Horror movies can struggle to deliver what we so badly want delivered. A list of the “best” horror films is a pretty short list. That doesn’t mean, however, that there are not within even the worst movies a few moments of greatness. That was my very point in my blog, “how horror movies fail us.” As I prepared a list of the “best” five minutes in horror, I found that it was very difficult to contain it to a reasonable length. There are, in fact, a large number of “great” and scary moments in horror films. Those few minutes when the writers and directors absolutely shine and they give us something that we take to our nightmares.
In today’s article I have come up with a short list of the best five minutes in horror films. As stated this list could be a heck of a lot longer, but these are the things that have stayed with me, in some cases, for decades.
Darkness Falls: The opening scene where that witch thing is up on the ceiling and grabs the mom. Damn that was classic.
Burnt Offerings: You have to get through the entire, grainy film and pretty bad dialog, but when we get to the last few minutes and see “mama” in the attic…instant nightmares.
When A Stranger Calls: In the original you have no idea where the opening scene is going, but then there is that single line from the cop on the phone… “we’ve traced the call and it’s coming from inside the house…get out of the house.” Oh shit is all I can say and thank goodness we don’t use those spooky land lines anymore.
The Strangers: Three words – Is Tamara home? If that ever happens to me I will bunch that bi#%h right in the face LOL. The movie gets a little odd in the middle – and by that I mean the characters make really dumb choices. But that opening is damn creepy.
The Exorcist – There were a lot of scenes to choose from in this classic, but I have to go with the upside down crab walk down the stairs (which I believe was cut from the theatrical version).
The Ring: Modern technology has alleviated the possibility of static snow on our televisions…thank God. That scene where the wet haired girl comes out of the television doing something that kind of looks like the Exorcist crab walk was just a new vision in horror.
The Grudge: which to choose, which to choose. Let’s see there is the “under the covers scene” right out of my childhood fears. There is the “boy as the cat meowing” with those big eyes and then there is the “looking at you through the peephole” scene, plus that whole mouth noise thing. Pick one- pick all this movie broke new ground for me.
Paranormal Activity 1 : In PA1 I learned to fear discarded Polaroid pictures, flour on the floor and basically sleeping in a room with anyone else (because they may stand there for a few hours watching you). I think though the girl being dragged down the dark hallway was the Hallmark moment. Just the thought of what was happening down there…her boyfriend felt the same, count the seconds it took him to go after her.
Paranormal Activity 2: The basement door. The thought of how long she was in that basement, why she had time to scratch “help me” into the door’s wood and yet couldn’t open the door…all this was just a little too much for me.
The Omega Man: “Damn the sun is going down,” Heston says and although we don’t know why that is “bad”yet, the fact that he is racing home tells us it must be reeeeeeeaaaal bad. And it is. Just as he arrives at his building, the black cloaked – infected “white people” start falling from the windows onto his car. Yeah that one kept me up a few nights and is only second to the first time they remove their sunglasses and we see their eyes.
Race With The Devil: The ending, which I’ll give away because it’s a 1970’s film and you probably havent and won’t see it – the RV’s who have been chased by crazy sadist most of the movie (they witnessed a ritual murder), finally think they have escaped. So in the fashion of a good horror film they pull off the road into some creepy remote field (as opposed to driving to civilization and checking in to the Hilton). Ah lets relax, have a drink and toast our success. Nope, a ring of fire explodes around the RV and outside the ring of fire…a bunch of black cloaked sadists…very nice.
Evil Dead: Long before he did the Gurdge, Rami directed the Evil Dead. I saw it entirely by mistake but what a great mistake. I was disappointed when they “cleaned” it up for DVD and you saw how bad the special effects were – the grainy film disguised the fake blood. But no matter – the part where the coed turns into a demon and floats into the air laughing wildly…the witch-demon thing reaching out from the subbasement…damn classic frights and worth the watch.
I’m going to stop here although this list could go on and on and I bet I missed a couple of great scenes – chime in with your own and we’ll compare notes.