Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes


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

Saboteur (1942)

The climactic frightening, harrowing scene high on the Statue of Liberty's torch when Fry's (Norman Lloyd) coat sleeve slowly ripped away stitch by stitch and he fell to his death

Salem's Lot (1979)

The scene of an undead, vampirish boy (a dead brother) floating outside of a bedroom window, while smiling and scratching at the glass and asking to come in

Salo - The 120 Days of Sodom (1975, It./Fr.)

Italian film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini's work was a shocking, disgusting and disturbing film about the dark and atrocious side of humanity - it told about the brutalization of a group of about 30 peasant youth (male and female) by four ruling WWII fascists in an isolated chateau villa near Marzabotto in N. Italy over several days.

In one notorious scene, the youths were stripped, collared, leashed, and forced to act like dogs begging for pieces of meat (one girl bit into a piece of food laced with nails).

The film was divided into various chapters:

  • in "Circle of Shit," one hapless blonde girl was forced to eat fresh feces with a spoon, while the other girls were forced to eat their own excrement deposited in bed pans

The entire group in another mock "wedding feast" was served platters of cooked excrement as an "intoxicating dish."

  • in "Circle of Blood," as punishment for breaking the rules, male youth Ezio was executed, along with his black maid partner, for illegally making normal love together

The teens were further tortured in excruciatingly-difficult to watch scenes performed in the courtyard, and viewed through binoculars (i.e., the burning of a penis and breast nipple, a cut-off tongue, strangulation by hanging, a gouged-out eye, a scalping, whippings, and male nipple branding).

Saw (2004)

In both of the first two Saw films, sadistic mastermind serial killer and terminally-ill cancer patient Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) devised impossible live-or-die situations for victims where they had to make outrageous moral choices to survive in the trap-filled environments, while self-inflicting lethal wounds.

In the initial film, two men (a photographer named Adam (Leigh Whannell) and a surgeon named Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes)) were chained to pipes. They were given saws to hack off their limbs to escape - Dr. Gordon sawed off his own leg to break free.

An earlier victim, a 46 year-old male named Paul (Mike Butters), had to claw through a cage of razor wire to reach safety within two hours, but didn't succeed.

Amanda Young (Shawnee Smith) was outfitted with a bizarre booby-trapped jaw device that would blow her head wide open if she didn't find the key to unlock it - inside the guts of another heavily-sedated, semi-conscious victim.

Saw II (2005)

In the second Saw film in 2005, eight victims in a lethal, booby-trapped house faced similar dire circumstances - in a horrific 'needle pit' scene, returning victim Amanda was thrown into a pit filled with used, dirty hypodermic syringes where a key was hidden - as she dug for the key, syringes stuck to all parts of her body.

And in the 'razor-box' scene, Addison (Emmanuelle Vaugier) grabbed at a vial of antidote with her hands inside a glass cage or box above her where the arm-socket openings were one-way, with sharp metal razor blades that cut her limbs when she tried to pull them back out.

Scanners (1981)

In the infamous exploding-head sequence, scanner villain Darryl Revok (Michael Ironside) demonstrated his brain-bursting telepathic powers at an ESP conference; also the final showdown between Revok and long-lost brother Cameron Vale (Stephen Lack), when Revok growled: "All right, we're gonna do this the scanner way: I'm gonna suck your brain dry!" followed by a gory, blood-bursting mutual psychic attack

Scream (1996)


The opening 12-minute prologue scene in which all-American girl, sweatered Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore in a cameo) was alone preparing Jiffy Pop pop-corn to watch a video at home when she received an initially playful phone call (she was asked a trivia question: what was her favorite scary movie? - and she replied Halloween (1978)); shortly afterwards, the repeated terrifying calls turned obscene, threatening and ugly ("No, you listen, you little bitch! You hang up on me again, I'll gut you like a fish, understand?...Can you handle that... Blondie?") and freaky when the caller said: "I want to know who I'm looking at"; when she rushed around to lock all the doors, and demanded to know what the caller wanted, the caller simply replied: "To see what your insides look like"; when the doorbell rang and she said: "Who's there?", she was reminded by the caller: "You should never say 'Who's there?' Don't you watch scary movies? It's a death wish"; she then threatened that her boyfriend would be arriving soon: "He's big and he plays football, and he'll kick the shit out of you!"; she was instructed to turn on the patio lights, where she saw her bruised boyfriend Steve tied up and gagged with duct tape across his mouth; in a game of movie trivia, the phone-caller first asked: "Name the killer in Halloween?" and then after she answered correctly, a second question: "Name the killer in Friday the 13th?" followed by her wrong answer: "Jason" (she was corrected with the proper answer: "Mrs. Voorhies", Jason's mother) "Jason didn't show up until the sequel"; her boyfriend was killed for her wrong answer; outside, Casey was chased across the lawn by Ghostface (wearing a Halloween costume), stabbed in the upper chest, choked, startlingly murdered on her front porch with a few more fatal stab wounds, and then hung from the front yard's tree for her parents to view; later, Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan) confirmed what the caller wanted: "Her mom and dad found her hanging from a tree limb, her insides on the outside"

The Searchers (1956)

In the pre-massacre scene, the shadow of Comanche Chief Scar (Henry Brandon) slowly moved over and menacingly covered the crouched figure of young, frightened 10 year old Debbie (Lana Wood, younger sister of co-star Natalie Wood) by a family grave

The Sentinel (1977)


Michael Winner's horror film, a Satanic thriller (following the spate of similar films at the time including Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Exorcist (1973), and The Omen (1976), with a dash of Tod Browning's Freaks (1932), was based on the 1974 novel by co-scripter Jeffrey Konvitz. The basic plot was that a gorgeous supermodel, reluctant to marry, moved into a brand-new brownstone apartment in Brooklyn Heights - that was soon revealed to be a gateway or portal to hell.

Its proprietors were a secret society or group of excommunicated Catholic priests called The Brotherhood of Protectors. On the top floor (5th) lived mysterious, senile and blind priest Father Francis Matthew Halliran (John Carradine) who always sat by his open window - a gatekeeper (or Sentinel) who guarded the gates so that the demons inside couldn't escape.

Emotionally-disturbed and neurotic, NYC fashion model Alison Parker (Cristina Raines) met some of her strange neighbors:

  • eccentric Charles Chazen (Burgess Meredith) - with a black and white cat named Jezebel and a yellow pet parakeet named Mortimer on his shoulder
  • Gerde Engstrom (Sylvia Miles) and Sandra (Beverly D'Angelo in her screen debut) - two lesbian lovers in the ground-floor apartment; Sandra openly masturbated to orgasm through her red leotard in front of Alison; the two boasted about what they did for a living: "We fondle each other"

She began having frightful attacks of insomnia and incidents including noises in the night from neighbors, loud metal-banging sounds, and a swinging chandelier. She also had bluish-tinged nightmares (of her fellow nude apartment dwellers).

Earlier, she had experienced a flashback to a past suicide attempt during her traumatic childhood - cutting her wrists after she accidentally interrupted her elderly father having sex with two gross and obese women. He slapped her and ripped a crucifix from her neck and smashed it on the floor.

At lunch, her rental agent Miss Logan (Ava Gardner) tried to reassure her about her new bargain-priced living quarters at $400/month: "Aside from the priest, and now of course, you, nobody has lived in that building for three years." When they returned to the building, she was shown that the other apartments were vacant and covered in cobwebs!

In the film's scariest stalking sequence during another sleepless night, Alison feared that she was losing her mind. She went to investigate (with one of her white slip shoulder straps down), armed with a flashlight and butcher knife. Completely spooked at the top of the staircase, she saw Jezebel eating Mortimer. A door opened to an apartment and a grotesque, deformed creature (with totally white eyes) walked by. She asked: "What do you want from me? Who are you?" She turned on her flashlight aimed toward a dark shadowy area, and the ghastly ghoul - the ghost of her dead father (Fred Stuthman) - stared back at her. As he approached, she backed up, and her flashlight revealed the two fat naked zombies from her father's sex orgy a few years earlier. She stabbed at her zombie father with her knife, cutting into its arm, stomach, forehead, and nose before it collapsed at her feet.

While briefly hospitalized for the trauma caused, Alison's lawyer boyfriend of two years Michael Lerman (Chris Sarandon) discovered that the names of some of the other tenants were those of notoriously convicted murderers now deceased.

Unbeknowst to her, she had been chosen as the new replacement Sentinel or 'gatekeeper" - to cleanse herself of her sins (the mortal sin of killing herself). The tagline gave away the plot: "She was young. She was beautiful. She was next!"

In the anti-climactic ending, the tormented female was chased toward the top floor by her zombified neighbors (led by Charles who urged: "Welcome home. Don't be afraid. We've been waiting for you. You're such a sweet child....You are here to join us...Be one of us"), the cannibalistic lesbian lovers, and her now dead boyfriend Michael (he had been condemned to hell for having his wife murdered!). They entered into Father Halliran's room, where she was cornered, and was being compelled to kill herself. [Note: Controversially, director Michael Winner tastelessly used real-life deformed or handicapped freaks as Satan's minions - or Hell's inhabitants.]

Ultimately, she replaced Father Halliran as the gate-keeper - a reclusive blind nun sitting at the top floor's open window as he had.

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

The unusually intense moments in a G-rated animated film: tiny little field mouse Mrs. Brisby's (voice of Elizabeth Hartman) perilous adventure into the world - and her encounter with the imposing farmer's cat named Dragon; also her meeting with The Great Owl (voice of John Carradine), including his first scary appearance (squishing a deadly spider underfoot) and his command to enter into his dark, cobweb-filled home: "Step house", including the shot of the bones of his previous mouse victims; also Mrs. Brisby's first scary encounter with a rat leader of NIMH (escapees from the National Institute of Mental Health); and the moment when Brisby's cement block home sank into the mud, seemingly killing her three young children

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)


The scene in which Harvard anthropologist/scientist Dennis Alan (Bill Pullman), who was searching for a strange, magical revitalizing powder in Haiti, experienced the power first-hand; he was paralyzed and placed in a coffin - buried alive and lying still and emotionless with a tarantula placed on his face; he was totally conscious at both his autopsy and burial

Session 9 (2001)

An asbestos cleaning crew worked at the condemned and abandoned mental institution (the real Danvers Lunatic Asylum, with a dark past, tortured patients, and a psychologically-unsettling feeling of dread within every corridor and room) in this paranoic thriller from writer/director Brad Anderson - similar to The Shining (1980) and Don't Look Now (1973); in the film's scariest and most disquieting moments, ex-law student and worker Mike (Stephen Gevedon) listened to psychotherapy session audio-tapes (a case history labeled Session 1 to Session 9, and more chilling as they progressed) that recorded interviews with a multiple-personality female patient named Mary Hobbes; her repressed and hidden memories from her troubled past revealed that the cause of her insanity was domestic abuse from her father; one of her personalities was an innocent "Princess" while another was a protector named "Billy"; the most evil of all her personalities was revealed to be "Simon"; it was learned that something evil happened with a knife ("he cut her up real bad") and a China doll one Christmas night in Lowell, Massachusetts - a horrific set of murders; by film's end with a plot twist, the hallucinating, possessed and stressed-out foreman/owner Gordon Fleming (Peter Mullan) was shown to have also murdered all of his crew workers and family ("there was a lot of blood, Doc, so much blood") -- in the film's voice-over ending, a recording of Session 9, "Simon" (a possessed, grief-stricken, deeply-conflicted Gordon) admitted to the psychotherapist that Mary had in parallel fashion murdered her family and then described where he lived: "I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc"

Se7en (1995)


The scenes of the many sick and gruesome crime-murders committed by maniacal serial killer John Doe (Kevin Spacey), with his MOs based upon the famous Seven Deadly Sins (gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath) - especially the Sloth killing in which the victim was strapped to a bed to suffer a slow death for a year which was chronicled by photographs -- and the scary moment occurring when the corpse slightly rose up and moaned; and the climactic grim moment in which Doe led arrogant, hotshot replacement Detective David Mills (Brad Pitt) and retiring veteran Detective William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) to another sick and gruesome crime and souvenir - "her pretty head" in a bloody box

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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