© Warner Bros.
Cinema's Scariest ScenesTurn on your night light, because these scenes are
by Kim Morgan
Special to MSN
Read more: Best Scary Movies
Though people rank events like their first kiss, marriage, or the birth of a
child as important milestones in life, they usually leave out something that
causes similar impact: their first scary movie.
Does that sound shallow
next to your child's baptism? Well, just take yourself back to the first time
you were terrified by something that moved, screamed or floated across a screen.
Think back to the anxiety, the shock, the sleepless nights or the number of
times you told your friends, "And then her head turned all the way
With that in mind, we're giving you seven scary scenes that
remind us why we love (or love to hate) horror movies. But be warned: Go find
your night light and grab that trusty teddy bear; you may need them
Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" was so shocking in its time
(remember, people had never seen a toilet, much less a shower drain, in a movie
before) that if you ask your parents or grandparents, they can remember the
exact time and place of viewing the masterpiece. They especially remember
Janet Leigh's infamous wash. Not only was it taboo to watch
a major star being murdered before the first half of the film was over, but to
view the stabbing, screaming and dying scored to the infamous musical shrieks of
Bernard Hermann was a landmark in people's cinematic lives.
If a scene can make legions of women install clear glass shower doors in their
bathroom, then a filmmaker is doing something right.
"The Exorcist" (1973)
William Friedkin's still-shocking movie about a girl
possessed by a demon deservedly ranks as one of the scariest of all time. Though
some watch the film with a bit of camp these days (the head turning just isn't
as horrifying as when you were 12 years old), it's understandable why so many
viewers fainted or ran back to the confessional after watching cute little
Linda Blair push a priest out of a window. And though there
are many, many scenes in this movie that'll stop the heart, we're going for
Father Karras' dream of his dead mother, as it's easily one the creepiest dream
sequences put to celluloid. Envisioning his mother walking up the stairs from a
subway, Karras is seen across the street flagging her down. Sounds perfectly
normal except that Friedkin fills the entire exchange with an anxiety that makes
the viewer so uncomfortable that we literally gasp when the "subliminal"
-- a painted white demon face with red-rimmed eyes -- flashes on the
screen. What in God's name was that? Evangelist Billy Graham wanted to know, branding the film as a
subliminal incendiary work of the devil with "evil embodied on the very
celluloid." No wonder Friedkin used this face in more scenes in his 2000 "The
Version You've Never Seen" cut. Hey, if it ain't
"Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (1974)
This vicious bit
of brilliance proves they don't make 'em like they used to. Spawning
sequels and even a stupid re-make last year, it's the low-budget horror of Tobe Hooper's original that sticks in your nightmares. You
can choose what scene scares you most, but the most iconic is Marilyn Burns being chased by Leatherface. The length of the
chase (over two minutes), the screaming/running through the bramble while a
freak with a human face for a mask wielding a chainsaw is hot on your tail, just
gets us where we live -- or die.
Though much of Brian De Palma's "Carrie" is more sad than scary (tricking
poor, mousy, abused and telekinetic Sissy Spacek into thinking she's really prom queen -- so
mean!) there are horrifying moments that stick. Yes, we know the pig's blood
dumped on the poor girl is pretty gruesome, but then, Carrie White wreaks major
revenge for the taunting. The moment that really made us jump out of our seats
was Amy Irving's dream at film's end. As she
visits Carrie's grave, suddenly a bloody hand pops out of the dirt and
attempts to pull her in. No matter how sorry we are for Carrie, we're sure as
heck not going in the ground with her. And no matter how much we tell ourselves
this is only a movie, this is not something we want to think about before
retiring for the evening.
"The Shining" (1980)
This film has been
criticized for not being scary, which we never, ever understood. Of course, Jack Nicholson is perfectly over the top and often hilarious
in Stanley Kubrick's vision of insane cabin fever, but he's not
the scary part! It's everything happening around him that's bloodcurdling.
Especially to his son, poor little Danny with the imaginary friend (Tony,
his finger), the "shine" and in the film's most chilling moment, his
"playmates," those two dead twin ghosts who visit him in the hallway. "Come play
with us ... forever and ever and ever ... " Uh, no thanks. We'll go
hang out with our insane father instead.
"Lost Highway" (1997)
OK, so now you've
remembered that demonic mug from "The Exorcist," let's move on to yet another
face. The face of say, oh... Robert Blake. And not Blake outside a courtroom; no, Blake
in director David Lynch's lens. With his misunderstood "Lost Highway,"
Lynch gave us Blake's last and freakiest role to date. We don't know who he is
(Bill Pullman's conscious?) but when the dark-eyed and
ghastly-faced creature walks up to Pullman at a party, informs him he's been in
his house, and is still there (which Pullman confirms with a phone call) and
laughs -- well, there just isn't a tingle in your spine you don't
feel. We only hope this scene isn't admissible in court.
"The Ring" (2002)
After an era of irony-laden "Scream" movies and one bona-fide scary
film/phenomenon, "The Blair Witch Project," 2002 gave us a movie that jumped
out and said "Boo!" Sure, it was adapted from a terrific Japanese film ("Ringu"), but the importance was it worked. Creating a modern
fear of creepy video tapes you find in old summer cabins -- you know, the ones
you watch and then have only seven days to live -- "The Ring" gave us a bad seed
for a protagonist (the stringy-haired dead girl Samara Morgan), a morbid home
movie and enough twists and turns to be both clever and horrifying. And when the
film's freakiest conceit, the idea of something crawling out of your TV to kill
you, is actually seen, it'll send you to the library. Things don't crawl out of
books, do they?