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Chill Factor

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Mark Kermode | 16:16 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Woman In Black is an old-fashioned ghost story that aims to scare you through suggestion rather than special effects. Seeing the film made me think about my most spine chilling moment in cinema - what is yours?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Has to be Ringu. When the girl is crawling slowly out of the TV for what seems like an eternity, watching it through my hands, it literally sends shivers up my spine every time.

    Then the US version went and ruined the best scene in that film!

  • Comment number 2.

    Has to be the moment in Exorcist II: The Heretic...

    ...when I realised that this was an hour or so of my life that I wouldn't get back!

  • Comment number 3.

    On a less frivolous note I'd say it was several moments in John Carpenter's HUGELY underrated "Prince of Darkness" but in particular the scene when Lisa Blount (whatever happened to her?) is pulled into the mirror and into hell presumably, and then the window is smashed leaving her trapped forever.

    Also THAT clown in Poltergeist!

  • Comment number 4.

    Funny Games. The bit in the living room. All of it.

  • Comment number 5.

    It's always chilling when a beloved child turns out to be not what they seem, as in another recent Hammer film I saw last night called Wake Wood where a couple is given the chance to resurrect their deceased daughter for 3 days. Reminded me of Pet Sematary. As the older gentleman, Judd (Fred Gywnne) says at one point in his thick New England accent, "Sometimes dead is better, Louis".

  • Comment number 6.

    There's a scene in The Strangers that really got to me. The scene where Liv Tyler's husband has gone out for some reason, and she is in her kitchen on her own, and there's an extended sequence where Tyler is just on her own, no talking, just having a drink and the leader of the three villains in the film just walks into the house, blurred slightly because he's on the other side of the room, and he just stands there for a few minutes watching her, Tyler unaware of this person's presence. Then he walks out silently, coming and going into her house at will, rendering any protection she may have of locked doors and barred windows completely useless. It’s that whole idea that he could just walk into her house, unbeknownst to the inhabitant, and leave without any sign that he was in there. That chills me to the bone.

  • Comment number 7.

    For me it would have to be the scene in Signs where Joaquin Phoenix is sat in the cupboard watching the news broadcast where an intensely disturbing scene is shown. Along with the entrapment of Phoenix in that small confined space only adds to the tension, I have had my hairs stand up on end everytime I think of that scene.

  • Comment number 8.

    The scene in The Others where Nicole Kidman enters the room and sees her young daughter sat on the floor with a veil over her head playing with a puppet. She then notices that actually it appears to be a creepy elderly lady. When you first see the womans old hand the fear just shoots straight through me everytime!

  • Comment number 9.

    The end of the vanishing, when rex is burried alive really sent shivers up my spine, as did the ending to the wicker man, when he realises his fate.

    As for "not seeing the horror" - even though its a different genre, in reservoir dogs - the scene in which the ear is cut off. The camera pans away and all you hear are screams. A perfect use of suggestion. People ofyrn say its a brutal scene, but its in your head.

  • Comment number 10.


  • Comment number 11.

    For me it would have to be the penthouse scene in Oldboy near the end, when Dae-Su is shown old pictures of Mi-Do his love interest at the time, and connects that dots that she is actually his daughter. Then realising this relationship was based upon a ploy constructed by his captor from earlier in the film. Absolutely chilling.

  • Comment number 12.

    Whistle and I'll Come - I know it's a TV play, but the atmosphere of slow creeping dread it creates, plus Michael Hordern's fine performance make this genuinely very creepy indeed.

    The Exorcist - that split second when you see Pazuzu's face at the very end still sends a shiver up my spine.

    Blair Witch Project - The very final scene, where he's standing in the corner. Was scared to turn the lights on for days afterwards.

    Ringu 2 - a crap film, but the bit where Sadako climbs up the inside of the well after the heroine is also very creepy indeed

    Surprised you didn't cite The Exorcist, Mark. Then again, I would imagine having seen it 200 times there's nothing left to scare you anymore!

  • Comment number 13.

    The scene at the end of Snowtown (spoiler alert). A guy enters a room where a few guys are there supposedly to sell a computer. Only we know their history but immediately he senses he is soo in the wrong place as the door is closed to darkness and silence. Horrifying and more so than the actual scenes of violence shown earlier as our dread empathy and anticipation fill in the blanks.

    Likewise the hobo encounter in Mulholland drive achieves huge fear when little happens due to the build up of anxiety and paranoia. Yikes!

  • Comment number 14.

    Two quick responses, if you'll indulge me.

    I had the chills pretty much constantly throughout the first hour of last year's movie The Silent House, due to the film's ingenious combination of a unknown lurking menace that is (mostly) only heard with the incredible levels of claustrophobia achieved by the 'gimmick' of the film being shot in one long, unbroken take - with no edits or scene changes, your brain becomes aware that there is absolutely no escape. I couldn't really pinpoint a specific moment here; I genuinely had a non-stop feeling of sinking, shrinking, shriveling helplessness in my gut - which I think qualifies as a great cinematic chill. I was rather surprised by Kermode's lukewarm reaction to this film.

    And secondly - although he's never produced a out-and-out horror movie (or has he?), I think that David Lynch has an incredible ability to unexpectedly terrify his audience, sometimes down to using outright shocks but mostly due to his incredible manipulation of mood and atmosphere. One of the most memorably chilling moments of my cinema-going days (long may they continue) came towards the end of Inland Empire when after a long, suspenseful walk down a very Lynchian hotel corridor (I think), Laura Dern is suddenly confronted by someone whose face is a grotesque, distended distortion of her own. The result is uncanny. This moment was typically presented as a "shock" (quick edit, musical sting etc) but it had a different effect on me. The image is held for several seconds, and for those seconds I felt as though I was sinking deeper and deeper into my seat. In my opinion, this moment is the closest not only Lynch but ANY filmmaker has come to approximating genuine nightmare imagery. It chilled me to the bone.

    I just love David Lynch.

  • Comment number 15.

    For me it has to be the scene in Phillip Kaufmans Invasion of the body Snatchers,when our hero Donald Sutherland does" the scream".To this day it still gives me the willies!

  • Comment number 16.

    For me, one of the most chilling moments of all time is in Pet Semetary, when Rachel has a vision of her deformed sister Zelda, when revisiting her old bedroom. Rather than simply jumping out and giving the audience a cheap scare, Zelda is revealed gradually - crouched down in the corner of the room - so small and insignificant in the frame that she's almost unnoticeable. It's only when Zelda starts slowly moving towards the camera that we notice her. It's not long before her hideous face completely fills the frame and she's yelling psychotically at the top of her voice, straight into the camera. It doesn't make me jump, but just picturing that image in my head now chills me to the bone.

  • Comment number 17.

    I've got to agree with some of the others who have said The Blair Witch Project. Really chilled me and had me looking over my shoulder for some time.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'll second Blair Witch, Signs, and especially the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

    The most chilling scene for me is the phone call scene from Audition. Even with all the gruesome stuff to follow, the image of the woman waiting for the call with her "bag" (shudder) is the one that stuck with me.

  • Comment number 19.

    The Stepford Wives is one of my favourite scary films. It's no horror, but it is indeed creepy. Being a 23 year old man-child, I can't relate to the 70s paranoia first hand, but this is still a film that seriously creeps me out. There are several chilling scenes in this film (the ending is a stand-out), but I really love the scene where a certain character starts to 'freak out' in a kitchen. You'll know it if you've seen it. There are many great films that mix Cold War paranoia and the family unit (Polanski gave us fine examples in Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown) but, for my money, this is the best one.

  • Comment number 20.

    I don’t scare easily but the first time I saw The Sixth Sense when I was about 10 or 11, the dead people had such an effect on me, I didn’t dare look up to the roof of the landing in my house in case I saw someone hanging there.

    I still find the film inherently creepy now, especially the man behind the locked door up the stairs. A scene that completely relies on viewers’ imagination.

  • Comment number 21.

    Two Little Girls: "Come and play with us Kermode.... come and play with us.... forever.... and ever.... and ever"

  • Comment number 22.

    The scene in the diner in Mulloholland Dr. where Patrick Fisher's character tells his friend about a dream he had and then ends up actually seeing the monster he saw in the dream.

    While the telling of the dream was happening I was completely unnerved and when the monster appeared there were goosebumps all over me

  • Comment number 23.

    @ 14

    Yeah, a couple of Lynch's films have had their freaky moments: The reveal of how sick the baby the is in eraserhead, the 'baby wants to....' scene in blue velvet, the reveal of the bum out in the dinner in mulholland dr and laura derns face being superimposed onto someone elses in the massively flawed inland empire.

    For me though, its going have to Audition. Two scenes in particular 1) when Asami is sitting on her knees, head bent down when the phone is ringing ans she smiles 2) when she is outside and stares at the camera then goes behind a tree. Freaky

  • Comment number 24.

    The scene in which Belén Rueda's character is playing that one, two, three knock on the wall game, and every time she turns to look around those kids move ever so closer. Obviously those kids mean no harm, but its one the most spine tingling moments I have experienced.

  • Comment number 25.

    I also feel the Nakata and Lynch moments described above. But here's one that was all the more chilling for its entirely unexpected intensity: the suicide in Norwegian Wood. To a large extent we can thank Jonny Greenwood for that.

  • Comment number 26.

    It has to be The Innocents, specifically the scene where Deborah Kerr has lost the little girl that she's supposed to be looking after. She goes running into the grounds of the mansion where they live and finds her down by the pond - but then she looks up and just watching them from the other side of the pond, in amongst the reeds, is the ghostly figure of a woman. It's so matter-of-fact, which is why it's so effective and I'm getting chills just thinking about it now, even though I'm in an office full of co-workers.

  • Comment number 27.

    There are clearly too many to cover, but, I'll just throw in a few random ones:
    In "Lost Highway," when Bill Pullman is in bed with his wife Patricia Arquette and looks up at her and sees Robert Blake's face superimposed onto hers.

    The first reveal of the dwarf in "Don't Look Now" when she looks up, lifts the knife, and shakes her head at Donald Sutherland. At this moment, we get the existential horror that there is NO hope.

    Oddly, in something that is NOT a horror film, in "Juliet of the Spirits," the entire scene with the Hindu sage Bhishma, which foreshadows "The Exorcist," is spooky as hell. In fact, when Julietta leaves the room, there's a moment where the sage's voice drifts from feminine to masculine in a way that is truly haunting.

    Lastly, the creepy child thing we see first in Bava's "Kill, Baby, Kill" and later wonderfully "borrowed" for Fellini's "Toby Dammit" in "Spirits of the Dead." I can't decide which has a longer impact (I think Fellini' doesn't hurt that both directors used two people to play each part--adding to their allure of the uncanny and indeterminate).

    I love horror, but these moments vibrate long after they are over.

  • Comment number 28.

    Ryan Hamer (17.25) beat me to it for the final scene in The Vanishing and I'd also add the bit in Se7en where we gradually discover that the guy on the bed with all the air fresheners had been been there for a year and had chewed off his own tongue months ago. no gore; all in your own mind.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm not sure I'd have the same reaction today, but when as a child I saw the original portmanteau horror Dead of Night, both the ventriloquists dummy, and the twist of the framing story folding back in on itself, especially that, the thought of being forever trapped in an inescapable loop. Also the ending of Seance on a Wet Afternoon that has a possible, but not explicitly spelled out, interpretation that I thought chilling.

    I may think of something more recent, but in the meantime, I second Sutherland's "scream" noted above. If we're on the subject of Lynch, the whole sequence in Blue Velvet where Frank takes Jeffrey on an extended evening of creeping threat, including Dean Stockwell synching Orbison In Dreams, one of the deepest feelings of genuine dread I've experienced. I always say that Lynch is a filmmaker who knows how to find nerves you didn't know you had, and pinches them.

  • Comment number 30.

    Very recently there was that scene in We Need to Talk About Kevin where, I'm not going to spoil it for anyone who's not seen it yet, but...Tilda Swinton is walking through her house, all the lights are off, and she thinks she sees something out on the lawn, through her window... Brrrr.

  • Comment number 31.

    Not a great movie - but a scene which oddly got to me in the cinema was in The Fourth Kind, Mila Jojovich's alien nonsense-festival.

    Now, UFO films are rarely scary and The Fourth Kind has so many flaws that it's easy to dismiss, but I genuinely found the 'possession' scenes of the supposed abductees pretty disturbing, especially the last one, as victim's jaw dislocates and the voice of 'god' bellows ferociously around the room.

    Give it a watch if you haven't seen it. It really is creepy. Oh, and I'll also chip in with The Grudge. The ghost's deathly croak on the other end of a phone line still bothers me.

  • Comment number 32.

    Perhaps its a bit weird but a scene that left me chilled to the core and a shivering wreck is the introduction to OCTOPUSSY.... a clown running through a forrest pursued by his assassins... absolutely terrifying although I must admit I was about 7 years old when I saw it.... and I think I'm over it now.

    Another terrifying film which I saw when I was young was RETURN TO OZ which is full of shocking moments... the desert that turns people to sand, the queen who changes heads and the chamber where she stores her heads.... all chilling, although maybe there not so chilling to less impressionable adult eyes.

  • Comment number 33.

    The final 20 minutes of Se7en is chilling for various reasons including the fact that it does not have a happy ending.

    For a start, the weather. For the whole of the film, it has been raining and that creates a very effective atmosphere. Right at the end they drive into the countryside and it is sunny. When I saw that I thought we would have a happy ending but then the UPS guy turns up with a box and we all know what happens from there.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think one of the most chilling scenes in cinema is the conversation between Delbert Grady and Jack Torrence in the bathroom in The Shining. It’s an incredibly static scene, Grady’s head barely moves, his eyes are piercing slits. He transforms from innocent waiter to understated psychopath with his posh voice and rolling R’s:

    “My children didn’t care for the Overlook hotel at first… I corrrrected them sir, and when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I corrrrected her.”

    I find that scene more chilling than seeing the horrific aftermath of his massacre.

  • Comment number 35.

    Well for me, 2 major movie moments chilled me the most.
    The first is the Others, and although it's hard for me to choose a specific moment in that film seeing as it's all-around a haunting film, I think the scene where Nicole Kidman finds out her servants have been ghosts all along is pretty un-nerving.
    My second moment is the dream sequence in The Exorcist where you just catch a 1-second glimpse of Pazuzu's face. That chilling, black and white visage is probably one of the scariest images I've ever seen in a film.

  • Comment number 36.

    As I am one of your younger watchers, the most chilling thing I ever saw was when I has seven. The scene in the return of the king when smegul leads frodo into the layer of the spider still sents 'chills' down my spin, it made me lay awake in my bed suspecting the most Insect shaped shadows in my room for months... Well weeks.

  • Comment number 37.

    Have to concur with Moonchild1982 about Kaufmann's Body-Snatchers - particularly the zoom on Sutherland's open mouth and fade to black.

    But for me, it has to be the last 4 minutes of Chinatown. Polanski tricks the viewer so convincingly into thinking that Gittes will triumph and Evelyn will escape from Noah Cross with her [SPOILER ALERT] sister/ daughter. And then - out of nothing - the whole world is turn upside down, and everything is torn apart. Cross, the embodiment of evil, prevails unconditionally, while Gittes understands the futility of doing the right thing and is forced to leave the girl and the world to its miserable fate. The first time I saw Chinatown it felt like my heart had been ripped out and I didn't sleep for a week.

  • Comment number 38.

    The scene in "The Fly" of Jeff Goldblum slowly being told by his computer what is happening to him, ending with a picture of the insect. Even though it's pretty much impossible to watch the film without knowing the full premise, it's an unnerving scene thanks to DC's direction and JG's performance.

    By a mile though, the one scene that STILL chills me is the repeated hallucination scene in John Carpenter's massively underrated "Prince of Darkness", of a black figure hovering in a church doorway. It isn't a shock, and it isn't a gross-out; but the hand-held camera nature of the scene makes it so effective, a million times more so than the entirety of Blair Witch or Cloverfield.

  • Comment number 39.

    The ending of Carnival of Souls gives me the willies

  • Comment number 40.

    My vote has to go to Isabell Adjani's infamous scene (you know which one) from Andrzej Zulawski's unnerving masterpiece Possession. The violence and guttural nature of the scene couple with it's extended length makes my spine clench up every time.

  • Comment number 41.

    The shot in The Fog (Carpenter's), after John Houseman has told his story to those kids with bad haircuts: Camera tracks up to a spooky view of the local coastline. That combined with the audio always makes the hairs on my neck stand up.
    Other than that it has to be Sam Neill trapped in a confined space in Event Horizon. Slick and highly effective moment.

  • Comment number 42.

    I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll just say THAT moment in the original Japanese Dark Water. Anyone who's seen that film will know what I mean. There's a creeping sense of unease and dread throughout, but there is a bit towards the end where it all just reaches a crescendo, and the first time I saw it I actually though my heart stopped beating.

  • Comment number 43.

    For me the most chilling scene ever appears in the Japanese horror film Ringu in which the main character is emptying the well, i watched the entire scene with goosebumps all over me expecting the jump scare which never happened. I watched it with two friends who were disappointed that there wasn't a jump scare pay-off and didn't listen to my explanation that a film doesn't need constant jump scares to be scary just atmosphere and that any film that can hold your attention like that for entire sequence is much more scary than one which consists of jump scare after jump scare.

  • Comment number 44.

    I'd also agree with whoever suggested the man behind Winkie's in Mulholland Drive. It's all down to the weird story that Dan tells, followed by his slow march to back of the restaurant. And it's all in broad daylight. Extra kudos for Lynch.

  • Comment number 45.

    Oddly I find it's the moment of shared realisation in "The Conversation" between the audience and Gene Hackman when you both realise that he has catastrophically misinterpreted everything with fatal consequences.

    Another tremendous chill is from "Session 9" when you finally understand why Gordon keeps being seen in flashback sitting outside his house and what actually happened when he did go home.

  • Comment number 46.

    I'll have to be a bit typical and go with The Shining. The first time I saw it, I wasn't impressed or scared, but the more viewings I had, the more it put my nerves on edge. The score and unrelentingly slow pace just sets my pulse racing.

    I also have to give a quick word to The Beyond, a Lucio Fulci classic, whom I know Mark isn't a fan of, but it's disjointed nature and surreal atmosphere, where you are totally out of control, makes it the closest to a bad nightmare I have seen portrayed on screen.

  • Comment number 47.

    Chilling scenes that come to mind are:

    'The Others' - the little girl playing in the bridesmaids dress before revealing the elderly lady still spooks me now.

    'Suspiria' - Blind man. Guide dog. Gargoyles. Courtyard. Dramatically increasing score. Hands over eyes. Body shivering.

  • Comment number 48.

    Oh, I've just watched the good Doctor and he already said that scene in Dark Water. Serves me right for leaping straight in. But I definitely agree with him, it was a moment where my blood ran cold.

  • Comment number 49.

    'Lets Scare Jessica To Death' The scene where she's swimming, underated/little seen gem of a film

  • Comment number 50.

    No.1 - Absolutely has to be the ending of Hideo Nakata's Ringu, when Sadako (Samara, please!) comes out of the TV. I've never been so unnerved during a film.

    No. 2 - When Shelley Duvall opens the manuscript for the book her husband Jack is writing in The Shining and realises he's gone completely mad, all that's written is again and again "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy". It worked so well and totally creeped me out.

    The Orphanage, The Others and Open Your Eyes are also excellent.

  • Comment number 51.

    The demented pale man sequence in Pan's Labyrinth. It haunted my dreams for weeks afterwards. Still, it's probably my favourite movie monster.

  • Comment number 52.

    There's a scene in Takashi Miike's Audition, which is very brief but is the absolute turning point of the film. The first 40 minutes sets up a more light hearted film with a man interviewing women, who he is presumably grooming. He decides to ring the girl he found the most interesting. Then we get a cutaway into the girl's apartment, she's sat cross legged, very still, her head hung, her black hair shrouding her face and there's a bag in the background of the shot, the phone begins to ring and the bag starts to lurch. Genuinely creepy stuff.

  • Comment number 53.

    The ringwraiths in LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring. Why? They just tower over the hobbits and as Viggo explains, they have no other purpose or emotion other than to seek the ring.

    I remember waiting to see The Man Who Wasn't There in the cinema following the release of Fellowship and being chilled by the wailing screams of the Nazgul coming from one of the other screens.

    It might be a PG movie but still scares the bejaysus outta me!

  • Comment number 54.

    Funny how both of my most spine chilling moments in film star Veronica Cartwright!

    The most spine chilling moment I can remember from a film that still today has the same effect on me now as it did when I first watched it when I was a teen was the ending of the 1978 version of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Donald Sutherland's screech at Veronica Cartwright is slightly less creepier than his eyes!

    A close second would be from Alien where Ripley is running to try to save Lambert and Parker and all she can hear are Lambert's (Cartwright again!) screams over the intercom as she is horribly killed. Its the not seeing part of that mixed with her blood curdling screams that really sends a shiver down my spine.

  • Comment number 55.

    Now, my cinematic experiences may be much fewer than others on this list, but speaking as the much younger person I was at the time, I would like to humbly submit Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as the film in which I was, undoubtedly, chilled the most. Without doubt, Christian Coulson rearranging 'TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE' to 'I AM LORD VOLDEMORT' unto a defenceless, stand-alone Harry trapped in a chamber containing a giant snake which kills its victims with sight and is at the beck and call of the most evil wizard of all time, who is also with him, in control of Harry's only means of defence, sent immeasurable chills down MY spine at least. Though this may sound rather pathetic, I think that Columbus certainly got the better of my rationality - I had read the book and was well aware of the actual outcome, but was still overcome with a sense that just about nothing was right - surely that qualifies a good chill if it can chill you more than one time round? Perhaps my defences were down after a scene where a large amount of spiders were present (suffering quite largely from arachnophobia), and perhaps this may be considered a little childish, but this certainly had so many chills running down my spine that I suffered from hypothermia for days on end...

  • Comment number 56.

    Another real chilling moment is 'that scene' from CASINO... the sound of the baseball bat... the sand in the mouth... it makes me feel queazy just to think about it. Though I suppose its rather a graphic portrayal of events rather than the unseen chilling events Mark is talking about.

  • Comment number 57.

    The scene in Mulholland Drive that a couple of folk have already mentioned, behind the diner. It was so at odds with the rest of the film, but the tension before it was almost tangible.

  • Comment number 58.

    The first scene from the animated adaptation of Rohl Dahl's BFG starring David Jason always sent me behind the sofa as a child. The site of the evil giants never scared me, but the sight of a cloaked figure wandering round the streets at night, opening children's windows and infecting their minds always chilled me to the core.

  • Comment number 59.

    On your recommendation my partner and I recently watched Kill List which Im not too sure I should thank you for. The whole film had a desparate, impending feeling of unease which culminated in an ending which my partner and I were left chilled to the bone. An ending which has still got us discussing how it made us feel.

  • Comment number 60.

    I have to agree with Constantine88...
    The black figure hovering in a church doorway in several scenes from Prince of Darkness. The remainder of the film scares me in no way whatsoever (nevertheless a blimmin' entertaining John Carpenter ride), but those scenes absolutely rocket the fear-factor. I remember when first seeing it being frozen in terror..... the radio static..... the handheld camera.... eeshk.

    The other scene that springs to mind is from The Exorcist. The clock on the wall stopping behind Father Merrin at the archaeological dig. Still does it for me thinking about it...

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm going to drop a really obvious one in here: The ending to the original Halloween.

    The whole film's a rollercoaster with the nerve-shredding build-up of the first half followed by the jumpy shocks of the second half. But it's at the end that we're treated to its most 'chilling' moment: the camera slowly pulling away from house, with Michael Myers' deep breathing enough to leave us with an unshakable sense of dread.

    It is not only the most chilling scene in horror, but one of - if not THE - greatest scene in cinema history.

  • Comment number 62.

    The kitchen scene in 'Goodfellas' where the wiseguys are having dinner with Joe Pesci's mother looking at her religious paintings and such. Pesci asks if he can take her carving knife because they ran over a deer and its hoof is stuck on the car. What makes this scene so chilling is that Pesci and De Niro seem very blithe about their grisly intentions.

  • Comment number 63.

    I found the scene in 'Pierrepoint' where Albert (Spall) is faced with performing the hanging of his close friend extremely chilling. Having already been aware of the storyline, and Albert Pierrepoint's life story, it was chilling to see his friend revealed as the next criminal facing his punishment. Timothy Spall's sensational performance causes this scene to leave me stiff in my seat from the chills it sends through my body. A wonderful film depicting a tragic story.

  • Comment number 64.

    Rosemary's Baby. "To 1966 - the year one!"

  • Comment number 65.

    The portrayal of The Devil in Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ gave me chills particularly the scene where Christ sees (him/her/it?) in the crowd holding what is probably the anti-Christ child.

    Also, the village of hillbillies Deliverance.

  • Comment number 66.

    Second to the conclusions of Wicker Man and Casino— the Summerisle and cornfield, both have a very far-flung feel. The sequences take the human element out of the killers, who are motivated by outside forces and the victims helplessly expect they will be saved. Furthermore, both are images that stick, for me.

  • Comment number 67.

    *That* moment near the end of Masayuki Ochiai's 'Shutter' when Joshua Jackson's character Ben finally finds out where his stalker-ghost has been hiding all a long. My daughter sat me down and made me watch the movie with her JUST so she could see the look on my face at that very moment. Freaky. Chilling. Memorable.

  • Comment number 68.

    Mrs Amworth -- Glynis Johns, 1975. The scene in the graveyard set to a heartbeat audio overlay. Appropriately heart stopping!

  • Comment number 69.

    The Exorcist:
    The moment when Regan/Pazuzu bellows Merrin's name as he enters the house and you realise that it already knows him.
    That never gets old.

  • Comment number 70.

    I know this isn't a scene, but the situation of John Carpenter's The Thing is the most unsettling I've ever seen. Even though most people think it relies heavily on gore and violence, the true horror of the film is the uncertainty and paranoia that is created. The fact that we don't know who is human nor do we see the true nature of the alien menace makes the film utterly frightening.

  • Comment number 71.

    Two moments come to mind: In Jee-woon Kim’s “A tale of two Sisters” – there can be no debate on the chill inducing scene where two couples are having dinner in the kitchen. One of the women falls violently to the floor in an apparent fit. In the next scene as the couple drive home, the traumatised woman who suffered the fit calmly reveals “I saw something strange in that house…there was a girl under the sink” scene jump cuts to the kitchen focusing on the gap under the sink; There’s a girl in the dark under the sink! Needless to say, this scene always leaves me stone cold!

    But just when you thought things couldn’t get chillier, along comes “Noroi –the curse” a Japanese faux documentary slowly focusing on rituals associated with a demon known as kagutaba. The scene that follows the end credits is so utterly ghastly, so frightening and blood curdling that I was too frightened to watch the damned film again! But I did, and that ending’s power didn’t fade…it got worse! I don’t know many people who’ve seen it so I’ll try not to spoil it too much. Suffice to say that the scene involves a man who breaks into a house threatening to kill a boy…for a split second we finally get to see the demon…if there’s a scene more chilling than this one, well quite frankly…I don’t want to know!

  • Comment number 72.

    The film that always sticks in my mind is Blair Witch Project, in particular the last shot in the film. That image still haunts my dreams to this day.

  • Comment number 73.

    I bought 'The Orphanage' (El Orfanato') on DVD last year, and it is one of my favourite films in recent years.

    I felt there was a sublime chilliness running throughout the entire film, and it was mesmerizingly suspenseful. The mask on the little boy, and the counting game scene as culminations of this.

    Mark, you are right about Belén Rueda; she's a magnificent actress. I wanted to rip through the screen, and give her a hug.

  • Comment number 74.

    An obvious Kermode-pleasing suggestion, but the moment in The Exorcist when Father Karras sees an apparition of his mother sitting upright on Regan's bed, bathed in white light. No hokey 'shock' effects on the soundtrack, just eerie silence. The definition of chilling.

  • Comment number 75.

    Ju-on, without a doubt: the scene where the girl lifts up the blanket and sees the little boy staring at her just totally, totally creeps me out every time.

  • Comment number 76.

    Bruce Willis slowly realising that there is another voice on the tape recorder in Sixth Sense.

  • Comment number 77.

    - The end of Spoorloos (The Vanishing)
    - Isabella Adjani's 'staring scene' in Possession
    - The end of Vertigo, (SPOILER) when Kim Novack's character panics at the sight of the nun walking up the stairs and throws herself from the tower. Why did she do it?!?
    - The American remake of Ringu, the television scene towards the end. Much creepier than the original.
    - Ingmar Bergman's Face to Face, the scene when (SPOILER) Liv Ulman's character awakes to find a grandma sitting over her!
    - Kwaidan, pretty much all of it, but the final scene with the ghost/man in the well is pretty creepy.

  • Comment number 78.

    There is no question for me in terms of scariest film in general.
    It has to be Audition, it gives me chills just thinking about it.

    Additionally I would put a case forward for the first 30 minutes of Irreversible, the endings to Ringu and Se7en, and from my childhood it would be the hatching scene from Gremlins.

    Recently I have not been affected as much by many films, although Albert Brooks in Drive made a pretty terrifying villain using just a knife and fork

  • Comment number 79.

    I'm going to strongly second Ringu. The scene with the girl slowly crawling through the tv is terrifying as are the portentious telephone calls. And yes, the US remakes paled in comparison.

  • Comment number 80.

    danny glick tapping at the window in salems lot still gives me the creeps.the rest of the movie is rubbish..its just that one scene.

  • Comment number 81.

    I wouldn't say audition was chilling in the same way ringu was. Audition was more gore based than psychological.

  • Comment number 82.

    The end of psycho. When Norman Bates gives his internal monologue to the camera - "I wouldn't even swat that fly....."

  • Comment number 83.

    To me one of the most chilling scenes ever comes in the underrated hammer classic the Nanny, starring Betty Davis and directed by Seth holt. The scene where we find out what the nanny has been doing chilled me to the bone and the image of the girl in the bathtub is a hundred times scary than any hostel or saw film.

  • Comment number 84.

    Regardless of what you think, Mark. I think that The Shining is the scariest film I've ever seen, the is imagery in that film that I still can't look at to this day. Particularly, the sequence in the hall with the two kids, but more so with the scene in the girl in the bathtub. I have to walk out of the room when I those sequences are about to happen, because I have a sense memory of watching them as a 8 year old boy late one night on Channel 4 curling into my mum's arms in fear. Which leads me to the question, of what exactly is your problem with The Shining. I understand how The Exorcist is better, blah blah blah. But what exactly is it about The Shining that you don't like?

  • Comment number 85.

    The scene in Pet Sematary when the son gets run over by a speeding truck. On top of the shock that such a tragedy in itself can give to the viewer, I think that the way that it's put together, how suddenly it happens, the speed of the truck, the visual of the son's shoe rolling on the ground after the impact, and the father's scream, together with the awareness for the viewer of what the boy's death is bound to lead to, makes the scene so incredibly powerful that I can't think of any other that comes close to it.

    In second place I could put the scene in the in the same film with the sister Zelda, for its sheer creepiness.

  • Comment number 86.

    i saw the amityville horror when i was far too young (i managed to see it without any grown ups knowing - look who had the last laugh!) the whole thing freaked me out for a long, long time. the evil looking house with it's awful windows, and that horrible, chilling music. put me off 'horror' movies for years. i now watch them without any trouble, but i have to say the scene where the girl breaks the dad's neck near the end of Paranormal Activity 2 made me feel deeply uncomfortable and so did a couple of scenes from Insidious.

  • Comment number 87.

    From recent films I would go for the end of Buried. It really wasn't any kind of shock or surprise but as the light goes out and his time is over you know that it's not just him, it's you as well. One day, probably in less dramatic circumstances, the light will go out for you too. That was a cheerful drive home.

  • Comment number 88.

    Firstly, good on hannahpancake (#63) for mentioning "Pierrepoint". Whilst I wasn't really chilled by Spall's offing of Eddie Marzan, since the film had largely built him up as a human and tragic figure by that point in the film (which, then again, is surely the message of the movie), a lot of the earlier scenes where Spall is an apprentice hangman, calmly and methodically estimating the amount of rope to effect a clean kill, and striving to break the record for the quickest snapped neck, are unsettling if not deeply chilling.

    Secondly, I'd like to suggest a couple of other chilling moments, namely, the cave scene from "Ravenous" and the second half of Takashi Miike's short film "Imprint", which was produced as part of the US "Showcase" channel's "Masters of Horror" series.

    "Ravenous" is a very entertaining black comedy-horror-redemption tale about cannibals in the Old West. In the cave sequence, the bizarre and probably mad fugitive Colquhoun leads the dysfunctional force stationed at Fort Spencer in the Nevada mountains to a cave in which a villainous guide named Ives has trapped and consumed the rest of Colquhoun's pioneer caravan, save for a single woman. The cinematography and score (by Damian Albarn) make for an extremely tense scene, and the payoff is both surprising and chilling, painting Ives as a memorably wicked and amoral villain.

    As for "Imprint", I say the second half of the film because the first half is basically torture porn at its worst. The setup is that a travelling Yankee arrives at a Japanese brothel searching for the prostitute he vowed to rescue once he had the money to support her. He meets a physically deformed courtesan who claims to have seen his lost love, setting up the frame narrative for a story based around the concept of the unreliable narrator (compare the excellent "Rashomon", in style if not in substance). It gets a little... outré, but the whole thing is filled with a brooding menace that I for one found profoundly unsettling; haunting, even. Which is why I can't bring myself to hate it even if it is revelling in torture porn and debauchery more than it has any right or reason to.

  • Comment number 89.

    For me it is the Devils Backbone and the wet footprints across the floor. It probably didn't help that I watched that film in hospital.

  • Comment number 90.

    The first thing that springs to mind is the brutal scene in the tunnel in Gaspar Noé's Irréversible, or possibly even the last moments of the Blair Witch Project.

    But I think the undisputed king of chilling moments would be several parts of David Lynch's Eraserhead. Come to think of it, I nominate the entire film.

  • Comment number 91.

    Sorry, Showtime, not Showcase. I mispoke.

  • Comment number 92.

    When I watched Roman Polanski's 1965 film Repulsion on late night TV in the 1970's I began to wish that I had not bothered. Everything was so ordinary and rather dull. Nothing particularly interesting seemed to be happening but just when I was thinking I would give up on it Catherine Deneuve reached for a light switch and a long crack suddenly appeared on the wall. All my hair stood on end. Yes, I know how pathetic such a tiny thing sounds but that is when I realised that the character was going quietly insane and not in a big obvious way but in a creepy insidious way.

    I am embarrassed to admit that it shook me so much I decided I did not want to watch it on my own and I went to bed where I lay awake wondering what happened next.

    It is now on my Lovefilm list. Maybe I will be a bit more blasé several decades on and I will wonder what the fuss was all about.

  • Comment number 93.

    I'll never forget the time I saw Schindler's list for the first time. Just thinking of that scene in the showers, nothing chills me more. Their sense of relief, but of course we the viewer are all too aware of the horror to come. Chilling in every sense of the word.

  • Comment number 94.

    For me it's definitely the dwarf in Nicolas Roeg's masterpiece Don't Look Now. While there are many wonderful spine chilling moment in other films, The Innocents, Ringu, Wicker Man and the aforementioned Dark Water all spring to mind, the first time I saw the dwarf reveal in Don't Look Now I felt a tingle at the base of my neck that worked its way down my back quite literally chilling my spine. Well, tingling my spine might be a more accurate description but you get the idea.

  • Comment number 95.

    It may sound odd but one of the most uncomfortable and chilling experiences I've ever had at the cinema was during Toy Story 3 (in 2D). The incinerator scene was incrediblly harrowing the first and second time of watching it I honestly thought that there was nothing that they all could do. The characters' loss of control actually gave me chills probably because of such fantastic story telling and character building.

    The same could also be said for the opening sequence in Up. The sudden shock turns change you from feeling warm to cold in an instant.

  • Comment number 96.

    For me a scene that has absolutely no horror/violence or scares but chills my very soul has always been the moment in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, when David Bowie appears as the long lost phillip jeffries, Agent Cooper is frozen is the security camera whilst looking at himself, echoed jazz music floats through the air CUT to television static and the room with the spirits. Who can forget Jurgen Prochnow with that beard. utterly creeps me when i see that

  • Comment number 97.

    There's a simple but VERY effective jump scare in Mario Bava's final movie SCHOCK, where a child runs towards Daria Niccolodi down a hallway, and suddenly transforms into a creepy, full-grown man when he reaches her... And then there's the very unnerving laugh of Robert Blake at the end of the 'I'm at your house. Call me...' scene in LOST HIGHWAY. Brrr.

  • Comment number 98.

    An incredible chill moment (as opposed to shock) for me is in Roman Polanki's underrated "The Tenant" when the main character realizes that strange people are staring into his flat from a window across the court yard.

    Other moments: the (sublimal image) demon face in The Exorcist, the "tip toe through the tulips" sequence with the little boy in Insidious and the final scene in Don't look now. As far as well done ghost / haunted house chillers are concerned I would like to mention the often forgotten The Changeling (1980, directed by Peter Medac, starring George C Scott) - creepy house and lots of slow building sequences without cheap scares + a very convincing George C Scott in the leading role.

  • Comment number 99.

    Agree Mark - Dark Water is a superb old-fashioned scare fest which was overlooked - most of my "film friends" have barely even heard of it. For me it is one of the best "Asia extreme" movies - up their with Ring, Phone and The Eye.
    I also found the complete switch in Audition scarey as I hadn't known about it beforehand and wasn't expecting it all (and don't get me started on THAT scene...).
    Another thing that creeped me first time I saw it was the brief glimpse on an alien passing a birthday party in Signs - made me jump!

  • Comment number 100.

    The Exorcist gave me chills when you see shots of captain howdy's hideous face for about three times so creepy. Alien and The Shining also gave me chills because of their very disturbing atmospheres.


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