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12.30.2016by: Eric Walkuski

Arrow in the Head's Top 10 Holy Sh!t Moments of 2016!

Our favorite year-end column is back! This is the time when we gaze lovingly behind us at the weirdest, ickiest, freakiest and most f*cked up scenes the horror genre blessed us with this year. Naturally, we're leaving out a ton of cool moments (2016 was, after all, a pretty good year for horror), but AITH columnist Jake Dee and myself managed to find 10 sequences of bloody note. We miss anything outstanding? Feel free to let us hear about it in the comments section!

Warning: There are some SPOILERS ahead, so if you see a title that you have not checked out yet, you might want to proceed with caution. - Eric W.

10. BEYOND THE GATES - Spilling Guts

One of the better low-budget horror joints to drop in 2016 was the coolly conceived retro-VHS vehicle BEYOND THE GATES, starring the ageless Barbara Crampton. And while the violence came in relatively scant doses, when it hit, it hit harder than f*cking Khalil Mack! One such instance, good enough to land a spot on the coveted Top 10 Craziest scenes of the year, happens toward the end of the flick, as our trio of leading actors continue to advance through their ultra-violent VHS board-game. In order to open and go BEYOND THE GATES, John, Gordon and Margot must locate a quartet of keys which remain hidden in various locations that are damn near impossible to find. A series of voodoo violence ensues, and it isn't long before a certain character is graphically disemboweled to the point of having their intestines excised, strung out, rolled around and stretched to the absolute extreme. We're talking grisly evisceration! It's good old fashioned, practical FX driven gore that strikes as a stark reminder of how fun horror flicks from the 80s and 90s were. - Jake Dee

9. THE WITCH - Black Phillip Attacks

Not unlike most of the movies on this list, it's not easy to pick just one memorable moment in THE WITCH, as this atmospheric nightmare is overflowing with creepy scenes. A witch about to chomp down on a baby? A raven pecking at a breast? A young boy speaking maniacally in tongues? That chilling final shot? All contenders, but the moment that really stuck with me after I left the theater was the great and unexpected one when Black Phillip finally shows his true colors and attacks the patriarch of the crumbling family. It just happens, out of nowhere, a jump scare that genuinely works. The fact that we're not only frightened but saddened by the man's brutal death makes the scene even more impactful. - Eric W.

8. NINA FOREVER - Nina Arrives

Think about that special moment when you first go to bed with someone you really care about, someone you connect with. Then imagine their ex shows up. That's bad. But what if they showed up from beyond the grave; their mangled, bloodied body literally coming up through the bed like some kind of lusty Hellraiser demon? That's what happens several times in NINA FOREVER, a morbidly amusing dark comedy about an old flame who simply refuses to part with her ex-boyfriend and his new gal pal. The first time it happens, however, is the most memorable, which is why it earns a spot on our HOLY SH!T list. - Eric W.

7. THE NEON DEMON - Eye'm Sick to My Stomach

Firstly, sorry about the bad pun. Secondly, I didn't like THE NEON DEMON very much. I found it to be a slow, pretentious chore much of the time; Nicolas Winding Refn at his most masturbatory. But there's one scene at the end that leaves a pretty f*cked up impression. (SPOILERS!) A day or so after killing and eating her competition, supermodel Gigi (Bella Heathcote) finds the meal isn't sitting so well: she first vomits up poor Jesse's (Elle Fanning) eyeball, then attempts to get the rest out by cutting her own stomach open. This doesn't faze her "friend" Sarah (Abbey Lee), whose only impulse is to kneel down and gobble up said eyeball. It may have been a bore, but at least THE NEON DEMON ends on a tasty note! - Eric W.

6. THE WAILING - The Exorcism

Please seek out and see Hong-Jin Na's THE WAILING when you get the chance (it's currently streaming on Netflix), as it truly deserves high rank among the year's best genre movies...in this country or any other. I liken it to the Korean SE7EN, it's that exceptional. Many scenes from the flick are bound to leave a lasting (and lashing) impression, but if we had to single one out, it's the indefatigably intense spiritual cleansing scene - a ritualistic exorcism of sorts - that's bound to stay stuck in your brain for days after witnessing it. Here's the gist. When Jong-Goo and his wife express deep concern for their seemingly possessed young daughter, they solicit outside help to rid the evil. A de facto exorcist arrives, named Il-Gwang, and he proceeds to conduct an extremely bizarre 10-minute ritual of spiritual ablution. Fires are lit, drums pound, eerie songs ring aloud, spastic dances ensue, chickens are sacrificed, blood splatters...all the while crosscut between the little girl's hysterically fevered soul thrashing around on the floor. Word can't do this sequence justice, as it leaves you more entranced than a 6-foot bong hit. My heart was pounding, by head was swimming, my breath was stolen! - Jake Dee

5. GREEN ROOM - Gotta Hand it to Them

It's a fairly brief moment, all things considered, but anyone who has seen GREEN ROOM won't soon forget it. Thinking he's making some headway with the white supremacist scumbags who are holding him and his friends hostage, Pat (Anton Yelchin) reaches his arm out to give them a gun and gets a very horrific surprise when the fiends nearly hack his hand clean off. When he brings the limb back inside it's a HOLY SH!T moment for everyone. A very memorable visual in a very cool movie, although admittedly it's not the easiest thing in the world to watch now that Yelchin is gone. - Eric W.

4. DESIERTO - Dog Gone

We could easily opt to highlight the tense and terse silent finale of Jonas Cuaron's splendid track-and-hunt immigration thriller DESIERTO, as its pure cinematic suspense is redolent of the infamous Mt. Rushmore scene in Hitchcock's NORTH BY NORTHWEST. But in order to be a bit more specific, a bit more singular, we're going ahead and awarding the incendiary flare-gun firework incident involving villainous Sam's attack dog Tracker instead. Here's the deal. This mangy mutt makes CUJO look like goddamn Old Yeller...so well trained, so relentlessly violent, so adept at closing in on human scents from long range. The growling, rabid quadruped is an absolute killing machine, so when our leading man Moises (Gael Garcia Bernal) is cornered in a thicket of eerily coiling young cacti, we think he's toast. Not so. Our man actually leads the dog into this labyrinthine area on purpose, so he can fire a flare right into the sucker's mouth at close range. He does so, nails the target, and the dog is forced to eat a hot, sparkling flare until his face lights up, his jaw explodes and his head withers under the fire. It's an unforgettable scene that makes you wonder how it was achieved without CGI. - Jake Dee

3. TRAIN TO BUSAN - Train Station Attack

TRAIN TO BUSAN is another tough movie to pick just one HOLY SH!T moment from, since it's obviously filled to the brim with them. I could have easily went with the sequence where our male leads bash their way through three zombie-packed train cars, but this one spoke to me more. Thinking they're being led to a military safe zone in the midst of a zombie epidemic, the surviving passengers of the titular train get a gnarly surprise when the station they arrive in is overflowing with ghouls. It gets really bad when the chomping bastards literally start falling from above upon our fleeing travelers. Nail-biting terror at its very best. - Eric W.

2. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS - Roadside Horror

Many scenes stand out from Tom Ford's sinisterly story-within-a-story thriller NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, but few make one writhe and wriggle in their seat for a longer duration than the initial roadside attack sequence that springboards the rest of the movies action. 17 unbroken, uninterrupted minutes of intensely searing physical and psychosexual assault take place on a deserted stretch of Texas highway in the middle of the night. See, Jake Gyllenhaal's character, traveling with wife and young daughter, are suddenly tormented by a wild gang of motorists. They veer, the slam into their car and knock the family off the road. Then, in a long, invasively violating onslaught of verbal invective and physical harm, the trio of sick miscreants manhandle Gyllenhaal's character, toss him aside, steal his car with his wife and daughter in the backseat, and proceed to drive off with them to an area where they can rape and kill them without a morsel of compunction. It's the sheer length here, the inescapable dread that Ford mounts and forces us to face that leaves us viscerally assaulted and emotionally exhausted. - Jake Dee

1. DON'T BREATHE - The Turkey Baster

Let us be crystal clear, the entirety of Fede Alvarez's DON'T BREATHE is one relentlessly gasping gut-punch of unpredictability. The one thing to expect in the film is the unexpected, and there's one microcosmic scene in the final third of the film that exemplifies what we're talking about (SPOILERS ahead). After being unceremoniously captured by the Blind Man (Stephen Lang), whose house she jointly busted into, our lead gal (Jane Levy) is bound and gagged down in the basement, eventually hoisted in an elaborate stirrup-harness. There, as a means of payback for killing the girl who was responsible for ending his own daughter's life, The Blind Man feels he needs a new offspring to take her stead. So what does he do? He draws a thick wad of his own thawed sperm into a large turkey baster. Yet, just when he's about to artificially inseminate the battered and suspended gal, her pal drops a hammer on the dude's head from above. The Blind Man drops the baster on the bed, our girl picks it up and plunges it throat-deep into the Blind Man's unsuspecting maw. Dude foully chokes on his own seed! - Jake Dee

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4:37PM on 12/30/2016

Don't Breathe?

Don't Breathe at #1? Urgh. One of the most overrated films of the year next to Zootopia and Civil War.
Don't Breathe at #1? Urgh. One of the most overrated films of the year next to Zootopia and Civil War.
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