CultureMass Roundtable: Scary TV Moments

Editor’s Note: We wanted to jump in on the Halloween goodness in the television section and talk about the things that truly horrified us in our television watching. In the short form, it’s hard to grab a bit of horror from television. Tales from the Crypt, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Twilight Zone, and other shows have done a very good job of giving us a scare – or just the heebie jeebies – on television. As you look through the things that gave us frights, think about your scary tv moments and tell us about them in the comments! ~ Angel Collins

Stephen King’s IT – Boyd Reynolds

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The scariest TV moment I’ve ever seen came from the 1990 TV miniseries: Stephen King’s IT. A small boy, Georgie, goes out in the rain to float his paper boat. The boat gets away from him and twists its way down into a storm drain. There, lurking inside, is Pennywise the dancing clown. Beyond just the obvious terror (a creepy white faced man lurking inside a dark drain) is the nature of the dialogue. Pennywise tempts Georgie with balloons, cotton candy, and his missing paper boat, all in an attempt to get Georgie close enough to nab him. Playing Pennywise, Tim Curry’s expressions intensify the fear as his face contorts and twists to every situation, moving from happy to sad to rage. But most disturbing of all is his sinister voice and how Pennywise becomes so excited by the idea of getting Georgie into the sewers with all the other children he has taken down there, where “they float Georgie. They float.”

I can’t say I’ve walked past a storm drain the same ever since.

The X-Files— “Duane Barry” (Season 2, Episode 5) – Brian Martin

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Honestly, I could pick just about any episode of The X-Files and find something chilling in it, but this episode is one of the earliest points in the series that seared itself into my brain. The episode’s cold open follows Duane Barry as he lies down for a peaceful night’s sleep (but, this being The X-Files, we know it won’t last). Sure enough, soon his house is shaking, lights are pouring in from all sides, and the silhouettes of strange alien creatures surround the bed. Sure, we had seen the alien abduction thing time and time again (especially in the early ‘90s), but what sold this one was Duane’s reaction to it. As he lies immobilized in his bed, panicking and drawing ragged breaths as tears well up in his eyes, he says, “Oh no…not again.” That line, and the idea that this has happened more than once to this guy, absolutely freaked me out. And then we see the ship hovering overhead. And, later, the experimentation! Pair it with Mark Snow’s score music and you can rest assured I wasn’t having a peaceful rest that night, either.

The Twilight Zone – “Living Doll” (Season 5, Episode 6) – Angel Collins

When my sister was younger she had a doll that said several phrases. “Feed me,” “feed me more,” “turn me over” and other phrases are cute in the daylight but at night, when nothing makes it go off, “turn me over” comes off as very sinister. It just freaked me out, man! As I thought about my scary tv moments I remembered the “Living Doll” episode from The Twilight Zone. From the moment you see that creepy smiling thing, Talky Tina, you know. Oh, you know. When she tells the guy she doesn’t think she likes him it became my scary tv moment. I still remember how smug she looked with her innocent pigtails and animatronic arms. When he’s crushing her face or trying to catch her on fire and she’s laughing at him, I begin to fear for  his life. And at the end, when we hear the wind-up sound her moving arms make, you know something bad is about to happen. Of course we all know dolls can’t really talk or commit murder, as Rod Serling said, but after that episode, I’ll never be sure again.

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