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Thursday, April 23, 2020

An Appreciation of Bravo’s ‘100 Scariest Movie Moments’

October, 2004. Fifteen plus years ago I had just graduated from high school and was attending my first year of college, where my interest in horror would grow from casual fandom to an outright obsession. As an English major, I began to write about horror in a critical sense and tirelessly research every detail I could find about the classics I had watched growing up, all while keeping up with a new wave of memorable films that were being released in the 2000s. 

One of the biggest factors in my reinvigorated horror fandom was Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments

Debuting smack dab in the middle of Halloween season, Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments (B100SMM? 100SMM?) does exactly what the title advertises, running through over 40 years of horror film history to determine the most nerve-shredding moments of all time. What separated this particular countdown from the pack was the impressive list of directors, writers, actors, comedians and random celebrities Bravo pulled off the shelf for their takes on these iconic films.

As a result, this 5-part documentary series was able to pull off something pretty rare; being highly informative with insight provided by some of the biggest names in horror and also being highly entertaining from the more casual, every-man style of insight brought to the table.


There are so many iconic names that appear throughout all five episodes that it’s hard to pinpoint them all, but let’s just say there are some heavy, heavy hitters. John Carpenter pops in to talk Halloween and The Thing. Joe Dante shows up to talk about Gremlins and The Howling, among others. MARTIN SCORSESE gives his two cents on Peeping Tom, and there is commentary sprinkled throughout what feels like every movie from Rob Reiner and John Landis. Even up and coming filmmakers (at the time) like Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, Michael Dougherty, Eli Roth and Rob Zombie make appearances to talk about the films that inspired and scared them the most.

But perhaps the coolest part, looking back, is hearing from horror icons that we have lost in more recent years. Tobe Hooper is interviewed about Poltergeist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Stuart Gordon gabs about Re-Animator. The great George A. Romero sits, smokes cigarettes, and dishes on Creepshow, Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead.

One of the most constant presences throughout the entire five-part series is Wes Craven. He has the most films of any director on this list (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House on the Left) and constantly pops in with his trademark wit to share behind the scenes anecdotes. He explicitly talks about Scream and how he initially passed on the script, but had a change of heart after a kid came up to him and said he should make something that “kicks ass again,” like The Last House on the Left. The process of making A Nightmare on Elm Street is also described by Craven, who details how many studio execs passed on the script and didn’t want to make it. Fascinating stuff. Hearing Craven’s commentary really hammers home how much his films influenced horror as it is today and what a unique, important voice we lost back in 2015.


The entire documentary features several appearances from a little author named Stephen King. I mean who could have guessed? No surprise here as there are seven(!) of his movies on this list, including Carrie, Cujo, The Dead Zone, Misery, Pet Sematary, Creepshow and The Shining. I could listen to King talk about what inspires him to write the crazy things he does all day, and bonus points here for when he discusses The Shining (which lands at number 6) and how excited he was when he learned Stanley Kubrick was adapting his novel for the big screen. I actually laughed out loud when he says, “I was a head in the ’60s…and I don’t mean I was ahead of other people I mean I WAS A HEAD. Dropped a lot of acid, did a lot of Peyote, got stoned, went to go see 2001 (A Space Odyssey) and I was like oh, wow.” Pretty funny considering his well-known disdain for Kubrick’s The Shining, even all these years later.

Clive Barker and his glorious accent also pop in to discuss Hellraiser, which is of course based on his story The Hellbound Heart.

The Best of the Rest 

Obviously, as a horror fan, you love to hear from the people that made these movies, but where 100SMM (I’m making it a thing) really shines is with some of the other voices that contribute throughout each episode. And there are some RANDOM people that pop up. Actors, comedians, Special Effects workers, Fangoria contributors, Film Critics and nostalgia-inducing ’90s figures all grace the screen to share the love for horror movies that unites them.

Bruce Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Rory Culkin, Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Ron Perlman, Rob Riggle, Rider Strong and Sheri Moon Zombie all speak on films they were in (or scared by) and it is truly some awesome insight into these iconic flicks. Stan Winston talks SFX on Jurassic Park. Tom Savini talks about all of his iconic work and how it was influenced by his time as a soldier in the Vietnam War. Gilbert Gottfried’s signature shrill voice comes in to give you a few laughs just before Tony Timpone lays some factoids on you that you probably (definitely) didn’t know.

Remember the Coors Light Twins!? They crack open a few Silver Bullets and do their best impression of the twin girls from The Shining. My point is, this documentary series is well worth your time and well worth a revisit in 2020. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, as each segment only runs about two minutes. It’s informative, scary and just might introduce you to a few movies you haven’t seen before. As a huge horror fan, I find myself searching for clips from it on YouTube frequently, which unfortunately is the only place you can watch it these days.

There were even two sequels produced, 30 Even Scarier Movie Moments (2006) and 13 Scarier Movie Moments (2009), bringing the sum of scary moments to 143. That’s a lot of scares.

Which brings me to my final thought: Hey Bravo, can we get another sequel sometime soon? Or at least, a rebroadcast of the original series on cable so I don’t have to watch grainy YouTube videos? You’d make this horror fan, and many others, extremely happy.

Here’s the full list of movies featured in Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments:

  • 100. 28 Days Later
  • 99. Creepshow
  • 98. Zombie
  • 97. Cat People (1982)
  • 96. The Birds
  • 95. Jurassic Park
  • 94. Child’s Play
  • 93. Pacific Heights
  • 92. Village of the Damned
  • 91. Shallow Grave
  • 90. Night of the Hunter
  • 89. Alice Sweet Alice
  • 88. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • 87. Black Christmas (1974)
  • 86. Wizard of Oz
  • 85. Blood & Black Lace
  • 84. Blue Velvet
  • 83. The Others
  • 82. Terminator
  • 81. The Howling
  • 80. Poltergeist
  • 79. Dracula (1992)
  • 78. The Brood
  • 77. Signs
  • 76. Evil Dead
  • 75. Candyman
  • 74. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
  • 73. Blood Simple
  • 72. Them!
  • 71. The Sixth Sense
  • 70. The Stepfather
  • 69. Re-Animator
  • 68. The Black Cat
  • 67. Duel
  • 66. The Tenant
  • 65. Marathon Man
  • 64. Near Dark
  • 63. Deliverance
  • 62. The Wolf Man
  • 61. The Devil’s Backbone
  • 60. The Beyond
  • 59. Fatal Attraction
  • 58. Cujo
  • 57. House of Wax (1953)
  • 56. Single White Female
  • 55. The Vanishing (1993)
  • 54. The Changeling
  • 53. Demons
  • 52. The Phantom of the Opera
  • 51. The Dead Zone
  • 50. The Last House on the Left
  • 49. Diabolique
  • 48. The Thing (1982)
  • 47. Nosferatu (1929)
  • 46. The Sentinel
  • 45. The Wicker Man (1975)
  • 44. The Game
  • 43. It’s Alive!
  • 42. An American Werewolf in London
  • 41. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
  • 40. Black Sunday
  • 39. Dawn of the Dead
  • 38. Peeping Tom
  • 37. House on Haunted Hill (1999)
  • 36. Cape Fear (1962)
  • 35. Aliens
  • 34. The Hitcher (1986)
  • 33. The Fly (1986)
  • 32. Pet Sematary
  • 31. Friday the 13th
  • 30. Blair Witch Project
  • 29. Serpent and the Rainbow
  • 28. When a Stranger Calls (1979)
  • 27. Frankenstein (1931)
  • 26. Seven
  • 25. Phantasm
  • 24. Suspiria
  • 23. Rosemary’s Baby
  • 22. Don’t Look Now
  • 21. Jacob’s Ladder
  • 20. The Ring (2002)
  • 19. Hellraiser
  • 18. The Haunting
  • 17. A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • 16. The Omen (1976)
  • 15. Freaks
  • 14. Halloween
  • 13. Scream
  • 12. Misery
  • 11. Audition
  • 10. Wait Until Dark
  • 9. Night of the Living Dead
  • 8. Carrie (1976)
  • 7. Silence of the Lambs
  • 6. Shining
  • 5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • 4. Psycho (1960)
  • 3. Exorcist
  • 2. Alien
  • 1. Jaws


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