Greatest Scariest
Movie Moments and Scenes


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

Eraserhead (1977)

Writer/director David Lynch's abstract cult classic, his feature debut film, was mostly composed of sick and twisted nightmarish images. It was mostly an indictment of sex, the production of children, and fear of fatherhood or first-time parenthood.

The most ghastly sequences involved Henry Spencer's (Jack Nance) and girlfriend Mary X's (Charlotte Stewart) deformed, bleating, sickly and whining mutant baby, born prematurely. Henry was forced to marry Mary when she was found to be pregnant after a momentary and "sick" desire for premarital sex, and she moved in with him, in an industrial wasteland area (with abandoned factories, toxic waste and steam). It appeared that they were uncomfortable with each other and miserable together.

In Henry's small one-room apartment, the hairless and inhuman baby (without limbs or ears) had a bulbous body that was wrapped in bandages. It had a long snout, and eyes on the sides of its elongated lamb-shaped head. The baby produced unbearable and incessant shrieks and piercing screams. At one point after Mary left in disgust and when Henry was caring for the unloved and sickened baby, it was covered with infected sores and gasping for air.

In the film's most grotesque scene, Henry cut open the bandages (or diapers) with a pair of scissors, and discovered that without the support the bandages provided, the baby's internal organs were otherwise exposed and began to fall out. With the baby's head quivering, Henry stabbed the baby's innards with the scissors, causing the baby to convulse in pain as blood splattered. Liquid and a whitish foam gushed from inside and covered the baby's body as it died.

By film's end in blazing white light, Henry joined the pure and innocent puffy-cheeked girl in radiator Dream-land in an embrace.

Eraserhead's Conclusion

Event Horizon (1997, UK)

Director Paul W. S. Anderson's fantasy sci-fi horror film was about an interplanetary deep-space research vessel named "Event Horizon" that was launched in the year 2040 to explore the boundaries of the solar system (including the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri), but then vanished during its maiden voyage. Its mission was to test a new gravity drive able to create a black hole that would pull together two points in space-time like a wormhole.

It then mysteriously reappeared after seven years. On a rescue mission, its designer - US Aerospace Command Scientist Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) experienced horrific past memories when onboard the hellish Event Horizon - which showed evidence of a massacre.

He had the continuing tormenting sight of his deceased wife Claire (Holley Chant) (with two empty eye sockets), presumably ignored and depressed by him due to his work.

She was seen taking a bath and cutting her wrist with a razor blade (as he sat next to her) and then viewed from a top-shot with her body floating in her own red blood in the bathtub. William had begged for her not to kill herself: "Not again, please, please."

Claire then emerged from the tub and told him as she cradled his head against her stomach, before squeezing his head to produce intense pain:

"Billy, it's alright...You'll never be alone again. You're with me now. You're with me. I have such wonderful, wonderful things to show you."

Event Horizon's Videolog

Another scary scene was the one of the playback of the Captain's degraded videolog of what happened on the spaceship when the crew went insane. It showed quick-cut scenes of torture, self-mutilation, cannibalism, and orgiastic sodomy. Two bloodied figures ripped organs out of each other. One man vomited an entire arm from his mouth. The captain held out his own torn-out eyeballs, one in each hand.

The Evil Dead (1981)


Director Sam Raimi's debut film was the ultimate "cabin in the woods" story - evil spirits were unleashed after the reading of a forbidden book - the Naturon Demonto (or Book of the Dead) from a tape recording. [The film was extremely effective for its super-fast POV shots of the demons approaching.]

The scariest (and most infamous) scene was the infamous (and gratuitous) predatory tree rape scene, when one of the group members Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss) was attacked in the woods outside the log cabin by vines and tree branches:

"It was the woods themselves, they're alive."

The tree wrapped around her neck and limbs, stripped her of her clothes, caressed her and then spread her legs - one tree branch suddenly impaled her in her crotch.

The Tree Rape Scene

After she was chased back to the house (with quick POV tracking shots), she was soon transformed into a demon zombie with a greyish white face and superhuman strength. As a result, she floated above the floor, spoke with a ghastly voice, and grabbed a pencil from the floor and jabbed it into the ankle of Ash's girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker).

Cheryl had to be confined in the basement cellar with a padlocked trap-door opening in the living room.

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987) (aka Evil Dead II)

In the sequel (with more demented comical scenes), there was the startling, hallucinatory Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like scene when last-surviving Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) stood in front of a mirror. His reflection suddenly reached out, grabbed him, and maniacally said:

"We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound fine?"

Then the reflection grabbed him by the throat and began choking him, although he was only choking himself.

When his own possessed right hand threatened, it grabbed his face - and he was angered: "You dirty bastards! Give me back my hand."

His hand continued to torment him - it bashed him over the head with plates, grabbed his hair and smashed his face into the kitchen sink, punched him, and tried to beat him up in a schizophrenic frenzy. It dragged his unconscious body across the floor to try and grab a meat cleaver.

Ash stabbed the hand, and exclaimed to the evil body part:

"That's right. Who's laughing now? Who's laughing now?"

Then in the gory scene, Ash cut off his own hand with a chainsaw - spattering his face with blood.

Ash's Chainsaw Amputation of His Possessed Right Hand

However, because his severed hand kept taunting him, he placed a bucket over it and weighed it down with books - the top-most book was A Farewell to Arms!, but it escaped and re-attacked, giving him the finger. So he blasted it with a shotgun and thought he had killed it for good: "Got ya, didn't I, ya little sucker!" - yet it sprayed him with a torrent of blood.

Evilspeak (1981)

Eric Weston's grindhouse horror film had the tagline:

EVILSPEAK...A Computer Programmed For Unspeakable Terror.

It referred to a computerized Black Mass ritual that unleashed terror upon a group of tormentors. The gorefest was released in both R-rated and uncut versions, for its extreme violence and nudity. It was notorious for being labeled a "video nasty" by the UK in the 1980s - and therefore faced censorship, was prosecuted, and refused certification and release. Eventually, it was released with 3 minutes 34 seconds cut in 1987, and in a fully uncut version in 2004.

The basic plot was encapsulated in its tagline: "Data incomplete... Human blood required. Thus spake the computer." The film opened with a title card prologue:

And Satan said to the Man of God..
"What would you do tomorrow if you allowed me to die today?
What vocation would you pursue if my name disappeared?"
Kahlil Gibran

Under the opening credits at an unidentified Spanish shoreline, black-hooded priest Father Lorenzo Esteban (Richard Moll) was excommunicated and banished (along with his followers) by the Holy Roman Church during the Inquisition in the 16th Century, for practicing Satanism and blasphemy. He was told: "Nothing can protect you from the wrath of God or the Avenging Angel."

After being sent away, the contemptuous priest walked down to the beach to a group of his own devil worshippers for a ritualistic ceremony. He drew a 5-pointed pentagram symbol with his sword in the sand. Then he stripped the top from a brown-haired, peasant-girl (Nadine Reimers), raised his sword, and with one swing, decapitated her.

Decapitation by Sword

The film - with the arcing swing, transitioned to the present day of the early 1980s, and the kicking of a soccer ball on a field. After the game in the locker room, one of the West Andover Military Academy cadet players - chubby and orphaned Stanley Coopersmith (Clint Howard, brother of director/actor Ron Howard), was bullied and tormented by teammates for losing the game. He was further treated badly by teachers and staff, the Coach, the Colonel and even the local Reverend.

Stanley found an ancient Latin tome (Esteban's diary or magic book?) in a secret walled-off chamber of the chapel's basement when he was ordered to clean it as punishment. The book of Black Mass rituals was marked with a jewel encrusted pentagram emblem on the cover. He experienced frightening nightmares of being grabbed by an arm, and being confronted by Esteban himself.

Stanley was able to decipher (through his computer's translation program) what Esteban had written in three different diary entries in the 16th century, and then use the Black Mass ritual (performed properly with blood and a consecrated host) to exact his revenge:

January 13, 1520
"I, Esteban, Have Come to Know That the Entire World Is a Domain of Evil. Ruled Over By an Evil Spirit. And Since the Power that Dominates the World is Evil, Then it Follows that Satan Must be God."
February 20, 1535
"I, Esteban, Have Signed the Book of Death and Touched the Hand of My Master Satan, Through the Rite of the Black Mass."
May 11, 1541
"They Think to Kill Me. But Satan is My Salvation. His Magic is Mine Forever. I Will Return. No Matter What They Do, I Will Return."

Items required by Stanley to lead a black mass occult celebration and conjure up Satan, conveyed to him through the computer, included: mandrake root, juice of aconite, poplar leaves, arsenic, sulphur, black candles, unholy water, and consecrated host (human blood).

In one of the film's earliest death scenes, an unseen demonic power twisted 180 degrees the head of the drunken school custodian/caretaker Sarge (R.G. Armstrong).

In a scary scene, the school's secretary Miss Friedemeyer (Lynn Hancock) finished taking a shower - when she opened her bathroom door, a herd of evil carnivorous black pigs attacked, mauled and devoured her (and pulled off bits of her flesh), as she fell backwards into her tub.

In the final 20-minute slaughter sequence in the basement and barricaded chapel (censored and edited in some versions), there were numerous deaths when Stanley acquired all of the items and took revenge for the killing of his puppy dog Fred - the scene was reminiscent of revenge by the bullied protagonist of Carrie (1976):

  • with superhuman strength, Stanley hurled the Coach (Claude Earl Jones) into an overhead wooden chandelier, where his head was impaled on one of its spikes - the blood conveniently drained into a goblet below, to be used by Stanley to conduct his ritual
  • a nail from a crucifix (in Jesus' hand) sailed through the air into the forehead of Reverend Jameson (Joseph Cortese) as he delivered a sermon in the chapel above
  • Stanley was transformed into a demonic figure - a beast with a pig snout, tusks, and ear-horns; he rose up from the fiery floor below into the chapel, wielding Esteban's sword as he flew through the air and decapitated people
  • Colonel Kincaid's (Charles Tyner) head was split down the middle by Stanley's sword
  • there were more body-chompings by a horde of ravenous pigs
  • in the cellar after Douglas "Bubba" Caldwell (Don Stark) was grabbed by the throat by the reanimated corpse of Sarge, his still-beating heart was ripped out
Gore and Death in the Chapel

The film ended with an epilogue:

"Suffering from shock and catatonic withdrawal, attributed to his having witnessed the fiery death of his dear friends and teachers, Stanley Coopersmith, sole survivor of the tragic accident at West Andover Academy Chapel, was admitted to Sunnydale Asylum. He remains there still."

On a computer screen, a spinning pentagram was replaced by red text:

"By the four beasts before the throne,
By the fire which is about the throne,
By the host holy and glorious name, Satan.
I Stanley Coopersmith, will return.

Then, Stanley's face filled the screen before the closing credits.

The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots (1895) (aka The Execution of Mary Stuart)

In a film only 18 seconds in length, the controversial execution (decapitation) of Mary, Queen of Scots (Robert Thomae) on the execution block was cleverly enacted, with one of the earliest uses of selective editing to produce a special effect.

A dummy (or mannequin) with a trick camera shot (substitution shot) were utilized to produce the realistic effect. The scene was shocking and scary for unsophisticated cinematic audiences.

In the short sequence, a blindfolded Mary was led forward from the right (seen from the side). She knelt down and put her head on the block as the executioner raised a large axe. [The substitution of a dummy was made here.] When the axe was brought down, her head rolled off the chopping block to the left and her body slumped to the ground on the right. The executioner picked up the decapitated head in the final frame and held it up.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)


Director Scott Derrickson's horror film (and courtroom drama) loosely documented the true story of a tragic exorcism. In real-life, German-Catholic Anneliese Michel was allegedly possessed and began to have exorcisms in September of 1975, lasting until mid-1976 when she passed away.

A Catholic priest was charged with negligent homicide during the exorcism of a 19 year-old Catholic college girl named Emily Rose (Jennifer Carpenter). He was on trial, defended by Erin Bruner (Laura Linney). The courtroom trial regarding the failed exorcism and the backstory of Emily were told in flashback (but moved up to the present day in the rural US), showing how she was immediately possessed as a college student alone in her room late one night at 3 am ("the devil's hour") during a thunderstorm. She displayed double-jointed and contortionist positions and grotesque convulsions as she moaned and screamed - she probably suffered from both psychosis and epilepsy.

In the frightening scenes of Emily's rapidly-evolving, self-destructive, demonic spiritual possession, she spoke in tongues and destroyed religious symbols. She ate bugs, starved herself, practiced physical self-abuse (tore her hair out), and saw people's faces transformed into demonic faces. In one memorable scene in a dining hall, all she could hear was the exaggerated sounds of knives and forks clinking on plates.

She lashed out at the parish priest Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson), who wanted to rid her of the "dark, powerful forces." The audio-taped exorcism was played during the court case - it was performed on a wet and wild Halloween night, mostly in a barn, buffeted by winds and her violent screams.

She ultimately revealed that there were six demons inhabiting her. When Father Moore commanded her to tell him her name ("Give me your name, demon!"), she chanted: "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, SIX!!" over and over. Moore persisted, and demanded that the demons reveal their names: "Ancient serpents, depart from this servant of God! Tell me your SIX names!"

They revealed themselves, through her, in six different languages - demons that possessed others in history:

We are the ones who dwell within. (spoken in English)
I am the one who dwelt within CAIN. (Hebrew) = Beelzebub
I am the one who dwelt within NERO. (Latin) = Adramelech
I once dwelt within JUDAS. (Ancient Greek) = Leviathan
And I was with LEGION. (German) = Baal
I am BELIAL. (Aramaic) = Belial
And I am LUCIFER, the Devil in the flesh. (English) = Lucifer

With her death, the court prosecutor Ethan Thomas (Campbell Scott), a devout Christian, claimed that Moore ignored Emily's epilepsy and schizophrenia, and instead concentrated on superstition, letting her become emaciated from dehydration and starvation. Although the priest was found guilty, he did not serve jail time. The epitaph on Emily's gravesite tombstone was from the Bible (Philippians 2:12): "Work out your own Salvation, with fear and trembling" - words that Emily had spoken the night before she died.

Father Moore
(Tom Wilkinson)

Emily Rose
(Jennifer Carpenter)

The Exorcist (1973)


Director William Friedkin's sensational, shocking horror story about devil possession and the subsequent exorcism of the demonic spirits from a young, innocent girl (of a divorced family) was one of the biggest hits of all-time.

There were many scary scenes of possessed twelve year-old Regan MacNeil's (Linda Blair) monstrous appearance with a vicious demon inside of her:

  • Regan's upper torso was violently being whipped and thrown back and forth on her bed, battering her body as it slammed into the mattress. She screamed: "Oh please, Mother, make it stop! It's hurting." Then she was tossed upwards and bounced up and down. Her uncontrollable seizures were accompanied by low gutteral growls, almost animalistic. Her throat below her chin bubbled out. When one of the doctors reached for Regan on the bed, she slapped him back-handed across the face, knocking him into the door and onto the floor. Her physically-repulsive voice warned: "Keep away! The sow is mine!" She pulled up the front of her nightgown, masturbated by rubbing herself, and in a deep, strange voice, beckoned: "F--k me! F--k me!" She flailed and thrashed around on the bed, afflicted and possessed by some fantastic force.
  • One of the film's most horrifying and blasphemous scenes occurred slightly later - the notorious crucifix-masturbation scene, symbolically simulating the loss of virginity for the young teenager. From upstairs in Regan's bedroom, Regan's mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn) heard grotesque sounds, crashes, and screams. She ran up the stairs towards the door - it opened and she saw 45 rpm records, books, and stuffed animals being hurled at the tightly-closed window. The camera registered Chris' horror on her face as she saw her daughter's sacrilegious self-abuse. In an obscene gesture simulating masturbation, a horribly-disfigured Regan repeatedly thrust her bloodied hand clutching the crucifix into her vagina under her blood-splattered nightgown, as she bellowed obscenities in the Devil's voice: "Let Jesus f--k you, let Jesus f--k you! Let him f--k you!" [The demon's voice was enhanced with various animal noises and other grotesque sounds.]
  • In the next instant, Chris grabbed her daughter's super-strong arm and tussled with her for control of the offending object. Regan punched her mother with a violent blow, sending her backwards across the bedroom floor. With her telekinetic power, Regan moved a chair against the door to bar the way of Sharon and others, and she sent a tall wooden bureau across the floor toward her mother. As a bloody-faced Regan sat on her bed, she spun her head backwards 180 degrees, threatening in a deep malevolent voice as she imitated Burke Dennings' (Jack MacGowran) British accent (and his manner of death) to taunt Chris about his murder: "Do you know what she did? Your c--ting daughter?"
  • Later, when Father Karras (Jason Miller) was summoned to Regan's bedroom, awful sounds emanated from her bedroom as they climbed the stairs. When Karras enters, the girl was strapped to a padded four-poster bed. Her face was cut, her hair matted, her eyes wild-looking, and she had a plastic tube taped to one nostril. The grotesque girl spoke with a disgusting, low-pitched growl coming straight from hell. As he approached closer, in the grossest scene of the film, Regan lurched forward on the bed and spewed bilious, pea-green soup vomit from her mouth in a single projectile stream directly into his face. The thick green slime stuck to his face and clothing. Bits of vomit and bile acid also dribbled down onto Regan's nightgown.

In many scenes, her demonic tortured voice screamed foul obscenities and diabolical sounds emanated from her mouth - growling dogs, squealing pigs, rasping groans, and foul language. The raised welts that bubbled up across her abdomen read: "help me."

In the dramatic finale, the two priests entered Regan's ice-cold bedroom, prepared to do spiritual battle. Garbed in priestly outfits, they also brought weapons of the spirit for exorcism - holy water, holy texts, and a crucifix. The devil's voice emanated from the demonic, staring, fixed-eyes visage of Regan. It cursed at Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) as he recited holy scripture, with the foulest epithet in the film: "Stick your c--k up her ass, you mother-f--king worthless c--ks--ker." Merrin splashed her body with holy water and yelled back: "Be silent!" Regan screamed and squirmed away, twisting in pain as if burned by the sanctified water. They began to conduct the rite of exorcism.

In the supplemental The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen (2000), with extended footage and added CGI effects, there was Regan's frightening upside-down spider-walk down the stairs. Her body was perversely contorted, as it spit up blood, and Regan's mother Chris reacted in horror at the bottom of the stairs.

The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen (2000): The Spider Walk

The Exorcist III (1990) (aka Exorcist III: Legion)

In this second sequel's most effective 'gotcha' scene - the nurse station sequence, a nurse (Tracy Thorne) with a bright red sweater over her white uniform was making her quiet rounds in a psychiatric ward-asylum.

Suddenly, she was attacked from behind by a white-cloaked individual with large shears who proceeded to cut her head off. Her decapitation was juxtaposed with a pulling-back image of a headless statue.

In another scene, an agile, old lady nursing home resident crawled spider-like on the ceiling over an unaware Detective Kinderman (George C. Scott), as he walked around the day-room.

The Unnoticed Old Woman Skittering Across The Ceiling of Asylum

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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