If I had to choose my all-time favorite cable television special, gun-barrel positioned firmly against my brow, sweat pellets trickling onto the trigger, it’d be Bravo’s unparalleled “100 Scariest Movie Moments,” the Halloween-season-aired countdown of all things superior in shock. First airing in October of 2004, this totally re-watchable bit of cinematic bliss is a guilty party in the presence of my evolution from “above-average movie lover” to “obsessive cinephile.” Prior to watching it, I fancied myself as a pretty knowledgeable horror/thriller flick aficionado, but a mere 30 minutes into this special I realized that I had a ways to go. What were these movies that I’d never heard of yet were being talked about as some sort of celluloid scripture? Blood and Black Lace. The Sentinel. The Wicker Man (original, not the terrible Nic Cage remake). Even Takashi Miike’s Audition, which I was sadly unaware of before “100 Scariest Movie Moments” entered my life.
Also on this list of films the special slapped my senses awake for is director Terrence Young’s 1967 adaptation of the popular stageplay Wait Until Dark. A flick that a good friend of mine who adores Audrey Hepburn should be ashamed of herself for not recommending my way; in it, Hepburn stars as a blind woman who’s city apartment is under siege by tactical, cold-blooded thieves searching for a heroin-stuffed doll lost within her home’s walls. The lead baddie is played with chilly calm by Alan Arkin, in a wonderfully restrained performance that goes off the rails at all the right times. Wait Until Dark is so effective because it’s so sneaky in its terror; starting off ordinary and slightly wishy-washy, it doesn’t take long before blindsiding you with some magnificent scenes of claustrophobic tension.
The film’s most celebrated moment, though, is what thrust it upon Bravo’s top-100 list. It comes near the end of the picture, when a possible resolution has been reached, victory flirts with the emotions of Hepburn’s resilient sightless heroine. [SPOILERS AHEAD, SO BEWARE IF YOU PLAN ON WATCHING THIS] Wait Until Dark came years before the likes of Carrie and Friday the 13th, giving this shock a truly earned OG quality. [Scene, shown within the context of the Bravo special, after the jump]: