The scariest moments in non-scary films
We’re all wimps, deep down, and even the most benign of cinematic treats can spring horrifying surprises.
So, Stuff and What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision writers have picked their most terrifying moments in films not-particularly-designed-to-spook and – from tiny hands to rabbits – they’ve revealed some deep insecurities…
Simon Lucas (WHF?SV), Raiders of the Lost Ark
There’s a big difference between exciting and frightening, and frankly I wasn’t prepared for the big shift when it came at the end of Raiders. It’s one thing to thrill with gun-fights, car-chases and enormous rolling boulders, it’s quite another to watch “him off Porridge” have his Nazi face melted.
Stephen Graves (Stuff), Pinocchio
The kids getting turned into donkeys in Pinocchio. That s**t is dark.
Marc McLaren (Stuff), The Breakfast Club
The ending. Ally Sheedy’s kooky ‘Allison’ is by some margin the coolest character in The Breakfast Club. All smudged make-up and outsider attitude, she swiftly became the template for every girlfriend I had as a teenager. Until the ending, that is – when Molly Ringwald gives her a misguided makeover that transforms her into just another bland valley girl. A truly terrifying moment in cinema.
Ced Yuen (WHF?SV), Terminator 2
The moment Arnie cuts his hand open and peels it off like a glove. It’s uncomfortable enough watching someone cut through their own flesh and that’s compounded by the metal skeleton squirming underneath. I have a thing about body horror.
Tom Wiggins (Stuff), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Wonka and co’s boat ride to the Inventing Room is more like something from A Clockwork Orange‘s Ludovico Technique than a tour of a confectionary utopia. Gene Wilder’s manic eyes and crazed crooning just add to the feeling that there’s a something of the psychotic ringmaster to this mysterious chocolate maker.
Verity Burns (WHF?SV), Watership Down
Two words: Watership Down. *shudder*. All of it is pretty horrific – I can’t listen to Art Garfunkel’s ‘Bright Eyes’ without getting a shiver down my spine – but worst of all? General Woundwort. He is one scary rabbit…
Kashfia Kabir (WHF?SV), Fantasia
To this day, Paul Dukas’s menacing score fills me with dread as Mickey loses control over the magically multiplying brooms. I still remember the mounting panic I felt as a tiny four-year-old. The orchestral piece builds up the tension like a horror film, reaching a nerve-wracking crescendo as Mickey nearly drowns thanks to those single-minded, unstoppable brooms. And the brooms had creepy little ‘hands’.
Jonathan Evans (WHF?SV), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was four or five when my parents took me to see it at the cinema. And it’s the only film to have made me flee the cinema in sheer terror. When that monstrous gargoyle of a man emptied the town square as he drove in on his horse-drawn cart, it was bad enough. But when he turned his head to fill the screen, I was off…
Andy Clough (WHF?SV) The child catcher scene. Scared me whitless
Esat Dedezade (Stuff), Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
I was younger than eight when I watched it. I vaguely remember grasping strands of the plot and laughing at the silly rabbit and his cooky antics. What fun! And then, bam – Christopher Lloyd rolls up as Judge Doom, a creepy pale-faced man dressed in black who takes pleasure in dissolving cartoons in vats of acid. That moment when he’s flattened by a steam roller only to rise up as a flat freaky apparition… Yeah… I slept with the lights on that night.
John Steward (WHF?SV) Labyrinth
Apart from David Bowie’s codpiece? The tunnel-cleaning machine. It advances relentlessly through the claustrophobic space towards Sarah and Hoggle, bristling with moving sharp things and spikes. When I was seven this was terrifying to me. In fact, I still dread the day I come across one of those road-sweeping trucks in the Rotherhithe tunnel…
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