Horror movies are so much more than the sum of their parts, but no genre is more dependent on the power of subtle nuances and self-contained episodes to make you feel like you’re being plunged into the madness alongside the characters on screen. Great horror has a way of sneaking into the deepest and darkest part of our psyches, but it’s dependent on individual traumas to really trigger our greatest fears. Some may not like the dark, others may fear death and the unknown, and many cases, it’s the unnerving calm that scares us the most.
To celebrate the Halloween season, we roped together some of the scariest and most chilling movie scenes in horror history!
ZODIAC - “I Do the Posters Myself”
Bob Vaughn (Charles Fleischer) and Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Zodiac (2007)
When our stubborn, clue-finding cartoonist with a cause, Jake Gyllenhaal comes face-to-face with the perfectly ordinary co-worker of his current suspect, there’s a perfect blend of framing, in that dark-and-stormy-night sort of fashion, that let’s audiences know that Gyllenhaal is alone in this scenario. It’s later when his potential killer reveals with a line, “I do the posters myself,” before inviting him down to a dark basement. Every viewer is thinking the same thing at this moment: GET OUT OF THERE!
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY - The Leg Grab
Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in Paranormal Activity (2007)
For all of those who have ever had a fear of leaving one leg out from under your blanket, this scene definitely solidified that fear. In another revolutionary horror movie concept, we found some of the most shocking scenes in the first movie of the Paranormal Activity franchise.
THE RING - The Cursed Video
The Ring (2002)
You’ve seen characters die as a result of watching this video, but here it is, like a bad dream—video static, an image of a lone chair, a solar eclipse with maggots among other effigies. It’s the paranoia that after you’ve watched this sequence, these filmmakers will do something bad, and perhaps something bad will happen to you if you believe it enough. Either way, this avante-garde, montage of terror is a truly unsettling sight to behold.
THE SHINING - Room 237
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining (1980)
When Jack Nicholson ignores the warnings of Room 237, it’s still a shock to see this non-hauntingly beautiful woman walk naked out of a bathtub. It's understandably exciting in the most hormonal way here. But when an angel changes, and we see an old, foul, and halfway rotting body with loud cackles, it felt like taking the coldest of showers.
PET SEMATARY - Zelda
Zelda (Andrew Hubatsek) in Pet Sematary (1989)
A few scenes shine and stick with you long after watching Stephen King’s Pet Sematary—Rachel’s return at the end may be the scariest thing ever featured on the big screen. It’s the wild and crazed performance in which Andrew Hubatsek as he plays Zelda, who is revealed to be the family’s “dirty secret.” She’s unpredictable, to the point of contorting her neck and body before choking herself to death. A truly disturbing and maybe the most terrifying series of scenes captured in horror.
The latest horror to hit theatres, Countdown, is now playing.