Tag Archives: spooky

Pant-Soiling Scenes #17: Bumper JAWS edition

I watched the scary, bitey fish flick a few weeks ago and was astounded by how scary and effective it still is. The opening scene notwithstanding, here are three other reeeeally creepy bits:

1: Child / Lilo Combo Chomp

These days audiences wouldn’t really give a shit if an obnoxious child became lunch for the locomotive-like Great White shark that torments Amity Island. But back in ’75 when a seemingly inoffensive kid just wanted five more minutes on his raft – and literally seconds after a cute Labrador Retriever disappeared in the water (far more harrowing, I say!) – the violent and bloody death of Alex Kintner is fucking terrifying.

The indiscriminate nature of the shark’s pick of victim, the oblivious kids playing in the foreground as those on the beach all stare in bewilderment at what’s going on to the depressingly sad realisation of Alex’s mom that it’s her kid who’s not coming out of the water as a tooth-marked, punctured lilo feebly washes up on the tinted-red shore. Ugh.

2. “Take my word for it – don’t look back!”

A couple of scenes later when poor Alex’s mom has put up a $20,000 reward for the capture of the shark, every man and his dog (except poor Pippet) is trying to bait the animal.

A couple of schmo’s toss a chunk of meat in the water and are surprised when el biggie fisho not only swims off with it but does so with such power that it rips off the end of the jetty, taking one of them with it.

Now, what’s creepy about this scene is that Spielberg, still not revealing the shark, represents its presence by a piece of the broken pier, which floats out to sea and then menacingly makes an about turn before heading back in the direction of the flailing idiot who’s swimming for his life.

It’s a great moment, really capturing how everything in this film was done right and, for me, totally outshines the underwater-head scene that comes later, which is just a jump scare rather than genuinely unsettling. Ugh.

3. Introducing Bruce

Minutes after some eeeevil children prank everyone with a mock dorsal fin, the shark proper decides to stop by for mid-afternoon munchies and bumps some poor extra out of his rowing boat.

We’ve seen the fin, the tail, and a really eerie shot of the shark inches below the surface as it pulls down the next victim but the audience gets its first fleeting glimpse of the devilish creature when it sticks its head out of the water to grab on to its understandably reluctant meal, whose severed leg quickly sinks to the bottom.

The shark actually looks quite real here, I reckon – and, dayum, how horrible would it be to be that guy – its mouth is huge! Ugh.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #17: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2

My earliest Friday related memory is seeing a TV spot for a Halloween showing of The Final Chapter when I was in Florida circa 1989: it featured the scene where Jason bursts through the window and grabs Corey Feldman and also the re-used footage of the campfire tale from the opening montage. I was only about 10 so couldn’t watch.

Years later when I became dependent on an almost daily Friday-fix, I kept expecting these scenes to show up. Neither were in Part 1 (and I was also staggered to find that neither was Jason!) and by the time I saved up for my VHS of Part 2 I was to find that that window scene was also absent. The Final Chapter would turn out to be the last of the original films I tracked down. But…the creepy campfire story, it was present along with some of the most effective jump-scares I’ve ever encountered…

And so it comes to this: my favourite scene in any movie ever. I love this moment so much. Sure, it’s predictable now but the first two or three times I watched it, it succeeded in making me jump outta my skin.

Ginny hides from bag-headed (and so even creepier) Jason in a bathroom that can’t be locked. The soundtrack maintains a tense string note that seems to go on forever as she listens through the door and slowly…sloooowly…reaches for the window… As Vera Dika’s dissection of how these films work keyed in on, we wonder where Jason might’ve gotten to in the meantime. Oh, you’ll find out!

The fact that Amy Steel is without a doubt the best final girl in the history of the genre aids this remarkably well choreographed scene and those that follow as she runs past the camera and into another room. These films might’ve been cheap but they were certainly not hack jobs made up of rubbish edits, crappy synths and ketchup squirts – some real craft went into making them tense and, in the case of this scene, downright frightening, something all too absent in todays boardroom-produced box-ticking exercices that pass for horror.

Read my full review for further ranting.

Hotel California

PRAY FOR MORNING

3 Stars  2006/88m

“Fear the night.”

Director / Writer: Cartney Wearn / Cast: Jonathon Trent, Jessica Stroup, Dennis Flanagan, Ashlee Turner, Udo Kier, Robert F. Lyons, Jackson Rathbone, Brandon Novitsky, Kip Martin, Rachel Veltri.

Body Count: 7


A closed-down mansion hotel with a curse on it! Ooh, I loves me summa that.

June 5th, 1984: Five high schoolers spending the night in the long since closed Royal Crescent Hotel are murdered, ending the tradition of young graduates taking this rite of passage into adulthood…

Twenty-something years later, fascinated teen Jesse and seven friends decide to break in and explore the premises for the sheer thrill of it. They’ve got crime scene photos and want to visit every murder site in the old place. Once inside, it becomes clear that all is not right with the spooky place. Decomposed body parts are found, apparent vortexes make navigation impossible, spectres appear and every time a strange shimmery light turns up, someone dies – their bones broken, the ends poking gruesomely through the epidermis.

Pray for Morning is like taking a playdough effigy of Hell Night in one hand and one of The Shining in the other hand and squashing them together until the colours merge and you can craft a mix of the two. There are some genuinely creepy visuals early on and it goes in a different direction to what’s expected, electing a supernatural villain who has magic powers at his disposal.

However, when the story knocks on the door of reincarnation we skate on to thin ice and it risks collapsing under its own weight of suspension of belief. This negative effect is lessened with interesting teen characters and some good dialogue, making it better than many other recent efforts and plus we get to see a Disney presenter’s neck broken, always a treat.

There’s essentially a degree of care here that’s often absent in low-rent body count films but it’s perhaps just that tiny bit too pretentious for its own good.

Blurbs-of-interest: Robert F. Lyons was in Dark Night of the Scarecrow; Jessica Stroup was in The Hills Have Eyes II and the horrible Prom Night remake, making this her best foray into horror thus far. Udo Kier was later in The Editor.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #14: POLTERGEIST

When I was about 10 I caught about 5 minutes of Poltergeist on TV and had a nightmare I can still vividly remember to this day… A creaky old rocking chair in my folks’ bedroom, diving down the stairs to scramble out the front door. <shudder>

Weirdly, the film feels more like ET with a few chills when I watch it now. But it’s undeniably brilliant and, while not particularly scary, certain parts still give me the willies, including this, that creepy-ass tree through the window bit…

Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening little Robbie Freeling, who attempts to count away the storm, only for it to get closer until creepy-ass tree busts throw the window and tries to eat him while little Carol Anne shrieks in the background.

Trees are oft scary and under utilized in contemporary horror. For kids, they’re up there with pylons, shadows and the closet door that won’t close. The ‘Geist gets all this spot on, thus earning itself a spot in the P.S.S. list.

Pant-Soiling Scenes #13: GHOSTWATCH

Go ahead…laugh. Ghostwatch was BBC’s hoax documentary for Halloween in 1992. I wasn’t quite a nipper but a lifetime of religious upbringing and “you mustn’t watch horror movies, for they are evil, now let us say grace,” made me one scaredy cat.

Hence, discreetly switching channels to experience the forbidden fruit, I was prompty terrified by what I saw. Legend tells us – and it’s confirmed by the inlay notes in the DVD – that some poor schmuck committed suicide a few days after the broadcast.

When it was released to DVD ten years afterwards, I had to take a look to see if I was damaged. And this moment, where plucky presenter Sarah Greene ventures into the understairs cupboard to look for one of the missing girls, gave me the uber-willies…

So you might not understand what you’re seeing, but the door slowly creaks open when the camera and sound guys go looking for her and reveals a glimpse of this freaky man’s face, who may or may not be the ghost – unaffectionately known as Pipes by the tormented family – eerily staring back at them.

The effect is lost over time to some degree; Michael Parkinson’s unintentionally hilarious possession and the rubbish acting of the bubble-haired psychologist lady but back then…woah, frightening stuff!

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