Horror movies are supposed to scare, terrify, induce squirming, and, in some cases, even repulse. That being the case, you wouldn’t think any of them would chop out some of their most horrific scenes. Occasionally it happens, though. Maybe it’s done to secure a particular rating, or perhaps the scenes detract from something more important going on in the flick. Or maybe they’re just so intense that they prove to be too much. The key to horror, after all, is to push boundaries, not make the audience so upset that they regret plunking down their hard-earned cash.
What follows are fifteen horror movies (well, fourteen, plus one adventure with a horror-movie-worthy sequence lodged into the middle of it) whose deleted scenes are notably gruesome. Some are available for viewing on YouTube or in the DVD special features, while others have seemingly been lost to time for good. Either way, they certainly aren’t your average boring outtakes.
Here are the 15 Most Gruesome Deleted Scenes That Were Cut From Horror Movies.
15. Paranormal Activity – Katie slashes her own throat
The back story of Paranormal Activity is pretty well known. Writer/director Oren Peli made the movie on a shoestring budget, filming in his own house. He sent out DVDs to everyone he could think of in the movie industry, eventually earning the notice of Steven Spielberg, who eventually helped get it set up over at Paramount. The found footage chiller ends with the male lead, Micah, being thrown at the video camera he has set up in the bedroom. The one throwing him is his now-possessed wife Katie. The final shot is her lunging at the camera, her face looking demonic as all hell.
There were several different endings to Paranormal Activity prior to the one that ultimately was used. The most graphic of them, available on the DVD, finds Katie taken over by the malevolent spirit in their home. Following an implication that she kills Micah downstairs, she returns to the bedroom and approaches the camera, where she promptly slits her own throat with a massive knife and collapses. While disturbing, it was decided that the Micah-hurled-at-the-camera ending was more effective in delivering one last jolt.
14. Scream 4 – Original Ghostface opening
By its fourth installment, the Scream series was looking for ways to remain relevant. The self-referential approach of the original, which was fresh and new at the time, had long since played itself out. Scream 4 unsuccessfully attempted to recapture that magic with an opening sequence that featured movies-within-movies pertaining to the fictional Stab franchise that was a recurring joke across the sequels. A lot of famous young actresses (including Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell) are murdered in this meta bit.
The original intro to the movie was more singular. Britt Robertson and Aimee Teegarden play Marnie and Jenny, friends who are home alone, watching scary movies and trying to trick each other into thinking that the masked killer Ghostface is there. During this time, the knife-wielding lunatic really does show up, stabbing Jenny, while Marnie, who thinks it’s a joke, looks on. Upon realizing it’s no prank, Marnie tries to escape. Ghostface catches up to her and ruthlessly plunges his blade into her body. Director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson created two versions of this opening scene — one where Marnie goes first and one where Jenny is the first victim — to prevent spoilers from leaking out.
13. Jaws – Alex Kintner death
More than forty years after its original release, Jaws remains a movie with the power to scare viewers silly. It has lost none of its effectiveness. Without a doubt, one of the most shiver-inducing moments is the one where a little boy named Alex Kintner swims out into the water on an inflatable raft and is attacked from below by a shark. Young Alex thrashes violently while blood spurts everywhere, alarming the other swimmers and capturing the attention of Sheriff Brody (played by Roy Scheider).
As hard as it is to believe, the scene was originally going to be even more graphic than it turned out to be. The initial plan, detailed in a making-of documentary contained on the Jaws Blu-ray release, was to show the shark actually emerging from the water to eat the child. A dummy was made to stand in for the actor portraying Alex. Likely because it involved the ghastly death of a child in an already-intense (and occasionally upsetting) movie, the sequence never made the final cut, although still images from it are floating around online.
12. Stigmata – Knife through hand
Stigmata is a 1999 horror film about an atheist Pittsburgh hairdresser (Patricia Arquette) who spontaneously develops the wounds that Christ had when he was crucified. Gabriel Byrne plays a Catholic priest assigned to investigate whether she really does have the stigmata or if she’s merely faking it. That’s a fairly engaging premise for a movie, one that could inspire people to explore issues pertaining to faith. This one, however, mostly uses it for shock value.
The film takes great pains (no pun intended) to show Arquette’s character enduring bloody torture as her flesh is repeatedly ripped and torn in various ways, including having her head bleed from the Crown of Thorns wound. There’s so much of that kind of thing, in fact, that the filmmakers opted to leave out one particularly ghastly bit in which the crazed character slashes her own arm with a knife before plunging it straight through her hand while the terrified priest watches. Apparently, they figured it wouldn’t be missed.
11. The Thing – Naul’s death
When it was released in 1982, John Carpenter’s The Thing did well at the box office, but it wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. Time has been kind to the movie, which is now widely regarded as a classic horror picture from that decade. Kurt Russell plays R.J. MacReady, one of several people at an Alaskan research facility trying to make sense of an alien species that can make itself look human. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what happens next. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
T.K. Carter co-stars as Nauls, another person at the facility. While a number of characters don’t make it to the end of the movie, he sticks around for a fairly long time. In the release cut, his demise is somewhat ambiguous, since we don’t actually see it. Carpenter had a plan to kill him off in a big, bad way that he regrettably wasn’t able to achieve. A scene that was storyboarded but never shot would have shown Nauls getting absorbed by the creature. Tentacles would pop out as the monster clung to him. The expensiveness of the effects needed to pull off the death prevented it from ever being filmed.
10. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Human Sacrifice Scene
Yes, we know that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom isn’t technically a horror movie, but an especially famous scene plays exactly like one, so we’re bending the rules a bit here. The first Indi sequel has always been a slightly divisive entry in the series. It’s much darker than the original Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some people like that. Others are put off by the dark quality, especially when Indy makes his way to an underground temple, where a human sacrifice is taking place. The high priest Mola Ram brutally rips the heart right out of a man’s chest. The scene sent chills down viewers’ spines – and helped lead to the creation of the PG-13 rating.
What you may not know is that the man’s fate was once even worse. Actor Nizwar Karanj said in an interview that a full body cast was made before his first day on set. That’s because his character was going to be lowered into lava after losing his heart. But they also created a mask of his face, which had glass eyes inserted. “Once the cage was lowered into this pit of molten lava, my body would disintegrate and you would see my face floating,” he said. The moment was ultimately deemed too gory, and was subsequently excised.
9. Alien – Dallas in cocoon
Ridley Scott’s Alien is the rare horror movie to understand the power of dread. For the first hour, you think something awful is about to happen at every second, yet it never quite does. This serves to put you on edge and build suspense, of course. Then, once the full-on terror truly begins, the pit in your stomach grows and your nerves quickly begin to fray. It’s an astonishingly effective example of how withholding the payoff can be scarier than tipping one’s hand right away.
As many iconic moments as there are in the film, one particularly intense moment didn’t make the final cut. It involves Dallas, the captain of the Nostromo, played by Tom Skerritt. In the theatrical version, Dallas goes into the ship’s ventilation shafts, where the alien xenomorph attacks him. He’s presumably a goner. A deleted scene finds him making an additional appearance in the movie, when Ripley stumbles across his body, cocooned up by the creature. Knowing he’s still alive and in great agony, she decimates him with a flamethrower. Scott later reinserted the scene for a special anniversary re-release, although he has long contended the movie is better without it.
8. Aliens – Burke in cocoon
Of all the genius things James Cameron did in Aliens, one of the greatest was casting comedian Paul Reiser as Burke, the duplicitous Weyland-Yutani Corporation representative sent to investigate LV-426, the planet where alien eggs were previously found by the Nostromo crew. Aside from being excellent casting-against-type, Reiser does a terrific job playing the kind of sniveling corporate weasel you hope will get slaughtered by a xenomorph.
Like the original, Aliens has a deleted scene involving a cocoon, one that features Burke’s initially-intended demise. Ripley searches for the little girl Newt inside the creature’s hive. To her shock, Burke has been sealed up in a cocoon. He begs her for help, implying that one of the chestbursters is inside of him. Ripley, not intent to deal with any more of his untrustworthy behavior, casually gives him a hand grenade and moves on, leaving him hanging there. Although it wasn’t used in the finished film, the sequence is part of the DVD/Blu-ray special features.
7. Cannibal Holocaust – Piranha attack
Cannibal Holocaust is one of the biggest endurance tests ever. The 1980 movie, which was done in the “found footage” format long before it became a fad, is about a documentary crew that gets lost in the Amazon, where a tribe of cannibals torture and torment them in various unfathomable ways. The violence committed against the human characters is fake, of course, but the violence against animals is all too real (seven of them were killed making the movie, and six of these deaths were shown onscreen). That can make it stomach-churning for even the most hardcore horror buff.
One of the most gruesome scenes in the film was meant to involve a man having his body fed to piranha. It was intended to be a shocking “highlight” of Cannibal Holocaust. A dummy was made, and meat was strapped to it. The dummy was then lowered into water infested with real piranha. To director Ruggero Deodato’s dismay, the creatures didn’t react in the bloodthirsty way they do in movies. They were fairly chill, in fact. When the dummy was raised, several piranha were calmly clinging to the meat. It didn’t look scary, so the scene never made it to the screen.
6. The Butterfly Effect – In utero suicide
Ashton Kutcher stars in The Butterfly Effect as Evan, a guy who has suffered weird blackouts since childhood. He eventually learns that accompanying these blackouts is an ability to rewind time, allowing him to do things from his past differently. Doing so has the side effect of dramatically changing the outcome of his life, as well as the lives of those around him. Through the film, we learn that Evan suffered through a lot of trauma as a kid. His attempts to prevent that abuse ends up creating a scenario in which he solves one problem, while creating a new one for someone else. It’s a strange, twisty film that, quite frankly, doesn’t always make a lot of sense.
Figuring out how to end such a story isn’t easy. The Butterfly Effect scrapped its original finale, which, while not the most graphic, is certainly one of the most disturbing deleted scenes on this list. Available on the director’s cut, the sequence finds Evan on the verge of being committed to a psychiatric facility. He’s got brain damage from all his time-hopping, and he realizes that his various attempts to “fix” things have had negative repercussions on the people he loves. Evan decides to transport himself back to when he was in his mother’s womb and strangle himself with his own umbilical cord, thereby ensuring he is never born. It’s a drastic measure that he takes selflessly.
5. From Beyond
From Beyond is a loose adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft story from director Stuart Gordon, the maker of Re-Animator. Two scientists, Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffrey Combs) and Edward Pretorious (Ted Sorel), invent a machine called the Resonator that grants people the magical ability to see beyond ordinary reality. Unfortunately for them, “beyond ordinary reality” involves bringing all kinds of demons and disgusting creatures into our dimension. Barbara Crampton plays Katherine McMichaels, a doctor who gets pulled into this madness after Tillinghast is committed to a mental hospital.
Gordon loves pushing the gore envelope just as much as he loves inserting edgy humor into his horror films. Because of this, he often has ratings battles with the MPAA. In the case of From Beyond, he had to make several trims in order to secure the R rating he wanted. The most drastic of these was a moment in which Tillinghast, having been transformed into some kind of icky, deformed monster, rips out a woman’s eyeball with his teeth, then begins to slurp her brains out through the hole. Sounds like a quintessential Stuart Gordon concoction to us!
4. The Fly – Baboon scene
The Fly is a cheesy (but fun) 1958 science-fiction movie about a scientist whose new invention accidentally turns him into a half-human, half-fly. In 1986, director David Cronenberg remade The Fly as a full-fledged body-horror film. Jeff Goldblum stars as Seth Brundle, the mad genius working on a teleportation device. He tests it out on himself, unaware that a common house fly has gotten into one of the “telepods” with him. With their genes now enmeshed, Seth starts to experience a variety of highly concerning changes, including becoming significantly less human in appearance.
In a legitimately amazing deleted scene, Seth attempts to find a cure for his condition by putting a baboon in one of his telepods and a cat in the other. (He’s gone a bit mentally off the rails at this point, obviously.) The two animals are melded into an inexplicably bizarre cat-monkey creature that promptly attacks him. Seeing that the two-headed hybrid creature is in pain, he beats it to death with a metal pipe so that it won’t suffer anymore. There’s an extremely cool idea at play here, but test audiences reacted negatively to the sight of an animal — even a completely imaginary one that could never, ever exist in the real world — being mistreated. Cronenberg thus gave this sequence the ax.
3. King Kong – Spider pit
If time machines were real, it would be fun to go back to 1933 and see King Kong in its original version. The movie contained a scene in which a group of sailors, fleeing Kong, fall into a ravine, where they are eaten by gigantic spiders. If that sounds amazing, it probably was. Regrettably, producer/co-director Merian C. Cooper felt that it was perhaps a little too amazing, potentially distracting moviegoers from the giant ape who was supposed to be the most horrific thing in the movie. He ultimately elected to drop the scene altogether.
In those early days of cinema, no one really thought much about saving deleted scenes. Footage that didn’t make the final cut was routinely destroyed. Consequently, all that exists from that sequence are a few still photographs and artwork from the pre-production period. We can, however, get a sense of how it might have played. Noted director and massive Kong fan Peter Jackson recreated the scene using the special effects techniques of the time. This recreation was included on the DVD bonus features of his 2005 King Kong remake, allowing the world to get an idea of what this lost sequence was like.
2. The Devil’s Rejects – Nurse murder
Did you know that Rosario Dawson was in Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects? Probably not, because her cameo was left on the cutting room floor. The movie, which is about the psychopathic and murderous Firefly family trying to outrun the authorities, is chock full of extreme violence, gore, and general unpleasantness. It’s a semi-sequel to Zombie’s debut motion picture, House of 1000 Corpses, done without the tongue-in-cheek spirit that made that film a fun throwback to 1970s exploitation fare.
Dawson plays a nurse named Marsha who cares for an unseen patient in a hospital ER. A cop, Ray Dobson (Dave Sheridan), flirts with her a little bit. No sooner does he walk away than the patient reaches up, grabs Marsha by the neck, and rips her throat apart while Dobson and other nearby officers unsuccessfully attempt to pull him off her. The nurse is left lying in a pool of her own blood. Her killer, we see when he pops up, is Dr. Satan, a deranged physician who was a key component in Zombie’s previous film. Although shocking, the director decided that bringing the character back for the sequel wasn’t a good idea, so out went his brief return.
1. Event Horizon
Event Horizon has a reputation for being pretty brutal. The movie was poorly reviewed during its initial 1997 release, and audiences ignored it. DVD helped it find an appreciative audience of people who dig its no-nonsense nastiness. In the film, a rescue mission is launched to check in on a starship after it sends out a distress signal. The crew members (including Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne) begin having violent, hellish hallucinations after boarding the craft. Sections of the movie are rapid-fire montages of the most stomach-churning images you can show and still walk away with an R rating.
Of course, in order to get that R rating, some of those images had to go. Event Horizon was so unbelievably gruesome that it’s a wonder a major studio agreed to make it. Then again, the studio perhaps didn’t realize what it was getting into, since they reportedly also insisted the film be altered. The material that got cut is mostly more of what’s already there: extreme blood and gore presented in a manner that could best be described as “assaulting.” That includes shots of people wrapped in barbed wire that cuts into their flesh. We’re talking about sights so sadistic and revolting that even Clive Barker might feel a bit queasy watching them. One has to wonder how the film would have played with its full gruesomeness laid out.
Which of these scenes sounds the most incredible to you? Do any other horror movies have especially ghastly deleted scenes that you enjoy? Let us know in the comments.