Top 11 Scariest Performances
October 12th, 2008
NC: Hello I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. And I'm still continuing the month of Nostalgiaween!
Clip from "Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin" where a chain saw killer cuts off the kid's heads
NC: What the hell's wrong with me? So, seeing how this is the month where everything is supposed to be scary, let's take a look at scary performances.
(Clips and images of famous movie monsters and villains are shown as NC speaks)
NC (voiceover): We all know the traditional monsters and how iconic they've become, but a new breed of monsters has been evolving over the years. They constantly battle between what's human and what's inhuman, and usually, the more removed they are from an ethical reality, the more frightening they become. Now keep in mind I know a good performance isn't just a good performance. A lot of good things go into it like the writing, directing, music, lighting, all that good stuff.
NC: But still, these are the characters and performances that just thinking about them can send shivers down our spines. And we're here to honor the eleven of them here today. Why top eleven? (He makes an evil laugh)
(The intro for the "Top 11 Scariest Performances" list begins with footage of a camera going up a flight of spiral stairs before we get images of famous movie villains and then the title, proceeding to the first entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 11: Bill Sikes from Oliver!. This guy is just a bastard. He does it all: kidnaps kids, steals from the wealthy, and even beats his own girlfriend, one of the main characters in the film, to death. What a fucked up creep!
Bill: She won't peach on nobody no more.
NC (voiceover): And every time you look at him, you know he's ready to strike again. He doesn't care who gets in his way. If you say something wrong, your ass is going down.
Bill: You hand it over, you avaricious old skeleton.
NC (voiceover): Even with that thick Cockney accent, he still scares the living piss out of you.
Bill: (while holding Fagin by the neck with both hands) Have you ever heard the sound a chicken makes when they're wringing off it's neck? (Fagin shakes his head no) They squawks, Fagin. They squawks. Not a very pretty sound.
NC (voiceover): Hell, he can even make the act of calling his dog seem intimidating.
Bill: Come. You ain't afraid of me, are you, Bulls-Eye? Bulls-Eye, you com 'ere. COME 'ERE, LITTLE GUY!
NC (voiceover): You can just tell actor Oliver Reed was throwing everything into it, and because of that, we get one hell of a creepy thug. Bill Sikes is definitely one baddie who will do anything to get his way.
Bill: One blair...
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 10: the T-1000 from Terminator 2. I know a lot of people found Arnold to be pretty scary in the first Terminator, but, let's be honest, it's still Arnold. He looks like a giant robot, talks like a giant robot, so it's pretty easy to guess that he's a giant robot, as well as easy to spot in a crowd. With Robert Patrick though, he looks like any other person, and can even act like an everyday guy, blending into the crowd with nobody suspecting him.
Girl #1: They said he was going to the galleria, right?
T-1000: The galleria?
NC (voiceover): But when he needs to kill, good God, nothing can stop him. He can turn into knives, he can turn into other people, he can imitate their voices, and plus, he's a cop! As if to say even the fucking police are after you, kid! You don't have a prayer.
T-1000: (to Sarah Connor) Call to John. (He gently but threateningly pushes a knife into her body) Call John.
NC (voiceover): On top of that, he's chasing a child in this one, which seems much more vulnerable than chasing a grown woman. Granted, he's a strong kid, but he's still a kid, and this is as basic a boogeyman as you can come up with. You can't reason with him, you can't hurt him, and all he wants to do is kill you. If that's not scary as fuck, I don't know what is.
T-1000: Say, that's a nice bike.
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 9: Annie Wilkes from Misery. The role that won Kathy Bates an Oscar, this psychotic bitch is thirty-two flavors of crazy. She helped save the life of her favorite author in the world, and then goes crazy when she finds out he's killing off her favorite character.
Annie: (shakes Paul Sheldon's bed in fury) I DON'T WANT HER SPIRIT! I WANT HER, AND YOU MURDERED HER!
NC (voiceover): She straps him to a bed, breaks both of his legs and forces him to write a sequel to the book where Misery is brought back.
Annie: (to Paul) God, I love you.
NC (voiceover): If that wasn't freaky enough, she constantly swings back and forth, between sensitive and kind ...
Annie: You've got a lot of recovering to do, and I consider it an honor that you'll do it in my home.
NC (voiceover): ... straight to ...
Annie:You murdered my Misery!
NC: (recoils in fear) ... that!
NC (voiceover): Actually, for me, the screaming and yelling parts always seemed a bit over the top. It's when she was nice and pleasant that really got me on edge. But maybe that's because I know that anything can set her off.
Annie: Oh, Paul. What a poet you are.
NC: Aww, well isn't she just the nicest...?
Annie: I'm gonna kill you, you lying cocksucker!!
(NC recoils back in fear and yelps)
NC (voiceover): I think this is every celebrity's worst nightmare; to be in the hands of an obsessive fan who is not mentally well. I mean, poor James Caan...
James T. Kirk (from "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"): KHAN!!!
NC: Shut up.
NC (voiceover): .. has a lot to deal with in this movie, but, hey, look at the bright side; at least we aren't casting About Schmidt.
(Annie Wilkes is seen taking off a robe, revealing her nude top (this is censored); NC reacts with uncomfortable disgust)
NC (voiceover): No doubt about it. Annie Wilkes is one nutty lady that nobody should wake up to.
Annie: He didn't get out of the cockadoodie car! (Paul looks on, stunned)
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 8: Hannibal Lecter. Now, I'm just going to be very honest about this: I never really found Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs that scary. I actually thought Buffalo Bill was a lot scarier, because he actually seemed like a real-life serial killer. For me, Hannibal Lecter was more like a James Bond villain. He had all the poetic lines, keeping his head down with an evil smile. All that was missing was a cat for him to stroke. I wouldn't really mind, except that the rest of the movie is so bent on being brutally realistic, and for me, this kind of seems out of place.
Hannibal: You fly back to school now, little starling. Fly, fly, fly.
NC (voiceover): Come on, that's pretty silly. Now granted, the first time you see him is pretty damn creepy, just how he is standing in the middle of the room like he can smell her coming down the hallway. That's unsettling. But there's just a hamminess to this performance that always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.
NC: (laughs in reply) You're funny.
NC (voiceover): So yeah, I've bashed him so much you're probably wondering why the hell I'd even put him on this list. Well, to be honest, I thought he was scary in Red Dragon. Yeah, I know he's, like, a bajillion years old and that's really distracting, but in this movie, I find him more scary because he actually wants to get Edward Norton, and figures out ways for him inside his cell to try and hurt him. That's freaky as hell. You can lock him up and he can still get you. In Silence of the Lambs, I knew he wasn't going to attack Jodie Foster. In fact, she even mentions it at some point.
Clarice: He won't come after me.
Woman: Oh, really?
Clarice: He won't. I can't explain it. He...he would consider that rude.
NC (voiceover): But in Red Dragon, he fucking hates this guy, and even behind a glass wall, he can still find a way to attack both him and his family. That's diabolical; it's like there's no way to stop him.
Will Graham: A roof can fall on anybody.
Hannibal Lecter: But not on Molly and Josh, I take it.
Will Graham: They're safe now.
Hannibal Lecter: No one will be safe around you, Will.
NC (voiceover): I also like the fact that its much more a challenge of wits. In Silence of the Lambs, Foster just sort of looks at Lecter's antics with frightened awe. In Red Dragon, Norton doesn't take any of that shit.
Lecter: Do you dream much, Will?
Will: Goodbye, Dr. Lecter. (He starts to leave)
Lecter: Give me the file, then, and I'll tell you what I think.
NC (voiceover): This makes their relationship more interesting to me, and just builds up the tension between the two. It makes the hero more interesting and the villain more angry, which, in turn, makes him more threatening. Now I will say, though, a lot of people argue that it's much more threatening when an evil person loves you as opposed to hates you. And, to be honest, I can see how that would be pretty scary too. So in this category, I'm saying that Hannibal Lecter from both the Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon are on the list. And, (chuckles lightly) for those of you wondering why I didn't put Hannibal on there... (He starts laughing as we get a scene of Lecter interacting with a man whose top part of his head is removed, exposing his brain)...with the brain on the spoon...
NC: (continues laughing) ... that was stupid. And anyone who likes that is stupid, too. I know it's just my opinion, but I'm right.
Hannibal makes his trademark snicker, while the Critic snickers back.
Hannibal: And a nice chianti.
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 7: Alex from A Clockwork Orange. It's hard to believe that not only is this crazy teen supposed to only be in high school, but we're also supposed to, oddly enough, identify with him. After all, what's not identifiable about murder, rape, beatings, breaking and entering, and being a complete psychotic nutball?
Alex: What does that great big horsey gape of a grin portend?
NC (voiceover): The kid is a sadist, plain and simple. He's not in it for the money or any kind of physical reward. (quickly) For the most part. He's in it because he simply loves to do wrong, and sees an almost artistic life to it all.
Alex: (narrates) Oh, bliss. Bliss and heaven. Oh, it was gorgeousness and gorgeossity made flesh.
NC: He's a savage beast, but he listens to Beethoven. He feeds on the innocent, but is still intelligent and well spoken. We've seen smart villains before, but what really separates him from other villains is two things: One is his age. The idea that a person this young would be doing so many terrible things is pretty disturbing. The second is just how much he enjoys it. The smile on his face is just pure delight. He is in heaven. There is no remorse on what he is doing. For him, causing people pain is like reaching nirvana; nirvana on a roller coaster. He simply loves every minute of it, to a point where he actually hums "Singin' in the Rain" while raping an older woman. This scene is so traumatizing that there's still people out there who can't listen to that musical.
(A clip from Singin' in the Rain plays)
Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly): (sings) I'm singin' in the rain, just singing in the rain...
NC: RAPIST! (He takes a gun and shoots at Gene Kelly, causing an explosion)
NC (voiceover): One of the most controversial characters in both film and literature, Alex is one of the scariest schoolchildren you'll ever come across.
Alex: I've taught you much, my little droogies.
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 6: Norman Bates from Psycho. Yet another character who just sort of keeps you guessing and guessing. You can't figure out if he's a good guy, a bad guy, an innocent pawn or an evil plotter. All you know is that he's obsessed with his mother, and the less you know about that, the better.
Marion Crane: Do you go out with friends?
Norman Bates: Well, a...a boy's best friend is his mother.
NC (voiceover): Every time you see him, you get nervous; you can't tell if he's just a poor soul or a time bomb waiting to go off.
Norman Bates: We all go a little mad sometimes. (He smiles)
NC: His twitching and sudden mood swings keeps the character a complete mystery until the very end. And, without actually giving away the twist ending, let's just say every movie nowadays that does have a twist ending owes everything to this film.
Norman Bates: You don't understand. I don't hate her. I hate what she's become.
NC (voiceover): If you haven't seen the movie yet, check it out, and see how influential both the film and his performance was. And speaking of influences, were do you think Alex got his smile from?
Norman Bates: But she's harmless. She's as harmless as one of those stuffed birds.
NC (voiceover): Oh, and if you're thinking about seeing the shot-by-shot remake, I have one thing to say to you: Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.
The Critic plays a pretend jack-in-the-box with the word fail popping out.
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 5: The Gemini Killer from Exorcist III. This film is sort of like the Planet of the Apes movies. If you can buy the absurdity of it all, it's actually a pretty damn good film. You just really gotta stretch your suspension of disbelief; and one of the things that makes it so effective is Brad Dourif and Jason Miller as the Gemini Killer. Sort of a long story, but after the death of Damien in the first Exorcist movie, another spirit, known as the Gemini Killer, sneaks in. Therefore, we sometimes see the person as Damien or as the killer, and both are pretty damn scary. Jason Miller does well switching personalities...
Gemini Killer (Jason Miller): There is suffering over there. They can be cruel.
Lieutenant Kinderman: Who is "they"?
Gemini Killer (Miller): Never mind. (He makes a demonic roaring sound before Kinderman places a hand over one of his ears) I do that rather well, don't you think?
NC (voiceover): ...while Brad Dourif does well actually being one of the personalities.
Gemini Killer (Dourif): Do you dance?
Lieutenant Kinderman: What do you mean?
(Gemini Killer starts to sing a liturgical chant in a choir boy's voice)
NC (voiceover): Both reign from gentle whispers to blood-curdling screams, never knowing what's going to come out of them.
Gemini Killer (Dourif): Then the tube moves through the vein, under the crease of the arm, as he watches while I rip and cut and MUTILATE THE INNOCENT! His friends and again! And again! And on and on! HE IS INSIDE WITH US! HE WILL NEVER GET AWAY! HIS PAIN WON'T END!
NC (voiceover): The film was directed by the author of the original Exorcist book, and he certainly shows an understanding of both suspense and horror. Is it as good as the first film? No. Can it be far-fetched? Sometimes. But it's still a really creepy and nerve-tingling movie, with haunting visuals, creepy ideas, and, of course, two great performances as the Gemini Killer.
Gemini Killer (Miller): Come in, Father Morning. Enter night. This time, you're going to lose.
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 4: The Joker from The Dark Knight. It's almost pointless to talk about this performance as I talk about it so much, but I think everybody was taken back at just how terrifying Heath Ledger was as the Joker. We know nothing about his past, family, or friends; we just know his goal is just to simply spread chaos.
Joker: Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.
NC (voiceover): He's like a demon that can't be destroyed, but the most disturbing part is, he makes it sound like he shouldn't be destroyed, like he's part of the grand plan. He makes it sound like its the natural order, that he's humanity fully realized.
Joker: When the chips are down, these, uh...these civilized people...they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
NC (voiceover): We don't know if he was born that way or had to go though some sort of crazy series of events, but either way, he's bad news. Both Ledger and Nolan took what was primarily an old school comic book villain and turned him into the embodiment of anarchy and chaos. But there's hints of a dark reality that lies in him too, and I think that's where the real fear comes from. I think we can all agree the scariest scene is the one that seemed the most realistic; as the shaky camera and bad audio truly added to the grittiness of this murder scene.
Joker: LOOK AT ME! (He then laughs maniacally at the camera as we hear a man in the background of the video screaming while being murdered)
(NC is in shock and squeaks his voice in fright)
NC (voiceover): Combining the dark side of comics with the dark side of reality, the Joker is one evil clown you won't soon be forgetting.
Joker: Why so serious?
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 3: Anton from No Country For Old Men. It was actually pretty hard deciding who was creepier: Anton or the Joker? I decided to go with Anton for one main reason: unlike the Joker who wants to be anarchy and misery, I think Anton feels he has to be anarchy and misery, like there's no other choice. That's just another level of depression to add to this character.
Carla Jean: You don't have to do this.
Anton: People always say the same thing.
Carla Jean: What did they say?
Anton: They say, "You don't have to do this."
NC (voiceover): He doesn't really smile that much, so he's not fully enjoying what he's doing. It's like a strange fixation that if he doesn't do certain horrible things, the world will be thrown out of alignment. Much like the Joker, we don't know why he's come to this conclusion, but it's pretty obvious nobody's changing his mind. You just look at him and you think unpleasantness. How does he see the world where he feels he has to do these things?
Anton: I won't tell you you can save yourself, because you can't.
NC (voiceover): The whole movie itself is basically about the evolution of the dark criminal mind and how it's only getting worse, evolving to a point where not only can we not control it, but--even more disturbing--we can't understand it. Anton is the perfect representation of that. Not feeling, never satisfied, and doesn't know if he is doing the right thing or the wrong thing, but above all, doesn't care. Every word he says is beyond cryptic as well as confusing.
Carla Jean: You got no cause to hurt me.
Anton: No, but I gave my word. Your husband.
Carla Jean: That don't make sense.
NC (voiceover): I mean, when has a coin toss ever been so fucking terrifying?
(The Two-Face in Batman Forever tosses a coin)
NC (voiceover): I don't think so.
(The Two-Face in The Dark Knight tosses a coin)
NC (voiceover): A little bit.
(Back to the No Country for Old Men footage)
NC (voiceover): But this still takes the cake.
Anton: Just call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: I didn't put nothin' up.
Anton: Yes, you did. You've been putting it up your whole life; you just didn't know it.
Gas Station Proprietor: I...need to know what I stand to win.
Anton: Everything. You stand to win everything. Call it.
NC (voiceover): Everything has a meaning, but everything also means nothing; total shit-your-pants philosophy.
Anton: Don't put it in your pocket. It's your lucky quarter. It'll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.
NC (voiceover): Anton's that stranger you hope never meet in the middle of nowhere.
Man: (answers the phone) Who is this?
Anton: (on the phone) Leave it the way it is.
(Interlude to the next entry)
NC (voiceover): Number 2: Regan from The Exorcist. Considered to be the scariest movie of all time, The Exorcist all centers around a girl who's possessed by something not of this world. Is it the devil? Maybe. Is it one of his followers? Who knows? But one thing we can figure out is that Regan is not alone.
Damien Karras: Where's Regan?
Regan: (speaks in Pazuzu's demonic voice) In here, with us.
NC (voiceover): On top of Linda Blair's fantastic performance, we also have the voice talent of Mercedes McCambridge, who has one of those creepy voices where you can't tell if it's a man or a woman, which just makes it all the more surreal.
Damien Karras: How long do you plan to stay in Regan?
Regan: (speaks in Pazuzu's voice) Until she rots and lies stinking in the earth.
NC (voiceover): On top of that, the makeup, the lighting, and the overall direction makes the idea of a possessed girl seem surprisingly plausible.
Regan: (speaks in Pazuzu's voice) Your mother's in here with us, Karras. Would you like to leave a message? I'll see that she gets it.
NC (voiceover): You really feel like you're there as all the shit is going on, and so did a lot of other people, apparently. Audience members went screaming out of the theatre when they first saw this film, and even today, they continue to show it in theatres around Halloween. Why? Because it still gets a shock out of people.
Damien: I'm Damien Karras.
Regan: (speaks in Pazuzu's voice) And I'm the devil! Now kindly undo these straps!
NC (voiceover): This little demon brat was scary then and is still scary now. She had everything: a spinning head, green vomit, telekinesis, voices she could imitate, shape shifting, she had it all. And I guess she might have been a murderer, too, but I don't know. Is the idea when Father Merrin is found dead that he died over a heart attack, or did Regan kill him? If she did kill him, how exactly did that work?
NC: (as possessed Regan, sitting camera right) Hey, Father, look over there.
NC: (as Father Merrin, sitting camera left) Alright. (He turns to face at an angle camera left)
("Possessed Regan" kills "Merrin" with a baseball bat, making him fall backward and lay stiff)
NC (voiceover): Whatever happened, there's certainly no doubt that little Regan definitely had more than one person in her head.
(Possessed Regan laughs to herself creepily)
(Interlude to the next and final entry)
NC (voiceover): And the number one scariest performance is...HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Why? Because he's everything inspiring and terrifying about the evolution of man. He's the supreme computer, has artificial intelligence, and can come to logical conclusions on his own.
HAL 9000: I would recommend that we put the unit back in operation and let it fail. We can certainly afford to be out of communication for the short time it will take to replace it.
NC (voiceover): But with that comes a thinking that only runs on logic, and when the computer sees the crew of the ship as a danger to the mission, he destroys them. No second thoughts; he just destroys them.
HAL: During the past few weeks, I've wondered whether you might be having some second thoughts about the mission.
NC (voiceover): There's no sympathy, no reasoning, just logic.
Dave: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that. This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
NC (voiceover): Everything he says, no matter how creepy, is always in that monotone voice. He's never happy, sad, or angry. It's not like a person where you can argue to their emotional side. With HAL, you know there's no emotional side. If he thinks you should go, you're gone, and he'll use everything that mankind has programmed into him to carry it out.
HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.
NC (voiceover): The other creepy thing is HAL knows about the human animal, and does everything he can to trick them, like pretending he can't hear them in the space pod when he's secretly reading their lips. Or how about when he tries to play to Dave's emotional side by flat out lying to him?
HAL: I know everything hasn't been quite right with me. I feel much better now. I really do.
NC (voiceover): He'll do anything to complete the mission, and what makes him so scary, is that we designed him that way, we have nobody to blame but us. In many ways, he's the ultimate accomplishment, but in others, he's the ultimate fuck-up. We can't blame him because we'd be blaming ourselves, and the sinister determination that HAL has is a direct representation of what we pride: efficiency at any cost.
HAL: It can only be attributable to human error. This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error.
NC (voiceover): HAL is scary because of his voice, his actions, and most of all where he came from: us. He's a cautionary tale of not only where mankind could be going, but what we can, have, and will ultimately, become.
HAL: (sings drowsily) Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do...
NC: And those are my top eleven scariest performances. And for those of you wondering why I didn't put Tim Curry from It on there, don't worry. Enlightenment will be coming next week. (He makes an evil laugh before getting up to leave and a dramatic music sting from "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" plays)
Channel Awesome Tagline--HAL: (sings drowsily) Daisy, Daisy...