This weekend sees the theatrical release of Oculus, which has been garnering nothing but rave reviews since its festival premiere last year. While we will of course be posting our own review of the film once it begins its theatrical haunt, we thought it fitting today to get you in the spirit by taking a look back on some memorable mirror scenes from horror movies past.
Oculus of course centers on a supernaturally possessed antique mirror, with the seemingly harmless inanimate object being blamed for a string of brutal slayings. While mirrors are oftentimes featured in horror movies for the purpose of quick jump scares, they’ve also played a large role in some pretty memorable moments over the years, which are the moments we’re here to shine the spotlight on today.
So let’s get ourselves prepped and ready for Oculus by revisiting 10 of the most memorable horror movie mirror scenes, shall we?!
EVIL DEAD 2
Shortly after being forced to decapitate his possessed girlfriend Linda in Evil Dead 2, Ash returns to one of horror cinema’s most iconic cabins in the woods, where he finds himself being driven mad by the evil force that just can’t seem to leave him alone. After a chair begins mysteriously rocking on its own, Ash looks into a mirror in an attempt to stabilize himself, and it’s not long before another version of himself leaps out of the mirror, to remind him that everything is far from okay. Talk about seeing double!
One of the most memorable, and downright chilling moments in The Shining is when young Danny Torrance picks up his mother’s lipstick and uses it to write the word REDRUM on the door, while also speaking the word out loud. While at first we have no idea what the hell he’s carrying on about, Wendy soon catches a glimpse of the door in a mirror, revealing that REDRUM is of course MURDER spelled backwards. One of the most bone chilling mirror moments of all time, that’s for damn sure!
Phantasm is certainly one of the strangest horror movies to come out of the 70s, a film that ends with the shocking revelation that main character Mike dreamt up the horrifying sequence of events… or did he? Though Reggie tells him the Tall Man and his evil dwarves were a figment of his imagination, conjured up after the death of his older brother, Mike soon realizes that he’s not in the clear just yet, as the Tall Man appears in his bedroom mirror at the very end of the film. One of his pint-sized minions then pulls Mike into the mirror, ending the film with a confusing cliffhanger.
Early on in Dario Argento’s Deep Red, main character Marcus witnesses the brutal murder of a psychic medium, and spends the film trying to find her killer. While in her apartment he catches a glimpse of a creepy painting on her wall, depicting human faces, and he makes the realization towards the end of the movie that what he actually saw was not a painting but rather a mirror, reflecting a painting that was on the opposite wall. The face of the killer blended in with the reflection of the painting, which makes for the shocking reveal that we had seen the killer, before we ever even realized we did. Classic Argento, right there!
CABIN IN THE WOODS
Shortly after arriving at the titular Cabin in the Woods, Holden discovers a creepy painting in the room he’s staying in, which he decides to take off the wall. Underneath the painting he finds a two-way mirror, which allows him to see Dana getting undressed, totally unbeknownst to her. Though he at first enjoys the unexpected view, he exposes the secret of the room to his friends before Dana takes her top off, and the mirror gives them the first inkling that something isn’t quite right about the cabin.
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS
In Night of the Demons, the characters discover a creepy old mirror in the allegedly haunted Hull House, where Angela is throwing an epic Halloween bash. Angela decides to use the mirror to conduct a seance, hoping that it will reveal what she looked like in a past life. What actually shows up in the mirror is the head of a giant demon, as well as the dead body of one of the characters. The mirror crashes to the floor, kickstarting the gory action.
A spin on the old ‘Bloody Mary’ party game, the Candyman franchise prominently features mirrors as a plot device, with them serving as the title character’s means to break into the real world. If you say his name five times into a mirror, he will emerge and gut you with his hook hand; so goes the legend that Helen investigates, in the first film. The film kicks off with a scene where a character does just that, and pays the price, and in the memorable final moments, after Helen dies, her husband speaks her name into a mirror, not realizing that she has become the new CandyWoman, so to speak. She appears and guts him with a hook, and his new girlfriend discovers his mutilated remains. So much for moving on, eh?!
Before there was Oculus there was Alexandre Aja’s Mirrors, released in 2008. The film featured a similar plot that centered on haunted mirrors, which possessed people into physically harming themselves; whatever happens to their reflections, also happens to them in real life. In the lackluster film’s most memorable moment, Amy Smart’s reflection in the bathroom mirror literally pulls her own jaw apart, Victor Crowley style, which results in her character’s head being split apart at the mouth. Not a big fan of the film, but that gory moment is one I won’t ever forget!
Scenes from PG-rated movies don’t get much more gruesome than Poltergeist‘s memorable mirror scene, which sees a character ripping off his own face. After investigating the haunted Freeling house, parapsychologist Marty returns home and is plagued by horrifying visions, which begin when a steak comes to life and a piece of chicken he’s eating becomes infested with maggots. As he heads into the bathroom to puke, he notices a cut on his face and begins peeling away at his flesh, ripping apart his face until there’s nothing left but bone. It’s interesting to note that the hands that rip away at the prosthetic head were actually producer Steven Spielberg’s!
AMITYVILLE 1992: IT’S ABOUT TIME
We round out the list with a scene from one of the most underrated horror sequels of all time; the Amityville Horror franchise’s sixth installment, sub-titled It’s About Time. I’m a big fan of It’s About Time, which has a handful of whacky scenes and some truly awesome practical effects. At one point in the film, which is about a haunted clock from the infamous Amityville home, a female character is seduced by her own reflection, which proceeds to emerge from the mirror and feel her up. Doesn’t get much kinkier than that!
Can you think of any other memorable mirror scenes from horror movies past? Comment below and let us know!