Tuesday, October 18, 2011
5 Horror Movie Scenes I Wish I Could Unsee
I co-moderate a horror group at Goodreads, and the question that gets batted about often is: "Why do people love horror?" One of the answers that makes the most sense is that we read and watch horror to confront our fear of the unknown and become inured to its potential nasty surprises.
There are different kinds of horror within the genre: classic horror that includes writers such as Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allen Poe, and movies such as Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Birds; conventional horror that includes writers such Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and movies such as Friday the 13th and Halloween; splatterpunk horror that includes writers such as Edward Lee and Joe Lansdale, and movies such as I Spit on Your Grave and High Tension.
But no matter how tame or how shocking a book or movie is, often there are scenes that you just can't shake. For movies, I have five such unshakable scenes, and here they are: My Top 5 Horror Movie Scenes I Wish I Could Unsee (WARNING: Some scenes are graphic.*)
5. The Fly (1958) - When you talk about The Fly starring Vincent Price, you gotta mention the web scene. A helpless old man, swaddled like a newborn in spider silk, mewls "please help meeeeee, please!" loud enough for Herbert Marshall to pick up a rock and end his misery. I remember watching this movie with my father when I was a kid, and the horror of the helpless meal resonates to this day.
4. Pet Sematary (1989) - Pet Sematary is a book by Stephen King about a little cemetery in Ludlow, Maine, where generations of children buried their pets. A bit beyond the pet "sematary" is an Indian burial ground, and if you bury something there it will return to you, only not in the same condition as when it was living. This wouldn't be a Stephen King book if only a pet cat was reanimated, so King has an 18-wheeler run down a ridiculously adorable toddler named Gage. So Gage is born, lives three years, dies, is reanimated, and goes on a murder spree. Some think the most horrible thing about this movie is Gage slashing at family with a straight razor, but for me it's the bloody sneaker. Here is a tribute to little Gage.
3. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) - Responsible for my fear of traveling back roads and asking strangers for help, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remains my favorite horror movie of all time. Just about the entire movie is filled with scenes I wish I could unsee, but none as horrible as *Kirk stumbling into Leatherface's home abattoir. You don't just walk uninvited into someone's house! Sheesh.
2. The Thing (1982) - Science fiction writer John W. Campbell wrote a novella called Who Goes There? about an arctic expedition that uncovers and thaws an alien life form whose sole purpose is to absorb the likeness any human it gets alone time with. Since the group of bored men are cohabiting in a small space, the paranoia about which one is theThing plays out well. There is a tense blood-testing scene, but *this legendary scene was jaw-droppingly awesome in its day—and still is
1. The Shining (1980) - The Overlook Hotel wants Danny because he has "the shine." If he dies in the hotel, his spirit will be absorbed and the hotel will come into possession of his shining ability, making its evil able to reach beyond the grounds of the Overlook. What better way to get Danny to join the staff than to get *two dead sisters with large foreheads to invite him to play...forever. Redrumed by their father, the sisters are fated to haunt the halls of the Overlook Hotel for infinity, at least in the movie version.