Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes

C-2





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

The Changeling (1980)

#54

Peter Medak's tense and unsettling haunted house entry starred George C. Scott as composer/musician and university teacher John Russell. He was a recently-mourning widower who rented and moved into a haunted Seattle three-story mansion while working at his alma mater. He was still having nightmares and dealing with his own personal tragedy after witnessing the death of his wife Joanna and young daughter Kathy in a freak snow-plow accident in the film's opening during a winter vacation in upstate NY.

The house rental deal was facilitated by one of the historical society's workers Claire Norman (Trish Van Devere), although he was warned about the gothic house: "No one's been able to live in it. It doesn't want people."

Deeply-disturbing imagery, supernatural phenomena (a piano key pressed by an unknown presence), and sounds (strange thumping noises representing the boy's fist banging on the side of a bathtub, running faucets, doors slamming, whispers, etc.) began to appear to Russell.

They were the communicative manifestations of a poltergeist - a crippled young boy named Joseph Carmichael who had been murdered (drowned) by his father Richard Carmichael in a bathtub, many years earlier in the dusty attic (with its doorway and staircase concealed behind a bookcase).

The murder ultimately benefited the changeling - revealed as an imposter - the state of Washington's long-time Senator Joe Carmichael (Melvyn Douglas).

Strange images or scenes included:

  • Kathy's rubber ball bouncing down the stairs
  • the apparition of the dead child under the water in a bathtub
  • a shattered window
  • a cone-shaped object suddenly flying off a table and smashing during a seance when the tormented spirit conveyed a message to the frenzied medium
  • Russell's replaying of the recording of the seance and hearing Joseph's voice on the tape
  • the local girl's nightmare of seeing an emaciated ghostly boy coming up through the floorboards of her house
  • the shattering of a mirror foreshadowing the murder of Captain DeWitt (John Colicos)
  • and a cobweb-covered wheelchair pursuing a terrified Claire down the stairs from the attic





Un Chien Andalou (1929, Fr.)

Spanish director Luis Bunuel's short silent film (written in collaboration with artist Salvador Dali) with a non-sensical title (it literally meant "An Andalusian Dog") was a surrealistic adventure to behold. Filmed low-budget, the dreamy film took only two weeks to shoot. It began with the ominous title card, "Once upon a time."

In the shocking and disturbing opening sequence, composed of freely associated images, a man sharpened a straight razor and then tested the sharp blade on his fingernail. On a balcony, he viewed the full moon, where a cloud was about to pass over it and bisect it.

He then moved the sharp-edged blade close to a woman's (Simone Mareuil) wide-opened eye and sliced it in half, as the cloud sliced into the moon. -- (it was actually a cow's eye that was being cut).

Later in the film were other striking images presented in an unlinked series, including that of a hand crawling with ants, a severed hand on a sidewalk, and a grand piano with a dead donkey on top of it.


Children of the Corn (1984)

In this 1977 Stephen King short story tale that was adapted for the screen, children in the isolated and deserted farmland town of Gatlin, Nebraska were slaughtering all of the adult townspeople in the name of a demonic God dubbed "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" - in order to produce a prosperous corn harvest. The creepy story was told by a young boy in the town, a narrator named Job (Robby Kiger).

The film opened with the coffee shop massacre of Gatlin adults after Sunday worship services in the local Baptist church. Some of the patrons were poisoned by the coffee, and others were hacked by a meat-cleaver.

The Coffee Shop Slaughter

The massacre was depicted in crayon drawings (under the opening credits) created by Job's sister Sarah (Anne Marie McEvoy). The sketches often foreshadowed what would happen next. The young fanatical cultish murderers were led by boy preacher Isaac Chroner (John Franklin) with an Amish-styled hat, who glared through the front window of the coffee shop before the slaughter.

Isaac's followers fashioned corn-cob crucifixes (one held a dead cop) and held sinister religious meetings and rituals in the corn fields, often at dusk. No one 19 years or older was allowed to live.

Two cross-country travelers passing through the town on their way to Seattle: Vicky Baxter (Linda Hamilton) and her boyfriend Burton Stanton (Peter Horton), accidentally struck a runaway Gatlin boy named Joseph (Jonas Marlowe) in the middle of the road. He had tried to escape from Gatlin and had stumbled out onto the highway clutching his sliced throat - and it appeared that he had his throat slit before being killed by the impact. When Vicky dozed off, she dreamed that the boy awoke and reached out to strangle her from under a blanket - the film's scary jump-boo moment.

Sadistic and menacing, red-headed Malachai Boardman (Courtney Gains), Isaac's curved blade-wielding enforcer for the cult of murderous children, led a group of children who abducted Vicky. She was tied to a giant corn-dressed cross or crucifix and hoisted up, while the children chanted "Kill" for her to be sacrificed.

Wounded in the chest and attempting to escape a group of crazed children, Burt was surrounded in the middle of the street, as Malachai called out tauntingly: "Outlander!" When Malachai mutinied against Isaac, he ordered Isaac to be crucified in Vicky's place. Shortly later, Malachai took a bound Vicky into the deserted street and tried to lure Burt out of hiding, shouting: "Outlander! Outlander! We have your woman. She still lives!" - and then sliced into her cheek with his machete - "Outlander! Her blood will spill unless you give yourself up.".

Hanging on the crucifix, Isaac was seemingly devoured by "He Who Walks Behind the Rows," a reddish protoplasmic form that crept up his body, after which his cross sky-rocketed into the air. Isaac was then transformed into a reanimated zombie-like follower of the demonic god, speaking in a deep voice. He strangled and broke the neck of Malachai.

The beastly god then took the form of a giant, bloody-red cloud of "fire and brimstone" - grimacing as it was destroyed when the cornfields were burned to the ground.

One final boo moment occurred as a cult member in the back seat of Burt's car popped up with a curved blade, but the threat was quickly subdued.









Child's Play (1988)

#94

Child's Play (1988) was the first in a series of Chucky supernatural horror films (1988, 1990, 1991, 1998, and 2004), about a plastic killer doll named "Chucky" that was imbued (through a voodoo ritual) with the evil soul of lethally-wounded serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif), known as "The Lakeshore Strangler."

Widowed mother Karen Barclay (Catherine Hicks) bought the blue-eyed, cherub-faced, red-haired, freckled toy doll, a cheaper-priced, $30 stolen Good Guy doll from a street vendor, to give to her son Andy (Alex Vincent) as a 6th birthday present.

The vicious Chucky, looking innocent with blue overalls and sneakers, committed his first murder, the killing of young Andy's babysitting Aunt Maggie Peterson (Dinah Manoff). He emerged from Andy's bedroom (shot from Chucky's POV), and deftly stalked her, causing her to have an 'attack' of the "alone-at-night-willies." She admitted to herself: "What is wrong with me? I'm scaring myself half to death." When she turned, he suddenly struck her in the right eye with a hammer, and she was propelled backwards - she fell out of the multi-storied apartment's kitchen window to her death, crashing into the top of a parked truck on the street.

Later, in one of the film's scariest moments, Chucky was talking and moving (he told Karen: "Hi, I like to be hugged"), but without the included batteries installed. She held the doll in her hands and inspected the battery compartment, and to her shock found it empty. The doll's head suddenly twisted around and spoke: "Hi, I'm Chucky! Wanna play?"

"You stupid bitch! You filthy slut! I'll teach you to f--k with me!"

In fright and suspecting that the doll was murderous, she dropped the doll and it rolled out of view under the sofa. When she peered underneath the sofa and poked at it, the doll appeared to be lifeless. When she threatened to throw it in the fireplace when it didn't move or talk back to her, the doll suddenly shouted curses at Karen: "You stupid bitch! You filthy slut! I'll teach you to f--k with me," and began struggling with her, leaving deep bite marks in her arm. Afterwards, Chucky descended to the ground floor in the apartment's elevator and disappeared. Chucky's subsequent murders were blamed on prime suspect, Andy.

Chucky's main intent was to transfer his soul into Andy's body. In the exciting climax in the apartment, to help save his mother, Andy struck a match and threatened to burn the doll alive in the fireplace. Although Chucky begged, "Andy, no, please! We're friends to the end, remember?", Andy snarled: "This is the end, friend!"

Still alive although charred, Chucky screamed out: "Give me the boy!" as he pursued Andy and Karen with a knife. In the hallway, Karen shot off Chucky's body parts (head, right arm, and left leg), but Chucky's severed head suddenly came alive and ordered the other body parts to attack ("Choke him! Kill him!...Kill them! Kill them all!").

Finally, Chucky was shot in his vulnerable heart by detective Mike Norris (Chris Sarandon), and he died repeating his favorite phrase: "Hi, I'm Chucky. Wanna plaaaaay!"










Chinatown (1974)

Director Roman Polanski's neo-noir thriller, with a taut and complex script by Robert Towne, was a skillful blend of mystery, romance, suspense, and hard boiled detective/film noir genre elements. The investigation of a routine story by a detective uncovered secrets under many layers, facades, red herrings, and networks of corruption, conspiracy and deception. His efforts to separate good from evil - to save the good and punish the evil - ultimately failed in the metaphoric (and then real) world of Chinatown by the film's climax.

In a tense nose-cutting scene, snooping LA private detective J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) was threatened to stay off the case by a maniacal, intimidating, knife-wielding hoodlum (director Roman Polanski in a cameo role):

You're a very nosy fellow, kitty-cat, huh? You know what happens to nosy fellows? Huh, no? Want to guess? Huh, no? OK. They lose their noses. (Jake's nose gushed blood after a sharp flick of the knife.) Next time you lose the whole thing. (I) cut if off and feed it to my goldfish. Understand? Understand!?

In the film's tragic ending, occurring in Chinatown itself, Evelyn Cross Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) was shot through the head from behind in her fleeing convertible. Jake, the first to get to the car, opened the driver's door and she flopped toward him - her face was horribly blown apart through her flawed eye.

She had literally been destroyed by her domineering water-tycoon father Noah Cross (John Huston), who lamented: "Lord, Oh Lord," and clumsily shielded and covered the eyes of an hysterical daughter/grand-daughter Katherine (Belinda Palmer) - a child born of incest!

He told her: "Don't look, don't look" - to prevent her from comprehending the enormous tragedy.





Christine (1983)

An evil-possessed red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury was the basis for John Carpenter's horror film, based upon Stephen King's book of the same name. The sentient vehicle became obsessively-jealous of nerd owner Arnie Cunningham's (Keith Gordon) new girlfriend Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul).

At a drive-in theatre on a rainy night, the malevolent car threatened Leigh:

  • he made her choke on her popcorn
  • the dome light became a brilliant white light
  • the radio blasted an old but menacing 50s tune
  • and the car's doors locked her inside -- she nearly died and then delivered an ultimatum to her car-fixated boyfriend.

In other scary scenes, the evil, flaming Christine chased Buddy Reperton (William Ostrander), one of Arnie's enemies who had severely vandalized Christine. Seeking revenge, the malevolent Christine (now able to regenerate herself) ran down Buddy as he fled on the highway - and left him a flaming corpse on the road.

Christine similarly stalked Peter "Moochie" Welch (Malcolm Danare), a member of Buddy's gang, down into a narrow alleyway and pinned him against a wall - crushing him to death.



Cliffhanger (1993)

In the opening tense scene of director Renny Harlin's action film, an operational rescue on a steep towering 4,000 foot mountain peak in the Rocky Mountains was being attempted.

Hot-shot rescue worker Gabe Walker (Sylvester Stallone) climbed up to where the two stranded climbers were perched on a narrow ledge:

  • knee-injured Hal Tucker (Michael Rooker)
  • his girlfriend Sarah (Michelle Joyner)

With assistance from a rescue helicopter, after Hal was rescued by harnessing himself to a steel cable stretched over a chasm, it was now nervous Sarah's turn (Walker called it "the best ride in the park"). She was assured: "There's nothing to it." But she found herself dangling over the deep chasm when her harness broke.

Walker made the risky decision to go out on the line and daringly rescue her. She reached up with her right hand to grab Walker's hand - and was suspended in mid-air by one hand, while screaming out:

"I can't hold on..I don't want to die...I'm slipping...Please don't let me fall."

But she found herself slipping and losing her grip, and when her glove came off in Walker's hand, she fell to her death in the abyss below.



A Clockwork Orange (1971)

This controversial film was producer-director-screenwriter Stanley Kubrick's randomly ultra-violent, over-indulgent, graphically-stylized film of the near future. It followed the delinquent activities of young punker Alex de Large (Malcolm McDowell), with a group of his Droogs (Pete, Georgie and Dim), during one night on the town.

After beating up an elderly drunken tramp (Paul Farrell), they fought off a rival gang of five, led by Billyboy (Richard Connaught), that was in the midst of raping a buxom victim or 'devotchka' (Shirley Jaffe) on an empty opera house stage.

The Second Horrible Rape Scene

Then they came upon an ultra-modern house where they deceptively gained entry. Next came the abhorrent scene of the assault and rape of the couple in the house. Both victims were bound and gagged, with a rubber ball painfully inserted into their mouths and wrapped with long strips of Scotch tape around their heads. The red pajama-suit-wearing writer's wife Mrs. Alexander (Adrienne Corri) was raped, while the elderly husband Frank Alexander (Patrick Magee) was assaulted and kicked on the floor by Alex who ironically punctuated his rhythmic, soft-shoe kick-dance with the lyrics of "Singin' in the Rain." He was forced to helplessly watch the ugly disrobing and choreographed rape of his own wife when Alex first attacked her breasts - he snipped off two circles of jumpsuit cloth around them to expose them and then in the mode of 'Jack the Ripper', he slit her entire suit off from her pant leg upward; after unzipping and pulling his own pants down prior to her rape, he mocked the husband: "Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well."

There were also the scenes of Alex being given a new, experimental, brain-washing reprogramming treatment called "aversion therapy," the Ludovico Treatment Technique, to cure him. He was strait-jacketed and transported to a screening room where he was tied down in a seat and made a captive audience.

He was forced to watch films (of sex and violence) with his eyelids clamped open with pitiless clamps, while an assistant lubricated his bulging pupils at various intervals. His tortured face and head were wrapped in straps, and connected with electrodes and wires.

Frail and crushed by despotic training and brainwashing, Alex became a victim of violence himself, totally unprepared and helpless to cope with the real world when he was returned to society. The revenge-seeking former victims included: the drunken old bum, former gang members, and widower of the rape victim - leftist writer Mr. Alexander. Although Alex was rescued by two policemen, the two were Georgie and Dim, two of his former Droogs. Alex was roughly dragged to their patrol car and driven into the country. As he was led out of the vehicle with handcuffs, Alex feebly joked: "The old days are dead and gone. For what I did in the past, I've been punished...I've been cured."

As they lead him down a forested, muddy lane, in a long tracking shot filmed with a hand-held camera from behind, accompanied by a Moog synthesizer playing "Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary," Dim wanted to make sure that he remained cured: "This is to make sure you stay cured." When they reached a water trough, Georgie viciously hit Alex in the stomach with his blackjack club, doubling him over. For retribution, Dim pushed him headfirst under the water and held him there for a very long time to drown him, while Georgie methodically beat him with his nightstick.




The Collector (1965) (aka The Butterfly Collector)

Director William Wyler shot this claustrophobic yet absorbing psychological thriller - based upon John Fowles' 1963 novel of the same name. Its tagline stated: "You won't dare open your mouth...but YOU'LL BE SCREAMING FOR HER TO ESCAPE."

It was basically a one-situation, two-character work, told from the POV of a kidnapper. He was a mentally-disturbed, shy, introverted, obsessed young London bank clerk named Freddie Clegg (Terence Stamp). Clegg was a reclusive individual who was obsessed with butterfly collecting.

After winning a football betting pool and claiming $200,000 (71,000 pounds), he bought and renovated a huge Tudor country estate, and then made captive a hostage (or "specimen") for his collection in the ornate cellar. His chloroformed victim was a London art student named Miranda Grey (Academy Award-nominated Samantha Eggar) whom he had stalked and admired from a distance for years. Not intent on rape, molestation, ransom or murder, his main pathological motive was to "collect" and dominate her and add her to his set of pretty objects - and hoping that she would eventually reciprocate his feelings of love. Although she gave the pretense of cooperating, she made many attempts and tried many unsuccessful ploys to escape.

In one of the more tense scenes in the film between captor and captive, Clegg allowed Miranda to take a bath in the main house, and she was almost discovered by an unexpected visit from a neighbor. He gagged her to prevent screaming, wrapped a robe around her, and lashed her to the pipes. She tried to alert the neighbor by overfilling the tub - using her outstretched foot to increase the water flow in the tub faucet.

The Tense Bathtub Scene

In the chilling finale, Clegg went back on his word to liberate her from the cellar. She hit him in the head with a shovel, causing him to leave her wet and cold in the cellar without heat while he went to get treated. A few days later, he brought her medicine, but she had died.




Color of Night (1994)

This psychological thriller by director Richard Rush introduced the character of distraught New York City psychoanalyst Dr. Bill Capa (big-name star Bruce Willis). Suffering from stress-induced, psychosomatic color blindness, he quit his practice and traveled to LA to stay with analyst/author friend Dr. Robert Moore (Scott Bakula).

During a brief scene, Dr. Capa was jogging up to the Los Angeles area house where he had taken temporary residence after the death of his therapist friend.

When he opened the mailbox, the jump scare was fantastic and unexpected - a huge rattlesnake had been planted there - it lunged at him.

He was sent sprawling backwards onto the road, where he was almost run over by a motorist driving by.



Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)

Jack Arnold's horror classic (originally shot in 3-D) told about a prehistoric, web-footed, humanoid Gill-Man (Ben Chapman) who was discovered swimming in a Brazilian river in the Amazon by an anthropological expedition.

In scary and superbly-photographed underwater sequences, the creature expressed 'Beauty-and-the-Beast' love interest in dark-haired bathing beauty Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams).

He watched her from below as she swam above him in a white one-piece suit.

The Gill-Man then kidnapped her from the boat by grabbing her and diving into the water.



Creepshow (1982)

#99

Creepshow was a horror anthology film consisting of five short stories. It was directed by zombie-filmmaker George A. Romero, from a script by horror author Stephen King. The stories were inspired by the E.C. (Educational Comics) horror comics of the 50's and 60's.

The last two segments of the film were adapted from King's previously-published stories.

  • In The Crate, the fourth of five spooky stories, a large wooden storage box or crate had been acquired after an expedition to the Arctic 134 years earlier. The crate was in the possession of meek university professor Dexter Stanley (Fritz Weaver). When the box was opened with a crowbar, the extremely lethal, voracious werewolf-like creature inside mauled the caretaker Mike (Don Keefer) and one of the professor graduate students, Charlie Gereson (Robert Harper). Another professor, Henry Northrup (Hal Halbrook) then schemed to use the hungry creature to dispose of his domineering, foul-mouthed, complaining wife Wilma (Adrienne Barbeau), seen in various murderous flash fantasies. As she was devoured, Henry quipped: "Just tell it to call you Billie, you bitch!"
They're Creeping Up on You
  • In They're Creeping Up on You, the last (and most effective) of the five stories, ugly and gigantic cockroaches emerged and swarmed during a blackout in the germproof, sparkling-white, vacuum-sealed penthouse apartment of roach-phobic, obsessively-clean, miserly and cruel millionaire Professor Upson Pratt (E. G. Marshall). Swarms of the insects emerged from inside his corpse - from his chest and mouth.




Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Woody Allen's darkest and most somber movie took a long, provocative, and ultimately downbeat look at morality with its ensemble cast. Dual stories about Manhattanites, each composing about one-half of the film, were interwoven together.

The first story dealt with Judah Rosenthal (Martin Landau), a wealthy, law-abiding, successful and well-respected ophthalmologist, married to Miriam (Claire Bloom). However, an enraged and obsessed flight attendant and ex-lover Dolores Paley (Anjelica Huston), with whom he had been cheating on his wife, threatened to divulge the scandal and ruin his life. With this dilemma facing him, Judah was forced to take extreme measures - the contemplation of murder of his mistress by contacting his seldom-seen brother Jack (Jerry Orbach) with Mafia connections.

In a tense, disquieting scene, Jack phoned Judah and notified him that "everything came out fine. It's over and done with, no problems. You can forget about it." Dolores was murdered (off-screen) when she came to her apartment door for a supposed flower delivery, and it was made to look like a burglary. Shocked at the reality of the contracted murder ("I think I've done a terrible thing"), guilt-ridden Judah went to the apartment of ex-mistress Dolores. He found her dead in her bedroom, staring lifelessly up at him.



Cujo (1983)

#58

This horror-thriller from director Lewis Teague was adapted from Stephen King's 1981 novel of the same name. It told about a monstrous, rampaging, rabid (from a bat bite in a cave), ferocious and snarling St. Bernard dog.

The slobbering Cujo attacked hysterical mother Donna Trenton (Dee Wallace Stone) and her petrified 4 year-old son Tad (Danny Pintauro) in a locked, broken-down, sweltering, two-door Ford Pinto at Joe Cambers' (Ed Lauter) deserted farm-garage-junkyard. Cujo had already assaulted and killed Joe and his neighbor.

In a shock scene, the mean-tempered dog suddenly first appeared at her broken-down, canary-yellow Pinto's passenger door, as the mother struggled to roll up the window and protect her son. The two were soon trapped in the car.

The Menacing Cujo

During a climactic struggle, Donna impaled the psycho dog on the sharpened broken end of a baseball bat when it leaped on top of her. She thought the dog was dead in the yard, as she went into the house. She tended to a dehydrated Tad on the kitchen table, and gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Surprisingly, the mad animal was resurrected and made a final attack upon Donna (in a slow-motion jump-scene to her amazement, Cujo burst through the kitchen window behind her into the house). There, she eventually shot Cujo to death (with the dead Sheriff's revolver) when it lept at her with its jaws open.




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

Previous Page Next Page