Even in the midst of a truly bad horror flick, every so often there are those moments that stick in your mind long after you’ve left the movie theater and gone on about your daily routine. Whatever your opinion on the crop of horror movies released over the past year, there were undeniably a few isolated moments or scenes that stood out above the rest, and B-D reporter Chris Eggertsen has compiled a month-to-month accounting of his most memorable from 2010. From the good to the bad to the downright ugly, the following bits were highlights in this year of fallen angels, human centipedes, animal/human hybrids, razor-toothed killer fish and…Miley Cyrus vehicles? See inside for the full list…and let us know what your own most memorable moments were in the comments!
Nevertheless, there were still several buzz-worthy moments/scenes in horror movies this year – some for the right reasons, some for the wrong, and others that simply made our jaws drop in “WTF?” disbelief (there are also a couple non-horror entries – terrifying in their own way – that made the cut for those months that were light on genre fare). Following are a few of the highlights, from month to month:
Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Moment: Sweet old woman turns demonic
In the absolutely terrible Legion, which squandered a decent cast and some very good cinematography by virtue of a horrible script and lame, generic characters, there was one terrific moment that pointed to the type of movie it could have been. When a seemingly amiable, harmless old grandma (Jeanette Miller) takes a seat at the roadside diner that serves as the film’s main setting, she begins engaging in pleasant conversation with pregnant waitress Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) that quickly turns sinister when she utters the darkly comic (given the source) line: “Your fuckin’ baby’s gonna burn.” What follows is a fun action sequence in which the smiling old woman transforms into a hideous demon and bites the neck of a diner patron, crawls across the ceiling, and takes a frying pan to the head before being gunned down by the hilariously clichéd ex-“gang banger” character played by Tyrese Gibson. The marketing team at the studio was wise to heavily feature this scene in the trailer, considering it was the only moment in the movie that effectively (and intentionally) integrated both the horror and comedy elements implicit in the film’s absurd premise.
Moment: Wolf attack
The best wolf attack in horror in the month of February should have been in Joe Johnston’s The Wolfman, but sadly that movie was mostly a bore that did almost nothing interesting in its updating of the 1941 classic. No, instead that honor goes to Frozen, the severely underrated (its admittedly far-fetched moments notwithstanding) Adam Green “trapped-on-a-ski-lift” flick that was so good that it’s hard to believe it was directed by the same guy who helmed the atrocious Hatchet II. This scene, in which Kevin Zegers’ character – legs broken after attempting an ill-advised jump off the lift – is set upon by a pack of hungry wolves, was, in a film filled with squirm-inducing, edge-of-your-seat moments, the squirmiest moment of all. The back-and-forth cutting between Zegers’ frantic wails of “Don’t you let her watch!” and the horrified reactions of Emma Bell and Shawn Ashmore’s characters as they hang helplessly 40 feet above was by far one of the most terrifying moments in movies this year.
Film: The Last Song
Moment: All of them
So there weren’t really any theatrical or DVD horror releases in March, but Miley Cyrus’ The Last Song comes close enough. Being stuck on a plane to Moscow in coach for 15 hours will make you do some crazy things, and one of the craziest acts I engaged in was actually settling in to check out what I thought would be a laugh-riot of unintentional comedy after running out of other flicks to watch on the in-flight system. Sadly, The Last Song was not funny at all, unintentionally or otherwise; in fact, watching the grating Cyrus (whose voice sounds like that of a 40-year-old woman who’s smoked two packs a day for the last 25 years) unbearably mugging and playing the clichéd “bad girl” for 45 minutes (I couldn’t make it through the entire movie) was by far one of the most horrifying experiences I had at the movies this year. While I didn’t actually watch it until sometime in September, I feel nothing but pity for the parents who were forced to sit through this travesty with their young Hannah Montana-loving children on its opening weekend in March.
Film: The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
Moment: Katsuro shits in Lindsay’s mouth
This one kinda goes without saying, doesn’t it? Although you don’t actually see anything except the nausea-inducing expression on Lindsay’s face as she’s forced to swallow Katsuro’s excrement – preceded by the Japanese man’s proclamation of “shit, I have to shit!” – the implication alone is more than enough to make it the most memorable horror moment of April 2010 (if not the entire year). For those who were brave enough to watch it, The Human Centipede broke ground that no one frankly asked to be broken, and this scene presented the moment in which the horrifying concept of having a person’s mouth grafted onto another person’s anus reached its logical, puke-worthy nadir. Quite simply, it’s one of those images that, try as you might to purge it (no pun intended) from your mind, you simply cannot.
Film: Sex and the City 2
Moment: The trailer
Another month light on theatrical horror releases, May’s most memorable horror moment for me was watching the trailer for the latest cinematic travesty following Carrie and the gang and literally feeling as if I wanted to hit the nearest bathroom stall and puke my fucking guts out. See! The girls trotting out their tired, entitled asses again in even more heinously ugly couture fashions. Watch! Bat-shit crazy Liza Minnelli performing at a horrifically clichéd gay uber-wedding. Laugh! At the ladies riding on camels in the Arabian Desert. Behold! The girls trotting out their tired, entitled asses again in heinously ugly Middle Eastern-inspired couture fashions. Witness! “Cougar” Samantha drinking martinis poolside at their posh Abu Dhabi hotel and hitting on a guy 30 years her junior. It’s enough to make you lose faith in humanity, a concept more horrifying than anything else I can think of.
Moment: Sarah Polley is raped by half-human/half-animal hybrid Dren
While it’s admittedly a flawed piece of work, I actually enjoyed Splice for all the reasons that a good majority of people hated it. The fact is, the over-the-top moments in the film are the ones that, whether you loved or loathed them, are by far the most memorable in the movie. Indeed, there are several worthy bits here – the scene where Adrien Brody’s character has sex with Dren, for example, or the deliriously awesome scene when two earlier specimens massacre each other in front of an audience of dozens of stuffy, moneyed spectators. But it’s the moment near the end when Polley’s character Elsa is raped (and, we later find out, impregnated) by Dren – now transformed from female to male and created via a strain of Elsa’s own DNA (incest, anyone?) – that really makes one’s jaw drop to the floor.
Moment: Unconscious skydiving
This summer’s Predators didn’t waste time in getting down to business, opening with a scene in which Adrien Brody’s character Royce awakes to find himself freefalling through space and attached to an unopened parachute, having to quickly engage it before hitting the jungle floor of the alien planet below. It was a kick-ass way to start the movie off, and it rarely let up from there (save for a prolonged “intermission” involving Laurence Fishburne’s character), making it one of the best action movies of the year – and one which Fox didn’t seem to care too much about, given how little marketing muscle they put behind it. This slam-bang curtain-raiser was a perfect, disorienting way to start the movie off, and a brilliant means of introducing the film’s central group of trained killers; for me, it stands out as one of the best opening scenes of any action movie in recent memory.
Film: Piranha 3D
Moment: Spring Break Massacre
There were few moments in horror 2010 as go-for-broke as the feeding frenzy that occurred at the center of killer-fish remake Piranha 3D, in which boatloads of college-aged Spring Break revelers are attacked and devoured by the titular (no pun intended) prehistoric creatures. The sequence was a boon for gore lovers everywhere -it certainly ranks way up on the list of most blood-drenched scenes in movie history – with a plethora of T&A, ravaged flesh, floating body parts, numerous disembowelments, bare-breasted bodies sliced in two by wayward metal cables, scalping by outboard motor, a regurgitated human penis, and – for haters – the bloody smashed head of Eli Roth. The film may have been uneven on the whole, but this particular sequence – deftly handled by kinetic director Alexandre Aja – made it all worth it.
Film: Resident Evil: Afterlife
Moment: Claire and Alice battle the Executioner
While Afterlife was just as silly as the other three installments in the franchise, the 3D (it was shot with the Fusion Camera System, the same one used for James Cameron’s Avatar) was insanely impressive and helped to salvage the boneheaded script and often subpar acting. The part where Alice (Milla Jovovich) and Claire (Ali Larter) face off with the axe-wielding Executioner was the action sequence that most stands out to me, in that it was one of the best uses of 3D I’ve ever seen. Yes, there is the expected gimmicky moment when the axe flies right at the audience, but the scene goes further than that; shot in slo-mo and taking place inside some sort of communal shower, this sequence utilizes the power of 3D extremely well, with every piece of shattered tile, every drop of showering water, every chunk of exploded flesh registering with crystal clarity that makes the 3D landscape come off like a fully-realized world. While it would’ve been great to have utilized the stunning technology in service of a better movie, it’s still a great example of what 3D should look like in the 21st century (i.e. no more post-conversion!).
Film: I Spit On Your Grave
Moment: Shotgun up the ass
Let’s get one thing straight: as a movie, I Spit on Your Grave was pretty terrible. Jennifer (played by the subpar Sarah Butler) goes from hapless victim to cold-blooded, sadistic killer in one of the most unconvincing transformations in movie history, and the offending group of rednecks is about as generic as they come. But one thing I can say about it was that it was never boring, mostly due to some horrifically effective rape scenes in the first half and some pretty awesome and creative “revenge kills” in the second. While the “lye bathtub” and “fish guts” murders were damn impressive, screenwriters Stuart Morse and director Steven R. Monroe saved the best for last, with the most cold-hearted member of the group of rapists getting a shotgun blast up the ass and out through his gaping pie-hole (giving a whole new meaning to the term “ass-to-mouth”). Best of all, they actually showed the grisly end result – a truly impressive bit of practical effects work that capped off an otherwise underwhelming flick.
Moment: Poolside slo-mo
In one of the best moments of unintentional comedy in 2010, the Strause Brothers made the rather ill-advised decision to render the breakneck escape of several characters – fleeing the clutches of a gigantic alien invader – in not-so-glorious slow motion. I can’t quite put my finger on why it was so funny; maybe it was the unfortunate wardrobe choice foisted on actress Brittany Daniel (black athletic pants and running shoes, off the shoulder purple top), maybe it was the incongruously sunny setting (the patio of a posh L.A. residential tower), maybe it was merely a case of awkward timing. Whatever it was, the entire audience at the screening I attended (myself included) burst out into peals of spontaneous laughter when this bit played. Sure, the goofiest moment in one of the year’s goofiest movies was memorable for all the wrong reasons, but memorable it was nonetheless.
Film: Black Swan
Moment: Surprise! Mom’s in your room
It’s hard to choose a most memorable moment from Darren Aronofsky’s outrageous masterpiece – filled as it is with expertly filmed dance sequences and the vivid hallucinations of Natalie Portman’s character Nina Sayers – but at the end of the day it has to be the scene in which Nina begins engaging in some serious masturbatory action only to look over in the midst of it to discover that her unhinged mother (Barbara Hershey, super creepy) had been asleep in a chair a few feet away all along. The completely left-field moment is played totally over-the-top, accompanied as it is by a jagged blast of music and rapid close-up, and it was met with a huge reaction from the audience I saw it with. Engaging in a little self-gratification with your parents in the room is every red-blooded human being’s worst nightmare, and Aronofsky effectively played the moment with a burst of bombastic, deliciously unexpected comedy.