Have you voted for your favourite horror movie villain yet?
40 GHOST SHIP
BLOODBATH AT THE BALL
The “slice and slide” death has come into vogue in recent years. 13 Ghosts, Cube, Resident Evil and Underworld are just some of the films in which a character is bisected or diced, but (in true Tom And Jerry style) they remain intact for a few seconds before literally falling apart. The opening of Ghost Ship, though, goes sickeningly further. A whole dance floor of seafaring partygoers are chopped in half by a taut wire that slices horizontally across the whole deck. All except a little girl over whose head the wire passes. Instead she watches as all those about her slowly disintegrate into a bloody mound of mauled limbs and torsos. Shame the rest of the film is so dull…
39 THE EXORCIST
THE SUBLIMINAL FACE
Subliminal images can be pretty powerful. One blink and you’ve missed them. Even the late Norris McWhirter realised this when he tried to sue Spitting Image for flashing a picture of his face on a Page Three girl for a split second. Most people don’t even consciously notice this scene from The Exorcist. While Father Karras is walking up the stairs from a subway, having a vision of his mother, there’s a single frame spliced in with this terrifying, ghostly face. The new version of the movie inserted the face at various other points but less is more, we say.
38 LOST HIGHWAY
THE GUY WITH THE PHONE
In David Lynch’s most frustratingly opaque film (Mulholland Drive? Pah!) the most scary and bizarre scene occurs when Bill Pullman finds himself at a party and is approached by a man wearing white face make-up. The bloke explains that he is at the party and also at Pullman’s house. Eh?! He then produces a mobile phone and Pullman calls his own house, and the man – incredibly – answers! But what’s become scarier in hindsight is that the actor wearing the whiteface is Robert Blake, who was found guilty of the death of his wife in a civil suit.
37 THE EVIL DEAD
A bunch of kids have unwittingly resurrected a demonic force. Two of the girls play an ESP game, with one holding up the cards and the other trying to guess what the card is. Their friend Cheryl sits with her back to them, staring out of the window. Then she starts calling out the cards, one by one, guessing each one correctly. As the others stare at her in disbelief, Cheryl turns round, revealing a grotesque, demonically-possessed face. Levitating into the air, she dementedly cackles, "Why have you disturbed us, awakened us from our ancient slumbers? You will die!... One by one, we will take you!"
36 THE THING
THE BLOOD TEST
There are grosser moments in John Carpenter’s The Thing (the bit where the doctor’s arms are bitten off when a huge, toothy maw appears in the chest of the guy he’s defibrillating springs to mind) but the blood test is the most edge-of-seat moment. We know one of these guys has to be the Thing. The guys in the film know that one of them has to be the Thing. And the only way to find out who is by a blood test. So the end of the scene is pretty much a given: somebody’s going to go all amorphous and gooey and nasty on us. but that just means that each time Kurt Russell puts that red-hot needle in the blood samples the tension is ramped up. Until finally… Eeeaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!
ONE OF US
Banned for over 30 years, Tod Browning’s classic Freaks still has an undimmed power to shock and charm. In a classic inverse, the villain in Freaks is the only supposedly “normal” person in the cast. Trapeze artist Cleopatra has been trying to murder her dwarf husband Hans, thinking he has a hidden fortune. After failing to kill him, the gang of pinheads, dwarves and assorted freaks decide to get their own back on this black-hearted “norm”. The film ends with the freaks crawling their way through rain and mud to get to her and in the final revenge Cleopatra is shown deformed and clucking like a chicken.
They got ’er!
34 THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
THE UNMASKING OF THE PHANTOM
We refer, of course, to the 1925 horror classic and not the overblown Joel Schumacher version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (though that holds horrors all of its own). After abducting Christine, the girl he loves, the mysterious masked Phantom has taken her back to his lair. As he expresses his joy by playing his pipe organ, Christine’s curiosity about his appearance gets the better of her. She pulls off the Phantom’s mask, revealing a hideous skull-like face beneath. It was a real shock for the audience: Lon Chaney had a clause in his contract that ensured that no glimpse of his make-up was seen before the film’s release. The scene disturbs so much because the Phantom is as repulsed by his own face as we are; he is desperate for love, and the revelation of his true appearance tears down his romantic dreams. We are horrified for him, as well as horrified at him.
THE SILVER SPHERE
In Don Coscarelli's surreal 1979 horror flick, something odd is going on in the local mausoleum. Little Mike investigates, but gets caught. Then a silver sphere glides into view. It extrudes knives, flies right into the guy who's apprehended Mike, and drills into his forehead, sending an arc of blood spurting into the air. The idea came to the director in a dream: "I was in my teens, and what I can remember had mainly to do with my fleeing down endlessly long marble corridors, pursued by a chrome sphere intent on penetrating my skull with a wicked needle. There was a quite futuristic 'sphere dispenser' out of which the orbs would emerge and begin chase. As far as I can remember, the spheres never caught up with me..."
32 THE FLY
MAGGOT BABY NIGHTMARE
Journalist Ronnie (Geena Davis) is having one hell of a bad week. Not only is her boffin boyfriend turning into a half-insect, half-human monster after accidentally splicing his DNA with that of a housefly, but she's pregnant by him. In this gruesome nightmare sequence, Ronnie's ex rushes her to hospital as the contractions start. In the delivery room, the doctor (a cameo by director David Cronenberg) gasps in horror as he pulls out a giant wriggling maggot. Yowzer!
31 THE OTHERS
I AM YOUR DAUGHTER
Grace (Nicole Kidman) walks in on her daughter Anne, sitting in her communion dress, playing happily with a puppet. But as she gets closer, she stares in horror as she realises that it's not her Anne at all, but a wizened old crone. The old woman pauses, stares at her, and asks - in the little girl's voice - "What's the matter?". "What have you done with my daughter? screams Grace. "Are you mad? I am your daughter!" comes the chilling reply.