When little Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) utters those infamous horror movie words – ‘They’re Here’ – this is the reason why static has haunted us for 30+ years and we still have issues with a blank TV screen. Kids in horror flicks are inherently scary too so Poltergeist has the perfect combination for Halloween viewing. There’s also the myth around the ‘Curse of Poltergeist’, with the tragic deaths of many of the movie franchise stars – including Heather O’Rourke, at just 12 years old.
The Exorcist is truly one of the most terrifying films of all time, and there’s many scenes in this classic horror that will chill you down to the bone – head spinning, spider walking, pea soup vomiting, crucifix…ya know. For us, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller) trying to cast the demon out of young Regan (Linda Blair) – ‘The Power of Christ Compels You!’ – as she levitates towards the ceiling is pretty much out there. They then see a haunting glimpse of the true demon. You’ll need a stiff drink after this one.
Part 2 of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, Inferno has some standout, influential scenes and is bathed in the usual colours of red, blue and black that are staple in his seminal films. There’s also the trademark ‘complex mystery, bathed in blood’ as a brother – Mark (Leigh McCloskey) – searches for his sister, Rose (Irene Miracle), who has vanished from her apartment in New York City. There’s witchcraft..there’s a spooky building…beautifully staged brutal murders…and a marvellous cat.
One of the biggest jumps is in a wonderful underwater sequence where Rose discovers a water-filled ballroom in her building – of course – and accidentally drops her keys into it, so she has to swim down…whilst a body floats up.
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…Wes Craven’s horror tour de force introduced the world to icon Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and also caused a generation of kids to have insomnia. Watching it back now, it’s still blinkin’ scary and one of the spookiest bits is when our lead Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) falls asleep at school and is tempted out of the classroom by her dead friend Tina (Amanda Wyss), who is talking to her from inside a bloody body bag. Horrid.
Time for some hot chocolate…not tired…at all. Must…stay…awake…
One of the most infamous haunted houses, 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, has many terrors inside in this classic 1979 horror. There’s a secret spooky room in the basement, red eyes peeking through a window, blood seeping out of the walls and windows slamming down on their own. One of the scariest scenes is when Father Delaney (Rod Steiger) visits to bless the house and is swarmed by some horrible flies. And then that voice from hell tells him to ‘GETTTTT OUTTTTTTTT’. Yikes.
It’s a close call between the final shock scene of Brian De Palma’s horror classic, and when the screen suddenly splits after Carrie’s (Sissy Spacek) humiliation at her school prom…her telekinetic, bloody revenge to soon follow.
The split screen technique is a masterpiece in chills – we’ve seen all that Carrie has had to endure from her school bullies and the abuse by her mother, and her blooming powers bubbling underneath. When the screen splits, this is a daring move by De Palma which scares us – we know something really bad is coming from this unusual camera work – and it also allows us to watch the mayhem that Carrie unleashes on her classmates and teachers. She’s been pushed too far this time and we’re put into Carrie’s shoes, and into her perspective. We become the observer and Carrie. And we want revenge for her too.
Guillermo del Toro’s wonderful and very dark fantasy is full of fairy tale imagery, set against the backdrop of a post-Civil War Spain. Our young protagonist is Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who encounters all manner of magical creatures as she escapes her bleak backdrop. A stick insect – which transforms into a fairy – takes her to a labyrinth. There she meets a faun who sets her three tasks to achieve immortality. One of these tasks is especially terrifying.
The Pale Man is a child-eating monster, who is blind until he puts his eyeballs into his palms and lifts them up to see. Yikes! He has a great feast in his lair and Ofelia is warned not to eat anything on his table; when she does, she wakes the Pale Man, he bites the heads off some fairies and there’s a frantic ‘chase’ for Ofelia to escape.
He really is very alarming.
Thanks to @rosstmiller for this truly horrifying scene suggestion. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is our most scary film EVER and there are many standout true moments of horror that could have been picked. ‘Here’s Johnny!’ – of course – the appearance of the twins, the rivers of blood, Danny’s (Danny Lloyd) REDRUMREDRUMREDRUMREDRUMREDUM etc… etc… But when Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) enters the mysterious room 237 and is drawn towards the bathroom and something behind that shower curtain across the bath, you’ll really get a chill.
Room 237 has been the subject of his son’s Danny’s fear throughout the movie and we also know something really bad is in there – what it actually is, we encounter for the first time – at the same time as Jack. The wide angle lense makes the experience even more unsettling.
Another of our favourite horror movies is John Carpenter’s seriously eerie Prince of Darkness. A priest (Donald Pleasence) invites a professor and his students into an abandoned church in Los Angeles to investigate a massive cylinder containing lots of mysterious green goop. EVIL goop. Local homeless people (including a great cameo by Alice Cooper) are acting very strange, creepy bugs are appearing everywhere and the group start to share the same recurring dream, where a shadowy and spooky figure appears at the entrance to the church.
There’s lots of jumpy and scary moments in Prince of Darkness, and Carpenter’s plodding score adds to the tension. The dream sequences though are the bits that really frighten us, and they’ve been sampled widely from DJ Shadow to Marilyn Manson.
‘This is not a dream…not a dream…we are transmitting from year one-nine-nine…’