The most horrifying scenes in 6 horror films for Entertainment

Why is being scared out of your wits so much fun? You know you’re going to cringe, and hid behind your hand, or if you’re lucky, bury your face in your date’s sleeve while some teenager gets hacked up in screen.

And yet, watching horror movies  – and making them too – is one of New Zealand’s favourite pastimes.


Jane isn’t even the most chilling thing in The Autopsy of Jane Doe

So what are some of the best (worst) scenes in horror films? Here are our picks:

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The little bell in The Autopsy of Jane Doe will haunt your dreams.

This classy little indie horror, set in a New England mortuary (though filmed in the UK), has plenty of frights, chills and thrills.

It’s also got an excellent cast headed up by Brian Cox – playing his usually loveable old grump – as a widowed mortician, and Emile Hirsch as his son, a young man straining at the bonds that keep him working at the family business.

Funnily enough, it’s not the body on the slab, the titular Jane Doe, that yields the worst, most haunting scare in a film chock-a-block with great scares. Although, you’ll be seeing her beautifully blank, dead-eyed stare in your night mares for months to come.

Nor is it a special effects gorefest that will have you scrambling over the back of the couch to hide.

No, the most terrifying thing in The Autopsy of Jane Doe isn’t what you see at all. It’s what you hear. It’s the sound of a tiny brass bell, ringing forlornly, impossibly in an empty corridor… a tiny brass bell you’ve already seen, in a light-hearted scene early in the film, tied to the toe of a long dead corpse.

And after you watch The Autopsy of Jane Doe, the tinkle of that tiny little bell is what you’ll imagine hearing the next time you duck out of bed for a wee in the middle of the night, or walk down a dark stretch of street, or enter a room with the lights off, for the rest of your life.

– Kylie Klein NixonSlappy in Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy III


Scariest moments in movies from Goosebumps, Jane Doe, Watership Down, Miracle Mile, The Shining

We weren’t supposed to be watching television. My sister and I, aged 4 and 6, snuck into the room with the TV one morning while Mum was in the garden.

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We caught an episode of Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy III, in which a suburban family adopts a ventriloquist puppet that comes alive to enslave them.

I don’t think either of us got much sleep that evening. We couldn’t tell our parents about what we’d seen because we’d broken the rules to watch it.

The final scene, where Slappy, the evil dummy, is destroyed, was particularly traumatising. It’s supposed to be a happy ending, but a final shot of his shattered face lying in the grass has stuck with me for nearly 20 years.

When I rewatched the scene recently, I realised my recollection of it differed from what actually happens. I could have sworn that when I watched it as a six-year-old, as the camera lingered on his carved features, one of Slappy’s eyes moved. – Jack van Beynen

The Grady twins in The Shining 


The Grady Twins are not good for the hotel business in The Shining.

They on screen for just 30 seconds, but the vision of the hypnotic chanting of the dead Grady twins stayed much longer in the minds of anyone who saw Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror classic The Shining.

Stephen King’s original novel created a mood of inexorable impending disaster as hotel caretaker Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson in the movie) slowly succumbs to his demons. The devices Kubrick used in the movie to replicate that horror have lived long in popular culture – the clown in the hotel room, the ghostly bartender, ‘Red Rum’ scrawled on a bathroom mirror, and of course, the climactic ‘Here’s Johnny’ scene where Nicholson hacks down a door with an axe in an attempt to murder his wife and son.

But nothing seemed quite as chilling as the ghosts of the twins, murdered by Torrance’s equally-deranged predecessor, who call out to Torrance’s five year old son Danny as he cycles steadily around the deserted hotel corridors:  ‘Come and play with us, Danny, forever, and ever, and ever’.

The Grady girls were played by twins Lisa and Louisa Burns, now 48. ‘We loved it,’ the twins said in 2015. ‘Everyday felt like we’d been invited to a very exclusive party and we were the youngest, luckiest people to be there.’ – Steve Killgallon

Holly’s memory of the warren’s destruction in Watership Down


Holly’s nightmare memory of the warren being destroyed in Watership Down had children all of the world in hysterical fits.

I’m not sure what my parents were thinking. But on a school holiday trip to Christchurch in 1979 (which probably also included a drive through Orana Park to meet the resident lions), they decided to take my five-year-old self to a screening of this animated feature.

I can’t blame their ignorance, or that they might have blinded by Art Garfunkel’s syrupy hit song Bright Eyes, because my father was an English teacher and intimately knew Richard Adams’ source novel.

Anyway, amongst myriad horrors and nightmare-inducing visuals, one scene stands out. The moment when a bloodied and broken Holly recounts the havoc wreaked by humans on their beloved home, almost the exact scenario Fiver had prophesised. Starting with a haunting point-of-view perspective, it descends into a surreal stomach-churning involved multiple red-eyed howling lapins.

Viewing it for the first time was up there with Superman II‘s General Zod, Fantasia‘s Night on Bald Mountain and New Zealand’s own The Scarecrow as cinematic experiences that left me with sleepless nights.. – James Croot

The library scene in 2017’s It


The library scene from 2017’s It movie will put you off reading for life.

What is it with libraries that make us seem a bit alone and distrustful?

As little Ben Hanscom (played by Jeremy Ray Taylor) searches through the book and the head in the tree becomes more apparent, I just can’t for the life of my understand why the librarian is standing behind him smiling? WHY?

Then as he makes his way towards the random floating red balloon (WHY ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE RANDOM FLOATING RED BALLOON?) he finds an Easter egg and then it seems like he’ll make his way out of the underground filing system and everything will be hunky dory but then a headless skeleton comes down the stairs and his walking is stilted and unpredictable and awful.

Then the music becomes intense and It comes out, calls him EggBoy, and then Ben crashes into the librarian. Despite some relief, she’s not even nice! A little boy seems shaken to life and she just scolds him. Rude.

As soon as Ben walks into the sunlight I realise I haven’t breathed for the last two minutes. Have fun at the library next time! – Dani McDonald

The bummer ending of Miracle Mile


Miracle Mile’s bummer ending was haunting.

It was the film which sent me into a depression for days after viewing it as an impressionable (but effortlessly cool) teenager at uni.

It all starts off so innocently with then ER star Anthony Edwards’ character Harry meeting and falling in love with Mare Winningham’s Julie. Arranging to meet later, fate conspires against them and Harry ends up having to make call from a pay phone to apologise. But when the phone rings him back, he hears a desperate plea from a man at the other end telling him nuclear war is just 70 minutes away. As Harry listens, he hears a gun shot at the end of the line and a voice telling him not to worry.

But Harry panics and starts telling others than war is on the way, causing deaths and chaos…. and we still don’t know if he’s right.

At the end (NB – Spoiler alert for a cult film, some 30 years in the making), Harry’s reunited with Julie and they’re on the verge of escaping in a helicopter in downtown LA. (Even in the 80s, traffic was bad in LA apparently). However, an EMP hits the chopper and they all plummet into a sinking tar pit – and it’s at that point, there’s an explosion – it seems Harry was right and everybody dies….

Glancing back on it now, it’s perhaps pertinent given the escalating tensions between North Korea and Donald Trump, but at the time, it plunged me into nights of sleeplessness and feelings of futility at such a downbeat ending. I was never as shook by anything again until the ending of Twin Peaks Season 2 when Coop was apparently defeated by the epitome of evil.

Actually, thinking back on all this now, I’m off into a corner to have a good cry and rock quietly into my happy place for a bit – it’s much more traumatic than any of the psycho huntings of nubile young teens in your Scream films or Jigsaw 25: The Missing Piece. – Darren BevanThose are our picks, so what are yours? Let us know in the comments.



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