bluesound dug up this article in which Channel 4 (British, I take it) ranks the 100 scariest moments on film, ranging from entire movies to opening credits of a TV show (good ol' Dr. Who...). I haven't seen many of them, but I was pleased that they included Salem's Lot, the Stephen King miniseries from 1979, and that they picked out the exact scene that I was describing to Steve the other day as Something Which Freaked Me Out Royally In My Childhood. This got me thinking about other scenes and other films, so I decided to do my own list of scariest moments in TV or cinema (going with far fewer than 100):
Things On Film That Have Scared The Wits Out of Me Or At Least Have Made It Really Difficult to Sleep Easy
(In no particular order.)
1. Salem's Lot: I don't ordinarily find vampires all that scary - they fall under "cool" more than anything else - but when a teenage undead boy is floating in the fog outside his brother's window and tapping on the glass, with those freaky white vampire eyes and that ghastly vampire smile, that is quite within the realm of "scary." Especially when you're, like, eight.
2. The Sixth Sense: This was a really well-acted and psychologically interesting movie, and was even tear-jerking at times, but did I mention it also scared me half to death? Hard to pick just one scene that was the worst: Haley Joel Osment screaming in terror while locked up with a clawing ghost in a tiny closet at the top of a staircase? The hanging people in the courthouse? Or, no, wait! I've got it! The ghost of the little girl, pursuing him all over the apartment and ending up right there with him in his tent sanctuary in the bedroom. Gah. Now I've got myself looking over my own shoulder.
3. It: Stephen King again, damn him. I saw this miniseries before I read the book, and though I didn't have anything against clowns before, I certainly did after that. Who'd have thought that the idea of having your ankle seized by a homocidal clown in a storm drain would be so chilling? "We all float down here..." *shudder*
4. The Changeling: Did anyone see this movie besides me and the other girls at that slumber party? It's a basic haunted-house formula, but done with effective creepiness. The ghost, as most truly disturbing ghosts are, is a child, and thus plays chillingly childish games with the solitary fellow who lives in the house. There's this little ball that keeps bouncing down the stairs, by itself. The fellow finally has had enough, and picks up the ball, drives to a bridge, and throws it in the river. When he gets home and closes the front door behind him, what does he see? The ball, innocently bouncing down the stairs toward him, out of the shadows above. Yeah. You know you're a good filmmaker when you can freak people out by bouncing a ball down some stairs.
5. The X-Files: I hesitate to admit this, because it was just a trendy, fun show. But back when I was watching it regularly (circa '98-99), it had a reliable way of giving me nightmares. Not the alien stuff, really - I don't have an alien phobia. But some of their freaky-religious-death episodes disturbed me in deep ways.
There were others that scared me as a kid but that wouldn't bother me now - moments in Raiders of the Lost Ark, say, or the alligator biting off the guy's hand in Romancing the Stone (yes, you can laugh). But the above list, I think, could still scare me.
As for The Blair Witch Project...eh...*shrug*. Saw it on TV. Wasn't impressed. Somehow, knowing it's a fake documentary and that the actors are just tortured students being filmed in a park somewhere kind of takes the supernatural thrill out of it.
Sleep tight...if you can! Mwuhahaha!