1. Chainsaws (and the baddies who wield them)
Any game featuring chainsaw enemies, but especially Resident Evil 4.
Chainsaws are just scary objects to begin with. They look scary, they sound scary, and once you’ve seen your character brutally beheaded with one of the things, they seem much, much worse. It’s been seven years since I first played Resident Evil 4, and I still jump at the sound of a chainsaw revving.
2. Dreamrunners and Drekavacs
DmC: Devil May Cry
I just played DmC. It’s full of nasty-looking demons. Some of ’em even wield chainsaws! I quickly became desensitized to grotesque baddies and felt fairly blasé about combo-ing my way through hordes of them…until this guy popped up. Silent mask wearers who stare at you and tilt their heads like a bird are creepy. Silent mask wearers who stare at you, tilt their heads like a bird and then charge at you with two swords are downright terrifying. The Dreamrunner’s more badass counterpart, the Drekavac, amps up the scare factor by wearing a shiny red mask with small leaky-lookin’ holes in the eye sockets. *shudder*
3. Dead Hands
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Bottom of the Well is HANDS DOWN the scariest part of Ocarina of Time. The Forest and Shadow Temples can’t even compare. You’re just a kid, you have to use the Lens of Truth to tell what the hell’s even going on down there, the music is a little TOO good at setting the mood, and worst of all, it’s got this thing in it. You just know nothing good can come of being locked in a room with a bunch of long, bloody arms sticking out of the ground like some sort of demented deep sea worms. The monster itself doesn’t emerge until it gets a hold on your head with one of the hands. Then it comes out to eat your face off.
Aside: while searching for an image of a Dead Hand, I found this. I just thought you should know. Happy birthday!
4. Poison Headcrabs
“According to Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, the development team noticed that upon hearing the Poison Headcrab’s sound playtesters would frantically start looking around for the Poison Headcrab so they could destroy it, regardless of any other present dangers.”
Know why? Because they are terrifying, they will kill you dead so fast, and that noise of theirs is the absolute worst. The zombie who throws them at you really sucks, because they can get at you long distance with a well-aimed toss, but for sheer scare factor nothing compares to hearing the noise and not knowing exactly where the little beasty is located.
Shadows of the Damned
The reason you, as Garcia Hotspur, venture to Hell in the first place is to rescue your heterochromatic-eyed paramour, Paula, from lots and lots of deaths at the hands of a demon lord. Said demon lord likes to taunt you as well as torture Paula, so she crops up often in lingerie and terrible things happen to her just out of your reach…until Act 3, when she comes much too close for comfort. Like Resident Evil 4, Shadows of the Damned features some gruesome animations when your character is killed. If (when) Scary Paula catches you, the death scene is relatively benign. She jumps on you, kisses you, and you immediately fall over dead. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? WRONG. There is nothing, nothing in this game set in Hell and full of demons that is more terror-inducing than running away from Paula. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because she’s unblockable, and all you can do is run? My heart is pounding just thinking about it. FLIGHT RESPONSE, ACTIVATE!
6. Surprise Splicer
BioShock is a scary game, and the Medical Pavilion is arguably its most frightening level. Civilian splicers are already scary. Putting them in vintage doctors’ and nurses’ uniforms takes it to a whole ‘nother level, and one enterprising Dr. Grossman model splicer who must’ve seen a few horror movies decides to amp it up further by surprising you from behind. Upon entering Painless Dental you walk into a white mist, and when it clears, naturally go check out the desk to pick up an Audio Diary and some goodies. Score! And look, there’s a teddy bear. How sweet. You turn around to leave, and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!! He’s RIGHT THERE! Good thing you’ve got a wrench.
7. Boss Bass
Super Mario Bros. 3
This fish may be the scariest thing I’ve ever encountered in a game. Maybe the scariest thing I’ve encountered in my LIFE. It’s so sudden, so fast-moving, so hard to stay out of the damn water. It never stays gone long when you manage to kill it. It eats Mario whole, in one gulp. This fish, ladies and gentlemen, is as scary as it gets.