9 Unintentionally Terrifying Moments in Movies

I’ve already talked about intentional thrills in Tuesday’s Best Movie Ever? subject Halloween, so to celebrate All Hallow’s Eve, we’re inspecting the flipside: nine unintentionally scary movie moments. I couldn’t handle these as a kid, and I still can’t handle them now. They’re scrumdiddylumptiously traumatizing!

1. Willy Wonka’s climactic freakout in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Plenty of Willy Wonka moments qualify as frightening — the perilous ferry ride, Violet Beauregarde’s blueberry explosion, the austere presence of Slugworth — but angry Gene Wilder is a scary thing. His freakout at the chocolate factory’s sole survivor Charlie has been turned into an ever-present internet meme, but I still can’t shake the chills of his screamy “You LOSE! Good DAY, sir!” Trivia note: Did you know that Gene Wilder was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1968 for The Producers but lost to The Subject Was Roses‘ Jack Albertson, who played Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? I think about these kinds of things a lot.

2. Michael’s alcohol rage in The Boys in the Band

Now, The Boys in the Band is a flawed movie that takes an abrupt, bizarre turn into Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf-style tantrums, but my clearest memory of the film is how frightening the recuperating alcoholic Michael (Kenneth Nelson) is when he barks at his party guests to play his horrifying telephone game. “Call him!” he shrieks, ordering Bernard (Reuben Green) to dial up an ex and confess his love. Yikes. That’s the most scared I’ve been of a man in a dapper purple sweater.

3. Pooh’s hallucinatory dream about Heffalumps and Woozles in
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

So, guess who’s capable of acid-tinged dreams about deformed elephants and evil weasels? Winnie the Pooh, that’s who. A.A. Milne‘s fluff-brained bear has a freaky-deeky vision (complete with a HORRIFYING song) that includes the most deranged menagerie of creatures ever to haunt the Hundred Acre Wood. “If honey’s what you covet,” the trippy song blares, “You’ll find that THEY LOVE IT.” Oh, ghastly!

4. All of Cruella De Vil’s angry faces in 101 Dalmatians

Don’t get me wrong: Cruella is one of the truly fabulous Disney creations, and actress Betty Lou Gerson gives one of the great voice performances of all time as the puppy-swiping Tallulah Bankhead lookalike. But Cruella’s angry faces — which are peppered throughout the film — are so grotesque and incensed that it’s impossible not to shiver at them. She’s a cackling skull with a cigarette. Look out, Pongo.


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