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Sinister Scraping Sound
Mmm-mmm! Finger-sparking-good.

The next moment a hideous, grinding screech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck.

The Sinister Scraping Sound is the issue of the Unholy Matrimony between Nails on a Blackboard and Audible Sharpness, with Nightmare Fuel acting as the godfather. This is a very basic Horror trope, the sound of metal scraping on metal, rock, wood, or another hard surface. It might be heard continuously or rhythmically, slowly intensifying as the source approaches.

It might be a knife on a countertop, a machete against a pipe, a sword against the ground, or a Chainsaw against basically anything if you want to ramp up the fear. This usually plays hell with hidden characters who are trying to hide, as it increases their panic. If they can keep their mouth shut, they might survive... or get pulled/impaled through the wall. Of course, the noise might be something completely innocuous that leads to another, more dangerous scare.

As the picture shows, it might be accompanied with sparks. Characters arriving after the scraper has left will no doubt wonder at who left the scratches —or gouges— on the wall/floor. The foreboding Bloody Handprints and body parts everywhere will be easier to piece together (unlike the bodies).

Often an example of Hell Is That Noise.


    open/close all folders 

     Vanity Plate 

     Fan Works 
  • In With Strings Attached, at night, while Paul is lying in bed trying to figure out what to do about John, the reader hears *scrape*... *scrape*... *scrape*. Then *scrape* #twang#, and Paul finally hears the noise. It's his guitar... is it sliding down the wall? No, it's moving along the floor and then jumps into bed with Paul!
  • In the Homestuck fan adventure Alabaster The Doomed Session, there is a Pyramid Head parody. No need to say, the monster is predated by the proverbial big knife sound.

  • The hospital scene in The Crazies shows one of the titular crazies scraping a pitchfork along the floor as he prepares to stab people who were strapped down on gurneys. Later on, another crazy is seen scraping a carving knife across a wall in a deliberate attempt to scare Judy out of hiding.
  • Resident Evil. The arrival of the first zombie is preceded by the scraping noise made by the fire axe it's dragging along. Watch it here.
  • Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2 and the movie has this as his "signature" noise, created by dragging his Buster Sword-sized rusty butcher knife.
  • As pictured above, Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series loves to scrape his finger blades along the nearest surface while stalking his latest victim. As well as creating sparks upon the impact of metal on metal, it echoes across the surroundings, screwing with his victims by freaking them out before they even get a chance to see him.
  • The Waterphone is used to generate many scraping sounds in horror films and games, including the aforementioned Silent Hill.
  • In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Sabretooth uses his nails to scratch Kayla's car before killing her.
  • When some psycho is chasing one of the model girls in The Ratman, he scrapes his knife to a wall while walking.
  • The Spanish-language slasher Pesadilla Fatal ("Fatal Nightmare") has a killer with a Freddy Krueger-style glove, who does this to torment a blind girl.
  • Mr. Sleep of the Strangers in Dark City scrapes his knife to the wall when he is closing in on the protagonist.
  • In the second Ace Ventura movie, he tortures a suspect into talking by sitting down to a table setting and running a knife back and forth over an empty plate, making a horrible screeching noise.
  • The Judge zombie does this in Paranorman in Norman's late uncle's house while searching for him, slowly scraping his nail across the wall while chipping off the plaster.
  • *scraaaaaape, clomp. scraaaaaape, clomp. scraaaaaape, clomp.* "Doctor Frankenstein???"
  • Though not shown, we see the aftereffects in Hook. The scratch marks on the wallpaper, combined with a maid's hysterical report, indicate that Hook sauntered through the house, scraping his hook along the walls, until he caught up with the children he was after.

    Live Action TV 
  • Jonathan Creek - in the episode "The Clue of the Savant's Thumb", a subtle Sinister Scraping Sound can be heard drifting along an empty corridor as Jonathan and Joey explore the derelict convent, and again before someone is nearly crushed by a falling statue at the same location. We eventually learn that the sound is caused by a lurking hitman who habitually runs his thumb along the teeth of a metal comb.
  • Supernatural uses this trope a lot. In, "Hook Man" loud scraping sounds and deep gouges herald the arrival of a murderous ghost.
    • Hellhounds, the invisible dogs that dragged doomed souls to Hell, are accompanied by loud baying and a Sinister Scraping Sound.

  • In 1984, the Two Minutes Hate opens with this noise (see page quote) as Emmanuel Goldstein's face appears.
  • The dragging of Marley's chains in A Christmas Carol.
  • In Dean Koontz's By The Light Of The Moon, Jillian follows Dylan into a house (he had gone off to prevent a woman's murderous grandson from carrying out his plans) and hears the sound of metallic scraping and pinging noises, mentally envisioning someone sliding knives against one another. It's just a bird scraping its beak against its cage.
  • Septimus Heap
    • The Boggart scratching at Aunt Zelda's door after having been shot by the Hunter in Magyk.
    • Ephaniah Grebe scratching at the door of the refuge hut in the middle of the night in Queste.
  • Used with GREAT effectiveness in Robert Mc Cammon's book Stinger, a splendid horror book. One of the characters hears this scraping sound and only sees four twisted, alien claws by peering underneath a house that's on bricks. Prudently, he runs away.
    • That's not Sweet Pea anymore....
  • During Wraith Squadron, Grinder finds a stack of boxes, each with a mantislike insect that makes a good pet inside. One scrapes insistently - scritch, scritch, scritch - on its box, so he steals it and puts it in Face's X-Wing, with the idea that he'll notice it in a routine mission and freak out. But Face doesn't. A few nights later, Grinder hears that same scritching in his room every night. Eventually he looks up the insect and finds an entry on the pet, and on its closest relative the Crystal Deceiver, which targets specific large mammalian prey, stalks them, paralyzes them, and starts feeding. Cue Grinder sealing every entrance into his room... and still the scritching continues, and it's in his room! Under his bed! He ends up fainting. Face is getting back at him for that prank and others.
  • This sound is the only warning a character has that something wicked is coming in Robert Mc Cammon's Stinger.

  • In The Goon Show episode "The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton":
    Bluebottle: Captain, Capatain - I'm frighted, I'm frighted - I can hear someone in the ammunition hut - it sounds like a man sharpening a dirty big razor.

    Web Original 

    Video Games 
  • The Slayers from The Suffering.
  • Spider Splicers in Bioshock are known to do this when nearby, giving players an audible cue that bad news is coming their way.
    • Thuggish splicers can do this with their weapons (mostly metals clubs, like pipes, wrenches, etc) as well, although if they're charging like that they're pobably screaming at you anyway.
  • In the indie horror game The Path, although nothing is explicitly shown, a sound of knives scraping is heard in the background of Scarlet's ending, leading some people to speculate that Scarlet...may have met a rather violent end.
  • Silent Hill 2: "Clank clank thunk scrape, Pyramid Head has come to rape!"
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, the guillotines in the Shadow Temple make a scraping sound as they rise and fall.
    • The creepy repeating scritch-scritch-scritch-scritch-skrrrrrr... sound made by Gold Skulltulas. It's useful for finding them all to gain 100% Completion... and for keeping you awake at night.
    • The Flying Guardians in the Silent Realms scrape their swords together as they slowly but surely float towards your position.
  • "Be careful! I sense Death!" A second later, you hear chains dragging across the floor...
  • In Clock Tower, the main antagonist (most of the time) Scissorman uses a giant pair of scissors which he scrapes together with each step.
  • Thief: Hammer Haunts. First you hear the chains... then you hear the whispers... and if you don't hide, you will then hear the laughter.
  • A bit of a sound motif in Condemned 2
  • One of the dungeon ambient musics in Fallout: New Vegas has these sounds.
  • In Eternal Darkness, the Roivas mansion is full of creepy sounds that probably don't mean anything, but one of them is the scraping or sharpening of knives, followed by the sounds of someone being tortured on another floor...
    • One of the lesser effects of low sanity is hearing knocks and scrapes.
    • One of the terrifying effects of no sanity is hearing someone sharpening a metal instrument while a woman pleads desperately, before she starts screaming in agony.

Signature Sound EffectSound FX TropesSound Effect Bleep
Silver BulletHorror TropesSkele Bot 9000
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)ImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Night of the Hunter
Sinister ScimitarAdded Alliterative AppealSinister Scythe

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