As a kid, I was one of those trick-or-treaters that actually enjoyed the houses where people jumped out at you, trying to scare you. I liked the anticipation of it, as well as that surge of fear-laced adrenaline. One would think that I also enjoyed those organized haunted houses, but no, not so much…i don’t like being in crowds (the one exception being concerts). Take these factors and add them up, and my love of horror movies and books makes sense: the thrills and scares without the crowds.
So, to celebrate this Halloween, I’m going to be vulnerable. I present to you a list of horror moments (from both movies and books) that actually had me scared beyond the moment of seeing/reading it. And yes, this includes walking out of darkened rooms much faster than is necessary for a 31-year-old because of a case of the creeps. I am sure some on this list might be laughable to others, so please share your own in the comments.
So, in no particular order:
Aliens – Near the end, when Ripley and co. have escaped, they all pile out of their spaceship. All smiles. Much happy music. Then, out of absolutely NOWHERE, our not-quite-human friend Bishop (a part nailed by Lance Hendrickson) is impaled and torn apart by a pissed off refugee Queen. The tearing apart wasn’t so bad. It was the “jump factor” to the attack (and the fact that I was 10 when I saw it).
The Midnight Meat Train by Clive Barker – I don’t even know why this one had me afraid. I think it’s the build-up to the introduction of the villains. It’s a very claustrophobic sort of story that has always stuck with me.
Communion – This is one particularly embarrassing because it was a pretty terrible movie (even Christopher Walken couldn’t save it). This was another poorly timed movie to watch. I watched it at the height of alien abduction popularity in the early nineties. As a kid that suffered with sleep paralysis, this was a scary movie/concept to me in the first place. But the scene where Whit is sitting in his bedroom chair and the face of a grey just sort of slowly peers into the room…that scene haunted me for YEARS.
The Grudge – Another pretty bad movie, but there was one scene that creeped me out…an unmemorable cast member hiding beneath the sheets of her bed from something that may or may not be at the door. Then, as she scoots further under the sheets….BAM, creepy contorted open-mouthed moaning Japanese ghost.
The Blair Witch Project – There seems to be only 2 schools of thought on this film; it was either brilliant or stupid. I have always thought it was an amazing film and, given the marketing at the time, one of the best horror movies ever. While the initial love I felt for the movie has waned, I still get goosebumps when I think about the laughter of children outside of their tent. And that final scene, in the cellar of the abandoned house…I was still living at home, IN THE BASEMENT, when I first saw this movie. That, and the fact that my parents’ house was in the woods and I had a good 300 yard trek from the driveway to the door at 11:30 at night…yeah. Fun times.
In the Mouth of Madness – Watching it now, I don’t know why the whole “living painting” scene scared me so badly as a kid, but it sure did cause quite a few sleepless nights. Oh, and the old lady that becomes some slithering snake sort of thing.
How about you?