I love horror movies and the uniquely seductive, heart-pounding lure that keeps you in their world of scares. While a film's story is usually told through the protagonist's eyes, it can be great fun imagining events from beyond the main character's point of view. These 'lost' scenes are missing pieces to the puzzle and moments that we, the viewers, are not privy to, and will never know, but oh how we'd love to see. Choosing one terrific horror film from each of the past five decades, here are some "behind the thrills and chills" that keep me wondering late at night...
ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968)
The scene we'd love to see, but we'll never see: Where Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes), Rosemary's newlywed husband, becomes convinced by his new next door neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castenet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer), to trade his firstborn child, his wife, their relationship, and (let's face it) his soul to Satan himself - all for a better acting career.
Why this missing scene haunts me: A happy, not-Satanic couple, Rosemary (Mia Farrorw) and Guy had only just moved into their new Manhattan apartment building. Guy is a barely-working actor with a few theatre, radio and TV parts under his belt (how they can afford such a stately, roomy apartment in New York City is beyond me - but it was the 1960s so I let that concern go). Yes, he wants to land better parts in his acting career - I get that. But what did the conversation between the Castenets and Guy Woodhouse look like? How does a newlywed husband (however career-obsessed) sign up so quickly to have Satan impregnate his wife? Was he wrestling with this decision? Was he hypnotized or brainwashed by the Castenets? Did he harbor secret Satanic tendencies when Rosemary married him? Whatever the answers, his transformation happened fast. In the most surreal and terrifying scene, Rosemary, in her own bed, is raped by Satan himself as all the elderly neighbors chant in a circle around the bed in the nude. We see Guy, nude amongst the coven chanting along and watching. And subsequently, his acting career does seem to improve. Oh, the lengths some actors will go for a good role.
The scene we'd love to see, but we'll never see: Any scene where the demonic Helena Markos, Directress of the prestigious Tanz Dance Academy, strategizes with Madame Blanc, Vice-Directress, and Miss Tanner (one of the instructors) to plot the deaths various female students.
Why this missing scene haunts me: This coven of female school administrators is one of cinema's most terrifying. These are some wicked witches. Suspiria is a work of art - building beautifully with eerie sound design, luscious, painterly colors, and striking cinematography - creating the most stylish and sinister interior of a school ever seen in on film. Masterful flourishes (thank you Dario Argento!) that add up to a villain unseen. Since our trio of hateful schoolmarms only flicker briefly onscreen, I can't help but wonder what the dynamics and conversations of the Academy's 'behind the scenes' look like.
FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)
The scene we'd love to see, but we'll never see: Much like the villainous matriarchs in Suspiria, Mrs. Pamela Voorhees, the (spoiler alert) unlikely-looking maniacal murderess of the franchise's premiere installment appears all too briefly. Imagine this iconic slasher film through Mrs. Voorhee's eyes. Yes, there is (effectively horrifying) handheld camera from her P.O.V., but I want more.
Why this missing scene haunts me: Mrs. Voorhees (played to perfection by 54 year old Betsy Palmer) lurks, spies, strategizes, stalks, hides under beds, sprints through the woods, disconnects cars, cuts phone lines, stabs, impales, and manages other various athletics not normally associated with middle aged mothers in 1980. Imagine the film from HER point of view, arguably a more intriguing POV than the unsuspecting camp counselors. She is a woman whose rage and grief not only consumes her, but destroys anyone opposing her. She bludgeons nearly every notable character in the film - an exhausting feat - and all to avenge the death of her long lost son. Which begs the question, where was Jason throughout the first Friday the 13th film? We learn in Part 2 that he has been dwelling (WAY off the grid) in a ramshackle shanty in the woods, but apparently she wasn't aware of that. Or was she? Since she was psychopathic, who knows. It's an area of the franchise that has never really been explored.
BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)
The scene we'd love to see, but we'll never see: The moments before (and after) Mike, one of the film's lead characters, is sentenced to stand facing a basement wall in the derelict Blair Witch house just before the film ends.
Why this missing scene haunts me: After being lost, dazed and confused in the cursed woods of Burkittsville, Maryland, a trio of film students stumble upon an abandoned house where the film reaches its ghastly climax. We learn that the Blair Witch would have her young victims face a wall before murdering them. We see Mike reach the basement, and then something attacks him, causing him to drop his video camera, and he goes silent. His friend, Heather, then follows him into the basement where she sees him facing the wall. What happened in those seconds? Of course, this is a film that works because of what it doesn't show or explain, but that still doesn't stop me from wondering. I imagine the Blair Witch (who we never see) attacks Mike, who falls, and is then (in a trance) summoned him to stand in the corner. There are many fan sites speculating what happened to Mike, Josh and Heather in that house, but like the doomed crew that tried to find out in 2016's Blair Witch film, we will never know.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
The scene we'd love to see, but we'll never see: The wee hours where the dead took over our heroine's (Ana played by Sarah Polley) peaceful suburban neighborhood. One casualty being Vivian, a cute little girl on rollerblades at sundown, who, come sunrise, becomes a drooling treacherous zombie with a mutilated face.
Why this missing scene haunts me: The film opens with Ana on her way to working an evening shift as a medic in a local hospital. From the car, Ana chats casually with a perky neighbor girl, Vivian (Hannah Lochner). Ana returns home about midnight and aside from an emergency TV news story (which she misses because she's busy making love to her handsome husband in the shower), all is calm and right with the world. They wake at 6:37AM. No sounds of explosions or screams or anything. Suddenly, their bedroom door cracks open to little Vivian in the doorway. She seems fine at first, but upon closer inspection she's wild eyed and foaming at the mouth. We know from Vivian's nightgown that she probably went to bed, so how did she get attacked in the night? We can only imagine. And how did the world fall apart so completely between midnight and 6:37am? When Ana finally does make her way outside - we see the entire landscape (as far as the eye can see) is in full apocalyptic blaze. Of course, a lot can go wrong in six hours or so - but the overnight collapse of Ana's hometown in Dawn of the Dead does indeed haunt me.