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Five Weirdest Screen Horror Moments
By Kirsty Walker
1. 'The Spider Walk' - The Exorcist (1973)
Now infamous because it was left out of the original cut and replaced later, even though it's shit. This crappy stunt shows the demonically possessed Regan O'Neal walking backwards down a staircase and biting the ankles of the maid in the only really dumb scene in the entire film. Billy Friedkin originally left it out because he felt it was mistimed, coming as it does as Regan's mother finds out that her old friend Burke Dennings is dead. The real reason it should have been left out is that it marks the only time that the possessed Regan comes out from her pit after the 'pissing at the dinner party' scene. Having Regan lurking in that room makes the priests' solemn trudge upwards seem all the more ominous - if she can come scuttling downstairs any time she pleases it ruins the effect, and the symmetry of the theme of inclines and declines whichFriedkin sets up from the very first frame.
Also, it just looks fucking stupid.
2. Elephant Buffet - Santa Sangre (1989)
Alexander Jodorowsky's loopy circus folk thriller has a glut of weird scenes, but the death and subsequent consumption of an elephant has got to be up there. The doomed creature starts haemorrhaging from its trunk and dies a nasty death, before being rolled down into a landfill site where a pack of dump-dwellers start to rip it to pieces and eat it. Apparently the elephant represents male sexuality, a tip for you boys, if you start losing blood out of your 'trunk' then see a doctor.
Some see Santa Sangre as a surreal masterpiece, others just think it's toss which is weird for the sake of being weird. Certainly a film where you can see a man perched in a tree gobbling a raw fish like some rabid otter, and know that that's a more or less tame scene, has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
3. The last 15 minutes - Ghost Watch (1992)
As part of a series of one off dramas the BBC had the bright idea of screening a fake live broadcast supposedly from the most haunted house in Britain. A gazillion complaints later they might have reflected on the wisdom of using a children's TV presenter (Sarah Green) as the roving reporter, and a kindly old man (Michael Parkinson) as the studio anchor. Sarah was holed up with a family who claimed to have a resident spirit and the whole thing was fun and games and not many ghosties until about the last 15 minutes when the 'ghost' upped its game and the youngest daughter drowned her toy rabbit in the sink and held her hand out sweetly to Sarah with the dynamite line "Here's his eyes!".
Sarah Green ended up facing off with the ghost and a bunch of his psychotic cats, unseen in an under the stairs cupboard, while Mike Smith ran round BBC TV Centre screaming "Where's my wife? Where's my wife?". Meanwhile Parky was possessed by the ghost and was sat catatonic in his interview chair chanting "Round and round the garden, like a teddy bear..." All in all the weirdest BBC programme ever made.
4. In case of certain death... Protect and Survive (1975)
People will misremember seeing these on television but the public information films detailing what you should do in case of nuclear attack were never released to the public until they were cleared from the archive for DVD screening, and shown on some nostalgia programmes, no doubt prompting everyone to sigh and yearn for the good old days when we thought we might be cooked in our seats at any moment.
The staid RP voice over is particularly chilling as it describes how to bury your loved ones in shallow graves covered in plastic sheeting. The worst part however, is the advice for what to do when the bomb drops and you're stuck outside - basically put your anorak over your head and get into the foetal position.
5. Living Doll - Profondo Rosso (1975)
Virtually all of this film is weird and unsettling, from the spooky children's song which repeats throughout the murder scenes to the random shots of dogs ripping each others throats out, but the murder of Professor Giordani is a particularly strange one. As he sits alone in his apartment a crescendo builds and a nasty looking doll rattles towards him, seemingly of its own volition, before he is beaten to death by the 'real' murderer. It's hard to pin point what makes it strange, but even in the midst of the other madness it stands out as peculiar. The Professor has already for seen his own death by implying that a dream about playing the piano was really about bashing your father's teeth in.
Stay tuned for the denouement in which the killer is decapitated by a chain caught in a lift shaft and someone stabs a lizard. Amazingly only the lizard was cut by order of the censors.