." This was despite the fact that Llewelyn was murdered by Mexican drug lords, not Anton, and was unable to deliver the money. She responded: "That don't make sense. You gave your word to my husband to kill me?" Chigurh tried to explain: "Your husband had the opportunity to save you. Instead, he used you to try to save himself." When she told him: "Not like that. Not like you say. You don't have to do this," he responded:
Chigurh then offered her his usual 50/50 chance of survival by flipping a coin ("OK. This is the best I can do. Call it"), but she refused:
He replied: "I got here the same way the coin did." She was then predictably murdered (off-screen), signified by his leaving the house alone.
Opening Strangulation Murder
The Cat and Mouse Game
for the Money
The Fateful Death of Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald)
In Alfred Hitchcock's Technicolored thriller-spy film, advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) found himself to be the victim of mistaken identity - he was thought to be the enigmatic (and non-existent) George Kaplan. He was abducted, interrogated, and then evaded his captors (smugglers of microfilm top-secrets), but couldn't convince anyone of his innocence. He found himself on the run as a murder suspect (for killing a diplomat at the United Nations), on a train bound for the west.
In a famous pursuit-attack sequence by a deadly crop-dusting bi-plane in an open, flat and desolate field, Thornhill sought protection in a cornfield. The airplane released pesticides, forcing Thornhill out into the open.
Desperate, Thornhill stepped in
front of a speeding tanker truck, which stopped just before hitting
him. The dramatic editing heightened suspense, as the strafing airplane,
having initiated another dive on Thornhill, was blinded by its
own pesticide cloud and crashed into the oil tanker.
Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) Implicated in Death of Lester Townsend (Philip Ober)
Nosferatu (1922, Ger.), (aka Eine Symphonie Des Grauens or A Symphony of Terror/Horror)
Director F.W. Murnau's atmospheric variation on Bram Stoker's novel Dracula was the start of many iconic horror films about the non-human figure of Dracula. It introduced the character of vampirish, semi-demonic Nosferatu to cinema audiences:
Count Graf Orlok (Max Schreck) was an emaciated, balding, undead vampire with a devil-rat face, pointy ears, elongated fingers on claw-like hands, sunken cheeks, and long fangs.
When Orlok entered her room, the shadow of his hand covered her heart, and he began to suck blood from her neck. She sacrificed herself to destroy Nosferatu. He was tricked by her into being preoccupied - and overstaying his welcome when a rooster crowed, signaling dawn and the beginning of daylight. He was exposed to the sun and died in front of her window, grasping his chest, and disappearing in a small wisp of smoke.
Oldboy (2003, S. Korea)
This was a mysterious and visceral (double) revenge thriller - a South Korean horror-mystery about dark secrets by director Chan-wook Park. It followed the circumstances of a womanizing businessman in the late 1980s who was kidnapped from a phone booth and imprisoned for many years in a hotel-like room - and then after being inexplicably freed and released, suffered many setbacks and punishments as he went about seeking answers, finding vengeance against his captor(s), and locating his young daughter.
Imprisoned Dae-su Oh (Choi Min-sik) was released after 15 years as a captive in a dingy, shabby windowless cell -- without knowing the charges, although he learned by TV during his long imprisonment that he had been framed for his wife's murder, and that his young three year-old daughter was sent to live with Swedish foster parents.
He sought revenge for his many unexplained years
of being captive, although
he had only a few days
to find the enigmatic answers. He learned that his villainous, sadistic
and insane captor-tormentor Woo-jin Lee (Yu Ji-tae), a former schoolmate,
had blamed Dae-su for spreading a rumor about an incestuous pregnancy
in his family (between young Woo-Jin and his sister Lee Soo-ah)
that led to the humiliated sister's suicide.
There were two excessively vulgar, devastating and scary scenes of Dae-su experiencing extreme pain and self-torture:
There was also an amazing scene of Dae-su eating a squirming and wriggling live octopus headfirst in a sushi bar.
Tooth Extraction Scene
Eating Live Octopus
The Omen (1976)
Director Richard Donner's classic supernatural horror film of possession (remade in 2006), with a script by David Seltzer, cleverly used the Biblical book of Revelation to create a mostly-believable story about Satanic conspiracy. It contained a number of cleverly-constructed set-pieces of suspense, revolving around a conspiracy that was being investigated by a well-intentioned, victimized father.
It was the first part of a trilogy, followed by:
There were further films in the series after the 70s and early 80s: the TV movie Omen IV: The Awakening (1991), and the remake The Omen (2006).
A local priest in Italy offered an infant child (whose mother had died) to US Ambassador to Italy Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), after his distraught wife Katherine Thorn (Lee Remick) gave birth to a stillborn child in a Rome hospital. The child was named Damien (Harvey Stephens) - who was soon revealed to be the Devil's own son, or the Anti-Christ with the 666 birthmark sign on his scalp. Soon, a number of bizarrely-violent and murderous incidents occurred, involving hanging, impalement and decapitation:
Open Water (2003)
A dramatic, nail-biting, psychological horror-thriller from independent film-maker Chris Kentis told about the fear of being left behind in open water. The low-budget film was shot with digital video to enhance its authenticity. It was based upon a true story of two divers stranded on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998.
The main protagonists, a hard-working married couple, Daniel and Susan Watkins (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan), were in need of a vacation. They decided upon a scuba-diving trip. The night before their excursion, the two lay naked in bed, and although Daniel was ready for sex, Susan explained that she was tired and not in the mood: "I might not be in the mood...Yeah, I'm not in the mood."
Daniel and Susan Watkins (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan)
Inspecting Susan's Bite
Daniel's Bloody Bite
A Circling Feeding Frenzy
The Others (2001)
Director Alejandro Amenábar's spooky, haunted house horror-thriller (his first English-language production) was set at the end of WWII, and was similar in plot to Henry James' 1898 Gothic ghost story The Turn of the Screw.
Devoutly Roman Catholic, overprotective, high-strung governess Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) - the migraine-suffering, single mother of two light-sensitive children, Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley), began to suspect that their rambling, remote country house was haunted when they heard odd sounds and thought there were intruders.
The arrival of three servants who used to work in the house added to the mystery:
The two young children discovered that the graves outside were of the three servants that were newly employed (who arrived for the job even after a want ad request was still sitting in the mailbox). Anne screamed for her brother Nicholas to flee: "They're dead!" The eerieness was intensified when Grace discovered their death (or mourning) portrait daguerreotype, dated 1891.
During another scary moment, Grace confronted a decrepit old woman with a veil over her head, who had the voice of a little girl:
Grace attacked the figure and attempted to strangle it, while screaming out: "You're not my daughter" - although the figure when unveiled was her daughter!
The film's title - "The Others" - referred to the Marlish family (the parents, a boy named Victor, and an older woman) who had moved into the mansion. They were considered "intruders" by Grace.
The film's double-twist was revealed during a seance conducted by "The Others":
(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