The Heebie Jeebies

Associate Editor, News; Toronto, Canada (@Mack_SAnarchy)
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I wasn’t the type of guy who went out of his way to watch scary movies. Still to this day, the Horror genre- and it’s many off-shoots- are not tops on my list of genres of film I want to watch. It isn’t that I am a wuss. Okay. Maybe just a little. But I didn’t watch a movie just with the sole intent of being scared. Examples? I only watched Danny Boyle’s pseudo-zombie film 28 Days Later after it was released on DVD, yet afterwards I wondered what all the fuss was about [but the commercial campaign showing a scared audience through night vision lens and that had me worried - pansies!!!]. I skipped out on the chance to see Hostel during TIFF even though a ticket was available and they were highly coveted thanks to moving the screening in to a smaller theatre. But over time I have rebuilt my resilience to the horror genre and the scare factor of other types of films. But, I will always remember these ones. The ones that gave me… the Heebie Jeebies.

So why then write a Top Five list about the Heebie Jeebies? Well, by my definition a Heebie Jeebie is something different than just a straight scare. A Heebie Jeebie leaves a lasting impression on your soul. A Heebie Jeebie haunts you like nothing else does. It grips your sub consciousness and doesn’t let go. You lose sleep over it. You shudder when the image pops into your head at the most inopportune moment. You feel sick to your stomach when you recall it. A Heebie Jeebie is more than a scare. A Heebie Jeebie happens unknowingly and unsolicited as the effectiveness of these Heebie Jeebies rely as much on surprise as much as they do their haunting factor. I credit the first Ju-on film in a Heebie Jeebie category but I wouldn’t consider the second because the shock of it all was gone and the second one was more of an exercise in scare execution rather than scare solicitation and viewer interaction. It was still entertaining as hell but created a different reaction.

So read on minions! Read my list then chime in with your own HeBgBs. Be heard!!!


Japanese Horror HeBgB: The eyes and the point It took me a couple years to jump right in to the world of J-Horror. I was behind a few years worth and once my fragile disposition was up to snuff after a personal breakdown I worked up the courage to watch some J-Horror. Ju-on and Ringu are credited with giving me the J-Horror HeBgBs.

My first venture was the iconic Ju-on. What got me the most were the eyes of Kayako in the video camera in Ju-on. I will openly admit that when I was watching the US remake I pulled my hoodie over my face so I wouldn’t see them and go through the HeBgB all over again. I saw those eyes rise into the camera and that was it. I was sleeping with the lights on for a couple days trying to get that image out of my mind.


In Ringu, it was in the video - the hooded figure by the ocean pointing. Reiko wakes up and looks into Yoichi’s room. That blasted image of the hooded figure pointing appears, with its pointing, Reiko runs into the adjacent room and her son, Yoichi is watching the cursed video. The first time I watched Ringu I turned it off right then. That image haunted me for a couple days as well. Dang. Honorable mention should also go to Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo because Todd believes that the scene with the ghost reaching over the top of the couch while the man cowers behind it is HeBgB worthy.


War Movie HeBgB: Soldiers and knives just don’t mix There’s nothing like a good war movie. Speilberg and Eastwood have created some of the finest modern war films with Saving Private Ryan and Flags of our Fathers/Letters from Iwa Jima. And with every respect they’ve created scenes that have given me the HeBgBs – both in regards to long knives entering soft flesh.

In Saving Private Ryan in the final act Adam Goldberg’s character Pvt. Stanley Mellish is in a small room with Max Martini’s Corporal Henderson. As Henderson lays dying on the floor, shot through the throat, the Germans rush in and Mellish wrestles with the German the group had only just released earlier in the film. We watch the knife slide into his heart as the Germans shushes him, sweat from his nose dripping onto Mellish’s face. That was hard and it haunted me for weeks.

FooF.jpgIn Flags of our Fathers it was scene with Adam Beech’s character, Ira Hayes, and the men in his foxhole watch Japanese soldiers rush into another foxhole and start to kill the Marines inside. We cut to the horrific scene of a Marine yelling out, ‘They’re killing me’ as the bayonet plunges into his chest repeatedly. It is just something about knives and war movies that get me. Honorable mention goes to the bayonet scene in Platoon during the final battle.


Paul W.S. Anderson HeBgB: He makes another movie - Noooooo!!! Enter your joke here about the mere mention of a Paul W.S. Anderson project giving you the chills but I will credit the man for genuinely creating an image that I have been trying hard to forget since I saw Event Horizon on local television too long ago. Fortunately, it’s getting quite shady in my memory but I will try to recall it to the best of my recollection to aid you, the ScreenAnarchy faithful. Near as I can remember the crew of the Lewis & Clark finally gets a video-log working and they are privy to scenes from hell. They were horrific scenes of the suffering of the crew of the Event Horizon. And the one thing that stuck in my mind was the image of someone choking on their own insides, near as I could tell. The convulsing. The gurgling. The blood. Man, that stuck in my mind and that is the only time that Paul W.S. Anderson will have genuinely scared me. Now I just get the shivers with each new video game adaptation the dink picks up.


Stephen Spielberg HeBgB: Stephen scares small child Early in my youth, as I began to develop a taste for cinematic delights, Stephen Spielberg, and a host of other young directors, was tearing a swath into American Cinema. Two of his films stand today in my Top Ten list, not only because of how good they are, but because they effected me so much in my youth that they turned me on to film for the rest of my life. And, yes, they gave me the HeBgBs.

Let us start with Jaws. In the right context it can be fascinating or down-right frightening. When you’re at your family cottage in Washington state mere steeps from the ocean? Oh boy, you can bet it was the latter. I watched Jaws, in its entirety, for the first time at the family cottage, Brigadoon, in Boundary Bay, Washington, on television. Did I go swimming off the beach for the rest of the week? Hell no!


Then there was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. When the aliens come down to the home of Gillian Guiler [Melinda Dillon] and her son Barry I was done. Aliens coming down through the chimney as Gillian’s hand is reaching up to pull down the chimney damper. The screws in the heater duct cover coming undone. And then they pull Barry through the cat flap? Aw hell, when you’re a little kid and you see something like that you’re grabbing 2X4s, a hammer, and you’re boarding up the house!


The Lost Footage HeBgB: You found what in the basement? Before it was cool to say that The Blair Witch Project sucked it worked like a charm on me. More so, it tricked my brain so badly that I slept with the lights on for days. On my church property there are two houses – one we allow missionaries to stay in during sabbatical years, the other we used for everything else. Used as in the past tense. It has since been boarded up and it is due for destruction as soon as we get the go ahead for a new building project. That house is a Blair Witch Project house. No one likes that house. There is something evil in that house. I convinced myself every time I went into that basement that I was going to see someone standing in the corner. That movie played tricks on my mind and the more we talked about it with friends and co-workers the more we spooked ourselves and soon found out that others of us also slept with the lights on. I have never watched that movie since and I doubt I will watch it again. It worked so well I don’t think I can do it again.

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beavisMarch 17, 2007 4:25 PM

two more comments:

Horror has become very popular in let’s say the last five years, but most of these movies are ghost and slasher horror filled with, like rek said, cheap shocks. I have become very tired/sick of them even to the point were I really disliked a film, the Descent, that actually has some good visuals and fantasy elements just because of these pointless scares that you always see coming but also always make you jump a bit just because the audio-cue is so loud. let’s stop that kind of annoying and cheap filmmaking :-)

Also forgot to mention that I totally agree with you on the creep factor of the knife scene in saving private ryan. It didn’t haunt me, but it sure was f#@&ed up. A lot of recent war movies have far stronger horror/gore scenes than most horror movies do! In the horror genre I actually like it when it get’s so weird that you start thinking wtf?! Dead Ringers comes to mind and there are a few others

Tuan JimMarch 17, 2007 10:30 PM

Gotta say, the first time I saw Ringu, it blew my mind—not so much at the point you mentioned, but on the money shot.  That one did get my blood up a bit.

Like your reference to knives—anything with teeth creeps me out:  Self-dentistry in 12 Monkeys and Castaway, psycho nazi dentist in Marathon Man (the list goes on and on).

I know there have been others too like what you’re describing, but none else are coming to mind, even after I went through my DVD list again.  I generally don’t check out too many horror flicks (depending on type) in the theaters either—I guess sometimes it’s easier being at home with the remote control if necessary.

KevMarch 18, 2007 2:41 AM

Call me a wuss but the films that have scared me the most are Westworld (he just keeps coming!) and Return to Oz (monkey dudes with rollerskate feet!)

Oh and gotta mention Halloween, for me the heebie jeebiest film ever made.

WolfMarch 18, 2007 6:25 AM

Yeah, that scene in the Eye gave me a heart attack. 

War movies tend to disturb me as much as horror.  I guess its because I know what I’m seeing can exist in reality.  I remeber watching the Killing Field as a kid and when Pran stumbles to the infamous killing fields, oh man....I got psycholgically screwed.

HallickMarch 18, 2007 8:19 AM

That death in Saving Private Ryan got to me so bad that there’s an unopened copy of the film in a trunk in my room which I’ve had for six years and I still won’t watch it. There was something about the way Adam Goldberg started sputtering, “wait, wait-” that made me feel like I was watching a real person die in front of me instead of some character.

giglinyodaMarch 18, 2007 11:36 AM

jacobs ladder - the deleted scene where the eye cracks through the ceiling. Actually most of the scenes in the movie are disturbing.

the shinning - the bear scene or the bathtub scene.

in the mouth of madness - the idea that everyone is slowly turning into monsters and you are the last one alive. creeped me out.

Event Horizon - agreed followed by the best delivery in a movie… “that’s it we’re out of here”

swarezMarch 18, 2007 8:34 PM

When violence is treated realisticly, with the victims reacting realisticly that’s when I cringe. Like Hostel which made me squirm allot especially the scene where the character’s tendons is severed. Ugh. I got the same reaction when watching Pet Cemetary when the kid cut the old man’s tendons from under the bed.

Touching the void was extremely painfull for me to watch. When the guy broke his legs and they explained how he broke it just made me queezy.

In fact bone breaking makes me uneasy more than anything else. I’ve never broken a limb and I don’t want to find out how painfull it actually is. Once a friend described in detail how he had broken his leg during a drunken night out and didn’t discover it untill the morning after. I kid you not that I almost fainted. A first for me.

rekMarch 18, 2007 8:44 PM

I just remembered a scene from Titus that borders on the gross-out and heebie jeebie for me. The discovery of the daughter, who has had her hands cut off and sticks shoved in their place....

Swarez - In grade 3 or 4 I had a teacher describe in class how she’d fallen during a ski trip and sliced open her chin. I thought I was going to pass out. Broken/sliced or stretched skin makes me want to puke.

Don HillMarch 18, 2007 11:01 PM

Yeah, the knife scene in SPR. *shudder*

The most disturbing scene in Pan’s to me was the bottle/nose scene. It was so unexpected and so brutal.

Two other scenes that left a mark on me are…

Dawn of the Dead - when the biker gets pinned to the floor and gutted.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - hammer to the back of the head that puts the guy into seizures.

misterblueMarch 19, 2007 11:48 AM

This will probably date me, but I can’t believe that no one has yet mentioned the Zuni Fetish Doll segment of Trilogy of Terror. Not only is the doll friggin’ creepy, but so is Karen Black, like, 10,000 times more so when she becomes ‘infected’...scarred me for life, but I forgave Matheson after I read ‘I am Legend’…

Kurt HalfyardMarch 20, 2007 12:04 AM

Long haired ghost climbs up onto bed in broad daylight in A Tale of Two sisters.  The sounddesign in that scene is so damn convincing that it creeps me out.  How do you admire something technically and at the same time be taken in by it?  A Tale of Two Sisters found a way…

ProhorMarch 20, 2007 3:33 AM

Moment in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo when guy went through the dark corridor and ghost of a girl appears. I have gooseskin everytime i recall it.

kiddphunkMarch 20, 2007 4:06 AM

My fav 2 ‘heebie jeebie’ TV moments from the 1980s (i’m 31 now, so these were impressionable times ;)

1) A Stephen King-penned episode of The Twilight Zone, ‘Gramma’ -

Child. Old Grandma. Wheelchair. Alone. Rain. Noises. Monster.

Ya, this one freaked me out even though I had been reading King for a year or two - (bachman books, thinner, etc in 5th grade)

2) An episode of ‘The Bloodhound Gang’ from ‘321 Contact’, “The Case of the Flying Clock, Part One” (A clock collector files an insurance claim that a precious clock has been stolen. ) - has one scene where the kids go into this guy’s house and there are hundreds of clocks of different sorts on the walls. Something about the clickings and the different times freaked me out to no extent.