Friday, November 02, 2007

Rating Game Redux 18: Once More, with Screaming

Another vain effort, this time in the service of "3 Scariest Horror Movie Scenes." A contrarian part of me wants to point to the appalling death of eroticism in Showgirls--every time I look, my leer turns to stone!--or the nameless terror of the words "Extended Version" and "Quentin Tarantino" on the same DVD box--but I get it: only actual jeepers and creepers admitted. so here's a random three, strewn like broken blossoms along the bread-crumb trail, lost in the gingerbread woods. Say goodbye, kiddies:

1. Karloff’s entrance in Frankenstein (1931), back to the camera, then turning around in close-up, his dead-alive face, “blank and pitiless,” filling the screen. My Dad told me kids ran from the theater. Smart kids.

2. Wendy sees Jack’s writing--“All work and no play …”--in The Shining (1980), and finally realizes she’s in a horror film.

3. In Audition (1999), a young woman sits, her phone ringing unanswered, a big burlap bag behind her. Just as we assume the scene will end, Something in the bag lurches. The later, all-but-unwatchable revenge-torture scene is almost less dismaying than that simple movement of the sack, which captures every promise we wish horror films wouldn’t keep.

Oh, and Jeff Goldblum at the mirror in Cronenberg's The Fly. And The Exorcist, every four minutes. And John Hurt's face hovering over the egg in Alien. And bedtime in the original version of The Haunting. And, when I was a kid, the dripping jaws of The Black Scorpion descending. Good Lord, as they used to say in E.C. comics, it simply doesn't end. (Choke!)

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