Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes

T





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

The Tenant (1976) (aka La Locataire)

#66

Roman Polanski's suspenseful psychological thriller about insanity and paranoia had many similarities to his two previous films, Repulsion (1965) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). Shy and aloof bureaucrat, French citizen and Polish-born immigrant Trelkovsky (director Roman Polanski himself, although uncredited), a displaced foreigner, moved into a squalid Parisian apartment vacated by a previous tenant, an Egyptologist named Simone Choule.

The previous occupant had attempted to commit suicide by jumping out of the window from the balcony. She was subsequently hospitalized (with a body cast in traction, an almost toothless mouth and bandaged head). When Trelkovsky visited her, he met Simone's friend Stella (Isabelle Adjani), who was also at the bedside. The bandaged patient let out a disturbing howl and scream, and died shortly later.

As the film progressed, Trelkovsky was seemingly viewed with suspicion, hostility and contempt by his apartment neighbors (mostly elderly), who often complained that he made too much noise. He seemed to feel guilty about living in the suicidal victim's apartment. He became preoccupied with the previous tenant Simone's suicidal and self-destructive tendencies as well as her habits (he was compelled to adopt her breakfast choice of chocolate (instead of coffee) and cigarette brand of Marlboros). He often saw other tenants standing motionless and staring back at him from the communal bathroom across the way.

He found a bloody tooth in a hidden hole in the wall (plugged by cotton) behind the heavy wardrobe - and later discovered that it was a perfect match to a second tooth - the missing molar in his own bloody mouth. He slowly became hostile, paranoid, and demented (and possibly schizophrenic) and obsessively transformed (mentally and physically) into Simone (i.e., by cross-dressing with one of Simone's dresses in an armoire, some high-heeled shoes and an ill-fitting wig that he bought). He also was sexually inadequate with Stella - reminiscent of Simone's disinterest in men. He exhibited other disturbing behaviors. For no reason, in a park, he slapped a defenseless child (who had lost his boat in the pond) in the face, calling him a "filthy little brat." A bouncing soccer ball outside his window turned into a decapitated human head. He watched as the other tenants humiliated another disfavored tenant (wearing a joker hat and his own masked face). He stabbed at a hand reaching in through his apartment window, and cut his hand on the glass.

Paranoia and Hallucinations
Motionless Tenants Staring Back At Him
Tooth in Wall
Restlessness
Hieroglyphics in His Bathroom
Staring at Himself Across the Way
Mummified Woman Resurrected and Removing Bandages
Bouncing Human Head
Joker with His Face

He feared that other tenants in his apartment building were plotting a conspiracy, persecuting him, and changing him into the previous tenant so that he would repetitively follow her behavior and commit suicide: "They forced her to commit suicide, I can prove it, and they're trying to do the same thing to me...They've been trying to turn me into Simone Choule."

Deranged and becoming self-destructive like Simone when he channeled her, he attempted to commit a more successful suicide (as himself and the previous tenant) by hurling himself from the window. Cross-dressed, a drum-roll anticipated his leap to the pavement, and he crashed through a recently-repaired glass atrium that shattered. Trelkovsky was severely injured and lying on the concrete, where the neighbors found him and wondered whether he was "insane," fixated, had a "brain storm," and was unusually disturbed. He imagined his neighbors rabidly encouraging him to hurt himself. Battered with a broken leg and bleeding, he dragged himself away from them and up the stairs, while calling them a "gang of killers." He taunted the spectating onlookers and showed disgust, defiance and resolve:

"I'll show some blood. You wanted a clean death, didn't you?...It's going to be dirty. It was better last time, wasn't it? Well, I'm not Simone Choule. I'm Trelkovsky!"

The crowd of onlookers was amazed to see him at his apartment window again - jumping and falling to his death. [Note: At the instant of his death (?), did he imagine himself associated with the mummified 'patient' from the earlier scene?]

In the next enigmatic, replicated (or mirrored) scene when the story had gone full circle, Trelkovsky was back in the hospital with Stella, visiting a bandaged patient - the same scene from the film's beginning. From the POV of the patient, the two spoke to "Simone." Stella asked frantically: "Don't you recognize me?" As the patient let out the same disturbing cry (heard when they visited before), the camera zoomed into the blackness of the patient's mouth as the film ended.

Trelkovsky/Simone Bandaged and Hospitalized - A Scene Replicated A Second Time - An Enigmatic Ending

However, one must ask - was the patient Simone - or Trelkovsky? Was Trelkovsky reliving or reidentifying with his earlier hospital visit from Simone's perspective, that of the mummified "patient" looking up at Trekolvsky himself? Some theorists speculated that Trelkovsky was only an imaginary character created in the mind of the insane, hospitalized Simone.




Bandaged Suicidal and
Screaming-Dying
Simone Choule



Dressing as a Woman
("I Think I'm Pregnant")





First Suicide Attempt

2nd Attempt

The Terminator (1984)

#82

Director James Cameron's sleeper film (only his second feature film), co-written with producer Gale Anne Hurd, was an exciting, well-paced action thriller with apocalyptic, monster, and adventure story elements.

In the film's start, time traveler and human resistance leader Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) experienced frightening memories of a post-apocalyptic future in the year 2029, in a ruined Los Angeles, a scene of annihilation and devastation ("nuclear fire") where AI machines rule the world, led by a computer network called Skynet. He recollected the infiltration of the resistance's human hideout by another future Terminator (Franco Columbo).

In the main story, an indestructible, invincible, inhuman cyborg assassin, Terminator T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was sent back from the future year 2029 to 1984 to eliminate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who would one day be the mother of a son (an off-screen John Connor) who would lead a human Resistance movement-rebellion against the evil cyborg leaders of Earth's future.

The final scene was a face-off in a factory between Sarah Connor and the relentless Model 101 cyborg 'Terminator' - reduced to a metallic, skeletal frame after a fiery oil tanker-truck explosion. The unstoppable cyborg's metal exo-skeletal frame (with glowing red eyes) was all that remained. After having its lower half blown away, it crawled and grasped towards her with its remaining hand. She escaped death by strangulation, by luring the cyborg underneath a massive hydraulic press and crushing it. As she pressed a red START button to initiate the process, she yelled out: "You're terminated, f--ker!" The glowing red eyes of the Terminator dimmed and extinguished.




Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

This science-fiction blockbuster, also by James Cameron, was a well-executed, action-packed sequel to the earlier film of the same name.

The film opened, under the credits, with frightening images of the disturbingly-realistic depiction of a fiery, nuclear weapon blast exploding in Los Angeles in late summer, 1997. While institutionalized in 1995 after attempting to blow up Cyberdyne Systems, and for acting delusional and insane over thoughts of an apocalypse, clairvoyant, muscular warrior woman Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) was videotaped explaining her apocalyptic visions:

"We know the dream's the same every night, why do I have to...Children look like burnt paper. Black, not moving. And then the blast wave hits them. And they fly apart like leaves...It's not a dream, you moron, it's real. I know the date it happens...on August 29th, 1997, it's gonna feel pretty f--kin' real to you, too! Anybody not wearing two million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day. Get it?!...God, you think you're safe and alive. You're already dead. Everybody! Him. You. You're dead already. This whole place, everything you see is gone. You're the one livin' in a f--kin' dream, 'cause I know it happens. IT HAPPENS!"

Later, after her escape from the hospital, she experienced further nightmarish, end-of-the world cataclysmic dreams, in which she envisaged the fiery effects on a children's playground and herself. White light ignited everything like match heads as she saw her dream self burst into flames and her skin burned away. Los Angeles landmarks were pulverized as the shockwave of the blast hit the downtown area. The howling wind blasted apart the once-human figures of bone and ash. Sarah's own figure exploded down to skeletal remains.

Visions of The End of the World

She was the single mother of rebellious John Connor (Edward Furlong), now a pre-teenager and foster child - and the child-savior of future humanity in a war with a deadly machine complex called SkyNet. The fatherless boy was threatened by a seemingly-indestructible, liquid-metal, shape-shifting Terminator android named T-1000 (Robert Patrick), with no emotional intelligence, usually exemplified as a policeman. He had the uncanny ability to 'morph' his body into any solid shape, impersonate other persons and even camouflage himself with the background. An older model Terminator T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), now re-programmed as a protective, monotone-speaking, motor-cycle riding Cyberdyne Systems cyborg, was sent from the future to protect the boy.

Impalement Scenes

Some viewers were disturbed by the many impalement scenes:

(1) Young John Connor's foster parent father Todd Voight (Xander Berkeley) was skewered by the T-1000 Terminator's transformed left arm into a sword.

(2) Pescadero State Hospital security guard Lewis (Don Stanton) was impaled through the eye by his own T-1000 Lewis (Dan Stanton) look-alike.

(3) In the film's action-packed conclusion, the T-1000 also impaled Sarah's shoulder with his needle-sharp pointed finger.




Terminator T-800




Terminator T-1000

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

In this third film (the second sequel) in the series from director Jonathan Mostow, the revised (but "obsolete design"), mono-syllabic speaking Terminator Model T-850 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), powered by two hydrogen fuel cells, was designed and reprogrammed (by the Resistance) to protect 20-something post-apocalyptic leader John Connor (Nick Stahl) and his future Resistance-second-in-command wife Katherine (Kate) Brewster (Claire Danes). Connor described the Terminator T-850 as "a robot from the future, he's living tissue over a metal skeleton."

In opposition to them was an even more impressive Terminatrix (T-X) (Kristanna Loken) - a female, superhuman, sophisticated model ("a far more effective killing machine"), sent back to the year 2004 in modern-day Los Angeles. It had an arm that could morph into dangerous weapons ("The T-X is polymimetic, able to take the form of anything it touches"), and was highly lethal. She could determine the identity of a person immediately with a sample of blood (DNA), and she had other advanced scanning capabilities. She could also remotely control various machines (including auto vehicles). The T-X was:

"designed for extreme combat, driven by a plasma reactor and equipped with onboard weapons. Its arsenal includes nano-technological transjectors...it can control other machines. Its body chassis is heavily armored and hardened to withstand external attack...T-X is faster, more powerful and more intelligent. It's a far more effective killing machine...T-X is designed to terminate other cybernetic organisms."

Arm Thrust Through Abdomen From Back Seat

In one of the action film's most startling scenes, the T-X was impersonating Kate Brewster's slain fiancee Scott Mason (Mark Famiglietti) in order to locate John Connor. "Scott" thrust his arm through the heart of the car driver in order to grab the steering wheel from the back seat of the police car.

The film's conclusion included a thrilling one-on-one fight between the two Terminators (in the hallway, men's room and storeroom), ending with the deaths of the two Terminators at Crystal Peak. After the fierce struggle that had left the T-X with detached legs, the Terminator detonated his last hydrogen fuel cell in the female T-X's mouth, destroying both of them ("You are terminated!")



T-850
(Arnold Schwarzenegger)




Terminatrix, or T-X
(Kristanna Loken)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

In the finale, future liberators Katherine (Kate) Brewster (Claire Danes) and John Connor (Nick Stahl) discovered that Crystal Peak was merely a protective 30 year-old government fall-out shelter for VIPs, designed to survive a nuclear blast. SkyNet (composed of cyberspace software) couldn't be shut down or destroyed with explosives ("There was never any stopping it"), as nuclear missiles were being launched and detonated. Annihilation by SkyNet was inevitable.

In the film's downbeat ending, nuclear missiles across the world were being launched and detonated by the rogue artificial intelligence SkyNet on Judgment Day. It was an awe-inspiring, scary nuclear annihilation of the world that was being conducted in the outside world.

John assumed command from the underground command post and spoke to Montana Civil Defense on the radio, as the film ended with his voice-over:

"...I should have realized our destiny was never to stop Judgment Day. It was merely to survive it, together. The Terminator knew. He tried to tell us, but I didn't want to hear it. Maybe the future has been written. I don't know. All I know is what the Terminator taught me. Never stop fighting. And I never will. The battle has just begun"



The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

#5

Director Tobe Hooper's grindhouse horror classic, a real rural nightmare, was originally shot in 16mm, giving it a raw, documentary feel. This low-budget seminal horror film opened with a sober narration about a crime spree - vandals desecrating graveyards in a remote section of Texas, although it was not based on a true incident. However, it was loosely based on the true crimes of grisly, notorious Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein. The movie's main character became a seminal bogeyman - a masked, relentless, psychotic, chain-saw wielding, hulkish butcher-killer known as Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen), with a mask made of skin. Its tagline: "Who will survive and what will be left of them?" hinted at the massacre of young people to follow, although it was fairly bloodless, surprisingly.

Leatherface was part of a crazed, inbred family of psychopathic cannibals who ran a human meat-packing plant. Leatherface was both repulsive and muscular, in his Grand Guignol pursuit of victims. A small group of five young hippie Texans became his victims - they were enroute to their grandfather's possibly-vandalized grave. On the way, they picked up a scary-looking hitchhiker (Edwin Neal), later revealed as Leatherface's brother, who cut himself with a pocket-knife, and also slashed Franklin on his arm with a straight razor. They ended up at a small house to find gas, where the slaughter was about to begin. The film's most indelible image was of a sliding door that opened and took battered, innocent teenagers into the lair of the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface, wearing a butcher's apron and a stitched, human-skin mask.

There were numerous sequels to the original 1974 Texas Chainsaw Massacre film, stretching over 38 years!:

  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), also directed by Hooper, a very dark comedy starring Dennis Hopper and Bill Moseley
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 (1990) (aka Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), directed by Jeff Burr, starring Viggo Mortensen and Kate Hodge
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994) (aka The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre), directed by Kim Henkel and featuring future stars Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellweger
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), a gorefest from producer Michael Bay, with Jessica Biel as one of the terrorized teenagers; the most successful of all of the films at $80.5 million (domestic)
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006), producer Michael Bay's prequel or origin film to his 2003 remake, with Jordana Brewster, Matt Bomer and Doira Baird, originally rated NC-17 until cuts reduced it to an R-rating

In early 2013, the Leatherface franchise received a face-lift (or reboot) with the production of the seventh installment of the original, Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013), directed by John Luessenhop. The homicidal maniac Leatherface was portrayed by Dan Yeager, with Alexandra Daddario as his victim Heather. The film featured cameos of previous TCM actors, including Marilyn Burns (Sally in the original), John Dugan (Leatherface's grandfather), and even Leatherface (Gunnar Hansen) himself.

The original 1974 film actually had less gory chainsawing scenes than might have been expected, although it was full of bashings, hackings, and impalements - usually beginning with Leatherface jumping out of the shadows:

  • Pam's boyfriend Kirk (William Vail) entered the unlocked front door of a deserted-looking clapboard house, as he repeatedly called out: "Hello, hello...Anybody home?" He heard squealing noises and saw a open doorway in the hall beyond which was a red-colored wall covered with skulls and bones. There, he was immediately and surprisingly attacked by a lunging, apron-wearing Leatherface who clobbered him in the head (twice) with a large mallet or sledgehammer - his legs kicked and twitched during a wild convulsive seizure as he was dragged into the killer's lair - and its steel-metal door was forcibly slammed shut. Later, he was butchered by chain-saw into pieces.
  • Screaming Pam (Teri McMinn) after being snatched was hung on a meat hook through her upper back, and then frozen in the freezer.
  • In a night scene, wheel-chair bound, whiny Franklin Hardesty (Paul A. Partain), Sally's brother, was slaughtered when Leatherface applied his roaring chainsaw (held high over his head) to his stomach.
  • Sally's boyfriend Jerry (Allen Danziger) also had his head bludgeoned with a sledgehammer, after discovering a deep-frozen, half-dead Pam in a large chest freezer.

In the concluding lengthy scene, Sally Hardesty (Marilyn Burns) was bound and gagged, and held captive at the clan's dinner table. Her finger was cut and served as a bloody appetizer for the weakened, withered, vampiric and patriarchal Grandfather (John Dugan)). As she watched in horror while being restrained, she saw the Grandfather suck on her wounded finger. She was about to serve as the "dinner" main course for the deranged clan of captors.

Sally's Screaming Ordeal at the Dinner Table - She Was a Finger Appetizer & Dinner

The Grandfather was given a hammer to strike at Sally ("Hit that bitch!"), who was forced to kneel in front of him with her head over a large metal bucket, but he was too weak to do any harm. During the chaotic scene, she escaped by plunging through a window and frantically running down the farmhouse road, while being chased by the hitchhiker (Leatherface's brother) and Leatherface himself. The former was gruesomely run over by a semi-truck. With a bloodied face, Sally screamed at the horrific sight as the body was crushed by the huge truck tires.

She was able to climb into the red cab of the semi, as Leatherface approached with his churning chainsaw. Sally fled again out the other side of the cab with the frantic driver, and hailed down a passing pickup truck. She jumped into the back, and with a bloody and deranged-look, she laughed as the spinning Leatherface - in the golden dawn - swung his buzzing chainsaw through the air in a frustrating, exaltant dance.

Sally's Escape - The Only Survivor

Leatherface
(Gunnar Hansen)



Kirk's Bludgeoning


Pam's Snatching and
Meat Hook Hanging


Franklin Sliced in Stomach

The Hammer Scene


Taking Flight


Leatherface's Brother
Run Over
and Sally's Reaction

Theatre of Blood (1973, UK)

Douglas Hickox's campy black comedy-horror film from American International Pictures was originally titled Much Ado About Murder, and was obviously inspired by the success of star Vincent Price's Dr. Phibes movies.

It reportedly required over six gallons of fake blood for the eight ghastly yet creative murders (see below), with a total body count of eleven. The demented, macabre film was mostly a series of elaborate and flamboyant Shakespearean death scenes.

The film's tagline warned: "It's curtains for his critics."

Egotistical and vain Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price in an over-the-top role) received poor reviews for his performances and stage adaptations from the theatrical Critics Circle. After he was passed over for the coveted Critic's Circle award for Best Actor, he apparently committed suicide - although his own death by drowning was faked (he was rescued from the Thames River).

Then, the deranged, humiliated and murderous mad-man exacted deadly revenge on his nasty, London theater critics who had snubbed him and ended his career, with parodies of deaths from the last season of his Shakespearean plays.

In many of the cases, Lionheart underwent numerous costume and hairstyle changes, while recreating the various roles for which he was criticized - as a doctor-surgeon, as a Scottish masseur, as a French chef, as a fencing instructor, as a camp hairdresser (with a huge afro wig), named "Butch," etc. Lionheart also gloriously gave a hammy recital of the words of Shakespeare as each of the critics met a dastardly demise.

As Lionheart perished in the flames of the burning theatre, he was given a eulogizing, wry and cynical send-off by critic Devlin:

"Yes, it was a fascinating performance, but of course, he was madly overacting as usual, but you must admit he did know how to make an exit."





Edward Lionheart
(Vincent Price)
Doomed Critic (or Individual)
Method of Death
Shakespearean Play
Screenshot
1. George William Maxwell (Michael Hordern)
Assaulted, Bloodied and Butchered, on the Ides of March by a bunch of tramps Reminiscent of Julius Caesar's death (in Julius Caesar)
2. Hector Snipe
(Dennis Price)
Speared or impaled in chest, and his corpse dragged behind a horse The fate of Hector at the hands of Achilles (in Troilus and Cressida)

3. Horace Sprout
(Arthur Lowe)
Critic's wife (Joan Hickson) awoke, after being drugged, to find her husband's beheaded body (after being sawed off) next to her The death of Cloten (from Cymbeline)
4. Trevor Dickman
(Harry Andrews)
Critic's still-beating, warm heart, weighing a pound, was cut out, and placed in a box Shylock received a "pound of flesh" (from The Merchant of Venice)

5. Oliver Larding
(Robert Coote)
Lush critic dunked head-first and drowned in a casket of Chambertin 1964 red wine at a wine-tasting The murder of Duke of Clarence (from Richard III)
Peregrine Devlin
(Ian Hendry)
Rapier-fencing duel (on trampolines) between Lionheart and young critic - wounded although spared The famous swordfight between Tybalt and Mercutio (from Romeo and Juliet)
6. Solomon Psaltery
(Jack Hawkins)
Tricked (by Lionheart playing the Iago character) into believing his wife Maisie (Diana Dors) was unfaithful, and smothering her in a fit of jealous rage, and afterwards sentenced to life in prison Iago murdering his wife (from Othello)
7. Miss Chloe Moon (Coral Browne) - the sole female critic
Electrocuted with hair curlers (Lionheart impersonated a hairdresser named Butch) Re-enactment of Joan of Arc burned at the stake - with quotes heard (from Henry VI, part 1)
8. Meredith Merridew (Robert Morley)
Fed his own "babies" - poodles baked in a pie Queen Tamora ate flesh of her two sons baked in a pie (from Titus Andronicus)
Peregrine Devlin
(Ian Hendry)
Two red-hot daggers on rails attached to a descending pulley (emptying bag of sand) - poised to blind the bound critic The blinding of the Earl of Gloucester (from King Lear)
Lionheart himself
Consumed in flames of burning theatre, jumped to his death from the top of the building (with his dead daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) in his arms) Quotes from King Lear (from King Lear)

Them! (1954)

#72

Gordon Douglas' sci-fi horror film reflected the time period of the Cold War mid-1950s, when a new era of testing dangerous atomic weapons in the mid-1940s was feared to have caused mutations. It was one of the most classic mutant monster B-flicks. The main terror facing mankind were ants that had mutated into giant creatures - the only other species that engaged in war.

The eerie film was filled with scary suspense for the first half hour. It opened in the New Mexico desert, where police sergeant Ben Peterson (James Whitmore) and his partner Ed Blackburn (Chris Drake) found a traumatized five or six year-old girl (Sandy Descher) (later identified with the last name of Ellinson) wandering trance-like, carrying her doll. She did not talk and appeared to be in shock.

The child was found near a station wagon automobile and an almost-destroyed house trailer (with Illinois plates) that was unusually "caved out" instead of "caved in." There were no footprints or tire marks (except one unidentifiable animal track), no evidence of burglary, and no bodies - but lots of cubelets of sugar scattered around. While lying in an ambulance and about to be taken to a hospital, a peculiar, vibrating sound prompted the girl to sit up, transfixed and staring blankly into space, but then the high-pitched, pulsating sound ended and she laid back down - without being noticed. The officers learned that the mobile home was owned by an FBI agent named Alan Ellinson from Chicago vacationing with his family (wife and two children).

Nearby was "Gramps" Johnson's general store, also ransacked and destroyed but no evidence of burglary. There was a bent-barrelled 30-30 shotgun behind the counter, and the store owner was found dead under a trap door that led to an underground storeroom ("Looks like he was dragged and thrown down there"). A large wooden barrel of sugar was knocked down and open, and the sweet powder was being consumed by small ants. When Blackburn was left alone at the murder scene, the loud, high-pitched sound began again - and as he went to investigate, shots (and screams) were heard from off-screen when he was presumably attacked and killed. Later, it was determined that Gramps' cause of death was a broken neck and back, a crushed chest, a skull fracture, and "enough formic acid in him to kill 20 men."

Smelling Formic Acid - "THEM! THEM! THEM!"

At the hospital, when the young girl was revived out of her shocked state by a sniff of formic acid, she screamed: "THEM! THEM!!!! THEMM!!!!"

Giant Mutated Ant Creatures - Appearing in Full View 1/3 of Way Into the Film
Pat Medford (Joan Weldon)
Eight-foot Long Foraging Ant

The giant radioactive ants with mandibles were on the loose in the New Mexico desert due to atomic testing. When one attacked his daughter Pat (Joan Weldon), ant entomologist from the Dept. of Agriculture Dr. Harold Medford (Edmund Gwenn) urged the officers to shoot at the ant's antennae to disable it, before it was pulverized with submachine gun fire. Then, he offered Biblical prophecy: "We may be witnesses to a Biblical prophecy come true - 'And there shall be destruction and darkness come upon creation, and the beasts shall reign over the earth.'"

Dr. Medford also offered ominous words as the film concluded, with the queen ant and hatchlings destroyed by flame throwers:

"When Man entered the Atomic Age, he opened a door into a new world. What we'll eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict."



The Young Girl
(Sandy Descher)


Mysterious Evidence:

Ransacked Trailer

Cubes of Sugar


The Sound of the Ants

Dead "Gramps" Johnson

Ants Devouring Sugar

Just Before Blackburn's Death

The Thing (From Another World) (1951)

#48

UFO sightings and reports of flying saucers or strange visitors from outer space found their way into Hollywood features as allegories of the Cold War, such as in director Christian Nyby's and producer Howard Hawks' sole science-fiction film The Thing From Another World (1951). The influential and taut horror and science-fiction B-film hybrid was one of the earliest examples of an alien invader film, and featured filmdom's first space monster. It was a tale told to illustrate how scientists had foolishly meddled with things that shouldn't have - and caused further catastrophe. The film effectively focused on character interaction, with natural and rapid-fire dialogue, appropriate scientific jargon, and a strong-willed female character named Nikki Nicholson (Margaret Sheridan). The three most memorable moments of the classic film were:

  • the discovery of the shape of an alien spacecraft
  • the scene of the alien creature set ablaze with kerosene
  • the final ominous warning/bulletin radioed from the North Pole

[It was remade by director John Carpenter in 1982, with a faithful and moody return to the original 1938 source, Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr.] See further below

A group of isolated scientists led by researcher Dr. Arthur Carrington (Robert Cornthwaite) were stationed in a remote Arctic scientific research base in the vicinity of the North Pole. Military pilot Captain Patrick Hendry (Kenneth Tobey) was sent to investigate the crash landing of an unidentified flying object (UFO) near the base. The group of scientists and military men discovered an extra-terrestrial, flying saucer UFO buried deep in the tundra ice in a circular-shaped crash site, along with an eight-foot alien-humanoid life form encased in a frozen block of ice. After removing the frozen humanoid shape from the ice, they brought it back to their research station headquarters.

The Thing creature accidentally defrosted or thawed (with an electric blanket) and escaped, and proceeded to kill the sled dogs and hunt down the scientists themselves for their blood. They realized that the alien creature was a killer, chlorophyll-based humanoid vegetable (TV's Gunsmoke star James Arness), and slightly radioactive. Two of the researchers were discovered in the greenhouse, hanging upside down with their throats slit. Carrington unwisely argued that he was studying and researching the rapid growth rate of the alien despite the danger, and that he wished to preserve the alien at all costs.

When it was determined that the alien had to be eliminated, its presence was thrillingly announced by crew chief Bob's (Dewey Martin) beeping, flashing Geiger counter. In the tense sequence, it was coming closer and closer - and was revealed behind a closed doorway. When the tall monstrous creature finally appeared, it was doused with kerosene and set ablaze with flare guns. It swatted away the men while on fire, and found an escape through a window into the snow before running off.

The End to the Monstrous Creature By Electrocution

In the thrilling conclusion set in the generator room, the alien was electrocuted by 3 large arcs of electricity when he walked on a grid-trap, and was reduced to disintegrating ashes.

The influential film's last line of dialogue from Anchorage reporter Ned 'Scotty' Scott (Douglas Spencer) warned in a closing broadcast about America's 50s-style suspicions of the world:

"...I bring you a warning. Everyone of you listening to my voice, tell the world. Tell this to everybody wherever they are. Watch the skies! Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!"






The Appearance of the Alien Humanoid

The Thing (1982)

Director John Carpenter's remake of the 1951 Howard Hawks' classic, was considered to be the first part of a so-called "Apocalypse Trilogy," followed by Prince of Darkness (1987) and In the Mouth of Madness (1995).

The film's premise about an alien threat was set at a remote Antarctica base, US Station 31. The action began with the shooting of a beastly sled dog that viciously attacked - it was discovered to be a shape-shifting alien that could assimilate itself into the shape of its victims. It was feared that if the alien ever escaped to a civilized area, it would assimilate all of life on Earth in only a few years: ("This thing doesn't want to show itself. It wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it, and then it's won"). The film's tagline warned: "Man is the warmest place to hide."

The Autopsy Scene - Chest Defibrillation When Both of Doctor's Forearms Were Bitten Off

In the autopsy scene, infected Norris (Charles Hallahan), a member of the Antarctica research team experiencing sub-zero temperatures during a snowstorm and extreme paranoia, had a heart attack. As the camp's Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart) attempted to revive his heart with resuscitation paddles and CPR, Norris' mutated rib cage/chest and stomach broke open. It became a fanged, gaping maw with a bear-trap spring that bit off the doctor's forearms. In addition, Norris's head reached up to the ceiling, and as he was incinerated, his head separated from his body and dropped to the floor, where it sprouted spindly spider legs and eye stalks to scurry away like a crab. It was then incinerated by R.J. MacReady's (Kurt Russell) flame-thrower.

The Demise of Bennings - Half Mutant

In another exciting yet scary sequence, the creature had begun to assimilate itself with meterologist Bennings (Peter Maloney) - the crew discovered him as only a half-changed mutant (with mis-shapened, arachnid-like arms) when they cornered him outside and he bellowed back at them. Within a circle of the men, MacReady incinerated Bennings by overturning a large canister of fuel and igniting him. MacReady explained to doubting Garry (Donald Moffat): "It was one of those things out there trying to imitate him, Garry."

Also there was tense scene when everybody was forced to take a blood serum test in the rec room ("We're gonna draw a bit of everybody's blood. We're gonna find out who's the thing"). It was implemented by MacReady and Windows (Thomas Waites) upon the participants who were forced to sit together while tied by heavy rope in chairs as they had their thumbs sliced open - in order to 'smoke out' the alien creature. Each one's blood was tested with a heated piece of copper wire. When MacReady tested the blood of helicopter pilot Palmer (David Clennon), the blood sample reacted violently, and the infected victim's face exploded outward, and his body was propelled into the ceiling tiles. When it fell, its deformed head split vertically to shockingly reveal an eyeless tentacled monster. With its main tentacle emerging from what was its head, it massacred, mauled and strangled Windows until finally incinerated by MacReady's flame thrower. The burning creature smashed through the outer wall and fell in the snow, where MacReady blew up its remains with a stick of dynamite.

There was an additional scary scene of discovering that Blair (Wilford Brimley), slowly going insane (and probably also infected), had escaped the locked and isolated storage shed by tunneling under the ice. The only way to insure the camp's survival for the only two remaining, MacReady and Childs (Keith David), was to annihilate the base by exploding it to smithereens with dynamite. As MacReady set the charges, the monstrous, snarling, big-toothed creature - now appearing Godzilla-like from under the ground (and giving birth to another sled dog), threatened him, but he was able to succeed in his mission (he hurled dynamite at the creature, with parting words: "F--k you too!"). MacReady and Childs discussed how futile survival was and how they probably wouldn't make it, given the circumstances: "Why don't we just wait here for a little while, see what happens?" (the film's last line from MacReady)

[Note: In an alternate, nihilistic ending, the "Thing" (mimicking a sled dog again) looked back at the burning camp at dawn before continuing on into the snowy Antarctic wilderness.]









MacReady Testing
Blood Samples - Palmer Infected and Incinerated



The Monstrous Creature

The Tingler (1959)

This was a classic horror film by 50s B-film director and impresario schlockmeister William Castle, who introduced the film's prologue with this word of advice:

"I am William Castle, the director of the motion picture you are about to see. I feel obligated to warn you that some of the sensations, some of the physical reactions which the actors on the screen will feel, will also be experienced for the first time in motion picture history, by certain members of this audience. I say 'certain members' because some people are more sensitive to these mysterious electronic impulses than others. These, uh, unfortunate, sensitive people will at times feel a strange, tingling sensation. Others will feel it less strongly. Don't be alarmed - you can protect yourself. At any time you are conscious of a tingling sensation, you may obtain immediate relief by screaming. Don't be embarrassed about opening your mouth and letting rip with all you've got, because the person in the seat right next to you will probably be screaming too. And remember this - a scream at the right time may save your life."

William Castle (Himself)
Disembodied Screaming Heads

Castle's speech was followed by zoomed-in examples of disembodied screaming heads - three in all.

Vincent Price portrayed mad, part-time pathologist/scientist Dr. Warren Chapin who made the discovery that the tingling sensation one felt running up and down one's spine when afraid was actually a "living" parasite that grew and lived in the vertebrae. When one couldn't scream or when one experienced prolonged scary situations (without having the therapeutic release of a primal scream), the parasite could grow to enormous size and cripple a person:

"We know that it exists...We know that fear alone energizes it, gives it strength...The Tingler exists in every living human being and it's extremely powerful...Fear causes the Tingler to spread along the spinal column. And probably with those arm-like things between the vertebrae forces it to become arched and rigid...Screaming seems to stop the Tingler from bending the spinal column. Screaming may even dissolve it, or if it's a living organism, kill it...We now know that at the peak of terror, the Tingler is a solid mass, extending from the coccyx to the cervicals. If someone could stand the intense pain without screaming or otherwise releasing their tension until they die, I think that an autopsy would give us a Tingler that we could work with."

A gruesome experiment was conducted on Chapin's deaf-mute patient Mrs. Martha Higgins (Judith Evelyn), the wife of silent movie theatre owner Oliver Higgins (Philip Coolidge). [Note: Her husband was later revealed as the confessed murderer.] She was scared by repeated hallucinatory shocks in her apartment's bedroom and throughout her house:

  • the lights flicked off in her bedroom, and a window shut on its own
  • the movement of a rocking chair
  • the squeaky closing of her bedroom door
  • a corpse like, skull-faced figure on a bed that rose up and wielded a machete
  • more lights turning off by themselves in her apartment
  • a hairy hand threw a hatchet at her
  • red blood (in a B/W film) came out of the sink faucet
  • an arm rose up from a bloody bathtub (Martha's back became arched and rigid - she couldn't scream, and the Tingler took over her body)
  • Martha's own death certificate was pinned to the inside of the bathroom's medicine cabinet, announcing her demise from extreme FRIGHT (in capital letters)

During Martha's autopsy, Dr. Chapin extracted the squirming, lobster-like centipede from her body, and for a brief moment, it attached itself to his arm. As he napped on the couch, the Tingler also crawled onto his chest and threatened to choke him. It released itself when his socialite wife Isabel Stevens Chapin (Patricia Cutts) returned home and screamed! Dr. Chapin surmised that if he returned the Tingler to Martha's body, it would die:

"The Tingler exists in every human being, we now know. Look at that Tingler, Dave. It's an ugly and dangerous thing. Ugly because it's the creation of man's fear, which is ugly too. Dangerous because, because a frightened man is dangerous. We can't destroy it because we've removed it from its natural place...Fear made that Tingler grow from microscopic size to this. We can only hope when it goes back where it came from, it will also go back to a thing infinitely small - even die, because it's creator is dead and all fear gone."

Later in the film's climax, Dr. Chapin planned to place the Tingler back into Martha's corpse, but of course, the boxed creature escaped and entered a crowded film theater showing the silent film Tol'able David (1921). After scaring one young female by climbing up her leg, the Tingler crawled into the inattentive projectionist's booth. In pitch black, Chapin tried to calm the theatre audience with an announcement: "There's no cause for alarm. A young lady has fainted. She is being attended to by a doctor and is quite alright. So please remain seated. The movie will begin again right away."

The Tingler - A Squirming Centipede
Extracting the Tingler From Patient
Tingler Choking Dr. Chapin
"Tingled" Screaming Movie Patron
Tingler On-Screen
Attack on the Projectionist

On screen, the projected film broke as the silhouette of the Tingler moved across the projection beam. The film theater went pitch black. The film audience (within the film and watching the film) were encouraged to scream to lessen the effects of tingling fear during a long black-out section by the voice of Dr. Chapin:

"Ladies and gentlemen, please do not panic. But scream! Scream for your lives! The Tingler is loose in this theater! (Screams)..."

To enhance the effect when the Tingler was on the loose in the theatre, seats were rigged with vibrating devices to produce the tingling effect - a gimmick nicknamed Percepto. After making another reassuring announcement, "The Tingler has been paralyzed by your screaming. There's no more danger. We will now resume the showing of the movie," Chapin rushed to the projection booth where the projectionist was being strangled by The Tingler. His screams caused the creature to drop to the floor, where it was captured in a film canister.

In the film's conclusion, Higgins received the same fate as his wife, who had the Tingler reinserted into her spine by Dr. Chapin to neutralize its effects. The resurrected Martha caused her husband to also die of fright - with muted screams. Dr. Chapin's words (in darkness) ended the film:

"Ladies and gentlemen, just a word of warning. If any of you are not convinced that you have a Tingler of your own, the next time you are frightened in the dark, don't scream."













Resurrected Martha, and
The Death of Her Husband

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

This highly-acclaimed film featured a dramatic tour-de-force of acting, with a portrayal of childhood innocence (told from a matured adult understanding), and a progressive, enlightened 60s message about racial prejudice, violence, moral tolerance and dignified courage.

The innocence and world of play was exhibited by tomboyish six year-old Scout (Mary Badham) and her ten year-old brother Jem (Phillip Alford), who were being raised by their widower attorney father Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck). They often fantasized about a 'boogeyman' recluse who inhabited a mysterious house in their neighborhood, nick-named "Boo" Radley.

They were abruptly brought out of their insulated and carefree world by their father's unpopular but courageous defense of a black man named Tom Robinson (Brock Peters) falsely accused of raping a Southern white woman. Racism doomed the accused black man, although there were still prejudiced adults in the neighborhood.

In a scary nighttime scene near the film's climax, Jem and Scout had just attended a Saturday night costume pageant in the town's school building. Scout wore a giant ham costume (for Halloween), because she had lost her dress and shoes: "I'll feel like a fool walking home like this." At almost 10 o'clock, they walked home (with a moving camera position) through the dark wooded area between the school and their home, as the trees and leaves rustled around them. Stopping and starting, Jem repeatedly believed he heard heavy footsteps walking behind them in the eerie, Southern gothic sequence. To confront their ghost, Scout yelled out an echoing retort: "I'll bet it's just old Cecil Jacobs tryin' to scare us. (Yelling) Cecil Jacobs is a big wet hen."

Jem guided his sister with a hand on her costume while looking back and hearing distinct footsteps. A shadowy form attacked Jem and hurled him to the ground. As she struggled to get out of her awkward, cumbersome ham costume, Scout was thrown down and rolled around inside the protective outfit. She heard scuffling, grunting, kicking, and pounding sounds as Jem wrestled against his attacker and shouted: "Run, Scout!" He was seriously injured and rendered unconscious. When the assailant turned toward Scout, a second pair of hands intervened from an unseen man - they wrestled with her attacker and came to her defense.

Through the view-hole of the ham, Scout watched in wide-eyed horror as the scuffling sounds of a second struggle died down and there was silence. Scout was prevented from seeing an attacker (the feared Boo Radley?) assaulting her brother. From her point of view, she watched a pair of legs cross her path and under a street light, she saw Jem's limp body being carried home by a mysterious person.

After removing her costume, Scout followed closely behind and saw her brother being carried into the Finch yard. They were unexpectedly delivered from real harm, although Jem suffered a badly-fractured arm. The Sheriff revealed a disturbing find in the woods, the body of disgraced and vengeful Bob Ewell: "Bob Ewell's lyin' on the ground under that tree down yonder with a kitchen knife stuck up under his ribs. He's dead, Mr. Finch....He's not gonna bother these children any more." As Scout related what had happened, she noticed a man in the corner of the bedroom behind the door - she identified him as the one who grabbed Mr. Ewell and carried Jem home: "Why, there he is, Mr. Tate. He can tell you his name..." In fact, they were rescued by the reclusive neighbor, Mr. Arthur "Boo" Radley (Robert Duvall).







Torn Curtain (1966)

Hitchcock's Cold War political espionage thriller included a very prolonged sequence in which a man was murdered (with no music on the soundtrack) - it was the most famous part of the film, made doubly more suspenseful by having the audience feel complicit in the death.

The main star was Paul Newman as Prof. Michael Armstrong - an American physicist who was also a secret double agent who had defected to East Germany, holding secrets of an American missile research program. Armstrong realized that he had to eliminate a Soviet agent - his own German "bodyguard" policeman/security officer Hermann Gromek (Wolfgang Keiling), who was suspecting his duplicity.

The lengthy, nasty and brutal murder sequence in a farmhouse kitchen outside of Berlin involved the difficult killing (with one's bare hands) of Gromek by Armstrong, with the assistance of farm wife (Carolyn Conwell). The murder had to be accomplished quietly, in order to avoid arousing the suspicions of the taxi driver (Peter Lorre) waiting outside. The farmer's wife and Armstrong both wordlessly conveyed to each other that they had to eliminate Gromek. When the farm wife picked up Gromek’s gun, she glanced out of the window and when she saw the taxi driver, she realized that she must set the gun down and use a knife instead - a quieter method.

Stages in the Difficult Process of Murdering Someone - The Preliminaries
Thrown Kettle
Strangulation
Butcher Knife Stabbing

There were multiple stages in the lengthy, slow, awkward, and immensely problematic struggle to murder the strong, intimidating Gromek, who bragged: "Cut it out. Don't be stupid. I was trained by experts":

  • a thrown soup kettle
  • strangulation
  • a butcher knife (thrust into his shoulder) (with the sound of the knife snapping off and clanking to the floor)
  • hit with a shovel in the kneecaps (with the sound of the dull thumping metallic shovel hitting his legs)
  • Gromek made a dash for the window and pulled it open to signal for help, but Armstrong and the wife swiftly shut it back
  • and finally by forcibly dragging his body across the floor, and thrusting his head into the kitchen's cast-iron gas oven to asphyxiate him to death (with the sound of the hissing gas) - the fingers of his hands twitched in the air expressing his excruciating death throes

The oven gassing was deliberately filmed from various angles - from both a high-angle and low side-angle, as Gromek was dragged across the floor. There were realistic closeups of heads, hands, and faces - concluding with a grim overhead shot above the oven.




Asphyxiation in a
Gas Oven

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, a segment of John Landis' 1983 anthology film (directed by George Miller), was originally part of Rod Serling's TV show, The Twilight Zone (specifically episode # 123, or Season 5's Episode # 3, that aired in mid-October 1963), a half-hour segment directed by Richard Donner with William Shatner playing the lead role of Mr. Wilson. The story was first published as a short story by Richard Matheson in Alone by Night (1961). Rod Serling's original opening and closing TV narrations were remarkable:

Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown, the onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one, on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home - the difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he's traveling all the way to his appointed destination, which, contrary to Mr. Wilson's plan, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone.

The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown. Mr. Wilson has that fear no longer... though, for the moment, he is, as he has said, alone in this assurance. Happily, his conviction will not remain isolated too much longer, for happily, tangible manifestation is very often left as evidence of trespass, even from so intangible a quarter as the Twilight Zone.

In the original 1963 version, Mr. Wilson's problems were blamed on a nervous breakdown. In the remade segment, the protagonist was suffering from severe flying phobia (aviatophobia). It began with this narration (by Burgess Meredith):

What you're looking at could be the end of a particularly terrifying nightmare. It isn't. It's the beginning. Introducing Mr. John Valentine, air traveller. His destination: the Twilight Zone.

In the tense, remade scene, phobic airplane passenger John Valentine (John Lithgow) was trying to settle down and relax in his airplane seat, suffering from a panic attack. Looking out the aircraft window, he deliriously saw a weird and hideous gremlin (Larry Cedar) sitting on the wing above one of the jet turbines. He watched in horror as the gremlin appeared to be damaging or sabotaging the outer engine during a turbulent storm. Lightning bolts struck the engine and the gremlin, causing a fire. Other passengers strained to look out the same side of the plane, as he babbled to himself and everyone else:

There's a man on the wing of this plane! There was somebody out there. You gotta believe me!...It was lightning. At first, I thought it was animal. Some kind of bird or something. But it was a man! There was flames coming out of the engine, and then a flash of smoke. Maybe it was a technician who was caught on the plane when it took off. How could he survive out there? The air's so thin, the blast of the wind. It's, it's so cold. It's impossible, isn't it? Oh my god, I feel so stupid! Can you imagine? A naked man crawling along the wing of an airplane at 35,000 feet?...It's amazing, the mind, how the eyes can make you see something that isn't even there.

He was outwardly disturbed and his condition bothered others, as flight attendants attempted to calm him down and give him a sedative to sleep. Valentine was given a red blanket and reassurance, and his airplane window shade was closed.

Fear at 35,000 Feet

Then, he dared to take another look -

  • when Valentine lifted the window shade, he saw the grotesque creature pressing its slimy face against his window
  • Valentine freaked out in his seat (his eyes bugged out), as the crew tried to restrain him
  • he grabbed a handgun from a security guard on board
  • he began shooting at the creature on the wing, breaking the airplane window and causing the cabin to lose pressure; he was propelled part-way out of the window
  • the gremlin lept over to the window, grabbed the gun, reached out at Valentine's face, and then scolded him by wagging its finger back and forth
  • during an emergency landing, Valentine watched in amazement as the gremlin jumped off the plane and disappeared into the sky

The plane was met by police and medical crew, who straitjacketed the seemingly-insane Valentine and put him in an ambulance. In the ironic ending, maintenance workers noticed evidence of unexplained damage to the plane's engines.



"There's a Man on the
wing of this plane!"


Greatest Scariest Movie Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title, illustrated)
Intro | #s-A | B | C-1 | C-2 | D-1 | D-2 | E | F | G | H
I-J | K-L | M | N-O | P | Q-R | S-1 | S-2 | S-3 | T | U-Z

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