Meagan Navarro’s fun piece last week–“Horror’s 75 Most Memorable Movie Moments!”–over at Bloody Disgusting got me to thinking about what I might add to the list (which, according to Meagan’s criteria, wasn’t just limited to the scariest scenes). Yes, any such effort is inherently subjective, but I submit for your perusal my top 10 choices (presenting the films in chronological order):
1.Ill-Received (Freaks, 1932).
The Gooble-Gobble song is as unforgettable as Cleopatra and Hercules’s drunken disparagement of the “freaks” is reprehensible. This is the most disturbing wedding reception ever (or at least until Game of Thrones came along).
2.Monster Laughs (Young Frankenstein, 1974)
No scene better captures the hilarity of Mel Brooks’s classic Universal Monster-movie spoof than this one. Decades later, Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle’s duet still puts a broad smile on my face.
3.Hull of a Scare (Jaws, 1975)
Man-eating shark terrorizing a beach community? OK, I could deal with that. But the sudden underwater framing of Ben Gardner’s corpse in the hull hole (an image permanently imprinted on my psyche) formed my jump-scare baptism.
4.Roach Explosion (Creepshow, 1982)
I nearly checked out when first watching this segment of the Stephen King anthology film as a ten-year-old. Creepshow‘s most horrifying scene instilled a lifelong dread of insects in me.
5.Police Brutality (The Terminator, 1984)
Cop-killing is a horror-movie standard (forcing the audience to think that not even our sworn protectors can save us from harm). But Arnold’s hyperviolent assault on the precinct in this film constituted an unprecedented rampage–and haunted my dreams for weeks after viewing it.
6.Fears of a Clown (Poltergeist, 1984)
A creepy doll wasn’t bad enough; no, Steven Spielberg had to go and give us a creepy clown doll. Before Pennywise ever popped up in the Derry sewer system, Poltergeist was IT for causing coulrophobia.
7.Cenobite Arrival (Hellraiser, 1987)
Kirsty’s solving of the puzzle box was a cinematic game-changer. The sublime grotesquerie and menacing eloquence of Clive Barker’s Order of the Gash truly revolutionized monster-movie villainy.
8.Kirsten Dunst Dusted (Interview with the Vampire, 1994)
Who ever thought there could be a worse form of vampire attack than a jugular juicing? The fiendish execution of the scene-stealing Claudia was at once terrifying and tear-jerking, and Louis’s subsequent discovery of her ash sculpture was beautifully macabre.
9.Chilling Vigil (Paranormal Activity, 2007)
The scene when Katie looms over a sleeping Micah (underscoring our vulnerability while unconscious) was the stuff of nightmare. A fast-forwarding time stamp on a piece of video has never been more horripilating.
10.Jack-o’-Lantern Extravaganza (Trick ‘r Treat, 2007)
There’s so much about this Halloween-themed film that’s visually spellbinding, but nothing more so than the sight of Rhonda’a yard-ful of carved pumpkins. If I ever lived in the town of Warren Valley (and how I would love to!), this is the place I’d want to call home.