Dream sequences are commonly seen in the horror genre. Not only are they considered to be apart of the group of huge movie clichés, they are also (in most cases) put in the film simply to frighten the audience with the ever so popular “boo scare.” They are also typically shown in the final frames of the movie to leave room for a sequel. (LAME!)
Although there are tons of predictable and unoriginal dream sequences in a lot of horror films, there are a few that are able to create the eeriness, mood, and atmosphere dreams and nightmares can bring. So here is my top ten list of memorable dream sequences in horror that I found stood out from the rest. Spit bullets below for your own suggestions!
WARNING - SOME SPOILERS AHEAD!
5. The Descent
There were quite a few dream sequences in this creature feature. There was a recurring dream involving Sarah’s deceased daughter with a birthday cake, (which only makes sense at the end if you watched the U.K. version.) and one that scared the living sh*t out of me near the beginning of the film. However, the most important dream sequence is in the original ending for the film. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it yet, but in my opinion it makes for a better conclusion with the sequence.
The concluding dream sequence at the end of the film where Amy Irving’s character places flowers on Carrie’s grave and gets grabbed by Carrie’s hand in the dirt was a very cheap scare. However, it had a very eerie and odd feel to it because the scene was actually filmed backwards, which made it seem a little more surreal than the standard nightmare sequence.
Despite the fact the scene wasn’t scary, Laurie Strode’s dream about a childhood memory forever changed the tone of the Halloween series from then on in. After watching the scene involving the dream, we find out that Michael Myers is really Laurie’s brother who is hell bent on killing her. Many people disliked the fact the writers made them related, because it made Michael Myers less of an enigma, but I feel that the series wouldn’t have been as successful as it is today, if John Carpenter hadn’t written a specific relationship between the two iconic horror characters.
American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London was full of surreal and crazy dream sequences that came out of nowhere and felt completely out of place, which made for effective scares in the classic werewolf film. The one dream I’ll never forget is when the Nazi werewolves with machine guns killed David and his entire family, and then he “wakes up” in another nightmare and sees the nurse get stabbed by a Nazi werewolf. (Damn those ‘dream within a dream’ sequences! They always get me!)
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Nightmare on Elm Street series have become staples in the horror genre for their infamous and creative nightmare death scenes. Even though I could probably make up a top ten list of dream sequences just in the series alone, the first installment is by far the best film in the series, and deserves the most credit. The nightmare sequences in the later films became cheesy, but the sequences involving Freddy chasing and killing Tina, Nancy being attacked in the bathtub, and the bed that gushed Johnny Depp’s blood will always be the most memorable and truly frightening moments in my eyes.