|Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description|
Director Brian Yuzna's bizarre grindhouse horror film (his directorial debut) was about teenage paranoia, sex orgies, incest, cannibalism, death by anal fisting, a "shunting ceremony," and the existence of shape-shifting/mutating 'Society' members. It provided satirical social commentary on how the rich often feed off the poor. The taglines hinted at the horror: "In Beverly Hills, what you fear is only the beginning," "If you don't belong, they'll eat you alive," and "It Is Not What You Think It Is." The shocking, deranged, and repulsive surrealistic finale was criticized as disturbing and "sodomy-gore."
The film's plot introduced popular Beverly Hills Academy high-school basketball athlete and 17 year-old senior Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock) who was running for class president, and dating bubbly blonde cheerleader Shauna (Heidi Kozak). He lived in a nouveau riche upper-class family, and stuck-up parents (Connie Danese and Charles Lucia) who owned a posh mansion. All along, he felt like he didn't belong and wondered if he was adopted, while experiencing nightmares and hallucinations. In the opening scene, he was speaking with therapist Dr. Cleveland (Ben Slack) about his many seemingly-irrational fears ("I feel like somethin's gonna happen. And if I scratch the surface, there'll be something terrible underneath"). He bit into an apple and saw maggots and worms crawling in the bite mark, and also facetiously revealed that he suspected that his family had "a little incest and psychosis."
When Bill came upon his pampered sister Jenny (Patrice Jennings) showering, he noticed that her body was unnaturally contorted behind the frosty shower door glass - her body twisted in a creepy way, but then reverted to normal when he opened the shower door. Earlier, one of her chunky ex-boyfriends, David Blanchard (Tim Bartell) told him about strange occurrences in their household ("Something very weird is goin' on here"). And when Bill was delivering a student election speech in front of an assembly, a pretty woman in a red and black dress, a mysterious female flashed him a view of her panties - and then disappeared - were these hallucinations?
After planting a bugging device, David produced a tape recording of Jenny's recent coming-out party. As Bill listened to it, he wondered if his sister was having a sex orgy with the encouragement of her parents. On the recording, her mother said to her: "The guys are gonna pop high ones the second they see you...aw, relax Jenny, just go with it." Jenny gushed back: "The hotter and wetter you get, the more you can do. It's great!" When Bill was uncertain about what was happening on the tape, David accused him of being fakely ignorant: "You've been living with these people all your life, and you didn't know anything about this?" He wondered if his family was having secret orgies or something incestuous or sexual was going on. But then when the tape was played back by his therapist, it contained nothing lascivious or sexual. Billy was given a prescription for drugs, and his parents threatened to have him committed in a psychiatric institution.
Suspiciously, David became the victim of a very bloody, car accident smash-up (was he dead or alive?). Bill was invited to attend a party held by upper-class classmate, elite preppy Ted "The Tycoon" Ferguson (Ben Meyerson), who was at the coming-out party with Jenny. There, he confronted Ted about his sister - when Ted blurted back:
Billy danced with the female he had seen in his school assembly - mysterious, yet frisky free-spirited Clarissa Carlyn (Playboy Playmate Devin Devasquez), who enticingly invited him to take drugs: "Wanna get stoned?" At her home, she seduced him as she stroked his bare torso: "Lean machine, jelly bean." They had acrobatic sex - she could twist into many contorted and abnormal positions. When he asked: "You were in a funny position," she dismissed him with a laugh: "Oh, Billy, you're so sweet." She then prepared a hot drink for him, and joked: "How do you like your tea? Cream, sugar... or do you want me to pee in it?" When they made out some more, Bill met her wild-haired, hair-eating mother Mrs. Carlyn (Pamela Matheson) - who puked up hair into the palm of her hand before shaking Bill's hand. Clarissa stated: "She does things I don't like." Later, jealous girlfriend Shauna blasted Billy about having sex with "bitch" Clarissa: "Was she a good f--k?"
When Bill entered his parent's bedroom, he found them (and Jenny) dressed in lingerie - looking like they were ready to have sex together. Upset, he threw a blow-up sex doll that he had found in his Jeep onto the bed. His mother urged him: "Now calm down. You know you'll make such a great contribution to society. You'll, you'll do our whole family proud," although he thought they were disgusting, and told his insulted father - bluntly: "F--k you, butthead." Soon, Clarissa admitted to him: "Things aren't the way they seem, Billy."
The climax came when Bill - constrained by the neck - was told the truth by Dr. Cleveland and an assembled secret group of "Society" members in his own house, that he wasn't born into his parents' exclusive society:
The climax was a slimy incestuous rape/orgy of perverted body horror, when Bill realized the truth - his parents and associates were members of a secret, in-bred 'society.' He witnessed a horribly grotesque 'Society' house party initiation in his own house. Blanchard - actually alive, was brought in to be the first cannibalized victim. His stripped body was feasted upon, as the members formed a single, lubricated, melded mass of writhing and twisted flesh-colored goo attached to his. Bodies transformed, mutated, broke down and merged. The parasitic Ferguson threatened Billy as nutrients were sucked out of Blanchard's body: "Didn't you know, Billy boy? The rich have always sucked off low-class shit like you" - he licked Billy's face with an elongated tongue. Meanwhile, Blanchard was anal-fisted ("Now, we'll get to the bottom of this") by a clenched hand thrust up his butt, that emerged from his mouth!
Released from his neck restraint by Clarissa (who had fallen in love with Billy), he fled to the upstairs bedroom where he found his mother in bed - she walked toward him on her own pair of hands coming from her abdomen - and then shockingly, his sister's head emerged between her mother's legs (she urged: "If you have any fantasies you'd like to indulge in, Billy, now's the time!"). Then, he saw his father's head speaking to him out of his own buttocks, joking: "Well, son, I guess you're right. I am a butt-head." Downstairs in a film-ending fistfight struggle with Ferguson, Billy reached into his opponent's anus, and was able to pull his flexibly-stretching opponent inside-out to defeat him, leaving him as a mass of guts on the floor.
His Family's Sex Games
Billy's Deformed Mother -
"I am a Butt-head"
Ferguson's Inside-Out Guts
Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
This engrossing, expressionistically-filmed psychological thriller and film noir from director Anatole Litvak was adapted from a famous and popular 1943 CBS radio play (one-half hour) with Agnes Moorehead by the play's author Lucille Fletcher. The suspenseful film told about bedridden, spoiled, manipulative hypochondriac heiress Leona Stevenson (Oscar-nominated Barbara Stanwyck), whose domineering father was wealthy drug company industrialist James "J.B." Cotterell (Ed Begley). She lived alone in a claustrophobic Manhattan apartment where she was confined to her bed or wheelchair.
One day, she accidentally overheard a crossed-wires telephone conversation between two thugs. The strangers were discussing the lurid details of a planned murder plot for that evening at 11:15 (the exact time of a loud, passing train). Then, the invalid, psychosomatic woman received two other strange phone calls on her phone (PLaza 5-1098), and slowly realized that she was to be the object of the homicide.
When she reported her fears to the operator and to authorities, they didn't believe her. She made a number of frantic phone calls to get help, attempting contact before it was too late:
She was unaware that Henry had a number of dirty secrets - he was meeting - suspiciously - with Sally for lunch, and he was being swindled and blackmailed over a plan to steal drugs from the company and sell them to a fence named Morano. Coincidentally, Sally was married to city district attorney Fred Lord (Leif Erickson) who was investigating Henry. Was it possible that Henry was attempting to inherit his wife's estate (and an insurance payout) to pay off a debt of $200,000 to a blackmailer, by hiring a hitman to kill Leona?
Powerless and with time dwindling in the thrilling finale, Leona became increasingly desperate. When she finally contacted Henry, he told her to go to her balcony and scream for help, as an intruder entered her room and strangled her to death. In the final line of dialogue when Henry called back, he heard the film's title spoken by an unknown man.
This was the first Star Trek film in the original series. It was the result of Paramount Pictures' cancellation of a second Star Trek-TV series in the late 1970s. The show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, took the program's 1977 two-hour pilot "In Thy Image" and adapted it into this big-budget theatrical feature.
In the unusually scary transporter accident scene on board the newly redesigned and refitted USS Enterprise in this G-rated film, two crew members, Vulcan Sonak (Lt. Commander Sonak) and an unidentified female were trapped in a malfunctioning transporter beam. Mr. Scott (James Doohan) was notified by technician-crew member Lt. Cleary (Michael Rougas) of the impending problem: "Transporter room, come in! Urgent! (to Scott) Red line on the transporters, Mister Scott." Scotty tried to stop the transport by again informing the transporter room: "Transporter room, do not engage!" Cleary reacted to the scene: "It's too late, they're beaming now." The two beam patterns faintly materialized, but then faded away with slightly misshapen forms, ultimately unrecognized during the transmission. Shaken female Chief Janice Rand (Grace Lee Whitney) vainly watched the unfolding tragedy. A robotic voice repeated: "MALFUNCTION, MALFUNCTION."
Admiral James Kirk (William Shatner) ordered: "Boost your matter gain. We need more signal," but it was too late. On screen, an anguished female (and male) were deformed and materialized (gratefully) off-camera at the remote transport location. A jolt of horror occurred when Kirk was informed: "Enterprise, what we got back didn't live long, fortunately."
This was the second feature based on the Star Trek science fiction franchise.
The main villain was vengeful genetically-engineered superhuman villain Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), a former tyrant of Earth's Eugenic Wars who was exiled to the planet Ceti Alpha VI in 2267 by Captain Kirk (William Shatner). On the U.S.S. Reliant, crew members were on a mission to check for signs of life on the planet. Officer Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Captain Terrell (Paul Winfield) beamed down to the planet, where they were confronted and captured by Khan.
In an excruciating-to-watch sequence, Khan extracted two young, parasitic, insanity-causing, crawling Ceti eels from the back of a scaly creature. He explained that they were barren planet Ceti Alpha V's "only remaining indigenous life-form." He eerily explained to his cringing victims that the eels caused a slow and maddening death. They also caused mind-control so that he could gain control of their spaceship:
He had the two hapless victims kneel and added: "These are pets, of course, not quite domesticated." He watched as the eels, placed into the men's helmets, crawled across the faces of Chekov and Terrell, and with unerring instincts headed for their ears. There was atrocious pain as they entered. Khan then demanded to know the nature of their mission and the whereabouts of Admiral James Kirk ("That's better. Now tell me, why are you here and tell me where I may find James Kirk").
The sixth installment of the Star Trek franchise (original) told about the plot of unseen and unknown conspirators (all promoting war) who were against the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.
One of the more startling scenes was the 'mind-rape' or 'mind-meld' (the telepathic exchange of thoughts) scene between the Enterprise's new helmsman Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and his promising young protege Vulcan Lieutenant Valeris (Kim Cattrall). At first, Admiral James Kirk (William Shatner) demanded that assassinatrix and co-conspirator Valeris divulge the names of other dissidents who wanted war with the Klingon Empire - and who opposed any peace negotiations. He called out: "Names, lieutenant!" Valeris claimed that she did not remember any. Spock questioned her: "A lie?" Valeris responded: "A choice."
Kirk then suggested that Spock gather information from her by probing her mind with his special abilities. To determine who she was associated with her, Spock forced her, through an intimate facial Vulcan mind-meld, to divulge her secrets. To facilitate the link, Spock placed the tips of his fingers at key locations on Valeris' face, to place pressure on her key nerves and blood vessels.
As the camera rotated around them, she haltingly confessed that a number of conspirators were united together to disrupt peace talks: Federation (Admiral Cartwright), Romulan (Ambassador Nanclus) and Klingons.
Buster Keaton's feature-length silent movie, his last film for United Artists - and his last fully independent picture, included a cyclone-tornado sequence (filmed in Sacramento, California). His most famous stunt was in front of one of the breakaway homes on a street set. It was one of the scariest, most-suicidal and terrifying stunts ever performed in screen history - because it was a real, 2-ton building facade that fell onto him, filmed without any special effects.
In the extended scene, Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Buster Keaton) was sent on a wind-propelled, runaway bed into the ruins of the street and into the open door of a horse stable where the curious animals watched his arrival. He pulled the covers from his head, sat up and was startled to realize where he was. His journey continued through the back door of the stable and into the street - where the bed rested in front of a two-storied house. Willie hid and cowered under the bed as a man on the attic floor of the splintering house scurried around and then lept onto the bed. The man's fall smashed the bed and dazed Willie who was hiding underneath. The man rushed away - and the wind blew the bed after him.
Steamboat Bill, Jr., groggy and dizzy from the man's jump, stood up in front of the house that was about to be ripped apart from the forceful winds. As he paused there, the entire two-ton facade or front of the building fell forward and crashed down on top of him. All that saved him was a small window opening in the upper story, through which his body passed. [Planning the stunt, the wall had to be positioned perfectly to match exactly where he was standing, with only inches of clearance to avoid crushing him to death. If he had been a few inches away from perfect positioning, he might have been killed or flattened. The gag - with lesser danger - also appeared in Keaton's earlier films Back Stage (1919) and One Week (1920).]
The Beginning of the Sequence
The Stepfather (1987)
In this R-rated bloody psychological thriller, a popular cult film, Terry O'Quinn starred as the title 'stepfather' character with many alias names. [Note: his role was based upon the exploits of mass killer John List, the "Bogeyman of Westfield" New Jersey in the early 1970s, who murdered his entire family.] He portrayed a man who frequently married divorcees, and became the "stepfather" to the woman's children - to create a 'perfect' family situation for himself. However, he was a very hateful and creepy character with a built-up intense rage inside.
A year after slaughtering his previous wife and family and assuming a new identity, Jerry was posing as hard-working American Eagle Realty agent Jerry Blake in a Pacific Northwest, tree-lined suburb of Seattle. He had just married widowed Susan Maine (Shelley Hack), with 16 year-old daughter Stephanie Maine (Jill Schoelen).
In the scariest moment in the film, Jerry was hosting a neighborhood barbecue when he saw an article about the slaying of his previous wife. She was the sister of amateur detective Jim Ogilvie (Stephen Shellen) - his own brother-in-law! Disturbed and upset and going into a freak-out meltdown, Jerry descended into the basement and maniacally rambled to himself as he pounded a table:
As he turned, he realized that suspicious and resentful stepdaughter Stephanie, who had come down before him into the basement to retrieve ice cream from a freezer, was listening to him nearby. He quickly downplayed his very unusual outbursts, blaming everything on stress ("Honey, you know how it is. Being a salesman, you smile at everybody all of the time. Sometimes, I, I just have to get off by myself and let off some steam, you know. You know how it is").
In the climactic ending, Jerry was preparing to end his relationship with both Susan and Stephanie by adopting a new identity (as Bill Hodgkins) and job in a different town, marrying another widow, and plotting to kill his current Maine family. When Jerry became confused about his new identity (he asked himself: "Wait a minute? Who am I here?"), Susan suddenly realized that he was a fake. In a frenzy, he bashed Susan in the face with a phone and knocked her down the basement stairs - believing that she was dead.
At the front door, he then ambushed and murdered Jim by stabbing him in the gut-stomach with a large carving knife (he muttered: "Next time, Jim, call before you drop by"). His next intended victim was Stephanie, who defensively stabbed Jerry in the upper arm with a piece of broken bathroom mirror glass, and then fled to the attic where she became cornered. After he fell through the weak attic floor to the level below, he continued his pursuit. A revived Susan shot him twice in the back (with Jim's Smith & Wesson .38 revolver), and Stephanie stabbed him in the chest (as he uttered the words "I love you" to her).
Alias Jerry Blake (Terry O'Quinn)
The Basement Scene With Step-Daughter Stephanie
Susan Maine Knocked Out
Death of Jerry
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Director Bryan Forbes' sci-fi/mystery horror thriller was a satirical, cautionary feminist tale. The creepy cult classic was adapted from Ira Levin's 1972 novel. It provided a savagely-chilling view of perfect, 'ideal' suburban wives (docile android/robotic replicas that were made to be loving, obedient, bland and subservient, and who dutifully cooked, cleaned, and provided sex), created by anti-women's lib husbands in the upscale town of Stepford, Connecticut.
The feminist satire was remade as a dark comedy almost 30 years after the original by director Frank Oz (The Stepford Wives (2004)), with Nicole Kidman as the Katharine Ross character. She was a TV executive threatened to become an automaton housewife.
It opened with new Stepford, Connecticut suburban wives, aspiring photographer Joanna Eberhart and freewheeling, irrepressible Bobbie Markowe (Katharine Ross and Paula Prentiss) noting suspiciously that their seemingly-perfect neighbor housewives only cleaned house and bowed to their husband's needs. The housewives all appeared to be perfect homemaker robots (who wore flowery dresses and cooked gourmet meals) in order to please their husbands.
The first shock came when Joanna suspected that her friend Bobbie had been transformed into a 'perfect' housewife - now conservative and boring, when Bobbie began to act robotically in the kitchen while serving a "fresh-perked" cup of coffee. Joanna was fearful - "Bobbie, stop it, look at me! Say I'm right. You are different. Your figure's different, your face, what you talk about. All of this is different." Joanna tested her friend: "What does archaic mean?" but Bobbie circumvented the question and then claimed that she forgot.
In another startling scene toward the film's conclusion, Joanna (fearing that she was next) climbed stairs in the mansion where the town's Men's Association was located, armed with a fireplace poker. She was attracted by the voices of her children - which she discovered were coming from a reel-to-reel tape recorder. She came face-to-face with cold-hearted mastermind Dale "Diz" Coba (Patrick O'Neal), who explained the motive for transforming the town's wives:
He removed the poker from her hand. As she fled down the hallways and into various rooms in the large mansion, she came upon a mock-up of her own bedroom - and after a slow pan to the right, saw her own, semi-completed, robot-duplicate, peacefully combing her hair in front of a tri-part mirror. When it turned, Joanna was shocked into paralysis when she witnessed her own smiling robotic double with sunken, soul-less, black and empty eyes. Small-breasted Joanna noticed the large breast implants on the android. The Joanna-duplicate wrapped a long cord around her hands as she approached to strangle the real-life Joanna to death by garrotting - as Coba watched from the doorway. The movie frame abruptly went black.
The film ended with all of the flowery-dress-wearing (with large sun-hats), android wives pushing their shopping carts in the local supermarket, including roboticized clone Joanna - as they greeted each other with only a simple hi or hello.
Strange Days (1995)
Director Kathryn Bigelow's dystopic, cyberpunk tech-noir film - an action thriller, was set on the eve of the new millennium during the last moments of the 20th Century. Its major theme was voyeurism, similar to segments in Michael Powell's classic horror film Peeping Tom (1960, UK) and Pasolini's Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) - causing some controversy over being exploitative when released.
It featured the technology of recording and viewing virtual memories - created directly from the cerebral cortex of the wearer by a SQUID ("Superconducting Quantum Interference Device") device - consisting of spider-like headgear and a minidisc deck. This allowed the viewer to fantasize and vicariously experience something they would never be able to in real-life.
The most excruciatingly-scary scene was the viewing of a contraband or bootlegged virtual reality snuff clip ("blackjack") by illegal, sleazy clip peddler Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes). He 'jacked in' unknowingly to the experience after the clip was given to him anonymously by the murderer/rapist ("sick f--ker"). He watched in horror as the murder unfolded - [Note: He did not know that the killer was his own friend Max Peltier (Tom Sizemore) - who fatefully met his own end by being thrown off a balcony.]
An unknown, black-masked murderer-rapist picked the lock of an adjoining room in the Sunset Regent hotel room, and entered through the sliding balcony door of his female victim, prostitute Iris (Brigitte Bako) from the assaulting rapist's point of view. [Note: Iris' name was symbolic - it implied the act of seeing.] When she saw the assailant, she fled into a back room, where she was stunned by taser, and handcuffed to the bathroom's towel racks. She begged to be let go, claiming she hadn't seen the man's face. She was again tasered in the lower abdomen before being blindfolded.
She was jacked into his own VR output (with a headset) to physically experience her own brutal rape, strangulation, torture and demise.
Straw Dogs (1971)
Director Sam Peckinpah's disturbing and provocative psychological thriller further ignited controversy over screen violence and sexual abuse of women in the early 1970s.
In the scene preceding the rape (the first of two), teasingly-seductive young British newlywed bride Amy (Susan George) invited local laborer-thug (and ex-boyfriend) Charlie Venner (Del Henney) into her isolated farmhouse for a drink. Charlie forcibly kissed her and although she protested unconvincingly ("Please leave me"), he removed her glasses and aggressively kissed her a second time. She screamed: "Get out!" and slapped him hard across the face.
Incensed, he grabbed her and hit her hard across the mouth, and then approached her menacingly: "Don't tease me, Amy. Please." He dragged her by the hair over to the sofa, as he struck her again and began tearing at her blue robe. He ripped open the blue robe from the back, then pushed her back onto the sofa. Her nipples were visible through her braless white T-shirt top. He cupped her face and kissed her another time. She begged: "No, please don't leave." He raised his hand to strike her and threateningly told her: "Amy, I don't want to leave you, but I will."
The controversy stemmed from the idea that Amy was sexually excited by the aggressive violation that she was facing. At first, she struggled and called out "No," but then surrendered to or seemed to allow his continued assault and kisses. In some ways, she didn't resist but submitted, although she was under tremendous duress.
He tore off her white T-shirt top, leaving her breasts exposed. She tried to cover her nakedness, but he moved her hands aside, before kissing her again. She slighly struggled, turned her face away from another kiss, and told him: "No," as he continued to kiss down her nude chest. As he began to prepare to rip off her pink panties, she again covered her naked breasts. He pushed her hands aside, cautioning her: "Amy!" As he held her down, he pulled apart the side of her panties and tossed them onto the floor - leaving her fully exposed.
He began removing his shirt, while she fantasized about her husband above her (or out hunting). She gasped open-mouthed as he forcefully entered her. She half-heartedly told him, "No," but showed some obvious enjoyment and lovingly kissed her assailant and stroked his shoulders and chest during and after being entered. She also helplessly begged for comfort: "Easy...Hold me" as he apologized: "Sorry." However, she was also shedding tears, feeling both humiliated and disgraced.
Suddenly, Charlie was confronted by the barrel end of the shotgun pointed at him by fellow local workman Norman Scutt (Ken Hutchison). Charlie was motioned to get off Amy - who screamed boisterously when she realized she was going to be forcibly raped a second time. Charlie was ordered to hold Amy down by the neck as she was violated again - from behind.
Assault Prelude to 1st Rape
German director F. W. Murnau's compelling American debut was a fable-like, poignant story, subtitled A Song of Two Humans. It remains a silent-era melodramatic masterpiece - a beautiful, atmospheric, lyrical and poetic work of art with roots in the German Expressionist movement.
The story of corruption and redemption involved a rustic farmer (George O'Brien) in a romanticized rural town. The man became crazed and corrupted when he fell prey to the seductive wiles of a city vamp and tempting mistress (Margaret Livingston) in an illicit affair. She first appeared as a dark, bobbed-haired, sophisticated urban vamp who rented a room in one of the country houses. She wore a slinky black dress with shiny high-heeled shoes and stockings, and was continually tempting the man and ruining him: (subtitle card) "Now he ruins himself for that woman from the city."
They regularly met in the darkness of midnight under a gigantic full moon which reflected on the water and shone through the haze. The dazed, guilt-ridden but bewitched husband was in sexual thrall to the passionate city woman. He stealthily trudged from his home to secretly meet and conspire with his tempting mistress on the edge of the misty, moonlit marshes. The supernatural spell and erotic charm of the city woman seduced him and he pulled her into his arms for a passionate, fervent kiss - she stole his sanity and soul as she literally pulled him down into the swamp.
While being kissed as they laid on the grass, the seductress tempted him, visualizing for him how to murder his wife:
She planted in him the evil idea of committing the murder of his beautiful and loving light-haired wife (Janet Gaynor). She filled his mind with terrible and seductive images. He imagined throwing his wife from a boat and drowning her. He plotted to kill her during a boat trip to the temptation-ridden city. The vamp added: "Leave all this behind...come to the City! Come to the City!"
To set his possessed plan in motion, he told his wife that she was invited on a picnic outing in their rowboat. Excitedly, she told his mother: "We're going for a trip across the water. I may not be back for quite a while." Again, he pressed his clenched fists to the sides of his head, and imagined tossing his wife overboard in a super-imposition.
In their crossing, an unbelievably frightful scene fraught with danger and tension, he determinedly rowed the boat hunkered down and stern-faced without looking across at his wife. Halfway across, her coquettish smile slowly faded to sadness and fear as she suddenly realized something was terribly wrong with her troubled husband. When he stopped rowing, he appeared deranged and under a evil spell - a monstrous figure. When he stood up and lumbered toward her with plodding steps in the boat in the middle of the lake, church bells rang to signify a climactic juncture in the plot.
Concerned about his intentions, she cowered and leaned back from him over the back of the little boat. She recoiled further, clasped her hands together in merciful prayer, and made pitiful pleas for her life. In a close-up, his hands were clenched in a strangle-pose at his waist. His conscience was awakened during the attempted killing and he thankfully relented. The church bells rang again to signal the exact instant when he decided to spare the life of his humble wife. He was unable to go through with the killing. The guilt-ridden, irrationally-acting husband broke down, changed his mind, and threw his arms over his face. Then he desperately rowed his heart-broken wife, moving swiftly to the opposite shore. The murder had been averted and the dangerous moment had passed, but she was still terrified and feared for her life.
Attempted Murder Averted
In this Hitchcock suspense thriller, prim and mousy wallflower Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) had always been suspicious of her charming, wolfish and handsome husband Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant), especially after the mysterious sudden death of Beaky Thwaite (Nigel Bruce) and the fact that Johnnie had made inquiries about borrowing against her own life insurance policy. Johnnie created financial difficulties for himself in an embezzlement scheme, and she feared, with mounting tension as the film progressed, that he had plans to do away with her to collect an insurance payoff.
When he brought his sick wife Lina a glowing glass of milk (that may or may not have been poisoned) up a dark staircase in the film's most famous scene, she suspected that it was laced with a lethal dose of poison. When he set the glass down by her bedside, she suspiciously stared at the glass. He kissed her and then left the room - leaving her to ponder his intentions.
Later, a wild, high-speed ride along a coastal cliffside with Johnnie driving made her fear that he was going to push her out of the vehicle when the car door swung open. He grabbed at her arm - ostensibly to thrust her out of the car, but in fact was reaching to rescue her. When the car stopped, she fled, but he wrestled her into believing that he wasn't trying to kill her.
In the end (one of many alternative conclusions that were considered for the film by the studio), it was revealed that Johnnie was not a homicidal killer, but that he had contemplated suicide by poisoning himself because of his mounting debts that he was unable to pay. He admitted his financial difficulties to her and his ill-fated attempts to straighten things out, and ultimately his decision to face prison.
Lina apologized and promised that their lives would improve and be different. She successfully pleaded with him to return home with her to work things out: "Let's turn back. Johnnie, let's go home and see it all through together...It will work, I know it will, Johnnie, please!" In the scene's final moment, he made a U-turn with the car and placed his arm around her.
A Terrifying Cliffside Car Ride
Suspiria (1977, It.)
In Italian director Dario Argento's stylistic gothic horror masterpiece about the supernatural and witchcraft, there was a series of creatively-brutal, elaborate and bloody murder scenes in the double-murder sequence in the film's opening, set in a prestigious German dance academy, Tans Academy, in Freiburg. The unrated USA version featured more explicit gore than the edited R-rated version, most notably in the opening, ultraviolent murder sequence and when the blind pianist was attacked and killed by his own seeing-eye dog.
Also, there was the horrific scene of the vicious attack in the middle of the town's empty piazza at night by a seeing-eye dog on its owner Daniel (Flavio Bucci) (the dance school's blind pianist). The animal unexpectedly lunged at his throat and tore it out - seen in close-up.
In another scary scene, sheer negligee-wearing terrorized ballet dancer Sara (Stefania Casini) escaped attack by crawling through a window high in a wall, only to tumble onto coils of concertina razor wire (where her struggles cut deeply into her flesh). Suddenly, a black gloved hand (from an unseen figure) covered her mouth to stifle her screams, and then slit her throat with a straight-edged razor.
The climactic scary sequence was of young American ballet dancer-student Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), who entered a secret passageway to explore the witches' headquarters. There, she was attacked by the reanimated corpse of butcher knife-wielding Sara, ordered to kill her by revenge-seeking head witch Mater Suspiriorum (The Mother of Sighs) /aka Helena Markos (Lela Svasta). Suzy was able to stab Helena in the throat with the long tailfeather of a glass peacock. Sara and Helena faded away from view after the stabbing. Closeups were visible of the face of the bestial creature. This caused all apocalyptic hell to break loose as the whole building erupted in a conflagration of flames and destruction.
Death by Dog Bite to Throat
Razor Wire Room and
Throat-Slicing of Sara
Writer/director Stephen Gaghan's risky, politically-themed dramatic thriller, based on the 2002 memoir See No Evil by former CIA operative Robert Baer, was about global oil corruption and shady deals. The film's title was derived from the think-tank term for a reconfigured and redrawn map of the Middle East.
The complicated, gripping and intriguing expose of oil trading and global petro-politics, with a multi-layered story and interweaving plot lines, starred Oscar-winning George Clooney as veteran, middle-aged, bearded, paunchy CIA analyst Bob Barnes. He was working for the covert organization in its war on Middle East terrorism, and stationed in Lebanon and Iran. In part, he ordered the assassination of reform-minded Persian Gulf Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) for giving natural gas-drilling rights to China over the US ("I want you to take him from his hotel, drug him, put him in the front of a car, and run a truck into it at 50 mph"), derailing the objectives of a huge Texas energy company, Connex.
The most disturbing scenes included the accidental and fatal electrocution in a swimming pool of six year-old Max (Steven Hinkle), the son of energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), followed by his wife Julie's (Amanda Peet) awful distress. Also, a CIA-ordered, MQ-1 Predator drone missile strike was directed against Prince Nasir's car convoy carrying him and his family. The aftermath of the explosion showed bloody, burned bodies.
There was one especially intense, nauseating and brutal, difficult-to-watch torture scene after Operations Officer Barnes was betrayed and abducted. A turncoat mercenary named Mussawi (Mark Strong) offered the barechested officer some choices - methods used by the Chinese on the Falun Gong, in order to have him reveal the names of every person who had taken money from him:
The third option was chosen - two of Barnes' fingernails were yanked out with a pair of pliers. Then, he was beaten and as he laid on the floor and was about to be beheaded with a long knife - he was rescued just in time.
(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