11 Scariest Bath Scenes in Horror Movie History
11 Scariest Bath Scenes in Horror Movie History
Bathrooms should be a calm place for moments of relaxation and reflection. The center of every bathroom is its namesake, the bath. But in the world of horror, this porcelain tub is nothing more than a tool to weave tales of terror and leave us poor viewers frightened to enter the restroom. Here are 11 horror moments that turned a relaxing dip into a depraved and terrible nightmare. 11 Scariest Bath Scenes in Horror Movie History.
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Don’t fall asleep in the bath. It’s a common courtesy shared between parents and kids, the simple idea that you may fall asleep and slip under the water. And yet, in Springwood, this phenomenon has a new explanation, in the form of a gloved hand and a maniacal dream demon.
As Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) closes her eyes, resting comfortably in a warm bath, Freddy’s clawed glove breaks through the surface of the water between her open legs, pulling her down into a murky ocean of water. It’s a terrifying scene, and one clearly inspired by 1975’s shivers. We have the sexual undertones of Freddy’s hand coming up from between Nancy’s thighs, combined with the psychological terror of the invasion of privacy, especially within the confines of a bathroom. This same styled psychological attack was used to effect in Alfred Hitchcock 1960’s classic Psycho, that saw Janet Leigh murdered whilst take a shower. In both cases, the assumed safety of a bathroom is violated by a brutal attack.
The idea of safety within your own home is completely turned on its head here in ‘Nightmare’, as Freddy manifest anywhere he pleases, including within a full tub of water. A Nightmare on Elm Street could even be considered a home invasion movie, just one with supernatural elements. This bath scene is still seen as one the film’s most iconic, perfectly encapsulates Freddy’s deviancy.
If you’re looking for the progenitor of the bath attack, look no further than David Cronenberg body horror Shivers, which sees Barbara Steele taking a nice warm bath after a hard days work. The only issue is that a parasitic slug is lurking in the plumping. The brown lump, slithers its way up into the clear bathwater and starts to move towards her open legs. Implying that the creature entered her body via a certain body cavity, we see Steele thrashing in agony as the parasite invades its new host. Cronenberg has always been well known for his body horror films of the 1980’s, but here in his earlier work, his emphasis is on the building tension of the scene. Whilst we do not see the creature entering Steele’s body, we get a clear picture of exactly what has played out.
It’s a scene that is clearly etched onto the minds of many filmmakers, and it’s hard not to see the similarities between Shivers bathroom attack and many others such as Slither and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Alfred Hitchcock made showering terrifying, Cronenberg did the same for baths.
What Lies Beneath (2000)
Robert Zemeckis’ spooky tale of a ghost haunting a lonely housewife, turns on many faucet based scenes, any one of them would be enough to ward you off taking baths for life. From steaming baths of water filling from thin air, to jump scare reflections in the water, there’s a lot of spooky bath-time fun to be had here. But the icing on the cake is the films third act, that turns Harrison Ford’s Dr. Norman Spencer, a kind and caring husband, into a psycho nutbar determined to do away with his wife, Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer ) so he can cover up a previous murder.
Using a drug Norman’s company uses for experiments, he sedates his wife and leaves her in the bath to drown. The drug leaves her paralysed but awake, and so she watches as the water passes up and over her face, leaving only her panicked eyes above the surface. It’s a terrifying scenes that instils a real dread in the pit of your stomach. Whilst people do drown in bathtubs, here we have a murder being played out with an unrestrained victim who can see and hear everything. The entire sequence is played out from Claire’s perspective, as the sound design quickly swaps to that eerie noise you get underwater, muffled and disturbing. The terror in Claire’s eyes is haunting as she struggles to gain control of her body to save her own life.
Deep Red/Profundo Rosso (1975)
Dario Argento has always had a nasty habit of lingering his camera on murder victims. Even when the person is dead, the camera still hoovers over the body like some perverse spectator eager to catch the grisly remain on film. In a nasty scene, from his 1975 giallo film Deep Red, the black gloved killer drowns his victim in a bath of scalding water.
The camera films from the killers POV, so as not to reveal the murderer’s identity, which gives us a unique, if not unpleasantly detailed, angle on this murder. The killer leaves the burned victim sprawled out on the bathroom floor. And as the camera remains on the body, a twist, the victim is not quite dead. In her dying moments, she scrawls a message on the wall. A message that fades as the condensation lifts and her body finally relinquish to her terrible injuries.
Red was a significant colour in the TV screen adaption of Stephen King’s IT from 1990. It was the colour of Penny-wise’s pom poms and hair, it was colour of the many balloons he conjured up and it was also the colour of the weird plant that sat outside Stan Uris’s bathroom.
In this adaption, Stan (Richard Masur) is the last of the “Losers” to receive a call from his old friend Michael. Upon an awkward exchange, he hangs up the phone and heads upstairs for a bath, passing by the odd red plant. We had already established the connection between seeing red and a visit from IT, as red pom poms would often find a way of appearing on someone or something. I remember seeing that red plant and thinking “oh no, IT’s in THERE!”. And in a way….IT was.
The clown never manifested itself like I imagined, but IT’s presence was heartily felt, as Stan’s wife enters the bathroom to find her husband dead in the tub, his wrist sliced through. As a pool of blood grows on the bathroom floor, the camera pulls up to reveal Stans last message to the world. Written in his own blood, one word. IT!
Deadly Blessings (1981)
Martha Schmidt (Maren Jensen) is a victim of a near fat bathroom incident in Wes Craven’s weird misstep before A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s strange to think that even before Craven conjured up Kruger, he had this weird fascination with young woman in bath tubs. Here in Deadly Blessing, an eerily similar scene plays out, the progenitor to Nancy’s bathroom attack three years later.
A community of Amish like ‘Hittites’ make life hell for Martha and her husband, but the couple refuse to leave, even after people start dying at the hands of a mysterious, shadowy, figure. Martha is attacked by a poisonous snake that someone drops into her bathtub. Much like in ‘Nightmare’, we witness the snake heading towards Marthas open legs, as she relaxes in the warm soapy water. Whilst Deadly Blessings is a mere footnote in Cravens movie resume, it’s interesting that this scene in particularly resonated with him, and for good reason. It was the most scariest part of the weird film.
Beside Sharon Stone swallowing spiders, Ernest Borgnine snarling at the camera and a risqué poster that completely over represents the movie, the bathroom scene is the part that sticks out, due to it’s sexual undertones and psychological repercussions. With their own home violate by the killer, nowhere is safe for Martha and her family.
Pet Sematary (1989)
I’m a huge cat lover, owning two very cute little kitties, so it saddens me to say that Church from Pet Semetary, a 1989 adaption of Stephen King’s chilling novel, freaks me out. That moment Church returns from the dead is high up there on the list of scenes that had a huge impact on me as a horror lover. But we are not talking about cats here, but baths!
And so, It is that we find ourselves with Doctor Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), taking a well-deserved soak in the tub. He lays back against the porcelain, a flannel over his face, when he hears a plop, and feels something soft hit his naked chest. It’s a bloody, half chewed, dead rat. Blood begins to fill the tub, as Lewis scrambles from the bath, a terrified scream fresh on his tongue. The undead moggy sits and growls softly from a shelf, watching the chaos unfold within the confines of the little bathroom.
Mirrors is an 2008 supernatural horror film about a gutted luxury department store that is haunted by some angry spooks. These pesky poltergeists have the ability to manipulate your reflections, which result in some nasty deaths in the real world. Angie (Amy Smart) is one victim that has a nasty incident whilst bathing in the tub.
The spirits haunt Angie’s bathroom mirror, and hijack her reflection. Her doppelganger grabs at her face and pulls hard on her jaw. In real life, Angie starts to feel an supernatural grip on her face, as her jaw is suddenly ripped wide open, spilling her tongue and a torrent of gore splashing into the water. It’s a bloody and graphic scene that is played for shocks rather than laughs.
Slither is an alien invasion movie that takes its inspirations from films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Fred Dekker’s Night of the Creeps, John Carpenter’s The Thing and The Blob. Director James Gunn took notes of his horror clichés and worked them into the film, such as the bathroom scene.
Here in Slither, an alien slug squirms it’s way into the bath of Kylie Strutemyer (Tania Saulnier) as she enjoys a good soak whilst listening to some bangin’ tunes. Whilst many of the other films on this list use this set up (The girl in the bath with something coming at her in the water) as a way of sexualising the scene, Gun just concentrates on the horror.
There are no lingering shots of Kylies legs sticking out of the water and her thighs are not widely akimbo. Instead, the creature just goes straight for her head, desperate to get into her mouth. It’s a much more visceral and tense sequence, with the attack having repercussion for the rest of the movie. Kylie struggles and fights the creature latched onto her tongue, and she collapse out of the bath, clutching at the slug as it forces its way into her mouth. The scene plays out as a brutal attack, on both the mind and body, and it’s one of the most visual scenes in the movie. Gun even used the image of the bath for the films posters.
The Shining (1980)
Stephen King’s novel The Shining, had its far shares of terrifying imagery, but it was director Stanley Kubrick who pulled details from the book and turned them into hellish visions. The bath room scene in Kubrick’s scene comes with no backstory or explanation, and by removing any history of the room, we do not know what to expect, as Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) enters room 237s lime green bathroom.
Jack encounters a ghost of a young beautiful naked woman in the bathtub, who rises to greet him and slowly moves in for a kiss. Whilst this is an erotic scene, the score and tension is thick with melancholy and Kubrick camera keeps focusing back to Jacks confused, yet aroused face. It’s only when Jack looks in the mirror, that he sees the woman is a rotting bloated corpse. We get glimpses of the woman (Mrs Massey) in the bath, as she cackles manically, chasing Jack towards the door, all whilst the score swells and screeches in the background. The entire scene is a horrifying sequence that is hard to push from your mind. The quick switch from the erotic to horror almost feels like a violation, and even after Jack leaves the room, running from the cackling behind the door, we still feel dirty.
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
There’s little to enjoy in the 1978 American rape-and-revenge exploitation horror film. Years before films such as Hostel or Saw were doing body horror, I Spit on Your Grave began an unhealthy fascination with mutilation. The film see’s writer Jennifer Hills (Camille Keaton) taking revenge on the four men who raped her.
Notorious for its controversial depiction of graphic violence, the bathroom scene is one of it’s most gritty and disgusting. Confronting one of the men who raped her, Jennifer convinces the man that he’s in for a good time. She gets him into a bath where she pleasures him for short time, before whipping out a knife and severing his genitals. It’s only when the blood starts to bubble up into the soapy water, that man starts to scream in shock and fear. Jennifer locks the man in the bathroom, leaving him to bleed to death. There’s no Hollywood gloss, no comedy, it’s visceral, harsh and, quite frankly, hard to watch.