Have you voted for your favourite horror movie villain yet?
UNDER THE DUVET
The smart thing about the Japanese chiller Juon is that it knows you usually watch horror films late at night, and afterwards you have to go to sleep. It does its very best to undermine the idea of your bed as a comforting place of sanctuary. The latest victim of a curse which transfers from person to person like a virus, Hitori is being stalked by a spectral presence. When she gets back to the safety of her own apartment, she thinks she's safe - but she’s wrong. As she watches TV, the cheerful face of the TV presenter distorts into a hideous, demonic visage. As a terrified Hitori hides in her bed we see the duvet slowly rising up... Hitori glances down to see a ghostly blue-faced woman, who pulls her under the duvet and away into nothingness.
29 SALEM’S LOT
FLYING VAMPIRE KID
It’s the moment which caused a whole generation of kids to sleep with the curtains closed, well into their adult lives. Danny Glick is just drifting off to sleep, while mist swirls around outside his window. Slowly, oh so sloooowly, the outline of his missing brother Ralph appears in the mist, floating towards him. Ralph grins evilly like the evil bloodsucker that he’s become and his eyes shine unnaturally as he hovers around, scratching at the glass. Danny eventually climbs out of bed, as if hypnotised, and opens the latch on the window. He did not want to do that…
DON’T PICK IT, IT'LL ONLY GET WORSE
A paranormal investigator takes time out from casing the Freeling family’s ghost-riddled house. Fancying a snack, he gets more than he bargained for when a juicy steak starts crawling across the kitchen work-top, then, before his eyes, turns into a swarm of maggots. Dropping the tasty chicken drumstick he’d been nibbling, our man dashes to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, he picks at a blemish on his face, then peels away his flesh, tugging whole chunks off until his screaming skull is exposed. It’s an unnervingly graphic moment in a mainstream fright flick, which makes it all the more jolting. The hands doing the skin-wrenching belonged to the film’s producer, one Steven Spielberg. Weirdo.
MICHAEL MYERS PLAYS SPOOK
Never have sex in a Halloween film. But PJ Soles’s Lynda does, the silly cow. After a night of post-pubescent passion, her boyfriend goes down to get something to drink and is impaled by the visiting Michael Myers. Myers then enters the boudoir, with a sheet over his face and glasses on top, looking like some myopic ghost. Ha ha, she thinks it’s her boyfriend pratting about. It’s not.
26 THE OMEN
THE NANNY HANGS HERSELF
By this time, we’ve already found out that little Damien can, erm, make things happen. He makes fierce dogs run away in fear, scares giraffes in safari parks and, in this case, makes his nanny hang herself in the most public way possible at his fifth birthday party. Maybe it’s the fact that because we’re in daylight we’re lulled into a false sense of security that it still remains so shocking. And we never do find out exactly why she did it. Maybe she’d just been watching Andromeda…
A GLIMPSE OF MR PIPES
In 1992 the BBC drama Ghostwatch created a media storm. Presented in the form of a Crimewatch-style reality TV show, broadcast "live" from a haunted house, it featured familiar faces such as Sarah Greene, Mike Smith and, "back in the studio", Michael Parkinson. Many viewers, channel-surfing or tuning into the programme late, were unaware that it was a fiction, and as the BBC switchboards lit up with phone calls from terrified viewers, the programme became assured of its place in the ranks of great hoaxes, alongside Orson Welles's War Of The Worlds broadcast. Ghostwatch’s almost-subliminal glimpses of “Mr Pipes” are terrifying. In its cleverest trick, a ghostly shape is visible in the background, but no-one in the studio reacts. Later, when they start "receiving calls from viewers", they replay the footage... but there's nothing there. Ghostwatch screenwriter Stephen Volk said "That moment is my favourite because it really messes 100% with the viewing audience. They are, in fact, involved as a character at that point. 'What? He says he didn't see anything - but I DID!'"
WHAT’S IN THE BAG?
Lonely widower Aoyama falls in love with a mysterious young woman called Asami. After doing some investigation into her past and making some slightly troubling discoveries, he decides to give her a call. Asami is waiting by the phone, kneeling, in the dark, in a furniture-less room. In the background, in shadow, is a huge brown cloth bag. When the phone starts ringing, the mysterious bag suddenly rolls over with a monstrous gurgle. As we later find out, Asami mutilates her lovers so they can never leave her...
23 CAT PEOPLE
THE SWIMMING POOL
Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 classic is a masterpiece of chiaroscuro cinematography. As a child, Serbian fashion designer Irena was told stories of “cat people” – women who turn into panthers when aroused – and believes she might be one herself. Since she’s too fearful to consummate her marriage, her husband turns to his co-worker, Alice, for consolation... As Alice swims alone in a darkened hotel pool, she’s terrorised by an unseen presence, which we can only presume must be Irena in her panther form. Tourneur subtly terrifies using only sound effects of cat-like growls, and the pulsating shadows thrown onto the walls by the rippling water.
Even the keenest Red Dwarf fans have nothing on Annie Wilkes. With her favourite author, Paul Sheldon, held captive, she becomes fearful he might try to escape. What to do? Ah, of course, put a block of wood between his feet and crush his ankles with a sledgehammer. Argh!! This became the abiding memory of Misery, yet in Stephen King’s original novel, Annie cuts Sheldon’s feet off. Screenwriter William Goldman said it was this one scene that made him want to adapt the book. Director Rob Reiner thought it was too strong and instead changed it to hobbling. Goldman was outraged, until he saw the film with an audience and promptly changed his mind.
THE BOMB DROPS IN SHEFFIELD
Now we've almost become blasé about the nuclear deterrent, but back in the Cold War the shadow of nuclear annihilation hung over our childhoods. So for anyone of a certain age, Threads, the BBC's 1984 drama about the outbreak of nuclear war, and the subsequent unravelling of society, is one of the most horrifying television programmes of all time. In its most memorable sequence a mushroom cloud blossoms over Sheffield city centre. The camera focuses on the shocked reaction of one woman who - quite understandably - pees herself in sheer terror.