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Nightmare Fuel / Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thebasilisk.jpeg
This is a Basilisk. Normal people can breed these things - all you have to do it is put a chicken egg under a frog. Sleep tight now...
"Can we panic now?"
Ronald Weasley
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WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.


  • Hagrid, an 8.5 foot/2.6 meter-tall half-giant who considers vicious and violent three-headed dogs that look like they were cast out of Hades "cute", is absolutely horrified at the mention of Azkaban. And although, thanks to the third book, we now know about the existence of dementors, it's not made clear by this book what's so frightening about Azkaban.
  • Slytherin's gigantic stone face was moving... something was stirring inside the statue's mouth. Something was slithering up from its depths... Harry could almost see the giant serpent uncoiling itself from Slytherin's mouth... He heard Riddle's hissing voice: "Kill him."...
  • An eleven-year-old girl is possessed and writing messages in blood on the walls. The walls which mysteriously hiss at the protagonist. Hisses and moans about it being time to kill and eat. What's not freaky about that?
    "Blood... I smell blood... Let me rip you... Let me kill you... Kill... Kill!... KILL!"
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  • When Ginny gets taken into the Chamber of Secrets, a new message on the wall states that "her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever."
  • When Harry accidentally stumbles into Borgin and Burkes at Knockturn Alley, he sees various rotting human heads on display as well as a hand that grabs him when he gets too close to it. When he gets out of the store, he meets a group of unsettling strangers who are a little too interested in him. He was lucky Hagrid was there to bail him out.
  • Even after the revelations of its true function in later books, Tom Riddle's diary is still deeply disturbing. Something about the fact that all the things the diary did were never really dissected and logically analyzed in-series made it all the more sickly dark, the same way that the simplistic, matter-of-fact way that dark things in children's stories and fairy tales are introduced are much more disturbing than deeply-analyzed dark aspects of and occurrences in adult literature. The vagueness and mystery of the off-screen horrors combined with things that are perfectly logical, but not all neatly tied up with an explanation, like the way the diary writes back, the ink gushing out of it, the effects it had on Harry, and the things Ginny wrote in it and, most of all, the diary's total nondescript innocence and lack of physical threats, all have a creeping Grimm's Fairy Tales type of muted horror about it. It is quite reminiscent of real-life stories of children meeting mysterious strangers online and what they often turn out to be.
    • In a book where most of the threats are of the fantasy variety, the relationship between Ginny and Tom Riddle is a disturbingly realistic portrayal of an abusive relationship, complete with psychological manipulation. Tom takes advantage of Ginny's naively trusting nature, feeds her ideas that cause her to question her own reality (something very common in such relationships; there's even a term for it: gaslighting), and ultimately causes her to do things that she would never have done on her own, without her so much as questioning them.
  • Everything about the Basilisk is on some level terrifying. It's a giant snake. In a school. Filled with children. When you look at the basilisk, you're either petrified or dead. Ghosts end up petrified as well. It must be horrendously powerful to do that to something that isn't alive in the first place.
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    • Not helping matters is the fact that some of the early examples of students getting petrified, seemed like they were lucky to have it turn out that way (like seeing it through the camera or being a ghost like Nearly Headless Nick). As horrifying as being petrified is, at least it's curable; some of the students came dangerously close to dying. Even the Acromantulas are terrified of the Basilisk.
    • 50 years ago, when one girl named Moaning Myrtle ended up dead. Every stone they could find was turned and even Dumbledore (the most powerful wizard of the time), Horace Slughorn (who possessed a deep knowledge of dark magic), and all the other teachers never seemed to have the slightest idea where to search or even what they where hunting. This time, it was all the same, and if Harry could not understand snakes, most likely no one would ever have found the Chamber of Secrets.
    • There is the fact that the Basilisk was already ancient for its standards (1000 years is the average lifespan and it was older than that) and it still almost killed Harry, and it would have succeeded if not for Fawkes. Now think how things would have went if the Basilisk was in peak physical strength.
    • On top of all that, Harry demonstrates his ability to understand snakes (which is a result of him being one of Voldemort's horcruxes, though nobody knows that yet) which you'd think would give him a bit of an advantage against the Basilisk just like with the snake that Malfoy conjured at the Dueling Club earlier in the story. Unfortunately not: The Basilisk isn't just a giant, extremely venomous snake that can literally kill you with a look, oh no—it's a giant, intelligent, and extremely venomous snake that can literally kill you with a look. And it's on Voldemort's side, no ifs, ands, or buts. Riddle even spells this out in no uncertain terms in the movie: "Parseltongue won't save you now, Potter! It only obeys me!"
    • Just to make things worse, we don't see the Basilisk, or even know what it is, until the book's final act. Just like the shark in Jaws, it become so much more frightening due to the fact that neither the audience nor the characters see it in its entirety.
    • In the DVD's extra feature game, "The Chamber Challenge", your reward is entering the Chamber of Secrets, but at a cost. The only way out? Walk into the face's mouth and get killed by the Basilisk!
  • Acromantulas. As if the fact that they're giant, man-eating spiders isn't enough, they're also intelligent. And they hunt in packs. And one of them nearly kills Ron.
    • Ron is terrified of spiders. Why? When he was a toddler, his brothers turned his teddy bear into one.
    • Aragog making it perfectly clear to Harry and Ron that their being friends of Hagrid doesn't mean a god-damn thing to him; he'll still feed them to his kids. Think about that for a moment. Here are two children who clearly know Hagrid, are friends with Hagrid, and are trying to help Hagrid stay out of Azkaban, and he's just given them information that will help prove Hagrid's innocence, and he does not give a shit. He'll let his children kill and eat the boys, and you also get the clear impression that he won't even conceal that fact from Hagrid. He regards Hagrid as a friend, but beyond that, everyone else is just a meal.
      Harry: Alright, then. We'll just be going now.
      Aragog: Go...? I think not. My sons and daughters do not harm Hagrid on my command. But I cannot deny them fresh meat when it wanders so willingly into our midst. Farewell...friend of Hagrid.
    • The Jump Scare spider that grabs Ron. Honestly seems like he might die.
  • Terrible and lethal though the Basilisk is, there's something about it having both eyes pecked out that's disquieting.
  • Ron's warning to Harry when he first picks up Riddle's diary that picking up and opening a strange book in the Potterverse can curse you for life.
    Ron: Anyone who read Sonnets of a Sorcerer had to speak in limericks for the rest of their life!
    • And right before the aforementioned sentence above...
      Ron: There was one book that burned your eyes out.
  • Gilderoy Lockhart was totally willing to erase Ron and Harry's memories, leave Ginny in the Chamber without even attempting to rescue her, and pass himself off as a hero, despite the Basilisk still being alive and able to kill students. This man is a teacher. The students are meant to trust him and rely on him for protection. The way he delivers his serenely-delivered monologue in the film about Harry and Ron "losing their minds at the sight of Ginny's mangled body" paints Lockhart as an unnerving realistic example of a sociopath. His creepiness factor rivals Dolores Umbridge's appearance in the series three books/films later.
    Lockhart: The adventure ends here, boys. But don't fret. The world will know our story; how I was too late to save the girl, and how you two tragically lost your minds at the sight of her mangled body.
  • In the movie, when Lucius Malfoy lifts his wand and whispers "Ava—" before Dobby stops him. Damn Malfoy! Is it worth a lifetime on Azkaban for losing a single house elf!? That kind of makes you wonder what he is like to his son. Though it turns out that Jason Isaacs ad-libbed the line; he only read the fourth book and was instructed to tell a random spell, making this more a case of Didn't Think This Through.
  • Another brief instance in the film involves Filch of all people. When he discovers the petrified Mrs. Norris, his clear distress at her fate quickly turns to anger at Harry whom he thinks is responsible. Through his rage, he grabs Harry's collar and threatens to kill him before Dumbledore shows up to set things straight. Even though he's hardly the nicest character around, it's still pretty unnerving to see Filch so willing to kill a student.
    • What's worse is that he first says "I'll kill ya" softly, with a smile and what almost sounds like a broken laugh in his voice. Then as he reaches for Harry, this Tranquil Fury turns on a dime into just plain fury as he now shouts "I'LL KILL YA!" If Dumbledore hadn't arrived at that exact moment, things might have gotten ugly.
  • After finding out from a letter that Harry is not, in fact, allowed to use magic outside school and may in fact face expulsion if he does again, Uncle Vernon, who already started the summer by taking away Harry's school stuff and padlocking Hedwig, becomes even more vicious: He locks Harry in his bedroom, has bars installed on the window and a cat-flap cut into the otherwise-locked door; keeps Harry on a meager diet that is starving the boy, only allows Harry to use the bathroom twice a day, and openly says that he is not going to change this state of events when the start of term approaches because he is not letting Harry go back to Hogwarts.
    "You're never going back to that school. You're never going to see those freaky friends of yours again. Never!"
  • While the books would get progressively darker, this one stands out as it's here we learn about the darker side of the Wizarding World. The "Mudblood" slur is first used here by a twelve-year-old, and it's revealed that Voldemort's campaign was founded on the notion of a select group of people being naturally born superior to a minority that needs to be eradicated in order to keep their world "pure". That one of Hogwarts founders, a man who was in charge of teaching children, was a complete bigot and specifically trained only people with at least one magical parent to the point where he bred a monster in a secret chamber specifically to purge the school of Muggle-borns, and it was used before. And unlike the events in the book, Riddle succeeded in killing Myrtle. The only reason he stopped was because Hogwarts was going to be shut down, so he used poor Hagrid as a scapegoat, which probably worked so well in part due to his status as a half-giant. Although it wasn't expanded upon until the later books, the clues of racism were always there.
  • Doubling as a Moment Of Awesome for Harry, the destruction of Tom Riddle's diary, as well deserved as it is for him, is very frightening. First, Harry stabs the diary with the basilisk fang, and ink starts shooting out of the pages. This is followed by Riddle having a massive gaping hole of light torn into his chest. Furious, he tries to charge at Harry to retrieve the diary, only for the latter to stab the diary again. This time Riddle's face begins to rip apart as he roars in pain, all the while Harry is watching. He then closes the book and looks at Tom one last time, with a look of pure rage, and stabs the diary one final time through the front cover. Riddle then screams in agony as his body fissures with burning light and explodes.

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