The Exact Moments We Had To Turn Off These Infamous Horror Movies

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Vote up the intense horror movie scenes that had you reaching for the pause button.

Some horror films do their job a little too well, whether it’s pushing the limits of body horror or adding mind-bending story twists so shocking that a sanity break is desperately needed. While everyone might have that one film they saw in their youth that plagued them with nightmares for weeks, the films on this list have had a ubiquitous effect on audiences. 

Of course, every good scary film should endeavor to keep viewers invested while they're white-knuckling the armrests, but that's a delicate line to walk. Push too hard, and the film alienates viewers; push too little, and it's lost in a sea of half-baked, forgettable horror flicks. This list will dive into those moments that made us look away or hit pause out of pure instinct - because some things are truly too disturbing to behold.

  • Inspired by the gruesome real-life murder of Sylvia Likens, The Girl Next Door, based on Jack Ketchum's 1989 novel, tells the story of Meg Loughlin and her sister Susan, who fall into the care of their aunt Ruth after losing their parents in a car accident. Ruth allows her sons and young friends to come and go, providing alcohol and cigarettes, meanwhile starving Meg and subjecting her to horrible psychological abuse. Despite Meg reporting the abuse, law enforcement doesn’t criminally charge Ruth or remove the sisters from the home. 

    It’s Ruth’s punishment upon Meg that is painful and downright upsetting to witness, as the woman and her sons bind and strip Meg in the basement, hanging her from the rafters by the arms overnight. The torture only escalates from there, as Ruth allows children from the neighborhood to come and beat Meg for fun, any wounds they inflict cauterized with cigarettes. 

    As the torture intensifies into assault, disfigurement, and ultimately death, the film becomes almost impossible to endure for many, especially once viewers remember it’s based on a true story.

  • With the Human Centipede films, viewers are spoiled for choice in terms of scenes so disturbing, you'll want to unplug the TV. And yet, somehow, the sequel to the highly controversial first film, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), ups the ante in the worst ways in The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). Following a very meta storyline, the main character of the sequel, Martin, watches the first Human Centipede film and becomes obsessed, deciding to make his own human centipede, but with 12 people instead.

    Martin abducts the people he intends to use for his experiment, including a pregnant woman named Rachel. However, being mentally challenged and having no medical knowledge whatsoever, Martin’s methods are crude and result in the death of one subject; Rachel also passes out and is presumed dead. Later on, Rachel awakens and escapes, taking refuge in a car. Martin gives chase and attempts to break into the car, the stress of which induces Rachel's labor and forces her to give birth, with the baby sliding to the car floor. While Rachel manages to get the car started, slamming on the gas pedal results in the horrifying, graphic death of her newborn baby.

    The scene holds nothing back, much like the rest of the film, so it’s unsurprising if viewers decide to tap out after such a visceral sight.

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  • Made to be an educational film to warn young girls and their families of the dangers of online predators, the found-footage film Megan Is Missing delivers a level of horror that hits far too close to home. When the main character, 14-year-old Megan, befriends a mysterious boy online and agrees to meet in person alone, she disappears, leaving behind her friend Amy, who suspects this online friend of foul play. Sadly, Amy is later kidnapped and suffers a similar fate to Megan.

    While the film features some pretty heavy themes throughout, nothing can prepare the audience for the graphic pictures of Megan that are shown as evidence for Megan's case. The obvious terror in Megan’s eyes and the extreme nature of the items used in the photos are enough to make anyone turn off the TV, especially someone with children. The film has since resurfaced thanks to TikTok, and many viewers report this scene as being one of the most unbearable moments in the movie.

    In fact, director Michael Goi even issued warnings in regards to this scene: 

    Do not watch the movie in the middle of the night. Do not watch the movie alone. And if you see the words “photo number one” pop up on your screen, you have about four seconds to shut off the movie if you’re already kind of freaking out before you start seeing things that maybe you don’t want to see.

  • Made as a pseudo-documentary about a serial killer in Poughkeepsie, NY, The Poughkeepsie Tapes tells its story through interviews and footage from the killer’s collection of snuff films. Police raid the home of Edward Carver and find over 800 tapes of him abducting his victims and inflicting innumerable horrors upon them. Even with this evidence, however, Carver wears a careful disguise in the videos, making it difficult for investigators to find and prosecute him or locate his victims.

    The first tape shown is likely to make some viewers give up on the film, as Carver’s first victim is an 8-year-old girl. Even with the knowledge that the events on screen aren't real, it’s hard not to shield your eyes as the film shows the abduction, assault, and murder of a young child in appalling detail. While later tapes show more murders and other heinous acts, none seem to be as gut-wrenching as the images of that first victim, a scene that many viewers may never get past.

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    As the first part of writer and director Lars von Trier’s Depression trilogy, Antichrist follows a mother’s grief after her toddler son climbs out his bedroom window and falls to his death while she and the father are having sex. Dissatisfied with the psychiatric care she receives, the father, a therapist himself, personally takes over her psychotherapy treatment. In an attempt at exposure therapy, he takes her to the isolated cabin where she had spent the previous summer with their son.

    Disturbing things begin happening to the man, from waking with his hand covered in ticks to a self-disemboweling fox that declares, “Chaos reigns!” while his wife’s condition worsens and she demands forceful sex from him. Things become more violent as he discovers that the woman was purposefully putting their son’s shoes on the wrong feet, giving him a foot deformity. She then attacks the man, resulting in unsettling sex-related body horror that’s visceral enough to give even the most steadfast horror fan pause.

    If viewers manage to make it past that scene, a whole host of other terrors await, from the woman drilling a hole through the man’s leg to a partial live burial to genital mutilation and terrifying themes of witchcraft.

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  • Nothing could have prepared horror lovers for what this Dutch indie body horror film had to offer when it was released to incredibly mixed reviews back in 2009. In this first film, the mastermind behind the human centipede is crazed surgeon Josef Heiter. He's famous for his skill of separating conjoined twins but has always dreamed of creating new creatures by surgically sewing people together.

    In an attempt to make his dreams a reality, Josef drugs and kidnaps tourists, then uses them in his sickening plan to surgically daisy chain three people together, mouth to anus. Even though, as viewers, we know the reveal coming, the sight of Heiter's finished product is enough to call it quits on movie night. 

    While the film never actually shows the bodily substances you might expect, the concept is infamous for threatening us with the human centipede, and the three people who make it are laid bare before us in horrifying fashion.