While a maniac with a blade scares me not, I’m still - in my late 30s – easily creeped out by the supernatural. A creaky floorboard here, a door that opens itself there… Goosebump central.
So when I went to see The Conjuring 2 last night with my buddy Kevin, my expectations of a watered-down sequel were kicked in the balls by some really quite frightening scenes.
The 70s London setting was relative, a memory of childhood growing up around similar patterns, colours, attitudes, dreary weather, school uniforms, crap appliances, and everybody in the country with the slightest interest in the spooky knows the Enfield Poltergeist story (see also Ghostwatch).
The nun was horrible, but the old man spectre was far eerier, as he purred “this is my house,” or appeared in TV set reflections in the middle of the day.
Why though, didn’t they just burn that skanky ass chair? The freakin’ bloke died in it!!!
The 1989 one, not the ten-jump-scares-a-minute Daniel Radcliffe-is-a-father!? remake.
Anyway, back in ’89, The Woman only appeared maybe three or four times throughout the whole film, just for a few seconds each.
This is the eeriest of her appearances, when our hero feels a pain in his shoulder and makes an about turn and sees…
The simplicity of it out-creeps both the 2012 film and its sequel combined. But still can’t touch the stage play, which I can’t recommend enough, even if you, like me, ‘don’t do theater’.
The fiendish devil-bug thing in Jeepers Creepers isn’t hugely scary, but he’s still capable of playing ones spine like a xylophone from time to time in his couple of screen outings.
The first film keeps schtum about revealing he’s a winged-critter until the very end, giving him more to do in the 2003 sequel, which has him after the occupants of a stranded school bus on the doom-mongering East 9 highway.
Having started the film by ‘napping a little kid from a cornfield, Mr Creeper later offs the adults driving a victorious basketball team home, and then begins to choose which of the squad have organs he wants.
This results in one of the few good scenes in a pretty draggy movie. The Creeper somehow has the teenagers lined up while he chooses whether or not he wants their stuff. When the last kid is left, his eyes go all big and scary as he’s located the walking organ-donation bank he likes the most.
Actor Jonathan Breck, hanging upside down for the scene, executes his unnerving stare perfectly and, when I watched the film last week, it still creeps me out.
Let’s hope that third movie is on course before another 23 years elapse. And look, the 23rd pant-soiling scene! Now THAT’S creepy.
My friend Eve is scared of birds. She runs away from them. Isn’t it weird how mammals of our size can be freaked out by such tiny creatures: spiders, bees, scuttling scorpions? Most of these critters have been at the centre of some Nature’s Revenge film of some sort. Jaws is probably the most responsible culprit but, even twelve years earlier, Hitchcock had unleashed an unstoppable tirade of winged attackers on the human population of California.
‘Tis The Birds, 1963’s finest killer-bird film. Hitchcock really pushes the extent of his abilities, namely making the ordinary somehow unsettling. Bodega Bay – like Amity Island in 1975 – is a colourful, quaint little cove of a place, chock full of happy people, pretty architecture and a slow pace of life, soon to be invaded by ‘our friends’ the birds…
And he does it all without a single note of music.
This scene rates as one of the best in the movie: Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), goes to the Bodega Bay School and finds that a huge flock of birds are waiting outside. Waiting for the children… The children who are inside the school singing some creepy pigglety pagglety mow mow mow song.
They flee, the birds scatter, beaks peck at kiddies. In modern movies, kids are hardly ever short of irritating, fucking obnoxious little brats who always evade serious injury. The Bodega Bay Class of ’63 – including 12-year-old Veronica Cartwright – are cute, well-behaved sprogs and we wish them no harm, making the scene that whole lot more scary.
Hitchcock was never one for standard eerie imagery – shadows, long slow pans et al – but he was masterful in extracting the creepy from all other avenues, this being a prime example.
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This was a logistically difficult Pant-Soiling Scene. I only have a clunky old VHS copy of spooky 1982 proto-Final Destination film Sole Survivor so could not use software to grab stills. Instead, I had to hover before the screen with my camera and do my best to capture the creepy.
If you’ve not seen this low-key, slow-burn, rare little gem, it’s definitely one to source. Anita Skinner is the – duh – sole survivor of a plane crash and in the weeks after her recovery, she encounters various people who just sort of… stare at her from afar.
First is this little girl on a landing dock. Actually, the actress in reported to be none other than Susan Jennifer Sullivan: Melissa from Friday the 13th Part VII.
As the film goes on and more of these silent, unmoving (actually dead!) folk appear in parks, on the road, even on her front porch. Always… fixedly STARING.
In recent years, Asian horror has really done this to death but Sole Survivor is genuinely unsettling. From the kooky has-been actress who keeps receiving messages from the other side to the dim photography and zombie-like movements of the stary-squad.
Second choice of eerieness goes to man-atop-escalator when Anita finds herself alone in a car park.
This has the kind of horizon-of-dread tone that the powers behind Final Destination would kill for (in a wild and gruesome way, no doubt); it’s a stark, cold and lonely affair that deserves a hell of a lot more credit than it gets.
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