Nine, ten, never sleep again: Horror films that will keep you awake

I knew I shouldn’t have blogged last week about how watching Naomi Watts in The Ring inflicted sweaty night terrors on me. Alas, the things I know aren’t good for me, I sometimes love the more. (As I found out when I fell for that bi-curious straight girl in my dorm, and at work, and at school, and yes, I’m still on the subject of things that cause screaming horror.) So when I tried to sleep this weekend, I paid for that blog with visions of this. What is it about bathroom scenes that get to me?

Actually, I am a fan of horror and suspense. I do better when it’s in book form, though, because my own imagination, scary as that can be, doesn’t leave behind residual flashes of horror when I close my eyes. Since I’m not going to be able to sleep again tonight anyway, and Ace is still fighting Poltergeist flashbacks herself, I thought it might be interesting to hear about those moments from TV and movies that inspired sleepless nights in all of us. Here are my other nominations for truly scary moments, in order of traumas since childhood.

1. V: the original TV miniseries (1983). And by scary, I don’t mean the ’80s hair and special effects; this alien-invasion thriller is the Cold War–era ancestor of Independence Day.

Looking rather lesbianish here, June Chadwick and Jane Badler were part of the ensemble cast, playing live-mice–eating, lizard-like aliens who don human skin to infiltrate and enslave human society. I was six years old when I sneaked down the hall after bedtime and watched it from behind my daddy’s chair, then cowered under the covers with my Care Bears the rest of the night.

2. The Shining (1980). I was about 12 when I watched this at a slumber party, in between crowding into the bathroom to play Bloody Mary and freezing that girl’s bra (sorry, Jessica!). Between the mobile dead people, creepy kids, and Jack Nicholson‘s wild-eyed disintegration, this one kept us huddled under the blankets close together all night.

Speaking of terror in the bathroom, Shelley Duvall spends a lot of time hiding in one. She looks so sweet in this movie; I still worry for her every time I see it.

3. The television adaptation of Stephen King‘s It (1990). Annette O’Toole costars in this one as the adult version of Beverly Marsh. Let me take this moment to adore O’Toole.

This has nothing to do with the movie: It’s a promo from the USA production The Huntress. But it’s sort of hot. Anyway, in It, O’Toole’s character is one of a group of childhood friends haunted by the ultimate evil who (no surprise) takes the form of a toothy, terrifying Tim Curry clown. Even though this movie ends in an epic battle with one of the lamer Big Bads ever animated into a made-for-TV movie, it also includes some of the scariest bathroom scenes ever (yes, I’m noticing a theme here). At one point, the child version of Beverly hears voices coming from the drain, and then the sink starts to spit blood. I washed my hands with my eyes closed for a week.

4. “Conversations With Dead People,” episode 7.07 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2002). In one of the few truly scary episodes of the series, several of the characters are haunted by, well, dead people. The invisible stalker terrorizing Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) does that thing where a supernatural entity hijacks electronic devices. Logical as ever, she attacks short-circuiting appliances with an ax.

I’m sure it says something about me that one of my very deepest fears (besides the one where I’m afraid to look in the mirror in the dark, in case my reflection does something that I don’t) is electronic devices that won’t shut off, even when you pull the plug.

5. The Supernatural pilot (2005). I’ve mentioned this one before, and I stand by my ranking of it as the scariest moment I’ve seen on prime-time network TV. When Sam and Dean Winchester were very young, their mother (Samantha Smith) fell victim to a particularly nasty demon, the kind that glues you to the ceiling and sets the place on fire. At the end of the pilot, Sam enters his bedroom to find his girlfriend defying gravity in the very same position, burning in the very same way.

Predictable as this ending was, it was no less disturbing. Now you know why I had to sleep with my face in the pillow for a week.

OK, your turn. What are your most insomnia-inducing screen moments? And you know which movie the title of this blog comes from — and it kept you up a few nights despite its silliness, too, right?

Tags: , , , ,