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Chilled Out

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Mark Kermode | 18:07 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

A while back I asked you to tell me which film scenes really gave you the chills - here I pick out some of the scariest suggestions.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I've seen a lot of horror movies in my time - the local rental shop paid no heed to the video nasty furore of the 80s (the long tentacles of the classification board didn't seem to reach as far as urban N. Ireland - I suppose they figured that if we wanted to see bloodshed, murder and apocalytic massacre we only had to turn on the local news), so I got to see all the so-called corrupting classics on an almost daily basis - but nothing - neither zombie, cannibal nor serial killer - compared to the debilitating fright I got as a six-year-old upon seeing Disney's live action classic(?) 'Darby O'Gill & the Little People'! There was a banshee, a ghostly coach with spectral attendees - not to mention Sean Connery's Irish accent! I was absolutely petrified and had to be carried home in a big blanket.

    If you're talking about more adult stuff - it has to be the old Nigel Kneale classic from 1972 'The Stone Tape'. There's something about those old BBC studio-bound chillers - even the stagey stuff - that makes your blood run that wee bit colder. Probably why all those Blair Witch-type-things are so successful, because VT gives spooky stuff a 'realistic' edge.

  • Comment number 2.

    Most of the films mentioned have definitely chiled me, but as I'm nineteen, most of them I've seen on DVD or on TV. So I'm very, very glad that I've finally seen something in the cinema for the first time that has chilled me to the bone: Martha Marcy May Marlene.

    I still haven't quite got over the sheer creeping horror of it.

  • Comment number 3.

    Seeing all those old black-and-white movies has put me in mind of an old film I saw on telly about 13-15 years ago. I can't remember the name and have been frantically trying to track it down to see if it's as creepy as I remember it being when I was ten.

    In case there are any good Samaritan film buffs out there, the film is about a wealthy industrialist who is blinded in an industrial accident. As he adjusts to his disability he becomes increasingly convinced that his wife is trying to kill him, and he generally spirals into madness. I don't think I saw it all the way through to the end, but I'll always remember how strange and frightening that concept was: paranoia and self-doubt in the aftermath of a crippling, life-changing event. Brr...

  • Comment number 4.

    That's not Grady, that's Lloyd the bartender!

  • Comment number 5.

    NO HOMEWORK?!?!?!?!

    How about chilling soundtracks?

    Ennio Morricone's OST to the Thing ranks as a high fave for me but not so much the heart beating BOM BOM... BOM BOM... but more of the incidental music.

    Then, still in the 80s, we have Mark Isham's 'at the time underated' soundtrack to The Hitcher. The atmosphere alone that it created almost made me say "I WANNA DIE".

    The great Bernard Herman composed many fine OSTs but his work on The Ghost and Mrs Muir - though not a horror, still sends an air of chill up my spine.

    Jerry Goldsmith, sorry, the late Jerry Goldsmith did for me twice, 1) Logan's Run, again, often missed as a classic OST but excellent use of synthiziers setting my teeth on edge. Then 2) Planet of the Apes. Disguarded by many for having no real melodies, what a load of tosh! There are melodies a plenty, with the "The Hunt" scaring the crap out of me, (although saying that, very little beats the sound of ocean waves and no OST as the titles rise).

    Miklos Rozsa also did it for me in Hitchcock's Spellbound as the same melody is played over and over again everytime Gregory Peck remembered something, (or misremembered).

    Finally, Allan Gray and the melody which occured whenever Conductor 71 ever appeared in A matter of Life and Death!

  • Comment number 6.

    P.S. Who on earth is moderating these posts at 23pm? Good work who ever it is!

  • Comment number 7.

    I've just been DM'd on another internet social media service which happens to have a bluebird as its symbol that I had forgotten Goblin's theme to Dawn of the Dead.

    No I didn't.

    hence why I didn't include it.

  • Comment number 8.

    What makes you think I have better things to do? Just carry on as long as you like.

    Silent Running was pretty chilling for me. The murders were just practical but the idea of the dead, corporate-owned Earth with just humans (and cockroaches?) that those spaceships represented throughout the film left me hopelessly despairing.

  • Comment number 9.

    @1 Phud "If you're talking about more adult stuff - it has to be the old Nigel Kneale classic from 1972 'The Stone Tape'. There's something about those old BBC studio-bound chillers - even the stagey stuff - that makes your blood run that wee bit colder. Probably why all those Blair Witch-type-things are so successful, because VT gives spooky stuff a 'realistic' edge."

    I completely agree with Phud, The Stone Tape is a brilliant, chilling play (as is the black and white version of Whistle and I'lle Come to You. As for the colour remake with John Hurt - that is about as scary as wet weekend in Penge). To this I would add The Signalman (the other Christmas ghost story written by Charles Dickens, adapted by Andrew Davis and starring a brilliant Denholm Elliot who goes quietly round the twist for 40 minutes).

    I'm also surprised nobody has mentioned Ghostwatch which has only been shown once on TV in 1994 and caused such a stink that the BBC have not shown it since.

  • Comment number 10.

    I`m with you on dog face. EEbbeeggeeebbeeezzz

  • Comment number 11.

    I realise its technically a TV movie. But The Signalman, with a stark, ghostly image of a gaping mouthed face waving in horror. Well that was literally the stuff of my nightmares as a kid. Its such a simple image. Its bizarre that the most chilling cinematic images tend to be someone standing, staring...and us not knowing why.

  • Comment number 12.

    Goodness me, no mention at all of the 1980 film 'The Changeling' starring George C Scott? There's a number of chilling moments in that, but the most effective one is very simple ......... a red ball bouncing down some stairs. Watch it and you'll see. It's very, very effective.

    I'd also nominate the 1989 TV movie of The Woman in Black - some very good moments in that too, but the most effective has to be THAT bedroom scene (I won't spoil it) as well as the nursey scene.

  • Comment number 13.

    And of course, as mentioned by Browncoat1013, the excellent BBC TV version of The Signalman - some great moments in that. There's 'the face' of course, but I also found the woman falling out of the train very chilling. You'll need to see it to understand (maybe!).

  • Comment number 14.

    homework for this week:

    watch the oscars ceremony from start to finish without falling asleep


    watch football factory and the business without doing silly danny dyer impressions

  • Comment number 15.

    By coincidence, last night I saw a 20th anniversary screening of Fire Walk With Me - one of the last remaining 35mm prints. As a huge Twin Peaks fan I remember not really warming to the film the first time around, but I have to say I am still completely creeped out today and can't stop thinking about it. I think the worst thing about it is that it is not just terrifying (but possibly not as terrifying as Pierce Brosnan's singing) but it also has a devastating emotional depth which makes it relatable despite the supernatural elements. Just great stuff.

  • Comment number 16.

    Talking of scary films - just got back from Woman in Black, some good scares, but film ruined by noisy s*dding kids - screaming at every little thing! Staff couldn't really do anything with so many, but I now have 5 free tickets!

    Who says the English don't complain!

    Why did the BBFC knock it down to a 12A by tampering with noise volume, sound effects, what have you? A 15 certficate MIGHT have prevented little kiddies getting in!

  • Comment number 17.

    No mention of Blatty's Exorcist III? That film has at least two of the most spinechilling scenes ever

  • Comment number 18.

    I had forgotten about that part of Darby O'Gill and the Little People, but you are right: that terrified me. Now the film just makes me sad that Janet Munro didn't have a better life.

    Mark went through a lot of Lynch films, but I want to hear what people said about Dune.

  • Comment number 19.

    Gee Mark, thanks a bundle! I really think Pazuzu should have a warning. (Look away now...) Will get precisely no sleep tonight. That darn face.... scariest of them all :(

  • Comment number 20.

    OFF TOPic. I`m seriously hopeing for Chico and Rita tonight at the Oscars. One of the animators teaches my son media studie. It was very long hours and very hard work! but boy did that pay off, its a lovely story ,wonderfully told particularly if you like Jazz.

  • Comment number 21.

    If your talking about scary soundtracks, how about Tangerene Dream's spooky synthersizers on William Friedkins 'The Sourcerer'... I must admit i haven't seen the movie but i have the soundtrack and it really makes my hairs stand on end.

  • Comment number 22.

    Mark, funny you had to add Fire Walk with Me, because that was the only film I mentioned in my post. Anyway, a lot of great picks in this video.

  • Comment number 23.

    I remember a genuinely creepy Spanish short from early 70s, shown as part of BBC2's regular Saturday horror nights. It was the simple tale of a man getting stuck in a telephone box (the La Cabina of the title) and to this day I still have a fear of telephone boxes!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Surely the silencio nightclub scene from Mulholland Drive is a more 'chilling' moment compared to the figure behind winkie's scene?

  • Comment number 25.

    Missed the original discussion but if you're still interested, I'm really disappointed by the lack of real chills in modern TV and cinema. I'm always searching for that feeling of suspending my disbelief as you do watching certain stuff as a kid, like the Wolf from Never Ending Story, the devil mountain from Fantasia, the wierd fairytale characters from Return to Oz or something to that effect. That feeling of being frozen to your seat and the film has your complete attention.

    I guess recently the few that have effetced me were: Kill List (e.g. when the Librarian thanks Jay, or when a woman waves to Jay in his hotel bedroom, or the last 10 minutes), Enter the Void (Sebastien is stuck in a small toilet in club and the police are going nuts trying to bang the door down and threatening to shoot him - you never actually see the shot or the policeman holding the gun - it's mainly done through disorientation and really realistic sound effects), Eyes Wide Shut - admitedly flawed, but..(when the doctor is summoned by a butler to follow him and he finds himself infront of a court of masked cult elders who suspect him of being a fraud, which he is - he is awkward and humiliated like a powerless child), Babycall (Noomi Repace climbs up onto the ledge holding something and the story unravels and ends), Livide (the scene where the old witch emerges from the darkness and lurks around behind the young thiefs - her eyes in particular), The Monk (a young monk discovers Vincent Cassell's crime and descends into the quadrangle and gardens, Cassel's rose garden, and the devil seemingly stalks him in the shadows - but you see almost nothing but shadows - almost entirely suggestions from the actors reactions and fear), Lost Souls (demonic spirits force a wall to contort and writhe during William Hurt's exorcism), Emily Rose (when she has a fit in her dorm room and her muscles contort and seize up and her eyes fully dilate - no screaming - the silence is really creepy, slightly ruined by the interuptions from a voice over - also the part where she smashes a window and vaults from the second floor into a field running at full pelt, feeling no pain - basically scenes where her thin, seemingly weak body suddenly takes on unnatural qualities or strength, like a form of sleep-walking), the darkened corridors and anticipation\claustrophobia of the apartment scenes in Lynch's Lost Highway, the scene from 'The Seventh Victim' where a self-styled 'satanic' cult of well heeled New York sophisticates try to use psychology to pressure a woman into drinking a poison (the eagerness in their eyes and multiple faded shots), the recent German Fritzel-like paedo film 'Michael' when you see Michael injuring himself and going to hospital when you know that the boy is ill and locked up - the realisation that the boy could probably suffer and possibly die in that place alone, undetected, unknown, despairing - again utilising the audiences imagination of a scene completely seperate from what they are actually seeing - clever structure of scenes in build up. Possibly the scene in Drive where you see the blacked out black saloon car parked up next to Ryan Gosling as he waits for his friend to return from a heist - it's very clear that something is going to go horribly wrong so you're just looking around for little signs of who's responsible or where is going to kick-off first - Goslings silent realisation that it's a stitch up - again very little is actually seen and the people in the black car are never seen at any point.

    so, as others said, many of the types of ploys that you would hope horror directors would be clever enough to use just end up in 'thrillers' or some other type of drama and horrors become increasingly predictable with the odd exception - sadly many horror fans actually seem to like the predictability of a bog standard zombie\teenageslasher\vamp\handheldcamera\slicemeuptorture flick. They cheers the 'payoffs' like it's a sport or something - the antihero is the champ.

  • Comment number 26.

    forgot to concur with the suggestion of Martha,Marcy,May,Marlene

    that entire film is created through our suspense and knowledge of the girl's history - nothing is ever explicitly spelled out, mimicing the confusing experience of being brainwashed by a cult till you don't know what's real.

  • Comment number 27.

    Pierce Brosnan -- the horror the horror! It was his "vocal stylings" that inspired my strange alternate universe review:
    "Mamma Mia! as directed by Michael Haneke"

    And much concurring for:

    The Darby O'Gill banshee (which both scared me silly, and made me want to go back and see it again the next day), I wonder if this was what Spielberg was going for in that moment in Raiders... when the Ark is opened and things go a bit bat guano, a rapturous phantom appearing before Paul Freeman suddenly goes very ugly indeed.

    And Body Snatchers dog face which is creepy in an early body horror kinda way, where the Sutherland scream is nihilistically chilling as we're just doomed. Dog face does teach the valuable lesson, don't let that dog sleep on the bed.

  • Comment number 28.

    @Voight-Kampff I would have to agree about Slient Running being creepy when you think about what Earth must be like.

    And clowns? I have never got the creepy clown thing, clowns just look silly to me.

    However I am creeped out by... the ticking of clocks, especially big grandfather types, in an otherwise silent room. That's why the one moment that always puts me on edge is not from a film, but the cacophony of clocks from the start of Pink Floyd's "Time." Through headphones... shudder...

    Does anyone know of any film which exploits the creepy potential of clocks quite so effectively?

  • Comment number 29.

    Too bad I can't watch your post bc it says "Not available in your area", but I couldn't find any mention of "Clean, Shaven" anywhere - and that film made me feel REALLY uncomfortable!

  • Comment number 30.

    The bathtub scene in the 1955 version of Dialobolique.

  • Comment number 31.

    Can we get Mark's response to this very popular thread made available outside the UK? And can we get the inept evil twin of the moderator who does this sort of stuff sacked?

  • Comment number 32.

    Rango is pretty much a masterpiece. I can only surmise that you haven't seen it, as your taste is pretty impeccable. It's subversive, hilarious, action-packed in a coherent way, wonderfully wacky and unconventional, and stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful to look at. On top of all that, it is an adult film with adult themes, masquerading as a kid flick. It's an indie masquerading as a blockbuster. It absolutely deserved the Oscar.

  • Comment number 33.

    Not available in my area?? Please this is getting ridiculous. First they were taken off of youtube and now this? How am I gonna get my weekly portion of Kermode like this?

  • Comment number 34.

    Just seen a non-horror film recently that perfectly fits into the biggest chills: the opening scene fo Mystic River, where three boys are writing their names in cement when a "policeman" stops them and takes the young Dave into the back of his car. There's a moment where the man raises his voice and slaps his hand on the car that sends chills down my spine. Also, the fact that the horrors of what happens after are never shown on-screen only adds to the chilling feeling of the scene.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hang on, Mark. Why does a picture of a wicker man on the front cover of The Wicker Man DVD give away the ending? It says nothing about the plot. It's simply an image of a wicker man. So a person who's never seen the film before will look at it and say, 'oh so that's what a wicker man looks like'; they will not have any inkling of what happens, or how the wicker man is to be used. So really, it doesn't give away the ending at all.

  • Comment number 36.

    I'm a bit late for this but The Fly really creeped me out. As a bit of a hypochondriac the whole film is quite hard watching for me, but when Stathis Borans ventures into Brundlefly's lab and Howard Shore's creepy music starts building, you know something awful is going to happen.


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