In honor of Halloween, here are the movies’ most horrifying shower and tub vignettes.
By Nicholas Tamarin
The bath is a private sanctuary, where a human is most vulnerable. Accordingly, bath scenes in movies can be particularly intense and terrifying because they often tap into our frailty in a private and confined space. These scenes often exploit our fears of weakness, isolation and the unknown, making them some of the scariest moments in horror cinema. So, in honor of our scariest holiday, Halloween, here are some of the chilling bath scenes in movie history.
1. Psycho (1960)
What’s widely considered not just one of the best horror scenes of all time but also one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history takes place in a shower. The location is Bates Motel, where Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane is brutally knifed while innocently showering by Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates to a searing soundtrack in director Alfred Hitchcock’s masterclass in suspense and horror. Has anyone showered the same since?
2. The Shining (1980)
Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel features three chilling bathroom scenes — but the most famously terrifying “Here’s Johnny” scene is officially the scariest movie moment of all time, according to a new study. Play.com polled 10,000 users to find the 10 films that most frightened customers, then used heart rate monitors to find out which scenes delivered the greatest chills. The most frightening scenes were calculated by identifying the percentage increases in filmgoers’ heart rates from spikes that occurred while they watched the scenes. The “Here’s Johnny” scene, in which Jack Nicholson‘s deranged writer ominously peers through a hole in a door he has just created with an ax, made pulses jump the greatest percentage — by an average of 28.2 percent.
3. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Next on Play.com’s poll is the most frightening moment from “Nightmare on Elm Street,” in which Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy Thompson brings killer Freddy Krueger from her dream into the real world. This scene, ingeniously shot using a bottomless tub affixed over a water tank, caused an average 26.7 percent increase in the heart rates of viewers. It was set up like this: Langenkamp was sitting on two planks of wood so that, from above where the camera was shooting, it would look like she was laying on the tub bottom with her knees bent. Beneath her, in the water, was mechanical special effects designer Jim Doyle, with the Freddy Krueger glove on (who would hold his breath for intervals of 60 to 90 seconds when submerged before coming out again). To shoot the scene, Director Wes Craven instructed Doyle so he would know when he should be going underwater — and when to bring the glove up, which Craven indicated by knocking on the side of the tub, a signal Doyle could hear while in the water.
4. Fatal Attraction (1987)
A knife-wielding Glenn Close in a bloody all-white bathroom coming back to life in this classic thriller, about a man and woman played by Michael Douglas and Close who have a torrid love affair only for the woman to go spiraling into obsession, surely has to make any list. During shooting, Close got her head dunked in the bathtub over 50 times, which gave her an infection in her eyes and nose. Good thing “Fatal Attraction” went on to become a box-office success, earning six Oscar nominations, including for Close as Best Actress and for Best Picture.
5. Jurassic Park (1993)
Nothing is more defenseless than a man sitting on a toilet only to have the surrounding theme park bathrooms building demolished by a ravenous Tyrannosaurus Rex. And that scene from “Jurassic Park” has proved so popular that, at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, as part of the two-day Jurassic Park 30th anniversary event celebrating Steven Spielberg’s classic adaptation of Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel, the scene’s setting was re-created for attendees to take pictures in it — with the T-Rex “surprising” them, coming out all of a sudden while fans pretended to hide behind or innocently use the toilet.