Hayley’s Top 5 Disturbing Moments in Horror!

Being a seasoned horror fan you think you’ve seen it all, therefore when you discover a film that unexpectedly gets under the skin, infiltrating the mind and completely disturbing you then you’ve found something truly effective. Being scared by a horror movie is completely subjective and mine may be a little more obscure than most. Here is my top 5 personal list of moments in movies (and one television show) that have utterly freaked me out since childhood and beyond.

WARNING: There will be spoilers.

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5. Trust (2010): Rape Scene plus End Credits.

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Positioned at number 5 due to being the most recent and inspiration for this list, Trust is directed by David Schwimmer, best known as Ross Gellar in hit sitcom Friends. Trust is a cautionary tale about the dangers of online relationships. The premise centres around naive fourteen year old girl, Annie (Liana Liberato) who develops an online relationship with a boy named ‘Charlie’. ‘Charlie’ turns out to be a man in his 30’s and lures Annie back to a seedy motel room where he goes on to rape and molest her. Its harrowing viewing as Annie pleads with him to stop and we hear everything while the camera fixates on the ugly, garish wall paper creating a somewhat nauseating feeling, we see that ‘Charlie’ has placed a camera discreetly in order to capture the ordeal. While not even a horror film and more of a crime drama, Trust is an eye-opening film experience that all should see, parents and children alike. It goes to a dark place with how much it portrays and the devastating effects on both Annie and her family. Without revealing too much the end credits provide some heartbreaking revelations with an unnerving final shot. The film led me to read about a found-footage horror with similar thematics titled Megan is Missing (2011). From what I’ve been told about the film its not very well made and there’s some brutal images associated with it related to fetish torture, however the final 22 minutes are gut punching and highly disturbing taking the online predator concept to all kinds of depraved levels. For at least the time being, Megan is Missing is a film I’ll avoid. Forget the boogeyman, this is realistic horror.

4. Pet Sematary (1989): Zelda.

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Forget Freddy and Jason, this creepy character from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is one of the scariest elements of 80s horror. Within a flashback segment, we are told a traumatic childhood tale from Rachel Creed (Denise Crosby) of how her gravely ill sister Zelda was locked away until her final days. Zelda is skeletal and inhuman in appearance, the scene is both sad and frightening, especially viewing it at a young age as many of us did, my recollection being late night on Channel 5 watching it alone in the dark. We see a young Rachel reluctantly feed Zelda in disgust and choking noises are heard. She is played by a male actor Andrew Hubatsek who does an exceptional job at freaking the audience out with his portrayal. Hearing her call Rachel’s name sends chills down the spine. Rachel speaks of her hopes of Zelda’s death and her fears that she’ll be held responsible, an absolutely disturbing notion for a child to contend with. A later scene shows Zelda menacingly address the camera screaming at Rachel that she’ll “Never get out of bed again”. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s no doubt the idea of Zelda being at the end of your bed was a terrifying thought.

3. Frighteners (1997): If You Meet a Fairy…

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This one was discussed on the Ghostface Girls podcast episode of Childhood Horror and is pretty much an obscure choice. Not many will remember the seemingly forgotten CITV Horror anthology series, Frighteners. Apparently airing between 1996 and 1997 Frighteners showed four episodes in total, the final one being “If You Meet a Fairy…” I recall viewing it one afternoon after school, if memory serves me correct the episode was about a young girl in the Victorian era who discovers fairies at the bottom of the garden. At first the creatures are nice but soon turn sinister as they torment the girl and her family. Its explained on this old 2006 forum, Vault of Evil:

“During the 90’s i remeber seeing a episode from some horror anthology series which creeped the hell out of me as a kid. Ive looked high and low but i cant remeber what it was called and its driving me mad.

The one episode i can remeber goes like this. I think it was set during early 1900’s and was about a little girl finding a little fairy at the bottom of her garden. She takes it in and keeps it in her dolls house but then things take a sinister turn. Her little sister begins acting strangly and the fairy (which looks more and more evil) It begins folowing her to dinner and stabbing her ankle untill she tosses it some meat to eat. More and more of the evil creatures begin showing up and she resorts to locking them away in her celler and asking her cousins for help. When she shows them the captive fairies in the gloom they mistake them for small animals and let them out. Horrific screams echo through the house as we see the mother, youngest daughter and maid in the nursary. The maid hurries down the hall but sees something terrible offscreen and begins screaming at the unseen horde of giggling/screeching monsters. The mother hears the maids cries and looks at her child which suddenly has the distorted giggling face of one of the fairy/trolls. It then faded to black as the sound of her screams were slowly drowned out by the giggling voices of the fairies. This is the only episode i remeber and i have a nagging feeling that it was part of a kids TV show on CITV or CBBC. I doubt it however as the children were actually eaten alive by the troll/fairies but i cant help shake the feeling.”

It was definitely the fairies giggling and distorted face that I recall which bothered my seven year old former self. There’s barely any information about the anthology or this particular episode online, no youtube footage and no google images. Its as if its faded into obscurity like some sort of creepypasta Candle Cove style!

2. Resurrecting the Street Walker (2009): Snuff Murders.

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British horror Resurrecting the Street Walker was part of the Abertoir Festival line up back in 2009, the first full year I attended. It was a film I went into completely blind and one of my first experiences of a hard-hitting indie film through the festival circuit. Resurrecting the Street Walker is about an ambitious, low budget filmmaker that comes across an incomplete black and white underground film from the 1980’s. He gradually becomes fascinated with the idea of finishing the film which leads him into the mysterious and sickening world of snuff. The film is presented in a mockumentary style documenting the filmmaker’s downfall toward the dark side as he grows more and more obsessed with the ambiguous Street Walker, evoking the video nasties panic and fear over the existence of snuff films. The performance from James Powell as James Parker and direction were powerful and convincing enough to create an unnerving reaction as he is driven insane by the enigma of the snuff film that he goes to complete it by murdering innocent people, including a pregnant colleague, taking things to a whole other shocking level. Having the film shot in black and white contributed to Street Walker’s grim and gritty tone as it breaks the fourth wall creating something that cuts closely to the bone. The movie undoubtedly upset me with snuff being a disturbing topic and left me speechless as I left the cinema. Resurrecting the Street Walker is available on DVD with some positive reviews over on amazon however its not a film I’ve discussed much since amongst the horror community and seems to have faded into the background despite being utterly effective and quite a nasty, mean-spirited movie.

1. The Witches (1990): Stuck in the painting.

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Without a doubt The Witches is a strong contender for most frightening children’s film of all time. Its consistent sinister tone throughout is uncomfortable viewing incorporated with its nightmarish visuals. Its even uneasy re-watching as an adult. Years ago I would have said the moment where the Grand High Witch (the superb Anjelica Huston) reveals her true self by peeling off her own face to be the scariest or possibly the scene at the beginning where Luke (Jansen Fisher) is goaded to come down from his tree house by an evil witch with glowing purple eyes. Intense stuff! However the most nightmare-fuelled moment in Nicholas Roeg’s Children’s chiller is where a young girl is captured down an alley way by a witch in a traumatic flashback told by the Grandmother (Mai Zetterling). The next time the girl is seen she is trapped in a painting forever with no escape until eventually she fades away. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, the moment is creative and frightening setting up a dark, twisted and threatening world for children’s imaginations. Its bold and daring in what it does. If you grew up in the 90s this film was responsible for numerous nightmares and was the first film that ever truly scared me. The strangest part was as I got older and began watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser etc. nothing came as close to the fright factor as The Witches, its an exceptionally chilling piece of children’s horror cinema.

Do you agree with the list? Comments & Feedback is appreciated, also tell me what have been your most disturbing on-screen moments in film and television.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews.

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3 Responses to “Hayley’s Top 5 Disturbing Moments in Horror!”

  1. I absolutely agree on Pet Semetary’s Zelda character, seriously creepy, still freaks me out years later.

  2. Hayley's Horror Reviews Says:

    I think what freaked me out is I wasn’t expecting it when I first saw Zelda, great performance and make up effects.

  3. […] (1990), re-watching Return to Oz (1985) and getting nightmares from an obscure CITV episode titled Frighteners (1996, TV) during childhood. However now was the time to experience some real, adult horror films, it was […]

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