Filmmakers and stars reveal their favourite horror movie moments!

We asked some of our filmmaking friends to tell us about the movie scenes they find the scariest. Here are their answers...



John Carpenter
John Carpenter is the legendary director of such horror masterpieces as Halloween, The Fog and The Thing.

'In The Thing From Another World, the group led by Kenneth Tobey and Dewey Martin walk up to the greenhouse door and  throw it open, coming suddenly face-to-face with the Creature. Suddenly, WHAM! He’s right in front of them, startling both them and the audience. It’s a great scare. Second runner-up: Patricia Owens pulls the hood off of her husband, David Hedison in the original, The Fly. Heartbreakingly horrific.'

Sandy King-Carpenter
Sandy King Carpenter has produced several of husband John's movies, including In the Mouth of Madness, Ghosts of Mars and Village of the Damned.

'In 1957’s Night of the Demon (aka Curse of the Demon),  Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), the leader of a satanic cult, has set a curse upon rival Dr. Harrington and refuses to help him after learning that a parchment has already disintegrated, setting his demise in motion. He rushes to get Harrington as far away from himself as possible. After Dr. Harrington arrives at his home, the demon materializes through the woods. While attempting to flee in his car, Harrington crashes into a pole, causing power lines to trap and electrocute him. Or was it the demon? This scene has it all: action, suspense and a pretty great demon.'

Andrew Sensenig
Actor Andrew Sensenig has featured in horror movies like The Last Exorcism Part II, We Are Still Here and Terror Trap.

'I know I'm biased, but this year's film We Are Still Here has one of the best / scariest scenes in my memory. And while I'm part of the scene, I've watched it so many times, it still gives me the creepy crawlies. About two thirds through the film, Paul (my character)'s friend (the great Larry Fessenden) invites me to do a seance with him to help talk to my dead son. Well, let's just say that things go downhill quickly. This simple seance that Larry just NAILS perfectly begins the climatic run of the film; where the screams, blood, and gore do not stop for the next 20 minutes!!! Again, I know I'm probably very biased, but just watch it for yourself. I think you'll become a believer.'

Anthony DP Mann
Along with hosting the Horroretc podcast, Anthony DP Mann has directed indie features Terror of Dracula, Ghostkeepers and Sherlock Holmes and the Shadow Watchers.

'Although a terribly-maligned film (and it’s difficult to carry its torch by the time we reach the wearisome final act), I’ve always maintained that the prologue to Jonathan Liebesman’s 2003 Darkness Falls is among the most disturbing sequences ever set to film. This dark fairy tale about the spirit of a hideously disfigured woman in the guise of an evil tooth fairy establishes its tone and intent all within the opening chapter in a flashback as our film’s protagonist is haunted and nearly killed (his mother not faring as well) by the shadowy demonic Matilda Dixon. The most effective horror films have taken me back to my childhood, substituting the boy-me for the characters threatened on screen (The Exorcist, Amityville Horror, Poltergeist – all of these feature children threatened by malevolent forces). The trope of a figure known to every child in the western world – the tooth fairy – corrupted, turned into a creature of darkness, works quite effectively here. With an excellent creepy sound design, and a generous amount of shadow and slow burn tension, the sequence builds to a horrific series of scares when the horrific antagonist finally appears in the child’s bedroom. The film has received much criticism – some justified, much of it not – and the concept does begin to wear thin by the end of the second third… but the first 10 minutes of the film (which were actually previewed online in advance of the film’s release) are golden, and really succeeded to get under my own skin in a way that both invigorated and compelled me to sleep several stormy nights with the lights on!'

Aaron Moorhead
Along with filmmaking partner Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead has directed the cult indie features Resolution and Spring.

'The Jeep attack in Jurassic Park isn't often thought of as a moment in horror history, but let's call Steven Spielberg what he is: our gold-standard genre filmmaker. I was too young to see Jurassic Park in theatres, but when I watched that scene on VHS from Blockbuster, I developed an instant fear of dinosaurs. From a filmmaker's perspective, it's not just "big scary monster." It's the fact that dinosaurs DID exist and CAN exist, and they just felt like real animals instead of a fantasy. They go through pains to actually SHOW you in the movie how they might exist. We got a monster that isn't humans, isn't a wild animal, but still could possibly be real. Its immense size, the rainy nighttime environment, how it can somehow make a goat disappear and reappear without its size giving its location away, its utter dominance and relative indifference, its animalistic nature (cutely starts attacking the Jeep's tire!) -- all of these things add up to a nonexistent monster attack that feels completely real.'

Chuck Parello
True life horror has become Chuck Parello's specialty, having directed Henry II: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Ed Gein and The Hillside Strangler.

'The brutal murder scene in the 1977 film Looking for Mr. Goodbar is one of the scariest movie scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I was 14 years old when a friend’s mother brought us to see this frank and shocking film, a cautionary tale about the dangers of anonymous one-night stands and the sexual revolution, which was based on Judith Rossner’s best-selling novel and starred Diane Keaton, Richard Gere and Tom Berenger. Goodbar was actually inspired by a real case that took place in 1973 in New York and the inevitable slaying of self-destructive schoolteacher Theresa Dunn (Keaton) is foreshadowed plenty throughout the film. 
However, nothing prepares you for the last few intense minutes of the movie when Theresa is viciously beaten, raped and stabbed to death by an enraged, self-loathing bisexual man (Tom Berrenger) that she picks up in a bar. The scene is brilliantly shot, by ace cinematographer William A. Fraker, in dark shadows punctuated with a blinking blue strobe light and every time I see it I find myself gasping for air. Needless to say, the scene, and the film, made an indelible impression on me. Goodbar was directed by Richard Brooks, who also scared the shit out of me with his 1967 film In Cold Blood, an adaptation of Truman Capote's seminal true-crime novel about the murders of a wealthy Kansas family.'

E.L. Katz
E.L. Katz is the director of the home invasion in reverse shocker Cheap Thrills and the A is for Amateur segment of The ABCs of Death 2.

'I consider Black Christmas to be a perfect horror film, and there isn’t a scene that demonstrates that more than the moment when Olivia Hussey’s character (and the audience) gets her first real glimpse of the killer that’s been dispatching her friends throughout the film. This scare has stayed with me for a very long time, and gives me chills every time I re-visit it. All you get is a glimpse of one eyeball, and hear a couple softly whispered words, “It’s me, Billy”. It’s not overly cinematic, the score isn’t booming, but it feels like if you were trapped in a house with a maniac, this is exactly how it would feel. He wouldn’t make much sense, and your brain might take a moment or two to react properly. That tiny beat just feels so creepy and real.'

Brooke Lewis
Best known for her creation Ms Vampy, Brooke Lewis has starred in a host of horror flicks including Slime City Massacre, Dahmer Vs Gacy and will soon be seen in Killer Rack!

'I am such an old school horror fan that it is tough for me to choose one scene! One of my all-time faves is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. I remember watching it on video when I was a kid and I was terrified! When Hitchhiker (Edwin Neal) cuts his hand in the van and then smears the blood on the outside, I was done! It is moments like those that send chills down my spine. I have always been a huge Brian De Palma fan, so I have to shout out to Blow Out and Carrie. I can still visualize the end of Blow Out when Burke (John Lithgow) shockingly strangles Sally (Nancy Allen) to death, as Jack (John Travolta) runs to save her! And, the scene at the end of Carrie when Sue (Amy Irving) goes to visit Carrie's grave in her dream and the hand grabs her, still haunts me to this day! De Palma is a cinema genius! Hey, Movie Waffler! Is De Palma single again? If so, set me up!!!'

Bryan Coyne
Bryan Coyne is the director of Infernal and is in post-production on his latest feature Utero.

'In Michael Winner's controversial flick, The Sentinel, Alison Parker (Cristina Raines) enters her dark room. She shuts the door without much thought, revealing to us, the audience, the ghastly visage of one of the hell creatures that populate the nefarious tenement where she has recently taken up residence. This vision of damnation personified stands sentinel (tee-hee) for a BEAT before crossing to the other side of the room at a rapid pace. Alison is shocked to her very core by the movement, as are we. Such a simple scare that manages to invoke the most base human fear, the fear of what's in the dark; the parlor of this creature's skin invokes a clever juxtaposition against the blackness of the room. A bleak film with bleak scares that are unrelenting without even once offering a hand to the viewer. Second place; Mephisto Waltz, what the HELL is with that DOG creature sporting the human face? I think I peed a little as I typed this. Happy Halloween!'

Corin Hardy
Corin Hardy is the director of monster movie The Hallow and is set to helm the reboot of The Crow.

'My favourite scenes in horror cinema would be…
There’s so many in John Carpenters The Thing… Hard to choose.
Certainly there’s the moment when they go to visit the dog pen, just after “Mac wants the flame-thrower" and they advance on the dog pen and the way it builds up and we get to view the first proper living horror of The Thing beautifully, atmospherically under flashlight, and the way it’s hazily lit in the dog pen and the uncertain reactions of the men gathered around the fence are spot on, and you feel exactly the same as they do as we watch this hideous yet fascinating transformation take place when The Thing starts to attack the dogs. We feel sorry for and horrified at what it does but can’t take our eyes away. The combination of practical effects utilising the reverse photography is always so impressive and the red gory, fleshy, partially assimilated creature is grotesque, but you can understand what is happening - then when it starts strangling the dogs with those rice-noodle-thin tentacles and there’s that really painful moment when it tightens its grip on the husky and you get that high pitched whine before they put it out of its misery...  It's such a detailed and perfectly visualised sequence and so beautifully rendered. The ensuing moments as The Thing attempts to escape whilst the flame thrower arrives; “Damn it Chiles torch it!” just as that fleshy flower thing erupts forwards... It’s perfect! It's practical and I’m always thrilled by it. Also the testing for blood scene with the petri-dish, the teeth-chest defibrillation scene… So many great moments.
And then there’s Evil Dead 2’s “Who's laughing now?” and “Workshed” scenes….
And Alien’s ‘Dallas in the ventilation shaft’ sequence that always takes me by surprise.. Or John Hurt's chest-burster…
Don’t even get me started on An American Werewolf In London’s never bettered transformation...
Could talk about this stuff all night.'

Charlene Amoia
Best known for her role as Wendy in sitcom How I Met Your Mother, Charlene Amoia has also appeared in Sleepy Hollow and will soon be seen in horrors Live-Evil and Nefas: The Demon Within.

'The Exorcist is hands down the most frightening movie I’ve ever seen. There’s so many scary scenes that it’s hard to pick a favorite but I think it would have to be when Regan’s head spins completely around. That’s the moment in the movie where you realize that there’s no rational explanation for what is happening to this poor little girl and it’s absolutely terrifying! To this day, that image still makes me cringe!'

Ivan Kavanagh
Ivan Kavanagh is the writer-director of The Canal and Tin Can Man.

'I have many favourite moments in horror cinema, from Carrie's heartbreaking last dance before the pigs' blood is spilled on her, the terrifying massacre of the family in An American Werewolf In London and the fake waking-up that follows, to the endings of Race With The Devil, Don't Look Now and Carnival Of Souls. But there is one moment that has always stuck with me, one that I both love, and dread, as it makes me jump no matter how many times I see it. It's a moment in Exorcist 3 - Legion, directed by William Peter Blatty, and it takes place in a nighttime hospital corridor. I don't want to spoil it for you, in case you haven't seen it, but it involves a nurse going about her night duties and a masked person dressed in what I think is a sheet, holding a nightmare inducing medical instrument. And what makes it so effective is how simply it's shot. It's just one shot, but it's a masterclass in how to scare. The pace the nurse walks is perfectly judged, the sound design dips to just the right level, highlighting the nighttime echoes and footsteps, the length of the shot is perfectly timed, and when the scare finally comes, the camera violently lunges forward in an amazing crash zoom, as if it can't believe its eyes, as if the camera is literally jumping in fright with us.'

The Rasmussen Brothers
Brothers Michael and Shawn wrote John Carpenter's The Ward and have written and directed Dark Feed and The Inhabitants.

Michael: 'One of the scariest moments in film for me as a child is the moment when the alien bursts from Kane's chest in Alien. I saw it late at night on cable in the early '80s and this was a time before spoilers so I had no idea what was coming. That scene really works for me on so many levels. We begin the film with John Hurt's character. He's our entry into this world so naturally nothing's going to happen to him. We've also been led to believe that the threat is over. The face-hugger is dead. Kane has recovered. And they're having a celebratory meal. What's the worst that can happen? Also I think the fact that the killer comes from within his own body is the most shocking thing of all. And how helpless the rest of the crew is as it happens. It was so sudden and shocking that afterwards I was sitting there asking myself, "is he gonna be okay? They can save him, right?" It was a truly horrifying moment.'
Shawn: 'At this year’s Fantasia Film Market, I had the pleasure of meeting director John McNaughton, who directed one of the scariest movie scenes that I can remember in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. It’s the scene where Henry and Otis massacre a family in their home. I find situational horror to be much more impactful to me than blood or gore, and the idea that what happened on screen may have actually happened freaked me out for sure. (The movie was loosely based on the life of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.) The scene was shot documentary style, because Henry and Otis were recording their murders, which made it feel even more real. Definitely still etched in my memory 30 years later.'

Tracey Birdsall
Former model Tracey Birdsall has become a star of genre fare in recent years with roles in Dawn of the Crescent Moon, Doomsday and the upcoming At the Edge of Time.

'Very little scares me as I love it all… however, in The Exorcist, that scene that consists of Linda Blair’s head spinning with the priest chanting and the pea soup spewing out of her mouth… and then the staircase scenes?! I saw those scenes when I was very young and they haunted me until I grew up… actually it still haunts me. Pure evil oozes from every pore of this film… I’ve even gone back to watch it thinking I surely must have gotten over it… but such was not the case. One of my other favorite horror films which was also very psychological in it’s journey... Misery starring Kathy Bates and James Caan… that’s always been one of my favorites! The acting is intense and amazing, and the character Kathy Bates plays is downright creepy. I love it!… But to me the perfect horror film is Alien! All time fave.'

Robert Leeshock
The former Earth: Final Conflict star has moved into producing with the stoner horror Star Leaf.

'In The Shining there is a scene where the character Danny is riding his Big Wheel through the halls of the Overlook and he is heading toward room 237 I believe, and the twins greet him in the middle of the hallway and they say "Hello Danny, come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny...Forever and ever..."  Damn creepy!!!!!!'

Michael Steves
Writer-director Michael Steves impressed us with his feature debut Clinger.

'I was watching Event Horizon one night at 2am in college, in my dorm room by myself with all of the lights off. I was handling it okay, and then the blood orgy video log scene happens. The one with the people screwing each other to death and the guy holding up his gouged out eyes. I'm shaking, terrified, and shocked - and right then, my phone rings. It was from an unknown number. At 2AM! I turned on all the lights, turned off Event Horizon, and watched Spongebob Squarepants until I fell asleep. Turns out the call was my friends prank calling me.'

Bianca Allaine
Bianca Allaine has starred in such genre fare as Die Die Delta Pi, The Crawling Dead and The Evil Inside.

'Halloween and horror films are so special to me that it is difficult to choose just one special moment. But, if I had to choose one horror movie that means the most to me, it would be The Lost Boys. This was the first movie I chose to rent (on my own!) from the video store. Just seeing the VHS cover and the imagery on the back of the tape really drew me in. My favorite scene from the movie would have to be when Michael first encounters David and his wicked minions, including Star, at the boardwalk at night. The combination of heavy metal chic and atmospheric, gory horror just blends perfectly in this classic - and don't get me started on the incredible soundtrack! I look forward to watching it every October.'


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