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Nightmare Fuel: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
A Fridge Horror for the whole of the Buffyverse. You can understand there being a lot of terrors around Sunnydale as there is a Hellmouth there. The spin off Angel though shows how many of these "terrors" happen in nice, normal places. Those just occur in L.A. So how many "terrors" take place worldwide do you think with no one stopping them and everyone trying to get on as normal with no understanding of what is going on or anyone to protect them...
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Special mention must go to "Nightmares". Everyone's nightmares come to life:
The very first nightmare emergence of a classmate being attacked by tarantulas.
Willow's stage fright.
Xander doesn't like clowns and Nazis. The school gets covered in swastikas.
Buffy is afraid being buried alive note Also, note that Joss was being especially evil that episode. Sarah Michelle Gellar's worst fear is being buried alive. Not only does Buffy get buried alive in her nightmare, she comes back as a vampire. She gets a look of pure horror when she realizes it.
The Ugly Man himself is also terrifying. It's even worse when you find out what he is based on - the small boy Billy's fear of his abusive Kiddie League baseball coach.
Emphasis on the tarantulas. It's Played With, the student's arachnophobia was actually caused by accidentely killing his pet spiders, so he sees their ghosts trying to drag him down... "I don't hate spiders, I love them..."
Sid the living ventriloquist dummy in "The Puppet Show". However, he's not quite as frightening when it is revealed that he's not a bad guy - he's a demon hunter whose spirit is imprisoned within the dummy. Prior to that reveal, however, he is truly unsettling.
"The Pack". Those kids eating Principal Flutie... it only gets worse at the end when we find out that they didn't lose their memories. Let's all take a moment to think about just how those kids are going to turn out.note According to some of Supplementary Material, and referenced on the 'Buffyverse Wiki', one of the girls in that group became a vegan, so she might've been stable at least. However, nothing is mentioned about the others, and the incident would still be psychologically scarring...
This one gets even more nasty in the comics. A group of Initiative Soldiers go down into the recently collapsed Sunnydale, and one of them swears that a statue is looking right at him. Far from escaping the events of Season 3 or Season 7, she survived and is still alive and trapped there.
How about Willow and Cordelia walking downstairs to the AV Club in Prophecy Girl to find a room full of dead kids who were watching cartoons before the vampires attacked. The music is an eerie, shrill note of horror, and the camera focuses on the blood-stained television screen, where it shows the Three Little Pigs dancing about gleefully as that horrifying music plays. It's implied that this made Willow faint from terror when she talks to Buffy later in the evening.
Willow: When Cordelia and I walked into that room... It wasn't our world anymore. It was theirs. And they were having fun...
Eyghon from "The Dark Age", especially when possessing the corpses of Giles' old friends. Not to mention when Giles takes Jenny back to his apartment, not knowing that she's been possessed...
The first scene featuring Norman Pfister (aka "Bug Guy") from the two-parter "What's My Line?", especially that horrible, terrified scream Buffy's next-door neighbor lets out after she lets him into her home.
Der Kindestod from "Killed By Death" - incredibly creepy, and only able to seen by sick people, and when you're very sick and weak and unable to fight back, it sucks your soul out by growing sucking tentacles out of its eyes. Brrrr.
The episode "Ted". Buffy's initial distrust of her mother's new boyfriend comes across as simple dislike at first, until it turns out that he's not the nice guy he presents himself as. Unfortunately, nobody believes Buffy, dismissing her claims. Later, when Ted is presumably (and accidentally) killed, Buffy faces criminal charges and she is guilt-ridden at having killed a human being... and then Ted returns, apparently alive and well. Not to mention intent on killing Joyce and Buffy. Oh, and he turns out to be a homicidal robot created by a real human called Ted, an inventor who became distraught when his wife left him - driving him to build the robot Ted. Things went horribly wrong when robot Ted kidnapped and murdered the real Ted's wife, and then went on to murder all of his following wives when they didn't live up to his idea of "the perfect family". Argh.
Xander: So I'm Ted, the sickly loser. I'm dying and my wife dumps me. I build a better Ted. He brings her back, holds her hostage in his Bunker O' Love until she dies, and then? He keeps bringin' her back over and over. Now that's creepy on a level I hardly knew existed!
If you've never thought that John Ritter could be scary, think again. The way he seamlessly shifts from easygoing nice guy to angry, yelling lunatic is disturbing.
Angelus is frequently compared to The Joker, and it's appropriate. Both because Angelus is capable of being darkly hilarious when he wants to be, but also because he is capable of being absolutely horrifying.
"Passion." Angelus stalking Buffy, sneaking into her home at night and watching her sleep.
That's nothing really compared to the drawings he kept leaving behind for Buffy and Willow. The fact that he's a stunning artist only makes it that much scarier.
And then there's Jenny Calendar, and "Giles's surprise."
James going angry spirit on everyone in "I Only Have Eyes For You." Buffy encounters his spirit directly which goes from normal looking to a nightmare-inducing rotting corpse, Cordelia discovers her face melting in the mirror, and the floor begins sucking Willow up leading to her giving some particularly painful screams.
The entire concept of Drusilla's character. A sweet if somewhat fanatical Christian girl having her family murdered, being stalked, implied to have horriblethingsdone to her and for years having to flee and attempt to start her life over again, knowing fully well that she won't be able to, and nobody will be able to stop her harassers- for reasons she doesn't understand except maybe For the Evulz - completely wrecking her sanity and identity. By the time she's turned into a vampire she is so traumatised that she has completely blocked out reality. Later episodes of Angel also go on to state that Angelus turned her into a vampire so she'll have to suffer with her trauma forever and that for her, "it'll never end". Not only this, but what Drusilla is actually capable of makes her one terrifying figure.
The scene in "Dead Man's Party" when the recently-deceased burn victim rises from the dead in the hospital, very shortly after the doctors have given up trying to resuscitate him. The state of the man's horribly-burned face is frightening enough, but there's also the fact that the camera fixes on the Flatline during the ensuing chaos.
Features an alternate version of Sunnydale where Buffy never showed up to stop the Harvest. Vampires - including Willow and Xander - own the night, and the Master rules from the Bronze.
The early scenes right after Cordelia's wish becomes Harsher in Hindsight. She reunites with Harmony and her friends and discovers that, thanks to Buffy not having come to Sunnydale, she's still as popular as she ever was. On first viewing, those scenes just seem like they're establishing that without Buffy, Cordy would still be an Alpha Bitch, but once you know what a horrible, Vampire-occupied wasteland Wishverse Sunnydale is, the scenes of ordinary high school life (the few surviving students cramming into an algebra class, random guys asking Cordelia to a dance) take on a horrible tone of the few remaining survivors trying desperately to live normal lives despite impending violent death.
Some of the really horrifying things are in just how subtle the changes are, such as class being cancelled for the "monthly memorial", Harmony commenting on Cordy's bright colors making her a target for vamps, and a guy asking her to the "Winter Brunch."
Two words: "Bored now." The reason they're so horrifying is because of when they're used. The first is for the reveal that Willow had become a vampire. The second is before she tortures Angel and shows that her Superpowered Evil Side is just as bad as Angelus.
"Gingerbread". The idea of manipulating parents into committing acts of mass murder for the sake of their children sends chills up your spine. You can imagine the potential aftermath had Buffy failed, parents waking up to find they had murdered their own children. The terrifying part was how strong the subtext was. Up until they introduced the Monster of the Week, it just seemed like a plausible tale of normal people allowing their hysteria to get the better of them. The book burning, the locker raids - it could all happen in real life with the right circumstances.
"Helpless". Everything that Zachary Kralik (said monster) did in that episode was Nightmare Fuel. This includes taking medicine. He turns a person into a vampire, makes him feed on his assistant (which they then mutilate), kidnaps Buffy's mother and takes pictures of her. Enough to fill a whole room with. Luckily, he only appeared in this episode.
"Consequences." The implication that at the nadir of her sanity Faith would rape Xander to death? Cree-pee. Later on the idea that Buffy becomes just as bad if not worse? Way to make Slayers unappealing.
Though a moment of Fridge Horror instead of Nightmare Fuel - how many times did Kathy cut her toenails?
A split second of terror happens during the beginning of the frat house's transformation. There's a girl in a prom dress, blood coming from her mouth, with her eyes closed. The light flashes...and she's smiling.
The Gentlemen. Tall, suited demons resembling humans except for the their large, lidless eyes and never-ceasing smiles. They float about a foot across the ground, never breaking stride only smiling an image that will burn into your brain. They attack in the middle of the night, knocking on your door politely, then cutting out your heart while you are still alive. And you are unable to scream, completely helpless.note According to The Other Wiki, Joss Whedon intended them to be monsters that children would remember being scared of later in their lives.
Doug Jones - who played the main Gentleman - has done those eyes, teeth and hand movements without any prosthetics in public. It's still terrifying.
One of the scariest parts is when the Gentlemen presented the hearts that they had collected and then gave themselves a round of applause.
The Gentlemen's weird "Footmen" that went around on their hands and feet, in freaking straitjackets - just the sight of them along side the floating gentleman are scary as hell.
Possibly their most spectacularly scary entrance was their silent appearance slightly in the distance behind Tara, at first blurred, but you recognize their signature movements a second before they come into focus. Brrrrr. A nice suit, floating so they appear a little taller, extremely pale face? This remind you of anybody?
Just the way Adam says "I saw the inside of that boy... and it was beautiful."
Buffy's eyes during the enjoining spell.
At the end of season 4, we have the Scoobies celebrating in Buffy's living room, and then they fall asleep. Just as "Nightmares" (read above), this whole episode is also a deconstruction of dreams (supposedly, without the nightmarish part, this time around). Well, the appearance of so many weird (but somehow familiar) dream scenarios is, on its own, quite disturbing. But then there's that fleeting, barely discernible, frantical, dark figure lurking in everyone's dreams... and the absolute certainty that it wants to kill you. Also, the "cheese guy" doesn't help.
Dawn's very EXISTENCE is this. There is an existing magic out there that can make anyone in the world be deeply rooted in everyone's memories as though they were already there, and even if you know they weren't you still feel like they are. If we're looking at this from Buffy's perspective, maybe Xander or Willow are just people that she's believed were her friends for years. The level of paranoia is truly terrifying.
"Listening to Fear". Easily one of the most unsettling episodes of the series. The Queller. Oh, dear God, the frigging Queller.
"Family". When Tara's brother tells her that he will beat her up if she doesn't get in the van. It's very difficult to notice, but Tara flinches, proving that none of the demons or monsters she has faced as a Scooby scare her as much as her brother does. Really hits close to home for those who have suffered physical abuse at the hands of a family member.
The very end of "I Was Made to Love You". Far scarier than any of the monsters featured on that show is the very real notion that someone could come home one day and find their mother or father dead.
Dawn tries to resurrect Joyce. When she's half way through the spell, a silhouette of Dawn's mother is seen slowly walking (you might say "walking like a zombie") through the curtains. As Dawn finishes her ritual, she looks around to see some sign that it has worked, and that's when someone knocks at the door. The whole episode was centered about people explaining to Dawn how bringing back people from the dead is wrong, and furthermore how they sometimes come back wrong... but no one ever fully explains what that means. It doesn't help.
Dawn holding a knife in her bloodied hands, having cut herself just to prove that she's still a human. Hell, her whole situation, finding out that she's not a human being, that until recently she hadn't even existed and that all her memories and all the memories of other people about her are fake - that's not something you'd wish your mortal enemy to experience.
Giles at the end with Glory / Ben... the resolve it took and the knowledge he HAD that kind of resolve. What a past must Giles have beyond what we know about him. And what is he really capable of?
Glory can be kind of terrifying in her own way without getting into the whole eating sanity thing. She's practically an anti-Buffy, both are super strong, sexy, blondes, with odd ways of chatting as they fight, yet unlike Buffy she's ditzy and evil, the ditziness doesn't take away from how terrifying she is though since she's much stronger than Buffy and Curb-Stomped her every time they fought. And to make things worse, it isn't even as bad as other unstoppable Big Bad like Adam who were stronger than her where each time Buffy had a little bit of hope she could pull out a win somehow, Buffy and the Scoobies, save Willow, never seem to slow her down much less hurt her when she comes for them.
Glory's little chat with Tara is terrifying since she's breaking her fingers in the middle of a crowded park, during a festival, in the middle of a day and there's nothing a powerful witch like Tara can do. Glory even warns Tara that if she screams or calls for help than Glory will just kill everyone around them who tries to interfere. And when she gets angry that Tara isn't the key she makes it very clear that she will devour Tara's sanity, which Tara states earlier is a fate worse than death.
Fridge Brilliance: Being buried alive is one of the few things Buffy fears. How much you want to bet that getting dragged out of Heaven (off-handedly mentioned as actually being called Paradise in Angel) wasn't the only reason she was traumatized at the start of S6? She just relived one of her worst nightmares, after all.
The season six premiere, "Bargaining", had Buffy brought back to life inside her own coffin, forcing her to dig herself out of her own grave. Watching it is bad enough. For Sarah Michelle Gellar, who has a morbid fear of being buried alive, filming those scenes must have been terrifying.
Willow's skin bubbling in the resurrection ritual. *shivers*
The scene where Buffy is walking through Sunnydale and sees the Buffybot being torn apart and set on fire?? It's no wonder her first words to the Scoobies are, "Is this hell?"
Willow knifing a baby deer to get an ingredient for the resurrection spell. Willow. Kills a baby animal.
"After Life". Anya, with a closeup of her cutting her face with a large grin, smokey eyes, and manic laughter. Terrifying.
The worm monster in "Doublemeat Palace".
Not only that but the way it kills you- it sprays a liquid at you which paralyzes you (it spreads upwards so you can "flail your arms" hopelessly). It then proceeds to slowly eat you over the course of several hours while you are unable to move or scream but can feel everything. Poor Gary.
Surprising one: Vision!Xander going after Vision!Anya with a frying pan in a fake vision in Hell's Bells. Far scarier than all the monsters.
An in universe example in "Dead Things", where Buffy realizes the way she's acting (she's described elsewhere on the site as being the same as arch nemesis Faith) has nothing to do with Spike, or what was done to her, this is her true self. She's so scared and distraught by this that when she opens up to Tara she begs not to be forgiven.
The last scene of "Normal Again" is truly psychologically frighting, in fact the entire premise of the episode is just disturbing. Buffy going berserk.
The true horror of the very last scene in the episode is wondering if everything up to this point, and for the future of both characters and show, was all just in her head! Damn you Joss for that ending!
Adam Busch put it best: On a show full of monsters and demons, the scariest thing is a guy showing up with a gun in broad daylight...
Throughout the series we see many characters who are killed in gruesome ways by the monster-of-the-week- there is the boy who was shredded by the prom hound, the graffiti-artist victim of the Gnaarl, the Doublemeat workers who were slowly eaten alive by a worm monster etc. In "Lessons" we see that the spirits of people who Buffy couldn't save can manifest themselves as poltergeists and exact vengeance on her or those around her. Now just stop and think about how many people have died horribly hoping Buffy would come and save them over the course of the show?
"Same Time, Same Place". Willow is trapped in a cave with a Gnarl - a demon that paralyzes its victims, then removes their skin to eat, one strip at a time. Oh, and it's also immune to magic, so Willow, who recently went evil and nearly destroyed the world, is completely helpless against him. Its taunting bumps up the octane rating another notch. Just before Buffy shows up to save the day, we see Willow, paralyzed, helpless, and about to undergo an excruciating death. Her expression is one of absolute terror. She can't see Buffy at all, even when she does show up to save the day.
The smile on Gnarl's face when he slowly scratches off a thin strip of skin and eats it, while paralyzed Willow is enough to make anyone Squick. Thinking about it further, imagine being in Willow's position: you're paralyzed and being eaten slowly, and the only thing you can see is this atrocious thing's face. The fact that he sounds like Salad Fingers does not help matters.
Also, remember how Willow was upset with Giles and the Coven for not punishing her for flaying Warren alive? She probably felt like she deserved to die, alone, in agony, the way Warren did, and was psychologically tormenting herself almost as hideously as the Gnarl was.
The episode "Conversations with Dead People" features Dawn trapped in her house with the spirit of her dead mother, who, struggling to manifest herself, ends up being about as terrifying as any monster the show features. Could double as breaking the cutie.
"Mother's Milk Is Red Today."
When Dawn was sitting by the couch, which was unoccupied. The camera panned down, then back up to reveal Joyce's dead body lying on the couch. When Dawn turned around, it was gone. And then there was when Cassie grinned and turned inside-out before disappearing...
As bad as Dawn's segment was, Willow's is as bad, if not worse when you think about it. The First only convinces Andrew to kill Jonathon, it terrifies Dawn, but it tries to get Willow to kill herself, presumably because she's probably the most powerful Scooby in the gang.. But when that fails, it's not even concerned. It just delivers a speech, then grins, turning into... something that eats itself.
Xander getting his eye caved in by Caleb... the way the blood runs down his cheek... that is horror.
The First Evil. It can appear anywhere. It can be anyone. And it is very, very good at getting you to do what it wants. At any time, it could show up and brainwash someone into doing something horrible. And once you outlive that frail usefulness or interfere in the plans too much? An Implacable Evil Priest is coming after you. If you are female, this is doubly bad, since said priest has some messed up habits involving women.
Adam Busch (aka Warren) is just the creepiest dude ever. Whenever the First shows up as Warren, prepare for some truly epic creepiness. He has a stare that says, "I will devour you slowly, and not in a sexy way. In a way where I tie you to a table and fillet you one morsel at a time, keeping you alive with blood transfusions and an iron long." And then he quotes Star Wars.
Spike's painful laughter as he bursts into flames and crumbles to dust.Tear Jerker, sure, but also so, so disturbing.
Season 8 comics
Twilight. Not Angel/Twilight, the sentient reality Twilight.
The three goddesses that get called when Buffy and the others temporarily give their powers back to the earth.
The evil vampire kitties.
Season 9/ Angel & Faith
The demon in "Daddy Issues" looked pretty scary, especially in the beginning when he went after those kids.
When Willow goes bad that's cause to keep your head down. Other times she's a vampire or hopped up on dark magic, but here Buffy's actions are the problem. She steals the Scythe in a bid to restore magic, Angel thinks she's a demon so she has the Scythe ready to stake him, and she thinks his son can help by them going to the hell dimension he's from. But to do that Willow has to use Blood Magic, Conner's blood, from Willow cutting him open.