Occasionally even a bad horror film strikes gold with one incredibly effective scene. Here are six movies you shouldn’t feel bad about skipping – just watch the highlights reel instead. Plus a bonus scene from an otherwise good movie that is so fantastic it overshadows the rest of the film.
6. “Garbage Day!” – Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2
From IMDb: The now-adult Ricky talks to a psychiatrist about how he became a murderer after his brother, Billy, died, which leads back to Mother Superior.
Context: Okay so this isn’t really a good scene from a bad movie as an awesomely bad scene from a bad movie. Ricky, who up until this point in the film seems to be a serial killer with some morals, snaps after finding out his girlfriend had a sex life before they met (seriously). He then decides to take his frustration out on pretty much every adult he encounters while laughing manically the whole time.
5. “Hypnosis Therapy” – The Prodigy
From IMDb: A mother concerned about her young son’s disturbing behavior thinks something supernatural may be affecting him.
Context: In this scene, Sarah finally decides to give hypnosis a try. Unfortunately, the person inhabiting Miles has prepared for this possibility. The attached clip is chopped up a bit to avoid getting pulled from Youtube. I’m sorry to not be able to provide to unadulterated version, but needless to say I think this gives a good taste of how unnerving and effective the scene is – making it a standout moment in an otherwise perfectly solid yet generic evil kid movie.
4. “Boating Accident/Susan is Gone” – Amityville 3-D
From IMDb: A reporter moves into the ominous Long Island house to debunk the recent supernatural events, and finds himself besieged by the evil manifestations which are connected to a hell-spawn demon lurking in the basement.
Context: Once again, a family (this time a divorced father and his teenage daughter) has decided to live in the Amityville house despite every warning not to stay there. Susan, the teenage daughter, decides to go for a boat ride with her friends. Meanwhile, Susan’s mom visits the house hoping to see her daughter.
Scene (starts around 1:03:36):
It’s probably no shock that an Amityville movie is on here (they are all pretty atrocious). What makes this scene work is how creepy yet understated it is. There is no jump scare…just the delayed realization that Susan is dead, so whatever was in the house with her mother for those brief moments wasn’t Susan. The scene goes for the shock of a two sentence horror story and delivers.
3. “Suburban Massacre” – The Bye Bye Man
From IMDb: Three friends stumble upon the horrific origins of a mysterious figure they discover is the root cause of the evil behind unspeakable acts.
Context: This is the opening of the movie so it is best to just start cold. The movie’s quality takes a messy nose dive from here, but holy shit is this an effective and frightening opening. Probably made all the more frightening by how plausible it seems.
To watch the scene click here. (Scene starts at 2:47 mark)
2. “Reverend Kane Visits” – Poltergeist II: The Other Side
From IMDb: The Freeling family have a new house, but their troubles with supernatural forces don’t seem to be over.
Context: The Freeling family is paid a visit by a mysterious preacher who previously encountered Carol Anne earlier in the film. Once again, no context is needed to appreciate how amazing effective Julian Beck’s performance is here. Just like the previous two examples, this scene proves how incredibly scary a sunny day in an otherwise idyllic suburb can be.
1. “The Nurse Scene” – The Exorcist III
From IMDb: A police Lieutenant uncovers more than he bargained for as his investigation of a series of murders, which have all the hallmarks of the deceased Gemini serial killer, leads him to question the patients of a psychiatric ward.
Context: This is an example of a film that really isn’t bad, but it has such a stand out, legendary scene that the scene overshadows the rest of the film. And it is probably the only reason most people even watch this movie in the first place. It’s arguably the best jump scare of all time. (I couldn’t find a clip, but there is an excellent homage to it in 2019’s Black Christmas which is probably the best scene in that film as well! It’s really the gift that keeps on giving).
Really there’s no context needed for this one because there really isn’t much given in the film. A nurse is checking up on patients in a very quiet hospital wing one night. Have fun sleeping after this one:
Bonus: “Opening Scene” – Dawn of the Dead (2004)
From IMDb: A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall.
Context: Ana and her husband wake up and notice their neighbor’s daughter has wandered into their house in an idyllic Milwaukee suburb.
I love the Dawn of the Dead remake, so I didn’t want to classify this as a film you should skip in favor of watching this clip. BUT if you aren’t a zombie fan, or just want to watch an incredible scene that could stand on its own as a short film, this is just brilliant. Zack Snyder really showed fans of the original as well as newcomers that this film was going to deliver on the promise of its predecessor with equal doses of scares and action. Plus it establishes Ana as a character we will all root for (take note when she quickly snatches the keys at the beginning of the attack!).