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Friday, July 16, 2010

The Vault of Horror Gets the Willies!

Now it's my turn.

Some two weeks ago, Andre Dumas of The Horror Digest set the horror blogosphere afire with her "Top 10 Willy Inducing Moments," a catalog of the specific moments in horror which freak her out the most. Since then, every blogger and their parent or legal guardian has been chipping in their two cents, offering their own list of moments that give them the willies.

I happened to be on a much-deserved vacation when the whole thing kicked off, and it's taken me a little while to catch up. But now I'm back and finally ready to take my crack at this whole willy thing. It may not be Tuesday, but what the hell--here are my Top 10 Willy Inducing Moments...

10. Inside (2007) - The Milk of Inhuman Kindness
This frakked-up little filmic French pastry is chock full of psyche-scarring moments, but for me the one that takes the cake is that final shot, which I suppose I shouldn't "spoil" for all you crybabies. Those who've seen it know the shot I mean--it involves a rocking chair and is about as twisted as it gets.

9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) - What the Fork...
This movie really gets under your skin in general, and the first time I saw it as a kid it really messed me up. The whole idea of people transforming all around you and not knowing who to trust, really freaked me out. But I'll never forget the scene in which Kevin McCarthy discovers that opening pod, and stabs it with the pitchfork. The sight of the human face breaking apart amidst that sudsy pod gunk is the stuff of nightmares.

8. Nosferatu (1922) - Rising to the Occasion
Here's one Andre picked herself, and I couldn't agree more. In one of horror's most emulated moments, the terrifying Count Orlock rises stiff as a board from his coffin in the hold of the Demeter, as witnessed by the soon-to-be-fish-food first mate. Max Schreck is at his most preternatural here, levitating 90 degrees and stretching out his arm, the very embodiment of death amongst the living.

7. Dracula (1931) - Laugh It Up, Nutball
Yet another Stoker adaptation, and yet another scene in the hold of the Demeter. Except this time, the source is no vampire, but rather his insane thrall Renfield, driven mad by the Count's influence. As the authorities peer down into the trap door to see Dwight Frye staring back up at them, that Joker-like grin beaming as he lets out his infamous leering laugh, I feel the hairs literally stand up on the back of my neck.

6. Zombi 2 (1979) - Shallowest Graveyard Ever...
Zombies will always gnaw at the very center of what really gets to me when it comes to horror movies, and nothing embodies that dread factor more for me than the scene in the Spanish conquistador cemetery. Our heroes are finally enjoying a moment of peace, when all of a sudden, the corpses underneath them claw their way through the apparent four inches of dirt under which they were buried. It's grim, it's relentless, and it's pure Fulci. Chills...

5. Salem's Lot (1979) - Let the Wrong One In
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Creepy kids will always be scary as hell. Something about that perversion of innocence. And when the vampire boy appears at his brother's window, floating outside in the mist as he asks to be let in, it really gets at something primal. This one also feels like something out of a nightmare, especially from the point of view of a child.

4. The Shining (1980) - Lovely Party, My Ass
For a guy who wasn't really known as a horror director, Stanley Kubrick sure knew how to creep people out. Virtually all of his films have those really messed up moments that play with your head and stay with you for a long time. This is especially true in his all-out horror extravaganza The Shining, in which we inexplicably witness some guy in a bear suit perpetrating an act on another guy which I would imagine can't be easy to perform while wearing a bear suit. The ultimate bizarre, "did I just see that?" movie moment.

3. [REC] (2007) - Hide and Freak
I'd have to call [REC] the downright scariest movie of the last decade, and it builds up to this nerve-frying finale, in which Angela and her cameraman finally discover the apartment building's hidden secret. With the lights out, as Angela desperately feels her way around, we get a glimpse through the camera's night vision of what's in the room with her, and it ain't good. Truly a white-knuckle moment.

2. The Haunting (1963) - I Hear You Knocking...
Robert Wise's atmospheric adaptation of the Shirley Jackson novel is probably the film that gets the most out of showing the least. While Eleanor and Theodora are sharing a bedroom, they come under siege from some supernatural force that begins insistently banging on the walls and door, even appearing to distend the wall itself at one point. It's a harrowing scene, made even more so by Julie Harris' terrified performance.

1. The Changeling (1980) - Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath Water
The one that takes the cake for me. I can honestly say that this moment caused me so much trauma that it literally had an effect on my life for years. It's the scene in which George C. Scott enters his bathroom to see the tub filling with water, then looks inside and sees a little boy submerged underneath, gasping for air--a ghost recreating the manner in which it was killed. After seeing this as a little kid (detecting a pattern here?) I actually developed a fear of baths, always afraid I'd see the little boy under the water. In fact, the fear even extended to toilet bowls for a while--now that made for some troubling experiences, I can tell you that. Thankfully, I'm over it now. More or less.


Andre Dumas said...

Woohoo better late than never! Absolutely superb choices, and ranked! A lot of people took the easy way out and just picked 10 moments but I suppose you are an old hand at these top 10 list thingys! Well thank you for sharing your willies! I think you are the only one to name the bathtub scene from The Changeling but it is such a good call. There seem to be a lot of something is suddenly in the bathtub moments but this one is especially terrifying and disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Great list. I've been busy and haven't been able to get to mine.

The study scene at the beginning of Inside (where the killer kind of fades into the study in the woman's house) freaked me out more than any other scene in the film. So beautifully shot.

Jose Cruz said...

Awesome list, B-Sol! I completely agree with you about that last shot of Inside. It kind of resembled a cover to a really dark collection of fairy tales. The ultimate perversion of "Mother Goose."

I also loved your Renfield inclusion. Still creeps me out, especially the way the shadow of Dwight's arms makes him look like a spider in the dark!

Fred [The Wolf] said...

That Shining moment gives me the creeps because it's just so damn odd. I understand what's happening but still wonder why a bear suit. Great movie with many moments like that.

Love the Inside and [Rec] choices. I totally agree with them. And A+ for Nosferatu.

Great choices!

B-Sol said...

Thanks Andre! The list thing comes kind of natural to me--goes back to my magazine days.

James, get on it, man! Oh well, at least I wasn't the biggest procrastinator :-)

Joe, that Renfield scene may be the creepiest moment in any Universal horror film.

Fred, the crazy thing is that it's NEVER EXPLAINED. I think there's a bit more explanation in the book, but by my estimation, Kubrick was wise to leave it out.

kindertrauma said...

I was waiting for VOH to get the willies and it was worth the wait! Excellent choices, it's always creepy to see the Salem's Lot kid and that bear/doggy guy from The Shining. I caught the end of The Changeling on TV the other night and it still gets me!-UNk

lazlo azavaar said...

I recently re-looked at that clip from Salem's Lot on YouTube, thinking time would have taken a lot of the power out of that scene...but no! It's still scary as hell! That scene has not "aged" at all.

Sarah E. Jahier said...

Great list, B-Sol!!

It was a pleasure to read over your picks!

Now if I could just get a spare moment to buckle down and bang mine out...

Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost said...

That Salem's Lot kid scared the crap out of me too. So did the creepy little girl in "The Haunting of Julia."

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