“The horror…the horror…”: 13 scary scenes (not in scary movies) SPOILERS…OBVIOUSLY

 

We are right in the thick of October and for any one on the internet claiming to know a thing or two about movies is coming up with some sort of “Best of” in relation to horror films. Scariest movies ever. Scariest movies of the past decade. Scariest scenes. Scariest kids’ movies. It goes on and on. Well, I’m here to add to that cavalcade because I have a one post a month quota to fill and there aren’t too many promising films I want to review scheduled for the month so why not a list?

Now I am in no way claiming to be outside of the box on this one. Given my outlet is the internet, I’m well aware hundreds of better written lists like this one exist.

So what makes mine different, you may ask?

Well…

Um…

This one…

This one is…um…

Mine?

Yeah!

This one’s mine!

Also, as you may or may not have surmised, I’ve pulled from non-horror films.

As an added condition, I’ve also avoided the typical “this scared the pants off me as a kid” scene you often find such as the boat ride in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Large Marge in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. That isn’t to say any of these movies aren’t scary. No one here is arguing that. No one.

The point is I wanted more of a challenge. To think OUTSIDE of the box as it were. In other words, I had to think on this one. It was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be once I set out. Like many, I go to horror movies to get scared. For whatever reason, I never assume fear is something that’s necessarily going to translate into other genres which is inherently absurd.

There was also an effort on my part to avoid documentaries as well. I could probably dedicate an entire, separate post on frightening documentaries. No real defense to their lack of representation here other than I wanted to keep things simple.

Now as we navigate this cinematic myriad, it may be important for me to preface with the notion that most, if not all, of these scenes are going to relate back to what I personally find frightening.

Words you’re going to see again and again will be “realistic” and “relatable.”

And possibly even….EXISTENTIAL. Ooooooooo scary.

So yeah there will probably be more than one moments while you scroll down where you find yourself asking, “Really, Tyler? Really?”

Then I’ll look down out the ground and get really quite for a bit.

I’m going to do my best not to ramble in the descriptions even that’s kind of like my thing at this point. I highly recommend you watch every one of the scenes because…they’re great. I’ll add a little commentary but kind of just want them to speak for themselves.

It’s also important to note that I am in no way arguing these are the scariest films of all time. They’re are just 13 that I happen to think of off the top of my head. If you have any to add, I’d love to read about them in the comments section.

Quotas. Am I right?

Why 13?

Um…

13 is unlucky, right?

That’s kind of spooky.

….

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SPOOOOKY NUMBERSSSSSSSSS!

1) “Not quite my tempo.” – Whiplash (2014)

It speaks volumes that I’ve had nightmares just like this after seeing this movie.

We’ve all had that one person we want to impress. Whether it be a parent, professor, boss or what have you. There’s always going to be THAT person who’s validation you’re going to be perpetually fighting for.

We all also harbor deep-rooted fears of failure. Failing in front of your person of reverence AND being called out on it by said person? Well, you have yourself one dandy of a nightmare cocktail.

Through in being an introvert, you have why this scene (and whole movie, really) got deep down in my psyche.

I almost thought it was a comedic scene the first time I saw the film because in as is oft the case when faced with any form of conflict, tension or general uncomfortableness, my immediate instinct is to laugh as to hopefully ease tension.

But this is not a funny scene. There really isn’t any aspect of it that is treated as a gag.

It could even be argued that the scariest aspect of all of this how it seemingly works in the long run. Fletcher’s methods of pushing someone to the very precipice of their limits through psychological (and even physical) torture comes back in a big, bad way by Whiplash‘s finale and it is as unsettling as it may be triumphant.

2) Plane crash – The Grey (2012)

We’ve seen a lot of plane crashes in film.

We never LEAVE the plane. Director Joe Carnahan and Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi don’t give us spectacle. Instead we’re right there with Ottway (the camera never trailing too far from his perspective) as the vessel goes down. It’s many of our worst nightmares brought to terrifying reality.

It’s scarier than anything with the wolves because it’s such a universal fear. I’m pretty damn sure anyone who has stepped foot on a plane has had this exact scenario in the back of their head. Many easily conquer that fear. After all, if they didn’t we probably wouldn’t have many airlines.

3) A festering pit of NOPE – King Kong (2005) 

By this scene’s inclusion, I think you may be able to ascertain that I am not OVERLY fond of bugs. It’s clear director Peter Jackson isn’t either.

Sharing his entomophia in interviews before, Jackson GETS what makes bugs scary. For those paying attention during Return of the King, Shelob acts and moves just like an actual spider. Moving lightening fast and then abruptly stopping. Waiting. Waiting. Then moving in an unanticipated direction. (Least we forget, spiders have eyes on every side of their heads.)

Jackson’s ode to creepy crawlies is no where expressed better however than in the revitalized Spider-Pit sequence in his 2005 remake of King Kong.

It’s surface-level horror, (not to mention a complete deviation from the main conflict in an already overstuffed film) but it works. All the bug designs are unsettling, with the meat-weasels and massive weta’s being the true-standouts.

To me, this is all the fears I had about jumping into a leaf pile or the mud made manifest.

4) The red dress – Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Requiem for a Dream is a movie I never need to revisit.

It’s a very good movie, don’t get me wrong. If you haven’t seen it, I fully recommend you do so at the nearest connivence.

It’s just a real bummer. Like, a HUGE one.

There’s no light at the end of the tunnel for anyone in it.

I know that’s kind of the point. It’s a film about the horrors of drug addiction after all.

Moving along though, this is the most “traditional” scary sequence in the film, and it’s pretty damn effective. That fridge gets me every time. There are a number of creepy drug sequences (some of the most famous come from this very film) but this is the one that I’d argue is the scariest.

Sara’s descent is probably the one that hits closest to home for many viewers as it’s hard not to project our own mothers on to her. Where she ultimately ends up is another key reason I avoid the film. Without getting too personal, it hits too close to home in things I worry about almost on a day-to-day basis. My mom is NOT a drug attack, but she deals with things and every time I see this film (or just this scene or this one), I’m compelled to give her a call.

5) “He’s coming towards us.” – Zodiac (2007)

Almost all of David Fincher’s cannon appears to have at least one memorable frightening moment in them. So many in fact, that is was hard limiting myself to just two (the other we will get to momentarily).

Murder is common element of any crime film. Other it’s dramatized via gore, score, or all of the above. In Zodiac, Fincher takes a different route.

The murders are so startlingly real, that you don’t recognize they’re taking place initially. There’s no build up to the violence. It just happens. No pomp or circumstance. Random violence is often the scariest as it cannot be defined. To cope with senseless death, we as human often do are best internally “make sense” of things. “Oh, he was crazy,” or “Of course that she killed them. We saw the warning signs.” But the Zodiac Killer(s) were never “found out.” To this day, we don’t know who he, she, they were or why they committed such heinous deeds, adding another layer to just how unsettling this scene is.

6) Sloth – Se7en (1995)

I’ve gone on record through multiple avenues to declare my undying love for Fincher’s Se7en.

I went with Mills’ and Somerset’s discovery of Sloth because, as with the last scene, it exemplifies Fincher’s knack for taking a well-worn troupe and making it fresh. In this case, it’s the jump scare.

The scene draws you in with every little detail. Much like the unnamed SWAT-member, we are drawn to this body under the assumption that of course it’s dead.

Fincher doesn’t even bother with racketing up tension. The cough comes out of nowhere and we’re flat on our asses once again.

7) The Pale Man – Pan’s Labyrinth  (2006)

I mentioned I avoided scenes that scared me as a child; opting instead to focus on those I still found frightening as an adult. This is the one main exception I made as it successfully plays to those fears we all had as a child but placed in an adult setting; something director Guillermo del Toro appears to have an absolute hard-on for.

Ever a slave to detail, del Toro builds up his monster masterfully through silent clues throughout the set.

As with any good movie monster, the Pale Man is slow, quasi-methodical. It doesn’t need to move fast because it nows the playing field. Run as fast as you like. It’ll get you. One way or another.

8) “LOOK AT ME.” – The Dark Knight (2008)

The initial horror in this scene is on-the-nose.

The Joker is on a crime spree as he attempts to goad Batman into facing him; a part of his larger scheme to bring the Caped Crusader down to his level and show that ANYONE can fall. Typical Joker scheme.

A common thread you’re going to see, and may have already noticed, is “real.” Joker’s tape is a video that could have easily been leaked to reddit, 4chan, or any other social sharing site. I’ve seen ones before, much more violent of course, that could have served as the inspiration.

Look to the on-air murder of Alison Parker and Adam Ward last year. That is but one of many examples.

It’s the most frightening aspect of Heath Ledger’s Joker. He isn’t about elaborate death traps.

9) Curb stomp – American History X (1998) 

I really wrestled with including this scene. Not because it isn’t scary. It’s why it’s scary, and that gets into a touchy space that is a breeding ground for contempt and hurt feelings.

I hate how racists have recently begun to appropriate this movie. As if they only take certain scenes (like this one) without context. As if to say, “See, we were right! Ed Norton was right at the beginning!” And I hate that. Of course, there are multiple ways to view a movie but revising a movie altogether and making it out to be representing something it isn’t is moronic and insulting.

The main message of the film, at least in my opinion, is how hate is taught from one generation to another. It’s not the glorification of one man’s racist ideals; it’s the deconstruction of them altogether.

This scene could easily be considered a “fuck yeah” moment in a piece of action junk.

It isn’t though.

It’s horrific, and director Tony Kaye treats it as such. Yeah, these guys were robbing Danny but we’ve seen the chain of events that led them there. No one is innocent truly innocent in the instance.

Violence begets violence. It’s a cycle that continually loops.

“Hate is baggage. Life’s too short to be pissed off all the time. It’s just not worth it.”

10) “Hi, this is Nikki. Leave a message.” – Swingers (1996)

Well, well, well.

My old nemesis.

To many, Swingers may be nothing more than a comedy and it truly can be experienced as just that. I love the movie, but I rarely re-visit it, largely due to this scene.

It’s so frighteningly real, particularly as a guy who continues to struggle with forming relationships. I’ve been in this exact position with women I liked in which I had a little voice saying, “Leave it be,” but another, much louder one saying “No, don’t make it weird. KEEP GOING TO MAKE SURE SHE KNOW’S YOU’RE NOT WEIRD.” I don’t think I’ve ever left quite this many voicemails, but we are in the texting/Tindr age.

Last night I just found out about “ghosting.” If I’m relating this correctly, this is when one half of a relationship abruptly stops communicating with the other.

Every time I sit through this scene, I’m verbally yelling, “STOP IT” at the screen before it’s over.

Relationships are scary.

Actually getting into one is a whole other beast.

11) “Is it safe?” – Marathon Man (1976)

I guess this scene is pretty much a given. But classics are classics for a reason, right?

To be honest, I don’t remember the rest of this movie all that well. It’s been a while since I sat down and watched it. It seems to be on TV every time I visit one of my parents (who have cable) so I definitely could point out where it is alternatively. I just couldn’t relate specifics to you…the main exception being this fucking scene that plays through my head every time I have to go to the goddamn dentist.

There are a lot of torture scenes I thought about including on this list which is a statement that sounds really creepy with or without context but I went with this one because it pinpoints a fear I think a lot people share and that’s an evil dentist given full-reign to do whatever they want with your mouth.

12) The other side – 50/50 (2011) 

Behold, another comedy. Like Swingers50/50 is a fairly consistent comedy (jokes land more than they miss) that nails frighteningly realistic situations. In this case, it’s dwindling minutes before we are put under the knife.

You may be thinking,”Tyler, you coward. This scene is relaxing. If anything it’s melancholic.”

I’ve never been diagnosed with cancer, nor have I had to have a life-saving surgery. I have, however, had more than one procedure. Ranging from outpatient to several days in the hospital. Every. Single. One. Stressed. Me. The. Phunk. Out.

You’re kidding yourself if you think that any time you go in for ANY surgery, you’re guaranteed to wake up. The odds are minimal, but that doesn’t stop your brain from going to darker places right as the needle is hooked into your arm or the mask slipped over your face. And being alone sucks. You want someone there. Whether it be a parent or friend.

The conversation with the mom here has played out with me and my own mother every time I’ve laid on that bed in my gown.

 13) The war begins – War of the Worlds (2005)

Having grown into adulthood in the post-9/11 landscape, I’d argue it’s very easy for someone my age to become…how do I put it…detached from the 9/11 imagery that utterly dominates popular culture’s depiction of mass destruction.

I argue that imagery has largely fallen flat for me with the key exception being Steven Spielberg’s take on the H.G. Wells’ classic novel, The War of the Worlds. As with any good science fiction, the book zeroed in on contemporary anxieties. In Victorian England, that was the threat of foreign invaders. Wells, clever as he was, took those fears and flipped them on them right back around on your average English Joe, making the book a clear commentary on imperialism.

“For that moment I touched an emotion beyond the common range of men, yet one the poor brutes we dominate know only too well. I felt as a rabbit might feel returning to his burrow, and suddenly confronted by the work of a dozen busy navvies digging the foundations of a house. I felt the first inkling of a thing that presently grew quite clear in my mind, that oppressed me for many days, a sense of dethronement, a persuasion that I was no longer master, but an animal among animals; under the Martian heel.”
Flash-forward to 2005. You’re 4 years after two planes struck the Twin Towers, 1 hit the Pentagon and another a field in Pennsylvania. Two years into our dual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The anger is still palpable. Fear of outside invaders striking again is ever present.
Spielberg, like Wells before him, is using his craft to give us a skewed view of our present through the prism of science fiction. In this case, America’s post 9/11 anxieties as well as our various dealings within the Middle East that took place in the early 2000’s. Some are a bit more on the nose than others. (Tom Cruise frantically attempting to cleanse himself of the dust of those unlucky enough to be vaporized, a boy screaming “WE HAVE TO GET BACK AT THEM,” a girl literally screaming, “IS IT TERRORISTS?!,” etc) but it all services a point. Spielberg isn’t exploiting a tragedy in the same way Zack Snyder did in Man of Steel. He’s actually making a point.
The first tripod’s assault is a clear allusion to a terrorist attack, sadly given new relevancy month after month with conflicts in Syria, the terror attacks in Paris and so on. I picked this scene because it highlights how well science fiction be in representing real life, skewed just enough to allow some distance.
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My 100 favorite film scenes -or- the 5oth Mega-Post Spectacular -or- Tyler rambles about boring movie stuff: Episode L: The Phantom Spellcheck, Part 1

“Every once in a while I have what I think of as an out-of-the-body experience at a movie. When the ESP people use a phrase like that, they’re referring to the sensation of the mind actually leaving the body and spiriting itself off to China or Peoria or a galaxy far, far away. When I use the phrase, I simply mean that my imagination has forgotten it is actually present in a movie theater and thinks it’s up there on the screen. In a curious sense, the events in the movie seem real, and I seem to be a part of them.” – Roger Ebert in his review for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

“Movies aren’t stupid. They fill us with romance and hatred and revenge fantasies. Lethal Weapon showed us that suicide is funny.” – Homer Simpson

“Everything I learned I learned from the movies.” – Audrey Hepburn

Here we are. 50 blog posts. In this generation, that means something…I guess? I do this for fun for a pretty small (i.e. SUPER small) audience, but a hallmark is a hallmark, goddamnit.

I love talking about movies. That should be pretty obvious by this point, but generally I use this blog to talk about entire movies. So with this MEGAPOST I thought I’d mix things up. I want to look by not at my favorite movies (because frankly that would take way too long and its a list that is always changing) but the cinematic moments that I have replayed time and time again. Like Roger Ebert said so beautifully, these are the scenes that truly let me escape and enter a new reality, if only for a second.

50 blog posts in and I have to say…I hate lists. I really fucking hate lists. Oh, I enjoy reading them but writing them is another animal entirely. I’m not referring to what the writers over at Buzzfeed do. I look more to the writers over at sites like Cracked or magazines like Empire. To take something as massive as the medium of film and subjectively put it in a list in a level from worst to best and then justify it sounds daunting. Way too daunting for someone who does this for fun (coughAndSucksAtItcough) like myself so the list before you will have no numeric system of value. I have neither the time nor inclination to sit down and even attempt to place these scenes in order.

For a general FYI, I am not a film analyst i.e. I’ve only taken one film studies class and it was for an elective. I love movies but I don’t love the idea of picking apart a movie to understand “why it works.” For the most part, I just want to escape. Sure, I like talking about why I liked a movie or a particular scene (that shit is my bread and butter) but there is a magic about the process that I don’t often like to get tangled up in themes or higher meaning. In other words, I am a nightmare for filmmakers like Kubrick, Lynch, and Malick. Make no mistake, this is not a list of scenes that I think are objectively the best ever committed to film. These are scenes that moved, shook, haunted, and sometimes all three. Of course some of them are here because they are a technical marvel, but I want to get more to the root of why they made me marvel personally.

Another criticism I foresee is that a lot of these are from newer movies which I can’t really contest. I have no qualms against older movies, but I am a human being that hasn’t seen every single movie made. I see them as they come out and do my best to catch up with movies of the past. Call it insecurity or just laziness if you will but I feel I picked some pretty solid choices given I am not a professional nor am I a true student of cinema. I don’t think there are many “controversial” choices here.

I also wanted to steer away from picking scenes on the sheer fact that they are iconic but expect more than a few well-known scenes to appear. A scene becomes iconic for a reason, and that reason is the public gravitates towards it for whatever reason. There is a movement in criticism to denounce the popular which is a stance I am adamantly against.

Also it’s important to note that these are my favorite SCENES, not movies. Sure, some of them are from my favorite movies but some are from movies that are wholly forgettable with the exception of the scene in question. For movies that are favorite and got neglected, I attribute it to the mere fact that there isn’t just one scene in there that I can point to as the definitive effective one. This is especially true to documentaries and animation which are regretfully underrepresented here.

Some of movies I love that are not represented here include (but are not limited to):

Back to the Future, Battle Royale, Reservoir Dogs, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Frankenstein, Taxi to the Dark Side, Man on Wire, The Cove, Dear Zachary, The Lego Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Social Network, Casablanca, Raging Bull, A Streetcar Named Desire, X2:X-men United, Heathers, Dr. Strangelove, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Airplane!, Kick-Ass, The Ice Storm, Layer Cake, District 9, Submarine, The Royal Tenenbaums, Spirited Away, Samurai Cop, Nightcrawler, Strangers on a Train, Deliverance, The Insider, The Blob, A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: Dream Warriors, Drive, On the Water Front, Hot Rod, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Bad Boys 2, Lake of Fire, Brazil, Drunken Master 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Boogie Nights, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, Sabrina, The Thing, The Breakfast Club, Titus, North by Northwest, Some Like It Hot, War Games, Hot Fuzz, The Avengers, The Graduate, Gravity, Black Swan, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Lego Movie, The Prestige, They Live!, A Christmas Story, Blue Ruin, Casino Royale, Space Jam, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Requiem for a Dream, Groundhog Day, Freddy Vs Jason, The Matrix, Chinatown, Akira The Godfather, Stand By Me, Midnight in Paris, The Godfather Part II, Once, Tombstone,  Indiana Jones (any of the first three), Die Hard, Bridge on the River Kwai, Face/Off, The Act of Killing, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Host, Lars and the Real Girl, Adaptation, Das Boot, Magnolia, The Dirty Dozen, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Lawrence of Arabia, Her, Let the Right One In, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Brain Dead, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Badlands, Miami Connection, All the President’s Men, How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, Election, Bound, Kingdom of Heaven, American Beauty, Toy Story 3, Citizen Kane, Slumdog Millionaire, Whiplash, Almost Famous, Mad Max, Princess Mononoke, Army of Darkness, Cloud Atlas, American History X, My Fair Lady, Planet of the Apes, Team America:World Police, Aliens, Fight Club, The Wrestler, The Seventh Seal, Tokyo Story, Skyfall, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Short Term 12, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Mean Girls, Ghostbusters, Annie Hall, The Devil’s Backbone, The 25th Hour and so and so forth. (These are all of my favorites that I could think of in 10 minutes. I know because I timed it.)

I could go on and on. I’ve seen quite a few movies but there are even more I haven’t seen. If for whatever reason you think I forgot something, chances are I did. There are more than a few movies out there, and I possess a very tiny mind that is growing more and more forgetful by the day. I only wish I had the time to do 100 scenes. There are so many fucking movies I love with all of my heart but not enough time in the day. Maybe when/if we get to 100 these scenes mentioned and many more will get their time to shine. For now, let’s get on with this beast!

Obviously there will be spoilers.

 

TYLER FRANK TALLEY’S 50 FAVORITE FILM SCENES EVER….SO FAR

1. The Chestburster – Alien 

Let’s start off with an obvious choice. Few things are more terrifying to me personally than the thought of something exploding from your chest. Better writers than me have discussed in length the power and almost universal fear this scene holds so I’ll just say this: since I first saw this movie at a young age, whenever I would even get the slightest twinge in my chest from overexerting myself or seeing a girl I liked, there would be a split second where I thought I was truly fucked because a facehugger had attached itself to my face while I had been sleeping and I was moments away from a fucking xenomorph bursting from my chest.

2. The first transformation – An American Werewolf in London 

Outside of a scene that will come later on in this list, this is the best use of special effects in any movie ever made in my opinion. This scene is why there never needs to be another werewolf transformation scene ever again. Anything that comes after just feels like a cheap imitation. Rick Baker redefines practical effects with this scene. Honestly finding out just how he and his team pulled it off is just as jaw-dropping as the scene itself. We don’t get practical horror effects of this caliber like this for the most part anymore.

3. “What’s in the fucking box?!” – Se7en 

If I could go back and watch any movie again for the first time, it would be Se7en, mainly for this scene. It is absolute perfection and a masterclass on suspense and tension. Everything about this scene is just so on point that tension is simply unbearable. It may go down as my favorite scene ever to watch with someone unexposed to the movie beforehand. Watching it with an unsuspecting audience as the squirm and sweat over what John Doe has planned makes my nerdy little heart sore. It takes me right back to when I first saw this movie.

4. Good cop, Dark Knight – The Dark Knight

Every comic book fan had been longing for a scene like this, and not only did this deliver; it excelled. The dynamic between Batman and the Joker is one of the greatest in the comic book medium and never equated between the physical differences between them. In other words, the ultimate fight between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime would be a punching contest. It would be a battle of the minds. The most interesting aspect about their relationship is how they both differ and align mentally. Psychologically, Batman is just as damaged as the Joker. It is in their insanity that they find common ground. Where they differ is one stands for order and the other chaos. (Even though the Joker only runs on completely unbeatable, highly organized plans in this movie but I digress…)

This is the perfect Batman/Joker scene and DC is going to have a hard time recapturing the magic on display here in their revitalized shared universe. The two characters feel and sound like they were pulled right from the page…well not a silver age comic…go watch Batman & Robin for that.

Not to mention, I nearly squealed like a little girl when the Joker said, “The old good cop, bad cop routine…” and Gordon’s reply was, “Not exactly.” because I, like just about everyone else, instantly realized who was already in the room.

5. “Like a doll’s eyes…” – Jaws 

A general rule for movies is “Show. Don’t tell.” As a visual medium, movies normally should be expected to regale us with memorable imagery that stick with us, and not just tell us about the imagery later. This isn’t a rule however especially if the description is both A) written phenomenally and B)delivered by a competent actor or actress. This iconic scene from Jaws, written by John Millius and acted out by the equally great Robert Shaw is the absolute gold standard for this. Each time I see it, my mouth is agape much like that of Richard Dreyfuss.

6. Revenge is a dish best not served. – I Saw the Devil

 I have a soft spot for bleak endings. Not pitch black endings like Requiem for a Dream, but endings in which the hero “wins” at the very cost of his or her soul or the loss of something equally as important.

I Saw the Devil starts as a simple enough revenge film but evolves into something more. It becomes a game of cat and mouse, with the hero’s quest ultimately costing him any semblance of happiness or closure. That last silent shot of Lee Byung-hun collapsing in the snow tells us everything we need to know: he’s defeated the monster but in doing so he has lost everything else.

7. Spidey’s got a train to catch. – Spider-Man 2

Perhaps the first (and best) fully realized comic book fight scene committed to film. What I mean by that is what better location for two characters like Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus than on a moving train? Unlike the Batman/Joker scene, these are two characters we want/need to see punch the shit out of one another. It’s obvious how much work went into this with the level of detail on display. Little things like Spidey bursting out of a window and quickly shooting two webs to remain on the train or Ock using his arms to prevent him from falling back are just icing on the cake. This is the best action scene I’ve seen in a comic movie to date, and it’s going to take quite a lot for a usurper to take its place.

8. The dreams of our forefathers. – Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I am hardly ever awed and humbled by actual locations being presented in film. The Effiel Tower is used in a number of films, but nothing will ever come close to actually seeing it in person. The rare exception is Werner Herzog’s documentary and the way he shoots the cave paintings of Chauvet Cave.

I have never been to Chauvet Cave nor do I ever expect to have the privilege to but watching this scene (particularly in 3-D the first time) I feel as if I have been momentarily transported there. I can smell the watery limestone. I can feel the cold wind raising the hairs on the back of my neck. More importantly, I feel a long lost connection to our ancestors who once called these caves home. Herzog has done something truly beautiful here and thrown us a life line from our prehistoric forefathers.

9. “I ABANDONED MY CHILD!” – There Will Be Blood 

I partially just included this because it simply just a masterwork in acting. Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano are just incredibly here. But the larger reason I included it is because it cements the character of Daniel Plainview as one of the best cinematic villains, using his own shortcomings to his own ends and putting the final nail on his opponent’s proverbial coffin on his own turf.

We can’t hear what he whispers, but given a later scene, it probably something along the lines of, “I beat you, Eli.”

10. “We are all complete.” – Never Let Me Go

This ending is like a straight up punch to the chest. The entire movie is silently devastating (typical British cinema) but it’s when we reach the final few minutes that we are confronted with what it means to truly be human. Like all the best science fiction, Never Let Me Go is a film that takes a future world along with familiar motifs (clones), and uses it to reverse the image and causes us to look at our own present.

The thing I like most about the scene that even though things are bleak, there is the tiniest ring of optimism. There is no rousing speeches. There is no final battle. Kathy H accepts her fate as well as Tommy’s. She takes solace in the fact that they were given any time together whatsoever.

Rachel Portman’s hauntingly beautiful score serves only to twist the knife stabbing our collective heartstrings.

11. That hallway scene – Oldboy

I love this fight so much. Even beyond it being just one long take aside, it is still just so impressive at how real and improvised it feels. The Spike Lee remake did its best to recreate this scene and it ultimately came off as way to choreographed. The power in the original is that Oh Dae-su is just to fucking angry to lose, no matter the odds. He wasn’t some one man army like Rama in The Raid. He kind of sucks to be honest. His “power” stems from his quest for vengeance.

12. How to deal with racism – 12 Angry Men 

A powerful scene that still remains as relevant today as it did 50 years and it doesn’t hit you over the head with its message. The men show their protest silently, and the scene is all the more impactful for it.

13. “I wonder if it remembers me.” – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 

There are many ways to interpret this scene. I tend to just ride the emotional wave as the music Sigur Ros sweeps over me.

14. That other hallway scene – The Raid: Redemption 

While this is not the best fight scene in either of The Raid films, I included it because it completely changed how I view action scenes hence forth. We are living in a post-Raid world, and it’s about time Hollywood took note.

15. “You have a T-rex?” – Jurassic Park 

This scene represents CGI’s highest potential. There is nothing lazy about it. As far as I am concerned, there is a real animal on screen or at the very least the closest thing we will ever see to a living dinosaur. There is a certain amount of respect or at least gravitas that comes with using such a well-known yet never-seen-alive-by-man creature, meaning that if this scene didn’t work and the audience didn’t believe in this animal, the film would have failed horribly.

Director Steven Spielberg, being the genius he is, intentionally left a MASSIVE continuity error in do enhance the excitement/tension of the scene because he knew the audience would be so enthralled we wouldn’t notice…and he was 100% right. I didn’t even notice the mistake until it was pointed out to me and I am obsessed with this movie.

It’s a rather big success considering that, when you boil it right down, not a whole hell of a lot happens in this scene. The t-rex leaves it’s pin, trashes a car, eats the lawyer, and leaves.

16. “Superman.” – The Iron Giant 

This scene absolutely destroyed me as a kid. For like a week afterword, I was inconsolable even though I knew the Giant ultimately survives this. Today it still holds sway over me as the only movie scene to not just make me shed a tear, but openly weep. The only conceit that I make in terms of a flaw would be Hogarth saying, “I love you.” Other than that, the scene is poignant and incredibly powerful.

17. “Kill the Queen.” – Shaun of the Dead 

This scene is just a blast, and I will hear no arguments to the contrary.

18. “A center for ants?!?!” – Zoolander 

I hate writing about why any particular scene is funny so I will just say this: this scene is never not hilarious. Enough said.

19. “You are going to die.” – The Grey 

The Grey is a raw movie, and no other scene is rawer than this. Props to both actors providing a scene that never rings false. There’s a split second ever time I watch this that I honestly believe James Dale Badge just died on-screen. The way Liam Neeson delivers, “You are going to die.” is so bone-chilling yet oddly comforting that seen isn’t scary, it’s oddly comforting.

20. Losing control. – United 93

Every time I watch this, I hope for a different outcome. That maybe the plane will land safely this time. Silly, I know, considering this an actual event with a well-known outcome.

Paul Greengrass films the scene almost as if it were a documentary, and in all honesty, I often forget that it isn’t. You could show just this scene, it would remain just haunting.

In many ways, the scene works as a greater allusion to the world after September 11, 2001, everyone fighting for control as the world rapidly descends into oblivion. That final shot of the ground drawing closer and closer sends chills down my spine each and every time.

21. Married life. – Up 

An entire life summed up in one gorgeous, nearly silent 5-minute scene. The life-affirming highs, the soul-crushing lows, and all the mundane shit in-between. The masters that be over at Pixar truly outdid themselves here and cemented their place as not just one of the greatest animation studios to ever exist, but one of the greatest group of storytellers to ever assemble. (Cars 2 not withstanding….)

And Michael Giacchino’s score? One of the absolute best cinematic pieces of the last decade as far as I’m concerned.

22. “I am your father.” – Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back 

Because of course this is going to be on here. I feel fairly fortunate that this wasn’t spoiled for me before I saw it considered just how big it is in popular culture. It is referenced in everything. Somehow I wasn’t exposed beforehand, and I can still reach back to when I was really little and this bombshell was dropped on my lap. It was like learning Santa wasn’t real. When I first heard it I thought it was a lie. I wish I had something more profound to say honestly.

Just for some context, Star Wars is the closest thing I have a religion. Going back and watching these movies and seeing scenes like this are like when a Christian, Jew, Muslim, what have you looks for a favorite passage of scripture. Skywalker Ranch is my Mecca. I get flustered when I think just how much this series has shaped me…sad I know but I am a loser. What you want from me?!

Anyway, this scene is great. This twist is great. It’s just….fucking great.

23. War is hell. – Atonement 

A single shot that highlights all of the grief, despair, chaos, and even unexpected levity that was the second World War. Sure, it’s a show off-y sequence, but to its credit, it is incredibly effective.

24. God is in the rain. – V for Vendetta 

Another beautiful statement on hatred and revenge. (What is with me and loving scenes about revenge sucking considering how bitter of an asshole I am. Practice what you preach, Tyler!)

Anyway, I love the juxtaposition between V and Evey here. It’s a little on the nose (V’s hatred represented by fire, and Evey’s rejuvenation and acceptance represented by water) but it works for me at least.

25. Make ’em laugh. – Singin’ in the Rain 

Raw, unadulterated comedic power. That is what comes immediately whenever I see this scene. I don’t want to imagine how many takes Donald O’Connor had to do for this scene as just one seems simply exhausting.

26. Okay. – Evil Dead 2

This was a tough one to point out as there are a number of scenes from Evil Dead 2 that I thought about including here. I picked this one because it highlights just how good this film is at balancing both horror and comedy. When that deer head moves for the first time, you can’t help but jump. When everything starts laughing, your stomach tightens. It’s when Ash begins to laugh however the tension releases and we see how ridiculous all of this and we can laugh along.

27. Everything changes. – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

There are quite a few feel-inducing moments to be had in the Harry Potter films, but this one always leaves me with that overwhelming melancholy that only Harry Potter can provide. On one hand, our heroes have won. They’ve had another successful year at Hogwarts (successful meaning they did not die and did not fail any of their classes…I presume) and now they head off into the summer, having met a bunch of new friends along the way. On the other hand, they’ve also experienced their first death before death will almost become a common place. Voldemort is back, and he is out for blood. This is the ending the represents where everything changes.

28. “Death is just another path…” – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 

I go to this clip whenever I lose someone close and it helps.

To imagine death in a way as described so beautifully by Sir Ian McKellen here makes the whole thing a little less scary. Sure, I may not believe in a heaven but to imagine an existence with no pain or suffering is something just about every human being must long for at some point, if only on a subconscious level.

Beyond the religious connotations, it is still a beautiful quiet scene that serves as a much needed breather in the massive wave of excitement and sadness of the previous 30 minutes. When things are at their bleakest, who better to bring Pippin (and the audience by extension) back to the brink than Gandalf and his never ending bag of hopeful optimism? It’s not a stand up and cheer moment like “I CAN CARRY YOU!!!” but it isn’t supposed to be.

29. Where are those goddamn onions?!” – WALL-E

Last time I shed a tear was once again brought about by machines. I don’t know what it is about fucking robots that get me going. I blame Skynet.

Anyway, WALL-E is hands down my favorite film Pixar has done to date, and this is there best ending in my opinion. It’s a simple enough payoff. WALL-E wants to hold EVE’s hand. It’s a small moment that feels massive given the level of build and love we have for this little robot.

30. The Avengers Initiative – Iron Man

There are a lot of phenomenal moments that have been cranked out of Marvel’s cinematic universe (“HULK…SMASH!!!!”, “We are Groot.”, and that master shot of the Avengers assembling for the first time to name just a few) but I have to look back to the after-credits scene that started it all. This is the scene that launched every nerds collective (and pardon the term) nerd boners to the highest levels imaginable. We had just come off the high that was the first Iron Man film only to have a massive bombshell dropped in out laps. After years of rumblings, an Avengers film was on the way, the news shepherded by Nick Fury himself. 7 years and 9 movies later, we are now only a little more than a month away from a SECOND Avengers movie, something I couldn’t have even wrapped my head around back then. I chose this scene because it takes me back to when I was there when superhero movies were about to go through a full-blown renaissance.

31. Chopin’s Ballade in G minor – The Pianist 

The thing about this scene that sticks with me the most outside of just Adrian Brody’s performance is the other actor in it that doesn’t get enough credit for his role in my honest opinion. Thomas Kretshmann plays the Nazi captain that spares Szpilman’s life, and he is playing his emotions a lot more subtly than Brody. That isn’t to say its a better performance. It just stuck with me in a different way. What I see is a subtle twinge of remorse. What he sees before him is a great artist, not vermin like his superiors and leader would have him believe. Almost an entire generation of potential lost forever. What I see are the flashes over other great artists that were lost because of regime built on bigotry and intolerance. Reading up on the actually officer (Wilm Hosenfeld), and you discover a man who aided several people (including Poles and Jews) after growing disillusioned with the Nazi party and I see this in a Kretshmann’s performance.

The scene is also beautiful in large part to Brody as Szpilman is finally allowed to play the piano once again. He has lost his entire family by this point, and what remains is his one great love: his art. You see an almost relaxed blanket envelop his face as he sets himself back into a comfortable place in the piece. He is finally back where he is at most at home and this is the most calm he’s been in quite some time.

32. The meaning of racing – Speed Racer

I’ll never quite understand the levels of hate this movie gets. To me, it is a completely uncynical adaptation of one of my favorite childhood cartoons.

This sequence is fucking beautiful. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. The narration. The visuals. (My god, the visuals.) It’s trippy, without being stupid. In fact, it’s a pretty poignant scene given the levels of absurdity we have just seen over this movie’s run time. I am a massive fan of movies that connect the dots and this scene does just that as every quiet moment beforehand is drawn upon in one cinematic release of sights and sounds. The psychedelic wave of red and white as Speed finishes the race is just electrifying.

33. The beginning of the end. – War of the Worlds 

H.G. Welles’ The War of the Worlds is one of my favorite novels, and the scene in which the Martian tripod first lays waste to the English military is one of my favorite literary moments. Leave to a master like Spielberg to bring that moment to life so brilliantly. It’s not a perfect translation (the tripod comes from beneath the ground instead of just crashing to Earth in this version), but the tension and unrelenting terror remains. I doubt I’ll ever get a version that is set in Victorian England with this kind of budget so I will happily accept this sequence as a silver medal.

There are blatant 9/11 allusions to be made (people covered in ash, a completely foreign enemy attacking us with on a seemingly normal day, etc) and honestly it works here given the themes of the original work as well as the themes of this updated version. The Martians could easily be an allusion to the Taliban, but as with the novel, I think this movie works best as a mirror on ourselves. The original work was a statement on English imperialism. By the early 2000’s, a new empire had risen; the United States. Decimating technologically inferior cultures for decades, the Martians are us now just as they were the British over a century ago. I’m rambling now. Needless to say, this is a wonderfully staged set piece that brings to life one of my favorite literary sequences.

34. THAT restaurant scene – Heat 

Brilliant, non-flashy dialogue delivered by two Hollywood giants. It’s the most electrifying scene in a movie with some of the best heist scenes committed to film. It’s honestly more like a short one-act play with two men, on opposing sides, having a frank, unextraordinary conversation.

35. One “wacky” car ride – Children of Men

As I said before, it doesn’t take too much to impress me when it comes to single-take sequences.

The thing that separates this one from the pack is just how absolutely bonkers it is and just how personal the sequence feels. Alfonso Cuaron puts us IN that car. We are laughing and relax right along with our heroes, and when things go to shit, full-blown anxiety kicks in. Gravity was a technical masterpiece (in my opinion) but no sequence ever came close to the levels of awe and panic I felt while watching this scene for the first time.

36. That escalated…quickly. – The Departed 

I did not see Infernal Affairs before I saw this so I was completely blindsided when DiCaprio bit it; me and just about everyone in the theater I saw this in. I have seen it since and it plays out more or less the same, but at the same time I went with this scene instead as A) it was the one I was exposed to first and B) I just think it was played out better here. Maybe better isn’t the right word. Both scenes are great, but this is Scorsese we are talking about here.

37. “I get it now!” – Scrooged 

Another Bill Murray victory lap that comes at the tail end of a movie. It’s even more impressive that Murray apparently improvised a large portion of the scene. I can see it coming off as a someone jarbeled mess of a monologue but the emotion shines right on through and melts even the most cynical of hearts.

38. The Pale Man – Pan’s Labyrinth 

This scene takes me right back to my nightmares as a child. I never had (or I don’t remember having) a dream exactly like this, but like everyone at some point, I had a dream in which I was chased by some nondescript monster down a hallway.

Guillermo del Toro’s beautifully, fully-realized visuals have never been more twisted in the Pale Man sequence. Like any good fairy tale, the hero/heroine must confront a monster and del Toro created a monster for the ages here.

39. “I could have done more…” – Schindler’s List 

I’ve written about this scene quite a bit in the past, and I don’t have much more to add. It’s the most devastating scene in a movie that is almost exclusively devastating scenes. This is because at the end of the day, Oskar collapses under the weight of all things he could have done to save more people and did not.

40. The sun will die. Everything will die. – Where the Wild Things Are

This movie, as a whole, took me right back to the third grade. This was a time when my imagination was still running wild, and there was still some magic left in the world but the harsh realities of the world were starting to seep in. It was around this time that it struck that the world would end, and by extension, I would end. That led to me realizing my parents would die. My dog would die. My friends would die. Everything fades away at some point, even the sun. This scene eloquently captures that misplaced defiance in the face of the inevitable in order to hide the bleeding insecurity. Spike Jonze is a genius and this may be my favorite scene in any of his films for just how much it reached that little kid inside me that I thought went away a long time ago.

41. “Funny, how?” – Goodfellas 

Actual tension mixed with actual comedy create a scene that still causes me to squirm. You want to laugh because Tommy is a troll. He wouldn’t actually kill a guy for saying he was funny…right? It’s that hesitation that make Joe Pesci’s performance as scary as it is comedic.

42. “It’s not your fault.” – Good Will Hunting 

See my tribute to Robin Williams to learn why this scene resonates with me. Sure, as the years go on and I get older, Good Will Hunting begins to lose some of its initial luster, but this scene coupled with the others featuring Williams, are more than enough reason to keep coming back to it.

43. “I’m glad it’s you.” – Road to Perdition

One of my favorite film deaths made all the more bittersweet that it is also the last onscreen performance of one of my favorite actors, Paul Newman.

Sam Medes directs the shit out of this scene. Conrad Hall shoots the shit out of the scene. Thomas Newman scores the shit out of this scene. Both Tom Hanks and Paul Newman act the shit out of this scene. To be that lame guy, this scene is simply the shit and a masterwork from a movie that deserves more recognition…speaking of which….

44. The train robbery – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

A criminally overlooked movie also happens to be one of the most beautiful of the past couple of decades thanks in large part to the cinematography of Roger Deakins. This scene is the man’s best work to date in my opinion and sends chills down my spine every time I see it. The man has yet to win an Oscar for his achievements which is a shame and after seeing this clip (if you haven’t already), I hope you’ll agree.

45. Enter: Brick Top – Snatch 

I love villains that steal the movie in right as they walk into frame. Characters like Heath Ledger’s Joker or Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West come to mind. Alan Ford’s Brick Top is also pretty damn high on that list. This isn’t his first scene, but it’s the one that cements him as the film’s primo badass (in a movie filled with unforgettable badasses).

46. The brawl – Pineapple Express

One of my favorite fight scenes ever is also one of the funniest scenes ever. Like the scene in Oldboy, it comes off completely improvised. Given it involves three of the best improvisors in modern movie making only sweetens the preverbal pot.

47.  Oh, Audrey… – Funny Face

Aubrey Hepburn is the most beautiful woman to exist on film. This is not a subjective statement as far as I’m concerned. It’s a fucking fact. I’ve only seen Funny Face once and I don’t remember the plot all that well. (It’s certainly not her best movie by a long shot. That’s not a derevitive statement either. When her categlogue includes Sabrina and Wait Until Dark, the competition for that title is sure to be fierce.) I do however remember this scene as it is highlights how instantaneously under her spell. It is also a testament one extraordinary woman’s beauty as well as her considerable talent to entertain.

48. Ego’s Review – Ratatouille

Dammit, Pixar. For the love of fuck stop being so fucking good at making movies! I’m just kidding…please don’t ever leave me.

This scene presents a harsh, yet poignant truth about criticism. Leave it to Pixar to completely humble something I love doing and not leave me completely depressed about what I’ve been doing with my free time.

A movie, and by extension all art, is a risk for anyone putting it out in the public consciousness. It will immediately poked, prodded and scrutinized. Critics risk very little when they criticize something. They are not the ones putting their effort out for display.

49. “We must all unite!” – The Great Dictator 

I want to let this scene speak for itself. Sure, it is a little hokey….but that doesn’t mean that it’s message isn’t relevant or incredibly important.

50. “Sharks with laser beams.” – Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery 

I am pretty much obliged to include this scene given I owe the blog its title because of it. It’s not the funniest scene ever made in my opinion, but the absurdity combined with the real-life conversation that stem out of it are just too fucking perfect.

 

Thank you all for reading, and here’s to 50 more! It understand that this little blog isn’t even a blip on the massive radar that is the internet nor do I have any sort of output that qualifies this as some sort of victory lap. This blog, and by extension most of the writing I do for fun, is most therapeutic. This blog has helped me in more ways than I care to bore you with. Suffice to say, writing has been the bandage on my broken, depression-filled mind on more than one occasion. As long as I have time, I will continue to put out reviews and other such things on Sharks with Laserbeams as long as their is a readership that wants it. So thank you once again, my 5 readers. You are why I do this.