Thoughtful Thursday: Scary Movies, Scary Scenes

Reading Sandy’s Shocktober reviews got us talking about scary movies and scary scenes. We were trying to determine which was the scariest movie we’d ever seen.

Marion: The first movie scene I remember being scared by was the Flying Monkeys scene in The Wizard of Oz.(I think I’m not alone there.)

I was going to say that Aliens was the scariest movie I’d ever seen, and it is scary, but then I remembered 1963’s adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (The Haunting). The black-and-white film relied heavily on its excellent cast to create a sense of growing dread. That scene in Eleanor’s and Theo’s bedroom, where something is crying, and the camera stays trained on Eleanor’s face… Eleanor is grateful that Theo is holding her hand, but Theo begins squeezing so hard it hurts… only it’s not Theo! That scene still gives me chills.

Bill: So many choices! I can definitely remember as a young kid being terrified by two TV shows of all things: the made-for-TV movie Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (the most vivid scene for me is the woman being dragged away by the little creatures) and the Trilogy of Terror episode with the living doll. But in terms of theatrical films, it’s a battle between The Exorcist (which I inexplicably saw with my sister in the theater at age 11) and Halloween. After watching that with the gang at a friend’s house, one of the girls refused (understandably) to walk home alone through a few backyards to her house. Nobody volunteered until I, playing all “no big deal” did, and I kept up that façade all the way to her house, past the swaying big pines, the looming above-ground pools, etc. Soon as she was in the house and I turned back, I sprinted back as fast as humanly possible — perhaps the fastest I’ve ever run in my life. I waited to go back down the basement until my breath came back to me of course — I had an image to uphold after all.


So readers, what scene freaked you out the most in a movie? What is the scariest movie you’ve seen? Please share below. One random commenter with a USA address will get a book from our Stacks.

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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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  1. Sandy Ferber /

    Lemme just say that THIS scene used to freak the poop out of me when I was a kid:

  2. Fee Roberts /

    I could never sit through the Exorcist. I was really young, so that probably was the reason. I have never had a desire to watch it as an adult.

  3. Bobby V. Berry, Jr. /

    Some of those old B movies scared me as a kid. Them and The Blob, especially.

  4. Susan Emans /

    Movies? I have never been a horror movie fan, so The Wizard of Oz ( not the monkeys or the witch) and Alien.
    But the scariest thing ever was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Hush.”

  5. Bobby V. Berry, Jr. /

    Also “When a Stranger Calls” scared me so bad. When the phone rang and you knew the bad guy was upstairs. Ooh!!

  6. Noneofyourbusiness /

    The Jabberwocky’s appearances in the 1985 “Alice in Wonderland”.

  7. Scariest movie has been The Exorcist (1973), particularly the Spider Walk scene. I was definitely too young when I first watched it.

    • I see a theme emerging… people who saw The Exorcist when they were MUCH too young!

      • Noneofyourbusiness /

        My school took us on field trips to see stage performances of “The Monkey’s Paw” and “The Tell-Tale Heart” far too young. The former was so scary it made the performance of “The Necklace” right afterward seem like a horror story, too, and made me afraid in my own basement.

    • How could I forget John Carpenter‘s The Thing? Very scary movie at the time.

  8. John Smith /

    “The Blob” (1958) and “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” (1955) both gave me nightmares for years after I saw them on television.

    • John Smith /

      Scenes: The mummy, just jazzing about and being tall and wrapped up and hostile and rotting was scary, and then every scene with the Blob: that thing was so blobby and oozy!

  9. The Distinguished Professor /

    “Event Horizon”, hands down. The body horror plus the threat of being sucked into Hell. It has no place in a space movie.

  10. Lady Morar /

    The two Hellraiser movies where the protagonist is unknowingly already in Hell are the creepiest ones. “Inferno” and “Hellseeker”.

  11. “Event Horizon” was certainly one of the scariest more recent movies I have seen. The early Hellraiser installments score high as well. But the most lasting scare for me was Lugosi’s Dracula – seen when I was in single digits age-wise. For over twenty years after I couldn’t sleep without the covers tucked snuggly around my neck.

    Another one for the saw-a-scary-movie-much-too-young club.

    • I think sometimes parents thought, “Oh, they’r old black-and-white movies; how scary can they be?” w/o remembering just how scary they were.

  12. Sethia /

    I saw IT way to young. Still can’t stand clowns!

  13. SandyG /

    The only movie that ever really scared me was Halloween.

  14. I have always been freaked out by religious imagery in movies, so yes, The Exorcist scared the heck out of me, but also The Omen, Altered States (which probably didn’t scare anyone else at all, but that goat’s head completely terrified me), and even 1997’s Devil’s Advocate — probably a) because I’m a lawyer and b) Al Pacino as the devil. I’ve never dared watch Rosemary’s Baby.

    And Marion, I remember being terrified by the apple trees in The Wizard of Oz more than the flying monkeys.

  15. Anne C /

    Because of this post, I am now watching the black and white Haunting on Hill House.

  16. mary henaghen /

    The Shining with Jack Nicholson scared me a lot. Danny riding his Big Wheel down those long hotel corridors……YIKES!

  17. Becky, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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