So, we've reached the third and final part of our top thirty unforgerrifying moments in world cinema (make sure you've read parts one and two); celebrating those scenes with the best shock-scares, cracks of creeping tension, or long, lingering shots of something so wrong that it mentally scars us forever. There will be spoilers, but if you like your horror the way I do, you'll also be spoilt.
If there are some that I've foolishly excluded let us know; I'm more than happy to while away a few more hours with scenes of torture, dismemberment, cannibalism, violence, body horror, or all of them at once. For now, though, enjoy the top ten and remember, in space no one can eat ice-cream.
10. Martyrs (2008), Pascal Laugier
Associated with the New French Extremity movement, Martyrs follows Anna’s (Morjana Alaoui) quest for revenge against the people who kidnapped her as a child, leading her and a friend called Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï), both victims of child abuse, on a terrifying journey with no happy ending in sight.
Becoming the latest test subject of a secret society’s desire to discover the unknowns of the afterlife, she is imprisoned in a chamber, during which she is repeatedly beaten and degraded. After hallucinating, in which a conversation with Lucie encourages her to "let go" so she won't be afraid any more, Anna is told she has progressed further than any other test subject. She has reached the "final stage" and will suffer no more. Her prize for such a feat? She’s taken to a surgeon and flayed alive.
9. Audition (1999), Takashi Miike
Disguised as a romantic drama, this psychological horror film is a personal favourite and the only one to contain two moments of unforgettable dread in this list. Ryo Ishibashi plays a middle-aged widower persuaded by his friend, a film producer, to devise a mock casting audition in which young women audition for the part of his new wife. Instantly attracted to the mysterious Asami (Eihi Shiina), despite struggling to locate the references on her resume, he calls her, not realising that she has been sitting in her empty apartment, containing just a sack and a phone, for four days since the try-out.
Later, after more dead-ends, the nerve-shredding truth is finally revealed via a flashback and one of the greatest orchestrated shock-scares, revealing more than anyone ever bargained for. But it’s the moments after, involving a dog dish, that add depth to this horrific scene, even if they still don’t quite prepare us for what will eventually transpire.
8. [Rec] (2007), Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza
It may be short, but [Rec] manages to maintain the suspense throughout its brief running time, keeping you sat firmly on the edge of your seat, with cushion conveniently place on your lap (you will need it). A team of local TV reporters are following a team of Firemen on night duty. The footage is shot completely live and their task is to make a show about the life of those who risk their lives in order to save ours.
Obviously, a routine rescue takes a sinister turn. With something evil spreading throughout the building it isn’t long before our TV crew - a superb Manuela Velasco plays the anchor - are forced into the penthouse, discovering that its former owner was isolating a suspected virus believed to be the biological cause of demonic possession, existing in a young girl who was possessed. An attic, a small boy and night vision is only the beginning…
7. City Of God (2002), Fernando Meirelles & Kátia Lund
Adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel written by Paulo Lins, the plot depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the '60s and the beginning of the '80s. Two boys growing up in a violent neighbourhood take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. An astonishing film, breath-taking and terrifying, the most devastating moment arrives when Lil’ Dice (Douglas Silva) demands that a gang wannabe shoot one of two street kids from a burgeoning posse. The other youngsters look on in horror as the assassin debates which target to fire at before doing just that.
6. Irreversible (2002), Gaspar Noé
American film critic Roger Ebert called it "a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable”, but the winner of the Stockholm International Film Festival's award for best film, with a plot presented in reverse chronological order, is a masterful thriller that shouldn’t be ignored. Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold as the beautiful Alex (Monica Bellucci) is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger, resulting in two men trying to avenge the crime. A horrific scene with a fire extinguisher will have you peeking between the cracks of your fingers, but Irreversible will always be remembered for the brutal, agonising scene in the underpass.
5. A Serbian Film (2010), Srdjan Spasojevic
Banned in Spain. Rejected in Norway. Outlawed in Australia. Off-limits in New Zealand, with Malaysia and Singapore following suit on the same day, this tale of rape, necrophilia, and child abuse is arguably not as sickening as you would imagine. It follows an aging porn star as he agrees to participate in an "art film" in order to make a clean break, only to discover that he has been drafted into making a snuff film with child rape and necrophilia themes.
At times absurd, the list of atrocities crafted by director Srdjan Spasojevic include conversations about wheels spinning better at night, a man masturbating over his brother’s wife at their home, urinating blood, death by sex (and a rather big knife), anal rape, death by dong, and some predictable un-pleasantries during which the wheels definitely stop spinning. But one of the few moments to justify its reputation is the scene when Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) is forced to watch a film of a woman giving birth. The child is immediately raped by a man and "new-born porn" is conceived, for want of a better word.
4. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), Guillermo del Toro
A companion piece to the Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth follows Ofelia, a young girl uprooted to a remote military outpost commanded by her new stepfather, a sadistic general in Franco’s army during the harsh realities of the Civil War. Powerless and lonely, Ofelia discovers a neglected labyrinth behind the family home. Here she meets Pan; a fantastical creature who challenges her with three tasks which he claims will reveal her true identity, a Princess.
A fairy-tale for grown-ups, there are more than just devilish sprites, cheeky fauns and twisted witches on offer here. In fact, the real terror comes from the real world rather than that of Ofelia’s imagination – a place so violent and bleak it’s little wonder she accepts the challenge. The scene stealer, however, is pure fantasy. Ofelia is confronted by the Pale Man, a hideous monster awakened when she steals his food. Timing is everything. You know it’s coming, but even then, as the creature finally jerks into life, reaching for his eyes and inserting them into the palms of his hands, you still won’t be prepared for the nerve-shredding chase through the corridors.
3. Inside (2007), Alexandre Bustillo & Julien Maury
Okay, I’ll stick my neck out and say that this is one of the most gruesome and disturbing films you’ll ever see, merely because directors Bustillo and Maury have concocted a believable horror story that doesn’t try to be sick for the sake of it, especially when compared to others on this list. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its stomach-turning moments, it is a horror after all. And boy, it has plenty. In fact, no amounts of Gaviscon will help sooth Sarah’s pain.
Four months after she loses her husband in a car accident, Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is visited on Christmas Eve by a mysterious loony (Beatrice Dalle). Sarah is alone and desperate to save her unborn child, fighting to stay alive as others around her fall at the madwoman’s sadistic hands. Trapped and barely alive, all Sarah can do is watch and scream as the stranger unwraps her present with nothing but a pair of scissors. She doesn’t even read the tag.
2. Ringu (1998), Hideo Nakata
Adapted from the novel Ring by Koji Suzuki, starring Nanako Matsushima, Hiroyuki Sanada and Rikiya Otaka, this impressive scare-fest is about a cursed videotape that kills the viewer seven days after watching it. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I mean, what the hell is a videotape? A reporter, Reiko (Matsushima), investigating the popularity of the video curse among teenagers (the original novel was written for that age bracket) discovers the tape inside a cabin, foolishly watches it, receives a phone call and then assumes that she has a week to live.
The terrifying scene in question involves her ex-husband, Ryuji (Sanada). Along with Reiko he discovers that a girl by the name of Sadako, mysteriously murdered, must have used her mind to induce paranormal phenomena, creating the tape. Thinking that they have solved the riddle, Ryuji is chilling at home when his television switches on by itself, showing the image of a well. He watches as Sadako crawls out of it, toward the camera… Ignore the CGI bum trip in the American remake because this is how horror should always be done.
1. Audition (1999), Takashi Miike
And so we reach the most unforgerrifying moment in World Cinema. We know the story: Ryo Ishibashi plays a middle-aged widower persuaded by his friend, a film producer, to devise a mock casting audition in which young women audition for the part of his new wife. Instantly attracted to the mysterious Asami (Eihi Shiina), despite struggling to locate the references on her resume, he calls her and they start a relationship.
Thanks to a sack and a phone we’ve already worked out that Asami is a bit of a fruitcake, but she’s a jealous one at that, and when she finds a photo of his late wife at his house, she drugs him, injects him with a paralysis agent that leaves his nerves alert before torturing the poor sod. For ages. His downfall, failing to love only her, results in extreme violence with look-away brutality involving a wire saw, hundreds of needles, and a giggling Asami muttering "Deeper, deeper" repeatedly. Next time it might be safer to create a profile on mysinglefriend.com instead. DW