Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes

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

Near Dark (1987)

#64

This revisionist vampire-western-horror film hybrid (one of the best horror films of all-time) was directed by Kathryn Bigelow - her debut film. Now a major cult film, it told about a nomadic, tightly-knit band of vampires in the American Southwest. It featured wise-cracking, vicious desperado-like, outlaw vampire Severen (Bill Paxton) (dressed like rock singer Jim Morrison). The sociopathic, undead Severen was part of a vampire clan-family that traveled the countryside in a blacked-out Winnebago van.

One of its most famous and spectacular scenes was a daytime gunfight in a motel, when every bullet hole exposed them to a deadly ray of sunlight.

Its famous setpiece was a long and drawn-out, blood-lusting roadhouse bar massacre that Severin instigated with hicks. When the clan entered the redneck bar late one night, Severen called out: "Well, I'll be god-damned. Shit-kicker heaven!" After a bar waitress' throat was slit as she served drinks to the family, Severen taunted one of the long-haired patrons:

"This is the best time I've had since I nailed your Mama in the back of your Daddy's truck. He was there watchin' too...To tell you the truth, I think he liked it. I know she did...You know what I said to your Mama? You know what I said to her? I said, 'Shh. This ain't gonna hurt.' I said... 'Shh!'"

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. His famous quote, as he licked his bloody fingers, was: "It's finger-lickin' good!"

Severen threatened a bartender who struggled 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.


(Wes Craven's) New Nightmare (1994)

In this horror film-within-a-film, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) was again assailing various Dream World victims.

  • Freddy's clawed fingers acted like shark fins through Heather Langenkamp's (Herself) bedsheet, and she also received stalker phone calls.
  • in another tense scene, young Dylan Porter (Miko Hughes) climbed to the very top of the monkey bars under a trance.
  • also, the film reprised a similar scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), when babysitter Julie (Tracy Middendorf) received Freddy's bladed glove in the back, then was bloodily dragged onto the hospital ceiling where her neck was snapped and she fell to her death.


A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

#17

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:

  • nightmare-suffering 15 year-old teen Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) was pursued into a dark back alley, where she saw the shadowy silhouette of Freddy, with a disfigured face, laughing at her. In his first startling silhouetted appearance, he unnaturally spread his arms wide to about 10 feet on both sides to scrape his right-hand fingernails -- razor-bladed -- on the alley wall, causing sparks.

  • in Tina's mother's bedroom, boyfriend Rod Lane (Nick Corn) watched as Tina flailed about against an invisible attacker under the bedcovers. He saw her bare torso bloodily slashed open with four long gashes - obviously the bladed glove. She was picked up into the air (levitated), thrown against the wall, and dragged up to the ceiling upside-down and feet-first - with blood smearing her path, as she was slashed further and blood splattered around the room. In the middle of the ceiling, her body was suddenly released, and she flopped onto the bloodied bed and floor below, dead.

  • Tina's friend and policeman's daughter Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) was the next one to be terrorized - she experienced a nightmarish confrontational appearance of Freddy, with a horribly burned-melted face, in her school's basement hot boiler room ("Come to Freddy").

  • in the film's most celebrated scene, Nancy was taking a luxurious hot bubble bath when she became drowsy and fell asleep - with her legs open. She was terrorized by the killer's clawed hand appearing and moving towards her crotch area. She was violently jerked, dragged and pulled under the water beneath the surface of the tub -- into a bottomless well or abyss below. In a panic, she flailed, gasped, choked and struggled back towards the surface, managing to break through with her hands by grasping the tub's edge. Nancy's mother Marge (Ronee Blakley) heard her screams and came to the rescue by picking the door lock, although Nancy claimed she had only slipped getting out of the tub.

  • also, Freddy made a terrifying appearance in Nancy's own bedroom during another nightmare, with pillow feathers flying as he slashed at her.

  • in the mini-dream scene, killer Freddy transformed Nancy's phone mouthpiece into his own mouth, with his long tongue darting out into the startled Nancy's mouth, as he triumphantly told her: "I'm your boyfriend, now!"- a premonition of her boyfriend's death.

  • in the liquifying death scene, at midnight after Nancy's boyfriend Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp) had drifted off to sleep sprawled back fully-clothed on his bed with a blaring TV on his lap, Freddy's clawed hand burst through a hole in the center of the bed under him, sucked, swallowed and pulled him through the bed cover down into the hole (along with the TV, stereo, bed covers, pillow, sheet, and headphones, etc.), and then reduced him to a bloody geyser or column of his shredded and drained remains that exploded (or was vomited) out of the hole and gushed toward the ceiling, drenching the room in his blood.











A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

There were a number of frightening scare moments in this second sequel in the popular series:

  • in the stomach-turning "puppet-marionette" death scene, puppet-master Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) manipulated troubled teen dreamer Phillip Anderson (Bradley Gregg) like a human marionette. Freddy used the ripped out muscle tendons from the length of both of his hands and legs as the control chords.

    During the nightmare, the adolescent was lifted from his bed with the sinews, and walked out of his room, apparently sleep-walking, into the hallway (the boy's nickname was "The Walker"). He was led to a window in the bell tower of the Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where he was a patient. Laughing maniacally as a giant puppet-master looming above the building, Freddy let Phillip teeter there on the edge of the window ledge. He then slashed through the bloody sinews, causing Phillip to frantically fall to his death from the tower, as the other teen patients witnessed his horrible demise.


  • Also in "The Dick Cavett Show" television sequence, Dick Cavett (Himself) was interviewing guest Zsa Zsa Gabor (Herself), while disturbed and institutionalized teen Jennifer Caulfield (Penelope Sudrow) was watching and nodded off to sleep. In her nightmarish dream, the show host was abruptly transformed into Freddy. Following his inquisitive request ("Can I ask you something?"), he slashed at Gabor with the exclamation: "Who gives a f--k what you think!?"

    The picture turned to static and snow, and Jennifer walked toward the screen to adjust the static-rendered picture and change the channel, hearing "One, two, Freddy's coming for you..." Suddenly, two arms (composed of wires and TV parts) ripped through the sides of the wall-mounted TV, grabbed her by the shoulders, and picked her up. Freddy's plastic-shrouded head grew and stretched out of the top of the set, with a rabbit-ear antenna mounted on top. He taunted the screaming teen: "This is it, Jennifer. your big break in TV. Welcome to Prime Time, Bitch!" He then brutally and forcefully rammed her head face-first into the TV screen, causing an explosion of glass and sparks.






The Night of the Hunter (1955)

#90

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.

  • Preacher Harry Powell (Frankenstein-like) (Robert Mitchum), in a scary pursuit sequence in a basement, chased the two children John and Pearl Harper (Billy Chapin, Sally Jane Bruce) up the cellar stairs with arms outstretched

  • After a frightening murder scene, the corpse of widowed mother Willa Harper (Shelley Winters) was discovered sitting underwater in the Model T with her long hair tangled in the reeds
  • Powell repeatedly pursued the children, calling out with a chilling, sing-song exclamation: "Chillll-dren? Chillll-dren?"

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

#9

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.

  • In the film's opening scary scene - a cemetery attack, Johnny (uncredited Russell Streiner) saw a shambling zombie (thinking it was a drunk vagrant) in a cemetery while visiting his father's gravesite. He taunted his sister Barbra (Judith O'Dea) - "They're coming to get you, Barbra!" -- when Johnny was suddenly attacked and killed by the zombie when his head was knocked against a tombstone.

  • Rattled female Barbra escaped to an abandoned farmhouse where followed horrific scenes of a horde of crazed, flesh-eating zombies ("an epidemic of mass murder being committed by a virtual army of unidentified assassins") that surrounded the old farmhouse and terrorized the catatonic Barbra and the resourceful Ben (black actor Duane Jones). Hands of the ghouls broke through an unguarded window.

  • Frustrated wife Helen Cooper (Marilyn Eastman) was attacked and gruesomely stabbed to death with a garden trowel - murdered by their own zombified, hungry daughter Karen (Kyra Schon) (she had been bitten on the arm).

  • Barbra was bitten (and eaten) and died at the hands of zombies, with a shocked cry of "Johnny!" when she saw her brother Johnny was one of them.

  • In the film's conclusion on the day after the attack, ill- fated Ben was shockingly killed with a bullet to the head by white, redneck, trigger-happy zombie hunters assembled in a posse. He was mistaken for one of the "living dead." Afterwards, his body was burned on a pyre of corpses.





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:

"If you want a vision of the future, Winston, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever"

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."



No Country for Old Men (2007)

The Coen Brothers' western thriller and crime drama told about a Vietnam veteran who accidentally discovered $2 million in stolen drug money (and a stash of heroin) after a botched deal. His theft of the funds led to an exciting chase and cat-and-mouse pursuit game:

  • Texas hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) waited in his border town hotel room for the arrival of brutal sociopathic hitman Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) 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.

 



North by Northwest (1959)

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.

"That's funny, that plane's dustin' crops where there ain't no crops."

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.

Another harrowing sequence came at the end of the film - the cliff-dangling episode at Mount Rushmore when secret government agent Eve (Eva Marie Saint) and Thornhill were clinging for their lives from the edge of the famous mountain sculpture.


Nosferatu (1922, Ger.), (aka Eine Symphonie Des Grauens or A Symphony of Terror/Horror)

#47

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.

  • The scene of Bremen real estate agent Johannes Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) in Transylvania at Castle Orlok in the Carpathian Mountains, where he saw the blood-lusting Orlok - first at a distance, but then the figure approached quickly (through dissolves) toward the horrified man until he was completely in the curved, pointed doorway with a Gothic arch, revealing his ugly, scary figure.

  • Also, there was the striking sight of Count Orlok on the ship Empusa, rising straight up from his dirt-filled coffin, causing the crazed first mate (who was hacking into the coffin) to run on-deck and hurl himself into the water. Later, Orlok was seen on deck - imposing when shot from a low-angle.

  • In another scary scene, the shadowy and hideous Orlok ascended a staircase with his elongated, bony hand reaching out to a door and toward his female victim - an awaiting and possessed Ellen Hutter (Greta Schroeder), Hutter's fiance, who clutched at her left breast in fear, knowing that "Deliverance is possible by no other means but that an innocent maiden maketh the vampire heed not the first crowing of the cock - this done by the sacrifice of her own bloode."
Count Orlok's Death Scene

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)

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 over 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.

    Vengeful Woo-jin had imprisoned Dae-su for 15 years (to allow Dae-su's daughter to grow up), and then conspired to have Dae-su and Mi-do (Kang Hye-jeong), a helpful female sushi chef and Dae-su's own long-lost daughter, fall in love - before killing her.

  • Woo-jin's guilt-ridden memory (at the time of his own bullet-to-the-head suicide) revealed that he had killed his own sister.

There were two excessively vulgar and scary scenes of Dae-su experiencing extreme pain and self-torture:

  • a forcible tooth extraction (one with the claw of a hammer)
  • tongue excisement with a rusty pair of scissors - he was seeking to find atonement and to prevent any further rumors or talk after taking the virginity of his own daughter (an act of unintended incest!)

There was also an amazing scene of Dae-su eating a squirming and wriggling live octopus headfirst in a sushi bar.



The Omen (1976)

#16

Director Richard Donner's classic supernatural horror film of demonic 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 Damien: Omen II (1978), and The Final Conflict (1981) (aka Omen III).

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:

  • During Damien's 5th birthday party outdoors, when his Nanny (Holly Palance) spotted a black dog, she went into the mansion's attic, tied a noose around her neck, stood out on the ledge of the window, and suicidally jumped to hang herself (and shattered the second floor glass window with her swinging body). She had called out her final words:

    "Damien, look at me. I'm over here. Damien, I love you. Look at me, Damien. It's all for you."

    Damien's view was shielded by his mother Katherine Thorn, but a big smile was visible on his face.
  • Baboons from the zoo instinctively recognized Damien's devilish-nature and attacked the car carrying Damien and his mother.
  • Father Brennan (Patrick G. Troughton) was impaled to death during a freak storm outside a church after he warned Thorn that he had adopted Lucifer's son.
  • Damien maniacally pedaled his tricycle and knocked his mother over the second-floor railing to the menacing sound of ''Ave Satani'."
  • While in a cemetery investigating Damien's origins Robert Thorn and photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner) were attacked by a pack of vicious dogs.
  • Jennings met a scary demise by decapitation in a freakish accident - a truck lost its brakes parked on a slight incline, and gathered speed as it went out of control. A sheet of plate glass flew off the open flat-bed of the truck and sliced cleanly through his neck. It sent his spinning body-less head flying through the air. The disembodied head ended up resting on the ground where it could view itself in reflected glass.
  • A bloodied Thorn dragged his screaming son to a church altar to sacrifice him.
  • Thorn was shot to death.



Open Water (2003)

A dramatic, nail-biting thriller (based upon a true story) from independent film-maker Chris Kentis.

  • In terrifying extended scenes, vacationing married couple Daniel and Susan (Daniel Travis and Blanchard Ryan) in the Caribbean were accidentally left behind while scuba-diving, stranded about 15 miles from shore.
  • They suffered an excruciating tense ordeal in the open, frightening, shark-infested ocean - especially when Daniel was first bitten by an underwater predator.
  • They struggled in the darkness during a thunderstorm, intermittently lit by lightning.

The Others (2001)

#83

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: housekeeper Mrs. Bertha Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), an old gardener Mr. Edmund Tuttle (Eric Sykes), and a young mute girl Lydia (Elaine Cassidy), added to the mystery as did three gravesites.

  • The two young children discovered that the graves outside were of the three servants that were newly employed (without a want ad). The eerieness was intensified when discovered their death (or mourning) portrait daguerreotype.
  • 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: "What have you done with my daughter?"
    The voice: "Are you mad? I am your daughter."

    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":

  • Governess Grace and her two children were dead, but were haunting the house.
  • In a murder/suicide, Grace had gone mad after her husband Charles (Christopher Eccleston) left her for the war, and smothered her children with pillows before suicidally shooting herself in the head with a shotgun.
  • The "ghosts" Grace kept seeing in the house were actually the new tenants who had moved into the house, and were attempting to exorcise them. [Note: When their efforts failed, they vacated the house and put it up for sale.]
  • In addition, the three servants were actually 'ghosts' of servants who were long dead from tuberculosis (for more than 50 years), and whose gravestones were hidden under leaves in the yard.



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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