|Movie Title/Year and Brief Scene Description|
The traumatic and scary reality of death was introduced early to children in this Disney animated film. It was the memorable scene when hunter Man killed Bambi's mother (off-camera).
She had sensed a human presence -- and warned: "Bambi. Quick! The thicket!" There were gunshots as they both raced away.
She encouraged: "Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don't look back. Keep running! Keep running!"
As Bambi ran and ducked behind a snowbank - and made it to the protective thicket, there was a fateful gunshot. Bambi turned and exclaimed while panting: "We made it! We made it, Mother! We...", but his Mother was nowhere in sight.
Bambi emerged, asking and calling out: "Mother. Mother! Mother, where are you?!" He fruitlessly searched for her during a raging snowstorm, not knowing she had been killed by a human hunter.
After not finding her and hearing no response, the young fawn began to sob, and then gasped at the imposing sight of his stag father, the Great Prince of the Forest, who stated:
A tear formed in Bambi's eye as he looked up, and was told: "Come. My son."
He followed, but looked back one last time in the direction of where his mother had been.
Battleship Potemkin (1925, Soviet Union) (aka Броненосец Потёмкин)
Director Sergei Eisenstein's propagandistic Russian silent film dramatized the 1905 mutiny of the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin against their officers. Their uprising triggered a massive citizens' revolt in the city of Odessa against the Tsars.
The most impressive and terrifying sequence was the Odessa Staircase episode (a fictionalized account of what actually happened on June 14, 1905), in which Tsarist military soldiers (Cossacks) blatantly opened fire on citizens (rioters and innocent folk alike) at the famed steps.
During the massacre sequence, a mother pushing a baby carriage was shot and fell to the ground, leaving her young infant to careen down the steps in the buggy. It must have been a very scary scene for mid-1920s audiences.
[Note: It was later reprised in a number of films as homage to the classic scene, including director Coppola's The Godfather (1972), Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), DePalma's The Untouchables (1987), and comically in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994).]
The Untouchables (1987)
The Beyond (1981, It.) (aka E Tu Vivrai Nel Terrore - L'Aldilà, or You Will Live in Terror or Seven Doors of Death)
Director Lucio Fulci's graphic horror film was the second in his trilogy of Gates of Hell films.
It was set beneath a dilapidated New Orleans hotel, the Seven Doors Hotel, with an underground entrance to the hellish underworld and its violent demonic forces.
The scary supernatural film featured one of the more horrific eye-damage scenes of all time.
A grotesque zombie named Joe, the Plumber (Giovanni De Nava) rose from a dark substance in a bathtub, and grabbed Martha (Veronica Lazar) by the face. He backed her up to a wall, where the back of her skull was pushed into the blunt end of a nail. This caused her eyeball to entirely pop out of its socket. With an appropriately awful squishy sound-effect, the dislodged eye spewed blood, seen in closeup.
Hitchcock's thriller/masterpiece, his first film with Universal Studios, was the apocalyptic story of a northern California coastal town filled with an onslaught of seemingly unexplained, arbitrary and chaotic attacks of ordinary birds.
There were numerous scary scenes of crazed winged creatures attacking the inhabitants:
This classic, enigmatically disturbing horror film from Universal Studios and expressionistic director Edgar G. Ulmer was Universal's top-grossing film of the year.
The visually intriguing, austere, landmark horror film - a tale of European post-war anguish and death, portrayed the age-old struggle between good and evil science, diabolically personified by Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff - the lead stars.
In the end scene, Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff) was overpowered and then hung or suspended by his arms stretched upward, shackled to an embalming, torture rack where he was stripped of his robes and prepared for being skinned alive! At first, Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi) sadistically ranted and raved with a mad, delirious gleam in his eyes, vengeful for earlier atrocities committed against him. He described what he was planning to do to the Satanist on Poelzig's own embalming rack:
From a surgical table, Werdegast selected a scalpel for the operation. Slowly and bit by bit, the doctor sliced skin with a scalpel from Poelzig's face (the skinning was filmed as a dark shadow play in black images of manacled hands on the wall), asking sadistically:
Black Christmas (1974, Canada) (aka Silent Night, Evil Night)
Not to be confused with the 2006 remake. In this independent, low-budget Canadian horror film, an exploitative cult horror/slasher that predated the similar Halloween (1978), an ill-fated houseful of sorority sisters from Pi Kappa Sig in the college town of Bedford (at 6 Belmont Street) were just about to leave for the holiday season. Some of the characters included:
A series of threatening, strange, creepy and sometimes obscene phone calls, placed by a deranged man hiding out in the attic, quickly escalated to murder. The voice called them "Pigs" and warned: "Let me lick your pretty pink c--t." Clare Harrison (Lynne Griffin) was the first murder victim (and considered the scariest moment of the film) - suffocated or asphyxiated with a plastic garment bag in her own room's closet. The killer carried her corpse up into the attic and positioned it in a rocking chair by the window - keeping the plastic cleaning bag over her head. A baby doll was placed in her lap and the psycho called her Agnes (the name of his sister?).
House mother Mrs. "Mac" MacHenry (Marian Waldman) was the next murder victim, by a curved crane hook swung into her neck. She was dragged up the trap door ladder into the attic by the impaling hook. Barb was bloodily stabbed numerous times with an ornamental glass unicorn (and its long spike) (while carolers were singing at the front door), and then Phyllis (murdered off-screen). Calls were traced, placing the Killer inside the house who was using Mrs. MacHenry's separate phone line.
From a crack in the door, Jess saw an eye watching her, and presumed it was the killer. She was confronted and pursued by the killer (and by her upset (mentally-unstable), aspiring pianist/student boyfriend Peter) through the house and into the basement - where she bludgeoned Peter with a fireplace poker, suspecting that he was the murderer (the film's 'red herring').
With Jess sedated for a number of hours (and unable to be questioned), the police had to wait for the forensic lab group to further search the house's attic and cellar in about an hour ("Don't touch anything until the state lab guys get here"), but the bodies that had been discovered would be taken to the morgue for autopsies and identification by the coroner. It was presumed that Peter was the killer. Jess was left alone, sleeping in her sorority house room, with only one guard outside the house.
The film's final twist was that the killer was still in the attic (where the bodies of Clare and Mrs. Mac had still been undiscovered) - the camera panned over to the attic's ladder and trap door, where the killer was heard whispering: "Agnes, its me, Billy!"
As the camera slowly panned away from the outside of the house, the phone in the house began to continuously ring during the final credits - a signal that another murder was about to take place!
Black Sunday (1960, It.) (aka La Maschera Del Demonio, or The Mask of Satan, or The Mask of the Demon)
In the prologue of this Italian gothic horror film by Mario Bava (his credited directorial debut film), 17th century condemned witch Princess Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) was first branded by her Grand Inquisition executioners with an S (The Mark of Satan) on her bare back. Then, she was condemned to be covered with the 'mask of the demon':
She responded to her accusers with a curse on her executioners (including her brother) and their progeny:
The executioner then sledge-hammered the mask down onto her face with a large wooden mallet, causing screams, blood-splattering and gushing blood through the eyeholes. The remainder of the film documented her revenge two centuries later when she returned resurrected from the dead to seek retribution on her brother's descendants.
One of this popular science-fiction film's most unnerving scenes was the long-awaited encounter between a maker and his creation. It was the meeting between android NEXUS-6 replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and creator Dr. Tyrell (Joe Turkel) - the confrontation was both pensive and violent.
Demonstrating his intelligence to the insensitive corporation head, Roy confessed that he wanted his life to be extended beyond the built-in four year span - he desired more joie de vivre. Tyrell tried to calm and soothe his manufactured human with a technical explanation of the limitations, and that the Tyrell Corporation could not accomplish Roy's wish: "To make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life-system is fatal. The coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established...You were made as well as we could make you."
Smugly, Tyrell thought Roy (compared to a light bulb) should be grateful for whatever life span he had been given: "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You're the prodigal son. You're quite a prize!" Roy then asked to be absolved for his sins: "I've done questionable things." Tyrell dismissed Roy's feelings of guilt, adding: "Also extraordinary things. Revel in your time!" Roy responded: "Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn't let you in heaven for."
Roy, the "prodigal son", reverently touched Tyrell's cheek with one hand. He also placed his strong hands on both sides of Tyrell's face and kissed his replicant God - his 'father' Tyrell, passionately on the lips. [This was a reference to the Jesus/Judas betrayal in the New Testament, with a kiss.] Then with his powerful bare hands and a look of utter contempt and pathos, Roy suddenly crushed and caved in his maker's skull with superhuman strength and gouged his eyes (!) out as Tyrell screamed - with blood oozing out of his eye sockets. Tyrell's corpse fell to the floor.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Two scenes were the scarefest's highlights in this coarsely-made, low-budget fake documentary about an urban legend (the Blair Witch). It told about three young documentary filmmakers in October of 1994 who disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland:
The film's final ambiguous POV shot was accompanied by the sounds of "thwack", "thump", and "crash" as Heather's camcorder hit the ground (was she attacked and killed?).
The camera was broken, but was still running -- before the end credits appeared.
Blood and Black Lace (1964, It./Fr./Monaco) (aka Sei Donne per L'Assassino, or Six Women for the Murderer)
One of the best (and earliest) of the Italian gallio films from director Mario Bava, with a stylistic dreamy feel, shadows, vivid colors, and lengthy stalking-killing sequences or set-pieces involving long buildups, brutal violence and often half-dressed females. It was a basic plot - a masked killer was stalking and killing (or slashing) beautiful models, but without the 'who-dun-it' angle emphasized.
A fashion house run by widowed Countess Cristina Como (Eva Bartok) was set in a gated mansion in a woodsy area. Red leather coat-wearing model Isabella (Francesca Ungaro) was stalked and strangled on her way to the salon after a night's date by a flesh-colored masked homicidal maniac (Bravo emphasized the dark and suspenseful, atmospheric feeling of dread before the killing). During the investigation led by Police Inspector Sylvester (Thomas Reiner), Isabella's diary became the center of focus. It allegedly contained a listing of all the various sordid crimes committed within the fashion salon, including cocaine drug-dealing, cheating, corruption, abortion, and blackmail. Subsequent murders were linked to a desperate search for the revealing diary.
The next victims included Nicole (Ariana Gorini) (killed by a medieval spiked or clawed glove thrust into her face with her eyes gouged out), Peggy (Mary Arden) (tortured with her face and hands burned by a red-hot furnace), and Greta (Lea Krugher) (smothered with a pillow). One of the suspects was Cristina's lover and greedy manager/assistant Max Marian (Cameron Mitchell), who admitted to killing Cristina's former husband (in a suspicious car accident). He had murdered Isabella - she knew of the crime and was blackmailing him. Max also murdered Nicole and Peggy in a frenzied search for Isabella's diary that revealed all.
To further complicate things, Cristina had murdered Greta to give Max an alibi. She also murdered model Tao-Li (Claude Dantes) (drowned in a bathtub, although made to look like a suicide afterwards with slit wrists), but as she exited, she fell from a second story window and mortally wounded herself. In the end, both Cristina and Max confronted each other - after shooting him, she also collapsed and presumably died next to him.
Blood Simple (1984)
The Coen Brothers' complex neo-noir crime film featured an incredible set of excruciating-to-watch death scenes - the 15-minute cadaver disposal sequence, and the final stand-off in the film's conclusion.
Bartender Ray (John Getz) had extraordinary difficulty getting rid of the dead body of a Texas bar-roadhouse owner and Abby's (Frances McDormand) husband Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya). Ray had wrongly assumed that his lover Abby had killed her husband Marty. To protectively hide the corpse, he drove Marty's dead body to a remote rural field in the middle of the night, but suddenly realized that Marty was still alive, when he was found crawling away from the car! He resisted bashing him over the head with a shovel, but then buried the struggling-to-live Marty in a hole that he dug in a dirt field. He was slowly able to cover him up with dirt before sunrise.
During the concluding pursuit scene, disaffected wife Abby slammed a window down on loathsome, duplicitous private detective Loren Visser's (M. Emmet Walsh) wrist, crushing it on the sill in the next room. She then pinned his hand to the sill with a knife. While Visser's hand was writhing in pain, he had to crash through the wall and blindly grope for the knife handle to remove it.
She then shot Visser through a bathroom door as he continued to stalk her. She thought it was her husband Marty ("I'm not afraid of you, Marty," she said matter-of-factly). As Visser lay dying on the floor in the next room with a gunshot to the abdomen, he burst into laughter with the film's final line: "Well, ma'am, if I see him, I'll sure give him the message." He died with a view of the sink's dripping plumbing above him.
Director David Lynch's bizarre and nightmarish film of the dark-side of life contained a pair of grotesque victim/voyeur/abuse scenes.
Hiding in her apartment's closet, clean-cut, innocent, small-town college student Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) voyeuristically watched nightclub singer Dorothy Valens (Isabella Rossellini) as she disrobed to a black bra, black panties, and red high-heeled shoes. She stripped naked in the rear bathroom, and then reached for her blue velvet robe from the closet. He heard a drawer open in the kitchen as she reached for a large knife, and then suddenly flung open the closet door where he was caught hiding. She threatened him at knife-point into intimidation and forced him to get on his knees. She cut his face with the knife blade, turned the tables on him, made him her voyeuristic prey, and forced him to undress in front of her, all the way down to his underwear and socks.
She pulled down his underpants to his knees, then began touching, fondling, and kissing (and fellating?) him, and forced him to remain motionless. She asked: "Do you like that?" and then asked a question combining domination, pain, power, pleasure, and humiliation: "Don't touch me or I'll kill you? Do you like talk like that?" Responding with nervous ecstasy, arousal, but defenseless fear, he was led to the couch to lie down where she straddled him and kissed him.
Three loud knocks at the door frightened Dorothy. Frantically fearing the man's arrival and with the knife gleaming above Jeffrey, she told him to head back into the closet. Jeffrey watched in horror, hiding behind a wardrobe closet door, as Dorothy was terrorized by her visitor - evil, psychotic, blackmailing, perverse and depraved villainous kidnapper Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). He had cut off the ear of her tortured, kidnapped husband and was sexually blackmailing her.
The following scene was a disturbing, cruel, sadomasochistic, kinky scene. Demanding and condescending to her, Frank quickly established an abusive master/victim relationship over Dorothy as she accommodated his depraved preferences. The 'dark' scene was intercut with a frightened Jeffrey surreptitiously viewing the shadowy, broken images between the slats of the distasteful ordeal from his hiding place in the closet:
Traumatized, Jeffrey watched Dorothy being tormented as foul-mouthed Frank's sexual slave/whore. He repeatedly demanded that she look away from him - denying her the sight of his 'dark' nature. [In a symbolic sense, Dorothy was "Mommy" and Frank was "Daddy" or "Baby."] The abusive scene was heightened when the leather black-dressed Frank reached for a portable, plastic gas-inhaling mechanism and mask on his belt. While he placed the mask over his mouth and nose, he snorted and inhaled (helium or nitrous oxide?) gas to heighten his sexual excitement, exhibiting infantile-regressive, animalistic/reproductive, and compulsive-addictive behavior. He debased her as a prostitute, mother figure, and copulatory partner in the natural world:
After another gasp of gas, Frank begged and whined menacingly:
Dorothy stuffed part of her blue robe into his mouth to satisfy his obsession with textured fabrics. As he began to feel her breasts, he sucked, chewed, and bit the velvet cloth. Then he seized her and threw her down to the floor, spewing vulgar words. Frank removed a pair of scissors, menacingly snipping with them in mid-air above her face and body:
And then after forcefully touching her genitals, he mounted her and started humping her with his unbuckled pants still on. He moved frenziedly faster and faster until climaxing in a brief and brutal f--k. After getting off of her, he slugged her again in the face, hideously threatening her again: "Don't you f--kin' look at me." Standing astride her on the floor before he left, he warned: "Stay alive baby. Do it for Van Gogh." Then he marched out of the apartment, shutting the door behind him and leaving her crumpled on the floor.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Writer/director/producer Francis Ford Coppola's eroticized, visually-opulent and lavish R-rated film was based on the novel by Bram Stoker. Dracula was at first portrayed as a pasty-faced, bouffant-coiffed, satin-robed nobleman.
In one of its early scenes in Transylvania, young law-clerk/solicitor-agent Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) was enticed and seduced by dark and brooding Dracula's (Gary Oldman) three surreal and alluring Brides of Dracula (Monica Bellucci, Michaela Bercu, and Florina Kendrick).
In Harker's bedroom as he was retiring for the night, one of the undead Brides emerged from under his bed (Bellucci) and proceeded to rise up (half-naked, bare-breasted) and stroke his inner thighs. When all the brides surfaced up through the mattress, he was surrounded by the ravenous creatures as they tore at his clothes, fed upon him (by licking him, and then biting down on his crotch with fanged teeth). They (called "devils of the pit") drained him of his blood to keep him weak.
They were interrupted by the sudden appearance of Dracula himself, who jealously and strongly cautioned:
One of the Brides asked, "Are we to have nothing tonight?" Harker saw Dracula give his brides a young baby to feast upon, and he screamed in horror.
The Brood (1979, Can.)
Writer/director David Cronenberg's Canadian horror film suffered from censorship of its climactic scene. Its tagline publicized its theme: The Ultimate Experience of Inner Terror. Cronenberg provided commentary on radical therapeutic solutions of the time period.
The repellent and repulsive film told of Somafree Institute psychotherapist Dr. Hal Raglan's (Oliver Reed) self-obsessed patient named Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar). She autogenetically gave birth to homicidal strange, sexless, dwarf-like mutated children, to physically express her own internal suppressed rage (anger personified). The "brood" of children (without speech or genitalia) were the result of her psychoplasmic sessions with the doctor, and a physical manifestation of how she felt about her own custody battle.
During the last birth scene, both visceral and nauseating, Nola ripped open her own uterus (baby or egg sac) from an external psycho-plasmically induced womb (kept sitting on her lap) and then licked the bloody afterbirth off of her own monstrous baby.
She was then strangled during a struggle with ex-husband Frank (Art Hindle), while the brood attacked Nola's pale, terrified and catatonic daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds) as she hid in a closet - they broke through the door behind her. With the death of their psychic mother, however, the brood died off and Candice was saved.
Equally scary was another earlier scene of the 'brood' murdering teacher Ruth Mayer (Susan Hogan) in front of her class.
The last ominous image of the film was a close-up sight of a raised, red sore (or wheal) growing on Candice's arm - she had undoubtedly inherited her mother's cursed abilities to manifest the pain inside or her.
William Friedkin's intensely disturbing psychological thriller (some called it an extreme black comedy, or reminiscent of David Cronenberg's 'body horror' films) was very dark and bleak, although incredibly well-acted. It was based upon Tracy Letts's 2004 off-Broadway play, which basically starred two characters - very damaged individuals caught up in a love story. They were lost souls who became horrifically bonded, and eventually descended into utter madness in a rural motel apartment room:
Agnes had been married to swaggering, abusive ex-con husband Jerry Goss (Harry Connick Jr.) just released from prison, and was trying to keep her distance from him. Peter reassured Agnes after meeting her: "I'm not an axe murderer... You're really beautiful." He was also sexually attracted to her: "I haven't been to bed with a woman in a long time...But I think I could go to bed with you!"
During Agnes' first love-making with Peter, the artsy cinematography lingered on the saliva-thread of a kiss, and provided a large closeup of her sweaty female breast. After they made love in her bed, he believed that he was becoming infested with bugs (he claimed there were "rogue aphids" in his bloodstream, and egg sacs under his skin). To rid the problem, he bought cans of bug spray and hung bug strips in the room.
Eventually, in one of the film's more horrific, self-mutilation scenes, he extracted what he thought were infested teeth from his mouth with a pair of pliers or wrench - he claimed the bugs were hiding behind his fillings. One of his other fantasies was that a helicopter was hovering over the room, although it was just the ceiling fan. She was also crazed by the thought of her missing 6 year-old son Lloyd, who was last seen in a grocery store shopping cart a few years earlier.
Sharing their delusions, they both became violently paranoid and mad in a frenzy of delusional thinking, believing that Peter was an experimental drone, and Agnes was the mother queen bug.
In the feverishly mad conclusion, they completely wrapped the blue-lit room (festooned with hanging ultraviolet bug-zapping lanterns) in tin-foil - Peter ranted about how he was part of a government/military conspiracy that had implanted every human born after 1982 with a computer chip - a microchip that would cause some of the test subjects to become killer zombies, like Timothy McVeigh. They decided to douse the entire room, and their naked bodies, with gasoline to prevent the spread of infection.
In the erotic and violent climax, the two desperate souls reciprocally told each other: "I love you" and then struck a match to cause an engulfing inferno in the room.
Agnes White (Ashley Judd) with Peter Evans (Michael Shannon) Finding Bugs in Bed - and Everywhere
Swirling into Madness
(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