Top 10 images of distant horror in the movies
|LISTS - MOVIE LISTS|
Okay, now we're screwed...
There's something particularly chilling about the Terror That Is Not Upon Us Yet. In the space between normal life and the kind of adrenalin rush that would get even roadkill motivated, comes the moment of decision, when we have to ponder the matter How bad is this...?
It's bad. It's bad...
10: When Worlds Collide (1951)
A friend of mine once confided that his personal nightmare (many years before 9/11) was to look up from his garden and see a 747 heading straight for him, just falling out of the sky. Such a case is bad news for you and your town, to be sure, but not as bad as looking up and seeing a planet headed straight for your own planet. It may not be a personal nemesis, but you can bet your last cent that it's going to be real thorough.
9: The Grudge (2004)
There are plenty of moments of 'distant horror' in Takashi Shimizu's icily effective remake of his own Ju-On, including Yuya Ozeki's multiple presence outside a rising elevator and Takako Fuji manifesting at the far end of a corridor seen on a security monitor. Yet my blood runs coldest when Sarah Michelle Gellar discovers that nearly every photo in dead professor Bill Pullman's photo album is infested with background shots of his No.1 fan.
8: Duel (1971)
I do wonder if stalking truck drivers were quite as common before Richard Matheson's chilling tale of homicidal road-rage launched Steven Spielberg's career in 1971. It's certainly happened to me, only without the wrecked phone boxes or the climactic explosion over the cliff. You wouldn't think something as large as a 1955 Peterbilt 281 articulated truck could sneak up on you like Dracula quite as many times as it succeeds in doing in Duel; on the other hand, you probably wouldn't win the argument even if you knew it was coming.
7: Return Of The Living Dead (1986)
Witness a nuclear explosion any closer than through 2000x binoculars (in a plane flying at full speed in the other direction), and you can be pretty sure your day is taking a turn for the worst. You clearly survived the initial flash, but even if you survive the blast radius sweeping under your feet, things are going to get toxic very quickly. The late Dan O'Bannon brought us this common pre-glasnost nightmare at the end of his zombie-romp, and to make matters worse, this mushroom cloud is only going to end up creating even more unkillable zombies.
6: Night Of The Demon (1951)
This is the 'guided missile' version of #10. This forty-foot demon has your name on it, because you couldn't get anyone else to accept the cursed runic symbols that some evil professor slipped you. In terms of persistence and mission-effectiveness, the diabolical assassin in Jacques Tourneur's classic M.R. James chiller makes the Terminator look like a street-leafleter. Like the nasties in Grudge-land, this supernatural horror is unusual as it will kill the innocent as happily as the guilty, so long as they have the requisite ticket.
5: Dawn Of The Dead (1979)
Even in a world largely populated by the flesh-eating refugees of Satan, the advent of an invasion by real Hell's Angels is still the most horrifying prospect in George Romero's classic sequel. Just when our heroes are holed up and settling down to a lightly besieged existence, Tom Savini and his anarchic band decide that there's not enough sharing going on. These guys are so hard, they think zombies are hilarious.
4: The Innocents (1961)
Clytie Jessop plays the revenant spirit haunting the children on the estate where she worked when alive, standing unmoving among the reed bushes. The horrifying thing about this ghost is how motionless it is. You could eat a picnic for a half-hour and then look up to find this grim spectre had been looking at you all along - and in broad daylight too. Brrrr. Jessop repeated her stock-still performance as the symbolic statue 'Atropos' in the portmanteau horror Torture Garden in 1967.
3: An American Werewolf In London (1981)
Like the London underground isn't unpleasant, dangerous or intimidating enough without all the damned werewolves. Makeup wizard Rick Baker's 'trolley wolf' only makes a couple of appearances in John Landis's hit horror-comedy, and this long shot is by far the most effective of them. Watching the stealthy lycanthrope creep up on the terrified stiff-necked English office worker hits a Londoner like myself in a tender place...
2: The Amityville Horror (1979)
So...you basically have a pretty good idea that you're living in a haunted house with some very malicious and evil spirits, and your parents are too broke to move out of it. You hear a noise down by the swimming pool in the back garden one night and go to investigate. It's nothing. You look up to your own bedroom - which you've just come from - and see a ghastly red-eyed pig demon looking out the window at you. Anyway, sleep well...
1: The Shining (1980)
Kubrick's one and only horror masterpiece is widely acknowledged to be a study of psychological terror rather than a traditional shock-fest, but when the murdered twin girls of Jack Nicholson's predecessor appear to his psychic son and beg him to play with them 'forever and ever and ever', my blood still turns to ice. True horror is most effective when placed in the banal domestic environments we screen out of our lives as uninteresting, and it's the generic and unthreatening tedium of the Overlook hotel's corridors that accentuates the terror they hide.
Deep Impact (1998)
The Exorcist III (1990)
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