To help celebrate the release of the new documentary on Shudder titled 'The 101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All Time' which hit the horror streaming channel a few weeks ago, we decided to make our own versions of a Top 10 list. Each one of our team will release their own 'Top 10 Scariest Moments' list and will publish it on a day that the new documentary airs.
We've discussed the rules as a team and decided that our Scariest Moments may not necessarily just appear in horror films but across all genres. We thought this might open it up a bit and make our lists distinct, although we do expect there to be some cross-overs.
Once we have completed our individual lists we hope to collate them and TRY to make a collaborative list that we will reveal in a special video on our Youtube channel, which you can subscribe to HERE.
Next up we have film critic and Stephen King fanatic Joseph McElroy giving us his Top 10 list. You can check out his previous work HERE.
10. Zodiac - The Lake Berryessa Attack
An exercise in escalating terror, David Fincher's dramatic recreation of the Lake Berryessa attack by the Zodiac killer is one of, if not the most scary moments of true crime captured on film. The sudden manner in which the serene atmosphere of Bryan and Cecelia's picnic is broken by the appearance of the Zodiac killer instantly filled me with dread and then the brutal depiction of how he stabs the two of them once they are tied up shocked me to my core making it very difficult to watch. Knowing how methodical Fincher is at paying attention to detail in recreating this true story is the most frightening aspect of the scene as it gives an insight to what any of us could experience at any given moment.
9. Jaws - Get Out of the Water
'Jaws' is filled with so many different iconic moments of horror that terrified me the first time I watched it but the one moment that sticks out to me more than any other to this day is the death of Alex Kintner. The way that it happens so early in the film in broad daylight is scary in and of itself but the fact that the victim is a child tells you that all bets are off and anyone who steps foot in the water could die at any time. The image of Alex's body turning into a geyser of blood as he gargles his last breath is burned into my memory and made 10 year old me frightened to go near a bath, never mind the ocean after watching it.
8. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre - Hammer Time
Probably one the most tactile and intense horror films ever made, 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' is an experience of a film that is as frightening now as it was back in 1974. From its opening shot of a grotesque effigy at a graveyard you just know that it is going to be unlike anything you've ever seen before. The real terror kicks in with the introduction of Leatherface. The slow build up as Kirk entered the Sawyer residence had me on edge but then the appearance of the mountain of a man with a mask of human skin took things to another level terrifying me. As he abruptly kills him with a hammer and slams the metal door behind him I'm almost questioning what I've just seen.
7. The Fellowship of the Ring - Bilbo's Reunion with the Ring
You wouldn't describe 'The Fellowship of the Ring' as a horror film in any way shape or form but that doesn't mean there aren't elements of it within the film. After all it is directed by fan of the genre, Peter Jackson but this false sense of security conjured up by the perception that it is purely a fantasy adventure is what takes you off guard. When Frodo and Bilbo are reunited in Rivendell, the moment Bilbo spots his old ring around Frodo's neck transforms him from a feeble old man to a snarling ghoul in an instant that made me audibly scream in the cinema way back in 2001. Even now I still shy away somewhat when I know the scene is coming up.
6. Audition - The Sack
Japan has produced many fine horror films over the years but to me Takashi Miike's 'Audition' is one which has stood out more than any other. The pivotal sack scene which turns the whole film on its head is one that has stuck with me years after first watching it. The chilling tableau of Asami sitting hunched over facing a ringing phone with a sack in the background is an image that defines the film for me as it sets you down the dark road of what is to come. Shigeharu finally gives in and calls. As Asami slowly raises her head with a creepy smile etched on her face the sack shakes making a guttural grunting noise that took me aback raising so many questions I wish I didn't get the answers to.
5. Halloween - Michael Emerges From the Shadows
As a teenager I loved the films of John Carpenter (and still do to this day) but the scaredy-cat in me put me off watching 'Halloween' for the longest time. Eventually I bit the bullet and put it on one Halloween night which is probably the night I truly fell in love with the horror genre. Carpenter's suspenseful approach and iconic score enthralled me and it's easy to see how it has endured as a classic to this day. The one moment that frightened me above all others is when Michael slowly emerges from the shadows with his mask coming into view before he slashes at Laurie's arm. On my first viewing it had me shouting at the screen to warn Laurie and to this day it still manages to send a shiver down my spine.
4. REC - Night Vision Finale
The ending of 'REC' is like an answer to the (confounding) criticisms that the end of 'The Blair Witch Project' wasn't scary enough. Viewing everything in night vision through their camera the two main characters are trying to escape the attic they are trapped in with the demonic Tristana, an absolutely terrifying figure whose high pitched screams are beyond disturbing. It is the best use of night vision since 'The Silence of the Lambs' as we are uncertain of what Tristana is going to do in the dark. The biggest fright in the scene comes from Tristana pulling Angela into the darkness screaming. It is so intense it is only one of the few occasions where you can understand why a grown adult such as myself would watch it from behind the sofa.
3. Lake Mungo - Phone Footage
I only watched it for the first time last year but 'Lake Mungo' is easily one of the scariest films | have ever seen. Its mockumentary approach allows it to burrow under your skin making you feel uneasy throughout. The biggest scare comes from the discovery of Alice's phone which was buried under a tree by the eponymous lake. It contains some grainy footage of a ghostly disfigured version of herself. The instant shock is frightening enough but the implication that it was some form of premonition of Alice's death is what makes it linger in your mind to haunt you for days to come.
2. Mulholland Drive - The Thing Behind Winkies
The surrealist imagery conjured from the imagination of David Lynch over the years has produced some of the most nightmarish moments in cinema history but the one that stands out to me more than any other is the reveal of the thing from behind Winkie's diner. It is a moment that you know is coming as Dan outlines it describing his dream to a friend but it doesn't lessen it's impact at all. What sells it is Patrick Fischler's performance. You believe in his terror as he looks behind the diner and it soon becomes a reflection of your own fear. When the figure reveals itself I almost reacted the same way as Dan by falling out of my chair at the sight of it. No matter how many times I watch it I always have the same reaction.
1. Signs - The Birthday Party
One of the few times I ever walked out on a film in the cinema was with 'Signs'. Not because it was bad but because it scared the living daylights out of me. I was terrified from the get go but what sealed the deal for me was the child's birthday party in Brazil. What made it so frightening for me was how real it felt, like an alien invasion with no real motive was happening right across the world. The grainy footage, the cries of the children, the movement of the alien and Joaquin Phoenix's reaction all combine to make a 12 year old me too scared to watch any more of the film.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to check back next Wednesday for another list of 'Top 10 Scariest Moments' from one of our writers.