This weekend sees the opening of Paranormal Activity 2. Next weekend is Halloween. In between is one Monday morning, one episode of The Apprentice - featuring an assortment of monsters more vile and more gruesome than anything John Carpenter could ever dream up - and that’s even before mentioning Wayne Rooney’s troll-like face peering from the cover of every newspaper in the land. Seems like the perfect time to celebrate the most frightening moments in horror, don’t you think?
What follows is ten films that have really spooked me in some way, shape or form. Some of them scared me in the cinema. Some of them terrified me when I got home, turned off the lights and went to bed. And some of them literally took days off my life when my girlfriend thought it was hilarious to wake up in the night, stand over the bed and pretend to convulse - sort of like in Paranormal Activity, only without that idiot Micah shrieking. And not on film. Who do you think I am? Paris Hilton?
Where YouTube has allowed I’ve tried my best to paste the scenes in the films that have done most damage to my nerves. If I haven’t, I’ve tried to outline the key scene, and why it’s so scary. There are no doubt staples of horror that I’ve missed – there’s nothing much below that represents the ‘slasher’ genre, a breed of films I certainly enjoy. Similarly, there’s nothing released by Universal in the 1930’s, or made by Eli Roth in the 2000’s, and nothing from the Hammer stable. But I could only pick ten. Please do leave your lists of ten in the comments below.
Boo! Wayne Rooney! Shudder.
Lake Mungo (2008)
A relatively new discovery to me, I’ve selected this Australian found-footage horror for the scene where a young woman comes face-to-face with her future corpse. This scene upset me so much I had to watch Cool Runnings immediately afterwards.
Black Christmas (1974)
Ignore – nay, seek out, burn, then jump up and down on top of it to make sure beyond doubt that it’s dead – the 2006 remake, what creeped me out about this Canadian movie is that you never once get to see the killer – but you get to hear that he’s blatantly a psycho an awful lot.
I love zombie movies, and toyed with putting Night Of The Living Dead in this list, just for the shovel scene. Few actually scare me though. This claustrophobic Spanish horror is the exception to that rule.
Witchfinder General (1968)
Staring the late, great Vincent Price in the lead, the scene where a young woman/alleged witch is burnt at the stake shrieking and wailing, until you see her corpse lowered yet still aflame, is a movie moment that’s rarely far from my worst nightmares.
I really hope, however my life turns out, that I never end up without a tongue or legs, living in a cloth sack, eating the vomit of an insane Japanese ballerina.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
I didn’t understand the fuss in the cinema. When I got home alone, I felt completely different. Then a couple of years ago, revisiting it on DVD, I found it to be truly engulfing in its horror. Eleven years since it’s release, it’s more than proved itself to be a work of pioneering genius.
Eyes Without A Face (1960)
Or Les Yeux Sans Visage in its native France. What amazes me about this adaptation of Jean Redon’s novel is just how gory and graphic it is for the time. That’s not to say it’s Saw or anything, it’s scares have a grace that linger far longer than that.
I came to this Hideo Nakata film via the 1999 sequel, but it’s the first film that most chills. I watched it again fairly recently, and it’s dated a bit, mainly because no one uses VHS anymore. But the well scene remains utterly horrific. You know what? I sorta enjoyed the U.S. remakes too.
It’s not strictly a movie, but this BBC made horror-mockumentary terrified me as a child - mainly because I spent my time spent watching it thinking I was watching the genuine live TV broadcast it was presented as. It’s testament to its validity on this list that people of a certain age still shudder when ‘Mr Pipes’ is mentioned.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
I love this movie, completely adore it, I think its more or less the perfect U.S. horror. The scene that gets me most is the one with Grandpa and the bucket. That’s some nasty shit. Some nasty shit.