Growing up the VHS era, I vividly remember the first five ‘Faces of Death‘ tapes in my local video store, and how terrifying they seemed.  Now, I mostly think of them as frightening relics illustrating the callousness of humanity, but in the ’80s, they carried the air of forbidden fruit.  I’ve seen much more terrifying things since, like the mirror scene from ‘Poltergeist’, Upson Pratt’s death in ‘Creepshow’ or the defibrillator scene from ‘The Thing.’  These are movies that live in my brain rent-free, but even subtler moments like “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that” will still give me the screaming jeebies, leading to today’s Jack-Torrance-typewritten query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) still gets the chills from Brian’s mushroom trip in the Family Guy episode ‘Seahorse Seashell Party’, asking: What’s the most legitimately terrifying moment in your favorite pop culture?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Jarmo Seppänen on

    In original Mobile Suit Gundam When they drop 30 kilometers long space colony from orbit as a bomb, creating a crater sized fourth of Australian continent, with zunami, ash covering earth atmosphere for years, all that stuff. Its pretty darn dark stuff for 1979 shonen animation.

  2. thinking about it, my scariest pop culture moments tend to be the blanket, world-ending events, just that pure, primal cosmic existential dread of something completely unstoppable and completely unbiased, unprejudiced, wiping everything and everyone out. so i tend to think about the first appearance of Galactus, the first Godzilla movie in 1954, the original Night of the Living Dead, stuff like that. giant events that will inevitably wipe out the world, while us puny mortals still bicker and fight in a bunker about who’s worth saving and who’s more important and who we should kick outside to buy us a couple extra minutes.

    and yes Matthew, that includes the supermarket movie you hate.

  3. Things that I’m terrified of today are vastly different from my first memories of being terrified. I think Chuckie was the thing that most terrified me as a kid. I also watched NofLD at a young age, at my friend’s house because they had a VHS player and we could only find it on VHS, on a small TV with all the lights on because, you know, fear. I just remember looking at each other as we watched it. The X-Files sometimes freaked me out, like some episode with a guy getting so heated that his face boiled. I still remember that bubble popping on his cheek. EW! But as a thirty-something-something adult (if that usage of the word adult isn’t a crime) I’m terrified by insidious political persuasion through pop culture, and also that life is long, and also short, and that there’s nothing beyond the veil of ignorance except more ignorance. So what is it all about anyway?

    • I meant NotLD (Night of the Living Dead), which now makes shortening all that to an acronym in the first place kind of moot.

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