10 Scariest Uses Of Make-Up In Horror Movies

9. Marty Rips Off His Face – Poltergeist (1982)

With films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg had already proved capable of creating abject fear and/or heart-warming family wonder. Thus, it’s no surprise that their 1982 collaboration, Poltergeist (about the ethereal abduction of a young girl named Carol Anne Freeling), succeeded equally at both.

Released a couple of years before the MPAA initiated its PG-13 rating in America, Poltergeist is rightly considered the scariest PG movie ever made. Be it brother Robbie’s possessed clown doll or the unearthed cadavers that eventually surround matriarch Diane, it’s full of creepy sights. Even so, it’s the brief but horrendous hallucination of paranormal investigator Marty that takes the cake.

On his first night in their home, Marty sees an uncooked steak grow maggots and move across the countertop. Sickened, he rushes to vomit into the bathroom sink, cueing the burning lights to cause blisters on his face. From there, director Hooper alternates between shots of gore falling into the sink and of Marty clawing flesh and tendons from his skeleton. Sure, it's clearly a prop, but that doesn’t stop the intense and primitive flashes from making your own skin crawl, too.

Contributor
Contributor

Hey there! Outside of WhatCulture, I'm a Features Editor at PopMatters and a contributor to Kerrang!, Consequence of Sound, PROG, Metal Injection, Recording Academy/Grammys, and more. I've written books about Jethro Tull and Dream Theater—currently working on one about Opeth—and I run a creative arts journal called The Bookends Review. Oh, and I live in Philadelphia and teach academic/creative writing courses at a few colleges/universities.