So we spent the last 20 days sharing with you our picks for the Most Iconic Horror Scenes of all time, which are relatively easy, given the actual definition of "iconic," but this Halloween Night we thought we'd toss out twenty ... lesser-known sequences. Cult-style movie moments, one might say. Your contributors on this list are regulars Scott Weinberg and Peter Hall and, once again, Zack Carlson and Lars Nilsen, our buddies from the Alamo Drafthouse who played along with our Horror Sequence Iconography.
As expected, the following twenty scenes are not iconic. They're not even what you'd call ironic. They are, however, some of our very favorite (drum roll please) Cult Scenes of Relative Infamy!
Scott Weinberg's Picks:
1. 'Prophecy' (1980)
It's not every day you see a giant mutated bear swing a sleeping bag full of kid into a tree and absolutely demolish its contents -- unless you watch 'Prophecy' every day. Like I do.
2. 'Orca' (1977)
In a film full of scenes both fascinating and absurd, the one in which Bo Derek gets her injured leg bitten off by a vengeful killer whale has to be one of the wackiest.
3. 'Alligator' (1980)
The flick doles out chompy horror and wise-ass humor in equal doses, and both take a turn for the enjoyably dark when a bunch of kids shove one of their own into a swimming pool full of ravenous reptile.
4. 'Creepshow' (1982)
I do believe the sequence called "The Crate" turned me into a lifelong gorehound -- especially the monstrous beast's first meal.
5. 'Galaxy of Terror' (1982)
Of all the films that hope to shine a spotlight on the issue of "giant space maggot rape," this is the most poignant.
Peter Hall's Picks:
1. 'Audition' (1999)
Asami, a meek, innocent looking ballerina-turned-actress, lives in a tiny apartment where she waits intently next to a telephone and a giant sack. When the phone rings relatively early in the film, we know that sack has someone living in it; someone that is desperate to get out. It's not until later on that director Takashi Miike actually shows us what's in the sack. Not only is poor soul that crawls out of it to eat his daily feeding of vomit a horrible sight, but it's a damned effective portent of what's going to become of Ryo, the man Asami has been dating.
2. 'Aftermath' (1994)
There are few horror movies that I will actively persuade certain people from not watching, but 'Aftermath' is one of them. At only 30-minutes long, Nacho Cerda's ('The Abandoned') short is an unflinching look into the life of a necropheliac that works in a morgue and while nearly every frame of the film is hard to shake from your visually molested brain, the crazy cheery atop this ice cream sundae of nastiness is what the pervert does with the heart of his latest victim.
3. 'Dumplings' (2004)
Two versions of Fruit Chan's twisted little tale of the lengths a woman is willing to go to stay young exist. The first is the short form created as part of the horror omnibus film 'Three... Extremes.' The second is a feature-length version expanded from said short, but with a few crucial plot changes. While both are excellent lessons about why eating babies to stay youthful is a baaaaaad idea, for the sake of this list I've got to go with the ending of the 'Three.... Extremes' version. What Mrs. Li does in that bathtub (video) is about as macabre an ending as one can find in the genre.
4. 'From Beyond' (1986)
You couldn't throw a dart at a wall of storyboards for Stuart Gordon's 'From Beyond' without hitting a scene that could easily land on this list. There are just too many to chose from, so I'll simply go with my favorite sequence involving Ken Foree wearing a banana hammock wrestling with a giant, extra-dimensional worm as it tries to eat Jeffrey Combs.
5. 'In The Mouth of Madness' (1995)
People who say John Carpenter lost his touch in the '90s need to take another look at 'In The Mouth of Madness.' I've little doubt people will call me crazy for saying it's my favorite Carpenter flick, but I just can't resist its mix of schlocky horror lit with Lovecraftian overtones and Sam Neil. If the scene where we see what the frail, diminutive old lady who runs the hotel he's staying at does with her husband doesn't put a smile on your face, you need to have your face re-calibrated.
Lars Nilsen's Picks:
1. 'Andy Warhol's Dracula' (1974)
Even better than the "to know life you must first fuck death in the gall bladder" scene from 'Andy Warhol's Frankenstein' is this amazing, super-long scene of Udo Kier as Dracula spasmodically vomiting up huge quantities of (non-virgin) blood, retching horribly and exclaiming, "the blood of these whores is killing me!"
2) 'Videodrome' (1983)
The head-explosion scene from 'Scanners' always gets a lot of love, though it isn't exactly a horror movie. Neither is 'Videodrome' exactly, but there's something so queasily perfect about the scene when James Woods inserts the Videodrome tape into his abdominal vagina. Body horror at its best.
3) 'Centipede Horror' (1984)
This movie is pretty rough going all the way through, mainly because it's pretty boring. But when it's time to deliver Centipede Horror, the film succeeds brilliantly. The very best and most iconic scene features the film's spotlight victim vomiting up like a hundred huge, gnarly, living centipedes. And it's not some CGI mess. I'd love to see some behind the scenes footage from this movie.
4) 'Island of Lost Souls' (1932)
This whole movie is a lot more heavy-duty and shocking than it gets credit for. A lot of the old classics don't hold up as well as we might hope but the ones that do usually feature exceptional acting. This has Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau, playing with a subtlety rarely seen in mad doctor roles. The film's climax, when his half-man, half-animal creations turn on him in the "House Of Pain" is unforgettable.
5) 'The Shining' (1980)
Those goddamn twins! I guess a distinction should be made between shock and horror, but it's all the same in this scene. This whole film is a master class on delivering horror rather than mere shocks, but when Kubrick employs shocks he sure makes them count.
Zack Carlson's Picks:
1) 'Sleepaway Camp' (1983)
This one's far from an obscurity but deserves to be held in as high regard as 'Friday the 13th' and 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre.' Truly the ultimate summer camp slasher and -- I'll say it -- my favorite horror film of all time. The Top Scene is the movie's full frontal shocker ending, but giving it away to someone unfamiliar with the film is worse than telling a 4-year-old that Santa's corpse is caught in the chimney.
2) 'Tourist Trap' (1979)
A completely underappreciated surreal migraine. Mammoth-jawed TV western superstar Chuck Connors stars as a backroads bumpkin who meets up with some unsuspecting party teens for a completely unhinged telekinetic rampage. The film opens with a beautifully silent kill that draws you in and manhandles your frontal lobe.
3) 'Freaks' (1932)
Any entry level horror goon is familiar with this career-wrecker from Tod Browning, who had previously directed the original 'Dracula'. But if you allow yourself to become truly engrossed in this nightmarish tale of carnival sideshow wrath, the closing scene of impending violence will keep you sleepless for a week: A limbless man squirms through the mud and pouring rain, a knife clenched in his teeth, worming ever closer to the camera for the kill.
4) 'Night of the Demon' (1980)
Here's a widely ignored gore-ripper from the short-lived sasquatchploitation era. While 'The Legend of Boggy Creek' and most other Bigfoot epics were content to focus their cameras on shadowy, shambling mounds, this drive-in splatterblast features a fully visible subhuman wildman performing impeccably grisly acts. My personal favorite takes place when a biker pauses to urinate in a roadside bush and has his wee-wah graphically torn off by an angry, wang-hating 'squatch. Rude!
5) 'Xtro' (1983)
If that's not enough genital violence, I heartily recommend this interstellar paranoia masterpiece from England. 'Xtro' is one of the most ambitious low budget horror films of the '80s, a collision of impossible ideas and shoestring variations on million dollar movie effects. Even a hardened horror warrior will have to shut an eye or two as a young woman suddenly gives birth to a full-grown man. He survives. She does that thing that happens when you don't survive.