1. Monster Squad (1987) Frankenstein Gets Sucked Into Vortex
Watching Phoebe's feeble attempt to hold on to Frankenstein as he is being sucked into a vortex was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my childhood.
2. Godzilla aka Gojira (1954) Daisuke Serizawa Sacrifices Himself to Save Mankind
This is actually the movie that gave me the idea for this list. Serizawa's sacrifice at the end of the original Godzilla film is not only sad but it is mostly forgotten by horror fans, which is even sadder.
3. Splice (2009) Dren Realizes She Doesn't Look Like Other Girls
If the Barbie doll scene in Splice doesn't make you cry then you're even less human than Dren.
4. The Prowler (1981) Final Girl Almost Saved by Mentally Handicapped Red Herring
It may be hard to remember this scene, but there is a brief beautiful moment between Pam and Otto right before the final kill of the movie.
5. Alien Resurrection (1997) Alien-human Hybrid Says "Mommy" Before Being Sucked into Space
This scene is like the ghost in Three Men and a Baby, it makes the movie better if you just choose to believe it is real.
6. Return of the Living Dead (1985) Frank Takes Off His Wedding Ring Before He Incinerates Himself.
When you think "tear jerking" Return of the Living Dead doesn't come to mind, but the movie does take a break from all the silly zombie shenanigans to give Frank a tearful goodbye before the poop really hits the fan.
7. Prom Night (1980) Jamie Lee Curtis Realizes the Killer is Her Brother
I always like to think Joss Whedon got the idea for the Buffy episode "New Man" from this scene.
8. Let the Right One In (2008) The Entire Movie.
We all remember our first crush, but did they really want to be your friend or were they just grooming you to be their next Familiar? We may never know.
9. Congo (1995) Amy Realizes She's Not Like the Other Apes
I guess I have a thing about feeling left out. Amy, the talking gorilla, has a Dren moment when another gorilla totally throws some shade because she's not like him.
10. American Gothic (1988) Cynthia Joins the Family
I wanted to end the list with a story of acceptance since it is filled with so much rejection. It always warms my heart to know that Fanny found a new sister at the end of American Gothic, even though it doesn't quite work out for her.
It is hard to believe that Harper's Island premiered six years ago on CBS. A thirteen-week slasher movie? For me, it was a horror fan's dream come true. If you missed this treat when it originally aired, take my advice-run, do not walk, over to Netflix and binge-watch all thirteen episodes. Granted, I do not always make the best choices; for instance, my choice in husbands sucks, but for important things such as this, you can trust me. Even if you watched it six years ago, I encourage you to revisit this gem. I went into it the second time knowing the punch line, but my goal was to see if there were clues I missed the first time. Perhaps I should just list thirteen things about Harper's Island that made it so fantastic and ahead of its time. (I was extremely careful not to include spoiler.)
1. Being an English teacher, I will begin with the first thing I noticed about the show. It was clearly inspired by Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None (1939). An isolated island where people, many with secrets, start being murdered one by one definitely pays homage to Ms. Christie's masterpiece as do most slasher films as I think the novel is the perfect template for such films.
2. In addition to the slasher features, it is an excellent who-done-it mystery. Even after a second viewing, I found no clues that the perpetrator was involved until near the end of episode 11. In fact, it did a great job using "red herrings" to distract the viewer.
3. Speaking of those red herrings, more than once during the series, I was convinced of the guilt of several characters only to have those characters murdered…then it was back to the drawing board!
4. Something else that Harper's Island did well that slasher films usually do not have time to do is develop the characters. For instance, one stereotypical-looking blonde character went on to be more than I anticipated in the first episode meaning she was not the "dumb" blonde (this is coming from a blonde, BTW).
5. The concept that one season could tell one complete story is yet another reason Harper's Island was way ahead of its time. Think about shows such as American Horror Story that have become so popular in the years since Harper's Island. Sadly, this concept did not "jive" with the public in 2009.
6. Discovering in the first episode that no character was safe, even a well-known actor in a cast of lesser-known actors, let me know that all bets were off when it came time for killing. I remember thinking about this when I watched the first episode of Sleepy Hollow when a known actor was killed off in the first minutes of the show.
7. Having emotional reactions to the deaths of characters I had come to care about was something I had not anticipated the first time I watched the show. For instance, the deaths of one couple in particular left me sobbing. This couple in the first episode did not made an impact with me, but as the series progressed, I came to care very much about them, so when their time came, I was crushed.
8. The isolation and atmosphere of the setting added greatly to the suspense of the show. Knowing that these characters were essentially cut off from the outside world made my tension increase with each episode. A small island that can only be accessed by boat or aircraft, a big, creepy hotel with hidden passages, and a deep, dark forest with danger possibly hiding behind each tree was a prescription for terror!
9. Having a creepy, socially awkward child in the cast is always a plus. You just know that at some point a) they are going to say creepy things, "One by one" and b) are going to go missing at the worst possible time, "Has anyone seen _______?"
10. Keeping the identity of the killer hidden until almost the end was quite impressive to me. Typically, I can figure it out sooner, but like I said at the beginning (#2), it was near the end of episode 11 before I even suspected this individual.
11. Something else I found effective in the show was the characters did not discover anything was off until several characters were dead. Granted their technology was not as advanced as now, clever use of text messages led people to believe that certain characters had left, so they did not suspect foul play…at first.
12. A sense of betrayal made some of the last deaths more devastating. The fact that said characters trusted this individual without question (as I had as a viewer) made the reveal that much more heart wrenching.
13. Lastly, even though some found the eventual motive didn't make sense, I was fine with it. Why, you may ask. Well, for thirteen weeks I was glued to my TV experiencing something I thought I never would-a "slasher movie" on network TV. So bravo to CBS for having the balls, nads, nards, or whatever you want to call them to do it!
Dearest critters, you better believe we are not taking one step further down the trauma path without first acknowledging the passing of the beloved mother of modern horror, the sweetly stupendous and stupendously sweet BETSY PALMER. I think we can all agree that whichever gremlin is responsible for sabotaging her car to the degree that she simply had to accept the part of Mrs. Voorhees in FRIDAY THE 13th in order to purchase a new one, is the greatest gremlin who ever lived. PALMER may not have been crazy about the role at first but she never revealed her reservations on screen; instead she delivered a wickedly wily performance that was impossible to forget and echoed in the minds of many long after the credits rolled.
Long ago in Kindertrauma's first year of operation, we did an extensive list of trauma-mommas that ended with our top ten favorites. Not only did Pamela Voorhees land in the top ten, she easily claimed the number one position because duh, a-der and furthermore a-doy. Here's what we said back then:
"No other mother brings it like PAMELA VORHEES. No other mother has that voice, that smile, that commitment. The entire franchise and many other horror films that followed it in its wake owe their eye teeth to BETSY PALMER. Even as a decapitated head in a refrigerator, she owns it. Even as a crazy sweater shrine, she brings it. BETSY PALMER IS THE ULTIMATE TRAUMA-MOMMA! GET IT? GOT IT? GOOD!!!"
I was going for facetious with my praise of the acting talents of a decapitated head but if you think about it, I had a point. PALMER's performance in the original FRIDAY movie was so indelible that a mere prop easily reiterated its frightening power in PART 2. I've never been able to figure out how folks could fail to see that PALMER and the Mrs. Voorhees character were the vital beating heart of the FRIDAY THE 13tTH series but you can certainly see the results of that seemingly obvious fact failing to register in the soulless cardboard reboot.
Let's not get negative though- I'm here to praise the PALMER. Let it be known across the land that Kindertrauma loves her times infinity. And let us all take a lesson from BETSY. Keep doing what you love and give it your best even when it seems like there will be little payoff. It's not always about instant gratification; a stupid looking seed planted today could produce unknown bounties in the future. Also never listen to critics when it comes to horror because they are complete idiots and above all else, if you are hired to watch kids at a summer camp, watch them! Pay attention! Don't be making love when you should be paying attention! Some of those kids should be watched every minute!!! Some of those kids are….not very good swimmers.