Top 10 Creepiest Things Found in the Backgrounds of Movie Scenes
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Did anybody else see that? For this list, we'll be looking at various creepy things that can be found in the background of various movies, particularly thrillers or horror films. Our countdown includes “Insidious”, “Jeepers Creepers”, “It”, and more!
Script Written by Nathan Sharp
Top 10 Creepiest Things Found in the Background of Movie Scenes
Did anybody else see that? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 creepiest things found in the background of movie scenes.
For this list, we’ll be looking at various creepy things that can be found in the background of various movies, particularly thrillers or horror films. These can be unintentional inclusions that slipped by quality control and became movie legend, or scary things that were intentionally placed in the background for the purpose of subtle horror. There’s a big spoiler alert in effect here.
#10: Ghost Boy
After the Lamberts move into a new home to escape the supernatural activity, Renai spots a little ghost boy through the window dancing to “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” It’s a creepy sequence, and it establishes that the supernatural activity has followed them to their new house. But did you know that the ghost can actually be seen before Renai spots him? After Renai starts the record, the camera follows her through the house as she tidies up. As she’s tossing clothes in the laundry hamper, you can see the boy standing just to her left and facing the wall. Why he was doing that, we have no idea. But it made our hearts freeze, we can tell you that.
#9: Upside Down Paintings
“Lost Highway” (1997)
David Lynch’s “Lost Highway” is a bizarre film that requires a lot of dedication. At its surface, the movie follows a musician who is sent mysterious VHS tapes and is eventually framed — or is he? — for the grisly murder of his wife. As the couple watches the tapes, you can see various paintings hanging on the wall behind their couch. The subject of the paintings aren’t really important. But Before Renee is murdered, these paintings are hanging upright. But following her death, the paintings are inexplicably hanging upside down. There is no discernible reason for this sudden change in positioning, and it’s never directly addressed in the movie. It’s just a subtle detail that Lynch decided to include to mess with his viewers.
#8: Toshio in the Door
“Ju-On: The Grudge” (2002)
Few villains can compare to the horrifying, pale, and wide-eyed Kayako Saeki. Saeki is the vengeful ghost that haunts the house in Nerima, and many of her scenes - like crawling down the staircase and hiding under the bed sheets - are now iconic. But there are also many subtle scares that are littered throughout. One of the best involves Toshio, AKA the little boy ghost. While getting some fresh air outside the nursing home, Saito starts playing peek-a-boo with no one in particular, much to the concern of Rika. When the camera cuts to the glass door, we get a very brief glimpse of Toshio standing next to Saito in the reflection. It’s enough to send chills down your spine.
#7: The Approaching Truck
“Jeepers Creepers” (2001)
This monster movie received mediocre reviews from critics, who mostly denounced the clichés and silly monster action. That said, most agreed that the film had a very encouraging start, and that’s largely due to the brilliant opening sequence. As Trish and Darry drive home for spring break, they are tormented by an erratic driver in a rusty truck. That alone is scary enough, but what makes the sequence even more unsettling is the subtle way in which the truck approaches the protagonists. It begins as an indistinct blur in the background before slowly growing in stature, coming into focus, and blaring its horn. It’s a wonderful way to introduce the movie’s villain, and it makes for a gloriously creepy opening scene.
#6: The Hanging Munchkin
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)
This movie is historic, and it just happens to contain one of the most ubiquitous legends in film history. We’re talking, of course, about the so-called hanging munchkin. As Dorothy and her ragtag group head towards Emerald City, you can supposedly see a munchkin hanging from a tree. Legend says that an actor had committed suicide during filming, and his hanging corpse had accidentally made its way into the movie. In actuality, the “corpse” is just a big bird that was borrowed from the Los Angeles Zoo and allowed to roam the set to give it a more authentic appearance. Regardless of the truth, there’s no denying the staying power and inherent creepiness of the suicidal munchkin legend.
#5: The Demon’s Face
“The Exorcist” (1973)
“The Exorcist” is widely heralded as the scariest movie of all time, yet it isn’t really about the exorcism itself. It’s more about Father Damien Karras’s crisis of faith and the deep feelings of guilt that he harbors regarding his mother’s death. In one of Karras’s creepy dreams, he tries waving to his deceased mother as she emerges from the subway. Right before Karras runs towards her, the screen very briefly flashes with the ghastly white face of the demon. It’s incredibly subtle, and it makes viewers question if they even saw anything in the first place. This was fully intentional by director William Friedkin.
#4: The Doll
“Blue Velvet” (1986)
Dennis Hopper gives one of the finest performances of his storied career in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” He plays Frank Booth, an extremely violent and unhinged criminal who keeps Dorothy Vallens’ family hostage so he can use her as a sex slave. He keeps them confined in the apartment belonging to a criminal associate named Ben. Ben’s apartment contains a creepy doll with a white face, black eyes, and women’s clothes. Like the upside down paintings in Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” this doll is given no explanation and is never acknowledged within the context of the movie. It’s just another one of Lynch’s creepy and mysterious details that lends the movie a disturbing atmosphere.
#3: Annie on the Ceiling
Horror movies have different ways of scaring its audience, and “Hereditary” uses just about all of them. There are upfront, in-your-face scares, there are grotesque images, and there are scenes requiring audience perception. After Annie inadvertently burns Steve alive and gets possessed, Peter wakes up in the darkened and eerily silent house. As the camera cuts to a long shot of his bedroom, viewers can spot Annie hovering in the corner of the ceiling and staring at Peter. What’s great about this sequence is that it doesn’t draw attention to Annie’s presence - the audience is simply left to spot her on their own, and when they do, they are given the scare of a lifetime.
#2: The Falling Satellite
This is the mother of all background details, so subdued and indistinguishable that we wonder how anyone even spotted at all. The movie ends with old footage of Rob and Beth filming themselves at a carnival. It seems like a bittersweet ending, reminding viewers of happier times. But there’s another reason behind its inclusion. If you look very closely (and we mean very closely), you can see a satellite falling from the sky and crashing into the ocean. This is a satellite called ChimpanzIII, and it was included as a reference to the movie’s viral marketing campaign. However, others posit that it could be the monster itself arriving from space, the escape pod from “The Cloverfield Paradox,” or even a fragment of the Shepard.
#1: The Librarian
Most people know “It” for Pennywise’s abrasive and confrontational method of horror. But there’s one scene in the movie that takes a far more subdued approach, and it’s arguably scarier than anything Pennywise could have concocted. While Ben is reading about Derry’s past in the library, the elder librarian can be seen in the background turning towards Ben and staring at him with a deeply unsettling grin. She remains out of focus the whole time, and the movie never highlights her disconcerting behavior. It’s an ingenious little detail that shows the evil permeating throughout Derry, and it proves that no one is ever safe - even when they think they are. Now that’s how you do horror.