Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 7:21 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

What is the single most frightening moment, that scene in a film you've experienced that to this day still gives you the shudders? Feel free to post a clip, or simply describe the scene in detail, we're probably all with you in sharing your feelings!


Here is mine, from the film 'The Innocents'. If you haven't seen it, this may be a spoiler, but to this day this scene gives me goose-bumps, more than any other!

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 8:11 AM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

A lot might have had to do with watching it in a sleazy, creepy, scum-hole cinema some way far down Hollywood Blvd in June 1989, but I remember the (flashback?) scene in Pet Sematary with the deformed sister hopping towards the screen scared the livin' beejesus outta me!

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   madmovyman   (Member)

...the bulging door in The Haunting (1963).

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 9:05 AM   
 By:   Recordman   (Member)

When Regan's head turned completely around in "The Exorcist." (Pt. 1) (1973)

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 9:25 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

This may seem like a surprise being animated. But in the Secret of NIMH there is a graphic shot of rats being injected with needles. The background turns blood red, they zoom in on the injections and there's a painful puncture sound. It makes me cringe to this day.

The whole scene is hard to watch but specifically at the one minute mark:


 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 9:26 AM   
 By:   John B. Archibald   (Member)

I like the bit later in THE INNOCENTS, when Kerr sees a man leaning down from the top of a tower, looking at her, then she glances away, and sees a statue of a cupid lying on the ground, from whose mouth a spider crawls out. The sound during this scene fades away completely, then returns when she snaps out of this creepy reverie.

But, as for most frightening, I'd say the shower scene from the original PSYCHO.

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:01 AM   
 By:   Adam B.   (Member)

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Henry and his "pal" Otis invade a home and proceed to tie up the man of the house while they assault and murder his wife while the man watches in horror. The couple's teen-age son walks in suddenly and tries to defend his mom and dad but is overpowered by the killers. This is all recorded on the killers' VHS cam-corder. The next scene the killers are watching a playback of the tape for their own entertainment. Gives me the creeps every time because we know such people exist in the world.

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:02 AM   
 By:   random guy   (Member)

"Irreversible" for me. It's not monsters or ghosts but regular people doing awful things to each other. Makes it more frightening for me that way

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:17 AM   
 By:   Graham Watt   (Member)

Agree especially with the bits cited from THE INNOCENTS. The most "frightening" moments I can think of in films are actually not the bits that make you jump (like Ben Gardner's head in JAWS) but rather those which create a real creepy sense of unease.

Polanski was a master of that - creating a sordid atmosphere of seedy old apartments, the sound of ticking clocks, the neighbour upstairs doing scales on the piano, and then once you're drawn in, tightening the knot with some extrememly unsettling details...

Just off the top of my head, what about -

REPULSION - Catherine Deneuve is "threatened" by a shadow that comes to her door at night. We never see who it is - or even if he really exists - but "it" pushes at the door to get in, but resists due to the fact that there's a huge big wardrobe right in front of the door. What was it with Polanski and furniture?

THE TENANT - When he looks across the interior patio at the window of the bog, and sees himself standing there looking out. Or when he sees the bandaged figure tearing off its bandages through the same window, or when he sees the shape of someone playing with a... ball? Ah, no! A head! Or when he finds a tooth behind the wallpaper. Come to think of it, what was it with Polanski and wallpaper?

I love the M.R. James approach. And the short film by Jonathan Miller, done for the BBC in the '60s of his "Whistle and I'll Come to You..." is exquisitely scary - yet you don't "see" anything. The figure that pursues Michael Hordern along the beach could be just seaweed blowing in the wind.

I've got millions more.

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:30 AM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:31 AM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

I seem to remember cringing seeing Blair Brown's transformation at the end of ALTERED STATES, where her skin was turned into a mass of what looked like scabs.

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:32 AM   
 By:   mgh   (Member)

The Shining--When Wendy looks at the manuscript Jack has been writing and it is hundreds of pages saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)--When Miles kisses Becky in the cave and realizes she has changed and she yells out, "He's here."

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:45 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

The scariest moments for me are in Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS (1961) and Robert Wise's THE HAUNTING (1963). In THE INNOCENTS, the scary moments are in the appearances of Miss Jessell and Peter Quint, who are dead, but the whole thing with its feeling of dread and transgression gets to me. In THE HAUNTING it's the manifestations of the house, the escalating pounding in the hallways, the bending door, and the little things like pinging of the harp to distract the doctor from other things that are going on, and the deterioration of Eleanor's mind, given to us in voice-over narration. She's losing it, becoming absorbed into the house, making the house stronger, she knows it's happening, but she can't help herself or prevent it. And then there are the words scrawled high above her reach and out of her sight in the dark hall: "help Eleanor come home." Think about that message. Is it her dead mother reaching out to help from beyond the grave, or is a ghost in the house?

I didn't see NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) until the summer of 1970 and it scared the hell out of me. There had never been anything like it on the screen before. When it was new it was a first, an innovation, a true original. The mindless corpses with their cannibalistic hunger keep coming. The relentlessness of it, the inevitability of it, the documentary realism of it, was very scary. The film was unbelievably intense. It was an independent film that just kept getting short bookings in one theater after another. No sooner did it leave one theater than it would pop up for a week or two at another. It must have played on almost every screen in New York and Long Island between 1969 and 1974 before it turned into a midnite movie event. Audiences loved it, the theater was always packed, and it was making tons of money.

I found THE EXORCIST very scary when I saw it in the freezing January of 1974 in NYC. That was the first and last time I would ever stand on line for a movie in zero temperatures. The sight of the little girl with the distorted face leaning on the bedrail, her head cocked to one side, wheezing, mocking the priest, was unnerving. When she stabbed herself in the vagina with a crucifix and rolled her head around I thought Friedkin had pushed too far and shattered the suspension of disbelief. I still think so.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 10:50 AM   
 By:   Richard-W   (Member)

Agree especially with the bits cited from THE INNOCENTS. The most "frightening" moments I can think of in films are actually not the bits that make you jump (like Ben Gardner's head in JAWS) but rather those which create a real creepy sense of unease.

Polanski was a master of that - creating a sordid atmosphere of seedy old apartments, the sound of ticking clocks, the neighbour upstairs doing scales on the piano, and then once you're drawn in, tightening the knot with some extrememly unsettling details...

....

I love the M.R. James approach. And the short film by Jonathan Miller, done for the BBC in the '60s of his "Whistle and I'll Come to You..." is exquisitely scary - yet you don't "see" anything. The figure that pursues Michael Hordern along the beach could be just seaweed blowing in the wind.

I've got millions more.


Polanski is a maestro at creeping us out.

I agree there are a lot of good scares in the Ghost Stories For Christmas that the BBC used to put on for English viewers. The original "Whistle and I'll Come You" is one of the greats. Atmosphere and the power of suggestion used to be all that was need to scare audiences, but I don't know if that works today. People seem to need to shocking images now. Instead of subtext they want graphic depiction.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 11:17 AM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

For anyone old enough to have seen Psycho in its original release, that would have to be way up on any list.

The "jump" moment in Wait Until Dark got one of the biggest screams and jumps I've ever heard and seen in a movie theater during its original release. Likewise the end of Carrie.

Oddly, I have never found anything in The Innocents or The Haunting to be remotely scary - creepy, sure, but not FRIGHTENING in all caps.

But there is a great jump moment in Curse of the Demon that gets me every time - and it's NOTHING but a hand appearing on the top of a staircase accompanied by music.

Jaws of course.

Of Polanski, I find Repulsion filled with sequences that are truly frightening, key among them the first time hands come out of the walls. Rosemary's Baby is another film filled with subtle unsettling things.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 11:57 AM   
 By:   Kev McGann   (Member)

I remember watching a TV play or drama when I was quite young (probably sometime during the 70's and probably one of those of which Graham and Richard allude to above).
A family move into a new house and the woman (( think) keeps hearing the sound of a woman crying.
They search everywhere, turning the house upside down, but can't locate the source.
I think they find some bones and assume that's the reason, so they lay them to rest, hoping that will fix the prob, but I think it makes things worse!
I've never seen it since and can't remember the outcome, but it did spook and creep me out.

There was also that great Spanish short TV film where the guy gets stuck in a phone-box.
It's a comedy for about 95% of it, then it has a killer ending, never to be forgotten. More oooohhhh that frightening though. Classic!

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 12:20 PM   
 By:   Heath   (Member)

The demise of Kotto and Cartwright in Alien is still very effecting. Hurt's exit scene has become a classic of course, but I never quite bought it for some reason. But the pair getting attacked in that small room is REALLY frightening - acting, lighting, music, editing, and the beast looking NASTY. Underrated scene, IMO.

 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 12:47 PM   
 By:   Mike_J   (Member)

The scene at the nurse's station in Exorcist 3. Beautifully executed.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 12:50 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

As a child, I remember seeing this film and this scene on a 'Creature Features' show on some Saturday afternoon on t.v. Even though the sun was out and the room was bright, it scared me a lot. Still fairly potent, I'm guessing the film is from around 1933 or '34?

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 18, 2014 - 1:16 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

The scene at the nurse's station in Exorcist 3. Beautifully executed.


To Mike_J: If this is the scene, I agree!(permit me to post it?)

 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.