Yep. Already with a list. And already departing from stuff that would traditionally fall under the auspices of bona fide horror. But many is the moment that is far more chilling and disturbing than any jumpscare, and such a moment often comes from a place that is not directly horror related.
You know what I’m talking about. The flying monkeys from Wizard Of Oz. The boat ride from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (Wilder, not Depp). The endless stream of darkness for the sadistic bastards over at Disney. These things left deep psychological scars on a number of us.
Here are five more you might have forgotten or missed.
#5 Oedipus (1957 dir. Tyrone Guthrie)
I teach this play in my Introduction To Literature class, and I show this version, or at least part of it, to give folks a sense of how the Greeks might have done it. But the masks. Unsettling.
Many of my students think so as well. Also, according to IMDB, one of the members of the chorus was William Shatner. Short of contacting Shatner himself, I have no way to verify or specify this.
#4 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968 dir. Ken Hughes)
On one hand, this is the first time I saw Benny Hill. On the other hand, two words. Child Catcher. He captures children because the Baroness Bomburst (nice name) abhors them so much that she and her husband, the Baron of Vulgaria, have outlawed them. The Child Catcher, played by ballet dancer Robert Helpmann, is about as all-around ickified as you can get. And that’s without any of the really sick overtones you won’t be able to avoid.
#3 Richard III (1956 dir. Laurence Olivier)
I love this play, and I’ve seen a number of film versions of it. Olivier’s is still my favorite although, admittedly, anyone seeing it for the first time now is gonna have a hell of a time getting past the fact that Olivier’s Richard III looks like Lord Farquaad.
Clearly this wasn’t an accident, and it’s weird enough in its own right.
But that’s not what I’m talking about. No, there’s another scene where the two princes arrive, twelve-year-old Edward V and his brother, the nine-year-old Duke of York.
Richard is to serve as their Lord Protector.
There ensues a verbal sparring match between Richard and his nephews, ending with this from the young Duke of York:
“Uncle, my brother mocks both you and me;
Because that I am little, like an ape,
He thinks that you should bear me on your shoulders,” referring to Richard’s hunchback.
Richard turns with a look of such utter venom that the prince staggers back. Even if you’ve never read the play or know nothing about the fate of the two princes, you know immediately these tykes are dead meat. It’s worth pointing out that Sir James Tyrell, the man who takes care of this for Richard, is none other than Patrick Troughton. “No! Not the second Doctor!” Sorry, ‘fraid so.
#2 Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962 dir. Robert Aldrich)
I like to impose a restriction on myself so I can, at some point, disregard it completely. We have reached that point. I intended to focus on non-horror scenes. Of course Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? is a horror movie. It establishes scares that Aldrich successfully and shockingly calls back later. Consider, for example, the answer to the question, “What’s for dinner?”
That said, one scene seems intended more to drive home Jane’s mental and emotional instability than to truly frighten. It starts with a drunken Jane (Bette Davis) reminiscing about her days as a child star. It becomes increasingly unnerving but at the same time makes us oddly and uncomfortably sympathetic. Ultimately, this makes Aldrich’s big reveal that much more effective.
Finally, as much as I hate unconfirmed information, there’s been remake talk from the Walter Hill camp for a good couple years now. The rumor I like most is Meryl Streep and Sissy Spacek. That’s as specific as it gets.
#1 Cabaret (1972 dir. Bob Fosse)
Joel Grey is, of course, sinister enough, but I’m talking about an altogether different level of sinister. Brian (Michael York) and Max (Helmut Griem) are at a beer garden when a young voice starts belting out “Tomorrow Belongs To Me.” Cut to the singer. A young man. Blonde. Suspiciously, stereotypically blonde.
The camera pedestals down, and our suspicions are confirmed. The further the song progresses, the more and more people join in, and the more forbidding its tone and their expressions become. By the end, almost everyone is singing, the Nazi youth is in full salute, and the crowd looks not just hostile but vicious.
Y’know, like a Trump rally.