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This section is separated by genre and placed in alphabetical order by film. Before you add examples here, check the index above and make sure that movie doesn't already have its own page.Animated movies go in the NightmareFuel.Western Animation Film or NightmareFuel.Anime section.Please do not put a movie below because it is "scary in general"; provide specific examples of why it is Nightmare Fuel or it will be removed.
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In Breakfast on Pluto, a case of Mood Whiplash qualifies for this trope. In one scene, Kitten is slow-dancing with a man at a club when a bomb goes off, blowing up the club they are in. We then get a pan over all of the dead, dying, and injured people, including some very nasty burn wounds, twisted bodies, and sounds of moaning and crying. One of the injured is Kitten herself, which is made even worse when she gets accused of planting the bomb because she happens to be an Irish man who wants to be a woman (the film takes place during the Irish Revolution, and Kitten - who had nothing to do with the bomb - happens to be in London.)
For a series of comedy movies aimed mainly at kids, you'd think the Ernest P. Worrell films wouldn't be that bad. You'd be wrong.
Ernest Scared Stupid is easily nightmarish for any youngster, especially at the parts where the troll appears almost out of the blue to capture Joey and Elizabeth.
Ernest Goes to Camp has Ernest on the end of a disturbingly realistic beatdown from one of the construction workers.
Ernest Goes To Jail has Nash. He had no problem getting Ernest sent to the electric chair, is so bad the other inmates are afraid of him, and and attempted to blow up the bank with Ernest's friends still inside. What's really part of the nightmare fuel is Jim Varney's performance: despite the fact he's being played by the same man as Ernest, he convincingly manages to not act a single thing like his trademark character.
Angels & Demons has Eye Scream, branding, drowning, choking to death on dirt, and immolation. Self-immolation, too. Freaky beyond measure. Also, the Pope after his impromptu exhumation is really, really disturbing-looking. In another vein, Vittoria attempts CPR on one of the four kidnapped Cardinals, only for it to come to her attention (and the viewer's) that the man's lungs are punctured— because blood squirts out of the open wound in his chest to hit Robert in the face. Gahhhhh.
The Black Dahlia: The last scene where Josh Hartnett's character is talking with Scarlett Johansson's character, then looks back to see the Dahlia's corpse spread out on the lawn just like it was when she was found. The sharp violin music really makes it a freaky moment.
Canoa, a film from Mexico. From the very first scene we're told a group of workers got lynched by a town who mistook them for communists. It takes one hour of build-up to get to the point where the fanatic villagers storm the house where the young victims are. As the aggressions begin, some of the victims watch in horror, as impotent as the spectator. The lynching scene is so long, graphic and horrible, there's only one thing capable of making it worse: It really happened.
Eastern Promises has a lot of other violence, but it's the throat-slitting that takes the cake. The amount of rape in that movie doesn't help. Also, the very first scene, with a heavily pregnant 14 year-old girl stumbling into a shop and asking for help, then collapsing into the blood that's been dripping down from between her legs, is crazy squicky. A sexually abused 14 year old girl miscarrying is bad enough. The fact that she dies, worse still. The fact that the person who'd been doing the abusing was Semyon...
Fatal Attraction. When Glenn Close's character Alex Forrest takes the pet rabbit belonging to the daughter of her lover Dan Gallagher and boils it alive in a pressure cooker. This grotesque act of evil was chilling enough to earn an entry on the Moral Event Horizon page, has given many people who watched it some serious nightmares, and was enough to coin the phrase "bunny boiler" for Yandere-types soon afterwards.
The scenes where Alex kidnapped Dan's daughter. You can really feel Beth (Dan's wife) complete panic as she runs around searching for her daughter. That's every parent's worst nightmare—that your kid could so easily go off with a stranger despite your multiple warnings otherwise, that the stranger could be some perfectly normal-looking person rather than the psycho that they truly are, and though she returns the little girl unharmed, let's face it, she could have harmed her if she wanted to.
Gozu: The kid◊ in the 'yakuza killing' car staring down a barrel of a gun motionless with a smile that could be used for warfare. Perhaps Manami waking up to find a man with a cow's head wasn't surreal enough. And the ending: not even a spoiler could prepare you for what happens.
Hanna: Marissa brushes her teeth to the point of drawing a lot of blood.
Kalifornia. The scene where Early makes the store clerk lie down and cover his head, and makes him believe he might get out of it alive. And then, with the guy sobbing in terror, Early shoots him. The image of a yellow smiley-face cushion exploding in fluff and blood is haunting.
Memento: The scene where he is casually talking on the phone in his hotel while he removes the bandage from his new tattoo only to find that it reads "Never answer the phone." He asks who it is on the other line and gets no answer, followed by the photo of him bloody after a killing being slid under the door to his hotel.
In Menace II Society, the depiction of "the ghetto" is, in several cases, highly disturbing.
O-Dog himself can be seen as this. Mercilessly kills a man and his wife in a liquor store, it gets worse when steals video tape and use it as a method of humorous entertainment for him.
Also, the quietly terrifying detective played by Bill Duke.
Rear Window: Lars Thorwald's off-screen murdering of his wife and how he apparently chopped her body parts into individual pieces. There's a brief implication that the item he had stored in his hatbox was her head.
Reservoir Dogs. When Mr.Blonde is through with his torture, you'll never listen to "Stuck in the Middle With You" quite the same way. And that dance.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Any scene with the Sheriff and Mortiana as well as the part where Robin returns to his ancestral manor and finds his father's eviscerated carcass.
The Trial (1993 version). The labyrinth of dilapidated corridors as a metaphor for a heartless bureaucracy awakens some childhood fears in some people. A rare case of creating a really unsettling effect without using any horror-associated elements.
Untraceable. The first victim wasn't that horrible, but the guy being roasted alive, and the guy being submerged in acid. Add to that the fact that he was a cop.
Zodiac is a lovely example of occasional terror, especially the basement scene. That you never know what was really going on made it oh-so-much worse.
Dear Zachary: The idea of a mother killing her child is bad enough in fiction but it's worse cause this actually happened.
Earthlings. Basically the entire film is Nightmare Fuel, as you are watching real animals in the most abhorrent conditions and unimaginable pain possible.
Waltz with Bashir: A full-on shot of a nightmarish, wild pack of dogs running at the camera to finish actual footage of the immediate aftermath of the massacre in Lebanon in the 80s.
The Accused. The gang rape on its own is bad enough, but it's the cheering of the men watching and the ringleader picking out who gets to go next all while Sarah is screaming and crying that pushes it into true Nightmare Fuel territory. That, and the fact that the premise of the movie was based on a true story. That scene was apparently serious Nightmare Fuel for the actors who were playing the rapists; Jodie Foster had to repeatedly reassure them.
Battle Royale: The death of Kazuo Kiriyama. He fights with Mimura and friends, killing them, and Mimura ends the battle by blowing up a massive propane tank bomb. The three heroes arrive on the scene after the explosion, and it seems as if everyone died, but then the creepy godawful theme music starts up again, and he walks outof the fire, blinded, with Tears of Bloodrunning from his eyes. His actual death is anticlimactic, but everything leading up to it is straight up Nightmare Fuel.
The Big Shave: Martin Scorsese's short 1967 film begins with some simple shots of a bathroom while some jazz plays (specifically Bunny Berigan's version of 'I Can't Get Started'), and shortly after, a man walks in. He begins to shave. Then he keeps on shaving. He shaves too much. The film is often seen as an allegory for what the United States was doing to itself in The Vietnam War. The film can be viewed here.
Biutiful: A roomful of sleeping immigrant workers, a total of about 25 men, women and children, all die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. When their boss comes in to wake them, they're just all lying there dead. And somehow, it goes From Bad to Worse: the main character, Uxbal, can communicate with the dead to some degree, and as he tries to apologize to one of the dead women, a friend of his, you briefly see the spirits of the dead people suspended weirdly against the ceiling, their faces contorted with fear. It's all the most disturbing because there's no sound effects or dramatic music stings to highlight it. And towards the end of the film, Uxbal (who is dying of cancer) sees himself on the ceiling in the same way in his final hours. It's very, very effective.
Blindness. The uncomfortably extended group rape scene is difficult to sit through. It is so amazingly vulgar, while showing surprisingly little in comparison. The pained cries of the victims push this into nightmare territory.
Braveheart: The ending, where William Wallace's torso is ripped open and his intestines are scrambled around while he is still alive. It is horrific to imagine enduring that much pain knowing that the damage is irreversible, and you're already as good as dead.
Coma. Unconscious victims go from the OR to the Jefferson Institute, where you think is a nice care home for the terminally ill, but in reality keeps them naked and tube-fed hanging on wires from the ceiling, and the people in charge steal their organs to sell on the black market. If you're in any way afraid of hospitals or medical paraphernalia, don't watch this movie.
The Cook, the Thief, his Wife, and her Lover. Michael Gambon's monologues are nightmarish, particularly when he lectures his wife, loudly enough so that everyone in the restaurant can hear, that she's not allowed to masturbate because as her husband, only he gets to decide when she gets touched.
Helen Mirren (the wife) and her lover concealing their affair from said abusive husband by stowing away, naked, in a truck full of slaughtered pig parts.
The murder of her lover by stuffing the pages of his book down his throat until he chokes to death.
Covenant Rider: A flashback scene had a young Wichita Slim tied to a post and branded for misbehavior. The combination of a little boy screaming and the burn on his shirt ensured that Covenant Rider would never, ever be watched after the first time.
Dahmer: Particularly the part at the end when he slices the one guy's chest and stomach open and sticks his hands in his intestines.
Dogtooth contains a heckton of this. First off is the idea that parents could go to such an extent to isolate their children from reality - they keep them on their expansive estate and redefine several concepts so that their kids are scared into staying.
The scene with the cat is just pure nightmare fuel, from beginning to end. A cat appears in the yard at one point. Frightened, the son grabs a pair of gardening shears and decapitates it, while the two daughters watch out the window and scream. When the mother calls the father at work about this incident, they agree that it's a "good opportunity" to further hammer down the message about the dangers of the outside world. The father dabs red paint on his shirt and splits open his clothes with shears, and greets the family by saying that their previously-unspoken-of brother is dead, killed by a cat, the "most dangerous creature in the world." Both the brutal violence of the cat's death (which is shown onscreen) and the idea that such an innocent animal would be given such a terrifying portrayal are creepy.
When the son is seen playing with a toy airplane, one of the daughters fights him for it in a childlike manner, grappling for it. She eventually gets the airplane. Subsequently, the girl finds him in the kitchen and (to teach him a lesson) cuts his arm with a chef's knife - the bluntness of the moment is shocking.
There's one person guaranteed to haunt your dreams; Goebbels, the guy who looks like the freaking crypt keeper himself. You know the world has come to an end when Goebbels makes Hitler himself appear to be nothing more than a raving drunk.
The fate of Goebbels' children. Just in case you started to feel sorry for anyone else.
Eyes Wide Shut: About 75% of the soundtrack easily qualifies as Nightmare Fuel. Try listening to the Masked Ball sequence late at night, alone in a dark house. This piece includes sinister strings in a minor key with a backmasked basso profundo voice chanting in Romanian. Try to sleep. The following night, play the most frightening piano piece known to man, Gyorgy Ligeti's Musica Ricercata No. 2 as played by Dominic Harlan, on your Ipod as you walk down the street alone in the dark. Paranoia like you have never known it before.
Gomer Pyle's suicide. The actual suicide itself is quick, but extremely graphic. Seeing somebody's (squib) brains splattered all over the wall directly behind them will do that. Made worse by the Creepy Monotone leading up to it.
The end, where Joker marches across what can be only described as a hellscape while many other soldiers marching with him sing the Mickey Mouse Club theme and then fade to black, and the opening bars of "Paint It Black."
Girl with a Pearl Earring: Van Ruijven's attempt to rape Griet as well as when Catharina tries to suddenly stab the picture of Griet.
Gorillas in the Mist The horrible, horrible scene that depicts the murder of Dian Fossey's favorite gorilla Digit at the hands of poachers. But the worst is when they find his corpse propped up against a tree in a sitting position, with bloody stumps where his head and hands used to be. Also tear-jerkingly sad and Truth in Television.
I Am Dina. At the beginning, the heroine, then a little girl, causes a the contents of a huge cauldron full of boiling lye to be poured on her mother. First you see the mother, completely scalded. Then the little girl, waiting on her own in an attic, listening while her mother screams constantly for hours, maybe days, before dying.
Inglourious Basterds Whenever Brad Pitt's character pulled out his knife, scalped the Nazis and carved swastikas onto the foreheads of the survivors.
Inland Empire. David Lynch apparently can't get enough of suffocating suspense and so, being David Lynch, distilled this to an even worse extreme in this film. Slasher Smile, bleeding mouths, and distorted faces combine to create one horrific image. The scene in question.
The Invisible: Nick's predicament. Imagine being a spirit doomed to watch helplessly as everyone around you falls to pieces when they believe you're dead, seeing that people you hated or ignored are suffering horribly, while you yourself are dying, and the only person who can save you is the one who put you in a coma to begin with.
Iron Jawed Angels They're not called that because they had their mouths pried open with metal instruments and were force-fed raw eggs through a tube shoved down their throat. But after watching that scene, that's all you'll think of. Made even scarier by the fact that it's Truth in Television.
Irreversible: The French film has several scenes with extremely graphic violence. Within the first few minutes, a man's arm is broken and the film's protagonist bashes the face of another man into pulp with a fire extinguisher. The camera stays on the violence for long, nauseating, unflinching shots. Later in the film, a woman is cornered in an under-street tunnel and brutally raped and beaten. The sequence lasts for over ten minutes, again without a single cut. The first half of this movie is essentially one long Moral Event Horizon, and somehow it becomes worse when it gets better.
The death of ballet dancer Isadora Duncan, when the long scarf she wears become entangled in the car's wheel, snapping her neck. The movie manages to recreate in horrific detail.
Also disturbing is how her kids drown in when the car they're in accidentally rolls into the Seine.
The whole plot of Lars Von Trier's Melancholia is likely to keep you up all night, but the opening sequence with all those dark images in really, really slow motion (depicting scenes like a woman in a wedding dress trying to walk while being held back by weeds, a horse falling to the ground, and a desperate mother who's trying to run carrying her son but her feet are sinking through the ground) with rising dramatic music by Richard Wagner creeped the hell out of me!
Men Behind the Sun: A dramatization of the medical experiments of the real-life Imperial Japanese Army's Unit 731 during the Second World War, this film was known for its very graphic depictions of surgical procedures, including human vivisection. Most of it can be found on Youtube; if you feel particularly brave you may do a search. There's a single scene where a child is vivisected.
The Mighty: Max's flashbacks; at first you don't really know what's happening, but at the end it's revealed that his father murdered his mother right in front of him and told him he was dreaming. The flashback is his dad going "shhhhhh..."
Munich: The scenes depicting the actual Munich hostage crisis, especially in the scene where one of the athletes is shot in the mouth at point-blank range and survives. Thanks to Spielberg's brilliant and powerful execution, the intensity and brutality of those scenes will be haunting your nightmares for quite some time, no matter how jaded you are. It's scary enough as it is, but on top of that, everything depicted in those scenes actually happened. And the guy who got shot in the face? He was played in the movie by the son of the real guy. That had to have taken a lot of courage.
The nightmare scene, in which Robin Williams's character's eyes explode with blood. Made all the more disturbing for coming in what is otherwise a fairly conventional thriller film and therefore being completely out of context.
The Piano Teacher. It features the most screwed up woman ever, named Erika. Notable scenes: the opening scene in which Erika and her mother fight about the fact that Erika came home late, even though she's 40-plus years old, and the fight turns physical. There's also a scene in which Erika cuts between her legs and a trail of blood streams down the bathtub's side, when Erika appears to be attempting to rape her own mother the next-to-last scene in which Erika forces her young male student to rape her while her mother is within earshot and Erika looks like a corpse. The thing comes together to conclude: This protagonist is a very, very screwed up human being.
Ray: The scene where he has a hallucination that his drowned brother is in his suitcase.
A Streetcar Named Desire: The depiction of Blanche's descent into insanity. Especially her Freak Out moment after Stanley tears the paper lantern off of the lightbulb.
Testament, which takes place in a single town and focused on the effects a nuclear war has on a small group of people. The worst is the main character nursing her children through radiation sickness and watching them die one by one.
Titus: the exquisitely shot but horrific scene where Lavinia is found on a stump, having been raped and with her hands and tongue cut off. Twigs have been stuck in the stumps, and when she opens her mouth, blood streams out.
Prior to the advent of privacy laws in the 1980s (although supposedly some of these films claimed that permission from the surviving family members was obtained), many driver's education films that depicted the grim aftermath of accidents showed photos and live-action film of the victims. Often, these films — some filmed by corporate sponsors, others by a given state's highway patrol or department of public safety — showed the victims lying in pools of blood, mangled beyond recognition (and in some cases severely burned) and in various states of consciousness if not dead. The idea, of course, was to warn of the possible consequences of failing to obey traffic laws and basic driver's safety ... but seeing such things as emergency workers extricate the charred body of a father of four from the burned shell of a car, or a once babelicious teenaged girl screaming in pain while her face is shredded to ribbons was enough to give many of their viewers sleepless nights.
In addition to the lack of privacy laws, many of these films did not have disclaimers warning of the graphic footage these students were about to view; it was up to the teacher to decide whether to warn them. Again, the idea was to scare students into driving safely ... but the shock of seeing a little red-headed boy (in a Little League outfit) being pulled from beneath the chassis of the drunk driver's car that just hit him, for instance, was enough to cause more than one nightmare.
Alice In Wonderland: The 1988 Czech version features reanimated skeletons of small animals and a scene of pure madness at the tea party. Makes it even more eerie that there is no music whatsoever in the movie except for the squeaks and clinks of old clothing, footsteps, and winding-gears. This is a Jan vankmajer film. The same guy made a film where a dude eats his own dick with mustard. Yeah, Nightmare Fuel is a given for his films.
Beowulf's portrayal of Grendel. Crispin Hellion Glover is a scary man.
Willow: The opening sequence, in which Queen Bavmorda's death dogs track down the escaping midwife who carries the child Elora Danan out of Nockmarr Castle. Later on there's a ferocious battle with a two-headed monster, and a positively scarifying scene where Bavmorda transforms the rebels into squealing pigs.
Horror & Thriller
August Underground's Mordum: Like A Serbian Film, it's an almost nonstop assault of one unimaginably depraved act after another, up to and including rape with a severed penis, cannibalization of a headless and maggot-infested infant, a young child's rotten corpse being sexually abused, and a woman who is covered in blood and vomit being cut open and "gut fucked".
Begotten: God disemboweling himself at the beginning, Man writhing helpless in the mud like a child in agony and as if it were badly disabled, the faceless robed figures, the lack of sound save for birdsong or the throaty gurgling of Man and the stark black and white coupled with the grainy footage all comes together to make one of the most uncomfortable and disturbing things once can ever experience. It's like every black metal album cover ever made into a movie directed by David Lynch.
"Agnes, it's me, Billy... Don't tell anyone what we did..."
Black Sabbath: The 1963 Italian horror film (yes, the one a certain band was named after) has three segments. The first two (or last two, if you see the dubbed AIP version) are your typical, run of the mill horror stories. The finale, "Drop of Water", however, is possibly the scariest thing ever filmed. If you've seen the film, that thing's face has haunted your dreams. If you haven't seen it, look it up on Google Video.
This 1959 Italian rip-off of The Blob had a couple good ones. A memorable one involves Max, who has become more deranged throughout the film, as he holds a gun on his girlfriend. Cue monster, which comes up behind him and does what Blob rip-offs do best. Now imagine his agonized face, blood oozing from his mouth as he's crushed, then his face disappears for a second, enveloped by monsta. Then his face, a freaking skull by now, reappears while his arm is still flailing wildly.
An earlier one involves a diver who comes face to face with Caltiki and ends up in a face-off. Specifically, the skin of his face is gone, including eyelids, but leaves the eyes and you can still see him breathing.
The Changeling (1980) has two blood-freezing scenes, neither with a single drop of blood in them. In the first, listening to the audio tape recording made of a spirit-writer's attempt to contact the ghost haunting George C. Scott's house, the murdered boy's voice can be heard desperately whispering ... something that was completely inaudible during the scene in which the tape was made. When the hero figures out where the body has been buried, he goes there and finds that a house has been built on the spot with a mother and her little girl living there. The girl asks him if he's come about "the boy under the floor".
Dead End: Thoughout the movie various phenomena happening to the family are pretty disturbing, mostly because they're just abnormal enough that things seem very wrong.
Dead of Night: The very end part with the dummy strangling the architect before he wakes up back into an endless dream loop.
Dead Silence. Every single closeup of that ventriloquist's dummy and its giant eyes that slowly start to move on their own.
Devil Doll: Demonic Dummy Hugo is sitting motionless in his cage. After a long lingering shot in dead silence, his eyes make a slight movement, reminding us that he is indeed, alive, and the camera pans across the room.
The ending, in which the final shot is of the female protagonist being Dragged Off to Hell, as demonic hands grab her and slowly bring her down to Hell as her piercing scream reverberates throughout the whole scene.
The early sequence where Christine has the seer Ram Jas read her fortune. As she holds out her hand for him to try and see into her future the tension starts to build up and the music turns ominous. Then out of nowhere a quick flash of the Lamia's face appears, with burning yellow eyes and razor-sharp teeth against a background of flames and accompanied by a high-pitched screech. So many sleepless nights because of that one shot.
Dying Breed. A group of cannibals grab a few hiker girls and rape them to get more children or else die from inbreeding, and eat the men.
Eden Lake. The all too realistic and believable premise of a couple of young adults chased by teenaged hoodies. Especially the gang's leader Brett is a terror incarnate, possibly the most evil form of peer pressure...
El Orfanato Three things in particular merit this list: 1) the bit with the medium and the screaming, invisible children, 2) the car-crash, 3) Tomas.
The introduction. That's not to say that the rest of the movie isn't nightmarish as well, but the simple sight of The Man In The Planet crouched motionless by the window, wrapped in shadows, and then twitching slightly, is probably the single most disconcerting thing in the universe.
The artificial chickens served for dinner by Mary's parents. "Just cut them up like regular chickens..."
Scarier still are the mysteries surrounding the special effects. The rumor that the baby puppet is a modified cow fetus seems mostly debunked, but the opposite is true for another facet—it's been confirmed that the umbilical cords used in the film are not only real, but human. A crew member relates here how one landed on another crewman's shoe and he was so Squicked that they had to cease filming for several days.
The Evil Dead has possessed Cheryl and Linda. Cheryl barely looks human by the time her transformation is complete, and Linda's constant giggling and Evil Grin are skin-crawling.
Near the end, Ash is alone, no monsters or anything, and reality just seems to fall apart, with bizarre sounds and sights assaulting Ash.
Evilspeak. Pigs being possessed and eating people, including a scene where said pigs break into a woman's bathroom and eat her while she's in her bath, messy decapitations aplenty, and blood and gore all over the place with ominous chanting in the background. And as if that wasn't nightmarish enough already, the movie ends with the possessed computer flashing a message saying "I will return."
A young boy being killed and torn to pieces by hyenas. It takes a few moments, too, not a few seconds.
The scene in which a native woman gives birth to a dead, rotten maggot-ridden child.
Another genuinely frightening scene involves an extremely stressed English commander trying to calm his nerves by arranging his butterfly collection, only to find that his latest butterfly has transformed into a dead crow. Slowly, his collection begins fluttering to life and then falls silent. Then a newborn butterfly begins forcing its way out of the commander's mouth.
Fallen: The song "Time is On My Side" due to context.
Food of the Gods 2. Although the movie is ostensibly about the giant rats, the deaths they cause are shown in quick cuts, whereas Elmond Delhurst's death by turning into a bubbling puddle of "super cancer" is drawn out to ludicrous lengths (almost a full two minutes) with many loving closeups of his swollen, pus-oozing, tumor-covered face. It's frankly a relief when he finally keels over and dies.
Frayed draws its nightmare fuel from several sources: slasher movies, birthday clowns, mental hospitals and child molestation. The worst is a prolonged and extremely graphic sequence near the beginning of the movie where a person gets their head beaten to a pulp. The sound effects alone ensure that the viewer will have a tough time getting to sleep that night.
Jason's face in the remake; the designs have run anywhere from unsettling to disgusting in the originals, but they outdid themselves in this one.
The lobotomy; tied down, she can see it coming and it doesn't even kill her.
The monologue at the end Where Jack is going insane as he cuts up the last woman. Informative, though.
Ghost Ship: A crowd of partygoers are sliced in one fell swoop by a snapped wire. The lack of reaction is especially eerie - there's a few moments of stunned silence, then everything begins to fall apart. See it here.
The Haunting (1963): That scene with the wallpaper that looks like a face, with the man singing, the woman laughing and the children crying.
House on Haunted Hill (1959) has a fantastic Jump Scare. A woman is inspecting a wall for secrets? the camera close to her. Then she stands up and finds herself facing an old woman with a face twisted into an inhuman grin. It comes out of nowhere and can be terrifying if not expected.
The Howling 4 The transformation scene where the woman's husband slowly melts into a puddle of blood, completely conscious at least most of the time, before being reformed as a werewolf.
I Am Legend (2007 version). The protagonist copes with his isolation by populating certain locations, like a video rental, with department-store mannequins, which he gives names to and converses with. Will Smith is driving in one scene when he looks out the side window and sees a brief glimpse of one of his human proxies standing in the middle of the road - and in a quick first-person snap cut, the mannequin turns its head to look at you. Then, they start moving on their own:
"What the hell are you doing out here, Fred?! What the hell are you... No. No! NO! What the hell are you doing out here, Fred?! How did you get out here?... Fred, if you're real, you'd better tell me right now! If you're real you'd better tell me right now!"
The scene describing the monster's intentions for the first time. At first it seems like a normal introduction to the monster; it talks to the dreaming person, telling her that it (naturally) wants the comatose child's soul. All we see of the creature is its claw pointing at the kid, and then the sequence ends. And, right as she finishes telling her story, it shows up right behind her, screaming at the top of its lungs before running off. Mere words don't do it justice; the scene is pretty horrifying for a Jump Scare and can easily catch the audience off-guard.
It's Alive: A horror trilogy about an experimental fertility drug causing babies to be born as monsters that would kill when scared. A commercial for it in the early afternoon, the one where the camera revolves around an innocent-looking bassinet, and then suddenly yosee the lizard arm hanging out of it and that awful whining scream sounds.
Kill Theory: You and your friends are stuck out in the middle of nowhere and have three hours to kill each other, or a madman will kill all of you. Add in Paranoia Fuel in the question of which of your friends can you trust and who will betray you to save themselves?
Lake Mungo. The cell phone footage and the autopsy photos.
L: change the WorLd: The Death Note spinoff pulls this off with the symptoms of the killer virus at the centre of the plot. The various sores with the severe bleeding and the tears of blood make its victims look disturbing, not to ignore their moans and screams of pain. The named character who uses a syringe of infected blood to commit suicide and deny the villains use of him continues screaming even when the camera isn't focused on him, and when he is "neutralised" the last shot the audience (and his preteen daughter) gets of him is his wholly bloodshot eyes along with his severely charred face. L describes his impending death by heart attack as peaceful.
Lucker the Necrophagous: Unlike the victims in most other slasher films, the ones in this don't die immediately, instead writhing in agony for up to a minute in some cases. It's incredibly disturbing, as is the villain murdering a prostitute and leaving her body to rot for four weeks before having sex with it.
Mad Love: Peter Lorre. It came out in 1935, but that neckbrace/metal glove costume remains freaky, and Lorre was never freakier. "Yes, they cut off my head. But that Gogol, he put it back... HERE!"
Manhunter: Tom Noonan's performance as the Tooth Fairy has to be one of the most disturbing bits of acting ever committed to film.
The Man Who Laughs has more Conrad Veidt, this time as the most unbelievably disturbing-looking protagonist in all of film. See the page on Slasher Smile, and you too will understand.
Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders: It's a terrible film and not scary during the day, but disturbing enough—in part because it's so badly made—to be rather spooky at the time of night/morning when everything is spooky.
Crow: (as Merlin) Remember to believe in magic...or I'll kill you.
The Messengers: the scene with the little kid reaching for the corpse on the ceiling.
No Telling: A doctor is experimenting on lab mice, but then moves onto bigger things. The film remains relatively calm until the last 15 minutes or so. As it turns out, the doctor stole a little girl's dog, sewed it's legs off, then bought a calf, cut it's legs off, and put the calf legs on the dog. The worst part? It moves. However, the movie does end on a bittersweet note. While the dog dies, the doctor's wife leaves him, and he gets punched in the face by a farmer.
Pencil Face: A short film, where a girl finds magic pencil; the face is already scary on itself. But, the girl draws various things she wants and the girl gets sucked into black hole
The creepy background music and lack of dialogue contribute to the Nightmare Fuel
Phantoms, based on the book by Dean Koontz. all the people in the vaguely astronaut-like Hazmat suits appearing out of the shadows, their face-plates completely black; the single shot of the empty army command center with a few papers blowing in the wind; and the bit at the end where all the people who were the Phantom-creature's snack food are standing still assembled in the middle of town.
The Picture of Dorian Gray The titular painting is scary as balls. First of all, it's in color, when the rest of the movie's black-and-white. Second of all, they always cut to it very suddenly and startlingly, with a piercing music sting to accompany it. And thirdly, it's just freaky-looking.
Piranha 3D: Every death scene. Maybe it was how good the effects were, maybe it was just how painful it looked.
A zombifying virus spread not through blood or air, but speech; you can be infected simply by listening to a term of endearment. The repeated madness mantras of the infected are some of the creepiest things ever committed to film, especially combined with their expressions. The movie taking place within a radio studio makes it sometimes almost unbearably claustrophobic. Then there's the Downer Ending....
"For your safety, please avoid contact with close family members and refrain from the following: all terms of endearment, such as "honey" or "sweetheart"; baby talk with young children; and rhetorical discourse. For greater safety, please avoid the English language... Do not translate this message."
As the movie progresses, and mankind steadily dies off or vanishes, the ghosts become much more visible, more obvious, and more common.
The Lady In Red in the sealed room, with her dreamlike, stumbling gait, creeps up on a hapless protagonist slowly, ever so relentlessly slowly...
Death itself showing up in human form to claim the main male lead, coming closer and closer to the screen, slowly, naturally, until his eyes fill the audience's field of vision.
The fate of those touched by the ghosts' nihilism. They don't die, they don't even scream or writhe in pain. They just fade, becoming a dark stain on the wall. All they leave behind is a faint "Help me... help me..." barely on the edge of hearing. It doesn't help that, in the director's view, humanity is hopelessly isolated and every person is utterly alone, even in death.
Prince of Darkness has plenty of moments, including numerous people collapsing into mounds of insects, people being devoured by said insect, and the very unnerving "messages" beamed into the characters minds from the future, displaying the return of The Antichrist.
The tense, dream-like, dread-filled atmosphere through most of the movie.
After Lance Henriksen's character has called up the demon to avenge his young son's death, he's driving with the boy's body wrapped up on the front seat of his truck. A bump causes the body to roll off, unraveling, and ask in a soft, scared, little-boy voice, "What'd you do, daddy?"
Pumpkinhead had a few subtle moments. Every scene the monster's in, it has a slightly different face until, at last, it has Henriksen's.
Re-Animator: Dr. Hill's reanimated severed head raping Dan's sweet, innocent girlfriend. And for some reason the fact that in the final scenes all the reanimated cadavers are stark naked makes it much less narmy and much more cringe-worthy.
Recorded Live, a student film by S.S. Wilson, the man behind the Tremors series. A man goes to a job interview, only to find there's nothing in the office but a film reel with "do not erase" written on it. Suddenly the film comes to life and advances on the man, who runs for his life. He discovers the film can be driven off with a magnet, but eventually it outsmarts him by moving under the carpet and springing up from beneath him, enveloping the poor bastard and leaving nothing behind when it moves away. Then it sends out another letter to a job applicant, and returns to its reel. And the film makes a "fast forwarding" noise every time it moves. You'll never hear that sound the same way again. And you can watch it here.
Sinister as obvious as the title itself, the movie spews of horror after horror.
The Red Skulls: It's easy to forget it's supposed to be a "Gang War of the Quasi-Zombies" movie because even though the special effects are bottom-line cheesy, some of the actors actually seem to be demented in a way that's not fake...which either means they're better actors than this film deserved, or that they really are that messed-up in the mind.
Red State: The execution scene. Guy tied to a pole, they wrap him in clingwrap, including his head, and all the while he's screaming for help, before they put a revolver on top of his head and shoot him. And you can see the blood in the plastic wrap. Even more disturbing were the serene faces of the other sect members.
The traps in Resident Evil. The lasers that cut off one commando's limbs, decapitate another and finally cut up Colin Salmon into square chunks using a laser grid - milliseconds before they're shut off - after he dodges the first two. The close angle on his eye as he fell apart did not help.
The Australian creature-feature Rogue, which features a boatload of tourists getting attacked by a massive crocodile. It's more terrifying than Lake Placid, if only for the fact that the people in that film could simply call for a helicopter to get them out of there. In Rogue, the tourists make it to "safety" by swimming to a small island in the middle of the river. At least, until they realise they're standing on a tidal island that will eventually disappear as the water rises. They can't call for help either, they're in the middle of the outback with no reception. They've got no chance but to try and swim for it. As an aside, on the special features the director mentions that even bigger crocodiles are on record as having been around in living memory in Australia. And tourists still go swimming in northern Australia.
The Ruins. Because not only do you not know why they're being forced to stay on top of the ruins you then do find out and it leads to an hour of vines inside people. And the one girl character trying to cut the vines out of herself.
When The Plant had mimicked the sound of a cell phone ringing, because that meant it knew humans would come to that sound. Knowing that It Can Think made everything that followed so much worse.
It features tons of snuff and rape and what can only be called "rape squared," by which we mean being drugged and forced to rape a woman who you then kill, then rape her some more, and then forced to rape your son as your brother rapes your wife. There's also mention, though not shown, thank God, of "newborn rape."
Milos' rape face. It will haunt your nightmares.
Shivers is easily one of the most messed-up things ever put onto film. However, the part when one of the penis monsters comes out of the guy's mouth easily takes the cake as the squickiest part.
When the little kids in the woods were found hacked to death.
Spellbound: Dr. Murchison threatens to kill Dr. Peterson, but with a few choice words on Peterson's part her life is spared. The camera switches to Murchison's point of view as the aim of his gun follows her out of the room. She shuts the door, and the hand holding his gun turns, as though he's pondering his next action. Then, slowly, the hand turns some more: at himselfyou. That's right; you're experiencing a first-person suicide. It also doesn't help that the hand and the gun are highly detailed models, so their movement is highly unnatural.
Sunshine: Several characters die by simply being roasted by the sun, due to having no atmosphere or objects blocking the sun from them. While for one, it was something akin to a religious experience, the crew got to listen to the other screaming in pain for about a minute while the sun's rays coming through his visor destroyed his face and head, and the rest of his body simply superheated and boiled.
Tetsuo: The Iron Man. Over an hour of some of the worst body horror ever put on film, with effects that are amazing and somehow make a guy essentially covered in junk terrifying. The soundtrack is like shoving rusty pipes in your ears. Also, the mental trauma the characters goes through, whether they are brainwashed or just driven insane only adds to the horror of pieces of machinery sprouting out of your body.
The Thing from Another World manages a couple of moments; in one scene, the Thing is doused with gasoline and set ablaze in a dark and claustrophobic room, and continues to rampage around unimpeded, spreading flames everywhere. At another point, the heroes know the Thing is lurking somewhere nearby. They come up with a plan, yank the door of their refuge open, and the towering Thing is standing right there in the doorway.
There's a suddenly terrifying moment in 13 Ghosts where Cyrus sees several of the ghosts suddenly bursting into flames screaming.
Turistas, a 2006 thriller about a group of American tourists in Brazil, after a mishap with a bus, decide to head to a local bar for some drinks. Only it goes downhill from there as they are drugged, have all their possessions stolen, and are lured into a house where a mad doctor guts them for organs to sell on the black market. Brazil wasn't too happy about this movie.
The Unborn. The opening scene, where out jogging, you run into a stray glove in the road. You turn around and see the owner of the matching one standing right behind you, just staring. An odd cut, and you're suddenly faced with a pit bull wearing a papier-mâché human mask. He waddles off into the woods, and for no real reason, you decide to follow him. You come across the mask lying on the ground, and dig down into the dirt to find the strings attached to a disturbing-looking fetus in a jar. Zoom in slowly on its little swollen face, and the eyes burst open.
When a Stranger Calls Back, (The made-for-TV sequel to the original When a Stranger Calls.), has an innocent schoolgirl stalked by William Landis, a psychopathic ventriloquist who, in the film's climax, paints himself to look like the wall behind him, so if the lights are off, he's practically invisible. It sounds cartoony, but when you see him do it, and realize that it could actually be done in real life, it's utterly creepy.
The White Ribbon. Imagine this: you live in a small German village in the months leading up to World War One. Strange events begin to happen to citizens. Someone strings a wire to trip the doctor as he rides his horse, a worker falls through a weak floor and dies, two children go missing at separate times and are found severely beaten, one of them nearly blinded. What can you do about this? Absolutely nothing. You can't find out who is behind these crimes, and if you pursue suspicions, your reputation is likely to be ruined. That is what happens to the protagonist and narrator of this film. The cinematography and atmosphere of the film are so cold, it's like you are watching a serious version of Village of the Damned, where the children don't have psychic powers, but are still creepy and are clearly hiding something, but there isn't a single thing you can do about it, so you better just leave.
The Marley's Ghost scene is horrifying enough in any film adaptation, but in the 2004 musical, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, with the wandering chained spirits coming out of the walls and joining Marley in the song "Link By Link". View here.
In 2009 adaptation, maybe it not the same thing as Link By Link, but it comes right in the second place.
Little Shop of Horrors. It's not the plant. It's not Seymour's gradual fall into insanity. You wanna know what it is? The dentist's real demise. Sure, he had it coming with his sadism, and you're setting yourself up for trouble if you insist on getting high from wearing an insanely complicated laughing-gas-pumping mask, but that release dial breaks and then the gas causes him to laugh as he slowly realizes that instead of finishing his routine day, he's gonna die just because a valve broke in his hand.
Beadle Bamford. When we learn that Judge Turpin raped Benjamin Barker's/Sweeney Todd's wife, and while he raped her the Beadle was looking on with too much interest. Later, he praises Turpin for sentencing a nine-year-old boy to death for stealing a pretty small, insignificant something. Then there's the beating he gave Anthony, and we more than believed Beadle when he said, "Next time, I'll beat out your pretty little brain." Plus, throughout the movie it's implied that he's a pedophile. Who knew a mere sidekick could end up almost more monstrous and terrifying than the Big Bad himself?
The Abyss: Lindsey drowning in the damaged submersible, while her husband has to watch, no less. The water's rising and she's clearly terrified, trying to breathe right up until the submersible has completely flooded.
In Part I, the scene where Marty almost fades from existence. Seriously, just imagine what it would feel like to see your own hand fade away and realize that this is the end. And since you're being erased from existence, not killed, that means if there is an afterlife, you're not going to it, because your consciousness and all your memories will be non-existent. The tense music in that scene really does help to sell the horror of it all.
Biff's alternate 1985 Hill Valley in Part II. A world filled with corruption, crime, and murder where you can basically get away with any horrible crime due to the fact that the police are owned by the ringleader himself.
Gamer: The concept; it takes place in the future, in which online video games have you controlling real, living, breathing people. If you're playing a first-person shooter, there's no respawning at all, so when your player dies, he's permanently dead.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Humma Kavula is a semi-insane missionary living amongst the Jatravartid people of Viltvodle VI, and a former space pirate. (It was presumably during his time as a pirate that he lost his legs and had them replaced with telescoping mechanical spider appendages). He wears thick glasses, which make his eyes appear normal when worn; however, when he removes the glasses, he appears to have shrunken black pits where his eyes should be.
The scene where he surgically removes Zaphod's second head behind a curtain while Zaphod is aware and complaining is a bit disturbing.
The Incredible Shrinking Man: The fight between the now very tiny Scott Carey and the spider. Yes, it was made over fifty years ago and on a shoestring budget. However, the whole appearance of the spider was very, very creepy. From when it first appeared crawling out of the crate to when after the basement floods, it tramples on top of the matchbox that Scott now lives in. Finally, the battle when the spider crawls over him is chilling, and when Scott stabs it, it's enough to give one nightmares. Then you see that red hour glass shape on the bottom of the spider, you realize what type of spider it was leading to a Fridge Horror.
Independence Day: "I know there is much we can learn from each other, if we can negotiate a truce. We can find a way to coexist." "Peace... no peace." "What is it you want us to do?" "Die..."
Leviathan: The scene where the creature (in the form of an arm-sized leech-eel, clamps onto a character's chest and he can't pull it off. A combination of sheer revulsion and sympathetic terror.
The Philadelphia Experiment: A man and a destroyer are sent forward through time as a result of the experiments, which were meant to make the ship temporarily invisible. Time travel certainly isn't all that scary, but that way that the movie pointed out the mechanics of molecularizing the objects moving through time and putting them back together is disturbing; let's just say the crew of that destroyer has a rather permanent tour, and that they've never felt closer to their ship.
Saturn 3 had the most terrifying robot in history. It's introduced to us from the feet up (around 1:40 in this trailer), looking for all the world like a skinned, metallic corpse with tubes for veins and metal plates where its muscles would be. Slowly, more of it is revealed, until we come to its head... or lack of one. All it has on top are two insectile, twitching, glowing eyes on an arm. It doesn't talk — it merely flicks its eyes around to stare at you. When you combine those attributes with its measured tread, its deliberately inhuman movements and the fact that it's learning directly from the thoughts of the murderous, psychotic handler who has a stalkercrush on Farrah Fawcett, it invokes the eeriest elements of the Uncanny Valley, essentially recreating Frankenstein's Monsterin space. But scarier. What happens near the end of the film isn't pretty either: the handler places his own brain inside the robot, which wears the front of his face like a mask.
Short Circuit 2. Johnny 5's near-death beatdown; it wasn't as much the fact that the director and writers had the gall to try and kill off the lovable, innocent star of the show in such a brutal manner, nor was it as much how they emphasized that he was being killed by his impassioned, pained cries of agony and his mech fluid splattering on his assaulters like blood, but the fact that, for the better part of ten minutes, we're forced to watch him get up, take his severed arm, limp a good ways to a parked car, steal the battery from it to hook it up to himself as a backup life support system, write out in broken English on a dirty brick wall in an alleyway a plea to his friend to help fix him, and then use a computer to instruct the guy on how to perform the robotic equivalent to trauma center surgery fast enough so he won't die from power loss. In essence, they took your standard, horrific near-fatal movie beating, and instead of merely skipping to the hospital scene, they show you, in every gruesome detail, all of the horrible fight for survival the character had to endure to get to that hospital scene. That isn't just dramatic or sad, that is downright sadistic.
The images of hundreds of people getting sucked up into space ships, all of them screaming.
The aliens dissolve the heads of human victims and leave the brain intact for, all intents and purposes, a battery.
The giant "Tank" Aliens, who use their tentacles to capture humans and forcibly (no doubt painfully) suck them into their bodies.
Starship Troopers: The brain bug; not just what it did to people, but what the humans did to it once it was captured. Allegedly, the sequels expanded on the theme, especially how it controlled its human victims.
Strange Days: In the near future, there's a technology that allows to encode and record on disc someone's sensorial experience, allowing another person to experience it later on playing the disc as if watching a movie, re-living everything like if he made it himself. The serial killer in the movie uses it to record his experience while he rapes and kills women, and in the meantime he puts another sensorial machine onto her victims so that they can feel his excitement while he rapes-kills them, enhancing their fear, which would be disturbing enough by itself. But the feedback works both ways, therefore the assassin himself feels the victim's feelings as if he's being raped and killed himself, only exciting him even more, in a perverted infinite loop of murdering. The whole thing is so sick that when the protagonist find a disc made by the killer and watch it he gets terrifically shocked and he's incapacitated for a while.
3DevAdam: Back in the 1970s, there was apparently a portion of the Turkish film industry who couldn't care less about copyright laws and made unauthorized films about a number of superhero, action/adventure and sci-fi properties. That's just kinda weird, but one of the most infamous was this film, which involved Captain America, a Mexican wrestler known as El Santo, and Spider-Man. Except it wasn't Spider-Man; it was an evildoer called Spider-Man with a similar costume to Spidey's. Even that wouldn't be so bad, except that this "Spider-Man" doesn't just want to rob banks or take over the world, he's also a serial killer and rapist. There's some unfathomably freakish imagery, like he has some gerbils or hamsters eat someone's eyes out.
The scenes with Joker wearing skin colored make up in place over his now bleach white skin. Also, the scene where Joker challenges Batman to reveal himself after the Joker himself "took off his make up". Bruce then pauses the video on Joker's sinister grin and then we are treated to a flashback where it is revealed that The Joker as a young Jack Naiper killed his parents. The scene flashes back to Bruce who then turns to the screen in complete shock and the very next scene show is a close up and freeze frame picture of Joker's sinister grin looking straight at the viewer.
When the Joker calmly gives a lighthearted speech to the city that ends on the note "Oh, by the way, I've randomly decided that I'm going to kill you all with the grossest-looking gas ever." You see it coming and everything, but the way he played it is creepy beyond reason.
Whereas Alicia's suicide leap in the previous movie takes place offscreen, the Ice Princess's Penguin-engineered plunge from a rooftop happens right before our eyes. And it's not enough for her to fall out of camera range, noooo; we go with her as she screams all the way down and as she lands. And this is a PG-13 - there are R-rated movies that don'tgo that far!
The soundtrack to Batman Begins. Artibeus gets a special mention for being the song that plays during Batman's attack on the docks.
Kick-Ass: The torture and attempted execution scene is incredibly unbearable to watch. They light Big Daddy on fire, and watch him burn, complete with blisters and torched flesh in the aftermath as he struggled to breathe, and eventually suffocate.
A prisoner gets his arms graphically sawed off during the prison riot.
A fair chunk of the flashback Rorshach tells, particularly when he bites chunks of flesh from the bully's face.
Doctor Manhattan's origin story, in which he's ripped apart into what is essentially nothing, then slowly reassembles himself. It started off pretty scary with the floating nervous system, but the kicker was when he reassembled himself without skin on accident, screamed bloody murder and disappeared. Third time's a charm though.
The Toxic Avenger: The transformation from 98-pound nerd Melvin Ferd into Toxie. His skin bubbles, pustules form all over his face, and his hair falls out.
A Fistful of Dollars. Ramon Rojo himself is this. His series of crimes throughout the film, such as murders, robberies, massacres, ruining families or attempted rape, are not reason and are only made simply For the Evulz. That's on top of being a bastard whose only joy seems to be the violence, an extreme jerk in his interactions with, oh, pretty much everybody, and the brains of a gang of illegal rum-runners who keeps a stranglehold on the life of a small town.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Angel Eyes, especially in his introduction. He offs a guy, after the victim offers all of his money so Angel Eyes won't kill him. Angel Eyes then goes to the man who ordered the hit and kills him too, because once he's paid, he always sees the job through.
Once Upon a Time in the West. Specifically, Frank. His first appearance is enough of a creepy guy, killing a family and a child. Then later is revealed that when Harmonica was younger, he forced to keep his brother from men while he was hanging. Worse, he makes a Slasher Smile.
However, none of the previously mentioned examples are compared to a scene from the movie Django. When some outlaws cut off a man's ear and make him eat it. Very disturbing. It's probably the most sadistic scene in the entire Western genre. Several villains in Sergio Leone's films has cruel acts, but this goes too far!