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Top 10 Scariest Moments in Film

Yasamin Azarakhsh |
October 29, 2010 | 2:43 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter
The Exorcist (Creative Commons)
The Exorcist (Creative Commons)
  1. "The Shining" (1980) Snowed in as caretakers of the Overlook Hotel, the Torrance family experiences paranormal encounters within the cursed hotel. Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance, slowly loses his sanity as a result of cabin fever and begins to torment his family with his irrational behavior and hallucination. When Jack enters the evil and infamous Room 237 the audience gets a glimpse into the kind of evil power the hotel holds. He sees a naked woman emerge from the bathtub and seductively approach him. Jack is overcome by her beauty and lustfully kisses the mystical woman. However, when he looks into the mirror the woman that he is embracing is no goddess but a decrepit, decaying, corpse of a woman. In his shock and horror, Jack backs out of Room 237, fleeing from the once beautiful and now vomit-inducing woman follows him with outstretched, grimy arms. 

  2. "The Exorcist" (1973) "The Exorcist" has an illustrious reputation as one of the most mind-altering and gut-wrenching horror films of this age. After Regan MacNeil begins showing paranormal symptoms her mother employs the help of psychologist Father Damien Karras. Although Karras is skeptical of demonic possession, a recorded interview with Regan that includes her speaking English backwards in a demonic voice convinces him of her possession. Requesting the help of another priest, they attempt to exorcise Regan of the devil within her but suffer fatally in their quest. The most famous and easily most horrifying scene of this movie is that of young Regan projectile vomiting pea soup as she levitates and spins her head 360 degrees. Although this scene is often parodied in pop culture it still haunts people to this day.

  3. "The Ring" (2002) "The Ring" turned a broken TV into every person’s worst nightmare. After an allegedly cursed videotape kills a young girl, Rachel vows to investigate the power that the tape holds. Samara, a young girl who was drowned in a well by her mother, is the evil spirit behind the tape that kills people seven days after watching it. Rachel, in her attempt to find out more about the tape asks her ex-boyfriend Noah to help her by watching it. At the end of the movie, his TV mysteriously turns onto the static and as he approaches the TV the image changes to that of the well. Samara emerges from the well and crawls out of the TV towards Noah who in the instance of seeing Samara’s face is killed with fear.

  4. "Saw" (2004) Although there are now more "Saw" movies than Jolie-Pitt children, the first movie is the most compelling. The opening scene sets the bar for the many more gruesome and nauseating scenes to come. Stuck in a game set up by the notorious Jigsaw Killer, Adam and Lawrence find themselves chained at the ankle in a large bathroom-like room. The instructions left for them tell Lawrence that he must kill Adam before 6 p.m. in order to save his family. The two men uncover hacksaws that Lawrence eventually uses to saw his foot off at an attempt to escape. This introduction into the Saw franchise proves why these movies are full of frightening scenes. It’s not the blood or guts but the morally compromising situations that the characters find themselves that is truly horrifying.

  5. "28 Days Later" (2002) After chimpanzees carrying the man-made Rage virus are freed the population of Great Britain finds itself under biological attack. Jim, the main character, wakes up from a coma 28 days after the outbreak to a deserted London. In an attempt to find any sort of living thing he stumbles into a church where a priest promptly greets him. However, the priest is less than pious when he charges at Jim revealing that he is infected with the virus. As Jim flees the wrath of the priest, he comes into contact with a mob of infected people who chase him through the streets of London.  While zombie movies always run the threat of being unrealistic it’s the man-made aspect of such a virus that make the audience think twice when witnessing the events that occur 28 days later.

  6. "Halloween" (2007) Michael Myers is one of the most notorious murderers of the horror movie industry. His apathy towards life and unusual talent for surviving the strongest efforts to stop him make Michael Myers a complicated villain. The movie begins with a 10-year-old Michael showing signs of his demented outlook on life through his abuse of animals. However, it is on Halloween that the true evil within him is revealed when he murder the family that taunts him. Donning a plastic clown mask, he duct tapes his mother’s boyfriend and slits his throat, beats his sister’s boyfriend with a baseball bat, and murder his own sister with a butcher knife. The only person to save the attack was his baby sister Boo. While the adult Michael is the character that people dress up as on Halloween today, it is the young Michael that shows the more sinister demon within him.

  7. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003) In August of 1973 five friends ( Erin, Kemper, Morgan, Andy and Pepper) make a road trip to see Lynyrd Skynyrd in concert. On their way they come across a traumatized hitchhiker who babbles about a “bad man” and commits suicide in their van soon after. In an attempt to find the police, they stop by a nearby plantation where an old invalid man lives. However, what this home holds is the wrath of Leatherface.  He attacks both Adam and Kemper and takes them into his butchery of a basement but Erin is able to escape back to the van. Leatherface emerges from the house and attacks the van that Erin and Pepper are in. Pepper, in her attempt to escape, is cut in half with a chainsaw as Erin watches from the van. The next moment is the scariest as Leatherface slowly over at Erin wearing a mask made out of Kemper’s face.

  8. "Psycho" (1960) After Marion Crane steals $40,000 from her employer to elope with her boyfriend Sam Loomis, she decides to run away with the money for herself. To stay under the radar, she gets a room at the Bates Motel near where the strange Norman Bates and his ill mother live. After having dinner with Norman, Marion goes back to her room to get ready for bed. She begins to take a shower until a dark figure is seen through the curtain entering the bathroom. Suddenly the curtain is pulled and the figure dressed in women’s clothes stab Marion multiple times. Marion then slides down the shower wall and reaches for the curtain, but falls forward and dies. The final scene of her still eyes against the bathroom floor makes it one of the most famous horror movie scenes in history.

  9. "It" (1990) Every person has a fear of clowns to a certain degree whether it’s their toothy smile, face paint, or creepy laugh. Stephen King’s "It" preys on that fear by morphing into the thing a person fears most and then into Pennywise, the child killing clown. A group of seven children called “The Losers Club” vow to hunt down and destroy It after Pennywise’s attacks hit close to home. As the children look through an old photo album of pictures and drawing of Pennywise one of the photos comes to life. Pennywise growls at the children through the photo and says that he will “kill them all” and that he is their “worst dream come true.” When his white-gloved hand reaches out of the album at the children they shut the book and throw it on the ground. It knows what you’re afraid of and It can use it against you; what can be more terrifying than that?

  10. "The Thing" (1982) An American Antarctic research station suddenly finds itself in the middle of a Norwegian battle zone as helicopters mysteriously shoot at a dog. Not understanding the reason for a military attack on a dog the station adopts the dog. However, the researchers soon find that the dog is actually a monster and that they now have an alien life form among them that can take over human bodies. Paranoia consumes the station as they try to figure out who has been taken over by “the thing”. When one of the members of the station, Norris, has a heart attack, the doctor tries to give him CPR only to have his arm bitten off when Norris’ chest morphs into a fanged opening. To make matters worse, Norris’ head separates from his body and sprouts spider legs.
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