Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bringing on the Fear: Part 3 -- Mirrors and Windows

It's been a little bit of a wait for the third part of my series on what actually scares me (the holidays will do that to you), but I'm back with one of my freakier fears which I'm sure a lot of people probably share.
Mirrors and windows.

In real life, I'm actually quite wigged out at a dark window or mirror.  Maybe I've seen Candyman too many times, maybe I just hate to see my reflection in a dark window, probably both.  I have a window at the end of the hallway at the top of my steps to my house's second floor, and every time I come up the stairs and see myself - or the shadow of myself - in that window it freaks me out.  As for mirrors, they are so popular in horror films - perhaps an over-used gimmick considering there are more than 20 films with the title The Mirror listed on IMDB - but damn if it doesn't give me chills.  People seeing something other than their own reflection back at them, or in a vampire's case - don't see...well, you be the judge.


                     There are a whole lot of scary scenes in Kubrick's version of King's haunted
                   hotel. But this scene, when Jack enters the dreaded Room 237,  what he finds
                                       looking back at him in the mirror is simply terrifying.
                                                      So much for a quick roll in the hay.


So maybe if Joan Collins hadn't killed her hubby on Christmas Eve, she
wouldn't have had such an issue with calling the police when there was
a homicidal maniac on the loose.  So much for hiding the body.


"There's something on the wing of this plane!!!"
 John Lithgow made movie history in his portrayal of a man on
the edge, but how about this guy? At least he was a little
bit more frightening than the original man-beast from TV.


Anyone not creeped out by this scene can't be my friend anymore.
Seriously.  I love vampires  - and I've seen more than my share
in film waiting outside the windows of their victims.
But none have terrified me more memorably.

 Most of Phantasm is kooky and bizarre, but there's no denying that
                                  the Tall Man is downright evil. That dude lurks...everywhere!


So what does Marcy see in the mirror?  A reflection of a young woman
about to take a hatchet to the head, that's what.


The ultimate "Don't Look in the Mirror" film. 
I've been paralyzed with fear by this film since the very first time
I saw it. 
I used to think I could do it...that I could say Candyman five times while
looking in the mirror.  I've since decided not to lie anymore


The first time I saw The Ring the worst part for me was Samara
climbing out of the well.  Then, after closer inspection, THIS was the
scene that got me most.  The damn mirror!  Seeing her reflection in it.
Still makes me shiver.


This is my second favorite Hitchcock film (and everyone knows what my favorite
one is so there's no need for me to say it).  It's also the reason I don't look
out my own window and into the neighbors house anymore.
Curiosity killed the cat.  And others as well.


Even though the "monster"on the wing of the plane pales in comparison to
the 80's remake, this episode of the greatest anthology series ever still packs
a frightful punch, if for nothing else but Shatner's constipated expression.


Come on now, did you really expect me to make it through an entire post
without a mention of Argento somewhere?  Thought not.
To me this scene was one of the most unnerving of the film, simply because
as mentioned, I hate being able to see my reflection in a dark window.
You knew DAMN well something was about to happen...


But he knows who he is, right???
How I loved Mickey Rourke in the 80's! And Angel Heart is one of my faves
because of all that creepy voodoo that he do. This shot makes you question
(as it does Harry, as well) just who he is and what is going on.
Yeah, a mirror always tells the truth.  Unfortunately.


Can I just say holy shit right here?
The first time I saw Poltergeist I was doing fine... thinking Oh yeah,
I can handle this, a few chairs being moved, some weird noises,
disappearing little girls... then!  This scene DID. ME. IN.


This pic is by far the most disturbing one you will see here.
In fact, this is probably the most disturbing film listed here and I'd be
willing to bet most people haven't seen it.  Needless to say, Christian Bale
as seen here in this mirror:  Lasting creepiness that will stick with you.


While Mirrors isn't exactly crucial horror viewing, some of the visuals
are entirely heinous and macabre.  Right about here in the film is one of the
most traumatic and distressing scenes ever shown in a mirror, so it
had to be included here.  Hot damn, it's gruesome.

Ahh, the vampire. Forever banished from mirrors and unable to cast a
reflection within one.  Which makes this scene in 1992's Dracula so
unnerving.  And let's face it, Gary Oldman was a creepy old crud.

Michael Myers was forever lurking around outside windows, and
so it's pretty hard not to mention him here.  Laurie was constantly
witnessing Michael when she looked out the windows.  At the
clothesline, by the car, in the yard at the neighbors, Michael is a sneaky
nut. But he never fails to get his desired reaction.  Fear.


There was a lot of steamy bathroom action in this film, but not the
kind you might think.  I'm always wigged out by steamed bathroom
mirrors, even in my own home.  Maybe I've seen too many movies,
but I always fear the thought of someone looking back at me when I
wipe away the excess steam...


I think I may have mentioned at some point how much The Grudge freaks
me out.   Seeing the little boy in the window of the elevator window is only
one of the scenes that gets to me.  Another would certainly be when Sarah
Michelle is on the bus in broad daylight and sees Kayako in the bus window...

Carnival might be old, but it packs a punch as far as terrifying visuals go.
The ghoul that follows Mary around throughout the course of the film
turns up everywhere, including outside her car window- menacing her
with his disquieting grin and empty eyes. 


I couldn't not mention one of my favorite Johnny Depp films here.
Secret Window showcases him in all his bizarre quirkiness as if the
part was written for him.  Especially when he attacks himself in the
mirror, only to discover the truth does indeed, lie within the mirror.


James Gracey said...

Great post, Chris. Those moments involving windows in Suspiria and Salem's Lot are amongst some of the most memorable moments in horror cinema! Halloween and Evil Dead also had more than a few creepy moments featuring people being menacing through windows... That shot of Michael Myers looking through the window at Annie as she's struggling with the washing machine in the shed... *shivers* And no Friday the 13th movie was seemingly complete without some poor sod being chucked through a window. Huzzah!

Matt-suzaka said...

Windows and mirrors truly make for good cinematic scares, and I too have been frightened by my own reflection a few times, only to then fall in love with it! ;)

I think what makes windows scary is how restricting they are to peripheral vision. There could very well be someone standing less than a foot from you and they would be just out of sight.

And of course when you get the reflection from the indoor lights, it makes it all the more frightening, because what you see outside and inside collide to mess with your perception.

Good stuff, sista!

Monster Scholar said...

Loved all of these, especially the Shining and the Ring. Have you seen Black Swan yet? When you do you'll want to include it on this list. Some creepy mirror shit the likes of which I have not seen before!

Fred [The Wolf] said...

Awesome list! Yep, mirrors and windows are pretty scary. The HALLOWEEN franchise is full of those. FRIDAY THE 13TH as well. I think reflections are also pretty creepy because sometimes we see the monster within ourselves that no one else can see with the naked eye. I really enjoy posts like these.

Christine Hadden said...

James - Oh yes, there are sooo many window scenes of Michael Myers I could have done a post strictly with him (which I think you have already done something similar....) I think that besides Candyman, Michael Myers is the main reason I fear dark windows.
Haha, and yes - Jason was always throwing someone into glass!

Matt - I think you're exactly dead on about the reason windows are so scary. It does mess with your vision when lights and reflections collide. Creepy!

Jeanette - I haven't yet seen Black Swan, can't wait to see it. Hopefully the snow will hold off this weekend so I can catch it. I'll be looking out for the unsettling mirror scenes - perhaps I'll need to make an addendum here...

Fred - thanks for the kind words. I like doing posts like this as well as reading others like it - it's interesting to learn of other people's fears.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post. So many iconic window/mirror scenes, and you describe exactly why it's creepy and so often used in horror. Salem's Lot, The Ring (should we include creepy TV moments, too?), Rear Window, Poltergeist, Secret Window... great list.

I love how this was used in What Lies Beneath; that movie had a lot of great visuals (I'll always remember when the eye appears in the hole in the fence, and the way the snow looks like a face just before it fades to black at the end).

The Machinist was a great pick, too. What's disturbing about that film is how Christian Bale actually lost all that weight and really threw himself into such a freaky role. That picture of him is absolutely haunting.

Jeremy [Retro] said...

i am looking at all the images and being forced to remember the creepy window and mirrors that peer the reflection mostly me... great job...

jmcozzoli said...

Nice rundown. Some truly scary/creepy moments can be had reflected off a shiny surface or glimpsed at through glass. I still won't say Bloody M three times in front of a mirror lit by candlelight. Oh, and I try very hard not to wipe foggy mirrors. You never know what's standing behind you.

Christine Hadden said...

So true, John - you never know what's behind you... and I think I already mentioned in my last installment how much I hate THAT :)

Anonymous said...

i'm addicted to your fascination with fear its frightens me to death but i love it. i saw the shining at about 15 and now at 36 will not stay in hotel with long corridors and if there are i close my eyes and hang on to my husband or just leg it i'm so mard!!!!! mirrors windows people/gouls/kids anyone just standing there and staring arrrggghhh am off to get a bible...keep it up