Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes


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

Pacific Heights (1990)


Director John Schlesinger's psychological thriller was set in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, and was about a difficult tenant for yuppie landlords of an expensive, old 19th century Victorian house. Mismatched Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith) and her boyfriend-partner Drake Goodman (Matthew Modine) had stretched their finances to the limit for the purchase. Its tagline described the film's essential plot:

"It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave."

A psychotic tenant (a nefarious individual who had been disowned as a black sheep by his own wealthy family) named Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton) began to cause trouble almost immediately - by not paying his rent (with a promised wire transfer), creating unnecessary loud noises at all hours (sawing, hammering, drilling), changing his apartment locks without permission, infesting the property with cockroaches, and causing other exasperated tenants to move out. Carter's ultimate evil con plan was to manipulatively drive the financially-struggling couple into foreclosure and then buy the house at a cheap price.

Their initial efforts to evict him failed, and their relationship suffered - with Drake becoming an out-of-control, incensed monster who was heavily drinking, and Patty suffering a miscarriage. Hayes had been stalking and harrassing Patty, and making creepy phone calls to her. When an eviction order was finally processed and Hayes (whose real name was James Danforth) was legally barred from entering the house, he had disappeared, and left his apartment stripped to the bare walls. In further developments, the wily Patty tracked Hayes/Danforth and learned he was using 'identity theft' (assuming the identity of Drake Goodman) in order to bankrupt the couple.

In the film's most frightening sequence, however, he had returned to the Victorian house where repairs were being made on his old apartment. He suddenly popped out from behind a door, grabbed Patty, and forced her back while covering her mouth. He accused her of wrongly entering his apartment ("You're in my room. You're in my privacy."). He threw her to the floor and muttered: "You and your boyfriend! You insult my intelligence." He threatened her for ruining his life with a large hydraulic nail-gun:

"How am I gonna make a livin' now? What am I gonna do about my family? Huh? Do you know that half of all homicide victims are killed with their own handgun? Did you know that?"

With the nail gun in his hand, he told her: "Look what you're making me do here." He kept asserting that he now had lots of people who were dependent upon him. As they struggled on the floor, he placed the nail-gun against her forehead and asked: "How does it feel? Huh, Patty? Does it feel good?" He accused her of 'crossing the line' by snooping into and destroying his private life.

His menacing psycho-swindling ended when he fell backwards after losing his balance, and was impaled on two water supply-line metal pipes sticking up out of the floor.

Paranormal Activity (2009)

This breakout independent horror film hit of the year from Paramount and writer/director Oren Peli was budgeted at only $15,000 and filmed in 2007 in only ten days. It was first shown in limited release, in college towns at midnight shows, and came into wide release in 2009 with a successful social-media viral marketing campaign. The suspenseful 'bump in the night' minimalist thriller (completely bloodless) was filmed as a faux-documentary, combining elements of The Blair Witch Project (1999), Open Water (2003) and The Exorcist (1973). Two sequels included a prequel Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) and Paranormal Activity 3 (2011).

The scariest scenes involved the late-night inexplicable incidents over a three-week period that occurred in a two-story suburban San Diego house of a young couple, day-trading Micah (Micah Sloat) and his teacher-girlfriend Katie (Katie Featherston). With clueless bravado, Micah used a night-vision video camcorder set on a tripod to document the menacing forces in their bedroom and the entire house.

Dread and anticipation of what might happen next provided most of the terror. There were also:

  • running faucets, squeaky doors, flickering lights
  • footsteps on the stairs, shadows
  • thump noises, scratching sounds, incoherent whisperings
  • a possessed Ouija board
  • footprints traced with talcum powder
  • a smashed picture of the two of them (hanging in the hallway)
  • a malevolent, demonic force that tormented Katie

About the broken glass, Micah asked: "How come my face is scratched and yours isn't?" as Katie felt its spooky presence: "I feel it breathing on me."

The main view of the "found footage" was mostly a slightly wide-angle shot of their bedroom, showing the bed, and the open doorway and hall beyond. Sinister hauntings increased when Katie, on Night # 20 (October 7th, 2006 at 4:32 am) was suddenly dragged from the bed and down the hallway in the middle of the night. Soon after, the two discovered a massive red bite mark on her back. At times, she would sleep-walk in the middle of the night and stand motionless and trance-like by the side of the bed.

And in the abrupt, surprise-jolt ending, after a two hour stance at the bedside, Katie walked downstairs, then screamed out Micah's name to come to her aid. He rushed to her and sounds of a struggle were heard. Katie carried his dead body up the stairs and hurled it at the camera, dislodging it. Wearing a blood-stained shirt, she came into the room, sniffed at Micah's body on the floor, and stiffly looked into the camera lens. She growled-smiled at the camera - and then lunged at it as her face mutated into a demon. The film cut to black.

An epilogue note stated: Micah's body was discovered by police on October 11th, 2006. Katie's whereabouts remain unknown.

Peeping Tom (1960, UK)


Director Michael Powell's British horror film was a chilling and disturbing film about voyeurism, child abuse, and serial murder. It was originally widely hated, universally loathed and denounced as sick, especially by British critics, who drove it off the screen. The disturbing thriller about a tormented murderer was called perverted, necrophilic and trashy. It was considered nauseating, depraved, depressing, filthy and stench-filled -- and allegedly destroyed the career of its director. It suffered from the devastating, vitriolic reviews and was removed from theaters and excised by its distributor.

It was a twisted portrayal of shy studio cameraman (and morbid, psychopathic serial killer) Mark Lewis (Karl Boehm) who filmed call girls and then killed them with the metal-spiked leg of his hand-held camera tripod (with a mirror attached so that victims could watch themselves dying).

In the film's shocking opening, filmed from the point-of-view of the voyeuristic camera's cross-haired viewfinder, a prostitute on a dark London street negotiated for two quid, walked upstairs, disrobed, and then gave a look of horror as she was being murdered. The photographer would then watch the projected grisly footage over and over in the darkness of his lab-studio. His viewing of this particular death was accompanied by the film's opening title and credits.

Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Director Tim Burton's adventure-comedy starred Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman - on a quest to find his beloved stolen bicycle. He wrongly believed, through a fake psychic, that his bike could be located in the basement of the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.

On his journey, he hitchhiked in the desert where he had a startling and hysterical encounter with fat trucker Large Marge (Alice Nunn). In one of the film's rare scary moments, she was transformed into a bug-eyed ghostly victim of a horrendous auto accident.

Pet Sematary (1989)


This supernatural horror film from director Mary Lambert, with the tagline: "Sometimes dead is better," was adapted from Stephen King's novel. (It was followed by the sequel, Pet Sematary Two (1992)). It told about the Creed family who had moved from Chicago to an old farmhouse in rural Maine - next to a busy highway (filled with trucks).

The Creed family consisted of:

  • husband Dr. Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff)
  • wife Rachel (Denise Crosby)
  • daughter Ellie (Blaze Berdahl)
  • toddler son Gage Creed (Miko Hughes)

Creed often experimented with the resurrection or resuscitation of the dead - first hinted at via a pet sematary (built on the remains of an Indian burial ground) near the home. When the Creed family's cat Church was killed by a truck and buried in the pet sematary, it was resurrected as an undead creature - with a foul stench and glowing eyes. Other instances also occurred:

  • the 'rebirth' of the grotesque corpse of patient Victor Pascow (Brad Greenquist) - a college student and highway accident victim with a nasty head injury
  • toddler Gage, after a truck tragically killed him on the highway, was also transformed into an evil undead, murderous, soul-less stalker, after being buried in the sematary.

A backstory that took up much of the plotline was about Rachel's continuing torment from her mad and diseased sister. Emaciated, terminally-ill and crippled Zelda Goldman (Andrew Hubatsek) was kept bedridden in a back bedroom for her entire life until her death from spinal meningitis. Zelda continually haunted her sister Rachel with threats of:

"I'll break your back!"
"You'll never walk again! NEVER WALK AGAIN!"

In a scary scene, Rachel described how Zelda was "a dirty secret...We wanted her to die. We wished for her to be dead. It wasn't just so she wouldn't feel any more pain. It was so we wouldn't feel any more pain. It was because she was starting to look like this monster." She told about the night that Zelda died when she was caring for her as an 8 year-old (Elizabeth Ureneck as child): "She started to convulse and I thought, 'Oh my god, she's choking'." Rachel also told how she was worried that her parents would come home and blame her for choking her sister - since she wasn't seen crying afterwards, but laughing.

In the film's haunting climax, Gage was murdering people with a sharp surgical scalpel - including elderly neighbor Jud Crandall (Fred Gwynne) and his own mother Rachel. Louis gave his son a lethal injection of chemicals to stop him from any further misdeeds. And he buried Rachel in the pet sematary. However, his bloodied and dirtied undead wife (moaning "Darling") returned as a resurrected zombie. She entered the kitchen where Louis was playing cards. He unwisely kissed her as she was about to murder him with a long knife - when the credits began to roll.

Phantasm (1979)


Don Coscarelli's imaginative, low-budget independent horror-sci-fi film was a sleeper film and soon became a major cult hit. Its tagline was: "If This One Doesn't Scare You, You're Already Dead." It was followed by many inferior sequels, Phantasm II (1988), Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), and Phantasm IV: OblIVion (1998). The scarily-suggestive film introduced three major elements:

  • a malevolent character known as the Tall Man - an iconic figure, whose cut-off fingers spurted yellow embalming fluid, and would mutate into a malevolent insect
  • demonic, hooded killer dwarves
  • deadly flying silver spheres

In the chilling, dream-like and surrealistic tale, teenaged Mike (Michael Baldwin) (who was experiencing nightmares and feared abandonment) had just lost his parents - under mysterious circumstances. And then a friend-acquaintance named Tommy Pearson (Bill Cone), making out with a date on the grounds of Morningside Mortuary, was killed by an attractive and sexy Lady in Lavender (Kathy Lester), whose murderous face melded into the Tall Man's leering grin at the moment of death.

After the funeral, Mike spied on (with binoculars) the pale-faced mortuary attendant - a sinister, arachnoid mortician named the "Tall Man" (Angus Scrimm), with supernatural strength for a slim and gaunt individual. He watched as the mortuary attendant picked up the 500 pound coffin by himself and put it in the back of a hearse. Suspicious, Mike and his 24 year-old brother Jody (Bill Thornbury), Tommy's best friend, explored the Morningside Mortuary, a mausoleum managed by this Tall Man. They investigated with the help of ice cream vendor Reggie (Reggie Bannister).

The menacing, disturbing Tall Man appeared to be ordering fresh corpses, to be carried off by his enslaved army of shrouded, Jawa-like dwarfish creatures (or minions) - grave robbers. The corpses were resuscitated, then crushed (to conserve space) down to dwarf size, in order to be transported to another alien planet or world to be used for slave labor. There was a bridge or gateway between Earth and another world. Mike suspected that the Tall Man was responsible for his parents' deaths.

The Tall Man haunted the young boys with a flying metallic sphere or silver pin-ball that had deadly spring-loaded blades, that bore or drilled into the skulls of victims to extract or suck out their brains in a spray of blood. [Note: One of the film's many taglines humorously referred to the ball: "If you're looking for horror that's got balls...IT'S FOUND YOU."] In the film's most memorable scene, the sphere implanted itself into the forehead of the graveyard's grounds-keeper and then spewed out blood.

The two were left to defend mankind against these forces of Evil. However, in the twist ending, it was all revealed to be a nightmarish dream. And then somehow, the Tall Man materialized out of Mike's dreams and snatched him in the end - an ending similar to the shock finale-epilogue of A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).


The Phantom of the Opera (1925)


Universal's silent film The Phantom of the Opera (1925) was both a classic horror tale, a love story, and a melodrama. Its most celebrated scene was the startling unmasking of the Phantom himself. The film's other highlight was the two-strip Technicolor ball sequence featuring the Phantom's "Red Death." Various other versions of the film have been made: Arthur Lubin's Technicolored Phantom of the Opera (1943) with Claude Rains, Terence Fisher's and Hammer's bloody reboot The Phantom of the Opera (1962, UK) with Herbert Lom, and the most recent musical The Phantom of the Opera (2004) with Gerard Butler.

The film posed the question - was the Paris Opera House haunted? There was a lurking, mysterious creature known as the Phantom, who made demands that young new performer Christine Daae (Mary Philbin), a soprano understudy at the Paris Opera, appear on stage. To strengthen his threats, the Phantom sent a chandelier crashing onto opera patrons during a performance. Soon after, the masked and eerie Phantom kidnapped Christine and brought her to his subterranean world beneath the Opera House.

The most frightening, eerie moment occurred when the mad Erik (Lon Chaney, Sr.), the horribly disfigured and deformed Phantom of the Opera, was unmasked by Christine from behind while he played the organ. He showed his "accursed ugliness" to her. His grotesque face with artfully-applied makeup showed round, darkened eyes, jagged decayed teeth, flaring nostrils, and a corpse-like skull visage.

Pinocchio (1940)

Disney's second feature length animated film was an adaptation of the dark children’s novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio, written by 19th century Italian writer, Carlo Collodi. It was the simple, yet sophisticated story of a kindly woodcarver/toymaker named Geppetto who carved a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. After being brought to life as a lively puppet by a magical and angelic Blue Fairy, Pinocchio was challenged to become a real boy if he proved himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish." His conscience and wise friend for his journey of self-discovery was an impish cricket named Jiminy.

In the morality tale and coming-of-age story, the simple-minded wooden Pinocchio boy with an impetuous curiosity overcame temptation and learned courage in the face of fear and danger. But first he encountered terrifying and frightening adventures - he was assailed by grifters, caged, threatened with slave labor, transformed into a jackass (literally), swallowed by a giant whale, and almost drowned to death. He made some bad choices and faced the dire consequences:

  • He was tempted with theatrical fame (as an actor for a puppeteer), although locked in the puppet master's cage
  • After Pinocchio was sold to a child abductor, he was sent to nightmarish Pleasure Island in a scary sequence - a symbol of debauched and unbridled hedonism. There, Pinocchio and other bad boys (who smoked and drank), such as Lampwick, sprouted donkey ears, hooves and a tail, brayed like a donkey - and frantically cried out for their Mommas - and were ultimately sold to the salt mines
  • The climactic sequence involving Monstro the Whale, when Pinocchio was swallowed by a satanic black whale.

He finally triumphed over fear and saved himself and his father.

Piranha (2010)

Director Alexandre Aja's R-rated exploitative action thriller (with lots of bloody violence, horror and terror), available also in 3D, was a reworking or reimagining of Joe Dante's original cult horror film Piranha (1978). It told of the town of Lake Victoria which expanded in size during spring break (filmed at Lake Havasu, AZ), when 20,000 drunken revelers arrived in huge numbers for sun, sex and carousing.

An underwater tremor ("heavy seismic activity") caused pre-historic man-eating, razor-toothed fish to erupt from a subterranean lake and cause havoc amongst the town's inhabitants, including the coeds. Although the film was basically an excuse to show lots of 3D boobs and naked carnage, it also had some genuine scares regarding the ravenous fish that hunted in packs and were considered "killing machines."

  • When Sheriff Julie Forester (Elisabeth Shue) was investigating a drifting rowboat at night and a missing fisherman named Matthew Boyd (Richard Dreyfuss in a cameo), and the rotten wooden pier caved in, a decomposed or mutilated body popped up next to her in the water.
  • There were numerous underwater POV shots of fiercesome, razor-toothed piranha swimming toward prey, gigantic close-ups of the red-eyed, blood-seeking fish, and an ominous attack of fish on a USGS scuba-diver that left him as a devoured carcass.
  • A well-endowed parasailing female (Gianna Michaels), who lost her top, had her legs chewed off at the conclusion of her ride.
  • Ignoring warnings, the first coed to be bitten by the pack of piranhas during the wet T-shirt contest (advertised as "DYING TO GET WET") was a female sitting in a round flotation device. Scores of others were bitten as the water deepened red in color. There was a mad scramble to evacuate from the water - but with the weight of extra bodies unbalancing the floating stage, it began to tip over.
  • A snapped cable from the stage severed the bodies of two blue bikini-clad cheerleaders (Ashlynn Brooke on the left). They watched in horror as their bodies fell apart in sections (one severed top with silicone breasts fell into the water and sank).
Cheerleaders' Deaths - Boobs and Gore
  • The sleazy emcee was rewarded with cranial explosion and decapitation when crushed by a passing boat motor, splattered onto a nearby busty female.
  • A female's (Genevieve Alexandra) hair/scalp was caught in a boat propeller and ripped off when restarted.
Gore and Death at Lake Victoria

Wet T-Shirt Host

Propeller Girl

  • When vulgar "Wild Wild Girls" semi-porn videographer Derrick Jones' (Jerry O'Connell) rented boat The Barracuda was caught on rocks and seaweed, the underwater viewing glass was shattered and the boat filled with water - Derrick and blonde actress Crystal (real-life porn actress Riley Steele) were thrown overboard. One of the piranhas ate through her stomach and emerged from her mouth.
  • Derrick's legs and sex organ were viciously attacked. He moaned on deck: "They took my penis." Later, the severed organ was seen floating in the water where it was eaten by a piranha, but then regurgitated - and he soon died of blood loss.
  • Danni was also fated to die when dangling from a rescue rope extended between two boats - the fish got ahold of her hair, and pulled and pecked at her until she fell and was devoured.
  • The film's late revelation from aquarium store owner Henry Goodman (Christopher Lloyd) was that the piranhas were "not fully developed" - they had "no mature reproductive organs" - "they're the babies." The biggest jump-scare came next - a massive piranha jumped out of the water and attacked dive team member/researcher Novak (Adam Scott) after he asked: "The babies. Huh. So, where are the parents?"

Parasailing Girl



Torn in Half


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Director Gore Verbinski's and producer Jerry Bruckheimer's fantasy swashbuckling blockbuster was initially derived from Disneyland's theme park ride. It told an exciting tale of four main characters:

  • pirate Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp)
  • blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom)
  • kidnapped Elizabeth Swann/"Turner" (Keira Knightley)
  • the cursed, 'undead' and villainous Black Pearl Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) of the ghostly pirate ship

Barbossa and his crew, who (years earlier) were questing for Aztec gold with betrayed Captain Sparrow, became immortal skeletal beings after finding the cursed Aztec treasure and spending it. Their true forms were revealed only under moonlight. In a major reveal scene, Captain Barbossa explained to captive Elizabeth Swann how the effects of the curse could be reversed if the gold was returned, along with the bloody sacrifice of each pirate:

"...There is one way we can end our curse. All the scattered pieces of the Aztec gold must be restored and the blood repaid. Thanks to ye, we have the final piece. ("And the blood to be repaid?") That's why there's no sense to be killin' ya, yet."

She unsuccessfully attempted to stab him in the heart and escape from his ship the Black Pearl, but was seized and forced to look at the skeletal forms of his crew of 'undead' pirates in the moonlight - as he extended his bony skeletal hand toward her, and his whole body was transformed. He warned and advised her:

"You best start believin' in ghost stories, Miss Turner. You're in one!"

Play Misty for Me (1971)


Clint Eastwood's first film as star and director was a suspenseful, thrilling film of psychotic sexual obsession (" invitation to terror..."), advertised with the tagline: "The scream you hear may be your own!" It was one of the first female stalker films, an early precursor to Fatal Attraction (1987).

In the town of Carmel, California, cool-talking, all-night DJ, Dave Garver (Clint Eastwood) received regular requests to play "Misty", the Erroll Garner jazz classic, from seductive listener/fan Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter). When he first met her in a local pickup bar, The Sardine Factory, and they had a one-night stand, he was not aware that she was the mysterious voice who always asked: "Play 'Misty' for me."

However, she often dropped in on him unexpectedly and uninvited, causing him problems, and he became increasingly terrified and upset by her. In one telling conversation in which she revealed her borderline personality problems, she told him that she thought they had a 'relationship' - but he vehemently denied it:

Garver: "I just don't know what to say to you."
Evelyn: "I'm sorry I mistrusted you. I should've known you'd never do anything to spoil it."
Garver: "To spoil what?"
Evelyn: "What we have between us."
Garver: "We don't have a god-damn thing between us. Now how many ways am I gonna have to say this to you?"
Evelyn: "I don't care how many ways you have to say it, it's not true!"
Garver: "What do I have to do to convince you?"
Evelyn: "It's not true! It's not."

Evelyn became angry and jealous and felt abandoned. She attempted suicide by slitting her wrists. She knifed his cleaning woman and destroyed his possessions, and as a result, was put away in a mental institution.

When she was later released, Evelyn resumed her nightly requests for Misty. She promised Dave that she was cured, but became especially crazed when he resumed his relationship with blonde ex-girlfriend Tobie Williams (Donna Mills).

  • In a horrifying scene, Garver was awakened in the middle of the night in his bedroom to the sounds of 'Misty' being played. Evelyn, now a possessive, obsessive, murderous psychotic stalker, appeared above him with a butcher knife ready to stab him - and she stabbed his pillow. He evaded her, saving his life, but she escaped.
  • As the tension built, he feared for his ex-girlfriend's life and in a chilling discovery, realized that Tobie's recently acquired roommate was the crazed Evelyn. A police sergeant, McCallum (John Larch), sent to protect her, was stabbed to death with a pair of scissors. Tobie was tied up and terrorized in the dark house as bait to lure Dave inside. Evelyn threatened Tobie with a pair of scissors:

    "Careful, I might put your eye out. I'll bet David loves your eyes. And your hair. Does he run his fingers through your hair? Have to get you all nice for David. For David. I hope he likes what he sees when he walks in here, because that's what he's taking to Hell with him."

  • During a truly scary, knife-wielding confrontation, Dave found Tobie bound and gagged on a bed. He was again attacked and badly wounded by Evelyn. After being slashed many times, he punched her in the jaw, sending her through the balcony window to her death, down a rocky cliff and into the ocean below.
  • In an ironic ending, while Dave was comforting Tobie, the radio was heard in the background playing a tape of Dave honoring Evelyn's request to play Misty:

"And now here's a pretty one for lonely lovers on a cool, cool night. It's the great Erroll Garner classic, Misty. And this one is especially for Evelyn."

"Play Misty for me"

Unhinged Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter)

Pillow Attack

Poltergeist (1982)


This supernatural thriller-horror film from co-producer/co-writer Steven Spielberg, who teamed with director Tobe Hopper, was about a California suburban family - the Freelings - whose home was invaded by malevolent ghosts (or poltergeists). It all began when their youngest daughter was abducted, and paranormal investigators and "house cleaning" experts were summoned to the house. The ghost story's key point was that the home had been built over a local cemetery - where developers had never removed and relocated the corpses as promised - and the angry spirits sought retribution.

There were many classic scare moments!

  • The scene of young, five year old blonde nursery-schooler Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O'Rourke) communing with TV static and exclaiming: "They're here!"
  • The ominous kitchen scene of the self-stacking chairs.
  • The early terrifying scene in which the arm branches of the gnarly tree outside a bedroom window during a thunderstorm became animated, crashed through the glass, and seized 8 year-old Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins) from his bed - and half-devoured him before he was saved by his father Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson).
  • The ghastly scene of para-psychologist Marty (Martin Casella) spotting a left-over steak moving on its own and a turkey leg infested with maggots - and then looking into a bathroom mirror and having a morbid, hallucinatory experience - his face deteriorated as he clawed at his face and peeled back the rotting flesh with his fingers, pulling off gobs of skin down to the bone.
  • The scene of the ghostly apparition named The Beast emerging from the children's bedroom closet.
  • The scene of a frightening, evil-grinning, long-armed clown doll vanishing from its customary chair across the room, grabbing owner Robbie, pulling him under the bed and attempting to strangle him.
  • The concluding scene of distraught suburban California mother Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams) running outside into the yard for help - in the rain - and making a wrong step - she slipped into the muddy, excavated pit next to the house, dug for their swimming pool, slid down the slippery slope into the dirty water, and surfaced with skeletal faces of corpses (with silent, screaming expressions) rising behind her.

Prince of Darkness (1987)

The horror-sci-fi Prince of Darkness (1987) was the middle cult film in director John Carpenter's "Apocalypse Trilogy," beginning with The Thing (1982) and concluding with In the Mouth of Madness (1995). And in some ways, it was very similar to Quatermass and the Pit (1967, UK) (aka Five Million Years to Earth).

In this supernatural horror tale, in an abandoned LA church basement behind a locked door, English priest Father Loomis (Donald Pleasance) discovered a mysterious canister filled with a swirling, glowing green fluid substance. He worked together with prominent theoretical quantum physicist USC Professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong) and top research graduate students in a local university over a weekend. They lived inside the church, using computer equipment to monitor and analyze the object. Upon analysis, the canister's corrosion dated back 7 million years. They also found that the canister-artifact was securely sealed or locked - from the inside.

They soon realized that the evil spirit of Satan's son (the embodiment of the Anti-Christ) was in the liquid inside the canister. An ancient 2,000 year old document revealed that Christ was an extra-terrestrial alien visitor who had come to Earth to warn humans of the danger the canister posed. The container was guarded by a secret sect of priests known as "The Brotherhood of Sleep." The Prince of Darkness would eventually find a way to unleash his father from the dark realm - to cause an apocalyptic end to the world.

  • Those who were exposed to small jets of liquid from the canister became possessed - a fast-spreading demonic force was on the attack.
  • Worms were seen crawling up the windows.
  • From the outside, the church was under siege, surrounded by a group of homeless, zombie-vagrants, led by possessed Street Schizo (rocker Alice Cooper), who used a bicycle frame to brutally impale and kill one of the nerdy students leaving for the night.
  • Recurring, chilling dreams in a grainy video broadcast were transmitted into the subconscious of the uninfected from the future year of 1999. They featured a shadowy, menacing figure in the doorway of the church who warned: "This is not a dream..."
Ominous Death Images in Prince of Darkness
  • One of the students named Lisa (Ann Yen), now possessed, repeatedly typed maniacally on her computer screen: "I Live! I Live!..." Then she offered another typed message - a warning - that nothing could save the survivors - neither religion or science: "You will not be saved by the Holy Ghost. You will not be saved by the god Plutonium. In fact, YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED!"
  • In the film's most frightening scene, the students peered out a window down into the church parking lot where Satanized zombie Frank Wyndham (Robert Grasmere) was literally composed of black bugs (beetles or cockroaches) that crawled all over him. He was being consumed from the inside, and then his head literally disintegrated and fell off. His entire body crumpled into a puddle of the insects after he had warned: "Hello, hello. I've got a message for you, and you're not going to like it...Pray for death."
  • Another student named Calder (Jessie Lawrence Ferguson) ripped off a big piece of wood from a nearby staircase and slit his throat with it.
  • Catherine Danforth (Lisa Blount) decided to sacrifice herself to save the others - she tackled the possessed Anti-God Kelly (Susan Blanchard) and both of them fell through a mirror's portal, where they became trapped in another dimension when the mirror was smashed with an axe. Was the horror over or not?

The Prophecy (1995)

Writer/director Gregory Widen's directorial debut feature film was this complex and intelligent apocalyptic horror-mystery thriller about an Earthly war between angels. There were four direct-to-video sequels: The Prophecy II (1998), The Prophecy 3: The Ascent (2000), The Prophecy: Uprising (2005), and The Prophecy: Forsaken (2005).

The two main angels in conflict (over the Darkest soul on Earth) were:

  • Simon (Eric Stoltz), a good angel
  • Gabriel (Christopher Walken), a black-hearted fallen angel warring to win the battle against God's angels

In the first lines of the film, Simon described the coming War conflict:

I remember the First War, the way the sky burned, the faces of angels destroyed. I saw a third of Heaven's legion banished and the creation of Hell. I stood with my brothers and watched Lucifer fall. But now my brothers are not brothers, and we have come here where we are mortal to steal the Dark Soul, not yet Lucifer's, to serve our cause. I have always obeyed, but I never thought the War would happen again.

Just before Simon's death (he was set ablaze and his heart was ripped out by Gabriel) when he was on the verge of victory, he passed on his secret weapon, the dark soul of a crazed killer (a recently-deceased American colonel Arnold Hawthorne, who served in the Korean War, and had been accused of cannibalistic human massacres). To protect the evil soul from getting into the wrong hands, it was transplanted into the body of an innocent, unsuspecting Native-American girl named Mary (Moriah Shining Dove Snyder).

Gabriel was in pursuit of the soul, to use the weapon for his own side to tip the scales. He was a merciless rebel (against God and humanity), who had raised up an army to battle against God for dominion of both heaven and earth. Gabriel described himself: "I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their Mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why."

Those who opposed Gabriel, the only ones who stood in his way, were:

  • Thomas Daggett (Elias Koteas), a disillusioned seminary student/priest-turned LAPD detective, after experiencing violent visions of dying angels. He explained why he had lost his faith: "Some people lose their faith because Heaven shows them too little. But how many people lose their faith because Heaven showed them too much?"
  • Katherine Henley (Virginia Madsen), the young girl's small-town school-teacher
  • Lucifer (Viggo Mortensen)

In two creepy scenes, the dark, sinister, sarcastic and captivating Lucifer revealed himself to Katherine (while tearing apart the petals of a yellow rose before devouring it) - and to Daggett:

"God? God is love. I don't love you...I can lay you out and fill your mouth with your mother's feces, or we can talk."

"Little Tommy Daggett. How I loved listening to your sweet prayers. Then you would hop into bed, afraid that I was hiding under it. And I was!"

Psycho (1960)


Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense-horror film was an adaptation of Robert Bloch's 1959 novel based on legendary real-life, Plainfield, Wisconsin psychotic serial killer Edward Gein. It was ultimately revealed that the psychotic killer in the film was the disturbed son of a possessive, jealous yet deceased mother. The son - dressed with a wig and old-lady clothing - 'became' his jealous mother - and murdered a number of unsuspecting females.

In a shocking, carefully-edited shower murder scene, frustrated, attractive Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (major star Janet Leigh) in the first third of the film (unheard of in a film at this time), was stabbed to death in a shower tub within the reclusive Bates Motel. The assailant was an opaque-outlined figure (a maniacal older woman?) who whipped aside (or tore open) the shower curtain barrier, and wielded a menacing butcher knife high in the air that repeatedly rose and fell in a machine-like fashion. Marion vainly resisted and shielded her breasts while being savagely murdered - to the sounds of Bernard Herrmann's shrieking violins.

The Notorious "Shower Sequence"

There were many other electrifying moments:

  • the scene of Detective Arbogast (Martin Balsam) - also stabbed to death at the top of the stairs in a house behind the motel, by the raging character - and his long fall backwards before being repeatedly stabbed even more!
  • the scene in which neurotic mama's boy Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) realized that the victim's sister Lila (Vera Miles) was snooping around in his house - with the scene of her approaching the ominous Bates house behind the motel, and her horrifying discovery of Norman's mummified mother in the fruit cellar
  • the eerie epilogue scene in a police waiting room (a drab-colored cell) of silent Norman with a grinning smile slowly creeping over his face - subliminally superimposed by and dissolving into the grinning skull of his mother's mummified corpse, as he spoke chilling words about his unwillingness to not even kill a pesky fly:

    "I'm not even gonna swat that fly. I hope they are watching..."

Public Enemy (1931)

Director William Wellman's pre-code, box-office smash was one of the earliest and best of the gangster films from Warner Bros. in the thirties. The Public Enemy was even tougher, more violent and realistic (released before the censorship codes were strictly enforced), although most of the violence was off-screen.

  • The final horrifying scene - not off-screen, displayed once-brutal, cocky gangster Tom Powers (James Cagney) who had his bandaged corpse delivered to his home. He was propped up like a mummy at the doorstep of his mother's (Beryl Mercer) house, with his face-first fall forward (while a scratchy phonograph record played an upbeat tune on the soundtrack).

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director Quentin Tarantino's stylish and inventive episodic thriller was about corruption and temptation. It featured guns, femmes fatales, deadly hit-men, and drugs. At the time of its release, it was indirectly criticized and cited by politicians as an example of the perverse and immoral direction that the Hollywood film industry was taking - with displays of casual violence and sex, "nightmares of depravity," and for promoting "the romance of heroin." The main characters were low-life criminals, thugs, drug-dealers, hitmen, a washed-up crooked boxer, and restaurant-robbing English lovers.

In one violent scene, LA mob boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) was raped over a pommel horse in the basement of a pawn shop by motorcycle-riding security guard Zed (Peter Greene) and bearded brother and shop owner Maynard (Duane Whitaker). Butch (Bruce Willis) intervened by killing Maynard with a sword-like katana and by Marsellus shooting Zed in the groin with a shotgun - while threatening:

"What now? Let me tell you 'what now?'. I'm gonna call a couple of hard, pipe-hittin' niggers, who'll go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow torch. You hear me talkin', hillbilly boy?! I ain't through with you by a damn sight. I'm gonna get Medieval on your ass."

Another terrifying scene was when overdosed Marsellus' wife Mia (Uma Thurman) was injected with a long hypodermic needle (with adrenaline) directly into her breastplate and heart to help her regain consciousness.

Heroin Overdose Scene

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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