- Ripping people's hearts out, enslaving children, crocodiles and chilled monkey brains feature, although the most terrifying thing of all is that they brainwashed Indiana freakin' Jones. It's not easy to see your hero attempt to kill his love interest. It takes heavy pain to snap him out of it, luckily.
- The way they brainwash Indy is pretty unsettling: they force him to drink a chalice topped with a rotting human skull which is filled with a potion that would put the victim into a "black sleep". When they finally manage to make him drink it, we later see Indy writhing and screaming. The ambiance is very dreamlike and when he finally succumbs, he starts to laugh slowly, staring at the camera with unblinking eyes.
- Harrison Ford's performance as Indy slowly undergoes the torturous process is extremely unsettling.
- One slave would describe the experience being under the black sleep as a nightmare in which you are unable to wake up. He openly prefers death to such a fate.
- When Short Round and Indy are exploring the secret passageway in the palace, Short Round tries to open a door which collapses revealing two rotting corpses.
- The Brainwashed Maharaja torturing Indy with the use of a Voodoo Doll, during the first time when we see him using it, he places it near a fire and Indy starts screaming in agony. What's even more disturbing is the Maharaja's Slasher Smile when torturing him.
- The spike room trap, which could only be deactivated by a lever that was covered with bugs.
- The statues of Kali outside Pankot Palace are decorated with necklaces of human fingers. Freshly severed human fingers, as Indy discovers when one of them drips blood on his hand.
- The bugs are themselves a gallon of nightmare fuel.
- When Mola Ram pulls out the sacrifice victim's heart, it is more terrifying when we find the heart is still beating. In fact, not only is it still beating, but it starts beating faster - out of fear - as the guy gets closer to the lava. Not only that, but the thing starts smoking even before the guy bursts into flames. The poor sacrifice victim's screaming as his body is consumed by fire crosscut with Mola Ram laughing maniacally holding the guy's heart as it bursts into flames at the same time. Then we see the victim's torched body dissipate in the lava.
- The sadistic grin on the face of the guy lowering the cage into the pit doesn't help.
- When one of the slave drivers Indy is fighting gets his sash caught in a rock crusher and then gets dragged, feet-first, into it slowly screaming in panic and begging Indy to help him by calling out "Sahib!" over and over. Indy even tries to save the guy, but to no avail. Then the film cuts to above the crusher and we see a smear of blood on it. At this point, no one could blame Willie for looking away. Even INDY turns away in disgust.
- The Mooks who fell down into the canyon at the end of the movie, only to be devoured by crocodiles. Even worse, Mola Ram pushed several of them off the bridge to this fate.
- Right after Indiana got the Shankara stones from the giant skull, he hears the sound of whipping and children screaming in pain. And each scream seems to get distorted into a monstrous roar. After the second scream, he looks at what appears to be human skin tied up above the wall. Then after the third scream (which is much deeper), he looks at the giant statue of Kali, which looks like it is staring at Indy.Willie: (to Short Round) Where's he going?
- A villain like Mola Ram should come off as almost Narmy, but the way he acts and fits right into the nightmarish setting of the Thugee temple just makes him terrifying. Ram isnt a twisted bastard hiding beneath a veil of civility like the main villains of the first and third films; hes an out and out monster.Mola Ram: Drop them [the Shankara stones], Dr. Jones! They will be found! YOU WON'T! Hahahahaaa! GE-NA!!!note
- In the novelization, it is revealed that Mola Ram is just another brainwashing victim too. ANYONE could turn into a monster like him, and all it takes is a sip of the right blood, through no fault of their own. Though kudos on making someone like him into a Tragic Monster.
- The Thuggee assassin hiding among the murals in Indiana's room, who then steps out of the shadows and starts to choke him. Though it might be Nightmare Retardant when you realize he's hiding while Indy complains about Willie.
- Indiana translates what the village leader said about what happened after the Shankara Stone was stolen from the village:"He said when the stone was taken, the wells dried up and the river turned to sand. The crops were swallowed by the earth. The animals lay down and turned to dust. Then one night there was a fire in the fields. The men went out to put out the fire. When they came back, the women were crying in the dark... Children. He said they stole their children."
- The bit where Willie is almost sacrificed is pretty terrifying, from when she tearfully begs Indy to help her, not understanding why he won't, to her hysterically and repeatedly screaming "No!" as she's lowered into the pit, to sobbing as she resigns herself to her fate. The quick shots of the worshippers chanting and cheering all this on doesn't help.
- The Real Life subtext adds another layer of horror to the movie. The Thuggee were supposedly a real death cult dedicated to Kali that preyed on travellers and other isolated victims, with the killers disappearing back into normal Indian society when the monsoon season started and travel slowed to a crawl (the original accounts of the cult is the source for the word "thug"). The British exterminated the cult during the colonial era, but it's entirerly believable that many of it's members simply disappeared into the shadows, waiting for the time to rise again...
- Consider this: the Ark of Covenant and the Crystal Skulls were too powerful and uncontrollable, and in fact it is they — and not Indy — that destroyed the villains who meddled with them. And the Grail was useless outside its temple. But the Sankara Stones? Mola Ram knew how to control them and make full use of their unearthly powers. When he explains to Indy about the terrible things he plans to unleash (massacring the British and Muslims from India, toppling the Abrahamic faiths by force, and taking over the world in Kali's name) once he finds all five stones, it was *not* an empty boast, but a legitimate threat to the entire planet.Mola Ram: You don't believe me? You will, Doctor Jones. You will become a true believer.
Nightmare Fuel / Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom