Franck Khalfoun’s remake of the infamous 80s slasher is brutal from the very start, even before we’ve had the main film title. Elijah Wood’s serial killer Frank Zito stalks a woman, and then murders and scalps her. It’s all set to a haunting 80s synth score by Rob, leading into a really difficult and uncomfortable film to get through. The opening lets you know exactly what you’re in for.
The whole of Silent Hill is terrifying – Hellooooo Pyramid Head – but what really gets us is the ominous sound of the air raid siren which signals it’s time to run. Set amongst the smoke/fog of deserted Silent Hill and the cinders in the air, it’s as creepy as creepy comes.
John Hurt’s chestburster is the real shock in Alien but for scares, you can’t beat the tension and pure fear of the alien hunting down Dallas (Tom Skerritt) in the bowels of the Nostromo. We can see how close the alien is to him from what’s on the monitor but Dallas is unaware of just how much danger he’s in. And with a flash of video footage, he’s gone.
Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson brought the ‘popular horror film’ genre back to life in 1996 with slasher classic Scream. They also killed off their main star, Drew Barrymore, in the opening scene – a move that was pretty unusual back then and an act which confirmed to the audience that no-one was safe. They did that to Drew! What’s coming next?!
For the audience in the 90s, they hadn’t seen anything quite like it. And it was terrifying.
Sam Raimi’s cult horror classic is a laugh riot – a high octane, relentless blaze of black comedy, in your face gross-out and a formidable performance by lead actor Bruce Campbell. Boy, does he get put through it.
It’s really bloody funny. BLOODY funny. Whether it’s Ash’s (Campbell) severed hand attacking him, laughing lamps or all of the memorable quotes – ‘Workshed’, ‘We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw – does that sound fine?’, ‘Gimme back MY HAND’ – Evil Dead II has its tongue firmly in its cheek but there’s still some moments that absolutely terrify us. The possession of Ed (Richard Domeier) and Annie’s mother, now a deadite, popping up from the cellar is one of them.
‘We are the things that were and shall be again! Spirits of the book! We want what is yours! LIFE! Dead by dawn! Dead by dawn!’
Gulp. Non groovy.
Hitchcock’s chiller is a real bummer if you don’t like birds. Perhaps avoid this one, yeah? There’s lots of really creepy and uncomfortable moments, including the director’s abuse of his lead actress Tippi Hedren by throwing real birds directly at her and having them tied onto her to peck her. As with any ‘monster’ movie, you always have the underlying tension of when the threat will next appear and in this film you’re constantly waiting for the next bird attack. Their screeches are especially horrible and the most scary moment for us is when they come after the schoolchildren. You can run…but they’ll come and…peck you. Aaaargh.
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.