I love truly great scare scenes. I think there are only a handful of genuinely fantastic ones in the history of horror cinema; the ones that pin you to the back of your seat like a deer in the headlights whilst your brain scrambles to process the images are being presented with. Often these scenes get assimilated into the culture and diluted by parody and repetition, until it becomes nigh-on impossible to remember just how adrenalising and terrifying they were in the first place. Once the genie is out of the bottle it can never be recaptured again. Moments like the ending of the Ringu or the chest-burster in Alien have long since sacrificed their scare-factor on the altar of popular culture, remakes and over-familiarity.
With that in mind, and with the full understanding of just how seldom a genuinely terrifying moment in genre cinema comes along; there's a video on YouTube that I don't want you to watch.
You probably haven't seen it, even if you consider yourself quite a horror fan. It's from a film that remains difficult to track down, and was never very widely shown in the first place. In my opinion it's one of the truly great moments in horror cinema, and I don't want you to go and check it out under any circumstances. In fact, I'll be genuinely irritated if any of you do go and check it out as a result of reading this blog. Don't do it, kids.
I'm going to call it 'Scene X' and won't even tell you which movie it's from. Because if you watch it on YouTube, you won't actually see it in any meaningful sense.
The version of Scene X sitting on YouTube has got a whole load of heartbreakingly crass and badly written comments underneath it. "This is supposed to be scary? ROFL", "its not even scary", "I thought ti was hilarious" and so on, the dull echo chamber of prickwittery reverberating through the bowels of the internet. The sound of the barely literate congratulating themselves on their lack of engagement with a thirty-year old clip removed from any sense of context.
As with so many truly terrifying moments, the reason that Scene X is one of the greatest scenes in horror history isn't really because of the scene itself. The power comes from all those other scenes beforehand that aren't Scene X. All that careful set-up. After all, an ear-splitting gunshot in the middle of a Terminator movie might not even be noticed, whereas an ear-splitting gunshot in the middle of a film of a child playing would have a very different effect indeed. It's all context, and if you rob a powerful scene of that context then you reduce it to meaningless pixels on a screen.
So, no, despite my urge to bring a really cool forgotten moment in horror history to wider attention, I'm not going to tell you what Scene X is.
Irritatingly, even knowing that there's a brilliant scare-shot on the way will massively dilute your experience of the movie. The movie which is almost impossible to get hold of regardless.
So now you'll probably never see it at all. Because I've painted myself into a corner, where telling you the title would be a meta-spoiler. You might now never see it, but at least I won't have wrecked it for you.
My name's Pat Higgins, and my conscience is clear.