Graveyard Shift
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Great Horror Movies That Have One Terrible Scene

February 28, 2020 7.3k votes 1.5k voters 69.5k views12 items

List RulesVote up the compelling horror movies marred by a certain misguided scene.

Sometimes, when editing a film, certain scenes make it into the final product because the studio demands it, or maybe it's padding to meet a designated runtime, or the filmmakers just thought it was cool. Sometimes these scenes work - other times, not so much - and horror movies are not immune to this meddling.

It is particularly jarring to view a tense thriller or slasher flick, only to be interrupted by a baffling scene that pulls viewers completely out of immersion and into the realm of confusion. Unfortunately, this can happen to the best of the genre, leaving an almost perfect movie marred by that one poor decision in the editing room.

Shopping scenes, musical numbers, and the introduction of a new character for a spinoff at a later date are all examples of this kind of meddling, with some feeling more egregious than others. Vote up the scenes that took the scare right out of a particularly tasty bit of horror movie.

  • A group of college kids head out to an isolated cabin in the woods to spend their spring break drinking and engaging in debauchery, unknowingly putting themselves in the path of a deadly flesh-eating disease. The movie itself is full of gory scenes and all of the tropes one expects from a horror movie with young adults without supervision, but one scene stands out in glaring contrast to all of the rest. 

    The vacationing students stop by a store to pick up supplies and encounter a kid named Dennis (Matthew Helms) who bites Paul (Rider Strong) on the hand for no reason. Strange. Then later, Bert (James DeBello) heads back to the store for help and Dennis yells, "Pancakes!" at him before busting into martial arts kicks, and then biting him viciously on the hand. Neither moment with Dennis adds anything to the movie and only serves to leave viewers wondering why the kid with the mullet is so into karate and tasting human hands if he isn't patient zero of the disease.

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  • Carrie is filled with horrifying imagery, from Carrie's (Sissy Spacek) relationship with her overly religious mother (Piper Laurie) and the mistreatment that comes with it to the final scenes of telekinetic revenge against those who wronged her throughout the movie. One scene, however, stands out from the rest for all of the wrong reasons: Tommy (William Katt) and friends shopping for prom tuxedos.

    Not only is the generally fun-loving teen rite of passage a bit out of place among the rest of the film's scenes, director Brian De Palma decided his movie was too long and chose to edit this scene to help. Unfortunately, the edit consisted of speeding up the dialogue between Tommy and pals. Yes, the director Alvin and the Chipmunk-ed the scene, making it even more startling to already confused viewers.

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  • The 1959 film adaptation of House on Haunted Hill is a simple - if campy - story of a wealthy man whose wife is having an affair, prompting him to invite a group of people to a party at a notoriously haunted house. It turns out that one of the guests is cheating with his wife and the entire setup is a ruse to allow Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) to rid himself of his unfaithful wife. The 1999 version shares some of that plot, but makes it clear there are real ghosts in the house - as opposed to Loren being behind the "hauntings."

    The end of the 1999 version takes the creepy and entertaining previous moments of the film and dumps all over them to reveal an overly complex plot. The house used to be a psychiatric hospital where a Dr. Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs) tormented patients until a fire in 1931 consumed them and most of his staff. The house seeks revenge on the complicit staff members of Vannacutt in order to consume them into the darkness that lives in the abandoned hospital. At the last moment, Eddie (Taye Diggs) reveals he is adopted and not an actual descendent, throwing the mass of damned souls off enough for him to escape the building. It's a cheesy ending to an enjoyable film that ruins the whole experience.

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  • After a climactic final sequence, the audience believes that Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) has defeated Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in the dream realm where he holds court. As Nancy and her mother settle into a normal day after all of the horror of the previous few, it becomes clear that this is yet another dream sequence - as previously deceased characters appear to drive her away.

    The jump scare of Krueger snatching Nancy's mother is a setup for a sequel, but it comes off as more confusing than scary. If Nancy didn't defeat Krueger, was her final battle with him completely pointless? If she did defeat Krueger, is this just a regular nightmare, or is it a way to show the monster can never truly be eliminated?

    Producer Robert Shaye has admitted that he changed writer/director Wes Craven's original ending, which would have made the whole film a dream, because it "needed a zinger at the end." Craven has said he regrets changing the ending, as it's "the one part of the film that isn't me." 

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