A great horror film must be scary and suspenseful. The films in our selection more than fulfilled this requirement – and even exceeded it a little.
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho managed to frighten audiences like no other film had before 1960. At the first screenings, no one could imagine that Janet Leigh's dazzling heroine would be brutally murdered half an hour into the film. The now iconic shower murder scene from Psycho made a lasting impression on the sixties audiences for two main reasons. First, the jaw-dropping plot twist with the killing. What could happen now that the main character (as everyone believed) had been erased from the plot? And secondly, the stubbing scene was so shocking that some of the audience fled outside in fear, others became sick and even fainted. For Janet Leigh herself, the shower scene turned into a personal nightmare: after Psycho she became terrified of showers.
The Exorcist (1973)
In the half-century since its premiere, William Friedkin's Exorcist has numerously been quoted, referenced, and picked apart for memes. However, this classic horror film still remains second to none when it comes to instilling genuine fear in audiences. Without The Exorcist, no list of movies that made their audiences pass out or take off would be complete. The film was designed specifically to shock. However, many of the early viewers thought Friedkin's creation was over the top, and in some places totally crossed the line, especially in the crucifixion scene. Nevertheless, people flocked in droves to see the new appalling hit, standing in huge lines no matter the weather. The newspapers of the time reported numerous faintings, heart attacks, and even miscarriages caused by The Exorcist. This made the movie's already mystical reputation even darker.
Saw III (2006)
"It made people pass out" is the perfect slogan for a horror film, especially when it is backed up by media reports. Of all the Saw films, it was Saw III that made the viewers lose consciousness. The BBC reported five cases of fainting in UK screenings, noting at the same time that the film was the box office leader.
An ambulance spokesman advised, commenting on the mass health effect of Saw III:
"If you know you are sensitive – don't go [to this movie]."
127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours by Danny Boyle tells the story of how a thrilling climbing adventure ended in a real nightmare for mountaineer Aron Ralston, played by James Franco. In 2003, Ralston, a seasoned climber, took his usual canyon walk. But the journey went awry when a boulder the hero was hanging off fell down, trapping the hiker’s right arm against the wall. Ralston spends nearly six days in the crevasse, knowing that he can only rely on himself as he didn’t tell anyone where he was going.
Boyle's film is based on Ralston's autobiography. After hours of unsuccessful attempts to break free in the film, the gruesome suffering of the protagonist slowly dying of thirst at the bottom of a crevasse, comes the shocking climax – the character sawing off his own arm with a blunt knife. Everything is as it was in real life. After such an ordeal, Aron Ralston survived and successfully recovered – and even cheerfully attended the premiere of the film about himself. The audience, however, did not get over the story easily. At the first screenings, some had to call doctors because of panic attacks caused by sensitive content and, sure enough, many fainted (there's even a chronology of faintings on the Net), other viewers simply got up and left – some were sure the character would die, and those familiar with Ralston’s story simply weren't “dying” to see excruciating agony for a happy ending. Some critics even called the moment when the character cuts off his hand the most shocking scene in a movie since The Exorcist.
The horror film Frozen is reminiscent of 127 Hours in certain moments, however, this story is (allegedly) completely fictional. Three skiers are stuck on a ski lift high above the ground, a blizzard is closing in on them, and wolves are already circling beneath the cable. Broken legs, frostbite, hands stuck to cold metal, running from predators – there's everything here that will make you shudder at the very least and at most – turn the movie off altogether. At the premiere of Frozen at the Sundance Film Festival, after the first scene of wolves attacking an injured guy, lines gathered at the exits of the hall, and several people - you guessed it - fainted. The same thing happened at the premiere in Salt Lake City and in several other cities. The director, commenting on these incidents, suggested that the audience just didn't fully realize they were going to a horror movie.
Julia Ducournau's horror film Raw gained notoriety as a cannibalistic horror film right after its first screenings. The film made news not only because of the critical acclaim (it had a 92% score on Rotten Tomatoes at the time) but also because several viewers literally blacked out at the premiere. The film tells about a student named Justine, a dedicated vegetarian, who one day experiences an uncontrollable craving for raw meat. It all begins with animal meat, but really soon Justine switches to people. Raw was an obvious hit among horror fans – and at the same time broke all records for bloodiness. This movie is not recommended for sensitive viewers who can’t handle seeing blood.