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Creepy moments in my favorite fandoms - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Creepy moments in my favorite fandoms
Well, as we work up to Halloween, I'm enjoying the creepy stuff. I like horror novels, and I like the way non-horror genres sometimes use the tropes of the genre to really stab. So, as I've spent the afternoon watching Carrie, The Sixth Sense and now The Exorcist III, I thought I'd mention my favorite scary moments in my fandoms.

Horrific Harry Potter
1. The rebirth of Voldemort, Goblet of Fire. The imagery alone qualifies this scene as horror. Misty graveyard, the monstrous "baby" Voldemort, Peter cutting his own hand off, Harry bound, the dust of Tom Riddle's bones brought up from the earth--and that's without taking the murderous opening into account. It's first-class horror. If JKR ever decides to do anything in the genre after she finishes HP, I think she'd be spectacular at it.

2. Tom Riddle appears in the Chamber of Secrets, Chamber of Secrets. We knew there was something wrong with that book, but all of those similarities to Harry, all of the sympathy Harry felt... and it twists, becomes awful. The slow revelation of what he's been doing to Ginny all year... good stuff. There's a reason that Arabella's The Very Secret Diary--Ginny's POV on that year--reads like a totally pure horror story: it is.

3. The Spiders, Chamber of Secrets. Not as much of a culmination scene as the other, and it doesn't have as much baggage, but in terms of a sheer scariness in a one-shot episode, this one takes Rowling's cake... two innocents, trying to save a friend, going where they thought they would be safe, facing the greatest fear of one of them, and having it turn out to be a really, really valid fear. Tense, action-packed, life-threatening (if not particularly soul-threatening) scare.

4. Fenrir Greyback, Half-Blood Prince. Hands-down creepiest character in the series. All the threats about him might have made his appearance somewhat of a letdown, but in the end, all the mentions didn't manage to prepare me for the fact that he was attacking people untransformed and telling Dumbledore that he wanted into the school in order to tear the throats out of as many children as he could. This is a monster with no punches pulled.

5. Dementor Attack, Order of the Phoenix. Another nice standalone scene, with Harry facing his greatest fear and Dudley completely helpless in the face of horrors he can't even see. Harry's responsibility for his cousin--disliked though Dudley is--also makes him a credible hero.

Scary Star Wars
1. The vision quest in the Dagobah cave, Empire Strikes Back. A classic funhouse mirror/nightmare scene. I think people make a mistake when thinking that the scene has much to do with Anakin being Luke's father--it does, but not in a direct sense. It is saying the most frightening thing of all: It could happen to you, too. You are not immune. He is you are him.

2. The Tusken Massacre, Attack of the Clones. Anakin's had his problems before this, but this is the first time that there is narrative understanding of what he does. (Also the last, as instinctive understanding of Anakin's actions was a bit lacking in RoTS, imho.) Like the cave scene, it's showing a horrible possibility, but because Anakin's quest was something that makes emotional sense, it was reflecting the audience rather than just the character. If that happened to a loved one...

3. The Lava Duel, Revenge of the Sith. Emotionally charged, with the greatest possible stakes for both characters, ending with the total moral and physical destruction of one of them, at great emotional cost to the other. Plus, hey... burning=scary.

4. The Throne Room Duel, Return of the Jedi. The near-destruction of the hero of the trilogy, followed by his near death, and his only hope is a man who only he trusts. Good suspense.

Bloodcurdling Buffy
1. The murder of Miss Calendar, Season 2. The murder itself is scary--we've heard of Angelus doing evil things, but this time, we see him go from beginning to end... and it doesn't just stop with the murder. Following the storyline to Giles's, with the flower petals and the opera and the wine, all leading to finding her body... classic.

2. The death of Angel, Season 2. Emotional horror, kind of an unusual genre. The decision to restore Angel's soul made sense and was well-intentioned, but it came too late, and Buffy was faced with a much worse choice than she was when Angel was soulless... and she had no choice in the end. She had to kill someone she loved, with her own hands, when he was helpless, in order to save the world. Because sometimes, it's already gone too far.

3. The flaying of Warren Mears, Season 6. And the cold follow-up, "One down." For six years, we've been hanging around with Willow. She's had a melodramatically rough season with a great deal of ethical sliding that they tried to palm off on "magic addiction"... but the point of first torturing and then killing Warren, you know she's crossed a line. And like Anakin with the Tuskens, it's scary because on some level, it makes emotional sense... the lizard-brain level that we don't like to think about.

4. Buffy dies (1), Season 1. The descent into the Master's lair, the realization that she's fallen into a trap, the mesmerization... even that white dress glimmering. Very visual, very creepy.

5. "And you fall for it EVERY TIME!" Season 2. When Angel lures Buffy away from the library, sure that she's going to face him, when it's really just a trap, and she realizes how easily she's been trapped so that Angel's cohorts can attack her friends at the library, ultimately killing Kendra--it's another moment of realizing that it's too late, and in this case it's her own fault. Eep.

Sinister Stephen King
1. Late at night in the Lot, 'Salem's Lot. I'm just going to quote the paragraph that kept my windowshades shut at night for a year.
[Those awake at that hour] walked slowly from room to room, as if their bodies had become glassy and fragile, and they turned on all the lights, and they did not look out their windows.

That above all else. They did not look out their windows.

No matter what noises or dreadful possibilities, no matter how awful the unknown, there was an even worse thing: to look the Gorgon in the face.

This made me shiver, because of course the cure for the spooky-shivers is to go look in the closet and see that the scary thing is just a pile of laundry, or look out the window and see that what's moving is just a tree shadow. Except that it isn't, and if you look, if you see it, you're lost. Shudder.

2. Larry and Rita in the tunnel, The Stand. We take our transportation routes for granted in and out of big cities like New York. Just take the tunnel, pop out in Jersey. And of course it would be what a native New Yorker thinks of first. But the power is out. And it's dark down there. And you're surrounded by corpses, and you don't know what you'll find on the other side... and someone is following you. Stuff o' nightmares.

3. Blood in the bathroom, It. All of the kids have pretty creepy experiences with It when they're alone, but Bev's abstract, non-lethal scare is the one that really creeped me out--the blood of all the innocent victims vomited up from her drain, covering her mirror and all of the walls she so carefully cleans, when she knows she'll be beaten if she doesn't do her housework. Her father can't see it, but she's beaten for screaming anyway. It's just shiver-worthy.

4. The Overlook obliterates Jack Torrance, The Shining. Up until the end, I'd hoped there would be a way to save Jack somehow. (This would be the book, not the Nicholson movie, in which I wondered why anyone would lock herself and her child in with him in the first place, no haunting necessary.) But when Danny is able to reach him one last time, Jack knows there's no hope, and as Danny watches in horror, the hotel retakes Jack's mind and starts to obliterate Jack's identity entirely, turning him into nothing but a puppet for itself, all hope gone.

5. What's in the trunk? Strawberry Spring. We get the story of a series of grisly murders on a teacher's college campus during a false spring full of fog and and mystery, told from the point of view of a frightened young student... who really likes to go walking in the fog.

Soundtrack: The Exorcist III on AMC

24 comments or Leave a comment
murasaki99 From: murasaki99 Date: October 29th, 2005 04:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, yes on the scary Star Wars scenarios! Especially that last where Luke is pinning his hopes and soul on someone he trusts on a level far removed from physical evidence. Argh. That is literally the 'leap of faith'.

The duelling scene over the magma pools is ultra creepy for me since active volcanoes are a phobic scary (Mt. St. Helen's blowup witness - just the ashfall was enough for me.) And burning alive... double argh.

Last but not least, the TV series of Salem's Lot kept me up a couple nights in a row. Worst was waking later after the series finale to see a tall, cloaked figure standing in my bedroom doorway, just vaguely visible in the gloom. Heart attack city. And in true crazy-heroine fashion, I got up, walked near it and flipped on the light... it was my prom gown, Mom had hung it on the door as I slept. I laughed about it - later. 0_0
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2005 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha! Been there. chienar and I read SL out loud to each other once, and couldn't sleep until the ledges around my windows were covered with every religious hex I had!
murasaki99 From: murasaki99 Date: October 29th, 2005 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I think I dug out my cross necklace and wore it the rest of the year after SL. Geesh, I hadn't been that creeped-out by a story since I discovered Edgar Allen Poe. Your solution gives me a mental image of some poor vamp trying to crawl in your window and howling in dismay. :D

I'd have been much happier (or something) to discover the cloaked figure in my doorway was Lord Vader rather than the vampire lord. urgh. (Vader would probably be insulted to be placed less-scary than an ugly undead, hee.)
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: October 29th, 2005 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
My favorite creepy SW moment is when Anakin agrees to become a Sith. The demonic noises in the background, Palpie's "goooooooooood", and the horror movie organ music are just perfect.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2005 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oddly enough, that one left me cold. I guess I just wasn't engaged with Anakin in that situation. I found Mustafar a lot scarier, because I could understand what he was thinking.
dramaturgy From: dramaturgy Date: October 29th, 2005 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with the Harry Potter and Star Wars ones -- I don't know enough about Buffy and Stephen King to agree officially, but I bet you're on the dot there, too. :D Fenrir Greyback is... agh. I can't even think about him without getting chills. ::hides::
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2005 05:34 am (UTC) (Link)
King and Buffy are both fun. Season two of Buffy is the most horror-like, just because Buffy gets herself into a really awful situation emotionally.

And Fenrir... I'm glad JKR gave him to us because he's so unrepentantly evil that he's a great villain. But you always want to shower after reading or writing him. And he's scarier than Aragog's offspring because Fenrir is actually human, in a manner of speaking. He just chooses not to be.
dramaturgy From: dramaturgy Date: October 29th, 2005 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, using the word loosely... I think 'unrepentantly evil' are definitely the keywords there. They always make the best villains.

I was rereading the bit of HBP when he comes in, while Dumbledore is still alive and all before class one day because I had just a little time, and I was literally flailing at just the sheer creepiness of him. My roommate would probably have thought I were mad if she were not a fellow Harry Potter fan and therefore completely sympathetic.
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: October 29th, 2005 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)
And he's scarier than Aragog's offspring because Fenrir is actually human, in a manner of speaking. He just chooses not to be.

Wow, that just made me shiver. You hit it--that refusal of his humanity, actively replacing it with something else, is truly horrifying.
embossedsilver From: embossedsilver Date: October 29th, 2005 04:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree with your HP pics. Greyback is beyond creepy. And, is it strange that I only really saw the Chamber of Secrets scenes as disturbing after reading HBP?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2005 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Knowing Tom's back story and knowing exactly how much of a raving loony he is does jack up the danger level.
greyashowl From: greyashowl Date: October 29th, 2005 12:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I truly agree with you on Greyback. When I read that I thought to myself how could parents possibly sugar coat that to their kids *shiver*. I also realised after HBP just how scary the Chamber actually was after knowing how psychotic Tom actually was.
shake_n_shimmy From: shake_n_shimmy Date: October 29th, 2005 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I think I'd have to add, for scariest scenes in HP, Ron accio'ing the brain in OoTP, and then having that nervous then terrified laughter as it begins to choke him, and thennnnn Spoiler for HBP (is it still required? Not sure, I keep seeing spoiler alerts, though) When Dumbledore is drinking from the basin, and screaming and screaming...ay, gave me the chills, and when they make the sixth movie, I'm going to be so hysterical :(

I think maybe I'm more freaked out by mental stuff, even though these two weren't exactly mental. I guess the reactions of those involved was what got to me.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 29th, 2005 05:36 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's safe to not have the spoiler warnings anymore.

And yes... that brain, and the slow, eerie realization that something is very, very wrong with Ron.
darkeyedwolf From: darkeyedwolf Date: October 29th, 2005 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, man, I still can't hear "he thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts" without wanting to shiver and cling to someone nearby. If clowns hadn't been creepy before It, Pennywise sure as hell would've made 'em that way.

(Also, I love how we're both watching the same movies all day. XDD)
nentari From: nentari Date: October 29th, 2005 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with all your choices for HP and Buffy.
The flaying of Warren is particularly disturning for me, because when I was little my mother made me watch while she flayed rabbits, saying it was a "learning experience" for my adulthood. I ended up acquiring a phobia of touching raw meat (and particularly avoid rabbit meat at all costs), which I think wasn't really what she wanted...

And Jenny Calendar's death works so wonderfully as psychological torture - both for the viewers and Giles. The moment when Giles smells the rose and smiles was the most painful for me, because at that point I already knew she was dead and when was actually waiting for him upstairs...
This reminds me - I have the feeling that the CSI producers had Jenny Calendar in mind when they cast Robia LaMorte as Joan Marks in You've Got Male. The fact that Joan is killed the same way as Jenny did has got to be more than just a coincidence.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 29th, 2005 02:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
In all of Harry Potter, there is nothing scarier to me than the single line--"Kill the spare." Brrrrrr!

eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: October 29th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree on the graveyard scene in HP - I could hardly breathe when I read it the first time. There are lots of scary and disturbing things in the books, but that was the worst!

And Fenrir - yes! THAT'S how most werewolves are - not cuddly playful Moony-wolves we see in Fanfic.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: October 29th, 2005 04:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Overlook obliterates Jack Torrance, The Shining. Up until the end, I'd hoped there would be a way to save Jack somehow.

Me too!

::sniffles:: I never, ever, ever thought Jack was going to die in the end. Until that book, I'd always come to expect happy endings from King - scary starts and middles but always happy endings. That was a real waker-upper.

I'd add the dementor attack at the end of PoA; and 2-faced Quirrel (haha! he was literally and figuratively 2-faced, wasn't he?)
(Deleted comment)
sarah531 From: sarah531 Date: October 31st, 2005 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh- that always creeped me out too. Nice to know I'm not the only one. :)
penny_pixie From: penny_pixie Date: October 29th, 2005 10:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fenrir scared the crap out of me. I will admit that openly. The first thing in Harry Potter to truly scare me. Yes, the spiders were creepy. Yes, the dementors gave me the chills. Fenrir? He scared the crap out of me.

Everything about IT messed me up, lol.

The tunnel in The Stand...blech.

Ok you have just given me the chills! :-)
favyan From: favyan Date: October 30th, 2005 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Here via jedi_news, but commenting on the Stephen King stuff, oddly enough.

Yes, yes, yes on The Stand and 'Salem's Lot. The tunnel scene in The Stand made me sleep with the light on for MONTHS because the dark kept making me remember it. And as for the window thing...*shudder* Guh. Yeah. My biggest fear has always been to look out a window and see someone/something looking in. So, yeah, that scene utterly freaked me out.

Another really good scene from a Stephen King novel is the mansion scene from the third book in the Dark Tower series, The Waste Lands. Jake, being forced to choose between going into That House (You know the sort of house, the kind that's in any town that has some terrible story, or looks like it should, or just has some weird feeling about it.) or slowly losing his mind as it's torn apart by two different worlds, chooses the house in spite of knowing that it's just Not Right™ in there. Then, once he's in there's those HUGE, bloated spiders, and the descripition of their innards running down his neck after one landed on him and he slapped it is...chilling, to say the least. Then, the grand finale as the house wakes up. That whole thing just gives me the shivers. Fabulous for a spooky read.

And now I've gone and freaked myself out thinking about all this stuff. Thanks for the scare!
vytresna From: vytresna Date: October 30th, 2005 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason, "There is more in the bottle, my lord" gave me one of the biggest gut-drenchings of the series.
lacontessamala From: lacontessamala Date: October 31st, 2005 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
The creepiest scene in the Harry Potter series for me was the Inferi scene in the cave. That was just freaky.

The runner up was when Greyback wanted to tear out as many children's throats as he could.

For Stephen King, Pet Sematary was the scariest book I'd ever read. I cannot read it anymore. I think you'd have to have children of your own to know how gut-wrenching that novel is. It's a parent's worst nightmare.
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