Two fun blogs (The Vault of Horror, and The Horror Digest) have recently devoted time to discussing a potential list of the most chilling moments in horror film, or as they've put it: The Top Ten Willy Inducing Moments. As a lover of horror, I have to take myown turn at a similar list. I'll give you only five though.
2. The appearance of the ghost of Miss Jessell in The Innocents. An understated moment, and all the more chilling for its subtlety, the scene is filmed in daylight, and firmly establishes the link between the children and evil spirits haunting the estate, as well as developing the theme of the corruption of the innocent. This 1961 black and white film starring Deborah Kerr, based on Henry James' Turn of the Screw, is amazing for its unsettling atmosphere and sustained tension.
3.Some horror films take time to set the table, not revealing the horror until the tension has been firmly established. Night of the Living Dead establishes its eerie feeling over the opening credits, with cinematography looking as though the camera was first covered with burlap before shooting. Within minutes of the famous line: "They're coming to get you Barbara," the dead are on the move and the relentless pace continues until its depressing ending. Below, if you wish to peek, is an excerpt.
4.Interesting how so many of my favorite horror films are black and white. I suppose there is something about the ability of monochromatic cinematography to create an eerie sense of reality and fantasy. Hitchcock's Psycho has to make my list. Before the blood spattered cinema of today, Hitchcock worked to scare rather than shock an audience. Psycho's Norman Bates is creepy and threatening even by today's standards. My moment from this film? The shower scene. And by the way, let's stop and give a passing nod to the brilliant score by Bernard Herrmann.