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Horrors of the Past

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Mark Kermode | 10:51 UK time, Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Aliens, Jaws, Poltergeist... of course these and all those other inappropriate videos and DVDs scared you half to death when you were kids, but what about some of your other nightmare movies: The Neverending Story anyone?!

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think that was a good point about the different kind of horror one experiences as a child. Quite often, it was the disturbing elements of films I watched when I was younger made me want to watch them more. If memory serves, it was only gore that was an instant no-no for me. Funnily enough, the situation has now reversed. I can watch the shark attacks in Jaws without so much of a twitch, but the creepy scenes in films like Pan's Labyrinth or The Road still get to me, regardless of how often I've seen them.

  • Comment number 2.

    After giving it some thought I would have to say that the Halloween films are the most responsible for terrifying me as a child (despite the first being the only good one). On reflection I think it's because John Carpenters creation really taps into the fears of your inner child. Here we have an unstoppable monster, who at one point is literally referred to as the boogey man, who sneaks into your house at night and hides in your closet waiting to strikes. It's the 'monster under my bed' mythology for grown ups. It also turns out that all greatest CGI, and monster prosthetics in the world can't compete with an expressionless white mask when it comes to true terror. I am now 21 years old (yes I was far to young to see these films in the first place) and while Halloween is one of my favorite films, the sight of that white face emerging out of the shadows behind Jamie Lee Curtis still sends a shiver down my spine.

  • Comment number 3.

    Going back to the last post, I fully agree with Amber on the Judge in "... Roger Rabbit?"

    Something that scared me as a kid was Home Alone. There's a bunch of things that were bothering to watch. Its the weird, angry uncle, its the gangster movie "you filthy animal", its the little dance party McCulkin arranges with these weird dolls, its the guy with the shovel who is meant to be scary but turns out he's a really nice guy... but then becomes an elderly man who hangs out with small boys (ie still scary)! The thing that bothered me most as a kid and confuses me as an adult is when McCulkin goes down the basement and that furnace starts acting up. Dark, smoke, loud noices, of course it was scary.

    And as an adult I understand its made to invoke those feelings of dread you have going down a basement alone. But watching it now I just get confused, I dont even know what that thing is, I dont know why its doing what its doing and I dont know why it obeys McCulkins commands. Its all very confusing and a little out of place but then again Chris Columbus was directing.

    Something that does to me what "Pan's labyrinth" seems to do to you is the scene in "Mulholland Drive" where to guys go behind a diner to make sure a monster doesnt live there. When that monster slowly appears sort of sideways I almost pass out just like the guy. It brings back the anxiety I would feel as a kid, having a nightmare where all I wanted to do was to just wake up but found myself trapped.

  • Comment number 4.

    @ Colonel Nicholson

    I concur entirely with your thoughts on that scene in 'Mulholland Drive' it's a wonderfully surreal jump moment that always gets me. Whenever that scene arrives I cower in childlike fear.

    Something that really scared me as a kid wasn't a film, but an animated kids show. And it was the original 'Alvin And The Chipmunks' cartoon that played on weekday mornings. I only remember it faintly but I think this episode was set at a circus show and the chipmunks were looking for their owner, who if I recall correctly is named John. They call his name and eventually wind up on a stage where John is sat centre stage on a wooden chair. The chipmunks approach him only to discover that Johns face has melted. It's totally bizarre and I remember running up the stairs screaming, hoping to never see a chipmunk again. Imagine my fear a few years ago when those hoodie wearing squeakers popped up in a new movie with Jason Lee, an actor I like very much, playing John. That, i'm afraid, was just not acceptable and nightmares did ensue...

  • Comment number 5.

    This might be going under the radar here but does anyone remember the public information films in the 70's that they'd happily pop in during the adverts when kids tv was showing. The one that particularly stays forever burned into my mind is "dark and lonely water" here's the link:
    Basically the point made in this truly heart stopping advert are the dangers of drowning and children playing too close to water whilst not being fully aware of the risks involved. Having Donald Pleasance provide the voiceover was either a stroke of sheer genious or sadism depending on your point of view, to this day i find it extremeley hard to watch, as a child back in the day this had me in floods of tears. This certainly left me with many nightmares, see what you think!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Nice to be quoted by you Mark, although you attributed my comment to someone else! :(
    I've just recalled another moment of terror that scared me as a kid: Sid Vicious pulling out a pistol and murdering the audience in the Sex Pistols 'My Way' promo. My tiny mind convinced me that this was a real occurance and somehow I'd witnessed footage of an actual mass murder on TV.

  • Comment number 7.

    Return to Oz really scared me as well (a very underrated film) as did Superman III. The scene where the woman turns into a robot was indeed terrifying as hell. But there was also a scene where Superman turned evil, which completely shattered any sense of security Superman symbolised for me. Superman represented a supreme force of good, someone who would never be tempted by evil. I remember his turn to evil eliciting really strong emotions of fear, anxiety and betrayal. And a really strong desire for Christopher Reeve to sober up, have a bath and shave off that evil looking stubble.

    However the master of elicitng fear, anxiety and horror outside the confines of the horror genre, especially amongst children, has to be Spielberg. In particular E.T. and the scene where the scientists burst into Elliot's house. You never see much of their faces, mostly their legs and the lower part of their bodies, and I remember reacting really strongly to that. I think I remember reading somewhere that Spielberg was inspired by how adults were represented in Warner Bros cartoons and how children see the world from a lower eyeline.

    Another film of course in Close Encounters, and the scene where the aliens take the boy away. Not only was the thought of being seperated from your mother terryfying as hell, but the randomness of all the household appliances and toys coming to life was really quite disturbing.

    Speilberg had a real knack of taking normal everyday objects and turning them into objects of fear. Take for example Poltergeist, which he wrote and had a large say in how it was directed. He turned tv into something threatening and scary, and it was all the more scary and threatening because it was as pervasive as anything could be, it was in every household.

  • Comment number 8.

    I completely understand the 'sneaking up at night' illicit thrills notion that people are mentioning. As a child I saw quite a few things I probably shouldn't have, and that my parents probably wouldn't have been keen on me seeing.

    Firstly, the original Terminator film was utterly terrifying to me as a child, and the blank, unhumanity of the terminator in its persistence was an eye opener. I think the same can now be said as an adult about the films I find scariest. When the humanity of the characters is removed it makes me quake! As a viewer I'm very removed from the likes of 'maniacal serial killers' et al, because I cannot relate. Now the films that scare me the most are often not even horror movies. Eden Lake, This is England, Football Factory and these types of movies that dwell on real life violence, and plausibly violent situations I think play into a part of me that really hits home, and I think they expose a genuinely terrifying part of today's society.

    Another example which I think scared me most as a child was Robocop (its not actually the fear of machines believe it or not!!). The criminal gang in Robocop have a similar disregard for human life that I think is terrifying (ever more so as a youngster).

    Also- just as a nod to Dr.K; I remember fondly sitting up to watch some Channel4 exclusives of A Clockwork Orange and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as a kid...(I'm 21 now, so work out how old I was...) that I believe Dr.K did prologue segments for. I stayed up because I saw the hype in the tv guide, but was surprised by the loving explanatory notes beforehand!

  • Comment number 9.


  • Comment number 10.

    Talking of horrors, one that gave me the creeps as a child was Warlock with Mark's favourite actor Julian Sands in which Sands was just plain creepy in it. I think that Mark is a little unfair to Julian, I know he has been in a lot of rubbish namely merchant ivory, which i have a low tolerence for anyway burt he has been a lot of good stuff where he was a good star like the series of 24 he was in, warlock and timecode. I would like to ask mark if there may come a time that like kenneth brannagh before him, julian sands may worm his way into mark's cold heart. I was wondering the same with orlando bloom as I think he gets lot of harsh criticism for the good docotr and I was wondering what it would take to change his mind about that?

  • Comment number 11.

    As a ten year old i sat watching Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and his characters final scene chilled me to the bone.
    I was convinced he was still human yet had chosen to pretend to be an alien, so as to avoid assimilation.

    This raised questions in a young mind; about what humanity, when the chips are down, is capable of. In a way i feel that this experience along with the "there being no santa" episode a few years previous, was a lession on the reality of the human condition.

  • Comment number 12.

    @Cal Yes , Yes, the first time I saw that moment I think I was in shock for weeks, I told myself it wasn't true, it couldn't be true!

    Thanks for the mention Mark...I'm so sorry that you quoted my mistake that I corrected's Ralphie Glick at the window, not Danny, apologies!
    I loved Alina's thoughts on Pan'r Labyrinth, it was a truly disturbing yet wonderful movie, that made you feel like a child again.

  • Comment number 13.

    Poor, poor Joel... :)

    Dougal and the Blue Cat looks completely ridiculous... in a good way, I mean. Movies aimed at kids always have the best surrealism. I guess they just figure that we grow out of the want for it eventually?

    I also envy all of you people who were saying that you don't get frightened by much anymore. Because I am still the biggest sissy ever.

  • Comment number 14.

    I must have missed your request for our childhood scares.
    Mine was the Blue Meanies in Yellow Submarine. Their lingering tones and sudden screams gave me true chills. Add to them, those silent giants stomping on all colour & life. Without the humour & music of the fab four, Yellow Submarine would have been a totally morose horror.
    pip pip!

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Mark!

    First time blogger here!

    For me, one of the most surprising and underrated horrific moments in a film when I was a child, was the central set piece in Superman III where the twisted anti-hero battles his righteous alter-ego (both played superbly by Christopher Reeve and his body double).

    Strange but true. At that point it was the most disturbing thing I had ever seen. Bizarrely, I was able to watch Tim Burton's Beetlejuice at the same time, and didn't even flinch when I saw Geena Davis holding Alec Baldwins severed head (not sure what that says about me).

    Reeve's performance, the setting, the tone, the split-screens and the music all composed a seriously shocking experience. Throughout my childhood, Superman III always remained in my memory as truely frightening film for that reason, now I can't get enough...

    Heck, it makes Spider-Man 3 look like a pantomime for toddlers!

  • Comment number 16.

    ooh difficult, a survivor of childhood abuse (physical/emotional/sexual) i simply don't enjoy being (made)afraid, have very low tolerance for violence, etc. (e.g. i've never managed to sit through the 'thriller' video).i actively avoid horror movies and have particular problem with zombies/reanimated corpses... yes i am a cowardy custard, i know this. anyway, my take on being frightened as a child involves old mother riley, and mr pastry (kids were supposed to love him but he was just plain creepy)...what frightens me most (next most, after horror movies as above) as an adult is the sound of people laughing at other people falling and hurting themselves.

  • Comment number 17.

    @Amber (13): Hey a mention! What a privilege, particularly given the volume of responses. Strange that he aged me (and Return to Oz) 10 years by mistaking 1985 for 1975 but still, easy mistake to make!

    Like you, I'm also a big scaredycat - everytime I go to see a horror film, I sit there, head in hands, asking myself "Why-oh-why do I do continue to do this to myself?". Even silly comedy-horror fluff like "Drag me to Hell" has me wincing reflexively throughout, no matter how many times I tell myself it's all made up and they are just acting. I envy those with a stronger constitution...

    On another note, I really need to work out how to change my name without incurring the ire of the BBC's rude word filter. 'Joel' is taken, as was Joel C... so no joy so far! :-)

  • Comment number 18.

    Hmmm that's weird - when I tried to change it there it seemed to work okay this time... Settled!

  • Comment number 19.

    The freakiest thing I ever saw was the dream sequence in 'Papillon'. Where the camera twirls around and it focuses in on Steve McQueen and his face is deathly grey and, in slow motion, he says 'Youuuuuuuu''''rrreeeee dddddeeeeeaaaaaaadddd........

  • Comment number 20.

    I will be very interested with what i will think of Pan's labyrinth in a few years time. Having watched it at 11/12 years old, i wonder what i will like about it in years to come, what i'll see in it and how it will affect me. I still think the scariest scene in the whole film is definetely when the pale man wakes up. The creaking of the body as it comes alive gives me the chills everytime i watch it.

    However, i still think i like the film more for the side of it that focuses on the Spaninsh civil war, and the murderous actions of the captain. Maybe in years to come my opinion will change. I look forward to seeing it, but don't want it to happen too soon. i still have some time to be a child, and i want to use it while i can. :)

  • Comment number 21.

    I am glad you pointed out those public information films Ian, they used to terrify me and what was worse was a police man used to come to my school and make us watch them all back to back in a dark classroom, which is one hell of a way to get kids to be quiet you could almost hear the crickets.

  • Comment number 22.

    I remember being absolutely terrified watching the original King Kong film aged six. I sat on the sofa with my parents unable to look at the windows in case a giant eye appeared. Maybe because I used to play with dollhouses the concept of being reduced to doll size scared me even more.

  • Comment number 23.

    Very good point about Pan's Lab, and staying on the theme of children I had similar feelings with The Orphanage (El Orfanato)think it may have been because it is in the main about children,and I found myself viewing it in a child like way for some strange reason. Mainly I think because the cave filling up with water was a recurring nightmare I had as a child, ( much like the never ending stairs!) so I instantly related to it. There are some heart stopping moments in that film, I watched it again recently and the scene when she is attempting to get the children to appear in the house is 'the hair standing up on the back of your neck' stuff ! Similar feelings about Roeg's' Red cloak moments' in Don't look Now when I first saw that as a young teen I almost jumped out of my own skin.! And of course following on how could I forget the Korean offering A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa, Hongryeon) some of the scenes totally creeped me gore, no real violence just a pure chillfest that stands right up there on the pantheon of Asian horror..........I have to stop typing now!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Not a film but... Art Attack. That dismembered, crazy, talking head. Nuff said.

    I think the difference between horror as a child and horror as an adult, for me, is that horror as a child stems from the idea that an absolute truth has been rearranged, making you feel very alone and panicking about how to deal with the situation. Whereas horror as an adult stems from an inability to deal with a situation, even if you know how. Very 2 dimensional argument, but it was my initial thought on the subject. Opinions?

  • Comment number 25.

    yes: don't look now & the 'red cloak moments'. shudder... then some weird associative recollection of 'the exterminating angel' & the sort of meta-horror of being stuck in a situation - as children often are, as we all can be - chilling... the relentlessness of this can be terrifying & still (sans gratuitous grue)filmically beautiful...

  • Comment number 26.

    @Joel: "Like you, I'm also a big scaredycat - everytime I go to see a horror film, I sit there, head in hands, asking myself "Why-oh-why do I do continue to do this to myself?"."

    Ha, yeah. That is pretty much it, though I'm usually more than capable of conjuring up my own bogeymen without the assistance of a movie. Yet we persist in the habit, don't we?

    One of my more memorable panic moments as an adult (though sometimes I don't feel like "adult" is quite accurate yet at 25) was just a throw back, I had a brief couple of months where I was completely obsessed with Italian horror and one night blind-purchased Mario Bava's Black Sabbath to watch at a friend's house. You might have seen it, it's an anthology picture with Boris Karloff hosting tales of terror: women being stalked, vampires hungry for blood, just really pulp stuff. We were in kind of a silly mood and were laughing and cracking jokes through half of it and by the last story we were absolutely howling, bent over crying because the ghost that was haunting the leading lady was a really obvious wax dummy and it was so absurd the way she was screaming her head off at this wax prop that kept creeping out from behind corners and tapping her on the shoulders with its little plastic hands and... well, you probably had to be there.
    In the movie, the screaming woman in distress has a heart attack and the police show up the next morning and we were still on the living room floor just WEEPING tears of laughter... then one of the officers in charge turned the woman's dead body over and her eyes were staring straight at us. Through the television. It was a really bizarre moment, we both suddenly just go really quiet. The camera slowly panned in until her face was the entire screen and held there for what seemed like hours, and it just seemed like somehow she knew we were out there, looking at her.

    It's funny how quickly emotions can turn like that, isn't it? You know all of those cliched sayings about how your blood runs cold, your hair stands up, your heart falls into your stomach, etc.? They're not only completely accurate, but I actually succeeded in experiencing them all simultaneously. For a fraction of a second, I actually had convinced myself that I was dead.

    It's embarrassing. The movie itself is probably very silly and I have owned it for a good couple of years now, but haven't drummed up the courage to watch it again.

    I'll shut up now.

  • Comment number 27.

    In line with the theme of childhood insecurity/fear.

    "Let the Right One In" in my opinion should be taken as a tragedy. I mean the film only, taken in complete independence from the book.

    A child with no hope of emotional security catches the attention of a vampire eternally in need of emotional companionship. The tragedy being that he will grow old, and like the man who now is useless to her, he will be discarded for another child when the time comes of his maturity.

  • Comment number 28.

    I find it's those little moments that strike a cord in me. The seen of the Windmill burning in Frankenstein, The image of the zombie Nazis walking on the seabed in Shockwave. Also the opening to The Keep with the truck winding it's way towards up the mountains, it really built the tension. Of course now that's ruined by the fact they used Tangerine Dreams version of Walking in the Air from the Snowman as the music for the great climax??!! Also the space ship from The Black Hole was so evil not to mention the once human crew on board. But the thing that chilled me to the bone is when The Bionic Man battles Big Foot in the revolving mirror tunnel.

  • Comment number 29.


    I agree about El Orfanato (The Orphanage). So many tense moments in that film. An excellent horror film. I wouldn't show it to my kids, though; way too creepy!

  • Comment number 30.

    A film that seems to have been left unmentioned here is Disneys Darby O'Gill and the Little People. Although it is essentially a feel good enjoyable little childrens fantasy, as a child i was terrified by two things in it, the banshee and the death coach. The howl of the banshee and the brief close up shots of her face, and the coach's headless driver were so frightening to me and they stayed burned on my mind, but at the same time i loved watching these parts because of the enjoyment of the thrill of being frightened. I was also terrified by Micheal Myers (the Hallowe'en character obviously) despite having not even watched the film at the time, and by Pennywise the clown from IT. Another film that unsettled me as a child was Lady In White, two scenes in particular, one was simply when the main child was locked in alone at a school after lessons as a joke (the idea of being stuck alone in a place full of long dark echoing hallways), and the other (as far as i can remember) involved the child in a car, an adult he knows approaches smiling, and the kid locks the car doors in order to keep the man out. I can't remember the reason why he locked this man out, but as a child when you witness another child become afraid of somebody or something, you tend to share their fear and assume there's a very good reason to be frightened.

  • Comment number 31.

    I remember running out of Masters of The Universe starring Dolph Lundgren as Beast Man started punching holes through a school stage while Courtney Cox crawls around underneath. I was about six and my dad had to leave the film to find me weeping near the exit. I think he was relieved to be able to get out. Having watched the film on DVD recently, I have to say Frank Langella is manages to hold the entire film together single handedly as Skeletor.

  • Comment number 32.

    having read the blog its wonderful how many shared memories we all have ,the child catcher from chitty, salems lot,and how much we love them because we were so scared. a big thankyou to for dark water demonstrates just how essential youtube is. Speaking of youtube, check out for all you film fans ,Big Audio Dynamites song E=MC2 , the man who fell to earth and dont look now are obvious but what about the audio ????

  • Comment number 33.

    I remember years ago channel 4 decided to show a real feast of great horror movies near the christmas season (at least i think it was near christmas but i could be mistaken, it was years ago) There was Day of the Dead, Suspiria, maybe Dawn of the Dead, Braindead, Season of the Witch and more, i don't know why it was on at this time but i wasn't complaining. In fact i think when Day of the Dead was shown Mark Kermode did a great introduction on the history and importance of the 3 living dead films, i used to tape every late night movie i could and i still have that on video somewhere.

  • Comment number 34.

    Another seminal moment with regards to childhood scares was the BBC's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Aslan was killed. It wasn't so much that he was brutally murdered but that his mane was cut off. It was the first time that I cried while watching TV, not because of fear but inexplicable sadness. To see him alone, beaten and mane-less was a lot more than my little heart could take.

  • Comment number 35.

    There are so many reasons why that scene from Salems Lot is so scary. I'm pretty sure I saw it before I read the book so I wasn't aware of the plot.
    It has a build up that includes every classic fear for a child. The Glick brothers are walking home from their friend's house through the woods at night (classic terrifying setting). The younger brother Ralphie is frightened (naturally), Danny his older brother teases him and tries to make him more afraid (are you starting to get that feeling that you have experienced these feelings yourself?). Danny runs ahead and leaves Ralphie behind. This taps into a primordial fear that we will be the weak member of a group in this situation, the one that is left behind, the first choice to be picked off by the big bad, the person that can't run as fast as anyone else. Ralphie has the classic childhood fear of abandonment, as the younger brother, he needs Danny to look out for him and protect him. These types of fears are stronger in childhood but never really leave us throughout our lives.
    Of course Ralphie does go missing, is taken by a monster (literally), all his fears are realised. Danny then has to face the fact that he abandoned his little brother and is responsible for his death.
    When we finally reach the window scene, again we have an incredibly tense build up. Harry Sukman's score sets off the whole uneasy feeling with it's pounding heartbeat, the lighting is unusually bright. There's a dreamlike quality as the smoke appears and then we see Ralphie floating outside the window with the most hideous of evil smiles, as he scratches o the glass. Danny slowly heads towards the window as the eerie violins start to kick in, we urge him not to do it but he opens the window. Then as Mark so eloquently put it he lowers his head and floats into the room to feast on his brother.
    Here Stephen King and Tobe Hooper use the fear of losing control, Danny is in hypnotised state, unable to stop himself from opening the window as he faces the ultimate revenge and betrayal from the brother he let down so badly.
    A perfect scary moment in my book.
    Of course this analytical assessment of this scene is with hindsight, when I first watched it I was just scared out of my skin. I never fail to immediately think of this scene whenever discussions on horror or things that scare me come up.

  • Comment number 36.

    For me the film that scared me as a kid, and I can't even watch now, is Night of The Hunter, the way Mitchum charms his way into the family and then tears it apart, all the while whistling that tune. The bit that scared me the most was when the kids thought they were getting away, but suddenly you hear him whistling and see the silhouette of the carriage following them down the river.

  • Comment number 37.

    I remember watching Child's Play on television when I was five... It is the most frightening film I have ever seen. I was so scared I made my mother to throw away all my dolls. I never watched it again. The harmless toy that turns into a killer was not something new at that time, as I later found out, watching the episode "The Living Doll" from Twilight Zone. I think all children are afraid that their toys may come to life as something evil and perverted (remember the clown in Poltergeist).

  • Comment number 38.

    Hey Mark, For me ... its the child catcher from ... Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang ... ... I think its the nose .... It still freaks me out now.

  • Comment number 39.

    I actually haven't seen Pan's Labyrinth since it was released in the cinema, I saw it 3 times in the cinema, It is a very sweet wonderful film but I cried myself to sleep the first time I saw it and haven't watch it since probably 2007 or late 2006.

    It's interesting that you said Pan's Labyrinth makes you see it threw a child's point of view and makes you a child again, cause that is the same thing Gilliam said about his misunderstood masterpiece "Tideland", which film critics just couldn't get over the fact a young man with a mental age younger than the girl kisses her in a very innocent way to see it that way.

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh and Mark, I appreciate you were one of the few critics to like Tideland

  • Comment number 41.

    It is impossible for a movie to cause fear anymore We have seen everything Nevertheless we enjoy them just the same

  • Comment number 42.

    Oh common!

    The scariest thing in Pan's Labyrinth is NOT the Pale Man (who moves slowly and is physically handicapped telling us by convention that the kid will get away)

    It is that filthy, black toad in the tunnel. Sound is so important in horror coff The Exorcist coff! And I think the Toad is the closest thing to scares on the infantile front...

  • Comment number 43.

    I forgot an important when I commented on the last blog, The Little Mermaid, actually. It just completely slipped my mind. The thing that always used to get my, and still does to some degree, is the polyps in Ursula's little garden in Disney's 'The Little Mermaid'. Just the look of them, their tortured faces and the way they seem to attack Ariel when she swims past... It still sends a shiver down my spine.

    I must also add that the damnation of being turned into a shriveled polyp is effective stuff, especially when the polyps are as creepy as they are. It's interesting how film and TV for children can figure out so sinister fates when they are not allowed to simply go with murder. Another example would be Batman: The Animated Series and the famous "Joker treatment", where people just disappear and are then found again, mad as bats, laughing and with an enlarged smile. It's as creepy now as it was back then. Does anyone have any other examples?

  • Comment number 44.

    Damn, I can't edit my post. I'm a bit tired this late at night and I'm Swedish, but I hope you can forgive the dodgier parts of my post.

    I might add a response to malicious, who wrote,
    "It is impossible for a movie to cause fear anymore We have seen everything Nevertheless we enjoy them just the same."

    I'm sad to hear you say that. When a horror film gets good buzz I always wait for DVD and rent it to watch alone when it's dark out. After doing this with [Rec] just last week I couldn't get myself to take out the garbage until next morning, and I'm a pretty seasoned horror watcher. I guess for some people it just never grows away.

    Or maybe, you're just doing it wrong. Nothing kills horror like chatty friends or cinema noises, if you ask me. ;)

  • Comment number 45.

    The film that truly scared the living bejebus out of me wasn't even a horror film.

    It was the political Oliver Stone film "JFK."

    I was about 17 when I first saw it. I never have seen the film prior to my purchasing the Directors cut DVD that runs closely to 4 hours (much like NIXON).

    The reason it scared me was because it was unlike any film I have ever seen prior to it. It dealt with issues and characters that I have never seen in a movie before. Truly terrifying "realistic" events.

  • Comment number 46.

    I am only 20 so didnt grow up with a lot of the films quoted (which I now plan on watching)For me it has to be hocus pocus. There was just something spooky about it and as I was a similar age as Thora Birchs character I think I related too much.
    I watched From Dusk To Dawn, Halloween, IT, Evil dead etc all as a child and none scared me as much as a childrens movie. Again I think it is partly to do with relateablity. It seems that children can watch adult films without fear much more easily than films made for thier own age bracket.
    It was the same with TV shows Goosebumps and Are you afraid of the Dark (which I still love) always left me feeling a bit panicked, but yet I could watch the Twilight Zone with no problems.
    Now as 'an adult' The last few movies that I have seen and have chilled me (I very rarely experience fear) would Orphan and 1408. Dont know why I just got shivers down my spine when I watched them.

    PS Its the same with books even today. Harry Potter still freaks me out more than Stephen King or James Patterson ever could.

  • Comment number 47.

    RussiansEatBambi66 said:

    "The scariest thing in Pan's Labyrinth is NOT the Pale Man...[snip]...It is that filthy, black toad in the tunnel..."

    Thus demonstrating that the sensation of horror is a very individual experience. For me the Pale Man is an unimaginably grotesque, otherworldly monster, whereas the toad is, er, just a big toad who probably hangs out doing toady things. Slimy - yes; horrific - no. Additionally the pile of shoes in the Pale Man's den evokes the holocaust and reminds us that real children have been killed by real monsters. I think what people find horrific depends very much on the individual chain of associations the images provoke in the viewer.

  • Comment number 48.

    A quick post on Pan's Labyrinth. It's been mentioned a lot and it is a scary film at times. But in my opinion the scariest thing isn't the pale man or the toad or Pan (who gets pretty sinister). The truly terrifying one is Ofelia's step-father. The scene in which he murders a man with a glass bottle is brutal and horrifying and far scarier than the actions of any of the more fantastical characters. Of everything in the film, that was the scene that stayed with me when it was over. Truly chilling!

  • Comment number 49.

    Not film, exactly, but I rather liked this quote from Stephen Moffat about the motivations behind his approach to Doctor Who (via

    Steven Moffat: Fairy tales are the way we warn our children of the dangers of the world, and that’s what Doctor Who is. Doctor Who more commonly than it goes into outer space takes outer space and makes it under your bed or in the back of your cupboard.
    > > What are you trying to warn us about then?
    SM: That everything is genuinely frightening and children, you’re right – there is something in the back of your cupboard!"

    ...which is, of course, exactly why "torture porn" isn't remotely horrifying but "the face at the window" means you won't sleep for weeks.

  • Comment number 50.

    I always remember the scene in Pinnochio where he's in Pleasure Island and the boys turn into donkeys.

    Well, I was only 5. ha

  • Comment number 51.

    @ Phil Read and @ Scurra

    Certainly the step-father is equal to any of the monsters that Ofelia faces in other realms. For example, the terrifying scene where he pulls her out from under the bed and you fear that she too will face his wrath. And I agree that the brutality of the face smashing scene is one of the most disturbing scenes of realistic violence put to film.

    That's the thing that made the movie so horrifying for me on first watch. As an adult viewer I genuinely did not know whether she was going to survive and feared that she would not. And, in the end, she did and she didn't survive. That's a masterful trick for a writer and director to pull off.

  • Comment number 52.

    I remember being terrified of the Meatloaf - I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) video so much so that Meatloaf still scares me to this day.

    Another two things that scared me as a child were The Goblin King from the Labyrinth and the opening to the Mickey Mouse game Castle of Illusion for the Sega Megadrive the first two levels as well were unsettling to play (i don't think i ever played past the first 2) the music was in the game freaked me out and a giant apple falling down a hill after you was a lot more frightening than it sounds.

    ps. i feel slighty out of place bringing up a computer game on this blog haha

  • Comment number 53.

    @ Jimmy Conway
    I am 21 and still find this scene in pinnochio terrifying. It was more full of blind panic than I believed a Disney film could muster.

    I can't think of a more appropriate place to bring up videogames than a discussion about the nature of horror. I believe that videogames have an advantage over films in this area as allowing control over a central character gives a player an immediate personal stake in that characters survival. As a result fear for this character's safety is immediately translated into fear of personal safety for the audience. I can honestly say that I have never seen a film that has been as terrifying or emotionally effecting as playing through Silent Hill 2. Yelling at the protagonist in a film "don't go through that door" is one thing, but the fear becomes that much more real when you are manually having to guide that character through the door, in the knowledge that it is the only way to progress, despite the fact that your every instinct is yelling at you "don't go through that door". Now that's really chilling!

  • Comment number 54.

    I completely agree with Cal, the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers was terrifying when I was 12 years old. And the public info films – the 'don't play by the water' was really chilling. Does anyone remember the dodgy 70s 'Armchair Thriller' with the monk in the attic – oh my god!

    I find the recent trend of completely bleak and nihilistic in horror films quite chilling. I'm thinking of the endings of Wolf Creak, Martyrs, Eden Lake. Back in the days of slasher films, at least someone got out alive (whoops, sorry for spoilers). Is this a recent trend? Please let me know.

    I agree with Dr K's views classification rather than censorship. As a 8 or 9 year old, I saw the original Dawn of the Dead on video at a friends house. This had a huge impact on me, to the extent that I cannot watch the film to this day (I'm now 38, how sad!). I enjoy horror films, including zombie movies but 'dawn' is so chilling in its tone, the slow zombies are terrifying because they are so relentless. The make-up (just blue people) makes the zombies even more real, something lost in later films. So, I really believe it's extremely important to protect children from horror films. Let them see and enjoy them as adults.

  • Comment number 55.

    @ Phil Read

    Thanks for your support. Thought it was just me. Silent Hill the video game is a really creepy game. I think its the music and the grainy look of it

  • Comment number 56.

    @ Phil Read

    good i feel better about it now

    and yeah Silent Hill 1 & 2 and the first Resident Evil game are by far the scariest experiences of my life to date, scarier than any film i've seen.

    The first time i played Resident Evil it took me about 20 mins to get to the first zombie cut scene, 20 minutes of a clock ticking as i slowly maneuvered Jill through the dinning room bumping in to wall after wall whilst being absolutely terrified.

  • Comment number 57.

    @Phil Read
    Totally agree about the scene with Ofelia's step father the menace was right in your face and the threat remained throughout the rest of the film . Thought of a couple more .....the nanny screaming Damien as she jumps off the roof in The Omen.......the head popping out of the sunken boat in Jaws the whole cinema jumped out of their seats for that one........And the very original Spanish offering REC when you first set eyes on the creature in the heart skipped a beat I think.....

  • Comment number 58.

    The Watcher In The Woods anyone? 1980 DISNEY film, runs no more than 80 minutes, they show it on Sunday afternoons, and when I was 7 it gave me nightmares for weeks.
    Two American sisters stays in a cottage near the titular woods, overseen by a senior Bette Davis, haunted by the daughter she lost many years earlier that bears more than a passing resemblance to the elder of the two girls. This eldest keeps seeing a blindfolded girl in reflective surfaces (ponds, windows, in particular a terrifying bit in a fairground hall of mirrors) that leads her to track down the events that led to her disappearance, while the youngest seems to become possessed by this "Watcher".
    OK, so it terrified at the age of 7. When I saw it advertised on TV as a grown man, here was my chance, I thought, to exorcise those nightmares and see how silly I was for being scared.
    EVERY BIT AS SCARY as a grown-up!

  • Comment number 59.

    Whoever mentioned Salem's Lot that Dr. K read out, you just unleashed locked away fearful memories from when I was ten years old. That scene with the little vampire boy floating at the window scared me so much that my Dad looked over and asked if I was okay (quite a rare thing for my Dad to do when watching TV). He could obviously see the utter sensation of fear slapped across my face.

    I'd forgotten about it until now so that was really strange hearing about that. However, ET is still the scariest film I've ever seen. At 3 years old I told my Mum to switch it off.

  • Comment number 60.

    Neverending story was for me, very frightening, especially the scene with the statues that zapped anyone who tried to pass them. For me, and most of my friends, the films we weren't meant to watch as youngsters, but did, were the science fiction ones with exciting SFX, such as Robocop, Terminator, Aliens. I was never interested in horror as a kid but wanted to see violent SF films.

  • Comment number 61.

    Lots of great shouts for movies long lingerning in my subconscious waiting to raise their scary head!!

    The mentioning of public information films got me thinking of the movie "Threads", a british production that attempted a factual dramatisation of nuclear war.

    The movie overall left a younger me terrified. The image of an adult woman loosing the power of her bladder was more profound than anything films like "2012", "The day after tommorow" and "Armaggedon", even with 100 milion of special effects, can dream of producing.

  • Comment number 62.

    I watched "Threads" again recently. By jove, that is one of the most depressing films ever made. It was worse than what I recall from when I was younger.

    Also watched "Dead of Night" when going through the horror archives - that is really very, very good and very, very creepy. Quite disturbing to watch as a child let me tell you! (especially the ending - you will know what I mean)

    Return to OZ - classic creep out most definitely.

    "The Woman in Black" - classic 1980s brit ghost story, not available on general release. That one stuck in my mind for a very long time.

    Also Paranormal Activity was the first film to give me three nightmares the same night. Strangely, I was not actually that scared when watching it, but it definitely seeped into my subconscious on some level where I had no control over it. I don't even believe in ghosts any more. Very effective film.

  • Comment number 63.

    The Neverending Story is a good shout, not for the horse drowning in the swamp, but for the concept of The Nothing. It still terrifies me to this day, that the nothing will come for us, some cosmological unknown that will just dissolve everything it touches and slowly dismember the earth.

  • Comment number 64.

    I have to agree that video games are much more frightening than any film.

    I still remember at 8 years of being terrified of the 007 game for the nitendo. It sent shivers down my spine and gave me nightmares for weeks.
    I like being scared but the fear of that game was too much to handle.
    It was the fear of someone being behind you in the game and able to shoot you, even to this day I cant walk up stairs with someone behind me.

  • Comment number 65.

    I remember seeing Evil Dead II after an I Love 1987 BBC programme when I was maybe 8 years old, and more than anything else I remember LOVING the moment when Ash is chainsawing his girlfriend's possessed head in half, and blood coats a lightbulb giving the entire screen a sickeningly-saturated red tint. I don't remember registering fear a great deal at all.

    I grew up with M. Night Shyamalan from the age of 9 and his first four films REALLY scared me, in particular The Sixth Sense, which I couldn't watch the scary moments of for a long time after (I would wind through them if I wanted to see the film). It's not my favourite Shyamalan - Unbreakable takes the mantle - but the delicate nature of the frights really struck a chord with me, and the Badalamenti-esque musical surges during the twist.

    Mulholland Drive scared the hell out of me too, I must've been 12-13 when I saw it. Club Silencio is a wooooonderful scene, and proof that if there's one thing David Lynch understands, it's sound design. I studied Blue Velvet earlier this year and sections of it have the same quaking, thunderous fear of Mulholland Drive.

    Heartless wasn't especially terrifying (in fact I think it had a few messy points) but it left me - like Blue Velvet actually, but with less absurdity - with a surge of melancholia and a genuine feeling of childlike loneliness, the feeling that I was surrounded by things bigger than me. This very quickly gave way to the fact that they're just as meaningless however, which you might say was 'comforting'. A damn good film, I wish I'd had the opportunity to see it at a cinema.

    Ooh, and The Omen. Hanging people and religious horror is a hot-button for scaring me.

  • Comment number 66.

    AND Cronenberg's The Fly. Ronnie's dream is a brilliantly primal shock and the last 90 seconds moves from horrifically scary body-alteration to the most painful tragedy. It's a film I'd never expected to cry during until those last agonising moments. One of my top 5 favourite films.

    And I'm intrigued at the idea of Cronenberg remaking it, particularly if it stars Nicolas Cage (as some rumours have suggested)...

  • Comment number 67.

    I can't believe nobody's mentioned Cruella de Vil. She haunted my dreams for years!

  • Comment number 68.

    For me and my brother a film that terrified us both was 'Lady in White'. For my brother it was the scenes with the 'Lady in White' in the creepy house scaring the children, but for me it was the scene where Phil, a character who has seemed like a lovable uncle up to this point suddenly switches and becomes angry and totally unpredictable and Frankie has to lock himself in the car.

    Something that also terrified me when I was young (although not a film) was the moving topiary hedges in the book 'The Shining'. Up until that point I didn't think it was possible to find a book as scary as a film.

  • Comment number 69.

    You should read M.R. James, Sheridan le Fanu and Algernon Blackwood. The BBC did many adaptations of these stories. They run many of them at Christmas on BBC4 (In the wee quiet hours of course ...)

  • Comment number 70.

    Doctor Who FuManchu episode (W/Tom Baker)

    I remember being quite scared as a kid watching one of the episodes of Doctor Who in the FuManchu series where a small (mechanical?) creature crawled out of a wicker basket. Very creepy and very well thought of. The tension, the initial silence except for the sound of the basket moving as the creature opened the lid and slid out and then the unmistakable music/sound effect signalling to the viewer that something mysterious and terrifying was taking place.

    Dr. Who was so good in the 70s, but then I was just a boy and those boyhood goggles are different from those I wear now.

  • Comment number 71.

    Watership Down has to be one of the most upsetting 'U' rated films ever. The BBFC clearly took one look at a synopsis of 'cartoon about rabbits' and couldn't be bothered to press play. For those of us of a tender age who did, what ensued included:

    - multiple horrifying psychadelic hallucinations and dream sequences (notably one featuring blood filled fields and another featuring pale blue, bloodshot-eyed rabbits claustrophobically trapped in a warren) all set to chilling scratchy orhestral music)

    - countless scenes of rabbits being ripped apart (by dogs, wires, each other...) with copious gaping wounds and blood loss

    - Two words: General Woundwort

    And I've never even owned a rabbit!

  • Comment number 72.

    A couple of other things that absolutely terrified me as a youngster:

    - 'Bob' entering Laura Palmer's bedroom via the window in David Lynch's "Fire Walk with Me" (Twin Peaks movie)
    - a fairly unknown 60s film called "Jack the Giant Killer" where a Princess is given a little toy as a gift that grows into a huge murderous monster. My Grandma had this film at the end of some old VHS videotape in her cupboard.
    - "Event Horizon" - surprised nobody mentioned this one. Sam Neil on a spacecraft turning into Lucifer and torturing the rest of the crew in nightmarish fashion. My friends and I were totally freaked and unready for this in the cinema on original release. Left us thinking maybe Ridley Scott's 'Alien' creations weren't so bad after all when stranded in space!

  • Comment number 73.

    Did anyone else see Franekhooker? (thanks to Streetrw who found out the film name for me). This scared me into my parents bedroom night after night for a whole week! Looking at it on imbd sent a shiver down my spine.

  • Comment number 74.

    For it was Watership Down. Scenes of the rabbit's trapped underground, halucinating fields of blood and the general's fight with the dog! This film was truely disturbing when I first saw it.

  • Comment number 75.

    @34 Cummings-noone

    Please see the Kermode blog entry for 'The Killer Inside Me' for my response to your complaint about Kate Hudson's new film. Thanks.

  • Comment number 76.

    I have yet to see 'Return to Oz but given all comments in this and the previous thread I ordered the DVD... at only £2.99 I had to give it a chance... I have a feeling it will be well worth the money given what has been said about it.

  • Comment number 77.

    The thing that sticks out in my mind is Don't Go To Sleep. (I think it was a made for tv movie) it had me looking under the bed for years, in case 'jennifer' was lurking there.....eek.

    I think Ruth Gordon was in it too - which added to the spookiness.

  • Comment number 78.

    It looks like your memory serves you well Andria, according to the IMDb it was indeed a TV movie starring Ruth Gordon:

  • Comment number 79.

    La Cabina (The Telephone Box) is a spanish short film I saw staying up late as a child. A really simple story of man who enters a phone box, the door closes behind him and he tries to get out... It has a really chilling ending that haunted me for years. I watched again recently (via YouTube) and really enjoyed it - an fortunately wasn't quite as scared this time around. I liked as a piece of film making too - it took an idea and played it out just long enough to be enjoyable without becoming a bum-crunching 2 1/2 hour epic. No exploding helicopters though...

  • Comment number 80.

    Late entry to this, but 2 kids' films for this list. One is The Black Hole, specifically the ending where the evil professor gets sucked into the black hole, and for some reason, merges with his henchman robot. The last thing I remember is a shot tracking back from the professor/robot amalgam's face, the human eyes screaming helplessly as it languished in some vision of hell.
    The other, is the Wizard of Oz. I only watched this as an adult, but for some reason, the munchkins - and in particular, their voices - creep me out no end. Unfortunately for me, my 2 kids love it.

  • Comment number 81.

    Horror movies watched as a child can have a great effect on your life. I remember being allowed to watch Curse of the Werewolf [1961], starring Oliver Reed. That film did have an impact on me. Not only did it scare me but it also made me yearn for more horror. I have watched hundreds of horror films over the years, most are rubbish and I believe that there are only about 9 or 10 very good horror films ever made. Among the best horror films ever made I would include The Exorcist [read the book too], Halloween [first film only], The Entity, Texas Chainsaw Massacre [Tobe Hooper original], The Evil Dead & The Omen.

    I find with most horror films that they all have their good bits but tail off either in the middle or towards the end. One particular film which stands out from my youth is "Dreamhouse", a short film on a 3 short film compilation called Screamtime. Made in 1983 and shown at cinemas in the early 80's as a support film. I eventually tracked the film down years later and obtained a copy on video. I am surprised the film hasn't been remade as the plot is quite original.

  • Comment number 82.

    Most scary scenes from horror films would include the following;

    Encounter with a ghost from The Sentinel [1977], the demon attacking the nurse in the hospital from The Exorcist 3 [1990], the seance scene from The Changeling [1980], the wooden stake scene in Salems Lot [1979], when the master opens his eyes, to name but a few....

  • Comment number 83.

    Great blog. Horror is truly the great genre. My first experience of terror was of course, Dr Who. I remember hiding behind my cushion then getting so angry when my mum and dad switched it off. either get it or you don't!

  • Comment number 84.

    Hmmmmm,as a kid, I remember watching one of the Jaws movies on my parents' bed with my Dad. He said that you couldn't get off the bed, because otherwise Jaws would get you. A couple of years later, I saw an episode of Taggart (I think), where somebody was putting poisonous snakes up the bottom of people's duvets. To this day, I still make sure my feet are folded up under the end of the duvet and aren't sticking over the edge.
    My first encounter with a movie I found really horrific was with Aliens when I was about 9 or 10. The scene with the survivor they find attached to the wall, who begs them to kill her as the alien bursts out affected me quite deeply, as it was possibly the first time I had come across the idea that it might be better to be dead than alive. That kind of turned everything I knew about life on its head a bit. It's probably also what turned me into a proper horror bore, as it made me want to push the boundaries of what I watched.

  • Comment number 85.

    Dear Doctor,

    The one that knocked me out of the ground was a scene in 'The Belstone Fox' - a heart-warming children's film from 1973 according to IMDB. I beg to differ. I must have been about six years old. It's the bit where the fox crosses the railway line while being pursued by the hunt & hounds. The eponymous fox gets across just ahead of the express train. The hounds arrive ... only to be run down by the train.

    It's one of those scenes where your brain does all the hard work. As I recall the camera pans away at the moment of impact and I can't remember if it was in my head or in the soundtrack, but I 'heard' the howls of the foxhounds as the speeding train rolled over them. It didn't scare me - it absolutely horrified me, shocked me in the truest sense and I burst into tears on the spot. All I can compare the moment to is happily taking a bite out of a ice cream cornet only to find out the hard way that it contains a razor blade.

    No other film, horror or otherwise, has given me a jolt like that since. But yes, The Singing Ringing Tree was creepily unsettling ...

  • Comment number 86.

    I remember being freaked out as a very young child by the Quatermass Experiment being shown on TV. The bit where they used the bodies of people to block the oxygen pipe left me completely traumatised. Saw it again the other day on BBC - laughable now but then......

  • Comment number 87.

  • Comment number 88.

    Hello again, Dr K. On the subject of films that scared me as a child, obviously there were a number of them (and most of them fairly obvious choices). I have always been a fan of the horror genre, seeing my first horror film (A Nightmare on Elm Street Pt. 2) at the tender age of 10 yrs old. But even before that there were a number of films that stayed with me even more so than the likes of Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers.
    The apparition of the elderly woman in the library at the start of Ivan Reitman's "Ghostbusters" REALLY freaked me out as a child. But more so than any of these... was a film called "Krull". That film has haunted me from the very first time i watched it. There are moments in that film that had for me as a youngster the kind of unsettling affect akin to how "The Blair Witch Project" made me feel watching it as an adult. The quicksand scene and in particular the scene with the old man with long silver hair who grabs Ken Marshalls character's shoulder from behind as they walk through those creepy woods. That image is one that i was never able to un-see as a child. (Despite valiant efforts to the contary.)

  • Comment number 89.

    Cant believe no one has mentioned the kiddy catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, scared the life out of me for years.
    Then went to secondary school and bunked the odd afternoon to watch some films on a mates VHS VCR that Mr Ferman and the DPP despised (oh and the Daily mail too)
    Not one the offical 39 nasties scared me or the rest of my 12 year old friends.Admittingly didnt see them all then- but have now..
    Three scenes from relativily milder films did the trick a few years later.
    a) "The power of christ compels you " neeed i say anymore on that scene

    b) The kid on the three wheel trike in the Shinning- Carpet no sound then wooden floor sound

    c) Old classic - The Changeling starring George C Scott. Very spooky scene involving a rocking chair

    loads more since i have grown up :-)

    Blair Witch/Para N/ Inside to name a few

    Keep up the good work MR K

    NB- Nice to see you have a Harrington in for every day of the week in a different colour!

  • Comment number 90.

    "Threads" - agreed. Anyone who grew up in the 1980's and had a vague idea of what a nuclear threat from the USSR was will understand. Whilst not indoctrinated in McCarthyism we were aware of the potential perils of entering into another war.

    My sister hired Threads from our local video shop - lord knows why, but we soaked it up. The profound effect being I never want to watch it again. I saw it once, and some scenes are burned on my mind:

    The large mushroom cloud erupting at the end of a city street. The milk bottle on the doorstep melting. The scene at the filthy field hospital where an amputation takes place. The baby born at the end.

    I can't imagine what the store owner thought when he rented this to my sister.

  • Comment number 91.

    " Little Monsters" (with Fred Savage) disturbed me as a child due to the part with a monster who looks normal but the camera changes angle and you see the back of his head which is all monstery -eeeewwww creeeppyy

  • Comment number 92.

    Totally agree Ross F, Threads was terrifying, it was the woman wetting herself in the street, I think when either the 4 min warning sounds or the bomb drops, that really scared me, the fact she was so scared she couldn't control her bladder. That image stuck with me for years.
    Only one film has ever given me nightmares though & I'm rather embarrassed to say it was a Frankie Howerd film....yes, that Frankie Howerd. I think the film was called The House in or on Nightmare Park, not sure, I should look it up. As I recall, a woman in a black dress & thick black veil is seen throughout the film & towards the end Frankie's character removes the veil to reveal an old bald woman underneath. That was that, I screamed the house down & that bald lady haunted my dreams for weeks.
    Also of course, people of a certain age will remember cowering behind the sofa at Dr. Who, Tom Baker was my Doctor. Legend.

  • Comment number 93.

    Your story has reminded me that I was really scared by OddBod in Carry on Screaming...silly really!

  • Comment number 94.

    @ MargeGunderson
    Oddbod was scarey! But I guess it depends on how old you are when you saw these films, when your young the most normal things can really freak you out, I have many nieces & nephews so I've seen it first hand. I should point out I was only 5 or 6 when I saw that movie, it didn't just happen last week! But still odd that its the only film to ever give me nightmares.

  • Comment number 95.

    Good to see Threads included in the above comments. Arguably the most terrifying film ever made. It's the cold, hopeless reality of the film that truly chills. Growing up when I did, the threat of the Cold War turning hot seemed very real. Scary as a child, more-so watching it again as an adult.

    Also pleased to see someone mention Event Horizon. Low budget horror sci-fi done very well. The decent cast (Sam Neill being particually of note) turn what should be total space-hokum into something quite unsettling! Although I was well into my 20s when it came out, I can understand how this film would test the trousers of any young 'un watching it.

    I was about 17 when first saw the John Carpenter film 'Prince of Darkness'. The only film I have watched, at any age, that made me put the lights back on. The behaviour and appearance of the possesed scientists, along with the 'reveal' in the final dream sequence... It still puts me on edge now. However, being 17 is a little old to count.

    I think the film that probably scared me most as a nipper (well, about eight years old) was An American Werewolf in London. The way the wolf stalks the two lads on the moors at the start, never really seen, just heard getting closer through its terrifying 'howls' and then growling before launching into the savage attack... Wow! The underground attack scene is also shockingly scary.

    Being something of a scare-flick obsessive, I should cut this short before I get carried away.

    Ta, etc.

  • Comment number 96.

    Yes, absolutely yes...that bit in An American Werewolf is perfection. The way Jack and David slowly become more and more unnerved is so realistically done, it's brilliantly scary. Then when David runs off and leaves Jack as he is being savaged by the wolf, is a natural's every man for himself. Perfect horror!

  • Comment number 97.

    i would like to see a review from mr. Kermode of the movie "a serbian movie" aka "srpski film". for me it was one of the most shocking movies, i have ever seen. it would be very interesting for me, to see how mr. Kermode would interpret this film. is this a sleazy exploitation movie or is this a arthouse movie? or how far can a movie go, in terms of cinematography? i am very curious, how this review would look alike. so come on, go and see it and tell us, what you think about it.

  • Comment number 98.

    Mine and still to day, has to be Water ship Down, The scene were the rabbit are trying to escape the warren for their live and the close up of the blood dripping from he eyes and mouth, I mean I’m 27 now and it still get to me, Please do not relies on blu ray

  • Comment number 99.

    I have to admit to spending my youth desperately searching for films that would scare me as much as The X Files, especially the episodes Squeeze, and Tooms (my introduction was through the hour long episode Anasazi watched on VHS for my friends 12th birthday) and Scream (my first slasher at 13 or 14) I pretty much exhausted the horror shelf at my local, now sadly defunct, video rental store. Rarely does anything come close.

    However, after an unusual incident which occurred prior to my A- level media exam, I do have to admit to finding devil/position films generally unsettling.

    I decided to watch Mr Kermode’s award winning documentary on The Exorcist; The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist, (something I had done many times before) into the small hours of the night after a cramming session, only to dream that the ‘devil’ was stood at the foot of my bed, silhouetted against a blinding light, as happens in the movie, and that I was levitating… yay! (Thanks for that Mr Kermode, you seem to be the only person to have made a documentary with an atmosphere at least as scary as its subject matter lol, please make some more!!! I also enjoyed Scream and Scream Again which I’d love to see on a DVD someday) Since then I have found movies like The Exorcist and The Omen a lot more scary, psychologically, then I otherwise might have.

    Even ‘The Last Exorcism’ which is clearly a bag of old unmentionables, and from what I’ve seen is not the least bit scary in actuality, gives me the creeps every time I have to switch it on at work as it was originally showing in our 13th screen, (in an apparently entirely un-ironic decision) and was subsequently moved to a smaller screen where, again coincidentally, a country and western album plays the song ‘the devils right hand’ every showing just before the film starts. So of course I take this all as a sign that any film produced by Eli Roth is not to be trusted.

    I am however looking forward to M Night Shyamalan’s (written by) Devil (2010) which looks amazing.


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