Five Movie Scenes (In Non-Horror Films) That Are Terribly Unsettling
Generally, the people I know will ask my advice on the more fucked up films. Even though I pretty much watch everything (except for musicals and most rom-coms), I have sort of pigeon-holed myself as this ‘horror film” guy. And with articles like this and this and this, I can understand that, and I don’t mind. But the funny thing is, because I watch SO MUCH horror, I have honestly become a bit desensitized to it. And for that very reason, the scenes that stick in my mind as being the most disturbing to me are often not from horror movies at all, as is the case with all the examples on this list. The idea is, when you see someone get disemboweled in a horror movie, that is its place. It belongs in a horror movie. It is at home in a horror movie, therefore, not very shocking. But it is those dark moments in films that are NOT horror that really resonate with the viewer. Here are five movie scenes from movies that were not horror, that I found horrifying regardless. Be forewarned, I will make sure the movies are fairly old, but there may be some spoilers ahead.
The Slow Stabbing from Saving Private Ryan
In all honesty, I found the whole of Saving Private Ryan to be a terrifying film. The honest portrayal of the horrors of war were never so vivid to me. And though many go with the opening scene as being the real traumatizing moment from this film, I have to argue that, and say the intimacy of the slow stabbing scene is one that really stuck with me. And there were a multitude of reasons for that. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the soldier who kills Mellish is the same one that Private Mellish let go earlier in the film. That whole point is contested right here for anyone interested. Different guys, but disturbing scene none the less.
But it is the way the whole scene goes down, with Private Mellish begging, and the German soldier saying ssshhh as he slowly pushes the knife into his chest, that makes me cringe every time. It is just such a terrifyingly intimate kill, and you rarely see those in films messed me up, every time I see it. Mellish did deserve to die, though. You don’t let Nazi’s kill your friends just because you’re a pussy. That is unforgivable.
The Baby Scene from Trainspotting
No, I am not talking about the “withdrawal” scene where the dead baby crawls on the ceiling. To me, that moment undermined the actual scene I am speaking of. No, I am talking about the scene when the baby dies in the crib while they are all shooting up, and then the horror as they walk into the room and discover it. I know the entirety of the film was a wholly unsettling ride through a seedy underbelly of life that most would never be familiar with, but there was a great deal of humor and a number of surreal scenes to offset that horror, but no single scene in the film is as powerful as the scene where, well, I already said it. I don’t want to say it again.
Here, just watch it to see what I am talking about. Now that is horror in the truest sense of the word.
Donkey Transformation in Pinocchio
Alright, some of you may have just gotten to this part of the article and want to hell “hogwash” to which I will promptly respond, if your hog is dirty, wash it. That has nothing to do with me. And then I will explain to you why this scene is on here.
While almost every Disney movie has that one traumatizing moment, they are often just that, traumatizing. Sad moments offset by otherwise happy films. But the donkey scene in Pinocchio is unlike any other scene in the Disney library because it is honestly, terrifying. It is a moral play on the idea that, if you are bad, this is what happens to bad boys. Listen, some of you may not recall it as accurately as I do, so peep this for a second and see. I mean, even doing the transformation in shadow was pure brilliance, and made it all that much scarier because we were sort of left to imagine the worst aspects of it in our minds eye, which is always worse than reality.
Not only does it look and sound painful, but the end result is that you become some sort of donkey/slave/servant afterwards. Man, when Disney isn’t warming our hearts, they are fucking with us. That is like an abusive relationship.
Butter As Anal Lube from Last Tango in Paris
Alright, the reason I tend to bring this movie up so much is because, in many ways, it ruined me. How did it ruin me? Well, I was fourteen one day and it came on Skin-a-max, and thinking it was going to be some sexy movie full of people doing it (which is a pretty big selling point to a fourteen year old boy in the age before the internet) i buckled down and watched it. And it ended up being an already old and uncool Marlon Brando banging some young prostitute in Paris as a sort of last hurrah. And I don’t know if you know it, but as soon as Brando moved into “color” movies, he went from being a cool dude with swagger, to a chubby, creepy, balding guy REAL quick. And this movie took that aspect of Brando, and for some unknown reason, ran with it.
And no single moment of cinema is as un-sexy or troubling to me as the scene when Brando uses a stick of butter as lube for anal sex. And as if the scene wasn’t disturbing enough, the rumor is that Brando (as he is often known to do) improvised that scene. Wait a second, so, in essence, if he did that scene without the actresses’ consent, and her reaction is shock (which it was) we are basically seeing a real act of rape on-screen, penetration or not. And this fact has only been reiterated by the actress who played Brando’s love (fuck) interest in the film, who says she felt raped and humiliated by the movie. Read more here. Sorry people, not showing a clip of this one.
Russian Roulette Scene from The Deer Hunter
As you guys probably know, I talk about suicide a lot. I mean, a real lot. And there is good reason for that. Between family and friends, it has been far more predominant in my life than I wish it was, and for that reason, suicide scenes in films tend to really fuck with me. And no single scene resonates quite as intensely as the scene in The Deer Hunter when Christopher Walken is playing Russian roulette. I know it is not a “suicide” scene in the truest sense of the word, he still blows his own brains out, so I think it counts.
It is the way his eyes flutter, and the fear in his eyes right before he pulls the trigger, all matched up with DeNiro’s reaction, that make it so haunting and troubling to me. A scene that I have never been able to shake from my memory. Here, in case you haven’t been ruined by it yet.
It is an incredibly emotional moment of loss, and for a second when you watch it, you feel it, too.
Okay, that all very heavy. Click here for a quick smile. Cage fixes everything.
A caged bird rarely sings. GET IT?