Movie back then was scary.
Movie now not as scary, unless you housewife or high school girl or gay.
Here’s my ‘personal’ Top 15 scariest moments in Cinema.
(2001, Dir. David Lynch)
Surrealistic & hypnotic are what make up the whole of Lynch’s flilms, so expect a ton of disturbing & weird moments in most of his films. He can make things look beautiful & clean or disgusting & horrifying. ‘Mulholland Drive’ is a mystery that descends into horror as the story progresses in a way only David Lynch could. Almost every fan/ film blog has mentioned the ‘Winky’s (Denny’s ripoff) jump scare scene which always gets to me & the scene where the little people walk out of the blue box, but the scene that steals it all is the debut of ‘The Cowboy.
So Justin Theroux’s character ‘Adam’ seeks consolation for his failing movie project, he is told to meet someone by the name of ‘The Cowboy in a ranch at night. At first time viewing I was expecting David Lynch to pop out in a Cowboy Curtis costume, but I wasn’t close. What we get is a pale Cowboy standing under a flickering dim bulb in his ranch as the valley wind moves it around like a swingset. Played by Monty Montgomery, he spoke in such a soft, somber & hypnotizing tone that gives this impression that he’s calm now, but you’ll experience a lot of hell if you piss him off or fail in following his exact instructions. A very memorable performance in an already memorable film that was Lynch’s F.U to mainstream Hollywood.
(1981, Dir. John Carpenter)
John Carpenter isn’t virgin to the horror genre, he’s made such innovative horror classics such as ‘Halloween’ & the highly underrated ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ that satisfied any fan of the genre. Even when he doesn’t work on a horror film, John manages to put in droplets of horror which leaves the audience all the more vulnerable for jump scares. ‘Escape From New York’ is nowhere near a horror film, in the words of Carpenter he describes this film as a ‘Science Fiction Western’.
Earlier in the film Snake Plissken (Kurt Russel) makes it to New York on an gliding plane. We spend some time taking in the atmosphere of the prison city of New York as he tries to find the President of the United States with his tracking device. The idea of a city full of rapists & murderers is a pretty scary idea, along with turning a well known American city into a prison. So it is pretty clear for the viewer to expect anything, like a horde of crazy psychopaths chasing our protagonist in a desolate street. Snake hides inside an abandoned coffee shop & meets up with a woman who looks like she was sent to prison New York for interracial dating or something dumb a totalitarian nation would make into a crime. We get to know a little more of the world in the scene where Snake shares a cigarette with the unamed woman. Then out of nowhere the woman is grabbed from the wooden floor below by the crazed maniacs. It’s pretty clear that the woman was eaten alive since the movements of these maniacs mimic that of zombies . From then on Carpenter completely takes a break from its synth soundtrack & switches the score into a droning violin sound almost all horror films have used. The sequence plays out like a zombie film for a few minutes as snake outruns the cannibals & shoots one of their arms off with his trusty uzi. Then he comes across Earnest Borgnine in a cabbie, Earnest Borgnine is always the saving grace of any movie from the 70’s & 80’s.
The scene caught me off guard in an otherwise action packed, science fiction movie about a badass guy rescuing the president in an almost Post Apocalyptic setting.
(1977, Dir. George Lucas)
For some reason there’s always something creepy about 70’s/80’s fantasy films that are targeted to kids. Whether it be the creature designs or experiencing the unfamiliarity of the fictional world at a young age, there’s always great potential to scare the audience for a few seconds before returning to the swashbuckling adventure. Almost every Star Wars film ( from the original trilogy) has a scary/creepy moment from the Wampa in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ to the ground anus that is the Sarlaac Pit from ‘Return of the JedI’.
My pick for creepiest scene has to be the scene when Han, Leia, Luke & Chewbacca end up in the trash compactor. Just the look of it made me very squeamish when I saw it at age 6. The claustrophobic set full of imperial trash, questionable red water & a swamp monster lurking below was uncomfortable for me to look at. What really hit this scene home for me was at the time I lived in an apartment near a parking lot (I still live there, different room number though.) where after a heavy rainfall, trash & water would collect in the parking lot. So every time I look at that lake of dirty water & trash, I’m always reminded of that scene in Star Wars. To make the scene more effective the walls begin to close in on our heroes & that‘s always been a fear of mine, being squashed by walls.
I got to hand it to Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford & Peter Mayhew for acting in that gross red water. Something tells me that Lucas really forced them to act in that really unsanitary water.
(1986, Dir. Randal Kleiser)
What can I say about this highly underrated Disney film, it’s a kid’s movie that doesn’t talk down to the kids or adult audience. The story is about a kid from the 70’s who mysteriously wakes up in the 80’s & finds that his disappearance had greatly affected his family & is linked to an alien spacecraft NASA had kept hidden inside a hangar. It’s a charming, cool film that actually keeps you intrigued about the mystery & includes some neat early CGI.
A scene that gets me with a well done jump scare is when the kid looks over all the strange & weird creatures that the chrome ship collected in its journeys around the galaxy. Then he comes across this strange creature that just silently emerges from the dark void in his glass case, then it opens up it’s mouth to show a huge eyeball which also reminds me of that eyeball monster from ’Big Trouble in Little China’. If that didn’t get you the first time seeing this movie, then you must be made of wood. Jump scares are most effective when you don’t expect to find one coming & that’s the major problems with horror films today.
Man, Disney had balls in the 80’s & 90’d; they put a jump scare in ‘Flight of the Navigator’, kill the dog off in ‘Old Yeller’, hell, they even kill a baby ant in ‘Honey I Shrunk The Kids’.
You don’t mess with 80’s Disney. Try doing that now & you’d mostly get parent outrage or outrage from middle aged people who have no kids.
(2006, Dir. Guillmero Del Toro)
I agree with the critics & the literate crowd when they call Pan’s Labyrinth ‘A fairy tale for grown ups.’ A fairy tale set during World War II was a unique way to go in a time when all that was presented to the fantasy genre were ‘Lord of the Rings’ & ‘Harry Potter’. They both contained dark & violent moments, but nowhere near as visceral & remorseless as Pan’s Labyrinth. I had the privilege to have early access of this film (in the form of a bootleg DVD) before the film was set to be released in select theaters. With moderate use of CGI, but full emphasis on set design & makeup/ costume effects, the film was beautiful & creepy enough for me to enjoy from beginning to end. Add in that sheer brutality only foreign films are capable of getting away with & this film is unforgettable. There’s a scene where a creature with eyes on it’s palm eats a fairy alive, that was pretty awesome! Then we get to a scene that freaked me out & reminds you this film is anything but a happy go lucky fantasy tale.
Context: So from what I remember the mom of the little girl is pregnant & is engaged to some Mexican Nazi bastard (He’s Spanish, I know just appreciate the humor of it). The mom starts getting complications with her health & the baby’s so the little girl asks the ambiguous fawn to give her anything that will treat her sickness. He hands her this root shaped like a fetus that she’s supposed to put under her bed and feed it milk. Lo & behold, Mexican Nazi bastard dad doesn’t believe in her magic because Nazis are ignorant, tosses the fetus into a fireplace & in one of the most disturbing scenes ever the root fetus starts burning, convulsing in the flames & crying this scary baby death cry. Now I’m not a parent here & I can sit through drying kids (Halloween III: Season of the Witch is highly underrated & has kids dying pretty gruesomely), but I admit that scene got to me. Like I said before, only a foreign film could carry such a visceral feel that American films can’t or are afraid to match.
…….I got something to say, I killed a baby today!!
(1991, Dir. Terry Gilliam)
The Fisher King is one of Gilliam’s highly underrated films, due to the part of it’s poor marketing around the time of its release. Just like his previous film, ‘Baron Munchausen’, the movie opened up with poor box office earnings, but now has received their well deserved affection.
The film starts with Jack (Played by Jeff Bridges) spewing his Shock Jock jargon on his radio show & living the high life, that is until he accidentally enables a disgruntled caller to shoot up a ritzy restaurant. Then the whole film is of Jack befriending ‘Parry’ (Played by the great Robin Williams), a homeless, mentally unstable hobo who formally was an English professor at a university before his wife’s death. The whole film is charming, funny & witty, but it is also dark, violent & downright disturbing.
I came across this film on cable in a sleepless night & had no idea what I was getting into. Missing only the first six minutes I thought it was going to be a drama/comedy with Robin Williams doing funny, goofy homeless man stuff. I was enjoying both the presence of Jeff Bridges & Robin Williams so much that I didn’t notice the beard on Robin’s face. Usually when Robin Williams has a beard on his face, it means shit’s about to get serious & depressing.
Robin Williams gets a mental freakout as he comes across a scary looking black knight with fire shooting out of the helmet as he believes he is part of the Knights of the Round Table & his goal in his barely existing life is to get a hold of the real holy grail. It was a beautifully shot scene only Gilliam could do that reminds any fan of ‘Brazil’. The scene then shifts into little snippets of Parry’s past as he sports a nice clean suit & shaved face while eating a classy meal with his wife. Then in barges an unstable white collar worker in his brown coat & shotgun at hand. He starts shooting the place up & in a beautifully crafted sequence. Blood and brain chunks spray all over Parry’s face as his wife’s body falls off the balcony of the restaurant.
The scene disturbed it’s audience back in 1991, but I believe that scene is much more disturbing & haunting today with the current climate of mass shootings. That’s a scene that will scare & kick you in the nuts emotionally if you go into the film cold. I didn’t even know it was a Terry Gilliam movie until I started seeing all the weird camera, fish eye lense shots he’s only known for doing.
(1982, Dir. John Carpenter)
Everyone’s pretty much talked to death about the chest opening up or the Mac.Ready line when he shouts “Yeah, well fuck you too!” as he tosses a stick of dynamite at the creature. The Thing has it all, scary suspense, creepy atmosphere & amazing practical effects.
The scene that gets me is a scene where the newly discovered husky dog starts wizzing out, shedding off it’s fur & starts absorbing all the other huskies inside a dog cage.
We’re all desensitized to horror towards humans, unless you’re a special snowflake that’s been sheltered from anything horror related, but once you add in animals it’s a chair gripping, almost depressing & scary moment. Not only is this only scratching the skin of the horrors in store, but it’s the first domino that tips over the others, setting a chain reaction of who to trust or distrust in the film. I don’t know if this was before or early on, but the film can be interpreted with the sneaky alien creature being an allegory to the AIDS virus that was a big deal at that time. You can disagree with me on that interpretation, but I will fight you to the death if you tell me you weren’t scared at that dog cage scene.
(1988, Dir. Katsuhiro Otomo)
AKIRA is one of those films that any fan of animation has to see once in a lifetime, either in a theater or on a DVD with studio surround sound. It’s an immersive experience that both dazzles the eyes & ears with it’s epic action scenes that were ahead of their time & satirical story. With Geinoh Yamashirogumi at the helm of the soundtrack, the film’s already amazing action sequences are elevated to epic proportions as well as their already eerie horror sequences, such as Tetsuo’s hallucinations.
The show stealer has to be Tetsuo’s mutation into this slimy disgusting hybrid of flesh & technology. The whole film was done using precisely detailed hand drawn animation which shows how far the animators were willing to go for an animated feature. Every crevice has something going on & every limb crawls out like a tencacle, add in a creepy Geinoh Yamashirogumi track & the scene provides nightmare fuel for a week. The creepy part is the way Tetsuo absorbs Kaneda & we get an uncomfortable scene where Kaneda drowned by the slimy flesh. Very hyper violent, very scary & very imaginative, AKIRA is a masterpiece.
(1979, Dir. Ridley Scott)
Alien is an already petrifying concept for a horror film of an unfamiliar alien creature raping people in a claustrophobic space tanker. Ridley Scott took a very simple but scary story & made it a complex horror film full of mood, atmosphere & tension. Alien is a slow burner film, which means it takes a while before anything happens, but while waiting we’re kept occupied with the mystery & taking in the atmosphere of the space tanker with an almost relaxing, silent tracking shot in the beginning. The comforting silence is then interrupted with an emergency beacon that activates the computers on the ship. The film hasn’t started & already I’m being scared with something as basic as sounds. Normally when you see technology depicted in science fiction movies, you’re always putting your money on the ‘Bleep Bloop Bleep Beep!’ machines with the big colorful buttons. In Alien, we get arguably real (Now Low-fi) technology that all looks like has a purpose rather than just being there for show. From the sounds of computers, the droning of the Nostromo’s engines to the screeching of the alien creature, whole film has pretty scary sound design & is used affectively in the same way you would play a cassette tape full of scary sounds at a haunted house.
(1986, Dir. David Lynch)
Another petrifying character in another David Lynch film that pulls no punches at the strange & eerie imagery presented. Blue Velvet is one of those films in his filmography that manages to be easily digestible, but continues being a straight up Lynchian film through it all. Isabella Rossellini & Kyle McLauchlan give it their all & manage to succeed in their roles, but the one who steals the spotlight is Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth.
Frank Booth, a man who torments a defenseless lounge singer, kills victims in strange but horrific ways & enjoys both his mysterious gas as well as his Pabst Blue Ribbon. Dennis Hopper gives an amazing & chilling performance that just blew me away & would scare anyone, especially knowing that Frank Booth is someone who would most assuredly exist.
Originally, David Lynch wrote in that the gas Frank inhaled would be been helium. Very lynchian, but such lines such as “I’ll fuck anything that moves!!!” or the very popular “Heineken?! Fuck that shit, Pabst Blue Ribbon!” would have been very laughable, or creepier. You decide.
(1987, Dir. Clive Barker)
I was never afraid of the cenobites as a kid, kinda disturbed at the female cenobite’s throat, but never anything to cry to mom about. The cenobites are the epitome of badass, they wear black leather garments with their unique & grotesque characteristics such as Pinhead’s pins stuck all over his head, Butterball’s gluttonous slimy face & Chattermouth’s mouth that’s been torn open by hooks.
Overall, the cenobites are very rad in their appearance & presence, though the only scene I will admit freaked me out is when Kristy (played by Ashley Lawrence) stupidly decides to open up a box inside a hospital room. As she figures the twists & turns of the box, a whole lot of creepy takes place as the lines between tiles begin to glow, an analog TV starts playing footage of a rose while the TV signal begins to distort with a strange alien sound playing on it & a nearby hospital blood bag implodes. The horror doesn’t end there, one of the walls opens up to show a long hallway that seems to go on for an eternity. Kristy isn’t that smart of a character, she enters the hallways until she comes across what I call a Hallway Monster. Though you can clearly see it’s made out of some latex & rubber, it still looks very scary & huge. After that we are then re-introduced to the badassery of the Cenobites as Pinhead quotes, “The box. You opened it, we came.”
(1972, Dir. Freddie Francis)
Everyone my age remembers the Tales From The Crypt show HBO did in the 90’s, if not then you may recognize the many times the Crypt Keeper had been a host for special Halloween & Christmas programming blocks for ‘Kids WB’. What can I say about the show, it was goofy fun with some well written horror stories featuring big Hollywood actors & directors. The Crypt Keeper puppet is part of pop culture, but I bet some of you haven’t heard of the 1972 Amicus film from the 70’s. Amicus was a film studio that was often compared to ‘Hammer Films’ since they specialized in mostly horror & thrillers, it also didn’t help that most of their films took advantage of the popularity of Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee.
Unlike ‘Demon Knight’ (The first ever Tales From The Crypt movie based off the HBO tv show), this version contains five stories in one film, following in the tradition of a horror anthology comic. Coming across this film one dull morning, I was pretty much expecting the typical 70’s horror tropes of exaggerated satanism/ witchcraft & that bright mix of blood practically every 70’s movie had. I was expecting camp, instead what I get was a pretty terrifying & well done killer Santa Clause story with Joan Collins screaming her guts out. In the story titled ’…And All Through The House’, Joan Collins kills her husband & tries to keep the murder secret from her daughter, but then she also has to defend herself as a deranged Santa Clause tries to break into her home.
The guy who played the deranged Santa, Oliver Mac Geevy, is very freaking scary looking as the deranged Santa. With his dirty emotionless face & lack of dialogue, he gives this scary performance that can only be matched with another horror icon such as Michael Myers. It’s the mixing of the campy beginning with the Crypt Keeper (Who looked nothing like the one in the Comics or the HBO series) & then following it off with a very terrifying first story that stands out. As I said earlier, the HBO series remade this story (Written by Fred Dekker), but the remake lacked both the creepy atmosphere & creepy look of the killer Santa. The killer Santa in the remake was goofy & loud, and the woman came across as a dumb blonde airhead who I cared little if she died or survived. I’d stick with the Amicus version of ‘…And All Through The House.’
(2007, Dir. David Fincher)
Fincher’s ‘Seven’ was both a financial & critical hit back in 1995, showing that audiences can still get scared out of a fictional serial killer. But what happens when you let David Fincher direct a movie about a real serial killer? You get Zodiac & it‘s a match made in heaven. This film is shot & scripted like a 70’s crime thriller so it’s a slow burner, but the pacing between kills is just. The film stands out with it’s disturbing & brutally realistic kills, especially in the beginning when the couple in a vacant land is tied up by the Zodiac, then stabbed in the back with a knife.
The scene that got me on the edge of my seat & actually made me afraid was when we see a mom with her newborn step inside a car, only to find out the man driving it is the Zodiac killer. From then on it’s a scene full of tension, especially since the Zodiac killer’s face is always shielded behind shadows. Just like in ‘Pan’s Labrynth’, the scene got to me, even though I’m not a parent. I’m pretty sure this scene is much more haunting if you’re a parent.
(2009, Dir. Spike Jonez)
Spike Jonez isn’t for everyone & leave it to someone like Spike Jonez to turn funny & promising ideas into bleak & depressing experiences. Have you seen ‘Being John Malkovich’? I thought that whole movie was going to be hilarious, but the third act turns creepy & disturbing, say what you will about the ending. Then you have Spike Jonez directing a film adaptation of a beloved children’s book, it’s been long since I’ve read the book so I don’t remember the book being as bleak as the film.
‘Where The Wild Things Are’ was a movie I wished I could have seen in the theater, just so I could see the children be confused or cry during the screening. I admit, the trailer amazed & freaked me out since they mixed in animatronics & CGI very well, also the film came out of nowhere & ended up kicking it’s audience in the ‘Expectations’ lung. The whole film felt like something that would have been made in the 80’s & early 90’s, it had its fun moments, but when it gets blue, it gets really blue. The film is a drama for kids & (Though I haven’t read any of the books since grade school.) for some weird reason it seems appropriate, unlike a comedy version of ‘21 Jump Street.’ The scene in which we’re first introduced to the monsters on the mysterious island was pretty creepy. All shot with natural light, we get brief glimpses of human bones scattered around the campfire, then add in the monsters threatening to eat him, it was pretty scary. I actually expected to see the monsters eat the kid, it’s a Spike Jonez movie, it wouldn’t of surprised me. I would give one of my lungs just to see the reaction of the audience when this was screened.
Cat’s Eyes (1985) = That Troll Thing in that final story was very creepy looking, but that story also made cats awesome.
Heavy Metal (1981) = That green orb was scary & is capable of melting people’s bones. The animation style also cements this as a very scary looking orb.
Naked Lunch (1992) = That typewriter eating the other typewriter was awesome & creepy. Then again, what do you expect from a Cronenberg movie? Also the typewriters have talking anuses, for the win.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1979) = The dog with the people face was scary when I was a kid, now it’s just laughable. You could clearly tell it’s a rubber mask.
Jacob’s Ladder (1990) = Elizabeth Pena hump dancing with some weird messed up dragon creature & gets butt shtumped by it to where its blade weiner comes out of her mouth. That was pretty brutal, even for an R-rated flick.
(1990, Dir. Nicolas Roeg)
This film was pretty much a straight up horror film for kids, though it incorporated the goofyness of the book & reeled itself back from getting brutally dark or depressing. Perfectly adapted off the Ronald Dahl book, the film takes the small details that make the book unique & ran with it like the idea of witches wearing makeup & gloves to hide their true ugly witch appearance.
The jist of the story is a young orphaned boy, under the care of his grandma, decides to stay at a hotel until the boy discovers a witch convention full of witches under heavy makeup that also includes a Pre- Morticia Addams Anjelica Houston. I admit, she was pretty damn good looking in this film, still is. So as the boy finds that the witches have a potion that can turn kids into mice. Yeah, the whole plot isn’t scary, but the film is full of moments that only late 80’s, early 90’s kids movies could get away with. Gross character designs for the witches, weird transformation sequences that are both creepy & funny since the first boy transforming into a mouse reminds me of those ‘Chuck E. Cheese’ animatronics, & it also has some of that famous PG rated nudity (Don’t work yourself up, Anjelica Houston doesn’t get nude in this, no attractive witch gets nude, not even the boy‘s grandma).
It is one of those movies you’d be surprised with how much they got away with it’s PG rating. There’s a scene that really gets to me where the two boys as rats are scurrying through a dinning room & kitchen, when out of nowhere a chef slams his butcher’s knife on a mouse’s tail. It gets me every damn time because it’s something in your mind says “If that boy turns into a boy anytime soon, he’s going be missing an ass.” & I’m pretty sure they actually cut a real mouse’s tail off for that scene. Overall, it’s a film that I saw at a young age & from time to time the (once was) HUB channel used to air that film every Halloween & I would watch it & move on to something else because it still creeps me out. The film has this slimy look to it, this kind of look movies like ‘The Thing’ or even ‘Alien 3’ have. If you have kids or you yourself are a fan of Ronald Dahl’s books, ‘The Witches’ isn’t that bad of an film adaptation. Traumatizing at first, but maintains its goofyness.
Have a great Halloween, go out trick or treating, hold a party or watch a messed up movie. If you live in a country where Halloween isn’t celebrated, I dare you to go to work or anywhere in a costume & take people’s questions about the costume with offense. It will please me.
Anyway, have a happy ass Halloween, send me candy, I’m getting withdraw symptoms, I haven’t eaten candy in such a while. I’m not kidding.
And we’re also bringing back our Twitter for the 3rd time. It’s going to be a mix of stuff on my personal & from the Blacktime facebook page. Lotta snark, lotta random weirdness, it’s a party.