With #Halloween right around the corner, I began to think about some of my favorite horror films, and wondered what it was that made me feel scared whenever I watched them. I then wondered about films whose genres are not technically classified as horror, yet they have moments that have managed to freak me out more than many horror films have. In no particular order, here are some examples of those scenes.
For those craving some more frights, check out the following:
- The Best Horror Movies On Netflix Right Now
- 5 Brutal Broads of Horror
- 10 Weird, Creative & Disturbing Foreign Horror Movies You've Never Seen
1. Home Alone (1990) — The Foot And The Nail
This one needs no explanation. Of all the punishments Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) rightfully dished out to the Wet Bandits — including a flamethrower to the head — easily the worst was the nail protruding into the foot of Marv (Daniel Stern). His horrified scream never ceases to make me chuckle. And recoil.
2. Pulp Fiction (1994) — Adrenaline Shot
What do you do if the wife of a very powerful, dangerous gangster has overdosed on your watch, because of all the drugs — your drugs — that she snorted? Why, give her a shot of adrenaline to the heart, of course. The incredibly unnerving feeling of this scene is insane; the audience is freaking out for poor Vincent Vega, while also having the important message driven home: Just say no.
3. The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001) — Bilbo's Sudden Turn
Uh, Bilbo? What the hell, man? This jump scare terrifyingly illustrates the sheer power the Ring possesses and how someone as nice as Uncle Bilbo could turn into a freakish fiend in a split second. It will also manage to cause the viewer to leap out of their seat and ponder what it was they just witnessed.
4. Goodfellas (1990) — Funny How?
If you ever wondered what it felt like to be completely elated one minute, then peeing your pants in fear the next, you must watch Joe Pesci's portrayal of psychopath Tommy DeVito in this scene. Everything is all happy and hilarious — until you compliment a man's storytelling ability! When that happens, brace yourself for the possibly of the loss of life. Specifically, your life.
5. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) — Jem And Scout's Walk Through The Woods
The scene where the Finch siblings are making their way through the woods to reach their school for a play performance — with Jem dressed to the nines and Scout in a ham costume — is supposed to be a simple moment in which the pair innocently take an easy walk to a familiar safe haven. What transpires is a crazed lunatic threatening bodily harm on these two lovely children, not to mention full-blown assault. Screw Mr. Ewell — Boo Radley for president.
6. No Country For Old Men (2007) — Coin Toss
Javier Bardem's Academy Award-winning portrayal of Anton Chigurh is one of those performances that is essentially flawless. His menacing demeanor, the history we know with this character and his sinister coin makes the viewer's heart rate rise and sweat beads form, all without a direct threat uttered from Chigurh's mouth. What I learned from this scene is to never refer to a man with an interesting haircut as "friend-o," because he could brutally murder me with the flip of a coin.
7. Bambi (1942) — The Death Of Bambi's Mother
There should be a subgenre called Disney horror in which every Disney film with the death of a beloved character's parent is listed. The House of Mouse doesn't mess around when it comes to death, and Bambi's mom is certainly no exception. Watching a panicked parent attempt to run away from danger with her child in tow is heartbreaking enough, but when that gunshot goes off and the audience realizes Bambi is now motherless, it makes you want to live in the forest and protect all animals so they do not suffer the same fate as Bambi. Ugh, that single tear...
8. Toy Story 3 (2010) — The Incinerator Scene
We have been through two films and are now in the middle of a third with these little rascals, and this could potentially be how it all ends — with the toys dying in a fiery inferno. Lotso was supposed to be their friend but decided to betray that sacred bond by sending the gang to their deaths. The feeling of helplessness is insurmountable; all you can do at this point is feel those tears well up and brace for impact, similarly to our toy friends.
9. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) — The Tunnel Scene
What just happened? We go from a beautiful world of pure imagination, filled with delicious candies, singing Oompa Loompas and a chocolate river for God's sake, to a freakish, psychedelic bad acid trip of bright colors, imagery of animals being slaughtered, villainous Slugworth's creepy face and Wonka chanting about how amazing this terrifying ride is. This was the only time I ever agreed with Veruca Salt when she pleaded, "Make him stop, Daddy!"
10. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) — Face Melting
That darn Ark of the Covenant is finally open! Can't wait to see what it contains... Oh, goody! Face-melting entities! Guess I know what I'm going as this Halloween. These special effects still stand the test of time, regardless of what year you're watching this stellar film. It is an incredibly satisfying scene, even though these Nazis' faces were literally melted off to the point where they exploded... But they're the bad guys so it's a-OK!
What are some scenes in non-horror films that have managed to terrify you? Tell me in the comments section below.