In the spirit of Halloween, I wanted to make a Halloween themed list. Everybody loves lists, right? But, I didn’t wana make your typical “Top 10 Scariest Movie Scenes” or your standard “Top 10 Best Fake Found Footage Horror Movies That Were Released After The Blair Witch Project”. So, I went with the top 10 things that scare us from movies or real life that really have no business scaring us. And I didn’t wanna list “clowns” either. Because for one, that’s too obvious, and two, I’m convinced clowns were ALWAYS supposed to be scary. Here…we…go.
10. Girls jumping rope in slow motion
I don’t know if Wes Craven thought of this himself or if he stole this from a dream that Stephen King told him about or if it was just a screw up in post production that he decided to run with. But either way, the girls jumping rope in A Nightmare on Elm Street in slo-mo freaked the hell outa me. I don’t know why. It’s young white girls double dutching. Jumping rope is an innocent and playful activity, but when it gets the slow motion treatment, it becomes terrifying. To this day, I am unable to jump rope in my dreams because the rope always comes around too slow. Why would I be dreaming about jumping rope? I don’t ask myself those kinda questions, nor will I answer when you ask.
9. People smiling for long durations
I didn’t develop this fear after watching Insidious. I, actually, haven’t seen that movie yet. I tried to find the clip that, originally, gave me this fear and the best I could find was a clip from that movie. But, it all started with an episode of the old Gary Shandling show. Granted, Gary Shandling, doesn’t need any help looking scary. His voice is odd and I’m not sure how you would describe his face. Black Lagoonish? Anyway, an old episode of his show ended with him waving bye and smiling as the credits rolled. But, they somehow did a freeze frame on his face but kept his hand waving for the entire credit roll. It was hypnotizing. I couldn’t stop looking. And he wouldn’t stop smiling. Or waving. A smile is supposed to be this universal gesture of kindness. Eff that! If someone smiles at me for more than a few seconds, I’m outa there and calling the cops even after I reach safety.
8. Twins (More specifically: twin girls)
Don’t get me wrong. There are a few exceptions. Twin adult girls aren’t very scary, unless they happen to be albino or something. But, young, twin girls are not allowed anywhere near my future children. Unless, I have twin girls of my own, and the cost of two infant exorcisms is way too high or they don’t kill me before their 1st birthday.
Seriously, I'm not going in there.
God’s house. A safe haven. Cold, echoey, and terrifying. I definitely don’t wanna spend the night alone in one. Obviously, I’m not talking about the church next to the Hallmark Shop in that old terrible mall nobody goes to. I’m talking about your classic, old school, been here since the Europeans first built em over Native American burial grounds churches. There’s like 5 things scary about those gothic, castle looking churches. First of all, they look like castles. And we all know that castles are automatically haunted. There’s also usually a huge organ, which could be the scariest instrument ever made. Seriously. Is there any way to make an organ playing sound welcoming? I mean, come on. It’s called an organ. Human insides. And to top it off, there’s usually a bell tower. I don’t know what goes on up there. But, I wouldn’t feel safe investigating unless I had a proton pack. Which brings me to the next scary thing on the list…
Considered beacons of safety, symbols of influence and truth. Let’s just call them haunted bell towers near the ocean. If I’ve been floating on a life raft in the middle of the ocean for 3 days, and I see a lighthouse in the distance amongst the fog, I may finally make use of that last bullet I saved.. and shoot at the first silhouette I see.
5. Unseen children crying, laughing or singing
Ahhh, children. The apples of our eyes. Our precious little gems. Nothing brings pain, joy, or happiness to our souls like a child crying, laughing, or singing. And I can’t imagine a scarier situation than hearing an invisible, scary ghost kid doing any three of those things. I like to think I’m a caring and kind person. Willing to help those in need. But, I’m not sure if I heard a kid crying in some darkly lit and shadowy room, that I’d be quick to come to their aid. Kids are supposed to be afraid of the dark, so if I hear any children singing or laughing in enjoyment in a pitch black hospital, I’m not going into rescue mode. I’ll most likely swing a weapon 360 degrees, continuously, until I stumble upon an exit. I think it’s just safe to say, that kids are scary in general. They stare at you, have “imaginary” friends, go into their parents room at night while they sleep or they’re telling you not to be afraid of unseen threats. They can’t be trusted.
4. Monks chanting
Monks are the most peaceful people on Earth. They commit themselves to life of equality, unity, love, and tranquility. But, once a group of them start to pray out loud in unison, you may wanna jump through the nearest stained glass window because there’s a good chance a demon is being summoned or you’re on deck for human sacrifice.
3. Elderly people telling stories
Most people have fond memories of their grandparents. They’re full of stories about history and your parents. And even though, their house has an odd smell, you usually enjoy them. But, if you come across an elderly person, that you’re not related to, trying to tell you a story..just ignore them and walk the other way. Especially if they’re either in a wheel chair or have any other physical handicap like blindess. Those are the scariest kinds. The blind ones don’t look directly you the whole time, yet they know what color shirt you’re wearing..and you’re full name without you giving it. They seem friendly and harmless enough, and a joy to talk to, but alot of times they take the conversation to a dark and cursing place. It’ll take a turn with a statement like, “I had a son once…long ago…”. That’s your cue to wedge something under their wheel chair wheels and book it. Because, more than likely their son looks alot like you and “the incident” happened around the same age. If you stick around, you’ll find out that the peanut brittle this old, nice lady is sharing with you is poisoned and you wake up in a plantation basement that’s been converted to a sound proof tool shed.
2. Paintings of a single person
I’m not even gonna get into too much detail on this one. Any self portrait or lifelike painting of any single person is just scary. Even paintings of Jesus. No..ESPECIALLY paintings of Jesus. Seriously, the painting of Viggo the Carpathian above wouldn’t be as menacing if it was like him and his wife back to back, pointing at each other with their thumbs saying “She/he’s the evil one!”. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be another person in the painting. You throw a horse next to him, and it’s a warm painting about the connection a man has with nature and all it’s creations. Self portraits might be a little scarier because I have to assume the artist used a mirror or some sort of reflective surface. But, the end result is usually so on point and realistic, I can’t help but imagine that the artist’s reflection came to life and sat still, ignoring the artist’s movements and brush strokes so he could get a good, evil twin image to recreate.
1. Sesame Street Cartoons
Remember Sesame Street? Big Bird, Grover, Elmo? They taught us how to count, spell, and how to be happy and have fun as kids. They also taught me that psychedelics and hallucinogens must be widely available on some of the back alleys of Sesame Street. Either that or they’re in the vending machines in their animation department. OR..the people working for or living on Sesame Street are just disturbed individuals. I don’t know if you realized it back then, but most of their cartoons were a bit on the terrifying side. Alotta times, there was no music playing during these animated segments. And the voices usually sounded so lifeless and monotone as if they were spoken by mental patients with a history of violence and calm insanity. Maybe you’re familiar with the “Lost Kid and Yo-Yo Master” cartoon or maybe you’ve blocked it from your subconscious. But, to summarize, this kid gets lost, which is already a scary feeling if you’re a kid. But, not only, was this kid lost, he was lost in a disturbing side of town where Beetlejuice must live. There nothing A-OK or sunny day about this cartoon. I wanna forget how to get there.
About J. Pines
Jeff Pines is a music producer and co-owner of the BNC. Also, he's tall.