WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SCENES WHICH SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND DISTURBING, PLEASE ENJOY THE FILM
The BBFC which was responsible for the certification of film content since 1912, which you may remember those certificate warnings by a bespectacled man in a suit who resembled a bank manager called Simon Bates, head of the BBFC, advising everyone what the certificates were for. I’d always felt slightly disturbed and guilty by this strange, friendly man telling me that it’s illegal for anyone under the age of the certificate to watch, as if in the event that my teachers or neighbors might find out and report my family to the police and I would be sent away to some children’s prison that strangely would resemble the Japanese prison camp from Empire of the Sun (no doubt where the watching of horror movies would be forbidden, along with a regime of standing up and speaking to class, singing hymns, school dinners and early bedtimes with no TV).
Also, Simon Bate’s face always looked abit saggy, and reminded me of the swollen headed creatures from the cassette cover of Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste (1987) and The Toxic Avenger (1984). No disrespect to the man intended, but I’d seriously wondered if Mr Bates was related to these creatures since each seemed involved in the production and manufacture of the videos we’d rented from the Ritzy (re-branded as Blockbusters).
I’d watched alot of them as a child and during my adolescence, and was a mandatory goal which required bravery and a level of intellectual endeavor, and as an adult I still search for good ones when they appear. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many recent ones which have the style or intelligence to truly frighten, and this got me thinking that there’s really something magical about them, but when as you grow up to realise you’ve lost something, like when you accept that Santa Claus isn’t real (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale 2010 satirises this by showing Santa return to wreck bloody havoc! ‘Jingle Hell Jingle Hell, Rudolph the dead-nose reindeer’ etc); to be able watch horror movies and to feel scared by them, or at the very least find them creepy.
Personally, I can’t imagine not watching horror films (‘OMG! You haven’t seen [*insert], seriously, how can you not have seen it?! It is…..ah-mazing!’), and how strange it would to exist in a world without them. What would everyone be afraid of, and how would anyone know if robots, ghosts or aliens were evil, or that sharks were dangerous?
[*Any of the following blockbuster or popular cult titles would probably be an appropriate example, but you can choose your own; The Omen (1976) Psycho, Terminator, Donnie Darko, Evil Dead 2, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Seven, Silence of the Lambs, The Blair Witch Project, A Nightmare of Elm Street (1986), The Shining, The Thing, Lost Boys, Jaws, Alien]
In order to explore what makes a film scary I’ve focused my research on my own subjective memory of watching both famous and obscure titles, both for children and adults, that date back as early as the forties. The list contains the films which scared me as a child and had left a distinct impression (trauma?) that has stayed with me for years after. Naturally, this lasted only until adulthood (coughs!), while I’ve learned there are far scarier things than ghosts and aliens.
The following is a list of films I believe I’d watched between the age of nine to fourteen including some children’s animated films from this period, some of which had been produced before 1990 where I was eight years old. All of these horrified or disturbed me, and had the effect of keeping me awake at night, afraid to tiptop quietly to the toilet, and even probably gave me nightmares. I would say the reason for this was either due to the images graphic violence (as in Saturday the 14th and Robocop, which I’d remembered feeling physically sick and shaken from), or for the supernatural themes alluding to death or acts of cruelty (Pinocchio and Watership Down); I believe concepts and fears about the Devil, death, hell, cruelty, ghosts, superstitions, girls and aliens are perceptions which can sometimes take many years to overcame or realise. I’d poured over Usborne’s illustrated non-fiction books Guide to Ancient Monsters, Myths & Legends, Guide to UFOs, Witches, Ghosts & the Supernatural and Guide to Mysteries of the Unexplained, and it was as if by studying these terrors that I would learn about the world, and discover if these creatures existed.
I remembered when I was ten or eleven, I’d even told my parents that I wanted to be a ghost hunter (a ‘paranormal investigator’ as it became known), and had tried to conduct my own experiments involving traps with string and soft toys (??), although the elusive spirits may have anticipated the attention of mischievous children and were able to circumnavigate my plan to expose them. Perhaps, there is a morbid curiosity with the unknown which never outgrows us (or the geeks anyway).
By writing this list I am not suggesting that these are ‘THE definitive’ scariest films of all time, since most of them really aren’t very scary, or even good films for that matter. Ofcourse, some are better than others, and I might not have included a few famous ones you may have seen (such as Dawn of the Dead (1978, 2004), Halloween (1978), Critters), only because I don’t remember watching them at the time, although I had watched Halloween and found it chilling, and which still remains an iconic classic, it didn’t seem to scare me as much as others I’ve listed.
*You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned any of the Asian (The Ring, 1998 Japan), British (Wicker Man, 1973) or European (Martyrs 2008, Eyes Without a Face 1960) horror cinema which has done so well in the West over the past forty or so years, but that’s a different topic and not relevant to my discussion about American horror films, unless I’ve commented on a particular film I’d seen as a child, such as Mad Max (Australia), The Little Convict (Australia) or Revenge of Billy the Kid (UK)** – surprisingly these were the only exceptions where, due to the casts and locations, films which I’d thought were British had actually been produced and released by US companies (Watership Down, Don’t Look Now, Bedknobs and Broomsticks).
The list of films also includes some animated feature films I’d seen before I was ten or eleven, and adult horror films I’d been granted permission to watch by my parents (although my mother denies it!):
- Pinocchio (Ben Sharpsteen, 1940); scene where Pinocchio visits the playground island and all the boys turn into donkeys, and then captured whipped by the merchant.
- Dead of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, 1945); scene where the ventriloquist’s dummy comes alive.
- Curse of the Faceless Man (Edward L Cahn, 1958); Scene where concrete man breaks his box and strangles a man. Scene where concrete man drags woman into sea and is destroyed by the water (I’m not certain if this is actually the film I’d seen, but the trailer seemed to show the monster as I remembered it, and the story seems similar, I’d also thought it was British?).
- The Fly (Kurt Neumann, 1958); scene where woman crushes monster’s head and hand with machine. Scene where men discover a fly with man’s face screaming ‘help me’ as a spider crawls towards it.
- Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960); scene where Normal Bates appears on stairs and kills detective. Scene where woman enters the basement and finds the mother’s corpse.
- The Haunting (Robert Wise, 1963); scene at night in bedroom where the two women hear knocking at the door and then a laughing from a crack in the wall. Scene on roof where Julie Harris faints and camera spins down into extreme close-up.
- Beneath the planet of the Apes (Ted Post, 1970);scene where Chartlon Heston and the hero are killed.
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Robert Stevenson, 1971); final scene where the witches call the knights armor and ghost army to fight the Germans.
- Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973); final scene where scary dwarf appears and slits Donald Sutherland’s throat.
- Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975); scene where boy gets attacked by shark in sea and shown on a fountain of blood. Scene where Richard Dreyfuss discovers body with one eye missing in sunken boat hull.
- Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976); scene where Sissy Spacek finally snaps and kills everyone on prom night. Scene where Nancy Allen gives John Travolta a blow job and then he later starts killing pigs with a sledgehammer. Final scene where Carrie’s crazy mother stabs her and she uses her powers to crucify her.
- The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976); scene where the men are buried alive in the tomb* (although, I can’t remember if this happened in the sequel). Scene where the babysitter commits suicide by jumping off the roof at Damien’s birthday party and crashes through a window swinging on a noose.
- The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973); scene where Linda Blair’s head rotates* (I’d only watched a clip of this during a comic show at Universal studios Florida where two entertainers were giving a demonstration about special effects)
- Wizards (Ralph Bakshi, 1977); scene where elf woman betrays the group and kills the good stormtrooper
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman,1978); Scene where Jeff Goldbum discovers his alien replica. Final scene where woman finds Donald Sutherland outside the white house but he turns out to be an alien and starts screeching.
- Watership Down (Martin Rosen, 1978); scene where the John Hurt rabbit hallucinates and sees rabbits being buried alive.
- The Fury (Brian DePalma, 1978); final scene where psychic boy kills woman who spins in air bleeding
- Mad Max (George Miller, 1979); scene where Mel Gibson’s wife and child are killed by the biker gang. Scene when Mel Gibson’s friend is burned in a car crash but survives and kept in hospital.
- Salem’s Lot (Tobe Hooper, 1979); scene where man digs boy’s coffin, a cloud blocks the sun and the vampire bites him. Scene where the main vampire flies through the window and kills the boy’s parents.
- The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg, 1979); Scene where window slams shut on boy’s hand. Scene where woman looks out of window and sees red eyes staring back growling.
- The Little Convict (Yoram Gross, 1979); scene where Rolf Harris watches a cartoon man being whipped (although this may have been a different cartoon by the same creators).
- Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979); scene where the captain searches for the alien with a radar and flamethrower and then the alien suddenly appears from the dark and screams. Scene when Ian Holm dies and is then brought back to life when his severed head starts talking.
- Alligator (Lewis Teague, Jon Hess, 1980); scene where men find decomposing dog carcass in sewer. Scene when alligator bites off policeman’s leg. Scene where alligator devours boy in swimming pool.
- Friday the 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980); final end scene where girl drifts on boat and is suddenly grabbed by dead boy from under the water.
- The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980); scene where Danny sees the dead girls down corridor. Scene where Jack kisses the old women in the room.
- Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980); scene where Luke Skywalker gets captured by the hairy Wampa and is then kept alive upside down frozen from the ceiling while the creature approaches to finish him off. Scene where Hans Solo’s horse thing dies and he cuts open its belly to rescue Luke. Scene where Darth Vader tells Luke that he’s his father and chops off his hand before he falls and is left hanging in space.
- Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis, 1981); scene where hero chops off head of Medusa, and the scene when blood drips from the severed head and turns into giant scorpions.
- Wolfen (Michael Wadleigh, 1981); scene where homeless black man crawls around derelict building and is killed by creature. Final scene where Albert Finney rescues a woman but is stopped by a wolf, before another man points his gun and then decapitated while his head is still speaking.
- Mad Max 2 (George Miller, 1981); scene where biker girl is killed by boomerang, and then the other biker’s fingers are chopped off. Scene where female warrior is shot in chest and set on fire, while trying to protect lorry from bikers, and then the disabled gunner tries to rescue her but his also set on fire.
- Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981); scene where Indiana Jones and women are trapped in tomb with snakes and covered corpses. Scenes where the Nazis explode when they open the ark and are attacked by evil spirits.
- Saturday the 14th (Howard R.Cohen, 1981); scene where daughter walks into kitchen where a severed head is wrapped in paper on a table. Scene where son is chased by monster in bedroom.
- Incredible Shrinking woman (Joel Schumacher, 1981): scene where Lily Tomlin becomes trapped inside a tin can. Final scene where woman disappears into a microscopic flake.
- Scanners (David Cronenberg, 1981); scene where man’s head explodes. Final scene where the two brothers confront each other and then their veins start bleeding as they’re both set on fire.
- Inseminoid (‘Horror Planet’) (Norman J.Warren, 1981); scene where woman is trapped outside the airlock and tries to amputate her own leg with a chainsaw. Scene where alien woman chases man in space suit outside of airlock and survives without oxygen and then tears open the man’s stomach to eat his guts.
- Creepshow (George A Romero, 1982); scene where Ted Danson is buried alive and drowns, but then comes back as a zombie covered in seaweed and kidnaps Leslie Nielson. Scene where man tricks his wife into going down into the basement where a hairy monkey creature kills her. Scene where Ed Harris is crushed by tombstone.
- The Amityville Horror 2 (Damiano Diamiani, 1982); scene where brother shoots children in closest and their legs are still kicking (really chilling!). Scene where the son sees the ghosts of murders victims down in the basement. Scene where son becomes possessed and turns into a screaming monster.
- Swamp Thing (Wes Craven, 1982), scene where Swamp Thing crushes man’s skull, and when the henchman drinks the serum and turns into a troll (really weird and still disturbing). Scene where the villain’s skin falls of and he turns into a hairy monster.
- Q (Larry Cohen, 1982); scene where pedestrians are walking around the city and finding spots blood and body parts on the street. Scene where headless body hangs down from ceiling in the monster’s nest.
- Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, 1982); scene where the paranormal investigator watches a piece of meat explode on the kitchen counter, and then vomits into sink and starts ripping his own face off. Scene where the monster tree grabs the boy through the window and tries to eat him. Scene drinks a worm in a tequila bottle and then vomits up a monster
- The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982); scene where monster jumps off from sofa and sticks to ceiling
- Dark Crystal (Jim Henson, 1982); scene where the skeksis steal the essence from the elf. Final Scene where the benign creatures transform with skeksis.
- Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn (Nicholas Meyer, 1982); scene where Will Shatner watches a man die who has been horribly burned on half his face. Scene where crew are held hostage and have parasite leeches into their ears.
- Flight of the Dragons (Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, 1982); scene where the sorcerer turns into a dragon.
- Jaws 3 (Joe Alves, 1983); scene where sheet is uncovered from the table with remains of corpse, and scene where man swims into mouth of shark with hand grenade and killed.
- House of the long shadows (Pete Walker, 1983); scene where the guests discover the dead boy’s secret bedroom and it’s filled with torn photographs and scratches on the walls.
- The Dead Zone (David Cronenberg, 1983); scene where police raid a suspects house but the man kills himself by headbutting a pair of scissors.
- Psycho 2 (Richard Franklin, 1983); final scene when the girl finds her dead mother in basement.
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielberg, 1984); scene where Indiana stabs Japanese gangster with flaming spear. Scene where Indiana drinks potion from skull and turns evil. Scene where the chief villain rips out man’s heart and sacrifices him.
- The Last Starfighter (Nick Castle, 1984); scene where the boy’s mother or sister knock on boy’s bedroom door and he has turned into a weird blob underneath his bedsheet.
- The NeverEnding Story (Wolfgang Peterson, 1984); scene where the ‘darkness’ wolf attacks Atreyu but he stabs it with a knife. Scene where Atreyu’s horse dies in the swamp of sadness. Scene where Atreyu must pass through the gate with the two sphinxes and see’s the bodies of the knights.
- Dune (David Lynch, 1984); scene where the hideous villain pulls the body plug out of one his prisoners chest and who then bleeds to death.
- Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (Hector Olivera, 1985); Scene where the boy meets the dead knights in the forest who call to him ‘join us, join us, join us’ (*Although, I’ve read that Roger Corman may have reused the same material in other films, but I’m pretty sure this is one).
- Return to Oz (Walter Murch, 1985); scene where Dorothy is attached by the gang of roller blade monsters. Scene where Dorothy steals the key from the evil witch and is chased by her headless body* (surely the most terrifying scene in film history, forget Freddy Krueger)
- Comet Quest: the Adventures of Mark Twain (Will Vinton, 1985); scene where the children visit an ‘Angel’ in another room who turns out to be Satan when he lets them build a miniature world out of clay but then destroys it.
- Young Sherlock Holmes (Barry Levinson, 1985); scene where the girl hallucinates in the cemetery.
- What waits below (Don Sharp, 1985); scene where the climber is killed by the monsters inside the crevice.
- Mad Max 3 (George Miller, 1985); scene where driver is shot in leg with spear by enemies attacking their convoy, and Mel Gibson tells him to count to three before ripping it out.
- Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (Steve Hahn, 1985); scene where hero stabs monster in stomache with magic sword.
- Day of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1985); scene where the hands burst through the walls as woman is staring at pumpkin calendar. Final scene where soldiers are ripper apart by zombies at the end.
- Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986); scene where Jennifer Connelly thinks she’s back home in her room and the goblin creature tries to placate her and make her forget about her brother.
- King Kong Lives (John Guillermin, 1986);scene where Kong dismembered the hunters.
- Maximum Overdrive (Stephen King, 1986); scene where steam roller interrupts boys baseball game and squashes several of them. Scene where blinded father stands in road and screams at evil goblin lorry which crushes him. Scene where military car uses kills angry waitress with machinegun.
- Friday the 13th part 6 (Tom McLoughlin, 1986); scene where Jason wakes from dead and punches the guy into coffin. Scene where Jason kills father by bending him backwards.
- Poltergeist 2 (Brian Gibson, 1986); scene where girl and family are transported into the afterlife and the girl is transformed into a corpse.
- The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986); scene where Geena Davis gives birth to a maggot. Scene where Jeff Goldblum breaks the man’s arm and his bone breaks the skin. Scene where the monster vomits acid over the man’s hand and leg which both melt.
- Inhumanoids (Ray Lee, 1986); scene where the heroes fight a horde of skeleton zombies in a medieval castle.
- Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987); scene where the CEO gets blasted by the large robot, and when the bad guy falls into the acid and disintegrates.
- The Gate (Tibor Takacs, 1987); Scene where the two boys discover a dead builder buried in the world of their closet, who comes alive and grabs one of them* (nearly as scary as Return to Oz). Scene where the boy’s friend reappears as an evil monster and is stabbed in the eye with barbie doll. Scene where Stephen Dorff believes the ghost of his dead mother has come back to save him, but its actually just his dead dog he’s holding (really really frightening).
- My Demon Lover (Charlie Loventhal, 1987); scene where the possessed man turns into a demon when he’s at his girlfriend’s flat, and he turns into an angry mother-in-law before her head explodes and spews green slime. Scene where the Hispanic women is stalked by a demon with large horns down an alleyway.
- Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi, 1987); scene where woman is attacked by branches and dragged off into forest.
- Predator (John McTiernan, 1987); scene where soldier’s chest explodes when hit in back by alien’s laser. Scene where the soldiers discovered the skinned remains of people they were searching for.
- Empire of the Sun (Steve Spielberg, 1987); scene where Christian Bale is helping the doctor revive a patient in the Japanese POW camp hospital and the dead woman blinks at him.
- Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987); scene where vampire melts in bathtub and then blood spurts from the pipes.
- The Serpent and the Rainbow (Wes Craven, 1988); scene where Bill Pullman hallucinates and is visits by a zombie bride who vomits a snake at him.
- Child’s Play (Tom Holland, 1988); final scene where policeman picks up Chucky’s severed, smoldering head and is attacked by the doll’s body.
- The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (Vincent Ward, 1988); scene where the peasants are debating where to dig a tunnel and see the Grim Reaper fly across the moon. Final scene where the boy falls off the church spire, dies and then story goes back to the village as nothing happened.
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam, 1988); scene where the Baron and Sarah Polley from the TV show Ramona end up in the belly of the fish and play cards with a hooded man who turns into the Grim Reaper.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Robert Zemechis,1988); scene where Bob Hoskins fights Christopher Loyd, who turns into a demonic cartoon after being crushed by a steamroller.
- Scrooged (Richard Donner, 1988); scene where Bill Murray gets locked into underground room with frozen homeless man.
- Pulse (Paul Golding, 1988); scene where girlfriend is locked in shower as the evil presence burns her with hot water. The scene where the father is shot in the head with a screw and a shard of glass from a broken window cuts his son’s hand.
- Killer Clowns from Outer Space (Stephen Chiodo, 1988); scene where alien clown punches biker’s head off his shoulders and it lands in a dustbin.
- The Blob (Chuck Russell, 1988); scene where man is attacked by blob at the hospital and his girlfriend tries to help him, but tears his arm of by accident. Scene where blob sucks man into sink. Scene where women is crushed by blob in telephone box. Scene where blob melts boy in sewer. Scene in cinema where blob attacks audience from ceiling.
- Beetlejuice (Tim Burton, 1988); scene where family move into house and the ghost couple try to frighten them by creating a bloody murder. Scene where Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin visit the afterlife and open a door with lost souls floating inside.
- IT (Mary Lambert, 1989); scene where Pennywise clown grabs boy as he reaches for his toy boat down a drain. Scene where severed head of man starts talking in fridge. Scene where woman goes to old lady’s home and who turns into her dead father.
- Ghostbusters 2 (Ivan Reitman, 1989); scene where the ghostbusters are in the train tunnel and they hear a scary voice calling ‘Winston’ and when they turn around there’s a lot of severed heads on sticks
- Batman (Tim Burton, 1989); scene with the electrocution.
- Little Monsters (Richard Greenberg, 1989); scene where the villain monster bully’s a small monster by ripping his head off and replacing it with a rubber toy. The final scene where Fred Savage battles against camp schoolboy monster whose face melts (surely this is the second most terrifying scene in cinema history after Return To Oz!)
- Friday the 13th part 8: Jason takes Manhattan (Rob Hedden, 1989); scene where Jason chases man up ship mast and throws him onto spikes. Scene where the ghost of young Jason appears crying in the bedroom where girl is hiding before monster Jason smashes window. Scene where Jason fights man on rooftop and decapitates him. Scene where family jump into car and find severed head of man. Scene where Jason chases couple through sewer calling ‘help me mommy’ and is then destroyed by acid.
- A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 (Stephen Hopkins, 1989); scene where boy turns into superhero and Freddy slashes him to pieces. Scene where Freddy kills girl by making her eat her own flesh during family dinner. Scene where Freddy kills boy by possessing his motorcycle burning him alive.
- Pet Semetery (Mary Lambert, 1989); scene where the sister is haunted by the ghost of her deformed twin. Scene where man is chased and killed by the evil dead child.
- The Toxic Avenger 2 (Lord Kaufman, 1989); Scene where Avenger shoves barbed wire into an enemy’s eyes and crushes a man in a wheelchair. Scene where the Avenger crushes a dwarf into a basketball and slam dunks him (don’t ask me why I found this disturbing). Scene where the Avenger tears a man’s ears off and talks into them.
- Millennium (Michael Anderson, 1989); scene where Kris Kristofferson visits the deformed leaders in the future. Scene with the plane crash.
- The Abyss (James Cameron, 1989); scene where diver discovers dead bodies in flooded submarine, and becomes claustrophobic while tugging on a rope down a dark corridor.
- The Fly 2 (Chris Walas, 1989); scene where the monster sprays acid in the guards face which melts.
- Leviathan (George P.Cosmatos, 1989); scene where monster eel bites onto man’s chest and he screams while the other crew run away. Scene where woman’s hair falls out in shower. Scene where crew fight monsters in corridor and one monster has a victim’s face on his back that says ‘please help me’.
- Hard to Kill (Bruce Malmutg, 1990); scene where Steven Segal fights mugger in off-license and breaks his leg.
- Robocop 2 (Irvin Kershner, 1990); scene main bad guy forces boy to watch man being tortured, scene where the evil robot kills girlfriend and shoots boy.
- Meet the Applegates (Michael Lehmann, 1990); Scene where alien daughter has sex with boy when she transforms into a giant insect. Scene when daughter gives birth to baby larvae and is immediately crushed by a religious man.
- Arachnophobia (Frank Marshal, 1990); Scene where giant spider crawls into man’s sleeping bag and bites him. Scene where the coroner opens the coffin and finds the corpses black completely drained of blood. Scene where spider crawls out the dead coroner’s nose while his wife eats popcorn with a spider in the bowl. Scene where the scientist is found dead covered wrapped in spider webs inside the barn. Scene where spiders trap Jeff Daniel’s inside the bathroom.
- Flatliners (Joel Schumacher, 1990); scene where Kiefer Sutherland chases the ghost dog down a passage and gets beaten up by boy in hoody.
- Jacob’s Ladder (Adrian Lyne, 1990); scene where Tim Robbins is chased by car down alleyway and as he turns around he’s the monsters in slow motion. Scene where his son waves goodbye and then it cuts to his bike being crushed by a car. Scene where Tim Robbins is taken into a hospital and operated on by blood splattered monsters.
- Crash and Burn (Charles Band, 1990); scene where evil android tears off man’s cut hand.
- Predator 2 (Stephen Hopkins, 1990); scene where Danny Glover chases alien down subway and kills Bill Paxton, and scene where alien x-ray’s female cop and doesn’t kill her because she is pregnant. Scene where the alien uses a spinning blade to cut through a row of frozen meat and decapitate Gary Busey.
- The Exorcist 3 (William Peter Blatty, 1990); scene where nurse walks down corridor and suddenly attacked by person in bed sheet.
- Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven, 1990); scene where Schwarznegger finds mutant rebel leader who is a conjoined twin hidden in man’s chest. Scene where bad guy has arms severed by lift. Scene where Schwarznegger stabs man with drill through as he drives digger. Scene where the villain is sucked outside into Mars atmosphere and suffocates horribly (still not as horrible as acid death in Robocop, thanks Paul).
- The Guardian (William Friedkin, 1990); scene where tree monster attacks bikers, tears one man’s leg off and then eats him. Scene where husband destroys tree with chainsaw and blood spurts out, and when the evil woman’s leg snaps off.
- Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990); scene where Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward discover the man’s severed head under a hat in a hole in the ground.
- Night of the Living Dead (Tom Salvini, 1990). Scene where couple are chased from cemetery to farm house where a zombie appears dressed in a suit, but his clothers falls off to reveal stitches from an autopsy.
- Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992); scene where Candyman kills psychiatrist and flies out of window. Scene where Virginia Madsen wakes up in woman’s home where her baby has disappeared and there is a dog’s severed head.
- Waxwork 2 (Anthony Hickox, 1992); scene onboard a space ship where alien monster grabs man’s head and squashes, and smashes another man’s helmet making his face explode.
- Hellraiser 3 (Anthony Hickox, 1992); scene where man is ripped apart by chains in a hospital operating room. Scene where Pinhead flays women alive and then absorbs her into his statue prison. Scene where girlfriend betrays boyfriend by dragging him to Pinhead who punctures his head with a metal spike. Scene in club where Pinhead arrives and massacres everyone with chains. Scene where police shoot at cenobytes in street, one of the monsters uses a cd to kill them and another spits fuel on them. Scene where monster kills pedestrian using camera stuck to his head.
- The people under the stairs (Wes Craven, 1992); the scene where the father cuts up the corpse Ving Rhames corpse and feeds it to the cannibals. Scene where the mother slaps the daughter and accuses her of getting her dress filthy with blood. Scene where the father chases the boy through the house dress in a leather gimp outfit.
- Lawnmower Man (Bret Leonard, 1992); Scene where Jeff Fahey has sex with his girlfriend in cyberspace but he turns into a CGI monster and sends her mad.
- Ghostwatch (Lesley Manning, 1992); scene where the ghost appears from behind the curtain.Final scene where studio loses power.
- Knights (Albert Puyon, 1992); Scene where a kickboxer kicks the head off his opponent and bites his thumbs off.
- Revenge of Billy the Kid (Jim Groom, 1992); Scene where farmer makes love to goat. Scene where monster tears farmer’s arm off. Scene where farmer’s son has hook shoved through mouth.
- Jason Goes to Hell (Adam Marcus, 1993); scene where Jason attacks a restaurant and kills a chef by drowning him in a fryer. Scene where waitress impales Jason with metal rod, but wakes up and then impales her instead.
- Alive (Frank Marshal, 1993); scene where the plane explodes and passengers are sucked outside.
- Guyver: Dark Hero (Steve Wang, 1994); scene where Guyver shoots lasers into monsters eyes, stabs him in stomach and then crushes his face.
Anyone reading this will probably wonder why I’ve taken the time to write such a pointless memoir of bad movies from my childhood, and my reason was to articulate the experience of growing up during this particular epoch, which I feel has a strange cultural significance.
There’s a youtube video of QT arguing with a critic about the violence in KILL BILL (a film I enjoyed, but not really as much as Charlie’s Angels) in which they argue over the content. The anger and response of the critic attacking QT and saying that his films are style over substance and that his films lack soul is perfectly valid, but interestingly her anger and disgust with the film, which is overtly toe-curlingly coma-inducing kitsch, suggests that the OTT and explicit vibrancy (violence) of it might actually touch on something nearing a ‘soul’, as the critic puts it, as a result of arguing over whether violence in films is acceptable or if it’s okay to say the word ‘nigger’. It seems to inspire how much people really love cinema, for better or worse. I always felt KILL BILL was massively overrated, and felt disappointed with QT after Pulp Fiction.
Sleep well…..and keep watching the skies!
Please also checkout Lee Hardcastle’s hilarious animated parodies: