It’s that time of year again! 2013 has come to a close and that means it’s time for the 2013 40oz. Of Horror Awards. We were able to come up with plenty of nominees, but deciding who should win this year’s 40 proved to be too difficult… so this year we’re leaving it up to you! Vote for one nominee in each of the categories below. You can vote once per day, so vote as many times as you’d like. We will announce the winners on an upcoming episode of the 40oz. Of Horror Podcast.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We’re back in action, drunk and talking turkey. Like us on Facebook We’ve got James’ remote feed sounding better this time around. We’ve been busy ingesting all things horror. We’ve got tons of news to get through, two sentence creepy stories, and some great WTF.
The first in a multi-part series devoted to a dead format
Alright. This is a very personal article on a subject I am pretty touchy about. I’ll just get this part of things out of the way now so you can stop reading here, laugh, or just ask yourself, ‘What?” I LOVE VHS.
I concede that almost every reason I have for this love is nostalgia-based, but nonetheless, that is how I feel, I can’t help it. Maybe it is because in a way VHS parallels my early life. I was born in the late ‘60s, developed in the ‘70s, and came of age in the ‘80s. BUT mostly, it is my memories of how the coming of VHS impacted my life and the way the movies it allowed me to see changed me forever.
The days of VHS were a time of discovery. The format heralded in fundamental changes in the way we viewed movies and TV. It brought the films off the metroplex screens and into our homes in a way TV and even cable never could. So much of this is taken for granted now, in a time when it is possible to literally watch anything, anywhere. Despite The Terminator and Aliens director James Cameron’s assertion that releasing a movie on home video is like killing it and sending it to hell, for me it was heaven.
The first VHS (Video Home System for those who were wondering) machines (also known as VCRs, Video Cassette Recorders) were huge and expensive. They cost over $1,000 in the early ‘80s, the equivalent of about $3,500 today. Blank tapes even cost over $20 each. The systems’ remotes were attached to these behemoths by a cable. The home electronics revolution had not yet happened. It was still an analogue world out there, and the impact of VHS was really less about technology and more about movies.
The first video store I ever went in required a fee for membership and a deposit for each tape rented. They limited rentals to two-at-a-time for 24 hours only and charged the economical price of $10 each for the night at a time when a movie ticket cost $2.50. But the very thought of watching Superman or The Blues Brothers, Escape from New York or Conan the Barbarian, Creepshow or Blade Runner in your own home was so mind blowing that the cost simply did not matter.
Eating your snack of choice instead of just popcorn (or even a full dinner) while watching Carrie was a brand-new experience. You were a movie magician who could do the unthinkable—pause a scene in The Exorcist for a bathroom break (or when you simply got too scared) or finish watching The Omen, rewind it, watch it again, rewind it, and watch it again.
Another measure of the impact of VHS’s arrival is no longer did you have to wait many years to see a movie on TV after it left the theaters. Even if a movie took over a year to come out on video, it always felt worth the wait. For that 24-hour rental period in which the movie was yours, you could watch it over and over and of course, eventually, rent it again.
“You know the kind, where a Mexican mummy fights a robot built by a mad scientist bent on stealing Aztec gold.”
As thrilling as this was, it was quickly matched by the insane idea that you could preserve something off television by taping it. Saturday Monster Movie Matinees and late-night black-and-white ‘50s horror flicks could be captured and viewed repeatedly. With the advent of programmable recording, you didn’t even have to stay up all night or set your alarm to start recording to see the kind of movies that got shown on UHF stations at 2:00 a.m. You know the kind, where a Mexican mummy fights a robot built by a mad scientist bent on stealing Aztec gold. Stuff not to be missed.
In time the VCRs got cheaper, smaller and smarter; the one-time “for rental only” tapes became “priced to own”, and movie buffs could literally, for the first time in history, purchase their favorite films, take them home, and build a library. VCR Plus (repeated time-specific recording, achieved by simply inputting a code) gave the nation its first true taste of time shifting. Three major corporate stores drove the mom-and-pops out of business. And then some shiny discs appeared, signaling the beginning of the end—or at least the end of this way of watching movies.
It is these memories of the early days of VHS that keep the format in my heart. Yes, I recognize DVDs’ and Blu-Rays’ vast technical superiority, but the arrival of these things will always be linked to the end of so much I hold dear—video stores, box art, promo posters, tape trading, yes, even rewinding. I love the new formats also and am excited by the coming technologies as well but in the end I think I love my memories more.
If you happened to actually like this article, check back in the coming weeks for installments on memories of a video store, VHS cover art, and I’ll conclude the series by taking you on a field trip to a VHS-only rental store that is still in operation today. Until then, be kind – rewind.
Most memorable… most influential… best… However you wanna take this list is fine with me. These are MY personal Top 10 Horror Movie Scenes that had an impact on my life and made me the disturbed, deranged cinephile that I am today. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m no Patrick Bateman, but all of us horror fanatics have to have SOMETHING sick and twisted about us that makes us want to subject ourselves to the most horrific and unsettling images we can find. And as we get older and more desensitized, our thirst never seems to be fully quenched — hence why most of the scenes listed here are from my childhood. I must say, it was very hard to narrow it down to just 10. So, with that being said, here are the top 10 horror movie scenes that I have never been able to forget…
10. A) Carrie (1976)
When you think of Carrie, most people probably first think of the prom/pig’s blood scene, but often forgotten is probably one of, if not THE, scariest moments in cinema history. I wish I were old enough to see this in theaters, just to have witnessed the crowd’s reaction.
10. B) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
In my opinion, the greatest final scene of any movie, ever. I’ll never forget, as the film was winding down, the shock I felt when Donald Sutherland pointed at Elizabeth and “pod screamed.” Fin. Roll Credits. Silence.
9) Ghoulies II (1985)
Maybe not one of the scariest scenes of all time… or even greatest, but I still have trouble dropping a deuce.
8) Gremlins (1984)
Also not scary, but still one of my favorites…
7) The Mist (2007)
To me, The Mist is one of those films you either absolutely love or totally hate. And I think a lot of that has to do with the final scene. For me, it made the whole movie. Even thinking back on it now, I get that uneasy, depressed feeling that I got when I had first seen it. Others may not appreciate it as much… My wife still expresses her hatred for the movie to this day.
(Sorry, it’s dubbed in French… Damn copyrights)
6) SAW (2004)
I still have no words to express the shock and awe I felt when Jigsaw stood up at the end. I never saw it coming and was left with a giant WTF… And I pride myself on being able to sniff out twists well before they’re revealed. In my opinion, SAW is probably THE pinnacle film of the 2000s.
5) Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… This is one of the most underrated horror films of all time, which, I think, mostly has to do with the fact that it’s a “Halloween” movie. I think that it would have gotten a lot more respect had it not been named that. But I digress… This isn’t really one of the scariest scenes, but probably the most memorable. I didn’t want to wear a Halloween mask for a long time after this. Also, have fun trying to get that song out of your head.
4) Deep Blue Sea (1999)
I don’t care what anybody says. I like this movie. It’s no Jaws, but it’s still a decent shark flick nonetheless. They spent the first half of the movie building up Samuel L. Jackson’s character to be the hero and then BOOM!!! He got eaten by a motha’ fuckin’ shark! And I jumped out of my motha’ fuckin’ seat! I’ve actually only seen the scene once. Every other time I’ve watched the movie, I keep my eyes on everyone else in the room to see their reactions.
3) A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Do I really need to explain why I love one of the greatest horror scenes of all time?
2) Braindead aka Dead Alive (1982)
It always surprises me how many horror fans haven’t seen this film by icon Peter Jackson. It’s required viewing for every genre fan. While the effects and cheese may be too over the top to take seriously, it’s one of the most fun movies to sit through, especially when you have some friends over for some beers or just to play in the background at a Halloween party. For every person who has seen Dead Alive, they always come out of it with one scene in mind… The lawnmower scene.
(Warning: I have stumbled across copies of this film with the lawnmower scene heavily edited, and it completely ruins it. If you have seen the movie and have no idea what I’m talking about, then you, unfortunately, have been a victim of censorship.)
1) The Thing (1982)
As James and I have discussed many times on the podcast, this is the perfect horror film, from the acting to the FX to the scares to Kurt Russell’s fantastic beard. It’s also my favorite film of all time, so of course it contains my favorite — and in my opinion scariest — scene of all time. Carpenter is a genius in the way he diverts your attention and confuses you as to who really is the “the thing.” Even after hundreds of viewings, this scene still gives me a “Hard R.” (If you don’t get that, then you don’t listen to the podcast… Shame on you.) Enjoy.
BONUS: They Live (1988)
BEST. FIGHT SCENE. EVER.
Tell me what you think about my Top 10 Best Horror Movie Scenes in the comments section below. What scenes did I miss?