12 Gut-Wrenching Scenes That Are Practically Gore-Free
by David Christopher Bell
Ah yes. It’s that time of the year, folks. The only month where it’s slightly less mean to jump out at a child while wearing a clown mask. The vandal’s holiday… cretin Christmas. It really is a special time for all of us horror movie fans. So let’s light some candles, get our favorite Misfits album out and start this party.
They say that nothing can ever outdo the imagination – something that is most evident when it comes to terror and death. It’s not what you see that scares you – it’s what you don’t. It’s why we fear the dark. So while gore is great fun, it’s nothing compared to something merely implied.
12. Muldoon’s Death in Jurassic Park
For a movie about dinosaurs it’s rather surprising how little they managed to show. While most of the time it was a cutaway or done as a blur of motion or off-camera screams, Muldoon’s death was unique in that they showed us everything they could without the bloody parts.
You know that whatever is going down behind that greenery is surely sickening in a most tooth-ripping way – but you can only guess what that is. It’s hard to remember at this point, but the raptors in this film are only seen well after the halfway point. They remain a dark mystery for most of the film, making their scenes that much more incredible to watch. These days raptors are more mundane than apple cider and zombie headshots.
11. The Ending Scene of The Mist
What a bitch.
While we see a little bit of the aftermath, what makes this scene truly remarkable is the delay between each pop of the gun as you wonder what order he went in. Who had to wait to be last? It’s quite sickening in itself, let alone what happens right before the credits.
Cool fact about this scene is that it isn’t the original ending to the Stephen King book. While King is known for hating even the most classic adaptations of his work because of such changes, he actually went on the record saying that he loves the movie version.
10. The Famous Propeller Death in Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Spielberg really knows how to destroy someone off camera. The man is quite the sadist in that area, and this is probably the most famous instance of such. Dude gets turned into blood dust so hard that it’s funny.
His real name, by the way, is Pat Roach. He’s appeared in all three of the original Indiana Jones films – most notably as the dude Indy fights on the conveyor belt in the second film. You can also see his giant ass during the zeppelin scene in Crusade, where he was supposed to have yet another fight scene that was apparently cut. Kind of a shame; I hear that if you get killed by Indiana Jones three times you get a free soda with the fourth.
9. Joker’s Story in The Dark Knight
You can kind of see the work of the MPAA in this cut, or lack of cut if you get my meaning. It’s the scene where the Joker first tells the story of how he got his sweet mouth scars, and he decides to demonstrate it on a rival mobster in the process. It’s a brutal act that is implied only by the wince on a henchman’s face. They don’t even show so much as the start of it on the violence end, making the moment a little awkward when you first watch it.
That said – the scene kind of grows on you. Whether or not it was done to satisfy a censor, it works. The pacing is so off that it ends up being disturbing in it’s own way, and there really isn’t anything scarier than having to watch the horrified expression of the onlooker. Then, as if it couldn’t get worse, there’s the bit at the end with the pool cue. Just brutal.
8. Patrick Meets Al in American Psycho
Poor Al. Nah, scratch that… poor Al’s dog.
There’s nothing quite like killing an animal in a film. It really hits a sore spot, because since animals can’t verbalize complex thoughts most people assume that they are generally good. What I mean is that – there’s probably some real asshole animals out there that we will never know about because of this. It’s the good in all of us that we reflect back at them – we assume them to represent good, so killing them is killing that.
This is why a part of me would rather hit a person with a car; if you hit a dog you’re always going to hear about what a good dog he/she was. You hit a dude, and there’s surely a few people out there that they were a jerk to.
Anyway, yeah. This scene… this scene is hard to watch. If it makes you feel better, Al was played by Reg E.Cathey – a man who is very much alive. You would most likely know him from his many TV appearances – my personal favorite being his role as Norman Wilson in The Wire.
7. The Majority of Pontypool
Anyone seen this thing? It’s on Netflix right now and it’s totally one of the more creative zombie films out there despite the director insisting that the villains aren’t technically zombies. It takes place at a small-time radio station during an apparent infection that spreads unlike any other. Instead of seeing the hoards of walking drones we mainly hear about it through the accounts of others calling into the station. This is what makes it so goddamn creative, and so extremely scary.
The beauty is that the film delivers something that feels epic, but is done on a much smaller scale and budget. It’s the Orson Welles “War Of The Worlds” technique. Literally – for it was not only a film but a radio play as well. It’s one of those things you kick yourself for not realizing – zombies are essentially the new alien invasion fear, so naturally a radio broadcast would fit perfectly into the genre.
6. The Opening Scene of Jaws
You know when you are driving along a busy road and you see a deer or a dog just walking aimlessly on the road? Not crossing it, but rather just screwing around. You can’t help but to stick your head out the window and curse it out for being so stupid – so blind to the obvious danger it is in as it strays into a world it doesn’t belong. This is how I imagine most fish feel when they see us swimming.
The sea isn’t built for us, so to go in it is to accept being swallowed by giant beasts. You die by shark and you get no sympathy from me, end of discussion. Moving on.
5. Death Of A Shoe in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
When I was a child my parents wouldn’t let me watch two films: Cape Fear and A Clockwork Orange. Never did it occur to them that the one that would actually do damage was a kids movies about cartoons and humans living together.
You just can’t do something like this to kids… or to anyone at that. The sanctity that is the cartoon world revolves around the safety that no matter what happens in life – your favorite animated pal will always be there for you. They will never leave you. This film chose to violate that emotional trust and kill a goddamn squeaky cartoon shoe in the slowest, most horrible way possible.
Thanks a lot, guys.
4. A Crowd Is Massacred In Doctor Zhivago
Mmm. Peaceful protests really are the best kind of protests if you’re looking to kill a bunch of people. The real twist of the knife happens before the fact, when we see just how proud and happy the crowd is up until the moment that they are so violently dispersed. Of course, when that time comes we see something far worse than any bloodshed could convey – the eyes of a man watching it happen.
Oh, Omar Sharif, if my ability to make analogies were as good as your acting then this sentence would be a lot better. The man expresses more in his sunken eyes than any amount of spectacle could have. This, and the cries of the fallen is all we get – and it’s more than enough.
3. The Torture Scene in Looper
It’s always scary putting such a new film so close to the number one spot on a list. After all it has been out for less than a week. That said, I’m fairly confident that anyone who has seen the film is nodding their heads right now. If you haven’t seen it, go do it. Right now. Otherwise, consider this a SPOILER ALERT.
One of those basic time travel principles is that if you go back and kill someone in the past it erases them from the future. But what about torture?
You see – Bruce Willis isn’t the only future-self that shows up in this film. It happens to a side character as well. Only this guy is unfortunate enough to have his younger past self captured and held by the bad guys. Here’s where it gets amazing – you see, now they have his past self hostage and need to get his old self to turn himself in. So they torture him. The only catch is that we see the torture only from the old guy’s POV – meaning that 30-year-old scars just start appearing on his body. We see the results, nothing more.
One by one his fingers slowly vanish as if they were never there. The tip of his nose becomes a long-since healed stub of a scar. His feet vanish. Gradually, as he races to turn himself in, his presence diminishes more and more as entire limbs go away – the horrifying part to it all is that no matter what he does he can’t stop it; it already happened. It’s a truly disturbing scene – and there isn’t a drop of blood.
So yeah… go see Looper.
2. That Scene in American History X… You Know The One…
Oof. It’s one of those moments that never leaves you. It’s the reason nobody watches this film more than once despite it being amazing. Just reading this, you can no doubt hear the sounds and feel that deep sorrow in the pit of your stomach. The worst part about it is that, prior to this scene, the act shown probably never snuck into your imagination. It’s like learning about the holocaust for the first time – a new horror that you were happy not to know and now can’t stop thinking about.
So let’s see if we can’t make this all a little easier. Meet Antonio David Lyons, the man who played the victim of curb stomping. In an interview with The Enthusiast he talked about how the whole thing went down. They had a rubber stand in dummy for the actual kick, as well as a rubber curb to him to bite down on. One of his primary concerns at first was having to put his mouth on a public curb in the middle of Santa Monica, which when you think about it is pretty gruesome in itself.
Another fun fact is that writer David McKenna actually mistook Lyons’s dummy for the real actor, and engaged the rubber facsimile in conversation while it was next to Edward Norton. The two men apparently found the moment quite funny. So that right there is something to keep with you, pass on to others, and use to make the moment a bit more bearable. Maybe you’ll even bring yourself to watch this movie a second time.
1. Marion Takes A Shower in Psycho
What can I say about this film that wasn’t already said way better and 1000 times before me? Chick’s wicked hot. Too bad she had to get all stabbed up like that, but that’s kind of what you get when you don’t see the clear signs that it’s time to leave.
I mean – you just ate a sandwich in a room filled with stuffed animals across from a guy going on about how “a boy’s best friend is his mother.” If that’s not an indication I don’t know what is. I don’t care what era you live in – there’s nothing kosher about big mansion man and his window-bound gargoyle mother screaming about your whorings on. Who would even think of taking a shower at a time like that? Scoot on, lady. Scoot on.