|Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description|
Shallow Grave (1994, UK)
The directorial debut film of Scottish filmmaker Danny Boyle came in the form of this very black comedy. The nihilistic Hitchcock-like crime thriller (similar to Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan (1998), and to Huston's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)), opened with an introduction to a nefarious, cold-hearted group of three Edinburgh flatmates sharing an apartment. Their welcome mat read: "Not Today, Thank You." The trio were educated, smug, self-centered, and arrogant elitists:
After a series of humiliating interviews for a prospective 4th roomer, they decided upon a mysterious, black-clad writer named Hugo (Keith Allen) - who in flashback was involved in the grisly demise of a cash machine customer (David Scoular). Soon after, they found Hugo's naked body, presumably dead from a drug overdose, in his locked room.
In a number of disturbing scenes, they greedily and amorally kept Hugo's suitcase full of money found under the bed. They drew straws, with the short one designating the person to dispose of the body in a shallow grave in the woods late at night. The normally-quiet, bespectacled David selected the short straw. Soon, he was scarily transformed into an insane maniac as the film progressed, due to monetary greed. While drooling, he bloodily hack-sawed the arms and legs off the corpse of the deceased, and plummeled the body's teeth with a sledge hammer to prevent identification from dental records. The body parts were incinerated at Juliet's hospital, and the bloody tools were rinsed off in their bathtub.
Due to greed, fear, mistrust, increasing paranoia, backstabbing, and jealousy of all the roommates, the film with multiple twists ended with a vicious, murderous fight between the roommates.
In a clever camera shot, the money was revealed below the knifepoint sticking through the floor (with blood dripping down), where Alex had hidden it.
Exhilaration Over the Money
David Hacksawing Corpse
David's Increasing Insanity
The Body Parts
Bloody Tools in Bathtub
The Film's Twist Ending:
Director Stanley Kubrick's 'haunted house' horror film The Shining (1980) was set during the off-season at a remote, snowbound Colorado resort hotel, the Overlook Hotel. Schoolteacher, recovering alcoholic and aspiring writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) had been hired as the winter caretaker with his family, composed of nervous wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and his psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd).
It was a horrifying treatise on the effects of isolation on a borderline-crazed Jack. It was soon revealed that the hotel had a dark and tainted history. An earlier caretaker had reportedly gone mad and axed his family - and young Danny (with the ability of "shining") began to have frightening premonitions and visions of mayhem and murder. The local sadistic phantoms seemed to be encouraging Jack to repeat the murderous rage of the past:
Jack became increasingly hostile toward his family - feared by Danny, when he was compelled to murder his own loved ones. In an iconic scene, maniacal Jack broke down their door with an axe and exclaimed: "Here's Johnny!" An unsuspecting Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) was murdered in the lobby of the hotel with an axe to the mid-section, and Wendy and Danny barely managed to escape. The bloodthirsty Jack pursued Danny in the frozen garden maze - where he met his fate and literally froze to death.
Door-Smashing Axe Attack
Murderous Jack in Maze
Shivers (1975) (aka They Came From Within, The Parasite Murders)
Canadian writer/director David Cronenberg's scandalous early (feature film debut and first commercial success) erotic horror film was about a group of Montreal high-rise apartment occupants in Starliner Towers who went on a sex and violence spree after being infected by parasites. The film, funded by the Canadian government, was attacked as hideous, pornographic, and nasty. It shocked audiences and the government for lurid depictions of gore and sex, delving into multiple taboos such as pedophilia, incest, rape, infanticide, cannibalism and homosexuality. Cronenberg definitely equated sex with disease in the film.
In an early scene, promiscuous 19 year-old teenaged mistress Annabelle Brown (Cathy Graham) was in the apartment of deviant pedophile and research scientist Professor Emil Hobbes (Fred Doederlein), who was conducting unorthodox experiments on her (as his guinea pig) - to create a special breed of parasites to replace diseased organs. He had implanted an organism within her ("a combination of aphrodisiac and venereal disease that will hopefully turn the world into one beautiful, mindless orgy"). To rid her of the sexually-voracious implant, he chased her around his living room, subdued, and then strangled her. She was laid out on a table where her clothes were stripped off, her mouth was taped, and her entire torso was slit open with a scalpel. After prying open the cut line, he poured steaming acid into the cavity. Then with remorse, Hobbes committed suicide by slashing his own throat with the scalpel and falling to the floor. The virus went out of control among residents of their apartment building - Annabelle was having an affair with married neighbor Nick Tudor (Allan Kolman) (who was cheating on his wife Janine Tudor (Susan Petrie)) and through him, the parasite spread.
The parasites were red-colored, bloody, invasive and worm-like slug-turd (or phallic-shaped, similar to grotesque male genitalia) - they would incubate in one's stomach, emerge from one's mouth, attach to one's face, and ultimately would turn infected victims in a high-rise apartment building into flesh-devouring, crazed sex maniacs and zombie-like fetishists.
Miss Forsythe (Lynn Lowry), the nurse of the Starliner's resident physician Roger St. Luc (Paul Hampton) (who was a former student of Hobbes), relayed her "disturbing" and creepy dream about how she had made love with an elderly, strange, repulsively-smelly dying man, and how everything in life was sexual and erotic:
She then opened her mouth to reveal her own parasitic infection - and was slapped into unconsciousness by St. Luc. Other inhabitants of the Starliner were making love in the hallways, and the entire complex was overtaken with copulation.
And in one particularly scary scene, a parasite sought entry into the body of repressed lesbian Betts (Barbara Steele) as she took a bath. It emerged from the drain and crawled up between her legs into her vagina, violating her, and infecting her as she struggled and bloodied the water.
Then, in the next nightmarish scene, the infected Betts seductively whispered repeatedly to her female neighbor victim Janine Tudor:
With Betts' neck visibly bulging (on the left), she passed the parasite onto her partner (on the right).
In the final "baptismal" scene, the protagonist, resident physician Roger finally succumbed to being overpowered by the parasitic forces in an indoor swimming pool orgy. He was kissed by infected Nurse Forsythe while dunked in the water and surrounded by a group of infected inhabitants.
Professor Hobbes with Annabelle
Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's alien invasion science-fiction film was about unusual crop drawings in corn fields. In the awesome opening scene, ex-Bucks County Pennsylvania preacher and emotionally-wounded widower Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) awakened to find his two dazed children Morgan and Bo (Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin) in their cornfield looking at huge and strange crop circles, with Morgan's thought: "I think God did it." [Note: It was later revealed that aliens had created the crop drawings as landing navigational markers, occurring all over the world.]
His faith had already been tested when his wife Colleen (Patricia Kalember) died in a horrible car accident - he had become embittered and left the church. It was determined that the markings were navigational markers for an alien invasion, occurring all over the world.
In one particularly shocking scene, CNN news footage from a Brazilian children's birthday party showed home video footage of a brief shot of a green-costumed alien walking past an alley. Horrified younger brother Merrill Hess (Joaquin Phoenix) gave an urgent warning shouted at the TV to the birthday party children: "Move children!! Vaminos!!"
Later, in the scene of the blocked kitchen pantry in neighbor Ray Reddy's (director Shyamalan) house, Graham discovered a trapped giant alien. He attempted to impersonate a cop in order to persuade the creature to give itself up ("The police are here. I am with them. I am a police officer. I just want to talk with you. We know all about the hoax. We already took some of your friends downtown in a paddy wagon...Tell us your name and why you did it and we'll give you the same deal we gave the others. Don't throw away your life, son."). He bent down, knelt, and tried to look under the pantry door (using the reflection of a shiny, large butcher knife), and then when he made a second attempt, the alien grabbed at him. He used the knife to cut off two protruding fingers on the alien's clawed hand reaching out from the underside of the closed door - causing the trapped creature to let out a high-pitched, blood-curdling scream.
In the film's conclusion, the Hess family emerged from their basement (after fighting off the aliens) when they heard on the radio that the alien spaceship had retreated and left Earth. However, one stranded, tall, greenish gas-expelling alien creature (the one with cut-off fingers) took one of the Hess' hostage. It threatened weak, ill and asthmatic son Morgan, who couldn't breathe (without his inhaler) during an asthma attack and had passed out.
In order to protect his hostaged son from alien abduction and from inhaling poisonous cyanide gas, Graham recalled his wife Colleen's dying words ("Tell Graham... see. Tell him to see. And tell Merrill to swing away"). The advice to Graham to "see" referred to his observing a mounted baseball bat in the living room. Graham then told Merrill, a semi-pro baseball player: "Swing away, Merrill. Merrill... swing away." Merrill grabbed his record-setting baseball bat from the wall and attacked the creature, as it was exposing Morgan to poisonous cyanide gas and abducting him. When hit by the bat, the alien dropped Morgan to the floor. During the violent struggle, a glass of water (on which the confrontation was reflected) spilled down on the right shoulder of the alien (who was revealed to be allergic to water) and ate away at his skin like acid. More swings of the bat (which split in two) and dousings with water eventually killed the alien.
Meanwhile, Graham grabbed Morgan, rushed him outside, and gave him a life-saving injection in the leg. [Morgan was saved from inhaling poisonous cyanide gas (because of his own asthma attack): "That's why he had asthma. It can't be luck. His lungs were closed. His lungs were closed. No poison got in. No poison got in."] Graham's faith in God was restored when he realized the random and tragic events of his life served a purpose. He saw his son saved - from his wife's prophetic words and the blessing that asthmatic Morgan couldn't inhale the gas with closed-off lungs.
The CNN News Footage
Jonathan Demme's dark Oscar-winning crime thriller was an example of extreme horror exemplified in two enigmatic serial killer characters who took pleasure from flesh-eating.
The first was serial killer Jamie Gumb (nicknamed Buffalo Bill) (Ted Levine), who skinned his female victims and then would place a moth cocoon into their mouths. There was a detailed scene in a makeshift morgue - when a black body bag was loudly unzipped. FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) examined the latest 'wrongful death' female victim, noting: "Two of her fingernails are broken off and there's dirt or grit under 'em. It looks like she's tried to claw her way through something." And then she found the bug cocoon (later identified as "the Death's-head moth") in the dead girl's throat. On the girl's back, two neat triangular patches of skin were missing.
Earlier, Clarice interviewed another psychotic mass murderer in his windowless, glassed-in, dungeon-like cell - the chilling, repellent, super-intelligent and intriguing Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), an ex-psychiatrist, to find out more about Buffalo Bill. Filmed from her point of view, the notorious psychiatrist made a dramatic film entrance. He first appeared standing, ironically still and at attention in his cell, watching her with twinkling, chillingly-dead, blue eyes. The menacing, fiendish, but polite, suave and gracious Hannibal took the initiative and urged the clever, intelligent, but inexperienced Clarice to step closer to his cell to show her ID credentials: "Closer, please. Clo-ser." Then, during the questioning, with a purring, soft voice, he dissected her personality with a witty, but perversely intimate portrait of her soul - it was a chilling speech, imitating her way of speech with mocking criticism.
Lecter graphically told her about his ferocious oral impulses and how he ate parts of his victims - with the sound effects of sifting air through his teeth:
As Clarice left the cell area and slowly walked down the corridor, she passed Migg's (Stuart Rudin) cell - the demented inmate was naked and masturbating on his bench/bed, moaning: "I bit my wrists so I can diiiiie...," and gleefully yelled: "See how it bleeds?" He then flung a handful of fresh semen at her, spattering her hair and face with it.
Soon after in a dark storage shed which she opened, in a shocking jump-scare moment, Clarice discovered a glass jar with a grotesquely-bloated man's ("Miss Hester Mofet") severed head preserved in a laboratory specimen jar. The face, whose identity was later revealed by Lecter as Benjamin Raspail (his first psychiatric patient), had been transformed into the face of a woman with the addition of heavy makeup (now smeared).
When a new female victim was kidnapped, twenty-five year old Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith), the race was on against time for the novice agent to find Buffalo Bill. He kept his latest "moth" and kidnapped victim trapped in a round pit dug fifteen feet deep into his cellar floor. Catherine screamed: "Let me out of here, why won't you answer me, please?" Catherine's mother, Senator Ruth Martin...the Republican junior senator from Tennessee, negotiated a transfer to the VA Hospital at Oneida Park, New York with a view of the woods nearby, if Lecter would divulge more information. As he was transferred, there was the iconic view of the serial killer made captive by being strapped and strait-jacketed to a rolling hand truck. His face was imprisoned in a grotesque hockey mask.
And later in a scene at the Shelby County Courthouse, Lecter was imprisoned in a massive temporary iron cage in the middle of the Historical Society Room on the fifth floor. Lecter cleverly escaped from his cuffs and lunged at Sgt. Jim Pembry (Alex Coleman) with gruesome, face-eating cannibalism. He then smashed Pembry's skull into the bars and sprayed mace into his eyes. During his vicious rampage, the second guard Sgt. Boyle (Charles Napier) was mercilessly beaten to death by the bloody-faced Lecter with a police riot baton.
After the two brutal attacks, the camera panned over the blood-flecked food tray over to the cassette player, where Lecter was lost listening to Bach's Goldberg Variations. His hand airily drifted over the player. In the background, seriously-wounded Pembry struggled to crawl away. Lecter found a four-inch pocketknife, spilled from Boyle's pockets, and warned the wounded man: "Ready when you are, Sgt. Pembry." After hearing shots fired, officers found the bloody and savaged body of Sgt. Boyle strung up high on the cell bars like Christ, with a carved-away abdomen. "Sgt. Pembry," with an unrecognizable, gory face, lay bloodied on the floor, and Lecter appeared to be missing.
And in the breathless, climactic, terrifying chase sequence in the dungeon-like cellar hideaway of serial killer Jamie Gumb, novice Clarice pursued the madman with her gun drawn and found herself in Gumb's gruesome laboratory and skinning room. When she was plunged into total darkness, Gumb had fitted himself with night-vision goggles, and from his perspective, everything appeared in a greenish tint, and he watched her as she flattened herself against a wall and tried to get her bearings. As the serial killer reached out with one hand to stroke her hair and the skin of her face, his fingers floated through the air just inches from in front of her. Then he paused, raised his gun in the air, and cocked the hammer. Its loud metallic click tipped off Clarice to his location. She spun around - in slow motion - and fired flaming shots from her gun muzzle at him, at point-blank range, killing him.
The First Meeting Between
Lecter and Clarice
The Pursuit of Jamie Gumb in the Darkened Cellar
Silent Hill (2006)
This psychological, gothic, supernatural horror film from director Christophe Gans, with a script by Roger Avary (partially based on the survival horror video computer game), was about religious fanaticism and dark dreams.
Troubled 9 year-old adopted daughter Sharon Da Silva (Jodelle Ferland) was taken by her mother Rose Da Silva (Radha Mitchell) to the small West Virginia town of Silent Hill. In turmoil and psychological pain, Sharon had been calling out the town's name during restless sleepwalking incidents. As they arrived in the strange, dark, foggy abandoned town, there was a car accident when Rose - pursued by motorcycle officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), swerved her car to avoid hitting a child in the roadway, and hit an embankment. (Were they both killed in the accident?) When unconscious Rose awakened, Sharon was missing - and black snow made of ash was falling.
While a desperate and disoriented Rose looked for her daughter in the mysterious, dream-like and cursed town, she encountered a strange group of creatures, monstrosities (man-eating roaches), and menacing specters, with evil powers of transformation. It appeared that Silent Hill had been engulfed by a darker reality or other-world. With Cybil, they encountered an Armless Man (Michael Cota) - a bizarre gray character with mis-shapen bones, no face or arms, that spewed toxic acidic ash. There were many nightmarish images, such as a swarming horde of shrieking, gray-skinned, lava-encrusted, knife-wielding mutant children, with glowing orange skin wounds looking like they were burning internally. There were giant cockroaches with human faces. Also a group of mutant nurses in Brookhaven Hospital confronted Rose (when she shined her flashlight on them), and they ended up slashing each other's throats.
Rose also met dissheveled and dirty homeless woman Dahlia Gillespie (Deborah Kara Unger) and inquired about Sharon, but was cryptically told: "We've all lost our children." When shown a picture of Sharon, Dahlia then claimed that Alessa was her daughter - who looked exactly like Sharon. She found a local cult while uncovering Sharon's connection to the town's deeply-disturbing historical past from 30 years earlier. The town had been abandoned after an underground coal seam fire in the 1970s killed most of the inhabitants.
In the film's backstory, one of the town's young girls, Alessa Gillespie (also Jodelle Ferland), was born out of wedlock. She was bullied at an all-girl parochial school by her fellow students and abused (probably raped?) by the school janitor named Colin. Accused apparently of being the daughter of a witch and sentenced to be slowly consumed by fire over hot coals, Alessa was led to the sacrificial chamber in the town's Grand Hotel. She was severely burned and disfigured in the purification cult ritual led by Alessa's fanatical aunt Christabella (Alice Krige), when the chains holding the cauldron of hot coals broke and a major fire consumed the building and town. Barely alive and hospitalized, Alessa made a pact with evil, vengeful forces ("When you're hurt and scared for so long, your fear and pain turn to hate, and the hate starts to change the world").
She developed a split personality - with a vengeful Dark Alessa, the incarnation of the evil and dark side of Alessa's soul. All the people responsible for Alessa's suffering were then pulled into the alternate dimensions to be tortured and killed by the vengeful Alessa. Alessa transformed the town of Silent Hill into a purgatory for her enemies - mostly cult members, while the outside real world viewed the town as unlivable because of poisonous gases from the mine's fires. Twenty-one years later, she also created her doppelganger - Sharon, who was taken to the Toluca County Orphanage and adopted by the Da Silvas. Sharon exhibited her remaining innocence and good side.
In the chilling yet spectacular climactic 'barbed-wire' scene, pious, ultra-conservative, evil cult leader Christabella and her witchcraft followers were slaughtered by vengeful, burned and disfigured psychic girl Alessa Gillespie. When Christabella stabbed Rose, her tainted blood dripped onto the church floor and opened up the lower portal to Hell.
Badly scarred and immobile Alessa rose up from the pit of a fiery hell on a hospital bed. Long strands of snake-like, writhing barb-wires (telepathically controlled) penetrated, painfully wrapped around, and tore Cristabella and the cultists apart. The wire lifted her off the floor, penetrated her body and caused bloody wounds, and eventually ripped her in half - vertically!
Dark Alessa and Sharon recombined and created a newly "reborn" Alessa, with Rose as her mother.
Rose Da Silva
The Armless Man
Gray Children with Glowing Skin
Pyramid Head Creature
The Burned Body of Alessa
Single White Female (1992)
Barbet Schroeder's edgy psycho-erotic thriller told about the ensuing problems brought on by a psychotically-compulsive, disturbed and menacing roommate (a 'single white female') with a very dark side beneath her heart-of-gold exterior. The film opened with two unidentified twin girls in a bathroom applying makeup together - a foreshadowing of one of the film's characters.
NYC software designer and sophisticated career woman Allison "Allie" Jones (Bridget Fonda), living in a cavernous Victorian apartment in the West 70s, was happily engaged to be married to live-in boyfriend Sam Rawson (Steven Weber), although they were breaking up over his unfaithfulness. To cover the costs of rent and not wanting to live alone, she advertised for a SWF in the newspaper to share her apartment, and after a series of personal interviews with candidate prospects, chose shy, timid, eager-to-please, unfashionable bookstore clerk Hedra "Hedy" Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
After only two weeks together as roommates, the two had bonded and Hedra expressed her emulation of Allie when she told her: "Anything of mine that you want, just go ahead. Share and share alike." She then revealed: "I was supposed to be a twin, but she was stillborn...I grew up feeling a part of me was missing." When Allison reestablished her relationship with Sam and had sex with him, Hedy ominously confronted her in her bedroom: "Where the hell have you been?" Now that Allison had "patched things up" with Sam, Hedy rightfully feared being evicted soon ("You'll be very happy and I'll be alone"), and commiserated about how she was in a "different league" and would never find a boyfriend.
A series of strange and unusual incidents began to occur - psychotically-unbalanced and frumpy 'single white female' Hedy demonstrated the lengths she would go to insinuate herself, steal (or control) the life of someone else and become nearly identical.:
Before long, Allie found clues about Hedy's real identity: letters addressed to Tampa, Florida to an Ellen Besch, Hedy's actual name. A newspaper article stated that her 9 year-old twin Judy Besch had drowned at a family picnic and the "circumstances surrounding her death remain unclear."
To insure that Sam would be unfaithful to Allie, Hedy (looking exactly like Allie) even went to Sam's Hotel Atherton room when he returned late that night from a trip and had fallen asleep. She coquettishly seduced him under the covers with oral sex. She told him: "I knew it...I told her. Guys like you don't change. You can't be faithful....I think she should know that." He lashed out at her, calling her "too needy," "always clingy," "constantly in her face" - and declared her "nuts." She then vengefully murdered him with the spiked stiletto heel of a shoe thrust into his eye, when he threatened to confess to Allie.
In a frightening scene, Hedy held Allie bound as a hostage in Graham's upstairs apartment and came close to slitting her throat. She revealed that another incident with a similar woman in Tampa ended badly, when another female exposed Hedy's "secrets" to put her away. Allie pretended to want to be with Hedy, and planned to book a flight to LA with her. Meanwhile, Allie's flustered boss Mitch Myerson came looking for her (when his computer programs self-erased due to non-payment), and when he attempted to free Allie, was bludgeoned and then shot to death by the unhinged Hedy.
The film concluded with a brutal catfight between Allie and Hedy that began in Graham's apartment, continued in the elevator, and ended in the basement of the building, where Allie stabbed Hedy to death in the back with a screwdriver.
In the aftermath, Allie told (in voice-over) how Hedy's parents said that their young daughter never forgave herself for surviving her sister's death.
The last image was a composite-split view of the photographed face of Allie & Hedy, with Allie's voice-over:
The Two Roommates
The Salon Scene
Seduction and Murder of Sam
Hedy Threatening Allie
The Brutal Catfight
The Sixth Sense (1999)
One of the biggest box-office hits ($294 million domestic) and critics favorite in the 1990s - and psychological thriller - was writer/director M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense (1999) - about a 9 year-old boy (Haley Joel Osment) who saw ghosts of dead people (with the memorable tagline "I see dead people") all around south Philadelphia, and who shared his ghostly experience with a child psychologist. The mysterious film from an unknown director generated much talk over its unexpected twist ending.
In this psychological thriller's prologue/opening, psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), with his wife Anna (Olivia Williams) behind him, spoke to a strange intruder that had entered their home's bathroom: "This is 47 Locust Street. You have broken a window and entered a private residence....There are no needles or prescription drugs of any kind in this house." Anna asked: "What do you want?" She was told: "What he promised me!" Malcolm was told clues about the identity of the stranger - a disgruntled and highly-disturbed ex-patient named Vincent Grey (Donnie Wahlberg) from ten years earlier:
Crowe responded: "I do remember you. Quiet, very smart, compassionate, unusually compassionate." Grey added: "You forgot cursed. You failed me. YOU FAILED ME!" As Crowe apologized and offered to help, Grey turned, reached for a weapon, and shot Crowe in the stomach. As Crowe fell back onto the bed clutching his abdomen, Grey put the weapon to his own head and pulled the trigger (off-screen). Anna came to her husband's aid - and the screen blackened. The film's next scene was identified as "THE NEXT FALL, SOUTH PHILADELPHIA."
In the classic 'twist' ending supernatural drama from the master of unexpected plot twists director M. Night Shyamalan, it was revealed that Crowe never did survive the lethal gun-shot wound in the stomach by his angry suicidal ex-patient. However, it was made to appear that Crowe - after recovering from the bullet wound, dedicated himself to help others with severe personality disorders - to find redemption for himself. His preoccupation appeared to alienate him from his loving wife Anna - although she was actually mourning his demise, was severely depressed and often asked herself: "Why, Malcolm?...Why did you leave me?"
Crowe eventually discovered that he was a 'ghost' - one of the "dead people" seen by troubled and disturbed 8-year old clairvoyant patient Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), to whom he had become a father figure. Cole had often spoken to him about seeing 'dead people' - something that terrified him - "I see people. They don't know they're dead...They're everywhere. They only see what they want to see." One of the most subtle clues of the whole film was that the color red was prominent whenever the worlds of the living and the dead came together. Cole helped Malcolm to reconcile his relationship with his wife so that he (and she) could be at peace.
There were only a few, intensely-scary shocks in the ghostly film:
Ghost of Dead Cyclist
Ghost of Kyra Collins
Ghost of Gunshot Boy
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
In Disney's classic animated musical fantasy children's film, evil fairy Maleficent (voice of Eleanor Audley) made an unusually intense, uninvited appearance at the christening ceremony of baby Princess Aurora (voice of Mary Costa). She presented the young child with a gift, accompanied by a hideous laugh and a curse - she promised as she touched the round top of her spinning yellow and green staff: "Listen well, all of you! The Princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But, before the sun sets on her 16th birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel - and die!" She laughed: "Ha, ha, ha, ha," before disappearing in a flash of lightning. [Note: The curse was reduced by good fairy Merryweather's blessing and gift - instead of dying, Aurora would fall into a deathlike sleep from which she could only be awakened by true love's kiss: "Not in death but just in sleep the fateful prophecy you'll keep, and from this slumber, you shall wake when true love's kiss the spell shall break" - from Prince Philip (voice of Bill Shirley).]
Years later, the curse came true when Aurora (disguised as peasant girl Briar Rose) was put into a trance and led away by a green light to enter behind a fireplace and ascend a stone staircase. Her protective three good fairies, Flora (The Red Fairy), Fauna (The Green Fairy), and Merryweather (The Blue Fairy) pursued after her, but were too late to prevent tragedy. Aurora was commanded: "Touch the spindle, touch it, I say!" She obeyed and touched a magical spinning wheel's spindle and fell under the spell. Maleficent sneered at the fairies: "You poor simple fools! Thinking you could defeat me, me - the mistress of all evil? Well, here's your precious princess." Maleficent scooped up her long flowing train, revealing Aurora laying face-down on the floor, and then disappeared - laughing hideously.
In the finale, Maleficent battled against Prince Phillip, knowing that he was the only one who could break the spell. She surrounded King Stefan's castle where Sleeping Beauty was resting with a forest of thick, thorny bushes. Knowing that she was failing when Prince Phillip cut through with his magical Sword of Truth - she had one final trick. She scarily transformed herself into a black-and-purple, fire-breathing and -spewing dragon: "Now shall you deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of hell!" Armed with his sword and Flora's encouragement ("Now Sword of Truth, fly swift and sure, That evil die and good endure!"), Phillip speared Maleficent's heart with the weapon and she fell to her death.
Into a Dragon
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Washington Irving's early 19th century short story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' was the basis for Tim Burton's horror film, with elements of dark humor. It was notable for its numerous beheadings, slashings, and decapitated bodies, including the off-screen decapitation of a child, by a fabled supernatural, jagged-toothed headless rider known as the Headless Horseman (Christopher Walken).
The feared murderer, a Hessian mercenary who rode a giant black steed named Daredevil, emerged from the foot of a gnarled Tree of the Dead to terrorize the town of Sleepy Hollow. The legend was told of the butchering, Headless Horseman, the Hessian mercenary. He came "for love of carnage" and during battle with American Revolutionary soldiers, he chopped off heads at full gallop until the winter of 1779, when the butcherous rider met his own death - and lost his own head. He was beheaded when "they chopped off his head with his own sword in the Western Woods. Even today, the area is a haunted place where brave men will not venture." His head (and body) were dropped into a shallow grave ("what was planted in the ground that day was a seed of evil"). According to city leader Baltus Van Tassel (Michael Gambon), he feared that the malevolent Hessian had wakened after twenty years from his grave and was "on the rampage, cutting off heads where he finds them."
The subsequent slayings in the town, investigated and often witnessed by unorthodox NYC detective Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), an awkward schoolteacher, included:
The Hessian Mercenary - the Headless Horseman
Writer/director James Gunn's directorial debut film was advertised as having "heart-stopping horror" - but it was a notorious box-office bomb. In a self-referential way, it paid homage to and was similar in many ways to the classic 50's film The Blob (1958), Cronenberg's Shivers (1975) (aka They Came From Within) - see above, Night of the Creeps (1986), and many others.
This cheesy, sometimes funny, seat-squirming B-horror sci-fi movie opened with the crash of a meteorite near the quiet rural town of Wheelsy, South Carolina. Married town resident and car dealer Grant Grant (Michael Rooker) was drunk and in the woods with married acquaintance Brenda Gutierrez (Brenda James), the younger sister of his former girlfriend. After being impaled by a needle-like spike shot out of one of the extra-terrestrials into his abdomen, slippery red slugs or worm creatures from the meteorite entered his system, infected his brain, and transformed him. To his pretty schoolteacher wife Starla (Elizabeth Banks), he claimed it was only a bee sting.
Soon after, Grant was at Brenda's place to have sex. She innocently offered him cheese and crackers and removed her blouse. When he removed his shirt, his undulating, bloody chest revealed two tentacles emerging from it. In a highly suggestive scene, he stifled her screams with his hand, as the wiggling, two-tentacled creature broke out of his stomach and bore its way into Brenda's bare abdomen.
He also transformed and became a mutant, voracious flesh-eating, killer intergalactic life form with tentacles - a slug-like monstrosity (looking like a giant, mucus-covered squid and ear of corn with bad teeth in a distended mouth) - somewhat similar to Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) in The Fly (1986). In his mutated form, Grant devoured a cow and then casually sliced a man in half with one of his tentacles.
In the film's most memorable scene, the now-infected, massively-pregnant Brenda was chained up in a barn. She had hundreds of alien baby parasitic slugs inside of her, after she had become a zombie incubator or host body. She had turned into a sphere or ball of enormously stretched flesh with a small head in the middle of it. She called out when confronted: "Something's wrong with me!..They're tearing me apart!" Her fattened, pregnant self split or tore open and her expanded body exploded in a gruesome mess. Huge numbers of "worms" were expelled from her belly and some ended up in people's mouths, infecting them.
Another tense scene that followed paid homage to similar scenes in Shivers (1975), Deadly Blessing (1981), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Blue-finger-nailed teenaged beauty Kylie Strutemyer (Tania Saulnier) was taking a bath when one of the slug-like maggots entered her open window, crawled down the wall and along the floor, and squirmed into the bath-water. She first viewed the reddish slug through her legs in the water while taking a bath. As she lept from the tub, it attached itself to her back, and then jumped into her mouth, as she struggled to extract it. The strong-willed teen successfully pulled it out of her mouth as the creature squealed. She threw it against the wall, throttled it with her hot electric hair styler, and held it down to be sizzled and burned.
Outside the bathroom, she found her infected mother (Iris Quinn) and sisters Emily and Jenna (Matreya Fedor and Amber Lee Bartlett) - besieged and over-run by a horde of worms invading the house and crawling up the stairs. Her only escape was to jump off the two-story house onto the lawn below. She ran to a parked truck where she awaited her fate - as she was surrounded by the creatures.
The Transformations of Grant
The scene of the flight of Snow White into the enchanted, seemingly-alive forest, after the Huntsman didn't have the heart to kill the innocent girl. He explained the Queen's evil plan, and then bid her to run away deeper and deeper into the woods to escape her stepmother's murderous intentions. He abandoned her, crying: "Run! Run away! Hide! In the woods. Anywhere. Never come back. Now go! Go! Go!"
She fled into the surrealistic depths of the dark night of the forest, where her fear-filled imagination turned everything into nightmarish id-like monsters ready to devour her. An owl's huge eyes frightened her. Flying bats scared her. Craggy trees seemed to reach out and pull at her, snagging her clothes. She fell into a dark pit and a dark body of water, where the shapes of fallen logs changed into alligators. Grasping claws of another tree threatened her. Leaves blown in a whirlwind followed her as she ran for her life. She was overwhelmed by hundreds of frightening pairs of eyes, and finally collapsed on the ground in exhaustion. When light dawned, it turned out that the eyes actually belonged to the friendly woodland animals and cute creatures of the forest.
Equally scary was the transformation scene in which the Wicked Queen created "the perfect disguise." The evil Queen looked for a "formula to transform my beauty into ugliness, change my queenly raiment to a peddler's cloak." She decided on the magic potion recipe for a Peddler's Disguise. Her incantation of the formula for the ingredients was memorable:
Immediately after drinking the boiling potion, a colorful whirlpool spun around her as she grabbed her throat. Blue and yellow bubbles rose up and a bolt of lightning struck - the transformations began. Her hair turned white, her hands turned gnarly and ugly, and her voice became a hag's cackle. "A perfect disguise," she thought, frightening her black raven pet, who ducked into a skull's head in fright. She paged through another book for a means to kill Snow White - a Poisoned Apple to produce Sleeping Death. With the disguise as an older, hunched-over woman with beady eyes, she could deliver a fatal dose of poison (in a red apple) to Snow White, without detection.
Snow White in the Forest
(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